View Full Version : Quotes, URL's, Links And References-by:older Femmes, Butches, Ftms, Mtfs, Queer, Etc.

Pages : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 [21] 22 23 24 25 26

08-02-2007, 12:36 PM
:s :s :s


July 29, 2007


Hold the Elevator for Me. Forever.


THE last time Jan Neufeld rode in an elevator was in 1993. “I hated it and swore never to do it again,” she said. And the last time before that? She’s not sure. Maybe during the Carter administration.

“My elevator phobia is so severe that I don’t even want to try to overcome it,” said Ms. Neufeld, a freelance court transcriber who works out of her home (a second-floor apartment) in Kew Gardens, Queens. “Frankly, I think people who use elevators are crazy.”

There are no statistics on the number of people who are elevator phobic, but it is a problem that afflicts working people across the nation, and not just in major vertical metropolises like New York and Chicago.

Mary Hartman’s job as a financial counselor for a hospital system in Fort Wayne, Ind. (population: 205,000), requires her to attend monthly meetings on the fourth floor of the company’s corporate headquarters. That was never a problem until last year, when the stairwells were locked as a security precaution. Now she always arrives early enough to find someone with a key.

And if no one is around? “I can take the elevator if I have to,” she said. “I do breathing exercises I learned in yoga class,” she added. “And I stand there like a scared rabbit.”

Some people benefit from spousal support or the kindness of strangers. Michal Regev, a registered psychologist in Vancouver, British Columbia, once treated an executive whose wife drove him to his office each day, rode up to the 31st floor with him, and met him at the end of the day for the trip home.

In extreme cases, though, “the very thought of entering an elevator can trigger a full-blown panic attack,” Dr. Regev said.

In those situations, the only possible strategy may be outright avoidance — albeit at some personal sacrifice. Dr. Regev recalled a software engineer who passed up an attractive job offer in a high-rise building for a much lower-paying job in a three-story hospital. “He knew he was giving up a lot, but for him there was no other option,” she said.

Ms. Neufeld, 55, says that while her aversion has limited her professionally — “I might have had a career as a court reporter, but that would mean traveling to courts and law offices on high floors,” — she is fine with that.

Full disclosure: I am not crazy about elevators myself, although I live in a 12th floor apartment in Manhattan and my work often requires my presence in the upper reaches of midtown skyscrapers.

For the most part, I manage fine, provided the car moves swiftly and smoothly with no grunts, whines or hiccups and the doors open promptly. Anything less than a perfect ride, though, and suddenly I am the victim in a Poe short story or the next Ming Kuang Chen, the restaurant deliveryman who spent more than three days in a stalled Bronx high-rise elevator in 2005.

It isn’t acrophobia or a terror of falling that spooks me so much as the idea of being confined without my express consent.

For others, elevator phobia originates in the chilling certainty that the frayed shoelace on which the car is suspended will snap. But in reality, on the rare occasions when a cable does break, the car does not plunge to the bottom. Elevators move up and down on as many as 10 cables, any one of which can support a fully loaded car.

In addition, any falling motion will trigger a safety brake, a standard feature since the 1850s. Speed governors, counterweights, position sensors and guide rails provide additional layers of protection.

But couldn’t all the cables come undone at the same time? That has happened only once — in 1945, when a B-25 bomber crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building. “All the cables were severed and the car went into free fall with two women inside,” said Robert Caporale, editor of Elevator World magazine. “Even so, both survived.”

People do get hurt and even die in elevators from time to time, the same as they do riding in any other type of conveyance. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were about 8,800 elevator-related injuries nationwide, 70 of them fatal, from 2001 to 2006. Considering that Americans take about 120 billion rides a year, “that’s an excellent safety record,” Mr. Caporale said.

But for the elevator-averse, statistics yield little comfort. While a few can trace their fears to a specific situation, more often “there is no underlying trauma, just as people develop driving phobias without ever having been in a car accident,” said Dr. Fredric Neuman, director of the Anxiety and Phobia Treatment Center at White Plains Hospital Center.

THE good news is that elevator phobias appear to be eminently treatable. Many practitioners take a behavioral modification approach. Typically, the therapist accompanies the patient to the elevator in the patient’s workplace. Initially, they just look at the car from the outside, but they work up to entering and closing the door a few times, though without actually going anyplace. “When the patient is ready, we’ll try a few test runs to lower floors,” Dr. Neuman said. “By the 10th time, they’re usually over it.”

Perhaps some will take comfort in Dr. Neuman’s observation about patients of his who were stuck overnight in elevators during the 1977 and 2003 blackouts. In almost every case, their panicky feelings eased after 30 to 60 minutes and they calmed down, he said. “It was unpleasant, but no one flipped out or embarrassed themselves.”

These days, he said: “I tell patients that if they do get stuck between floors for an extended period, I can describe almost minute by minute how they’ll react — how much time they’ll spend pressing all the floor buttons, calling for help, trying to get the emergency phone to work and finally relaxing. No one dies and no one goes crazy.”

That is nice to know. And I will try to keep Dr. Neuman’s words in mind the next time I’m caught in a malfunctioning elevator.

At the moment, though, I do not feel reassured.

(y) (y) Here's to taking the stairs.......:)


Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-02-2007, 12:38 PM
(f) (f) (f) (f)

Australian granny, 94, becomes world's oldest master

By Rob Taylor Wed Aug 1, 11:32 PM ET

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A 94-year-old Australian great-great-grandmother who quit school at 12 is said to have become the world's oldest person to earn a university masters degree.

Medical Science Masters Degree graduate Phyllis Turner, from Australia's Adelaide University, began studying for her postgraduate degree at age 90 and received her award this week.

"I feel very very happy after five years of study, but sorry that I am just a little bit immobilized," Mrs Turner, who uses a walking stick, told Australian papers.

Degree supervisor Professor Maciej Henneberg said he had been amazed by Turner's energy and dedication to study.

"Mentally she was like any other student. You couldn't tell her thinking, her enthusiasm and her interests apart from somebody who was 25. She has a lively mind," he told Reuters.

"She used to wake up at 5am in the morning and think about something, and then ring to say she wanted to check on it."

Turner left primary school at 12 to help her mother look after her siblings after her father left the family.

She returned to study almost 60 years later, enrolling at the prestigious Adelaide University to study anthropology at age 70, winning honors in 2002 before moving on to her masters.

Henneberg said Turner completed a research based paper into the anthropological history of Australia prior to European settlement and international investigations showed she was the oldest postgraduate degree recipient in the world.

"We will be trying to enter her into the Guinness book of world records, he said.


(y) (y)

What goes around, comes around.

Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-02-2007, 12:41 PM
:| :| :|


Matt and his camping partner hike and skinny dip on the way to Hidden Lake, in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

Albino Lake at sunset, in Montana's Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.


August 1, 2007

Frugal Traveler | American Road Trip

From Wyoming to Montana on Foot


New York Times

TEN THOUSAND feet above sea level, just north of the Wyoming-Montana border, lies Albino Lake, a fish-shaped oblong of icy water bounded on its east by a reddish, rock-slide-scarred ridge and on its west by the high, bare peak of Lonesome Mountain. A few tiny, rocky islands poke up from the water, and on one stands a thatch of purple wildflowers that glow like neon in the golden light of late afternoon. When night falls, the surface of the lake turns silver, then black. The rough stillness in the air is a constant reminder that, although a thin trail runs along the shore, this is the very edge of civilization — the frontier.

It was here, on the lake’s gentle, mossy southern slopes, that my friend Mary Ellen Hitt and I camped on our second night in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, a section of the Gallatin National Forest just northeast of Yellowstone. All summer long, I’d been wanting to experience America the most frugal way possible — and to live out my “Man vs. Wild” fantasies — and these 920,377 acres of mountains, lakes, streams and valleys, recommended by several readers, seemed like a perfect place to do it.

I hadn’t, however, wanted to enter the wilderness alone. Though I’d pitched my tent numerous times on this journey, I’d never done so more than a dozen yards from my Volvo. But when I mentioned my plans to Mary Ellen, a tough little 20-year-old I met in Vietnam a few years ago, she offered to fly in from the East Coast.

Had she ever camped out before?

“I’m from Maine,” she said.

I told her to buy a ticket.

As it turned out, she had never slept far from a car, either. We were both young and fit, with good balance, strong backs and a basic understanding of “leave no trace” hiking (i.e., whatever you take in, you take out). But we were also both amateurs, infinitely amused by the directions on a can of bear spray (“In some cases, you may have to wait until the bear is quite close”) and gleefully picking packets of miso soup and cans of cumin-flavored black beans from supermarket shelves, but unsure of just how far we could hike over four days and three nights in the backcountry.

Still, the clerks at Sylvan Peak Enterprises (9 South Broadway Avenue, Red Lodge, Mont.; 406-446-1770) who sold us topographical trail maps ($7.50 each) didn’t bat an eye when we described our plans. In fact, they helped us plan a route that led from the Island Lake trailhead (on the Wyoming side of the impossibly scenic Beartooth Highway) up into Montana and around a few lakes, then back down to the Beartooth Lake trailhead, where we’d hitchhike back to the Volvo. It was a 20-mile trek, and it sounded easy.

And at first, it was. We arrived at Island Lake late on Thursday and marched along a well-marked trail into the wilderness, and even with a gray drizzle bouncing off our lightweight waterproof shells, the beauty of the Beartooths was immediate. Island Lake stretched out next to us, fed by trickling streams that we had to hop over or cross on chunks of stone. Beyond hills rose into pine-strewn ridges and buttes whose mix of gray, blond and russet rock reminded me of the temples of some wiry, weathered mountaineer.

That evening, on a swell above Night Lake, we pitched our tent (bought at Eastern Mountain Sports for $191.20, a 20 percent discount), fired up the portable gas stove and feasted on prepackaged but organic Annie’s macaroni and cheese, Maine beef jerky and swigs of good Scotch from my flask. The tent’s rain fly kept us dry, and I slept soundly in my three-season sleeping bag — artificially insulated, therefore cheaper — on a thick, comfy sleeping pad ($94.95, but a worthwhile splurge).

The rain, however, only got worse in the morning and we stayed inside our tent until well after 9 a.m., wondering if we had made a huge mistake in coming here at all. But then the downpour lightened to a pitter-patter, then ceased entirely as the sun emerged. We drank our morning Nestlé 3-in-1 instant coffee, packed up the gear and began our hike in earnest.

In the daylight, the damp land sparkled before us, and we went north, diverging briefly from the path to climb several hundred feet of rock for a view of three secluded lakes. High above the land, we could see the brilliant reflections of water tucked away amid the forests, and patches of snow and ice on peaks, but the last stretches of ridge were too much to climb. So instead we stopped for lunch and cooked chili-lemongrass noodle soup (85 cents a packet in Cody, Wyo.), topped it with a fried egg and dined with the best view imaginable.

Back on the trail, we tried to make northward progress, but were tempted by Becker Lake, which offered dozens of places to swim. Gunmetal clouds were approaching, but we didn’t care — we pulled off our clothes and soaked in the frosty water until I started imagining the news reports: “The bodies of two naked tourists were pulled from Becker Lake today after a lightning storm. ...” We got out, dried off and started hiking just in time to be hit by another downpour. Still, getting wet was better than getting electrocuted.

The weather had cleared by the time we arrived at Albino Lake, and we knew we had to camp there — the beauty was overwhelming. We pitched the tent and made dinner — shitake mushrooms cooked into Cajun-style rice-and-beans — then smoked my Cuban cigarillos, drank Black Maple Hill bourbon from my silver Tibetan flask and danced to salsa music from my shortwave radio until the sun sank behind Lonesome Mountain.

When it was fully dark, we shut off the radio and were preparing for bed, when Mary Ellen, sitting on a boulder outside the tent, whispered, “Look!”

There, on the other side of the boulder, were 10 mountain goats, standing stock-still in a line, their thick white coats illuminated by the nearly full moon. They looked like ghosts, and they stared at us intently.

Slowly, they began to move toward us, stopping to sniff the pair of jeans I’d left to dry on another stone. One, apparently the leader, walked up to us and snorted — I swear I could see the moonlit ridges of his horns — then turned and tramped away, followed by his herd. Two were kids, and they bleated in a high pitch that sounded like a meow.

Mary Ellen and I stayed on the boulder, listening to the hollow clop of the goats’ hooves and the gleeful munching of tall grasses. Finally, they walked up the ridge and crossed over, silhouetted by the gleaming moon. We said nothing for a long while.

Whether the goats were a good or ill omen, I never figured out. The next day’s hike was a challenge. After a short hike to Jasper Lake, we consulted our maps and decided to leave the trail. Heading south, we saw, led us to Golden Lake, and below it Hidden Lake — and who wouldn’t be tempted by that name?

To reach it, however, we first had to navigate the slopes of Golden Lake, which were covered with ice and fallen rocks. Some were twice the size of my car, others mere pebbles, and they were mostly stable — mostly. We’d heard two rockslides the day before, and as we picked our way around the lake, our overweight packs throwing us off balance, we were acutely aware that a sudden peal of thunder could send down a shower far more deadly than rain.

But we made it. After climbing one last 300-foot hill, we gazed down into a long, deep canyon, its sides piled high with rocks, a crystalline stream rushing through its center toward a lush, green valley. Miles beyond, successive outlines of mountains etched the skyline in ever-fainter shades, and somewhere in between, we knew, was Hidden Lake.

As we maneuvered down this Hidden Valley, we realized Golden Lake had been a mere warm-up. This next descent demanded unstinting concentration, precision-timed leaps (with 40 pounds on our backs) and, when the canyon narrowed and the stream broadened, brute force of will.

Four hours later, our thighs and backs so sore we no longer noticed the weight, we arrived at Hidden Lake and trudged through the stream’s delta, soaking our shoes. The sun was setting, and after climbing one last, defiantly steep hill on which we’d camp, we felt both triumphant and defeated. To look at Hidden Lake was to see not only the splendor of nature but also its isolating power — we were the only humans here, the lake was ringed with cliffs, and there was no way out but to climb, climb, climb.

That night, we ate more mushrooms, rice and beans and played our harmonicas around a campfire, knowing the next day might be the toughest yet.

“I just want to see my Volvo again,” I said.

The trail we followed the next morning might have been made by man, or by beast, but it went straight up into the woods atop the ridge, vanishing and reappearing with disturbing frequency. Somewhere ahead was a proper trail, pocked with boot prints and horseshoes, but to find it we had to scan our maps, whip out the compass and backtrack half a mile before it leapt into focus. It took the better part of the afternoon, and our feet whined with blisters, but we finally found it. From there, it was a simple but endless slog, down through breathtaking valleys, up over lung-searing passes. Only the majesty of the buttes — and the dream of a steak dinner — kept us going.

By the time we reached the Beartooth Lake trailhead, Mary Ellen and I were exhausted, skinny, filthy and invigorated. Near the parking lot, we bumped into Ann Davey, a middle-aged woman from the suburbs of Billings, Mont., who was asking hikers about their journeys.

“That’s quite an accomplishment!” she exclaimed when we told her about ours. Only seasoned hikers — or crazy ones — attempted to enter Hidden Valley, she said, adding, “I’m just so happy to hear you did it.” Then she offered us a ride back to my car.

As her big white Suburban trundled uphill toward Island Lake, I wondered where we fit in: Were we now experienced, certifiably crazy or just lucky? All I knew was that in this battle of man and woman vs. wild, there were no losers.

8-)8-) Nice reading about it, armchair style - than experiencing it personally. The geography is what caught my eye. :)

(w) (w) Stay cool. (f) (f)

Si hoc adfixum in obice legere potes, et liberaliter educatus et nimis popinquus ades.

If you can read this bumper sticker, you are both very well educated and much too close.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-02-2007, 12:44 PM


August 2, 2007

A New Tribe of Tepee Dwellers


IBIZA, Spain

SERENA COOK is the ultimate social connector for the deep-pocketed summer set on this Spanish resort island. A former organic foods chef from London, she runs a concierge service that helps clients, who have included Calvin Klein, Hugh Grant and members of U2, get hold of V.I.P. party invites, prime-time restaurant reservations and desirable villas, which can rent for up to $16,000 a week in July and August.

But she’s pretty relaxed about her own surroundings. Her one-bedroom farmhouse in the hills outside the town of Evissa had no guest quarters, so she leased a nearby cottage for her visitors. When the rent went up, she did what any resourceful, neo-bohemian Ibizan would: She bought a 16-by-18-foot canvas tepee, had it painted with tribal patterns in earth red and big-sky blue, and set it up just beyond her pool in the shade of a palm tree. All for just $2,165.

“I always had this romantic idea of sleeping in a tepee,” said Ms. Cook, 33, who lives on the island from May through October (she runs her company, Deliciously Sorted, from London in the winter) and has furnished the room with a double bed, Mexican votive candles and a Persian rug. “But mainly, it was a really practical way to create another room.”

Ms. Cook is one of a small but growing number of residents here who have embraced the tepee as an appealing alternative to expensive home additions. On an island still heavily influenced by the countercultural ethos and grab-bag multiculturalism of the backpackers who flocked here in the ’60s, tepees strike many as an appropriately down-to-earth and soulful place to crash for the night.

Not that Ibiza hasn’t changed a lot in the 40-odd years since long-haired world travelers began descending on it from less temperate way stations like Goa, Morocco and Southeast Asia, taking over dilapidated farmhouses, called fincas. But even now, when the island has become a refuge for jet setters like Kate Moss and Jade Jagger, nearly every fashionable restaurant, nightclub and farmhouse boutique hotel is decorated with quasi-spiritual ephemera like Buddha statues, paintings of Hindu deities and embroidered Moroccan floor cushions. The tepee, which first drew notice here 10 years ago, when a yoga center imported several to house its students, was a natural for the island.

Ms. Jagger helped advance its cause soon after, when she set up a tepee with a disco ball and Moroccan carpets on the grounds of her finca in Sant Joan, a sort of rich, hippie-ish enclave in the north (she has since added a second). Then, last year, canvas tepees made by a Spanish company, Tipiwakan, began to be sold at 100% Ibiza, a consignment shop on an overgrown lot that looks something like a New Age junkyard. They range in price there from $2,500 (for a model 16 feet across and 18 feet high that can sleep up to eight) to $7,495 (for one that is 32 ½ feet and sleeps up to 25.) Painted decoration is extra.

“It’s turned into quite a business,” said Guillermo Fernandez Oriol, the owner of 100% Ibiza, who was sitting outside his home, a trailer tricked out with a tiki bar and outdoor couches for hanging out.

Last year, he said, he sold 12 tepees; this summer, before the start of his busiest month, August, he sold 15. (He has also begun to do a brisk business renting tepees to weekenders, who use them for parties at big rented villas; a 16-by-18-footer is $1,322 for three days, including candles, Moroccan rugs, floor cushions and dream catchers.)

His shamanesque installers are two brothers who live in tepees on a squat in the Ibizan forest, and who cleanse new tepees with sage burning and song. “Ninety-five percent of my buyers are homeowners from London or Germany who use them as guest rooms,” Mr. Fernandez Oriol said. “They have an open mind.”

Danny McGrath, a British-born film director, lives on Ibiza between shoots with his wife, Sophie, a costume designer, and their daughter in a 500-year-old finca in a remote valley down the road from Ms. Jagger. When they decided to move to Ibiza four years ago because they were sick of “worrying about which drinks party or dinner to attend” in the London film world, Mr. McGrath said, they brought a 16-by-20-foot tepee, setting it up among the pine trees down the hill from their finca as a private outpost for guests. Every year, they change the décor, using objects from movie sets they have worked on, like the current red-and-yellow Moroccan blankets and leather-stitched poufs from Ridley Scott’s 2005 movie “Kingdom of Heaven,” which Ms. McGrath worked on as a stylist.

“It’s a great place to come after a night crammed into a club or a party at a villa,” said Mr. McGrath, who became interested in tribal structures in the late 1980s, after living on the Paiute-Shoshone reservation near Bishop, Calif., while working as a ski instructor. “You can hang out in the tepee with friends just as the sun’s rising, and you can smell the dew in the air.”

Tepees seem to be particularly well suited to the Ibizan summer, with its cool nights and dry Mediterranean climate. For heating or marshmallow toasting, a small fire pit can be placed in the earth in the center — tepees don’t have floors — and a flap near the top that can be opened as a chimney. The lining can be pulled up or down to adjust the temperature and ventilation. And in case of high winds, the installers wrap a rope around the outside and tie it to stakes in the ground.

The major downside is the lack of bathroom facilities. Christelle and Matt Jones, a couple who moved from London to Ibiza two years ago with their four children (they are preparing to open an Ibiza branch of their London bakery, Flour Power City), had to relocate their tepee from the backyard to a spot closer to the house because of guests’ complaints about the treacherous midnight hike to the toilet.

Other hosts are more laid back. “Guests use the bathroom up at the house,” said Mr. McGrath. “But half don’t bother trying to get up the hill in time.” He often reminds guests that the Sioux and the Cheyenne lived that way, he said: “They had no running water but were a hygienic sort of people.”

In keeping with the prevailing spirit of Ibiza, tepee owners tend to draw on the lore of tribal life in their decorating. Many go well beyond the painted patterns on tepees like Ms. Cook’s in their efforts to evoke a sense of cultural and spiritual authenticity, displaying ceremonial Native American objects like carved wooden drums, dream catchers, medicine pouches and bunches of spiritually purifying dried herbs.

In fact, the original plains tepee had no religious or ceremonial significance, and this kind of decorating amounts to merely “glamorizing the past,” said Linda A. Holley, the author of “Tipis, Tepees, Teepees,” a guide to the history of tepees published by Gibbs Smith earlier this year. “It’s a myth that really isn’t there that a lot of people believe in anyway,” she said.

