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Zoologist Lucy Cooke says humans have got it all wrong about sloths. "People think that because the animal is slow that it's somehow useless and redundant," she says. But in fact, "they are incredibly successful creatures."

Cooke is the founder of the Sloth Appreciation Society and the author of a new book called The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife. The book aims to set the record straight on some long-held misconceptions about the animal world.

Juliana Hatfield was a darling of the '90s indie music scene. She played with Blake Babies and The Lemonheads and had a hit with the edgy pop song, "My Sister." Hatfield released a string of alternative albums since those days, full of distorted guitars and strong vocals.

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We visit Old City Hall in Redding where Axiom Repertory Theatre is presenting the play "W;t." It's a dark comedy about a a woman who, with resolve and lots of humor, faces the final weeks of her life. We talk with the director and cast. We also talk with Reta Rickmers, art teacher at Chico's Pleasant Valley High, about how her students creatively use recycled materials of many types to create wearable art which they'll be showing off in a unique fashion show. caption: Reta Rickmers and some of her art students.

Photo used courtesy of Vincent Bellino

Happy California Native Plant Week! The California Floristic Province is home to on the order of 6,500 native plant species and there are those among us who love and want to ensure the long life of the genetics and habitats of every single one. Today, in celebration of California Native Plant Week, we’re hearing from a selection of those voices, including Native Plant Home Gardener Vincent Bellino. Join us!

Chico author Jan Condon writes books introducing children to the existence of gut flora. Paradise author David Lemmo wrote and illustrated a book of Frankenstein stories. This weekend he will be participating in the bicentennial of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein at the San Diego Comic Fest. This week join Nancy for conversations with two authors of children's books.

We talk with filmmaker and master of stop-motion animation Josh Funk whose short fantasy-horror movie "3 Keys"is having a world-premiere at MoNCA, the Museum of Northern California Art. We also talk with writers, directors and actors from the OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) Play Festival, a collection of original short comedies performing at Chico's Blue Room Theatre.

In this episode of Blue Dot, Dave talks to Jennifer Strauss from the UC Berkeley Seismology Lab and Ken Hudnut from the United States Geological Survey. Both are deeply involved in the April 18, 2018 roll out of the "Haywired Scenario" a scientifically accurate modeling of a Magnitude 6.8 earthquake on the Hayward Fault. Our conversation revolves around the new technology called Shake Alert. Using seismic monitoring all over the state (especially in quake prone areas such as the Bay area and Southern California), scientists have developed a system to use the early arrival seismic waves, p-waves, to alert us to the imminent shaking that will follow in a matter of seconds. The early warning system can be used on computers and smart phones to let us know how long we have to brace for the hard shaking of a major earthquake. The system will also be used by transportation systems like BART and utility systems like PG&E to best safeguard our infrastructure when the next "Big One" inevitably hits somewhere in California.

As the brewing trade war between the United States and China escalates, North State farmers are caught in the middle. Farmers like Bill Carriere, the CEO of Carriere Family Farms and a board member of the California Walnut Commission.

Carriere greeted me outside of his office and walnut processing facility near the small town of Glenn. In the parking lot, we watched as one of his employees loaded crates of walnuts into a semi-truck. Carriere said the truck will be driving these crates to the Port of Oakland. His company ships their walnuts to 25 different countries, including China.

Carriere Family Farms grows twelve different varieties of walnuts. They have orchards in Glenn, Butte and Colusa counties. They also buy walnuts from just under 100 other farms, all north of Sacramento and package the walnuts for global export at their processing facility.

Photo used courtesy of Monticello

On April 13th, Statesman and third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, would be 275 years old. He was also an avid and curious and acquisitive gardener and plant lover. His historic home and garden, Monticello, is an UNESCO Heritage sight, and Jefferson began designing and building Monticello at just 26 years old. With Virginia’s Historic Garden week just around the corner on April 21st - 28th, we’re joined this week on Cultivating Place by two members of Monticello’s horticultural staff, Peggy Cornett, curator of plants and Eleanor Gould, curator of gardens. We’ll explore the legacy of the gardens in all their complexity, depth and scope. Join us!

The featured speaker at this year's fundraiser for the Jesus Center is best-selling author Paul Young. Their Spring Luncheon takes place April 21. This week join Nancy for a conversation with Paul Young about The Shack, his novel that is a metaphor for the house we build inside ourselves.

USFWS Pacific Southwest Region / Flickr

California’s largest water district has given key support to a 17-billion-dollar water project, long sought by Governor Jerry Brown. The vote Tuesday would fund twin tunnels under the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta, which will send water to Central and Southern California.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California agreed to take on about two-thirds of the cost of the giant project. It calls for two forty-foot-wide, 35-mile-long pipes to extend under the Delta, carrying water from the northern end that can be pumped south and east.

We talk with local musician Jake Sprecher about a big event coming to Chico next weekend called Valley Fever. On Friday April 20th and Saturday April 21st there will be over 20 bands performing at various venues across the downtown area, but make no mistake - this is NOT a music festival.

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Listener Testimonials

With our new series Since You Asked, we're turning to YOU. What have you always wondered about the North State? What questions do you have about this place we call home?

There’s still time to head up the road for a late-summer adventure. Plan a trip with help from this new map of California destinations featured by Kim Weir on her show Up the Road on NSPR.

On Cultivating Place, we speak with people passionate about plants, gardens, and natural history. We explore what gardens mean to us and how they speak to us.

Blue Dot, named after Carl Sagan's famous speech about our place in the universe, features interviews with guests from all over the regional, national and worldwide scientific communities.

Each week host Nancy Wiegman talks to local, regional and national writers about their latest projects.

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