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It’s difficult for Steve Truesdale to explain the relationship he and Athena, a chocolate Lab mix, have had for 13 years. Trained as an assistance dog, she has picked up dropped items, helped him do chores and provided self-confidence.Athena also has developed an uncanny ability to understand what Truesdale needs, from a cuddle to a walk, and has filled his life with her…

Everyone graduates from high school knowing how to read, write and do basic math (hopefully). But to be a self-sufficient adult, those skills are not enough. In fact, they’re nowhere close to enough.Advanced skills in academic areas aren’t going to help a young adult out of every jam he is likely to face in the next few years. Most of those predicaments probably will h…

NEW YORK — Katherine Applegate's "The One and Only Ivan" won the John Newbery Medal for the outstanding book of 2012, while Jon Klassen's "This Is Not My Hat" received the Randolph Caldecott Medal for outstanding illustration, the American Library Association announced today.The Newbery and Caldecott awards are the top honors for children's literature.Applegate's book t…

Consumer Reports

Mon, Jan 28, 2013

With the average cost of a new vehicle now around $30,000, it’s no surprise that car loans are getting longer and longer, notes Consumer Reports Money Adviser.Some banks offer car loans with payback terms that run for as long as eight years. While long-term loans translate into lower monthly payments, they can cost you more in several other ways.Higher interest, more ris…

Consumer Reports

Mon, Jan 28, 2013

Winter is here, and Consumer Reports notes that now can be a great time to purchase a meaningful gift for yourself or anyone who owns a car – something that can give them convenience, safety and security.While these items may not be fun and fancy, they’re practical and will help your car last longer and be safer on the road.• Car battery. About as much fun to receive…

Words excite David Ben-Merre. At 34, the assistant professor is in his fifth year teaching English at Buffalo State College with a course list that this semester includes literary theory, British modernism and scholarly research.Ben-Merre grew up in the Bronx, and recalled hours spent with his father solving crossword puzzles. Years later as a student studying literature a…

J.G. Ballard’s autobiography, “Miracles of Life,” is a splendid remembrance of his journey – from Shanghai to Shepperton - written with intense scrutiny, mordant humor, a touch of pathos and a dash of regret.As a boy in the early and mid-1930s, he lived with his family in the tony International Settlement of Shanghai that English expats, as well as Germans, White R…

Read the title and subtitle of this book and you might be forgiven for thinking it another in a long line of memoirs written by cranky moms about their difficult teenage daughters.Food issues, body image problems, eating anxieties.We’ve been there before. Haven’t we?Not in this particular way, we haven’t. Which might in itself be worth a moment of reflection. Have we…

Peek into a room of meditating people, and you will be struck by their stillness. They sit, eyelids lowered, with their backs straight and hands at rest, breathing slowly and evenly.Inside their brains, they are still and quiet, too, concentrating on their breaths, a phrase or an image.Oddly, this quiet activity, done consistently, has a powerful positive effect on people,…

My parents grew up in the Great Depression, when every cent saved went to survive another day.Their upbringings were difficult financially, and they both learned early on how to make ends meet. My dad was 10 years older than my mom. After World War II ended, he decided to start his own family and asked my mom to marry him after their third date. Family was important to my …

I decided I don't want to wait three months to see what interior decorators and designers have up their sleeves for Decorators' Show House. Although they don't start transforming the house at Knox Farm State Park until March, I wanted to hear a few details.So I got on the phone.The decorating team at Arthur's Home Furnishings in Orchard Park is tackling the screened-in por…

Enormous space, tons of light and exuberant color are what stand out when touring the Knox Summer Estate at Knox Farm State Park – site of Decorators’ Show House 2013, which opens this spring.The place is huge – the largest Show House yet at 14,400 square feet – and the windows, with idyllic views, are magnificent. The house has unique details, including doors that…

By Emma Retzlaff / NeXt Correspondent

Wed, Jan 23, 2013

There is a saying, “Do not judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes.” I took this literally when I wanted to see what it was like to be a paraplegic. So I got myself a wheelchair and pair of gloves and spent four days “rolling” a mile in their shoes. More than 6 million people in the United States live with paralysis. That’s the combined populations of Los …

Advancement Via Individual Determination is a new program known to Newfane High School students as AVID. It is an elective that helps prepare today’s students for college no matter what school they choose to attend. This program was introduced for the first time to Newfane students in 2011. AVID takes students on field trips to visit area colleges. Last year the class we…

“Spotlight on Health,” a 30-minute Sunday morning radio show that features local medical experts, is marking a decade on the air at WJYE-FM 96.1. To celebrate the occasion, host Tom McNulty is creating an Internet library of his top 100 programs.“We figured we’ve done about 460 shows in 10 years and have never worried we would run out of topics or interesting guest…