Others don’t even try for authenticity, blithely mixing furnishings from any number of cultures, as long as they seem suitably primitive. Ursula Erasmus, a German businesswoman who gave up her career as an importer of accessories from Asia last year because she “was sick of the stress of too many picky clients,” and retired to Ibiza, decorated her 23-foot tepee with dozens of cow- and goat-hide floor coverings bought on eBay and a Balinese day bed, along with Native American drums and instruments.

She got her tepee, which sleeps a dozen, last spring, after her 16-year-old son, who attends a Swiss boarding school, announced he was coming to visit in a month with his touring theater troupe. (“10 teenagers in all!” Ms. Erasmus said.) Then, at the last minute, her son canceled, so Ms. Erasmus has invited friends instead.

“Two shamans are flying in from Germany” later this summer, she said. And the various expats she knows from the African drum circle at Las Dalias, a restaurant and club in San Carlos, the nexus of the neo-hippie scene, “will come for a big party” at the end of the summer, she said, “where we will play music and grill food on the fire inside the tepee.”

Ms. Cook, meanwhile, opts to cede her house to her guests, and use the tepee herself.

“But when the sun comes up in the morning,” she said, “it gets hot as a furnace in there.” Not an ideal situation for her London friends who go out all night clubbing and want to sleep late.

“I have to get up early anyway for my job,” she said. “Just like the Indians.”

(l) (l)

For Buffalo Dreams

August 2, 2007

For Buffalo Dreams

TEPEES may be available at only one store on Ibiza, but there are plenty of sources in the United States.

REESE TIPIS specializes in the Sioux-Cheyenne composite style, using an easy-to-erect tripod support structure. Kits cost between $275 (for a 9-foot tepee covered in relatively light fabric) and $2,727 (for a 26-foot model with a highly durable fabric); poles and stakes are additional; reesetipis.com or (866) 890-8474.

NOMADICS TIPI MAKERS offers more than 60 variations of “traditional style artwork,” including soaring eagles, shaman figurines and “big dipper in night sky.” Prices range from $800 for a 12-foot model to $2,200 for 26 feet; tipi.com or (541) 389-3980.

WESTERN CANVAS in Wyoming decorates its tepees with tribal designs done by local Indians. Its complete tepee packages range from $646 (for a 12-foot model) to $4,159 (for a heavy-fabric 30-foot tepee); www.westerncanvas.com or (800) 587-6707.

RELIABLE TENT AND TIPI offers an 8 ½-foot children’s backyard model with an outline of an eagle, ready to paint, for $253, in addition to Sioux and Crow Indian styles; reliabletent.com or (800) 544-1039.

BRAIN TAN HIDE sells 14-foot tepees made from 10 buffalo bull hides and 3 strips of buffalo sinew, for $8,500; (505) 687-3267 or braintan.com/bison/wes4.html. Tepees can also be done in elk.

(y) (y) Very cool, except for the "family" part. When I search for get-away places, I make sure nobody under 14 is allowed. At least that guarantees some level of peaceful relaxing. Having a full-sized tepee (or two) on forested property - for use as a guest room is a pretty cool idea, IMHO.


Mutantur omnia nos et mutamur in illis.

All things change, and we change with them.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-02-2007, 12:48 PM

Tattoo: turning back time.


Inks trapped inside polymer beads could mean that painful removals will be a thing of the past.

Michael Pollitt

The Guardian

Thursday August 2 2007

Do you ever regret getting that tattoo? People often do - and then discover that removing it is a long, slow, often expensive and sometimes painful process whose results are by no means guaranteed.

But thanks to Professor Edith Mathiowitz of Brown University in the US, you might never need to again. Whenever you fancy new body art, a single laser treatment will clear the way - because the first durable, but easily removable, tattoo is just around the corner.

Trapped ink

The secret lies in microencapsulation, a process already used in many other applications, from drug delivery to magazine scratch-and-sniff perfume advertisements. This traps a useful substance inside a harder polymer which only breaks under controlled conditions - being rubbed in the scratch-and-sniff perfume, or in the gut for some drugs.

Here, the plan is to trap the tattoo inks in microscopic polymer beads. But whoever thought of applying it to tattoos?

"The idea began at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston by Dr Rox Anderson and by Bruce Klitzman at Duke University," says Mathiowitz, whose expertise lies in encapsulation research for pharmaceutical delivery systems. "Both of them approached me to take their idea further so that we could create a permanent but removable tattoo. Our challenge is to find the right combination of polymer and dye, and make it still hard enough so that you can push it through the skin and have it stay there."

That will be done conventionally, using sharp needles - tattooing is a painful process, and making the end result removable hasn't changed that. But when you want to remove the tattoo, the polymer beads can be burst with a single laser treatment, releasing the ink which then degrades naturally. The now-colourless bead coatings remain inert in your body, although bio-erodable ones - which would create a tattoo that would fade over time - are also possible.

"Traditionally, black ink absorbs all wavelengths of light. Our particles, however, were engineered to absorb more light at specific wavelengths, focusing the energy better on the beads and allowing the body to remove the tattoo ink," says Mathiowitz. "The non-erodible polymers will be left behind in the body. The bioerodable ones will be more challenging. You can design them to disappear after three months, six months or a year."

A New York company, Freedom-2 Inc, expects to start selling the new ink to tattoo artists in December. This will use biodegradable and bioabsorbable dyes encapsulated in microscopic (5-6 microns) polymethylmethacrylate beads suspended in solution.

Dr Nick Lowe is a consultant dermatologist and skin laser expert at the Cranley Clinic in London. He's also a spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation, the charity for skin disease research. He deals with all manner of skin problems, including tattoos which are painfully removed using lasers that shatter the pigments into pieces small enough for the body's immune system to deal with.

Fascinating concept

His advice about getting a tattoo? "Don't run in and get these done. It's a lot easier to have one put in than it is to have it taken off," says Lowe. "The laser treatment can damage the skin and permanently give you white scarring".

When shown Freedom-2's before and after publicity photographs of a tattoo trial, he points to areas of remaining tattoo and, more significantly, the removal of normal skin pigment and a loss of freckles. He also worries about possible allergic reactions, as well as simple lumps and bumps from the polymer.

"Has there been enough study done on this type of ink-polymer system to make sure that it is not, in some instances, difficult to remove?" asks Lowe. "I think that it's a fascinating concept that needs considerably more research."

Ta-ta, tattoo

Tattoos are normally situated between 1mm and 2mm under the skin. Before the arrival of pulsed medical lasers in the late 1980s, the options for removing an unwanted tattoo could be painful and disfiguring.


Cutting out pigmented skin is only suitable for small tattoos, because it leaves a scar. Taking a skin graft to replace the excised flesh just makes a scar elsewhere.


The skin is aggressively "sanded" with salt to remove the tattoo by abrading the covering layers of skin. This is probably one of the oldest methods of tattoo removal.


Surface layers of the skin are removed with a surgical sandpaper or special rotary tool.


Saline injections may help blur or break up a tattoo.

Chemical peeling

Also used for other skin conditions. It progressively removes the skin and, eventually, the tattoo.

Covering up

An unwanted old tattoo can be covered up or concealed with a new tattoo that uses darker inks.


:o I am still seriously considering a tat from before my 50th. Maybe one of these methods would suffice just in case I change my mind. :)

(f) (f)

Fac ut vivas.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-02-2007, 12:53 PM
:| :| :| :| :| :| :|

2 August 2007 11:31

Planet Murdoch: is nothing out of his reach?

Rupert Murdoch’s spectacular $5bn takeover of America’s revered ‘Wall Street Journal’ is the crowning moment of half a century’s deal-making and empire-building. Is anything out of his reach? Stephen Foley reports

Published: 02 August 2007

"Rupert is my boss. Rupert Murdoch has bought Dow Jones. Dow Jones owns my paper. So I am now an underling in the world's most evil corporate empire. "

This anonymous blog entry from a Wall Street Journal reporter just about summed up the sense of misery as the news sank in. At the paper's newsrooms across the US, journalists held impromptu wakes. "We stood around a pile of Journals and drank whisky," one told a reporter from a rival paper.

"The readers' comments on WSJ.com really got to people," another Journal veteran lamented. On the paper's website, reader after reader threatened to cancel their subscriptions. "This news is like hearing from an old friend that he has a debilitating, fatal disease," said one, in an unconscious echo of the late British playwright Dennis Potter, who called his cancer "Rupert".

"Murdoch will defile it and turn it into another example of his legendarily low-brow offerings," predicted one reader, and throughout the discussion, wags were coming up with tabloid-style headlines for the media business coup of the decade. The best: "D'oh! Simpsons boss Homers in on Journal".

It has taken Rupert Murdoch many years to become as hated in the US as he has been in the UK for more than two decades, and in his native Australia for longer still. But he has sealed that status thanks to his takeover of The Wall Street Journal /no spamming of other sites/ pious organ of the American financial establishment for over a century. Its previous owners, the Bancroft family, agonised about their duty to protect a national icon handed down through generations, but they could not turn down $5bn (£2.5bn), nearly twice what the paper was worth.

His success proves what his detractors fear most: he is rich enough, powerful enough and audacious enough to get anything /no spamming of other sites/ anything /no spamming of other sites/ that he wants. Now that his News Corp empire is absorbing the second best-selling newspaper in the US (one of its two or three most politically influential) he is more powerful than almost anybody without access to a nuclear button.

And the most extraordinary thing of all is that Rupert Murdoch is 76. What of rumours last year that he was starting to slow down, take more of an interest in consolidating the legacy for his children, retire from the daily grind and the nightly party circuit? Blown out of the water. The people with him throughout his four-month chess game with the Bancrofts say he has been as alive as ever, as vigorous and immersed in the detail and the plotting /no spamming of other sites/ indeed more so, since this is a trophy he has coveted personally for more than a decade rather than something News Corp is likely to make a large return on.

"This is what he likes to do, this is what keeps him going," says Michael Wolff, Vanity Fair's media commentator. "He thrives on this sort of confrontation, this insistence on his primacy. It is part of the Rupert Murdoch brand. That's the real value of spending $5bn: he gets to look once again as if he is unstoppable."

The Journal is the missing piece of the puzzle in the US, where his influence on the news is limited /no spamming of other sites/ if limited is the right word /no spamming of other sites/ to the country's newest and already most watched news channel, Fox News. Its unabashedly unfair and unbalanced right-wing outpourings, plus its mix of trashy personality stories, has utterly changed the landscape of television news, pushing CNN into second place and forcing the established channel to react in ways that critics allege have blurred the boundaries between news and comment. He also owns the New York Post, a trashy tabloid and a guilty pleasure for many New Yorkers, keen to see which misbehaving celebrities and politicians are being terrorised in its famous gossip column, Page Six. It is through the Post /no spamming of other sites/ which he rescued from bankruptcy, thanks to a waiver of media ownership restrictions /no spamming of other sites/ that Murdoch has waged feuds with the judge who imprisoned his business associate Michael Milken, politicians such as Teddy Kennedy ("Fat Boy", the Post calls him) who have opposed liberalised media laws, and business rivals such as Ted Turner.

And it is therefore in New York that Murdoch is concentrating his time, lounging in the 8,000 sq ft apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side that once belonged to the mighty Rockefellers /no spamming of other sites/ another trophy asset that he coveted for decades and only finally got the opportunity to buy in 2004.

With his wife, Wendi Deng, 38 years his junior, whom he first wooed when she was an executive at Star TV in Hong Kong, Murdoch has been extending his dynasty, with two daughters aged five and four. His renewed vigour may have much to do with the confused state of any succession plans /no spamming of other sites/ Lachlan, his eldest son, flounced out of News Corp in 2005 in a dispute over inheritance plans for the new daughters, leaving Murdoch without an obvious successor. The younger James is running the outpost BSkyB in the UK, and was brought in to help reassure the Bancrofts that the Murdoch family can be good stewards of the Journal, but he is not deemed experienced enough yet to take the torch from his father.

Not that he ever will. "Rupert will never have completed his task by the time he leaves this earth. He's a huge restless spirit," Kelvin Mackenzie, his editor at The Sun once memorably said. Murdoch himself jokes that he had planned to retire at 100, but has had to postpone it. Instead, through his ownership of the MySpace social networking site, he is having to do a whole lot of getting down with the kids, learning about the internet and new ways to distribute the media content being churned out by the Fox television studio, maker of The Simpsons and American Idol, and movie lots, which have just spawned another Die Hard. One of his most recent parties, covered in the West Coast gossip rags, saw MySpace founder Tom Anderson rubbing shoulders with Tom Cruise and American Idol judge Simon Cowell on the roof of Murdoch's Beverly Hills condo.

His East Coast pad plays host to more heavyweight guests from politics and business /no spamming of other sites/ Murdoch never fails to mix the two. He is a dramatic convert to the cause of Hillary Clinton's campaign for the White House, hosting a fund-raiser for the former First Lady and burying the hatchet after years when his papers castigated her and her husband. Since she was elected Senator for New York, he has been burying more than just the hatchet /no spamming of other sites/ stories on her marriage, too, if insiders at the New York Post are right.

It was ever thus, in Murdoch's giant empire, where the news is tweaked in ways that suit his interests and keep his friends sweet.

He does it in little ways. A Saudi businessman friend of Murdoch, the billionaire Prince al-Walid bin Talal, who owns shares in News Corp, took umbridge at Fox News' coverage of the riots in the Paris suburbs in 2005. He phoned Murdoch to complain specifically about a caption describing them as " Muslim riots", and within half an hour the mogul had stepped in to get the caption changed to "Civil unrest".

And he does it in big ways. The BBC was thrown off Star TV in Asia, broadcasting into China, after the Communist regime complained about its critical coverage. Murdoch was unapologetic: "Primarily a financial consideration. But it might have occurred to me /no spamming of other sites/ this might have not hurt relations with Beijing," he told The Wall Street Journal, even as he was promising he would not interfere in the paper's editorial line if he took it over. "At that stage, I had not been received by a single [Chinese] minister or anyone. They had a report from Xinhua that when I had the South China Morning Post I was a member of MI6 or MI5. So no one was allowed to see me. We just had a total blackout for five years."

Power and influence are melded together through Murdoch's long career in the news business. Last month /no spamming of other sites/ thanks to a Freedom of Information request by The Independent /no spamming of other sites/ we discovered that Murdoch had a hotline to Tony Blair at crucial moments during his premiership, and that the pair spoke three times in nine days in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. The war was strongly supported by Murdoch-owned newspapers around the world. On two occasions, the day after a call with Blair, The Sun launched vitriolic attacks on the anti-war French President Jacques Chirac.

But Michael Wolff says Murdoch's motivation is not power so much as just an interest in the news. That is why buying the Journal is quite a quaint move. "In this day and age, no rational media person likes newspapers except old people. Young people are not interested in newspapers, advertisers are not interested in the news. But Murdoch still loves getting his hands dirty at a newspaper. He is buying a present for himself."

How Rupert’s embrace stretches from Alaska to Australia


Harpercollins Publishing A leading worldwide consumer book publisher. In the late 1980s, acquired US publishers Harper & Row and Williams Collins. Merged in 1989 to form Harper-Collins, which principally operates in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. Worth $2.2bn.

Employees: 3,000 worldwide

North America

Fox Entertainment Group (100% owned)

Fox Broadcasting Co In 1986, News Corp launched Fox Broadcasting, the first new US TV network since 1948. Now reaches 98 per cent of US homes. Hit series include 24 and American Idol. Worth at least $36.6bn.

Employees: 5,300

Cable Network Programming (Includes Fox News, Fox Sport World, 50 per cent of National Geographic channel) Fox News channel launched in 1996 /no spamming of other sites/ now more popular than CNN.

Employees: 1,929

Twentieth Century Fox Film In 1985, Murdoch became a US citizen in order to buy more American media assets. That year he acquired Twentieth Century Fox film business. It has enjoyed a string of hits, including The Simpsons Movie.

Employees: 3,700 worldwide

MySpace In July 2005 Murdoch bought Intermix Media, owners of MySpace, for $580m. Murdoch hoped it would channel traffic to his other sites.

IGN Entertainment The MySpace acquisition was rapidly followed by the purchase of IGN, an internet video game company, for $650m, giving him control of gaming sites such as Game-spy and film criticism site Rotten Tomatoes.

GemStar-TV Guide International (41%) Provider of printed and interactive TV guides. Part of the magazines and inserts (carried in newspapers) business. News Corp’s magazines and inserts assets valued at $3bn.

Employees: 1,892

New York Post First bought 200-year-old New York Post in 1976 but forced to sell it for regulatory reasons. Acquired again (when on brink of bankruptcy) in 1988 for $25m.

Employees: 930

DirecTV (34%) Acquired stake in satellite broadcaster DirecTV in 2003 for $6.6bn after 20-year chase for a distribution network in the US. In 2006 agreed to transfer interest to Liberty Media in return for Liberty’s shares in News Corp. News Corp stake valued at $8.4bn.

Employees: 3,400

The Weekly Standard The intellectual cheerleader of the neocon right. Washington-based weekly political magazine has a circulation of 60,000.

Employees: 28

Latin America

Sky Latin America DirecTV Latin America Holdings include Sky Mexico and Sky Brazil, each of which has more than 700,000 customers and 100 channels in its respective territory. DirecTV Latin America and Sky Latin America are in the process of merging, which will give them a combined 3.3 million subscribers.

Other territories


HarperCollins Publishers Hathaway Cable (25%) NDS India (research and development plant in Bangalore)


NDS Israel (research and development plant in Jerusalem)

Channel 10 TV 9% stake taken in 2006


Fiji Times, Sunday Times, Nai Lalakai, Shanti Dut

Papua New Guinea

Post-Courier (63%)


News International

The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun, News of the World, TLS The company’s UK newspaper business, News International, is at the centre of a global newspaper empire estimated to be worth $11bn (before the Dow Jones deal). The UK accounts for 60 per cent of News Corp's newspaper revenues. The News International titles have around one third of the national newspaper market in Britain.

Employees: 4,000

NDS (78%) NDS makes smart cards for pay-television businesses, including News Corp’s own. News Corp’s stake is worth $1bn.

Employees: 1,500

BSkyB (35%) It offers more than 400 digital channels. and dominates the UK pay-TV market with 8.6 million subscribers. Aims to have 10 million subscribers by 2010. Sky is valued at about £11.5bn, making the News Corp stake worth £4.03bn.

Employees: 16,000

EASYNET Broadband internet provider, bought for £211m in 2005.

Amstrad This week News Corp splashed out £125m on Amstrad, founded by Sir Alan Sugar. Amstrad manufactures around a third of Sky’s set-top boxes. The deal is primarily a cost-reduction exercise for News Corp: it cuts out the middle-man. Sir Alan will remain chairman of Amstrad for the time being.

Employees: 300

Asia & The Middle East

Star TV A wholly owned subsidiary of News Corp, acquired 1993-1995, Star broadcasts across the Asia-Pacific region, through a mixture of cable, satellite and free-to-air services. Star has more than 40 channels in seven languages, and reaches more than 300 million viewers across 53 Asian countries.

Its main operations ( pictured) are in Asia. Channels include Star Chinese Channel, Star Plus, Xing Kong, Vijay, Phoenix Chinese Channel, Channel V , Star Sports, Star Chinese Movies, Star Mandarin Movies, Star Movies, Phoenix Movies Channel, Star News. Valued at $3bn. Serves: Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Mainland China, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Bangladesh, Brunei, Macau, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, UAE, Yemen.

Employees: 1,700

Phoenix Satellite TV (38%) Hong Kong-based. Operations include a subscription movie channel in China, and a 24-hour news outlet, InfoNews, broadcast via cable in Hong Kong and via satellite to Taiwan, Mainland China and rest of East Asia. In China, reaches more than 42 million households (140 million viewers), broadcasting in Mandarin.

China Network Systems (20%) Cable TV operator based in Taiwan; News Corp acquired stake in 2001.


Sky Italia (80%) News Corp entered Italian pay-TV market in 1999 with stake in Stream. Bought Telepiu, merged it with Stream, formed Sky Italia. Estimated value: up to $4.9bn.

Sky Radio European pop music network sold in 2006 as part of a €190m deal.

NDS France A software development venture.

Balkan News Corporation News Corp launched bTV, Bulgaria’s first national private television station, in 2000. Has a 40 per cent market share.

NDS Denmark Develops games software for television.

News Outdoor(75%) Billboard advertising company focused on emerging European nations and Russia.


News Limited The Australian, The Weekend Australian, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, Herald Sun, Sunday Herald Sun, The Courier-Mail (42%), The Sunday Mail (Brisbane, 42%), The Advertiser, Sunday Mail (Adelaide), The Mercury, Sunday Tasmanian, The Sunday Times, Northern Territory News, Sunday Territorian News Corp has more than 100 Australian newspaper titles /no spamming of other sites/ 70 per cent of the market.

Employees: 8,000

Fox Studios Australia The first major studio development for 20th Century Fox outside North America opened in 1998.

Employees: 129

Foxtel The leading subscription television provider.

Fairfax Took 7.5% stake in rival media conglomerate for $360m in 2006.


^o)^o) I guess I can always stop the yearly renewal of my WSJ subscription - if the format and especially very professional and well-written content is "Murdochized".......AKA ...becomes similar to National Inquirer TRASH. I can always spot a Murdoch-owned news web site - all glitterati photos and focus on "supposed celebs". Trash, I tell you.


Ut sementem feceris ita metes.

As you sow, so will you reap.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-02-2007, 12:56 PM
<:o) <:o) <:o)

Oh, and a Coffee Warning! ;)

Has the President misjudged Mr Brown's style?

