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Black Friday sales seem to start earlier and earlier every year. But what makes us want to rush to the stores or online to snap up the best bargains?

Those wall-to-wall TV ads — and the holiday season itself — are tapping into a very primitive part of our brains.

"There is more of a sport to Black Friday shopping, and people expect some deal, but they aren't likely to get the best deal on a particular item because the best deal may have already happened six months ago," says Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail analyst with Forrester Research.

Your Adult Siblings May Be The Secret To A Long, Happy Life

19 hours ago

Somehow we're squeezing 16 people into our apartment for Thanksgiving this year, with relatives ranging in age from my 30-year-old nephew to my 90-year-old mother. I love them all, but in a way the one I know best is the middle-aged man across the table whose blue eyes look just like mine: my younger brother Paul.

salmon
Flickr Photo/jpellgen (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of The Splendid Table, about Pacific Northwest-inspired seafood alternatives to the traditional Thanksgiving turkey.

Black Friday in downtown Seattle at Westlake in 2010.
Flickr Photo/John Henderson (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds speaks with linguistics journalist Ben Zimmer about the origins of the shopping phrases "Black Friday,"  "Cyber Monday," and "Super Saturday."

KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

The Thanksgiving menu might seem static, but it's changed a lot over the years. The Pilgrims brought eel. The Wampanoag brought venison. Caribbean cooks introduced sweet potatoes. And the French brought us pie crust. 

So what might this most American feast look like in the future? The Record invited two cooks to the studio to propose some ways Seattle might mix up the Thanksgiving menu. They're both graduates of Project Feast, a program at the Tukwila Community Center that teaches refugee and immigrant cooks the skills they need to work in commercial kitchens. 

Anecjokes, Chai Tea, And Role Models: Stories To Get You Through Fall

Nov 26, 2014
Seattle Public Library's University District branch.
Flickr Photo/javacolleen (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Fall getting you down? This month's podcast is sure to make the transition into winter a lot easier with a series of uncomfortable situations in the University District Public Library, a poetic piece by Kamna Shastri, and an inspiring story of a Japanese-Brazilian man living in America. Check it out!

RadioActive is KUOW's program for high school students. Listen to RadioActive stories, subscribe to the RadioActive podcast, and stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter

It's like the start of a bad joke: a vegan, a gluten-free and a paleo walk into a bar — except it's your house, and they're gathered around your Thanksgiving table.

More and more Americans are passing on gluten — some for medical reasons, most by choice. Others are adopting diets that exclude meat, or insisting on the kinds of unprocessed foods that early man would have hunted and gathered.

All of this is a challenge to the traditional Thanksgiving feast.

Food compost.
Flickr Photo/szczel (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Karen May, program manager of King County's Food: Too Good To Waste program, about food waste. 

Wikimedia Commons

Ross Reynolds talks with Jon Talton, economics columnist for the Seattle Times, about the legacy of the Battle in Seattle.

Facebook Photo/Fight Fistula

Ross Reynolds interviews Carolyn Anderman, director of international programs for One By One, a Seattle-based group helping women in Africa recover from a devastating birth complication called obstetric fistula.  Affected women are often shunned in their communities for a condition that can be fixed with a $500 operation.

Poet Heather McHugh.
Courtesy of the University of Washington

Ross Reynolds speaks with Seattle poet Heather McHugh, who is the author of eight volumes of poetry and numerous works of translation. She won a  MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called genius award, in 2009. Since her retirement as a professor of creative writing at the University of Washington this year, she has been working full time on a non-profit organization called Caregifted, which provides relief for family caregivers of  severely disabled people.

A volunteer for the iconic Salvation Army Christmas bell ringing campaign.
Flickr Photo/Sage Ross (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Liahann Bannerman, director of the volunteer center at United Way of King County, about where people can volunteer this Thanksgiving, and how volunteers dry up after the holidays.

Bamboo, one of two elephants at Woodland Park Zoo, will be leaving with Chai.
Flickr Photo/Cara_VSAngel (CC-BY-NC-ND)

    

Marcie Sillman speaks with Joshua Plotnik, founder and CEO of Think Elephants International, about the debate over where to send Bamboo and Chai, Woodland Park Zoo's remaining two Asian elephants. The zoo announced Wednesday that they've decided to phase out their elephant program. 

Woodland Park Zoo's Chai and baby Hansa in May 2007. Hansa died the following month. The zoo announced this week that Chai and Bamboo would be transfered to another zoo.
Flickr Photo/Natalie Wilkie (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo expels its elephants – where should they go? Did President Obama overreach on immigration? Could a “millionaire's tax” fly in Seattle? Why must Metro bus drivers wear Depends? Do Seahawks players have to talk to reporters if they have nothing to say?

Bill Radke reviews the week's news questions with panelists Sherman Alexie, Knute Berger, Joni Balter and Luke Burbank. Plus, DecodeDC host Andrea Seabrook tells you how executive privilege works!

The theater revised its number of seats down from 798 to 570. The seats are leather and offer enough leg room for an average size adult woman to fully extend her legs (claim tested).
KUOW Photo/Posey Gruener

The Cinerama, a property managed by Paul Allen's Vulcan Real Estate, has reopened after an extensive, top-of-the-line renovation. Marcie Sillman speaks with Jennifer Bean, director of the cinema and media studies program at the University of Washington, about the history of Seattle's Cinerama, and the ways that movie theaters lure moviegoers into their seats.

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