By Andrew Grice, Political Editor

Published: 02 August 2007

Perhaps it wasn't the most appropriate present Gordon Brown has ever received. When he left Camp David on Monday, George Bush handed him a brown leather bomber jacket.

It bore the US presidential seal, with its symbol of an eagle, olive branch and arrows, and the label "Rt Hon Gordon Brown". It came in a huge cardboard box wrapped in gold paper also bearing the presidential seal.

The jacket was the same as the one worn by Mr Bush at Camp David at his first meeting with Tony Blair in 2001. At the time, the item of clothing that attracted most attention was Mr Blair's trousers, later described as "ball-crushingly tight" by Sir Christopher Meyer, who was Britain's ambassador in Washington.

Downing Street refused to comment on Mr Brown's rather unexpected present last night, saying it never commented on gifts. His aides said they were "not pleased" that the news had leaked out. The choice of gift will raise eyebrows because the bomber jacket might have been more appropriate for Mr Blair, given his "shoulder-to-shoulder" support for Mr Bush in Iraq. Before Mr Brown's trip to the US, the American media was awash with speculation that the Prime Minister would not have such a close personal bond with the President as his predecessor. At their press conference, Mr Brown acknowledged the problems in Iraq and made clear the withdrawal of British troops from the Basra area would not be delayed to avoid looking at odds with the "surge" of US forces in the Baghdad region.

Although Mr Brown voted for the Iraq invasion and publicly supported Mr Blair's decision, he has hinted he might not have gone to war so quickly by backing a multilateral foreign policy.

It is understood that Mr Brown gave Mr Bush a more conventional present - a book about Winston Churchill, the first British prime minister to visit Camp David. During his visit, Mr Brown repeatedly referred to Churchill as he spoke about the historic links between the US and Britain. Mr Blair loaned a bust of Churchill to Mr Bush for the duration of his term of office.

Details of gifts to ministers which are worth more than £140 are now published by the Cabinet Office. Its records show that in January 2003, Mr Blair received a holdall from the US government. In July that year, Mr Bush gave him some silver beakers. They were not purchased by Mr Blair for his personal use, which ministers are allowed to do if they want to keep presents worth more than £140.

Office gifts

* In 2005, John Prescott faced personal ridicule when he was presented with a cowboy outfit during a visit to the Texan ranch of the tycoon Philip Anschutz, who was bidding to open a supercasino at the Millennium Dome.

* Tony Blair was haunted by offerings of jewellery and watches - "Berlusconi's bling" - from the then Italian Prime Minister. Silvio Berlusconi lavished gifts on the Prime Minister and his wife including 18 watches, bracelets, a ring and earrings.

* Margaret Thatcher had regular gifts of jewellery, including a string of gifts from Middle Eastern states. But there is no record of any valuable gifts from her great ally Ronald Reagan.


:D What could I possibly add? Except I LOVE British news web sites. Talk about telling it like it is! :D

Re vera, cara mea, mea nil refert.

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-02-2007, 01:00 PM

Sharon Stone? 50 is not the new 30.


While many women heading for their half-century brace themselves for Botox, one writer found a better way.

Fifty? No, it's not the new thirty

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 02/08/2007

As she approached her half-century, Linda Kelsey braced herself for Botox, hot flushes and lying about her age. Facing reality, however, was more fulfilling .

Fifty, I'm on a mission to inform the world, is not the new Thirty. Despite what the glossy magazines tell you, Fifty is not even the new Forty. What I've discovered, after a long and sometimes tortuous journey, is that Fifty is the new Fifty, and it finally feels like something to celebrate.

It has, however, been quite a route from outrage to acceptance. Fifty is a particularly piercing wake-up call in women's lives.

It starts when that first Saga advert for cut-price insurance plops menacingly through your letter-box - on your birthday, for heaven's sake!

It continues when you look at yourself in a full-length mirror and realise that there's a whole new lexicon to describe the devastation you see before you - from bingo wings to muffin-tops, your body will never be just a body ever again but a series of graphically unpleasant euphemisms.

It takes on a scary new dimension when you are talking to the plumber about your pipes and find yourself blushing like a lovesick teenager all the way from your ankles to the top of your scalp.

It's around this time that you start thinking you can't wait for the children to be off your hands, then suddenly they're about to be and you're beside yourself with grief. (My son is 19.)

And then, in an instant, you find you have a couple more children on your hands - only these turn out to be your parents, who need as much care and attention in their old age as your children did when they were young. You look at your husband of maybe 15, 20 or 25 years and you think, now what? Or maybe he does, and suddenly he's upped and gone.

Like most women of my generation, I've had to face up to almost all of these things around the time of turning 50, and yet I find myself feeling ridiculously cheerful.

As I approached the big birthday, I had decided the time had come for some life-changing decisions. Like most of my friends, I resolved to start lying about my age. I also felt the moment had come to abandon my feminist principles and surgically change my face.

I vowed I was never, ever going to become one of those women who say ''Is it me, or is it hot in here?'' but intended to sail coolly through the menopause. Finally, if I could find someone short-sighted enough to oblige me - I was thinking a tall, dark, handsome stranger with mild cataracts - I was going to have a discreet little affair.

So much for the best-laid plans. If you're going to lie about turning 50, it's probably best not to write a novel, as I have just done, with the issue of hitting your half-century as its central theme.

I chickened out of the facelift after a dressing-down from my husband. He peered at me close up, as though examining the car for signs of wear and tear. ''Mmm,'' he said thoughtfully, prodding an under-eye bag. ''I reckon you've got a good two more years before we need to think about swapping you for a new model.

But you may like to have your head examined in the meantime.'' As for the burning issue of menopausal hot flushes, my poor husband is now the victim of a permanent stiff neck from the cold north wind that blew through the open bedroom window every night of last winter.

The affair? Well, I have indeed met lots of tall, dark, handsome strangers lately, but so far none with cataracts.

Instead of succumbing to ageorexia, the disease that's crippling middle-aged women (and younger ones, too) up and down the land who wish to do battle with sagging, wrinkles and bulges, I've decided to preserve what I can without resorting to cosmetic surgery, and live with what I can't. My eventual decision not to succumb to Botox, lunchtime lasers or the knife was reached after a recent trip to New York.

I happened to be staying on the Upper East Side, where the matrons of Madison Avenue hang out and walk their Pekinese. These uniformly wealthy women, with access to the shiniest cosmetic scalpels in the business, looked eerily identical, like the aged aunts of the Stepford Wives.

Not good, not youthful, but most definitely weird. Some of my friends back home are heading the same way. I decided I'd rather look saggy than paralysed.

Of all the compliments you might pay a middle-aged woman, ''you don't look your age'' is the one that's guaranteed to make her spirits soar. It has sent my mood skywards enough times.

But I now see how empty a compliment it is. To be blessed with good genes or a good surgeon doesn't make a woman special, all it does is reinforce society's nutty and pernicious obsession with youth. I eat healthily, I exercise regularly, I dress fashionably, wear make-up and cover the grey roots of my hair. That's as far as I'm prepared to go.

I'd like to think there are changes in the air. And I don't mean the media fanfare about one sexy sexagenarian winning an Oscar - Helen Mirren for her portrayal of the Queen - although we can all applaud her singular achievement.

Nor do I mean the meticulously retouched celebrities such as Sharon Stone and other ''older'' A-listers, rolled out ad nauseam as proof that older women are still sexy.

The role models who mean something are rather closer to home. Like the splendid women of 50-plus in Dove's Beauty Comes of Age campaign, and public faces such as Sandra Howard, writing her first novel at 64.

Like the increasing number of women in their fifties with the courage to walk out on marriages gone rotten and prepared to face a foggy future alone rather than settle for long-term unhappiness, and the growing breed of female fiftysomethings turning to enterprise and self-employment, forming an exciting new wave of ''olderpreneurs''.

My personal strategy for dealing with the F-word, after something of a struggle, is to focus on enjoying what I am, rather than to rue what I no longer can be. To reflect on all the things I've achieved - in my career, as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend.

To plan all the things I want to do, one new thing a year until I keel over completely. Last year it was to write my first novel. This year it has been to learn how to sing. Next year, who knows?

A wise older woman once said that she didn't mind being regarded as being over the hill because it's only once you're over the hill that you pick up speed. I say 50 cheers to that.

• 'Fifty Is Not a Four-Letter Word' by Linda Kelsey.


(y) :D (y) :D Exceptionally well done article!! Air brushing indeed. ;)

(f) (f)

Si fractum non sit, noli id reficere.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-02-2007, 01:03 PM
8-| 8-|

New biometric technology means one in the eye for airport queues

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 02/08/2007

Beat the crowds at UK airports this summer by taking advantage of the latest biometric technology, says Emma Hartley

It's been a bad week for the British airport queue. First, MPs said that standing in one could make you a "sitting duck" target for terrorists.

Then Kitty Ussher, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, warned that "Heathrow hassle" and long queues, particularly at passport control, were deterring business people from flying to London for meetings, which could have a long-term impact on the national economy.

Never has air travel been less glamorous for the British holidaymaker. The recent beefing-up of airport security, while understood and accepted with typical stoicism, has none the less turned foreign sojourns into an epic and tiring series of queues and checks.

But it needn't be that way: there is a recently installed digital solution to at least half of the problem - the part encountered at the arrivals hall in the UK - available to those travellers classified as "low security risk".

IRIS, an acronym for Iris Recognition Immigration System, is a service provided free at the point of contact by the Immigration Service, in which eight British airport terminals - four at Heathrow, two at Gatwick plus Birmingham and Manchester - have the facility to scan a human iris. As with a fingerprint, every iris is unique, even for identical twins.

The iris-scanning process takes about two minutes and no appointment is necessary; you just need to clear security at a participating airport, keep hold of your boarding card, and ask to be directed to the IRIS suite.

The particular infrared camera system used to power IRIS was developed by Sagem Défense Sécurité, a French company that has also developed iris-scanning applications for military use, but the basic technique involves taking simultaneous pictures on two light frequencies - ambient light and that from a light-emitting diode in the infrared region.

Paul Stanborough, managing director of rival outfit Aditech, explains: "It's the red light that makes the picture of the iris unique. That's the clever bit that generates the algorithm, coding the image and allowing it to be stored and found again."

With the images of your irises held on a database, when you return to the UK you can skip the long queue at passport control and instead head for the IRIS gate. The queue here, by comparison, is determined entirely by the scheme's uptake - only around 100,000 have enrolled so far, very few of whom will be travelling at any given time, so there is rarely any queue at all.

Moreover, the day when that line will be the same length as the others is a long way off, not least because access to the scheme is restricted to those deemed "low risk".

Passing through the IRIS system involves simply gazing into a mirrored box at the recognition technology, which should spring the gate open within seconds.

IRIS users are and will remain almost entirely UK passport holders, according to Brodie Clark, the Government's strategic director for border control. "It is possible, though, that if [non-British passport-holders] fly to the UK often on business and are not on any police watch-list, you may also be eligible," he said.

Because the data is not stored on your passport but on the Immigration Service's database, the scheme is unaffected by passport expiry. However, IRIS must be activated within six months of enrolling and is valid unused for two years but renewed every time it is used.

It is designed for frequent flyers, most probably business and solo travellers. It's not without its pitfalls: if, for instance, someone takes a small child into the IRIS gate the technology will not work since it is designed for one person at a time. Similarly, a person wearing backpack-style hand luggage might create the impression of two people in the booth and disrupt the process, so all baggage must be put on the ground.

Until now, the system's existence at passport control has remained a rather well-kept secret. The three other people who presented themselves for enrolment at Gatwick South Terminal during the 15 minutes or so I was there this week all said that they had heard about it in a roundabout way, through random browsing on the internet or from friends.

However, it is understood that the Government is about to launch a promotional drive to encourage greater use of the IRIS technology.

And the benefits of IRIS will be felt elsewhere in the airport, too. Since the time-saving benefits of iris-scanning are wiped out if you speed through immigration just to hang around at the baggage carousel waiting for your suitcase, the scheme indirectly encourages people to take less luggage when they travel, leading in turn to shorter check-in times.

Balm to the soul for Britain's weary travellers.

• Information at www.iris.gov.uk

• The Science Museum in South Kensington, London SW7 (0870 870 4868; www.sciencemuseum.org.uk) is holding a three-day event on the science and technology of biometrics called 'Please Identify Yourself'. Open 10am to 6pm from August 14 to 16. Entry free.


(h) (i)

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-02-2007, 01:09 PM

Hanging Rabbit

Determination vs. Distraction

Fear not, rabbit lovers; you'll find no bunnies ascending the gallows here. Rather, this site presents one very tenacious carrot lover who imagines your cursor to be a beta-carotene snack. Try and shake him; you'll only resign in grudging admiration of his hoppity chutzpah.

Desire shackles us all:


(h)(h)(h) Very cool and alot of fun. It made me laugh and wake Wyatt up. :D


Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-02-2007, 01:13 PM
8-| 8-|


Need an opinion?

With polls on just about everything—sports, entertainment, politics, and more—BuzzDash lets you keep your finger on the pulse of public opinion. You can even start your own polls to measure issues that matter to you. And it's more convenient than a soap box.

Not just for busy bees:


:| :| Like we are not already inumdated with extraneous info daily. ;) Here's a web site for everything you probably didn't know that you needed to know. Or something like that. ;)

Multum in parvo.

Much in little.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-02-2007, 01:15 PM
Groovy Green

Saving the world is suddenly cool

A local site with a global perspective, Groovy Green offers information about environmental consciousness. There's also a breaking news section to keep you updated on cool new developments and trends in the green community.

Sustainable surfing:


“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” - Mohandas K. Ghandi

(y) (y)

Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

What goes around, comes around.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-02-2007, 01:18 PM
:o :o

New 7 Wonders

Build it and they will vote

Out with the ancient world, in with the new. Check out the results of this international survey to choose the new 7 wonders of the world—from the Great Wall of China to the Taj Mahal in India. Plus, you can vote on the 7 wonders of nature.

Sorry, Colossus of Rhodes:


|-) |-) ....Must be the intense heat and humidity........:) I wonder about the research methods used to come up with this list. ^o) ^o)

Nosce te ipsum.

Know thyself.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-02-2007, 01:22 PM

Bicycle Universe

All bikes, all the time

Who knew there was so much to know about bicycles? Well, apparently these nice folks at Bicycle Universe do. They provide tons of free information about equipment, safety, laws, history, and more.

Keep on pedaling:



Noli nothis permittere te terere.

Don't let the b*st*rds wear you down. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&)

08-02-2007, 01:29 PM

Brilliantly subversive humor, woeful anatomical ignorance or just a wonderfully clueless mistake? I'm guessing the last, but in any case the wired world is having a good horselaugh this morning over this Xinhua story on multiple sclerosis research, illustrated with an X-ray of Homer Simpson's brain (let me know if the link goes dead; I have a screenshot). Computerworld says it's just one more example of the Chinese state-run media's willingness to ignore image copyrights. Others blame cultural unfamiliarity. "Despite the foreign language polishers, the writers and editors who produce English and other foreign language content for Xinhua and other state-owned media organizations do not have the cultural awareness necessary to avoid errors like the misuse of the Homer Simpson illustration," said Jeremy Goldkorn, editor of the English-language Chinese media blog Danwei.org. But geez, whether or not you care about copyright or recognize Homer Simpson, surely a cursory glance by someone along the line would have spotted something a little off. Nut-size brain floating in big, empty skull? Or maybe, as Joey de Villa at Global Nerdy suggests, it wasn't noticed because of the influence of some Asian tech manuals and their cartoon style. But I'm still betting on the overworked, underpaid, tired and possibly hungover news clerk theory.




A photo of Homer Simpson accompanying a genuine article about multiple sclerosis (MS) has exposed Chinese state-run media's penchant for using images without permission.




:D :D :D

Non calor sed umor est qui nobis incommodat.

It's not the heat, it's the humidity. (w) (w)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-02-2007, 01:36 PM

...a thorough examination of the correlation between the mortality rate of red-shirted Enterprise crew members, fights and Kirk's success with alien women.


(y) (y) The conclusion is priceless!!!!! (y) (y) Misogynistic? Definitely. But as I read through the study.......the conclusion not only made sense but was funny, IMHO. Captain Kirk needs to be brought down a peg or two....;) And, no, I was not an avid Star Trek fan. :)


Non calor sed umor est qui nobis incommodat.

It's not the heat, it's the humidity. (w) (w)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-02-2007, 01:44 PM


(y) (y)


Animadvertistine, ubicumque stes, fumum recta in faciem ferri?

Ever noticed how wherever you stand, the smoke goes right into your face?

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-05-2007, 08:14 PM




Non calor sed umor est qui nobis incommodat.

It's not the heat, it's the humidity. (w) (w)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-05-2007, 08:15 PM
(l) (l) (l) (l) (l) (l) (l)

This historic New Mexico city, which has thrived as a tourist destination by tenaciously preserving its past, is slowly beginning to embrace the future.

Slide Show: The New Santa Fe:


August 5, 2007

Is Santa Fe Ready for a Makeover?


A SUNDAY evening in late June. A crowd of well-dressed people is spilling out of the St. Francis Auditorium at the Museum of Fine Arts in downtown Santa Fe, a grand adobe building some 90 years old, with monolithic mud towers and tender curvaceous walls connecting them. The late sun doesn't just gleam on the old adobe edifice. It's deeper than that. The red and orange that lights up on the walls, over the heads of the exiting crowd, seems to come from deep within them. The low light tranforms the scene into a vision.

There's a moment like this almost every evening in Santa Fe, when the light suddenly transfigures the earthen buildings, the lush cottonwood trees, even the blacktop and cars. It all becomes luminous and dreamlike. It's as if the light contains some special MSG of sight, and one can't stop staring. Santa Fe must have offered this spectacle for the last four centuries, since the Palace of the Governors was built on the plaza by the Spanish.

That light — the cottonwood-filtered sunlight of the morning, the thick orange-juicy light of the evening; a light that matches other famed atmospheres, such as Venice's gauzy haze or Provence's luminosity — is one reason why Santa Fe seems to exert such power over both the people who live there and the ones who return year after year. Powerful, too, is the pull of its history, a history that is solidified in the mud of its buildings and that seems almost palpable, like some slow-moving river that cuts through the center of the city. Yet around town, there is a sense of change. People are talking about a New Santa Fe.

The Rail Runner commuter train is coming, linking Santa Fe directly to downtown Albuquerque in an hour and a quarter. A huge new $100 million commercial center, the Railyard, is being built downtown, a rival hub to the plaza in contemporary-industrial steel and glass. Tax incentives have greatly enhanced the film industry in New Mexico, and much of the post-production is centered around Santa Fe. The celebrated Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta is now represented not only by the Marion Center for Photographic Arts at the College of Santa Fe but also by the Zocalo, an extraordinary condominium development spilling down a hillside north of town. And in 2005, Santa Fe was designated America's first Unesco Creative City, a global acknowledgment of its place at the forefront not just of folk art, crafts and design, but in new media too.

The old and the new: Can a 400-year-old city change? Do its inhabitants want it to? How much can a tourist town that lives off its heritage welcome change?

On a quiet street on the east side of Santa Fe, among the ochre and rose of the traditional adobe homes, there's one discreet house whose lines are sharper than most, whose stucco is a shade grayer. What you can see of it from the road is an intriguing blend of the masses and layering of traditional Indian pueblos, with a contemporary starkness. You wouldn't imagine that it — and its architect, Trey Jordan — had been at the center of an ugly controversy since it was built two and a half years ago. Vandalized, covered in graffiti, discussed at Historic Design Review Board meetings, the house — and a few others of his around town — have made Mr. Jordan both a bête noire of the traditionalists, who would like to see nothing but old-fashioned Santa Fe-style houses going up in historic districts, and a mascot of those who think it's time the city allowed in a breath of change. These days, both parties seem to be winning.

Ever since the 1920's when Santa Fe's Pueblo Revival style, with its adobe walls, viga beams, molded corners and kiva fireplaces, was established and codified, the city has appeared to be one of the best-preserved in the United States. Devotees of its mud architecture, of this southwestern Timbuktu, speak of a native style risen from the earth itself. But the city's look was actually a deliberate concoction, brewed up by the city elders in the 1910s. The railway had bypassed Santa Fe in the 1870's, and the city watched with a tinge of green in its eyes as Taos became a magnet for the arts in the early 20th century.

The leading citizens decided it was time to start promoting the state capital. A museum was needed, and a distinctive architectural style, something exotic. First they considered going Alhambra, but after the Scottish Rite Temple went up in 1911 as the first example of the new look — bright pink with moorish arches — they rethought things (mercifully, some say) and went adobe instead.

Their foresight was inspired. Almost a century on, the city they helped design and midwife remains one of the best-loved in America. It has only 75,000 inhabitants but its renown is global. For many decades it has been, and remains, a dynamo of American art and culture. O'Keeffe, Willa Cather, Bob Dylan, Bruce Nauman, Susan Rothenberg, Cormac McCarthy — the roll call of arts greats who have spent time there is disproportionate for such a far-flung desert oasis. In the '80s and '90s, Santa Fe Style, a repackaging of the original Pueblo Revival, became one of the most celebrated design looks on the continent. With success like this, who would want anything to change?

Some don't. Many don't. The Historic Board has done an admirable job over the decades of maintaining a consistent look for Santa Fe, but behind its adobe walls, and behind some newer walls made of glass, steel and concrete, there is undeniably a new, and perhaps more sophisticated, more internationally aware cultural center emerging.

For over a century, Santa Fe and northern New Mexico have been a place of healing, a land of the cure. First it was tuberculosis; while Texas and California closed their borders to consumptives, New Mexico welcomed them. Then when Mabel Dodge Luhan moved to Taos in 1916, the area became a focus of New Thought, of artists and thinkers who felt called to develop antidotes to the malaise of modern civilization. Urban-refugee hippies congregated in the '60s. It has long been a city for seekers and dreamers wanting to heal the dissatisfactions of consumerist life.

The old days of Santa Fe when one beloved local artist had a billboard up on the highway trumpeting his own brilliance — “Tommy Macaione, New Star of the Art-World Firmament” — are surely gone. A particular Southwestern brand of bohemianism — part Bob Dylan, part van Gogh, part Ken Kesey — is probably dying out. But as Jan Morris commented 20 years ago, beneath the touristic veneer of Santa Fe there has long been a dedicated community of serious sun-cured artists, who work hard and have little to do with the tourist town. And it continues to attract exceptional talent. Mr. Jordan's modernist-Pueblo architecture; the cuisine of chefs like Nelli Maltezos; the jewelry of Denise Betesh; the Nobel-stuffed think tank and research center at the Santa Fe Institute.

I've been coming for nearly 15 years, and while the ancient fabric of this old American city still exerts its powerful magnetism, there is clearly a more contemporary city coming to the fore too, one that is arguably more connected to the rest of America, and indeed the world. It's manifest in art, in design, and even in cuisine. The fact that northern New Mexico has long been a center of innovative green building is also now bringing it into greater prominence as a design hub. What was once crazy hippie solar architecture (“biotecture,” as Michael Reynolds, the Earthship pioneer, calls it) is becoming mainstream thinking on sustainable design. While the hippie-hacienda-ism best seen in ceramic-encrusted bermed homes may still be a fringe look, its principles of green living are not.

It only takes a stroll around the center to see it happening.

SITE Santa Fe, an installation center that pulls in site-specific art from around the world, has been an anchor in Santa Fe's status as an art hub since it was founded in 1995. Located a mile or two west of Canyon Road, the city's traditional art thoroughfare, it has also become the cornerstone of a new colony of art galleries that seem altogether more serious ventures in contemporary art than the cowboy-and-Indian art and the irony-free kitsch that still dominate much of Canyon Road. (Though there are exceptions even there, such as the new Gallery Moda, which has a formidable collection of post-war prints by American artists, Ellsworth Kelly, Jim Dine, Jasper Johns, Wayne Thiebaud and Robert Motherwell among them.)

Because of the Railyard development happening around it, which includes a large public park, SITE will soon become a kind of museum-in-the-park, a fact that delights its current director, Laura Heon. One oddity of Santa Fe's art scene is that although big-name artists live here, and big collectors have homes here, the galleries are mostly regional in what they offer. SITE is an exception: internationally renowned, yet until recently, comparatively unrecognized in its hometown.

Not far up Old Pecos Trail, CCA, the Center for Contemporary Arts, is committed to elevating contemporary regional art to a national level. It's currently undergoing major reconstruction. A derelict World War II tank garage next door is being turned into the Muñoz Waxman Gallery, overlooked by a glass mezzanine; the James Turrell “SkySpace” in the grounds — said to be the first he ever built, 21 years ago — will soon be reopened to the public.

Even the city's food has felt the shock of the new. Aqua Santa, under the guidance of the Slow Food wizard Brian Knox, continues to fill up night after night with the great and the good. For close to a century now the city has had a sprinkling of notable artists and writers, but there seems to be a new and more visible concentration of celebrities here these days. On that Sunday night in June, for example, when a crowd of 400 attended a V-Day reading in the St. Francis Auditorium presided over by Eve Ensler (of “Vagina Monologues” fame), a number of people wended their way afterward through the narrow downtown streets to Aqua Santa, where a reception was held on its leafy patio. Amid the crowd sipping Gruet sparkling wine (from a New Mexican vineyard run by an old French Champagne family) various stars could be glimpsed: Ali McGraw, Jane Fonda, Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame (who recently moved there in a blaze of local publicity) and Val Kilmer. The wealth of second-homers was also in sparkling evidence.

Ristra restaurant has a gleaming new bar that wouldn't feel out of place in SoHo; La Mancha, the restaurant at the Galisteo Inn south of town, has settled down after a couple of uncertain years with a strong new chef, Kim Müller, formerly of the Compound; La Boca, a new tapas house in downtown, offers contemporary reinventions of traditional Spanish cuisine; and 10 miles south of town at the train station in Lamy, which saw many luminaries pass through — Jung, D. H. Lawrence, Huxley, Stieglitz — a 1950 dining car of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad has been resurrected for breakfast and lunch.

Meanwhile Trattoria Nostrani continues its meteoric rise in American gastronomy, now recognised as one of the 50 best restaurants in the country by Gourmet magazine. Its chef, Nelli Maltezos, recently rolled out her summer menu, a sequence of dishes that seem to float to the table from some culinary Olympus, a mountainside up which many a $40 entree elsewhere labors with effort. The Inn of the Anasazi's restaurant has a new chef, Martin Rios, who grew up in Santa Fe before training under French chefs in New York City and France. He calls his cooking contemporary global, but his expertise is fundamentally French. From the new terrace on the street you can watch a sublime New Mexican sunset cast its spell over downtown.

After decades of careful preservation, Santa Fe is beginning to offer sure proof that the old and new can coexist. As Gov. Bill Richardson puts it, “Unesco recognized Santa Fe as a Creative City not for the things it makes; it recognized Santa Fe for the way it lives.”

“Thousands of people attend Midnight Mass at the Basilica de Santa Fe on Christmas Eve, a ceremony that's accompanied by a traditional Native American sign language interpreter,” the governor said. “The world's next-generation genome sequencers are being installed just a few miles from the Palace of the Governors built by the Spanish almost 400 years ago, the nation's oldest public building. One son in a family learns their centuries-old tradition of weaving, the daughter does advanced physics research up the hill.”

You can still go there to get away from it all. But if you want to go there to bask in some of the most beautiful light on the continent without leaving the rest of the world behind, you can. Who could ask for more?



SITE Santa Fe (1606 Paseo de Peralta; 505-989-1199; www.sitesantafe.org; closed Mondays and Tuesdays; $10 entry, $5 for students and 60 or older, but free on Fridays). The current show, a dismembered trailer home by the Austrian Hans Schabus, is an intriguing new take on the West.

CCA: Center for Contemporary Arts (1050 Old Pecos Trail; 505-982-1338; www.ccasantafe.org). The inaugural show in the new tank-warehouse gallery, “Chopped, Chromed, Customized,” opening Aug. 25, will feature lowrider-inspired art.

James Kelly Contemporary (1601 Paseo de Peralta; 505-989-1601; www.jameskelly.com). The current exhibition is a much-praised, much-debated show by Sherrie Levine (plain plywood boards a dominant feature).

G. Coles-Christensen Rug Merchants (125 West San Francisco Street; 505-986-6089; www.therugmerchants.com). The store, run by Gary Coles-Christensen, is stuffed with thousands of gorgeous kilims, gabbehs and antique carpets from across the world.


All prices are for two without wine or tip.

Aqua Santa (451 West Alameda Street; 505-982-6297). Among the offerings are truffle-infused halibut with chard, and endlessly braised shepherd's lamb; and they have a good supply of wonderful Domaine Tempier Bandol rosé. Lunch Wednesday through Friday, about $40 to $60; dinner Tuesday through Saturday, about $90.

La Boca (72 West Marcy Street; 505-982-3433; www.labocasantafe.com). On the current menu are grilled artichokes with Spanish goat cheese, orange zest and mint, and ginger grilled shrimp with Moroccan spiced yogurt. Lunch Monday through Saturday, $30 to $50; dinner daily, $50 to $100, with a limited tapas menu from 3 to 5:30 Monday through Saturday afternoons.

Inn of the Anasazi (113 Washington Avenue; 505-988-3030; www.innoftheanasazi.com). Highlights include chilled avocado soup with chipotle-glazed prawn, Colorado lamb chops and semi-boned quail with foie gras brioche. Daily, lunch $45 to $60; dinner $90 to $140.

La Mancha (Galisteo Inn, 9 La Vega Road, Galisteo; 505-466-8200; www.galisteoinn.com). A small dining room in a lovely 300-year-old hacienda inn, surrounded by lawns, giant cottonwoods and grazing llamas. Dinner Wednesday through Saturday, $50 to $100; Sunday brunch, $20 to $40.

Lamy Station Café (505-466-1904; www.lamystationcafe.com). A railroad dining car restored by Michael Gintert and Sam Latkin, full of chunky original stainless-steel features. They're not in the market for Michelin stars, but Mr. Gintert's huckleberry barbecue sauce has been featured on the Food Network. Breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Saturday and brunch on Sunday, $18 to $32.

Ristra (548 Agua Fria Street; 505-982-8608; www.ristrarestaurant.com). The restaurant has achiote grilled elk tenderloin and tempura squash blossom with Boursin cheese and red chili beurre blanc. Dinner $75 to $110.

Trattoria Nostrani (304 Johnson Street; 505-983-3800; www.trattorianostrani.com). The summer menu includes savory crepe with crab, spinach and egg and marinated swordfish with smoked prosciutto salad with wild dandelions. Watch out for the ruthlessly enforced no-scent policy; there have been reports even of octogenarians summarily dismissed for a dab of Chanel. Dinner Monday through Saturday $135 to $180.


Inn of the Anasazi (113 Washington Avenue; reservations, 800-688-8100; www.innoftheanasazi.com). A few steps from the plaza, this is generally reckoned to be the best in town. Rates for doubles currently start at $349.

The Inn of the Five Graces (150 East DeVargas Street; 505-992-0957; www.fivegraces.com). Hidden away down a back street a short walk from the plaza, and incorporating a favorite old restaurant and bar, the Pink Adobe, this is a sumptuous, somewhat eccentric hideaway. Suites from $385.

Garretts Desert Inn (311 Old Santa Fe Trail; 800-888-2145; www. garrettsdesertinn.com). The best things about this place are that it's right in downtown, and great value; the worst is that it actually charges hotel guests to park during the day, even though it's a motel. Incredible, but true. Doubles from $109 through October.

Santa Fe Sage Inn (725 Cerrillos Road; 505-982-5952; www.santafesageinn.com). About as nice as a motel can be, and a very short drive from downtown, this is very conveniently located for the Railyard and SITE Santa Fe. Doubles from $85.

(l) (l) (l)


Mutantur omnia nos et mutamur in illis.

All things change, and we change with them.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-05-2007, 08:17 PM
:s :s


Taking blows to the head and falling from 35 feet are two pastimes at a stunt-training school in the Bronx.


August 3, 2007

Fall Down, Go Boom, Get Paid. Then Teach Others How.


High above the ground, one man crashed a beer bottle over the head of another man, sending him tumbling 35 feet. Nearby, a third man went crashing down a flight of stairs.

No one was seriously injured. In fact, no one even was scratched. For the men involved in the tussling, it was just another day on the job.

The violence was all for show and was part of a demonstration at a professional stunt-training school that is opening this month on what was previously a vacant lot on Amethyst Street near Rhinelander Avenue in the Van Nest neighborhood of the Bronx.

The man who fell 35 feet from a platform, Anthony R. Persad, landed safely on a 12-by-12-foot air bag, while the man who tumbled down the stairs, Teel James Glenn, seemed unfazed.

Both men quickly got up and did it again.

“I get to do everything we were told not to do in the second grade,” said Mr. Glenn, 52, who has been a stuntman for 30 years. “I run with scissors and make loud, obnoxious noises. And people pay me for it. It’s great.”

Among other things, Mr. Glenn has fallen down stairs on one soap opera, “One Life to Live,” and was in a hurricane scene in another, “All My Children.”

The instructional school, called Hollywood Stunts, was founded by Bob Cotter, another professional stuntman. Mr. Cotter said he had performed in several movies — including “Rounders,” in which he was tossed out of a bathroom by a couple of thugs — and commercials.

Mr. Cotter, 54, said that while filming stunts in New York he would routinely meet people who would ask him how they could learn more about doing stunts.

So he decided to open a school, a process that was much more difficult than he had imagined.

He said he spent years searching vacant lots that he could rent and was turned down by property owners more times than he could remember because of safety concerns.

Finally, in April he found a parking lot surrounded by houses and small businesses and turned it into a 6,000-square-foot center for people who want to learn things like armed and unarmed combat, high falls, car hits, fire gags and window penetration.

Mr. Cotter said he invested about $150,000 in stunt equipment and pays $65,000 a year for insurance.

Two posters with the name of the training center are attached to the fence that surrounds the training area. Inside, a small storage shed holds most of the stunt equipment.

A 60-foot scaffold, a trampoline, a staircase and a covered area full of padded mats are spread out on the property, and the ground is padded with wood chips.

"Performing stunts is an adrenaline rush,” Mr. Persad said. “I like sharing the feeling with other people.”

Mr. Persad has been a stuntman for five years, and he has been killed many times. As for being hit on the head with a beer bottle, he said it “felt like a soft Nerf football.”

“It’s all about concentration,” he said.

Seventeen of the 20 slots for the first three-week program for people 18 and older are already filled, Mr. Cotter said. He added that he has 17 instructors, all of whom are career stunt performers.

A weekend class for boys and girls 10 to 17 years old will be offered later, he said. Advanced classes for people who have completed the other class will focus on one individual stunt at a time.

“We are going where no one has been,” he said.

Mr. Cotter got into the stunt business by being in the right place at the right time. He said he was working as an extra on the set of a music video for the Rolling Stones in 1996 when, at the end of a long day, the director was frustrated by an actor who had been hired to take a fall.

Mr. Cotter asked the director if he could try. He said that if he failed, he would not ask for any money.

One successful fall later, Mr. Cotter had a new career, although he did take a stunt course in Seattle.

And now he finally has his own training center.

“I put all my energy into this school,” Mr. Cotter said. “I pretty much put everything else on the back burner. There’s been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears at times on my part. There were times I second-guessed my dream, but I never stopped reaching for it.”

:o :o


Si hoc adfixum in obice legere potes, et liberaliter educatus et nimis popinquus ades.

If you can read this bumper sticker, you are both very well educated and much too close.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-05-2007, 08:20 PM
(l) (l) (l)

Art lovers, shopaholics and pessimists alike will find something to rave about in this quirky city that some call the most beautiful place in the United States.

(l) (I AGREE....it's definitely near the top of my list....) (l)

Slide Show: Weekend in Sedona


<EYES WATERING.....BIG SIGH...viewing the Slide Show......>

Crossing Oak Creek at Red Rock Crossing.


36 Hours in Sedona, Ariz.


ASK five people to sum up Sedona, and you'll probably get five wildly different responses. Art lovers exclaim over the galleries specializing in Southwestern tableaus. Shopaholics rave about boutiques selling Western duds and American Indian jewelry. Pessimists rue the rash of T-shirt shops, while enlightenment-seekers wax spiritual about its “vortexes.” And outdoor enthusiasts rhapsodize about hiking among red rock spires and ancient Indian ruins. All of this is great news for visitors, who can sample it all — even a U.F.O.-viewing site — in a quirky city that some call the most beautiful place in the United States.


5 p.m.


Sedona's cinematic red rocks have been zipping across your windshield like scenes from a Hollywood western. Now it's your turn to ride off into the sunset. Turn up Airport Road to Airport Saddleback — you want the tiny parking lot on the left, not the chockablock Airport Vista farther up the road. Slip on hiking boots and hit the Airport Loop trail for close encounters with the towering crimson sandstones: Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, Coffee Pot Rock and the Cockscombe. It's a 90-minute ramble, but if your energy flags, just turn back and scramble up Overlook Point to watch the paprika-red sunset.

7 p.m.


Good Southwestern food can be hard to find in Sedona, which is why the upscale El Portal inn is a godsend (95 Portal Lane, 800-313-0017; www.elportalsedona.com). On Friday and Saturday evenings, the inn opens its doors to nonguests, who can dine on creative Arizona-accented cuisine under a courtyard bower or by a flickering fireplace made of large river rocks, depending on the season. With an emphasis on local produce, the chef, Eden Messner, turns out dishes like butternut squash and poblano chili soup with cinnamon lime cream ($9) and cumin-encrusted marlin topped with a tower of tomatillo avocado salsa ($28). Reservations are highly recommended.

9:30 p.m.


Sedona isn't known for its night life. Most bars, in fact, shut down at 10 p.m. For a little art to go with your nightcap, swing by the Gallery on Oak Creek inside the Amara Resort and Spa (310 North Highway 89A, 928-340-8900; www.amararesort.com). Sample a boutique shiraz from a 200-strong wine list or a green tea and vodka cocktail called an Enlightened Nirvana, as you peruse a collection of paintings and sculptures culled from local galleries. The outdoor fire pit is just as picturesque.


8 a.m.


Kick-start your day in classic Sedona fashion with breakfast at the Coffee Pot Restaurant (2050 West Highway 89A, 928-282-6626), which serves 101 “famous” omelets. Locals and tourists pack the kitschy, eclectic joint, so you may have to peruse the gift shop for jewelry and coffee mugs while waiting for a table. But once you're seated, the friendly waitresses are swift and might even leave the coffeepot on your table for convenient refills. Overwhelmed by the choices? Try the hearty huevos rancheros, smothered in green chili ($6.50). If you have kids, dare them to order the peanut butter, jelly and banana omelet ($5.95).

9:30 a.m.


If you're in the market for chimes and gypsy-chic dresses, head for the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village (336 Highway 179, 928-282-4838; www.tlaq.com), a Spanish- colonial-style shopping arcade with fountains and muscular sycamores. Environmental Realists (928-282-4945) sells everyday objects with clever twists, like a compass-embedded walking stick ($24 to $100). El Prado by the Creek (928-282-7390; www.elpradogalleries.com) carries a forest of copper-and-stainless-steel wind sculptures and rustic furniture made from river rocks. And across the street is Crystal Castle (313 Highway 179, 928-282-5910), the place for rhodochrosite, chrysoprase and other crystals that are said to promote metaphysical healing, whether it's mental clarity or finding the love within. Apparently, the right crystal for you is the one you can't put down.

11 a.m.


Galleries dot the city. The biggest of them is Exposures International (561 Highway 179, 928-282-1125; www.exposuresfineart.com), a sprawling space overflowing with paintings, sculpture, jewelry and more. Check out Bill Worrell's prehistoric-art-inspired sculptures (from $975) and photographs by the owner, Marty Herman, like “Monsoon Sunset” (from $229, depending on size). Other interesting galleries can be found at Hozho Center, including Lanning Gallery (431 Highway 179, 928-282-6865; www.lanninggallery.com), which specializes in contemporary art. To learn more about the local art scene, visit the Sedona Arts Center (15 Art Barn Road, 928-282-3865; www.sedonaartscenter.com), a nonprofit gallery that holds exhibits and poetry readings

1 p.m.


Sedona is cradled in a fragrant riparian valley through which Oak Creek gently runs. Weather permitting, dine creekside at L'Auberge de Sedona (301 L'Auberge Lane, 928-282-1667; www.lauberge.com), a contemporary American restaurant “with French roots,” with a stone patio perched at the water's edge. Indulge in a Kobe beef burger ($22), or the “Red Rock plateau” with various kinds of seafood and a half ounce of caviar ($65) or go light with a shrimp gazpacho with avocado cream ($12). Cottonwoods rustle, the creek burbles and ducks waddle between the linen-draped tables.

2:30 p.m.


You can't get far in Sedona without hearing about the vortexes, places where the earth supposedly radiates psychic energy. Believers claim that they induce everything from heightened energy to tear-inducing spiritual enlightenment. Whether you're a skeptic or believer, a guided tour of the vortexes by Earth Wisdom Jeep Tours (293 North Highway 89A, 928-282-4714; www.earthwisdomjeeptours.com) is definitely scenic (two and a half hours for $68 a person). If vortexes aren't your thing, the tour also explores the area's history, geology and American Indian culture, and there are several other tours. They'll explain how the rocks became rust-colored: add a dash of iron, let it oxidize for several million years and voilà!

6 p.m.


A prickly pear margarita — made from a local cactus — is the must-drink cocktail in Sedona, and one of the best spots to try it is the terrace at Tii Gavo at Enchantment Resort (525 Boynton Canyon Road, 928-204-6366; www.enchantmentresort.com). Tii Gavo means gathering place in the Havasupai Indian language, and it is a restaurant where well-heeled spa-lovers rub elbows with hikers fresh off the trail. Afterward, move inside to the Yavapai Dining Room (928-204-6000; reservations required for nonguests). The restaurant, with its American Indian pottery and views of Boynton Canyon, is no stranger to celebrities like Sharon Stone and Robert DeNiro. Favorites include a smoked and grilled buffalo tenderloin ($40) or sea bass with watercress risotto ($40). The wine list is extensive and far-ranging, but consider one of the local Echo Canyon reds.

9:30 p.m.


Thanks to strict ordinances on light pollution, the dark skies over Sedona are ideal for stargazing (or U.F.O. spotting). Take a cosmic journey with Evening Sky Tours (866-701-0398; www.eveningskytours.com; $60, $20 ages 6 to 15), which offers professional astronomers who can point out those elusive constellations, as well as an eyeful of spiral galaxies and the rings of Saturn. They'll meet you at a dark spot or even take a telescope to your hotel.


6 a.m.


Soar over Sedona valley in a hot air balloon at sunrise for jaw-dropping views of rose-tinted buttes. Northern Light Balloon Expeditions (800-230-6222; www.northernlightballoon.com) offers three- to four-hour trips for $190 a person that include a Champagne breakfast picnic in a remote spot. If you prefer to stay earthbound, pack your own picnic and set out on the 3.6-mile Broken Arrow Trail ($5 for Red Rock Day Pass, which allows entry to a number of natural areas, available at most hotels and convenience stores). Hike along red rocks stained with desert varnish, weave through cypress forests and climb up a doughlike outcropping for commanding views of Casner Canyon.

10 a.m.


Take a peek inside the Chapel of the Holy Cross (780 Chapel Road, 928-282-4069; www.chapeloftheholycross.com), a modernist icon that looks like a concrete spaceship jutting out of the craggy boulders. Designed in 1932 by Marguerite Brunswig Staude (but not built until 1956), the chapel is sandwiched between soaring concrete walls that bookend a gigantic glass window with a 90-foot-tall cross. Prayer services are held on Monday evenings, so don't worry about interrupting. The chapel affords spectacular photo ops and another chance to have a psychic moment. The chapel sits on — you guessed it — a vortex.

The Basics

American flies into Phoenix from Kennedy Airport, and Continental and America West fly from Newark. A Web search found early-March fares from $218. Sedona is a two-hour drive to the north.

The Enchantment Resort and Mii Amo Spa (525 Boynton Canyon Road, 800-826-4180; www.enchantmentresort.com) has dozens of adobe casitas strewn along Boynton Canyon. The 220-room resort offers nature walks, an American Indian cultural program and star gazing. Casita bedrooms start at $295.

Tucked into Oak Creek Canyon, L'Auberge de Sedona (301 L'Auberge Lane, 800-272-6777; www.lauberge.com) blends log cabin-styling with a touch of France. Lodge room rates start at $175. Cottages with fireplaces start at $275.

Ed and Kris Varjean will make you feel at home at Lantern Light Inn (3085 West Highway 89A, 877-275-4973; www.lanternlightinn.com), a French-style bed-and-breakfast that sleeps 10, with two intimate fireplaces, five fountains and four patios. Rooms start at $105.

(y) (y)


Have a nice day.

Die dulci fruimini.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-05-2007, 08:21 PM
(l) (l)

The resort city of Sedona, Ariz., is blessed with four mild seasons, abundant sunshine, clean air and some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the country.

Slide Show:



What goes around, comes around.

Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-06-2007, 08:24 PM


1. Go to a second-hand store and buy a pair of men's
used size 14-16 work boots.

2. Place them on your front porch, along with a copy
of Guns & Ammo Magazine.

3. Put a few giant dog dishes and raw bones next to
the boots and magazines.

4. Leave a note on your door that reads:

Hey Bubba, Big Jim, Slim and Stubby,

I went for more ammunition. Back in an hour. Don't
mess with the pit bulls--they attacked the mailman
this morning and messed him up real bad. I don't think
Killer took part in it but it was hard to tell from
all the blood. Anyway, I locked all four of 'em in
the house. Better wait outside.

(y) (l) (y) (l) Hey, whatever works to help me feel safe in this day and age!!! (y) My personal favorite is putting several signs on my property that say: "Is there life after death? Trespass and find out!"


Re vera, cara mea, mea nil refert.

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-06-2007, 08:27 PM
(l) (f) (f)

Patti LuPone's performance as Mama Rose in "Gypsy" is the galvanizing event of the summer.

August 5, 2007

Patti’s Turn, if Not Always Rose’s


THE police were called to City Center last weekend when violence flared in the lobby during intermission at the closing performance of “Gypsy,” shortly after Patti LuPone stormed down the aisle one last time as Momma Rose.

It seems one fellow was heard making loudly disparaging remarks about her intonation in “Some People.” Umbrage was taken by a particularly rabid supporter of Ms. LuPone’s. Insults were exchanged. A withering acerbity on the subject of Bernadette Peters was apparently the tipping point. Fists began flying, and a few of New York’s finest had to break up a frenzied melee.

Well, not really. I’m pulling your leg. But I would hardly have been surprised to hear that something of the kind had taken place during the three-week run of that classic musical, the inaugural event in City Center Encores! Summer Stars series.

Let others knit their brows over the Democratic candidates’ health-care plans or the continuing turmoil in Iraq. For followers of theater Ms. LuPone’s arrival in New York in the guise of the lovable monster Momma Rose was the galvanizing event of the summer, inspiring heated debates at social gatherings and frenzied e-mail exchanges between friends, wild-eyed encomiums or whispers of disappointment. And that was just among the theater critics.

In the view of many, Momma Rose, the stage mother of them all, was a role — the role — Ms. LuPone was born to play, a character whose bold contours suit this fiercely gifted performer as few others in the canon do. Rarely in recent memory has the meeting of performer and role sparked the enthusiasm that gathered around Ms. LuPone’s summer date with theatrical destiny.

Actor and character do, however, part ways in one key respect: Momma Rose is a woman living her life in feverish search for an audience that never arrives, while Ms. LuPone has amassed one of the most loyal and fervent followings of any musical-theater star of recent vintage.

At the performance I attended, excited anticipation seemed to hover in the auditorium like an emotional fog before the curtain rose. The applause began at the first burst of brass from the famous overture and punctuated the show from start to finish, culminating in an instant ovation at the climax of “Rose’s Turn.” (A bit of a problem, this, since everyone has to sit down again so the show can finish.)

I will confess I shared in the contagious sense of occasion, and I had already seen Ms. LuPone perform the role. Last summer on the way to a vacation, I took a detour to Chicago to catch her debut in the musical, in a staged concert version at the Ravinia Festival of music in Highland Park, Ill.

I was curious to discover how this Rose had flowered a year later. At Ravinia, Ms. LuPone was undertaking the role in challenging circumstances: She was starring in “Sweeney Todd” on Broadway at the time and took a minimal amount of time off to prepare and perform at Ravinia. With these constraints in mind, I was impressed by the overall quality of the performance, although it did not strike me as the stratospheric success you might hope for under ideal conditions.

Ms. LuPone gave a thoroughly polished and effective musical-comedy turn, but she did not seem to inhabit the role with the focus and commitment I had hoped for. It was an entertaining portrait that somehow didn’t coalesce into a complete and emotionally compelling one. Perhaps the experience gained at Ravinia and the ministrations of Arthur Laurents, who wrote the musical’s book and directed the new production, would help Ms. LuPone scale the heights.

At City Center, alas, I found myself once again entertained but also disappointed, and it occurred to me that Ms. LuPone’s supportive fan base might be part of the problem this time, more inhibition than inspiration. To perform before an audience all but expecting rapture is surely an intimidating, even unnerving experience.

How do you set aside the knowledge that your admirers are out there, hoping to be transported by your assumption of an all-but-legendary role? How do you find the courage and concentration to disappear into the skin of another character when you know it is also your own voice they have come to hear?

The temptation to peek from inside the world of the show and acknowledge an affectionate complicity between performer and audience can be hard to resist. Performers feed off the energy of audiences, but there is a seductive danger in allowing their responsiveness into the psychic sphere needed to create a performance of concentrated integrity. Too often at City Center I sensed a tug of war taking place between Ms. LuPone the actor and Ms. LuPone the entertainer, rather than an instinctive collaboration between these two necessary components of a musical theater performer’s makeup.

Ms. LuPone drew freely on her natural wit to punch up the fertile humor in the show, but at many points she almost tipped over into burlesque, or shtick. Momma Rose has fire and warmth and a mordant humor born of hard knocks, but an entertainer she isn’t, a star she will never be. That’s the bitter truth she tries to erase by relentlessly hounding her daughters into the spotlight.

Ms. LuPone’s sharply attuned instincts as a star performer seemed to kick in automatically at the show’s celebrated high points. She delivered Rose’s big songs with assured musicianship and commanding authority. Missing, for me at least, was the sense that she was living these crucial moments inside the itching soul of the character. These songs — “Some People,” “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “Rose’s Turn” — are celebrated numbers. They are among the most thrilling in all of musical comedy, probably, but they are something more: finely wrought expressions of volcanic emotion overflowing the limits of plain speech.

Interestingly, both at Ravinia and in New York, Ms. LuPone’s performance was most effective in the scenes that find Rose warmly but sometimes wrongheadedly mothering her daughters, or forging a complicated but rewarding relationship with Herbie (the stalwart Boyd Gaines), the man destined never to be her fourth husband. The climactic confrontation between Rose and her daughter Gypsy Rose Lee (a terrific Laura Benanti) was the most emotionally wrenching I’ve ever witnessed, for example.

When the responsibility of delivering a big moment or putting across a joke was lifted from her shoulders, Ms. LuPone was moving, compelling and alive. The familiar, charismatic entertainer stepped aside, and the actor emerged, revealing anew that illuminating the truths of human experience immortalized in art is the greatest entertainment of all.

(l) (f) (l) (f)

Have a nice day.

Die dulci fruimini. (f)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-06-2007, 08:31 PM
:| :|


A MAN accused of having sex with a sheep in the Netherlands has walked free from court because the animal was unable to testify in the case against him.

August 06, 2007 12:00am

A MAN who was accused of having sex with a sheep has walked free because the animal was unable to testify.

The man, from Haaksbergen, near Utrecht in the Netherlands, was reported to police after a farmer caught him having sex with a sheep.

But the case was thrown out of court as the sheep couldn't take to the stand to testify that it didn't want to have sex and had suffered emotional stress.

Under Dutch law, bestiality is not a crime unless it can be proved the animal didn't want to have sex.

"Short of putting the sheep in the dock, at the moment these perverts cannot be prosecuted," animal rights campaigner Jos van Huisen said.


:o Of course, this Australian news web site is yet another Murdoch-owned one......:s
Thus the focus on "National Inquirer" trype news.......:|

:D Still - it said volumes about men. :o

Non calor sed umor est qui nobis incommodat.

It's not the heat, it's the humidity.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-06-2007, 08:33 PM
:| :| :| :| :|

US Police State: Congress Approves Extensive Wiretapping

Global Research, August 6, 2007

Washington Post

Global Research Editor`s Note

The introduction of extensive wiretapping should be seen in relation to Bush adminstration measures which are geared towards the suspension of civil liberties and the crminalisation of dissent including Bush`s July 17 executive order, which criminalizes the antiwar movement. The objective of this most recent piece of legislation is clear: establish a Police State in America.

The fact that the wiretapping under the legislation applies to foreigners is cosmetic. The measure is intended legitimise an extensive system of surveillance

06 August 2007

House Approves Wiretap Measure

White House Bill Boosts Warrantless Surveillance

By Ellen Nakashima and Joby Warrick

Washington Post Staff Writers

Sunday, August 5, 2007; A01

The Democratic-controlled House last night approved and sent to President Bush for his signature legislation written by his intelligence advisers to enhance their ability to intercept the electronic communications of foreigners without a court order.

The 227 to 183 House vote capped a high-pressure campaign by the White House to change the nation's wiretap law, in which the administration capitalized on Democrats' fears of being branded weak on terrorism and on a general congressional desire to act on the measure before an August recess.

The Senate had passed the legislation Friday night after House Democrats failed to win enough votes to pass a narrower revision of a statute known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The original statute was enacted after the revelation of CIA abuses in the 1970s, and it required judicial oversight for most federal wiretapping conducted in the United States.

Privacy and civil liberties advocates, and many Democratic lawmakers, complained that the Bush administration's revisions of the law could breach constitutional protections against government intrusion. But the administration, aided by Republican congressional leaders, suggested that a failure to approve what intelligence officials sought could expose the country to a greater risk of terrorist attacks.

Democrats facing reelection next year in conservative districts helped propel the bill to a quick approval. Adding to the pressures they felt were recent intelligence reports about threatening new al-Qaeda activity in Pakistan and the disclosure by House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) of a secret court ruling earlier this year that complicated the wiretapping of purely foreign communications that happen to pass through a communications node on U.S. soil.

The bill would give the National Security Agency the right to collect such communications in the future without a warrant. But it goes further than that: It also would allow the interception and recording of electronic communications involving, at least in part, people "reasonably believed to be outside the United States" without a court's order or oversight.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto emphasized that the bill is not meant to increase eavesdropping on Americans or "to affect in any way the legitimate privacy rights" of U.S. citizens. Data related to Americans in communications with foreigners who are the targets of a U.S. terrorism investigation could be monitored only if intelligence officials have a reasonable expectation of learning information relevant to that probe, a senior U.S. official said.

"There are a lot of people who felt we had to pass something," said one angry Democratic lawmaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of caucus discussions. "It was tantamount to being railroaded."

In a sole substantial concession to Democrats, the administration agreed to a provision allowing the legislation to be reconsidered in six months.

Some House Democrats were still upset by what they saw as a deliberate scuttling by the White House of negotiations on a compromise bill. On Thursday, Democratic leaders reached what they believed was a deal with the government's chief intelligence official, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, only to be presented with a new list of conditions at the last minute. The White House and McConnell have denied that a deal had been reached.

"I think the White House didn't want to take 'yes' for an answer from the Democrats," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), an intelligence committee member.

The administration said that its bill is aimed at bringing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 into step with advances in technology, primarily by restoring the government's power to gather without a warrant foreign intelligence on targets located overseas.

Because the law has not kept up with advances in telecommunications, McConnell said in congressional testimony, the government "is significantly burdened in capturing overseas communications of foreign terrorists planning to conduct attacks inside the United States."

Civil liberties and privacy advocates and a majority of Democrats said the bill could allow the monitoring of virtually any calls, e-mails or other communications going overseas that originate in the United States, without a court order, if the government deems the recipient to be the target of a U.S. probe.

Last night, several Democrats said the bill would undermine the Fourth Amendment. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said lawmakers were being "stampeded by fearmongering and deception" into voting for the bill. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) warned that the bill would lead to "potential unprecedented abuse of innocent Americans' privacy."

Republicans and administration officials argued to the contrary that the distinctions in the present law -- between calls inside and outside the country -- are outmoded in an age of cellphones that work on multiple continents. What intelligence officials seek, a White House official said in an interview yesterday, is the ability to "surveil a target wherever the call [or other communication involving that target] comes from," and that the new legislation would provide that.

In place of a court's approval -- which intelligence officials worried might come too slowly -- the NSA would institute a system of internal bureaucratic controls.

A senior intelligence official said that in cases in which an overseas target is communicating with people in the United States not relevant to an investigation, their names are "minimized," or stripped from the transcript, before it is disseminated. "You won't see data mining in there," the official said. "You won't see vast drift net surveillance of Americans. . . . What we do not do is target people in the United States without a warrant."

Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), chairman of the House intelligence committee, said that the Democrats would introduce legislation on surveillance in the fall and would conduct oversight of the administration's surveillance program.

A narrower Democratic alternative, which Democrats said they crafted partly in response to McConnell's concerns, won majority support but nonetheless failed because it did not collect the necessary two-thirds vote Friday night in the House. It failed after an emotional debate in which Republicans charged Democrats with being soft on terrorism and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused Republicans of not caring "about the truth."

Under the administration's version of the bill, the director of national intelligence and the attorney general can authorize the surveillance of all communications involving foreign targets. Oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, composed of federal judges whose deliberations are secret, would be limited to examining whether the government's guidelines for targeting overseas suspects are appropriate. The court would not authorize the surveillance.

The bill's six-month sunset clause did not assuage some critics.

"I'm not comfortable suspending the constitution even temporarily," said Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.), a member of the House intelligence committee. "The countries we detest around the world are the ones that spy on their own people. Usually they say they do it for the sake of public safety and security."


:o Privacy is a concept that just doesn't have a future. The only
strategy that I can think of is to lead such a boring life no one
gives a shit about what you read, where you shop or what you say.

;) "Stay under the radar!"


Mutantur omnia nos et mutamur in illis.

All things change, and we change with them.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-06-2007, 08:40 PM

NBC muckraker gets hacked at Defcon

By Dan Goodin in Las Vega

Published Saturday 4th August 2007 01:46 GMT

Defcon A rare moment of drama came to Defcon when a woman fled the conference after being identified in front of hundreds of other attendees as an undercover television reporter on a crusade to expose collusion between cyber criminals and federal agents.

The woman, identified by conference organizers as a producer for Dateline NBC, bolted a few minutes after a panel called Spot the Fed began. After being tipped off about the covert operation - and knowing the producer was in the audience - organizers announced to the standing-room only crowd that the contest was being changed to "spot the undercover reporter."

Defcon founder Jeff Moss told the crowd that there was a real, covert reporter in their very midst and then asked if attendees thought she should be ejected for violating Defcon rules concerning the taking of photos and videos of conference attendees. Before the audience could respond, the woman bolted from the room and was quickly given chase by a throng of reporters.

For years, Defcon has imposed strict conditions on those attending. Video and photos are not permitted unless the subjects have given their permission. Those covering the event for news organizations must apply for a press credential and are subjected to greater enforcement of the privacy rules.

Defcon "is like Switzerland, its neutral territory," said a senior conference staff member who goes by the name Priest. "The feds come in and they don't arrest us. We don't turn their phones into 976 numbers," he added, referring to the telephone prefix used by phone sex operators and others to automatically charge the caller a set fee.

Priest said organizers were tipped off about the producer's plans by someone who was thoroughly familiar with the story. According to Priest, the producer told the informant that "the people in Kansas would be very interested in knowing what was happening at Defcon."

Organizers were able to confirm that the woman had a camera in a small black bag that allowed her to surreptitiously video tape people attending the show. She hoped to tape people admitting to breaking the law and then attempt to tie them to federal agents who also attended the show. At one point, she was observed panning a room with her hidden camera.

The woman was identified as Michelle Madigan, an associate producer for Dateline. As she exited the conference room, a Defcon staff member suggested she accept a press credential and continue covering the conference.

"Like a thief in the night, she decided to flee," said Priest.

The woman declined to comment at least four times as several dozen people, many of them reporters, followed her through the parking lot of the Riviera Hotel, where the conference is being held. She eventually got into a silver Infinity and drove off.

After being tipped off, conference organizers asked Madigan on four occasions if she might want a press credential. Each time, she declined. Once she arrived at the conference, organizers kept her under surveillance.

Despite the unusual scrutiny Madigan received - and the fact that her picture and alleged plan had been posted on Wired and other publications for hours prior to her outing - the producer never suspected her cover was blown, said Priest.

"Not very bright," he said


Other views:


Dateline Las Vegas: hackers whack a mole hack:



^o) Stupid young thing!! They asked her several times if she wanted a "press badge or press credentials" - what was she thinking? Sometimes young womyn give all womyn a bad rep, IMHO. Talk about a double-digit IQ. <shaking head...>


Noli nothis permittere te terere.

Don't let the b*st*rds wear you down.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-06-2007, 08:44 PM
(f) (f)

Welcome to edfringe.com, home of the 60th Edinburgh Festival Fringe and your one and only destination for all things Fringe related.


(y) (y)


Carpe Diem!

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

08-06-2007, 08:46 PM
(f) (f)

Welcome: The Scotsman recommends

SCOTLAND is a wonderful place to live – and we all have our favourite little pieces of it. Whether it is a gorgeous secluded beach, a fantastic drive or a friendly restaurateur who can't do enough for customers, we remember these places and people for a...


(l) (f) (l) (f)

Nosce te ipsum.

Know thyself.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-06-2007, 08:49 PM

The Scotsman Wed 1 Aug 2007

Best website


1. www.edinburghfestivals.com

Of course we were always going to say that the site run by The Scotsman is the best, but it is really pretty useful - even if we say so ourselves. This is a guide to all the festivals going on in the city in August, which is updated every day to include the latest reviews.

You can find all the critics published in The Scotsman and work out which shows are worth trying and which should be avoided.

There is a lot of other stuff too - blogs, news, gossip and photographs to keep you up to date with everything going on in the festival city.

It is an ideal complement to our superb 24-page festival supplement, which will run for three weeks from this Saturday.

2. www.edfringe.co.uk

The official site of the Edinburgh Fringe gives you all the daily listings and lets you book tickets online.

Reviews from a number of publications are posted up every day and there is the chance for Fringe-goers to share their recommendations and experiences on the forums.

3. www.eif.co.uk

You can download the entire programme of the Edinburgh International Festival from this site and keep track of all the theatre, opera, music and talks in the official festival. The EIF website is regularly updated with special offers and news of extra performances.

4. www.edinburghguide.com

This long-established website is a useful way to keep in touch with everything which is going on in the city, especially at festival time. The guide has an unusual system of rating shows - instead of stars they are given drams, based on the notion of how much you need to drink to sit through them.

5. www.chortle.co.uk

Lots of news and insider gossip from the world of comedy can be found on the chortle website, which has a forum where users can discuss Edinburgh all year round.

The talkboards are always buzzing with juicy speculation about all the latest behind-the-scenes scandals. You'll also find Fringe blogs, including that of Andrew J Lederer - probably the world's most incontinent blogger.

Related topic

* Recommends


This article: http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=1570&id=1194792007

(y) (y)

Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-06-2007, 08:58 PM


(y) http://www.petegoldlust.com/images/carvedcrayons_06-carvedc-16.jpg



Go ahead. Make my day.

Age. Fac ut gaudeam. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-06-2007, 09:00 PM

The physics of beer bubbles:



|-) |-)

Si hoc adfixum in obice legere potes, et liberaliter educatus et nimis popinquus ades.

If you can read this bumper sticker, you are both very well educated and much too close.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-06-2007, 09:02 PM
8-) 8-)


:) Pretty silly.


What goes around, comes around.

Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-06-2007, 09:05 PM


"I know people looking in from the outside will ask why someone like me keeps working so hard. But a few million doesn't go as far as it used to. Maybe in the '70s, a few million bucks meant 'Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,' or Richie Rich living in a big house with a butler. But not anymore."

-- Hal Steger, marketing executive, in a New York Times piece on Silicon Valley's insecure single-digit millionaires; the expected "quit your whining" reaction can be found here and here.




Re vera, cara mea, mea nil refert.

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-06-2007, 09:09 PM




Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 06:14 AM
;) ;)

August 06, 2007

Coffee Break: Does Caffeine Perk Up Memory?

A new study finds that loading up on the stimulant may enhance the thinking of older women

Trying to cut down on your coffee consumption, ladies? Well if you're of a certain age, you might want to reconsider. A new study from France found that women—especially those 65 and over—who reported drinking three-plus cups of java daily did better on memory tests than compeers who drank one or fewer cups a day.

"Caffeine is a psychostimulant which appears to reduce cognitive decline in women," study author Karen Ritchie of INSERM, the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research in Montpellier, France, said in a statement.

Scientists tested 7,000 people over four years; they adjusted for other factors that might affect memory such as age, education, depression, medication and chronic illness. Their findings, published in the new issue of Neurology: Women who drank over three cups of Joe a day were less likely to experience as much memory decline as those who downed a cup or less. And benefits seemed to increase with age: the mega/no spamming of other sites/coffee drinkers were 30 percent less likely to suffer memory loss at age 65 and 70 percent less likely over age 80 than non/no spamming of other sites/coffee drinkers.

But researchers say that doesn't mean you should start guzzling café aux laits or espressos. "While we have some ideas as to how this works biologically, we need to have a better understanding of how caffeine affects the brain before we can start promoting caffeine intake as a way to reduce cognitive decline," Ritchie said. "But the results are interesting—caffeine use is already widespread and it has fewer side effects than other treatments for cognitive decline, and it requires a relatively small amount for a beneficial effect."

So could this be a way to stave off dementia? Alas, although the quaffers in the bunch excelled on memory tests, they did not appear to have lower rates of dementia. "We really need a longer study to look at whether caffeine prevents dementia," Ritchie said. "It might be that caffeine could slow the dementia process rather than preventing it."

One other interesting note: for some reason, men apparently do not receive the same caffeine memory boost as women. Ritchie said researchers are not sure why but speculate that it may be because women are "more sensitive to the effects of caffeine…. Their bodies may react differently to the stimulant, or they may metabolize caffeine differently."


(y) (y)

Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 06:20 AM
:| :|


"We wanted to have a freeform space for students to be able to say what they think is important, not always having the school run that dialogue. To me this is just four pieces of blank paper. You do what you want. It can be a presentation. It can be poetry. It can be anything."

-- Rose Martinelli, associate dean for student recruitment and admissions, on the University of Chicago business school's new requirement that applications include a PowerPoint presentation.

University of Chicago B-school wants PowerPoint with application:


:| :| All that AND increased tuition? What a bargain. Not. (n) The PITA (pain in the ass) factor is WAY too high, IMHO.

:o What about folks who are not creative with virtual crayons and paint?


Si usted puede leer esto, usted es overeducated. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 06:25 AM
(f) (f)


(f) (f)

Ab imo pectore

"From the bottom of the chest (heart). (l)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 06:32 AM
(l) (l)


(y) (y) However, I'll take much newer models, thank you very much. ;)


Cuiusvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare.

Fool me once and shame on you, fool me twice and shame on me.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 06:41 AM

Apple announced today that its iTunes Store has now sold more than 3 billion songs since it opened just over four years ago, the last billion coming in the past six months. Calculating that 12 tracks equals a CD, the NPD Group listed iTunes as the third-biggest overall music retailer in the U.S., behind only Wal-Mart and Target.

Happy news only slightly clouded by word that AT&T, Apple's iPhone partner, has a deal with eMusic, the second-largest online music retailer behind iTunes, to allow its users to download songs from independent labels directly to their cell phones -- though not their iPhones. According to the New York Times, "Tracks will cost more than they do over the Internet - $7.49 for five songs, as opposed to $9.99 for 30 at the online site - because of the expense of sending them over a mobile network to a user's phone . For that price, however, users can also get another copy of the song, which they can download from the Internet as an MP3." Over at Wired, Adario Strange says, "The real surprise here is AT&T's digital music promiscuity. We thought once you went Jobs, you didn't go back. Perhaps the AT&T/Apple relationship isn't as rock solid as some would like to think."







Docendo discimus.

We learn by teaching.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 06:48 AM

Among the news releases that came over the transom today was one on a survey of IT professionals asked to pick the most influential tech product of the last 25 years, and I almost sprayed my coffee as I did a double-take at the headline. According to the poll conducted by the Computing Technology Industry Association, 66 percent of folks in the IT industry believe that title goes to ... Microsoft Internet Explorer. In fact, the top five finishers had a distinct tilt toward Redmond. Following IE, the products rated most influential were Microsoft Word, Microsoft Windows 95, and then a tie between Microsoft Excel and the Apple iPod. The second five went like this: the BlackBerry, Adobe Photoshop, McAfee VirusScan, Netscape Navigator and the Palm Pilot.

Now I know people just love to go back and forth over such lists, but this one seems almost perversely designed to inspire agitated sputtering. I mean, if you want to pick a browser as the most influential product or application since 1982, how does Netscape come in lower than IE, when it was Netscape that drove the development of IE? And the Apple corps certainly has a beef about its meager representation. Any theories on how these particular choices came out of this particular group? Have they spent too much time in the server room?



Absentem lædit, qui cum ebrio litigat.

He who quarrels with a drunk hurts an absentee. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 06:57 AM

Steve Jobs' Reality Distortion Field and a masterful marketing campaign were enough to carry iPhone fever through launch and the initial run of largely loving reviews, but it looks like that honeymoon glow is beginning to fade. Some "second look" reviews are showing up with tempered enthusiasm and a less forgiving attitude toward shortcomings that were earlier glossed over. People are wondering why the sales and activation numbers aren't lining up. A potential security vulnerability turned up. And today -- well, just look:





* Apple shares were down about 4 percent in midday trading after reports that a note from the stock trading desk at Miller Tabak & Co. raised the possibility that the company was reducing its production of iPhones from "9 million units to 4.5 million units." Miller Tabak analyst Peter Boockvar later told AppleInsider that the comment was gossip passed along in conversation, not an official note, but for the day, at least, the damage was done. No comment from Apple.



* New York's Consumer Protection Agency said today it sent a letter to Apple raising some complaints about the iPhone, namely that requiring the unit to go back to the factory for an $85 battery change and charging owners $30 for loaner to use in the interim didn't seem the friendliest of policies. Or as Mindy Bockstein, the board's chairman and executive director, said in a press release, "A high-end cell phone shouldn't have to have low-end customer service." (There is now a cheap third-party alternative, if you're brave enough to try it.) No comment from Apple.



* NASA scrubbed the launch of the iPhone among its workforce, declaring it "not to be enterprise ready," according to the minutes of a July 10 meeting of NASA tech officials obtained by InformationWeek. The reasoning wasn't further explained in the minutes, but it likely included some of the points made a month ago by Gartner analysts. Getting a thumbs-up from the space agency were the new BlackBerry 8800 from Research In Motion and the Palm Treo 750. No comment from Apple.



:| "No comment from Apple." Gee, that's a surprise.


Acta est fabula.

(Caesar Augustus's last words): "So ends the story."

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 07:06 AM
:| :|


It's taken a little while, but those rosy predictions of free municipal wireless Internet access for all are starting to lose their glow, and not surprisingly, it's over that fundamental question about any free service: Who's going to pay for it?

Up in San Francisco, the city has been moving toward a deal with EarthLink and Google for citywide WiFi under an arrangement in which the companies would pay for the right to build and operate a network that would provide low-speed access for free and low-end broadband for $20 a month. Things looked to be on track until the city came back with a few suggested changes -- like making the low-end broadband speed free and charging for anything snappier, adding some more privacy protection and cutting the length of the contract from 16 years down to eight. Apparently in shock, EarthLink asked for a month to think things over, and judging by the recent comments of EarthLink's new CEO, the company is looking at issues far bigger than just the San Francisco deal. "The Wi-Fi business as currently constituted will not provide an acceptable return. We're actively exploring ways to scale this business more economically," said Rolla P. Huff in a conference call last week.



One possibility raised by Huff is already starting to come into play in the regional plans of Silicon Valley's Joint Venture Wireless Project -- the prospect of relying on cities becoming paying "anchor tenants" of their community WiFi service, guaranteeing their provider some reliable revenue. Said Huff, "That would go a long way in our being able to get an acceptable return on this investment. Until we're convinced that we can build new networks and get an acceptable return, we will delay any further new build-outs." And that's the direction the Silicon Valley project is heading. The 40 or so cities in the region will be asked to pay to use their WiFi network to connection municipal departments and employees. On top of reports showing skimpy usage of existing municipal WiFi networks, this is enough to send many of the cities back to the keyboard for some heavy-duty cost-benefit analysis.


|-) |-) |-) Waiting for Municipal wireless is like "Waiting for Godot". :|


Aut inveniam viam aut faciam.

I will either find a way or I will make one.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 07:16 AM
:) :)

Slide Show:


:'( New Delhi, India: A Tibetan activist looks on during the 30th day of hunger strike. Fourteen Tibetan activists have been on an indefinite hunger strike for the last 30 days, against China's new railway line to Tibet, the 2008 Beijing Olympics and demanding the release of the 11th Panchen Lama:


(f) Hiroshima, Japan: Lanterns float on the Motoyasu river to mourn victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945:


(f) (f)

Caesar si viveret, ad remum dareris.

If Caesar were alive, you'd be chained to an oar. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 07:26 AM
:o :o


'We've really upset some men'

A Doll's House with dwarfs playing the male roles? It caused fury in the US - how will Edinburgh react?

By Mark Fisher

Tuesday August 7, 2007

The Guardian

Mark Povinelli refers to himself as a "little person". He accepts the term dwarf because it accurately reflects his condition of dwarfism. Midget, however, is forbidden; a slur. But, however you say it, the actor is uncommonly small: 3ft 9in. You'd want to say this was irrelevant were it not for two things. Firstly, he is little in a world designed by and for bigger people, an awkward reality he encounters every day, and one he tackles with good grace. "I find humour in my size," he says. "The world is not built for me, but I'm living in that world, so there's lots of room for comedy."

The second unavoidable issue is Povinelli's current role. The actor, who once played an angel in Frasier, has been cast as the paternalistic Torvald in Mabou Mines DollHouse, a critically acclaimed reworking of Ibsen's classic A Doll's House. This production, by the New York-based avant-garde theatre company Mabou Mines, features no man taller than 4ft 5in. The women, such as Maude Mitchell's Nora, tower above the men, squeezing themselves into a miniature set that takes no account of their proportions. The language and the attitudes, however, are straight out of 19th-century Norway, meaning Torvald continues to patronise his "poor little Nora", despite being small enough for her to scoop him up into her arms.

Director Lee Breuer is playing on the absurdity of a social order that favours one sex over the other. Ibsen's play, a landmark in the movement towards women's emancipation, was considered dangerously subversive in its day, with its portrayal of a young mother who walks out on a stultifying marriage. Here, in DollHouse, the warped relationships and skewed status find a parallel in the imbalanced physical relationships, creating a surreal comedy out of a melodrama, but without removing its political bite.

Breuer, who adapted the idea from an old Berliner Ensemble production of Brecht's Coriolan, knew he was on to something as soon as he overheard a couple at an early preview of DollHouse in New York in 2003. At the interval the man got up, said he didn't like it, and made for the exit. Turning back, he asked his partner if she was coming. "No, I think I'll stay and see a little more," she replied. Angrily, he asked when she wanted to be picked up. "Don't bother," was her terse response.

"I had this vision of various couples breaking up during the Nora-Torvald scene," laughs Breuer, a remarkably young looking 70-year-old, who has run Mabou Mines since its inception in 1970. "So I incorporated 12 boxes into the set, each with a couple of puppets, and all the puppets are breaking up. We've really upset men, especially in areas that are tremendously patriarchal, such as South Carolina, where half the upper middle-class couples were like Torvald and Nora. They don't like to be accused of doing what they're doing. I remember one senator who was there saying, 'I'm a liberal, I think there's some good acting. But this play - I'm not that liberal.'"

Cast as one of theatre's great authoritarian males, Povinelli delights in undermining our expectations of the part. "There's something silly and desperate about it," says the actor, whom Breuer describes as a "miniature Jean-Paul Belmondo" because of his Mediterranean good looks. "Torvald has been given the book about how to be a man, how to treat women, how to be in society; there are many average-sized people who aren't very good at that either. I see him as one of those guys: he got the manual, he just wasn't really good at it. I don't see him as misogynistic; he's just trying to do the best for his family, and everything he was taught was wrong."

That the production has animated audiences is without question ("The precise opposite of every Doll's House you ever saw in your life," one US reviewer raved) but what of the ethics of such blatantly heightist casting? Will audiences in Edinburgh's international festival be any less guilty of gawping than those who once queued for freak shows and circuses? Is the cultural cachet of Ibsen just a smoke screen to disguise a demeaning spectacle as exploitative as a minstrel show?

Povinelli believes we can watch with a clear conscience. He takes no issue with theatre's "vaudeville, voyeuristic and carnival" aspects and, in any case, even the rare person who comes to DollHouse in search of end-of-the-pier-type thrills will be brought up sharp by the production's politics. Some well-meaning liberals (all around average height) have told him he is being exploited, but, he says, that's not for them to decide.

"There are scenes in this where Maude picks me up, and that's taboo number one for a little person, especially male. But if I were married to an average-sized woman, there would be times in our marriage when she would pick me up. They would be in the privacy of our own home and they would always be controlled by me. That's what Nora and Torvald do. To pretend that there isn't this height difference and that she would never pick him up, whether protectively or sexually, would be silly."

That's not to say Povinelli approached the project without caution. "You have to be very careful when you're such a distinct type," he says. "Even with people who have the best intentions, you have to ask what the point is and weigh up how much of a gimmick it is. But this show was a pretty easy decision because it's Ibsen and it's Torvald - and how often does any actor, let alone a 4ft actor, get to do this role off-Broadway and all around the world?"

Povinelli, who played Toulouse- Lautrec in Martha Clarke's Belle Epoque at New York's Lincoln Center, accepts that any character he portrays always becomes a little person, and thinks it would be ignoring the obvious to pretend otherwise.

"It's obviously the most profound thing physically about me and that physicality affects every aspect of my life," he says.

"I'm comfortable with that. It's what I find so interesting about casting me in non-traditional roles. We've all seen Torvald time and again, and to see one that's so different, even at first look, suddenly opens your eyes.

"One of the great things about this show is that I get to choose when they laugh at me, when they cry, when they are seduced by me and when they are horrified by me. That's really empowering, because so often in my life I'm not in control about what people find humorous about my size".

· Mabou Mines DollHouse is at the King's Theatre from August 24-28. Box office: 0131-473 2000.


^o) ^o) ^o)


Dulce enim etiam nomen est pacis.

The name 'peace' is sweet itself.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 07:34 AM

Girl, uninterrupted... Jennifer Fox:


Zoe Williams meets US film-maker Jennifer Fox, who has flown all over the world to find out what it means to be a woman. Zoe Williams meets a recent convert to feminism.

My life on film

Tuesday August 7, 2007

The Guardian

Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman is a new documentary series billed as the real person's Sex and the City. Candace Bushnell, who wrote the original, has called it: "Required viewing for every woman." (But I wonder whether that isn't New York-speak for, "I have met this person. This is stage two in our acquaintanceship, in which we start saying nice things about one another.") The New York Times, which called it "part personal diary, part transglobal slumber party", praised it as "an addictive soap about sexuality and sisterhood", but other reviewers have been much harsher, criticising the "solipsism raging out of control". In it, film-maker Jennifer Fox, over six hours of finished film and three years of filming, has a number of conversations: with the camera, with her friends, with female acquaintances from Pakistan, India and Somalia, with one of her boyfriends - but not the married one - with her mother. She is 42 at the start, and has an accidental pregnancy that ends in miscarriage and alerts her to the fact that she would like to have children soon. She is neither prim nor especially raunchy, so I suppose if you were to extend the real-life SATC analogy, she would be Carrie.

When Fox embarked on this project, putting her whole life and identity before the camera, she was already celebrated, at least on the American indie circuit, for her highbrow docusoap, An American Love Story, in which she lived with a mixed-race couple and their children for a full two years. She won awards for Beirut: The Last Home Movie, which she made in 1988. Although these sound like incredibly political, agenda-led projects, she maintains that she had never been political: she had never even voted in an election until Bush loomed for a second time. And she had never called herself a feminist.

Fox is a physically endearing person, small and kind of forgiving in her body language, and she is wearing a very assertive top for a Wednesday morning. The first thing she says is: "Oh, you think I'm overdressed! But I thought we had a photographer coming!" And I think, how did she know I thought that? Does she have special skills?

Anyway, the documentary. "This is a real life, I'm sick of fake lives being shown," she explains. "I felt politically that my statement was: for better or worse, this is a real female life. You may hate it, you may think I'm self-involved - I am. You may think I'm confused - I am. But this is actually exposing the inside of one woman's real life and not a fantasy. I will not be ashamed. I will not be ashamed of my sexuality. I will not be ashamed of my abortions. I will not even be ashamed of my married man. I will not be ashamed that I never married or had children."

You get the picture. The series is interesting, I think, because it asks every question that modern feminism should be asking itself, if it is to have any meaningful role in modern political discourse. Can women have sex on equal terms to men, and without guilt? Do we have control over our own reproductive systems, or are we still fighting for it? Is parity in terms of breeding and child-rearing ever a realistic goal, or do women just "see things differently"? Have the barriers of misogyny been overturned only for privileged women? As western women, should we even be discussing our relatively minor gender issues, or should we be focused on the much more devastating injustices women suffer elsewhere?

And to every question, in my view, with uncanny consistency, Flying ... gives exactly the wrong answer. When I meet Fox, though, I really start to like her after a while, so if you discern any conflict in the arguments that follow, it is my friendly heart wrestling with my judgmental head. Each of the hour-long episodes starts with Fox's voiceover, saying "I never wanted to be a girl, in the way girls were supposed to be."

In episode one, she lays out the bare bones of her relationship status, as they say on Facebook. She is having an affair with a married guy, Kye (not his real name), and also seeing a Swiss guy, Patrick (his real name). "I had a married lover," she narrates. "He lived in the shadows, but he was always in me, and I had to act like he didn't exist ... Every woman will tell you: never fall in love with a married man."

My hackles are up already: I don't believe in a female-solidarity that takes all married men off the table. A solidarity that wide is meaningless, you might just as well swear solidarity to all men. But, having eschewed this solidarity and shagged the guy in the first place, you cannot then call on the sisterhood of what "every woman will tell you". It's schlocky. I won't spoil it by telling you what happens with Kye, except to say that he is an absolute tool who, having resolved his "complicated" love issues by leaving his wife, then turns round to say he is uncomfortable with Fox's own sexual freedom. With Patrick, things are a little more out in the open, in so far as she wants to film the two of them but he doesn't want to be filmed and she badgers him ceaselessly. "He's still uncomfortable with the film," she tells me, "and everybody loved him!" (As if the approbation of strangers was a fair trade for a private life.)

"It pushed him to the edge of his sensibilities, of what he can accept, because he's such a private person. For me, it gave me the relationship, but for him, it endangered it," she continues, simply, as though it were a game of luck and chance, rather than a film that she had decided to make and could have stopped at any point.

By episode three, in the midst of struggling to have a child, she commences a refrain about how all women are seen as either mothers or whores. This is in no way borne out by her behaviour: she is sensitive and delicate around her married lover, but very rough and tumble and disrespectful, really, of the feelings of her available lover, who treats her with enormous affection. She says, both in the film and when I meet her, that his accent is daft and really puts her off, plus she has never liked blonds. In other words, she is behaving exactly as men are supposed to behave.

This is parity! This is what relationships look like in a post-feminist world: the woman is neither mother nor whore, she is getting it all her own way; and I would applaud that if she would only do the decent thing and admit it. But, she explains, as I put this to her, "Mentally, I still have it in my head that it's marriage and kids or failure. And that's the dilemma. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that is part of the western woman's modern dilemma." Grrr ...

Now, about those children. If there is one area in which Fox toes an unambiguous feminist line, it's vis-a-vis abortion. "It's a value that I wasn't there to fight for, but I've had four or five abortions, so I just can't believe that in a modern world, people could consider that that wasn't the norm. I will do everything I can to fight for it now. We're going to do a college tour [with Flying ...], and we're going to put as many of the proceeds as we can, to pro-choice services."

The simple act of admitting to having had an abortion at all is a much bigger deal in the US than it is over here, unless accompanied by self-flagellation and, preferably, a religious conversion of some sort. So hats off to her for that, but the IVF segments of the film are another matter altogether. Again, I don't want to spoil the plot, so I'll just describe the atmosphere: throughout the process, Fox paints a woman's urge to procreate as some kind of mythical, primal force which can neither be reasoned with nor balanced against other imperatives. I would counter that this thinking undermines women's standing as rational beings, and thereby undermines any struggle we might have to retain control of our own reproductive systems. Yes, people want babies, they have to, or nobody would go through the bother. But you're on very dangerous ground when you start talking about yourself as a creature possessed, and I don't think it's very convincing. Nobody talks like this in their 20s, before they start thinking of their fertility as finite. This sort of thing is worth interrogating, in other words, before putting it out there, as "honesty", as an expression of what you feel as a "real woman".

Fox has considered the ethics of it, she counters: "I think IVF is a moral issue no matter what. Why go through this very expensive, complicated - nobody says it, but potentially dangerous - process, to have your own biological child, when there are millions and millions of children who need a home? What's interesting is that they did a study in Brazil, offering IVF for free to some very poor women in São Paulo, and they took it. So anyone who has the capability to have a biological child will do it - it's absolutely not a function of affluence. But it's still a moral issue: the problem is, you love somebody and all these biological things happen, you want a child that looks like Patrick. All the same things happen, no matter what your intellectual ability to reason, you suddenly want that connection.

"I didn't even believe in wanting a genetic child - I love the idea of adoption - but suddenly, being in love, I wanted Patrick's child."

But perhaps there's an element of not wanting to miss out? She must have been in love before. "I've wanted a child before. The reality is that most women want babies. There is a biological component."

But if it were all about biology, we would all be having babies in our late teens and early 20s, since that's the biological ideal. "Well, I don't agree. We have biology but we still have mind."

Then why do we talk about biology as being the primary force in our late 30s and early 40s, when before that it is easily trounced by the mind? "If we were men, it would take place in our 60s," she says.

But she is still saying that we only take seriously our biological imperative at the very end of our ability to fulfil it. So I wonder whether that isn't primarily practical, rather than biological - I don't want to miss out on what's mine. "There is a biological component! Have you not felt that?"

Here, I am on a sticky wicket as I am seven months' pregnant, and hardly want to say, well, it's only a practical thing. But I still maintain that she is wrong. If we were to only realise we were in love with someone when he or she fell for someone else . . . or only take any care of a parent when they were just about to die, I think that would call into question the authenticity of our feelings. I'm just saying, can we make sure that this stuff is authentic before we, as women, sacrifice our standing as rational beings?

To return to Sex and the City, briefly, there were massive ideological problems with that series. It was a homage to shoes, as much as anything else. It was very light, and it did make women seem shallow. But the lightness of touch also worked when it came to a discussion about whether or not they wanted children, and when it was time to get a move on. It cut through the self-aggrandisement and represented women more honestly, in a way, by not trying to paint an unquenchable biological thirst in all of us.

In what I find the most depressing bit of the film, Fox travels to Pakistan, as part of a project featuring women in rural areas, on the borders of Islamabad and Afghanistan. Fox is on her way to a remote village, in a car with Shazia who, at 32, is still a virgin. Neither she nor her friend would have been able to carry on studying if they had married, so they have sacrificed any chance of sexual fulfilment, of family, of physical or any other intimate companionship, in order to have an intellectual life; which they won't be able to pursue to any meaningful level because they are only women. Oh yes, and the village they going to has just been the scene of a vicious murder in which a young woman was "honour killed" by her brother and father, for falling in love with the wrong man.

This story, coupled with that of Amina, a Somalian refugee living in England and campaigning against female genital mutilation, whom Fox meets later in the programme, really puts a strain on feminist discourse: is there, at this stage, any place for putting the finishing touches on western feminism? Is there any room for discussion on what constitutes true equality within a relationship, or on how women continue to perceive male domination, even on the level of atmosphere? How can we justify that kind of fine-tuning? "What I don't want to do is disconnect, and say us and them. I want to say us. The fact that I was sexually abused at 13, or the fact that I've been beaten up by a man, or nearly raped, or that I'm afraid to walk on the streets at night is the same central root of what is happening in Pakistan."

I agree that the root is the same, and, of course, sexual violence is endemic. But our concerns surely seem petty compared with these women's: they are battling to have any intellectual activity at all; for the right to use their own language. "I totally agree," she says, "I just think we should see a relationship to them. I feel that I'm only one generation out of the woods, in relation to that. My grandmother was locked in her room on her honeymoon every time her husband had to go shine his shoes. That was the 1920s. They are battling to leave the house, but my grandmother was battling to leave the house, and we're not so far out of the woods that we can't see it. I want to fight for women in Pakistan and Somalia, but I want to see how I am related to them.

"I think what Amina and her friends appreciated, was me not looking at them with pity, but instead looking at our similarities. They really hate the way we in the west say, 'Oh you poor woman, you've had this done to you.' And there's a reason for it, because somehow pity is a disconnect. We are too often 'us and them' instead of 'us'. I just want to really focus on that,

"I don't want to say we have it worse or that we're the same - we're not - but we're on a spectrum, and the roots are the same. Everywhere the issue is sexual control. Walking along the street is an issue of sexual control. They might not talk about sexual control, but the reason women aren't allowed out of the house or to walk along the street is because men might look at them."

Well, yes and no, but mainly no. Women might be victims in the west, but there is the rule of law, and whatever its inadequacies, it still exists. We may have been chattels in the Bible, but we are not chattels now.

And yet, I cannot tell you how much of this is a flaw in Fox's feminism, or how much she is just a different sort of person: she does not believe in being judgmental. She thinks "judgment is just bullshit, it's putting your superiority on top of someone else's".

By her own admission, she is new to this game and has only been even calling herself a feminist since she finished making the film, at the age of 45. There are bits of her website that are a bit rich, coming from such a late arrival, as it were: a section called "Take action!", as if what the movement really needs, in its sluggish later life, is a bit of engagement from people who had never, hitherto, given it any thought. But maybe this is what American-style politics looks like when it arrives via therapy ("I am a New Yorker," she says, "I was raised on therapy"). Too much context can be almost as bad as none at all. But still, she's asking the questions. At least people are still asking the questions. We don't all have to agree.

:| :| Hmmm.....some common ground here? 8-)8-)

Simularities rather than differences. (y) (y)

(f) (f)

Dum vita est, spes est.

While life is, hope is. / While there is life, there is hope.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 07:41 AM
(y) (y) (y) (y)

Give us credit

Casey McKinnon

Guardian Unlimited

Tuesday August 7 2007

Now that the excitement over reality TV is dying down, a new budget-saving television revolution is upon us: internet video reruns. Later this year, many stations across America will be launching shows featuring some of the most popular web videos you've already seen. They'll also be screwing the producers of those videos – people like me - out of royalties, recognition and more.

Over the past few years we've seen a decrease in the number of scripted shows on television. Instead, broadcasters have turned to running reality shows that proved less expensive and more profitable. Now, noticing the increasing popularity of YouTube and video podcasts where people showcase their talent for free, broadcasters are turning their gaze to independent web video producers like us to find even cheaper content.

These days, we at Galacticast get at least three contracts in our inbox every week from some big media producer wanting to license our content. This is not a new thing: the Canadian technology channel G4 Tech TV started showcasing videoblogs over a year ago with their show Torrent, featuring some of the first big web video successes such as Galacticast, Ask a Ninja and Rocketboom. The difference now is that everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon, just as everyone did with reality TV after Survivor and Big Brother became popular.

Unfortunately, the majority of web video producers are working for the love of it. They don't have the business or legal know-how to fully understand what the contracts that are sent to them mean. Often, the idea that their work might be featured on their favourite TV station is so exciting that they don't bother to read the small print.

While many people making web video don't expect to get paid for having their content broadcast on TV, they do expect recognition. Unfortunately, in contracts I've seen recently from major American broadcasters, these new programmes aren't even willing to credit the producers by name or by web address.

What's more, these contracts often contain exclusivity rights – so not only do they expect you to sign over your content royalty-free, but for a long period of time. And, thanks to the quiet insertion of a waiver of moral rights, the creators don't have any control over spin-offs based on their work.

When we reply to these broadcasters explaining why we can't adhere to their demands, they often write back to baby us as if we can't possibly understand.

What we web video producers need to do is to ground ourselves as small businesses and micro production companies. Like any company, we need a lawyer to look over our contracts to make sure that we retain our rights. Or we could have a lawyer help us to write our own contract to send to the broadcasters as a way of outlining what's acceptable.

One major difference between web video makers and traditional TV and film producers is unions. Though the proud lack of gatekeepers is part of the web's appeal, it also means we've had to find other ways to defend ourselves. Where traditional producers have unions, we have message boards and internet groups to voice our concerns. In the future, we might need better ways to share experiences and warn against the various sharks trying to screw us over.

One thing is for sure: providing that I continue to watch TV, I will certainly be wondering which naïve producer signed away their soul for the unfunded video that will play on my screen. On second thoughts, perhaps it is a good thing they'll go uncredited.

· Casey McKinnon is co-producer of the video podcasts Galacticast and A Comicbook Orange.


(y) (f) (y) (f) (y)

Felicitas est parvus canis calidus.

Happiness is a warm puppy. (From an early 1960's Peanuts comic strip by the late Charles Schultz.)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 11:16 AM

Video Fun Box – Windows

I'm ready for my close up

Video Fun Box is a video titling package that includes a wide range of fully customizable digital video effects. Creating breathtaking 3D titles is easy with Video Fun Box. By harnessing the full power of your PC's graphics hardware, Video Fun Box creates beautiful animated 3D titles and special effects in real-time.


(y) (y) Don't forget, Beta copies are free! 8-|8-|


Carpe Carpio.

Seize the carp. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 11:25 AM


"The Internet has stopped people from going out and being with each other, creating stuff. Instead they sit at home and make their own records, which is sometimes OK but it doesn't bode well for long-term artistic vision. It's just a means to an end.

"We're talking about things that are going to change the world and change the way people listen to music and that's not going to happen with people blogging on the Internet. I mean, get out there - communicate.

"Hopefully the next movement in music will tear down the Internet. Let's get out in the streets and march and protest instead of sitting at home and blogging. I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole Internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span. There's too much technology available. I'm sure, as far as music goes, it would be much more interesting than it is today."

-- Sir Elton John, musician and acknowledged technophobe


:o :o But Sir Elton successfully uses the Internet - when it serves a good business purpose. ;) As in making dineros........


Nil significat, nil oscillat.

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 11:32 AM
8-| 8-|

......Charles Miller explains exactly what engineers mean when they describe problems as "impossible," "trivial," "unfeasible," "non-trivial," "hard," and "very hard."


"To that end, here's a quick lexicon of what computer programmers generally mean when they're talking about how hard some problem is, starting with the most extreme":


The man most commonly regarded as the 'father' of computer science is the English mathematician, Alan Turing. Turing did a lot of work in World War II helping the Allies break the German military ciphers. To reward him, the British Government convicted him of gross indecency after the war (he was homosexual), took away his security clearance and put him on hormone therapy. His death not long after is generally accepted as suicide. :( :(

Anyway. Turing's most famous contribution to computer science is the Church-Turing Thesis. This describes a theoretical device called a Universal Turing Machine that is both capable of solving any computational problem that could be represented as an algorithm, and of emulating any other device that solves computational problems.

Anything that can be (deterministically) mechanically computed can be computed by a Turing machine. Anything that performs deterministic mechanical computations is really just a Turing machine. Engineers speak of computer hardware or programming languages that have this full range of computation as being "Turing complete".

In this framework, the word 'impossible' has a definite meaning. A problem is impossible if its solution can not be computed by a Turing machine.

Admittedly, this isn't a very useful distinction. On one hand, Turing machines are a mathematical theory. They're infinitely fast and have unlimited storage, and you have an unbounded amount of time to write your program for it. As such, many things that are theoretically possible are practically impossible (more on that later).

On the other hand (and this trips up engineers all the time), it doesn't ascribe any value to mostly solving a problem. No Turing machine can tell you if you're going to like a book or not, but Amazon makes a lot of money out of coming out with a close-enough guess.

(f) (l) (f) Lots more definitions:


Semper ubi sub ubi.

Always wear underwear. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 11:40 AM
:| :| :| :| :|

101 Ways To Know Your Software Project Is Doomed

Filed Under Software Process:

1. Management has renamed its Waterfall process to Agile Waterfall.

2. You start hiring consultants so they can take the blame.

3. The Continuous Integration server has returned the error message “Fuck it, I give up”.

4. You have implemented your own Ruby framework that uses XML configuration files.

5. Your eldest team member references Martin Fowler as a ’snot-nosed punk.

6. Your source code control system is a series of folders on a shared drive.

7. Allocated QA time is for Q and A why your crap is broken.

8. All of your requirements are written on a used cocktail napkin.

9. You start considering a new job so you don’t have to maintain the application you are building.

10. The lead web developer thinks the X in XHTML means ‘extreme’.

11. Ever iteration meeting starts with “Do you want the good news or the bad news…”.

12. Your team still gives a crap about its CMM Level.

13. Progress is now measured by the number of fixed bugs and not completed features.

14. Continuous Integration is getting new employees to read the employee handbook.

15. You are friends with the janitor.

16. The SCRUM master doesn’t really care what you did yesterday or what you will do today.

17. Every milestone ends in a dead sprint.

18. Your best developer only has his A+ Certification.

19. You do not understand the acronyms DRY, YAGNI, or KISS; but you do understand WTF, PHB, and FUBAR.

20. Your manager could be replaced by an email redirection batch file.

21. The only certification your software process has is ISO 9001/2000.

22. Your manager thinks ‘Metrics’ is a type of protein drink.

23. Every bug is prioritized as Critical.

24. Every feature is prioritized as Trivial.

25. Project estimates magically match the budget.

26. Developers use the excuse of ’self documenting code’ for no comments.

27. Your favorite software pattern is God Object.

28. You still believe compiling is a form of testing.

29. Developers still use Notepad as an IDE.

30. Your manager wastes 7 hours a week asking for progress reports (true story).

31. You do not have your own machine and you are not doing pair programming.

32. Team Rule - No meetings until 10 AM since we were all here until 2 AM.

33. Your team believes ORM is a ‘fad’.

34. Your team believes the transition from VB6 to VB.NET will be ’seamless’.

35. Your manager thinks MS Project is the best management tool the market offers.

36. Your spouse only gets to see you on a webcam.

37. None of your unit tests have asserts in them.

38. FrontPage is your web page editor of choice.

39. You get into flame wars if { should be on new line, but you are impartial to patterns such as MVC.

40. The company motto is ‘Do more with less’.

41. The phrase ‘It works on my machine’ is heard more than once a day.

42. The last conference your .NET team attended was Apple WWDC 2000.

43. Your manager insists that you track all activity but never uses the information to make decisions.

44. All debugging occurs on the live server.

45. Your manager does not know how to check email.

46. Your manager thinks being SOX compliant means not working on baseball nights.

47. The company hires Senetor Ted Stevens to give your project kick-off inspiration speech.

48. The last book you read - Visual InterDev 6 Bible.

49. The overall budget is mistaken for your weekly Mountain Dew bill.

50. Your manager spends his lunch hour crying in his car (another true story).

51. Your lead web developer defines AJAX as a cleaning product.

52. Your boss expects you to spend the next 2 days creating a purchase request for a $50 component.

53. The sales team decreased your estimates because they believe you can work faster.

54. Requirement - Rank #1 on Google.

55. Everyday you work until Midnight, everyday your boss leaves at 4:30.

56. Your manager loves to say “Why do the developers care? They get paid by the hour.”
57. The night shift at Starbucks knows you by name.

58. Management can not understand why anyone needs more than a single monitor.

59. Your development team only uses source control as a power failure backup system.

60. Developers are not responsible for any testing.

61. The team does not use SVN because they believe the merge algorithms are black voodoo magic.

62. Your white boards are mostly white (VersionOne).

63. The client continually mistakes your burn-down chart for a burn-up chart.

64. The project code name is renamed to ‘The Death March’.

65. Now it physically pains you to say the word - Yes.

66. Your teammates don’t refactor, they refuctor.

67. To reward you for all of your overtime your boss purchases a new coffee maker.

68. Your project budget is entered in the company ledger as ‘Corporate Overhead’.

69. You secretly outsource pieces of the project so you can blog at work.

70. A Change Control Board is created and your product isn’t even its first alpha version.

71. Daily you consider breaking your fingers for the short term disability check.

72. The deadline has been renamed a ‘milestone’…just like the last ‘milestone’.

73. Your project managers ‘open door’ policy only applies between 5:01 PM - 7:59 AM.

74. Your boss argues “Why buy it when we can built it!”

75. You bring beer to the office during your 2nd shift.

76. The project manager is spotted consulting a Ouija board.

77. You give misinformation to your teammates so you look better on your personal review.

78. All code reviews are scheduled a week before product launch.

79. Budget for testing exists as “if we have time”.

80. The client will only talk about the requirements after they receive a fixed estimation.

81. The boss does not find the humor in Dilbert.

82. You start noticing your boss’s poker tells during planning poker.

83. You start wondering if working 2 shifts at Pizza Hut is a better career alternative.

84. All performance issues are resolved by getting larger machines.

85. The project has been demoted to being released as a permanent ‘Beta’ version.

86. Your car is towed from the office parking lot as it was thought to be abandoned.

87. The project manager likes to doodle during requirements gathering meetings.

88. Your SCRUM team consists of 1.

89. Your timesheet looks like a Powerball ticket.

90. The web developer thinks being 508 means looking good in her Levi Red Tabs.

91. You think you need Multiple Personality Disorder medication because you are Mort, Elvis, and Einstein.

92. Your manager substitutes professional consultant advice for a Magic 8 Ball.

93. You know exactly how many compile warnings cause an ‘Out of Memory’ exception in your IDE.

94. I have used IDE twice in this list and you still don’t know what it stands for.

95. You have cut and pasted code from The Daily WTF.

96. Broken unit tests are deleted because they are obviously out of date.

97. You are sent to a conference to learn, but you skip sessions to go hunting for swag.

98. QA has nicknamed you Chief Off-By-One.

99. You are using MOSS 2007.

100. You have been 90&#37; complete 90% of the time.

101. “Oh, oh, and I almost forgot. Ahh, I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too… thanks.”



Vive Ut Vitas!!

Live, so that you may live." or "Live life to the fullest.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 11:44 AM


:| :|


Veritas vos liberabit.

The truth will set you free.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 11:48 AM
:D :D


;) There are two clues if you get stuck.......:)


Usus magister est optimus.

Experience is the best teacher." (i.e., "Practice makes perfect.) ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 11:51 AM
:o :o



Ulula cum lupis, cum quibus esse cupis.

Who keeps company with wolves, will learn to howl. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 11:55 AM


:| :|


(l) (l) Si vis amari, ama.

If you want to be loved, love. (l) (l)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-07-2007, 11:59 AM
:| :| :|


You don't often see a headline like this in the tech section (and we're the poorer for it). Offered without comment:

Ex-Broadcom CEO accused in court documents of building secret lair for sex, drugs.

LOS ANGELES - The co-founder of semiconductor maker Broadcom Corp., under scrutiny in a federal stock options probe, was accused seven years ago of building an underground hideaway at his estate to indulge in drugs and sex with prostitutes, according to court documents. ... The illegal network of tunnels and rooms underneath (Henry T. Nicholas III's) Laguna Hills estate was kept secret from his wife and city officials, the documents said.



Scio me nihil scire.

"I know that I know nothing." (Socrates)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-09-2007, 07:12 AM

A Fish Story Slide Sjow:


ART OF THE DEEP A black sea bass, inked in white and printed on black silk by Annie Sessler.


August 8, 2007

First a Hook, Then Ink: An Artist’s Catch



THIS is a fish story: a whopper (or at least a keeper) about a peculiar intersection of nature, art and food. Annie Sessler, an artist living here on the East End of Long Island, makes fish prints — impressions of sea life, mostly on vintage textiles, for which she uses fish themselves like rubber stamps or wood blocks. The prints, made with a process dating to the 19th century, are lovely, often haunting images. To whatever extent a fish can be said to have a personality, Ms. Sessler has a gift for capturing and honoring it.

But before inspiration can strike, the fish must. And that’s where Ms. Sessler’s husband, a longtime fisherman named Jim Goldberg, comes in. It’s an elegant hunter-gatherer arrangement: he catches the fish; she prints the fish; then, together, they eat the fish.

“I’m not like other wives who sit at home, waiting for jewelry,” she said. “When Jim comes home, I’m like, ‘What fish did you bring me?’ ”

Early one misty summer morning, Mr. Goldberg, who is 57, sun-blasted and wiry, headed out into Montauk’s harbor in a small borrowed boat. Baiting his hook with strips of squid, he puttered a few hundred yards toward the mouth of the harbor, dropped his line and let the incoming tide carry the boat back toward the dock.

After only a few such passes, just about the time reveille sounded at the Coast Guard station on shore, he had already hauled up a handsome fluke, a flounder and a sea robin. Many fishermen discard the bottom-dwelling sea robin as inedible, but Mr. Goldberg said the firm tail meat was delicious. Also, the prehistoric-looking head and spiny wings make beautiful prints.

As the fog burned off, Mr. Goldberg steered his boat into open water, toward Block Island Sound. Over the years he’s made his living as a lobsterman, a clam digger and a skipper on commercial draggers, taking multiday trips miles offshore in search of cod and other fish. If there is any reason to be nostalgic for those grueling, often freezing journeys, it’s the wild and weird varieties of sea life he used to bring home for Ms. Sessler: dogfish, skate, John Dory.

Once his haul included a small, blazing red deep-sea creature that the couple simply called Mystery Fish. Mr. Goldberg now makes his living primarily by shaping and repairing surfboards, so his wife has to make do with more quotidian species.

On this day, the catch included two bluefish that Mr. Goldberg wrestled into the boat within 10 minutes of cutting the motor out on the open water. The second fish flopped and squirmed in the bottom of the boat as he tried to remove the hook with a delicate touch. “Come on, lay down and be quiet,” he told the fish through gritted teeth, aware that broken scales would provoke his wife’s wrath.

His mesh sack filled with more than enough to produce what he called a “seafood extravaganza,” Mr. Goldberg steered toward shore. The meal, he promised, would be “psycho.”

Like her husband, Ms. Sessler occasionally talks to her fish. As Mr. Goldberg unloaded his catch in the garage, she peered into the cooler and clapped her hands. “Oh, you’re beautiful!” she said, lifting a bluefish. She carried it inside by the tail and lay it in the kitchen sink to begin the “desliming” process.

“You’re gorgeous,” she said, running warm water over the body and gently sponging it with paper towels. “I love you.” Once, when Mr. Goldberg arrived with a large yellowfin tuna, she had to climb into the shower with it.

In Japan the tradition of fish printing, or gyotaku, goes back to the 1800s, when fishermen began using ink and paper to record their catch. Ms. Sessler, who studied design in college, began making her fish prints two winters ago, when her husband got home from a long fishing excursion. On a lark, he took a small scup, or porgy, and a stamp pad and demonstrated how to make a print. Then he went to sleep. When he woke several hours later, the house was filled with dozens of fish prints.

Since then, Ms. Sessler has made over a thousand prints, refining her technique through trial and error. Under the name East End Fish Prints, she began selling her prints last spring, for up to $2,500 each, and quickly found an appreciative audience.

Alexa Van de Walle and her husband, Henry Owsley, saw some of the prints at an arts fair in Southampton, N.Y., and promptly bought eight for the dining room of their summer house.

“There’s something wonderful about how organic they are — how they’re truly something from nature,” said Ms. Van de Walle, who now owns 11 of the prints. “It’s not an abstraction of a fish. It is a fish.”

Now Ms. Sessler placed her bluefish on a palette of newspaper spread on the kitchen table. She used cotton balls and Q-Tips to plug the nostrils, the anus and the hole where it had grabbed the hook. She stacked additional sheaves of paper and cardboard under the tail and back fins, making the surface of the body even and flat. She propped the toothy mouth open with a tiny length of Q-Tip.

The effect of the final print would depend on how the ink was applied. In some of Ms. Sessler’s prints, sweeping brushwork is visible, as though the subject had been caught mid-dart. In the spring, when Mr. Goldberg night-fishes for migrating baby squid, the resulting prints have the quick whorl of Japanese calligraphy. Most often, though, Ms. Sessler strives for a delicate accuracy that rivals the etchings that might be found in a 19th-century encyclopedia.

Using a small rubber roller and a series of brushes, she applied a light patina of ink to the fish. She cut a sheet of white satin and laid it over the fish like a shroud. Then, with the firm fingers of a baker kneading dough, she began to rub the cloth, outlining the fish’s shape. Beneath her hands, the image slowly appeared, as though in a brass rubbing.

In the water, the bluefish had been a shimmering flash of blue and silver; soon enough, on a plate, it would be an anonymous (though tasty) fillet. But now there was the opportunity to really look at the fish: the powerful jaws; the delicate bloodline running from head to tail; the intricate chicken-wire pattern of the scales. Making prints has given Ms. Sessler a passionate appreciation for such anatomical details.

“The mahi-mahi has a bloodline like an EKG,” she said, rifling through representative prints. “It spikes up and down. The John Dory’s is high and arcing, very fine. A tuna is amazing because it’s super-slippery in the front, and then there’s almost a tear and you get into rougher scales.”

“I don’t think of a fish as an object,” she said. “I think of it as a subject. I feel grateful when it reveals itself through me.”

Soon enough there would be more reason to be grateful. As Ms. Sessler finished printing a fish, she rinsed off the water-soluble ink and handed it over to Mr. Goldberg for his extravaganza.

In addition to the fish he had caught that morning, he had spent the afternoon buying local sweet corn and digging about a hundred littleneck clams nearby, off Napeague. A fisherman friend had dropped off striped bass fillets and a cooler full of squid. The couple’s 3-year-old daughter had returned from school, and a few old surfer and artist friends were gathering in the yard.

He prepared the bass and bluefish with recipes from his days cooking for crewmates on long dragger trips. He cut the bass into chunks and set them in a dish of white vinegar before dredging them in Aunt Jemima pancake mix and frying them in oil. The sweet, sharp-flavored nuggets barely had a chance to cool before they were wolfed down.

The bluefish fillets received the most attention. Mr. Goldberg placed them in foil with several handfuls of thinly sliced onions and roughly chopped tomato. He topped this with three or four sizable pats of cream cheese, two spoonfuls of mayonnaise and a few lumps of butter before sealing the foil pouch and placing it on the grill alongside the clams and corn.

Wouldn’t all the toppings overwhelm the flavor of the fish? Perhaps, Mr. Goldberg said, “but I don’t like bluefish.” In fact, though hardly Le Bernardin (or the American Heart Association, for that matter), the mayo and cream cheese melted into a rich sludge that nicely offset the oiliness of the fish.

In a little more than 10 hours, the bluefish had gone from wild animal to art object to food for friends and family. Short of passing by Mr. Goldberg’s hook altogether, what fish could hope for a happier fate?

(y) (y) Amazing artwork AND? This artist's husband washes the fish off, cleans and creates culinary delights with them. Now THAT is a pure slice of heaven, IMHO. At least the "someone else cleaning the fish" part.....:o


:) I used to go fishing in the Sacramento River Delta, near San Francisco (It was truly once a GREAT place for Stripped Bass!) and then it was "catch and release" for me.......and now it's watching the water and scenery as I paddle a canoe on a lake where NO ENGINES are permitted!

(o) Time will change things perhaps.....I'd fish again if I had a fishing buddy - and not one that waited for me on the shore, like my pet........ ;)


Aut inveniam viam aut faciam.

I will either find a way or I will make one.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-09-2007, 07:21 AM
(h) (h) (h) (h) (h) (h) (h)

SOCIAL BOOKMARKING: 50+ Social Bookmarking Sites

August 8, 2007 — 06:33 AM PDT — by Sean P. Aune

With the acquisition this week of a shopping bookmarks service, and strong rumors of another bookmarking service being acquired, we thought it was time to reflect on how the social bookmarking space shapes up these days. Here are more than 50 of the top social bookmarking sites available.

Social Bookmarking

i89.us - Export to several formats, see popular & recent bookmarks, ability to shorten URLs.

AllMyFavorites.net - Create an organized page for your bookmarks that you can share with friends and family, access from any computer.

Backflip.com - Check out the most popular links each day, set “The Daily Routine” as your homepage so you can visit your must stop sites each day with ease.

BibSonomy.com - Public & private bookmarks, tag cloud, related tags, duplicate detection with the chance to merge their info.

BlinkPro.com - Dynamic folders, bookmark all links of a page plus all the usual features.

BlogMarks.net - Save your bookmarks, tag them with keywords for easy searching amongst your list, share with others.

Bluedot.us - Tabbed user page showing a network of friends, bookmarks, and related tags. Allows you to import contacts from all the major mail services such as GMail and Yahoo.

BmAccess.net - Bookmark a site, add tags, when you look up a tag, you get the names and a little thumbnail image of the site along with it.

BuddyMarks.com - Store your bookmarks online, share some or all of them, discover new sites to visit by searching the public bookmark area.

Chipmark.com - Browse random “chipmarks”, share them, sort, filter, and get personal recommendations.

Complore - 10MB of file storage, public & private sharing, tag cloud, popular feeds and more.

Connectbeam.com - A themed social bookmarking site for enterprise-scale business.

Connectedy - Import your bookmarks, batch edit them, check in on hot topics.

Connotea.org - A themed social bookmarking site specifically for researchers, clinicians and scientists.

Diigo.com - Highlight portions of a page, write on it like you would a piece of paper, share with your group, and search all publicly saved pages.

Excites.com - Organize your bookmarks by tags, add comments and notes, share publicly, subscribe to certain tags so you can be notified when a new site is added that may interest you.

Feedmelinks.com - All the usual social bookmarking goodies, but you can also add links via email.

GetBoo.com - Export your folders to HTML, import and remove duplicates, delete all bookmarks.

Givealink.org - Donate your bookmarks to this site to help them recommend sites and get a better understanding of how each person bookmarks.

Hyperlinkomatic.com - Import/export, categories, notes, sharing, block users, RSS, tags.

IKeepBookmarks.com - Folders, search folder names and more.

Lilisto.com - Ratings, notes, categories, smart categories and in-page editing.

Linkroll.com - Links open in new window, subscribe to tags, browse by archives.

Ma.gnolia.com - Discuss all the saved bookmarks in groups, see what the Featured Linker is all about, join discussions in the Hot Group.

Mister-Wong.com - Bookmark and tag, search for tags that interest you, make buddies with people who have interesting saved sites.

Netvouz.com - Save your bookmarks in folders, tag them with keywords, share them with others or password protect them.

Nextaris.com - Folders, tags, clippings; store up to 100MB for free.

Shadows.com - Share your already existing bookmarks, discuss and rate sites and see what you can find.

SocialBookmarking.org - User and global tag cloud, blogs, social networking, avatars and more.

StumbleUpon.com - Lets you “channel surf” the Internet and review sites; it learns what you like and recommends more of the same.

Unalog.com - A basic social bookmarking site, but with the ability to look back at specific days and see what was going on.

WireFan.com - You can vote on links as well as add thumbnails for sites.

Xilinus.com - Tags, rating, search, public & private listing, drag-and-drop sorting.

Yahoo! My Web - One button click adds your bookmarks to the search engine giants system, features duplicate detection to help you keep your bookmarks tidy.

(y) (y) Social Bookmarking Sites With Clipping

BlinkList.com - Save sites for later reading, share your list or keep it private, even send your saved pages to your blog for wider sharing.

Clipclip.org - Like an online scrapbook, you clip out the part of the site you want, then share it with whomever you want, and discover new places to visit.

Clipmarks.com - Allows you to clip just the chosen bits of a webpage, save them to the main website, or even insert them into your own blog. Think of it as fancy block quoting.

del.icio.us - You add your bookmarks and access them from anywhere. Check out what others are saving and see where it takes you.

Furl.net - Not only can you do the standard bookmarking and sharing, you can save archived versions of a webpage and even export all your saved pages to a ZIP file.

Linktopia.com - Keep private, share, mark as friends only, edit bookmark dates.

RawSugar.com - Can cluster your tags for you based on recommendations by other users.

Simpy.com - This social bookmarker does all the usual plus detects links that have changed, and distributes your bookmarks via your blog’s RSS if you like.

Spurl.net - You can upload your existing bookmarks to get started, add more for centralized access, check out hot lists and recommendations.

SyncOne.net - All the usual features plus the ability to add your own Google Ads to the top of your profile page.

URLex.info - Inbox, group creation, directory, all of the usual features, plus being able to send your RSS feed to the site.

Social News

Blog-buzz.com - Similar to Digg, but for blog posts.

Digg.com - Synonymous with social bookmarking: you Digg a story, others Digg it, the more popular it gets the better chance it has of hitting the first page.

Netscape.com - A former contender in the browser wars, and the “mother” of Mozilla, it’s now a a social news aggregator with voting of stories similar to Digg.

Newsvine.com - Users can write articles on current news events, save links to external content; vote, comment and chat on article pages created by both users and by journalists.

Reddit.com - You vote up or down on a story making it move around on the home page.

Shoutwire.com - Similar to Digg, except instead of “Digging a story”, you “shout it”. Still a way to vote on unique Internet news stories.

Thoof.com - Add news stories you find interesting, anyone can “improve” the article by fixing the URL, editing the summary and more.

Lots more hot links: http://mashable.com/2007/08/08/social-bookmarking-2/

(f) (f) Enjoy! If anyone finds a web site that is really cool, please let me know! I would LOVE to explore. :-)

What goes around, comes around.

Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-09-2007, 07:24 AM

If you're reading Download Squad, odds are you know all about Digg, Reddit, Netscape, Furl, and del.icio.us. But if you've ever had trouble explaining to your friends, relatives, and coworkers why it makes more sense to share news/store bookmarks online, this video is for you.


(f) (f)

Ab imo pectore

"From the bottom of the chest (heart).

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-10-2007, 06:08 AM
:s :s :s

Dem hopefuls oppose same-sex marriage

By: Ben Smith

Aug 10, 2007 12:21 AM EST

LOS ANGELES — The leading Democratic presidential candidates all but apologized for their failure to support same-sex marriage before a largely gay and lesbian television audience Thursday night.

The Los Angeles forum, organized by the Human Rights Campaign and the gay-themed cable network LOGO, marked the newfound political confidence of a community being swept into the mainstream by a swift, generational change in American views.

The debate's panelists, who included the president of the HRC, a Washington Post editorial writer and the lesbian rock star Melissa Etheridge, took for granted the candidates' support for a sweeping package of federal rights for gays and lesbians.

And they drew repeated apologies from the candidates with longer records in public life, as New York Sen. Hillary Clinton defended her husband's record and Clinton, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson each apologized for past mistakes.

"We should try to disentangle what has historically been the issue of the word 'marriage,' which has religious connotation to some people, from the civil rights that are given to couples," said Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, whose relative newness to the presidential stage left him as the only major candidate who hasn't shifted his position on gay rights.

But Obama, like Clinton and Edwards, was unable to explain his opposition to same-sex marriage in principled terms, referring to it as a matter of "semantics." Obama cast his opposition as a matter of strategy and priority — he would not have advised the civil rights movement to make the repeal of anti-miscegenation laws a top priority in 1961, he said.

Clinton called her opposition "personal," but didn't explain it. And Edwards took back an earlier comment that his "faith" had led him to oppose same-sex marriage — but didn't elaborate on the source of his current opposition.

"Their reasons for opposing equality in civil marriage tonight became even less clear," Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a statement after the debate.

Clinton has cast her decades in public life as an advantage to her candidacy, but seated in a beige armchair in the Oprah-style event, it was clearly a liability. Bill Clinton arrived in office in 1992 bearing high hopes for gays and lesbians, only to disappoint them on many key policy issues.

"Our hearts were broken. We were thrown under the bus. We were pushed aside. All of those great promises that were made to us were broken," Etheridge said, in one of several questions that seemed to veer the debate into the slightly narcissistic — and decidedly unjournalistic — territory of Los Angeles celebrity.

Clinton responded by defending two of the most controversial policies of the 1990s, the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on sexual orientation and the Defense of Marriage Act, which permits states to ignore same-sex marriages from other states.

She defended the two measures on largely tactical grounds: The Pentagon policy, she said, was the best that could be done at the time, while the Defense of Marriage Act forestalled something worse.

"I don't know that we could have defeated [the Federal Marriage Amendment] if we did not have DOMA," she said.

Edwards, for his part, pleased the crowd with a set of specific commitments. He said he would favor teaching about gay and lesbian families in public schools, and would personally help a hypothetical transgendered aide to transition to the other sex. And he firmly said he would take the question of gays in the military out of the hands of military officers, to whom President Clinton showed great deference in 1992.

"It's not the job of the generals to make this determination," he said. "It's the job of the president of the United States to make this policy determination."

Richardson was the only candidate to fall flat with a friendly crowd, who gave what is for the gay rights movement the distinctly wrong answer to the question of whether homosexuality is a matter of biology or choice.

"It's a choice," he seemed to guess, and then sunk into his armchair amid the shocked silence.

"I'm not sure you understood the question," Etheridge replied, but Richardson seemed unable to recover.

"I'm not a scientist. I don't see this as an issue of science or definition," he said. "I don't like to answer definitions like that, that perhaps are grounded in science or something else I don't understand."

After the debate, Richardson issued a statement saying he does not believe homosexuality is a choice.

The Los Angeles forum was the third appearance in a week of leading candidates before a core Democratic constituency. On Saturday, they addressed bloggers and activists at the YearlyKos convention, promising to stand up to Republicans and conservative media.

On Wednesday, they told a rowdy labor crowd in Chicago that they'd make organizing easier and add restrictions to trade.

And their appearance Thursday with a smaller, slicker crowd — it included gay semi-celebrities including the actor Neil Patrick Harris, most famous for his role as “Doogie Howser” — felt no different. It was a required stop on the campaign trail, with none of the frisson of danger or controversy that gay rights used to carry.

Another sign that the moment for controversy over gay issues has passed was the loneliness of the sole protester. The debate drew just one protester, a grizzled 65-year old retired firefighter named John Franklin, who carried a large black sign declaring "Homo-Sex" a "threat to national security."

Franklin said he was "angry at the Christian church for not responding" to him. And he maintained that "one protester is better than none."


:| :| Gov. Richardson fell flat on his face when Mellissa Ehteridge asked her question about "at birth versus choice". You could see the stunned faces and shock among audience members.

(f) I am grateful to have had the opportunity to listen (and watch) the Democratic party candidates asnwer questions on the Logo Channel from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. last night. I didn't watch much of the analysis afterwards - the Logo commentators weren't experienced, IMHO. AND - "Saving Grace" was on TNT at 11:00 p.m. and I missed the first broadcast of this week's episode Monday.

The televised broadcast will be analyzed to death by everyone over the next week and probably alot longer, depending on what each candidate said (or didn't). :|


Frankly my dear, I very much DO give a damn. ^o)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-10-2007, 06:15 AM

Gay voters scrutinize Democrats in TV forum

Fri Aug 10, 2007 8:16AM EDT

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Six Democrats running for the White House made some history on Thursday night as they debated such issues as same-sex marriage versus civil unions in an unprecedented nationally televised forum directed at gay voters.

While the event, carried live on the gay-oriented cable network Logo, owned by Viacom Inc., shed little new light on candidates' positions, organizers hailed it as a political milestone.

The two-hour event marked the first time that an ensemble of major-party candidates for president -- this one all Democrats -- appeared together specifically to address a gay and lesbian audience in a national telecast.

Gays are estimated to account for 4 to 6 percent of the U.S. electorate, and, according to a recent survey, the percentage who turned out to vote in the 2004 presidential race topped 90 percent, far more than the public at large.

Organizers said candidates of both major parties were invited to take part but that no Republicans accepted.

"We pulled the curtain back a bit and gave all Americans a deeper look inside the candidates' core beliefs about the issues that affect our community," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay and lesbian civil rights group that co-sponsored the forum.

Still, Solmonese said he was disappointed in the stand taken by four of the candidates, including front-runners Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, in supporting civil unions for same-sex couples over full-fledged marriage.

The question of same-sex marriage vs. civil unions, which dominated Thursday's discussion, has emerged as a hot-button issue in the gay community and a tricky one for Democrats who count gays and lesbians among their core constituency.

"While we heard very strong commitments to civil unions and equality in federal rights and benefits, their reasons for opposing equality in civil marriage tonight became even less clear," Solmonese said.


Solmonese was one of four panelists posing questions to the candidates, who appeared separately for 20 minutes each. Rock star and activist Melissa Etheridge also was a panelist.

At least one candidate, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, seemed to stumble when asked by Etheridge if he believed homosexuality was a choice or biological.

"It's a choice," he said at first. "I'm not a scientist. I don't see this as an issue of science or definition."

When pressed on the point that opponents of gay rights often assert that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, Richardson said, "I don't think it's a matter of preferences, I think it's a matter of equality."

His campaign later issued a statement "clarifying" his position: "Let me be clear -- I do not believe that sexual orientation or gender identity happen by choice."

Like Richardson, the three leading Democrats in the race -- New York Sen. Clinton, Illinois Sen. Obama and former North Carolina Sen. Edwards -- struggled to explain why they oppose same-sex marriage but support civil unions that confer all the same legal rights that married couples enjoy.

"My view is we should try to disentangle what has historically been the issue of the word 'marriage,' which has religious connotations to some people, from the civil rights that are given to couples," Obama said.

Edwards backed away from previous statement that his opposition to gay marriage was grounded in his religious faith, stating, "I shouldn't have said that."

The two lone candidates backing full marriage for same-sex couples were two trailing the most in the polls -- Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel.

All the candidates decried what they characterized as Republican attempts to use the debate over gay marriage to distract Americans from other issues.

As of January 2008, New Hampshire will become only the fourth state allowing civil unions for gay couples. Only Massachusetts permits full same-sex marriage. Twenty-six states have constitutional amendments barring gay marriage.


:) Reuters is one primary source that countless news web sites around thte world use to write their own stories - so I thought I'd include the Reuters' story on last night's Logo broadcast. For anyone interested. (f)

:o I was surprised that Hilary agreed to come LAST. The candidates came on in the order that they accepted the invitation to attend.

:| And what was up with the two candidates talking about LOVE throughout their pitch? The candidate from Ohio seemed to be wobbly walking the line between making some sense and being off in the weeds. He reminded me of the young Timothy Leary on LSD - barely making himself understood. Actually it was worse, IMHO. Does he believe the GLBT community believes what the moderator called his "enlightened" position? Come on now. Well, his message didn't resonate with me.

The unfortunate thing is that nobody did for me last night.

"Let the sun shine in, Let the sun shine in..." :|

Non calor sed umor est qui nobis incommodat.

It's not the heat, it's the humidity. (w) (w)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-10-2007, 07:06 AM
:) (~) :) (~)

Puccini for Beginners (2006)

In this love-crazed comedy, commitment phobic Allegra (Elizabeth Reaser) is recovering from a breakup with her girlfriend but begins questioning her sexuality and sanity when she falls for a member of the opposite sex. Philip (Justin Kirk) is the tidy professor who romances the ambivalent Allegra while she also pursues Grace (Gretchen Mol), a straight, recently single woman. Director Maria Maggenti is the force behind this snappy screwball romp.


Justin Kirk, Gretchen Mol, Julianne Nicholson, Elizabeth Reaser

(~) Reviews:

Puccini for Beginners is so good! This is exactly my kind of film. It is set in beautiful New York City. I also love Puccini, opera, and the Met (I recently saw Turandot there). It stars Elizabeth Reaser (Sweet Land -- and everywhere else lately it seems), Gretchen Mol (she was in Woody Allen's Celebrity), and Justin Kirk (Angels in America. A Manhattan bisexual romantic screwball comedy; does it get any better? It is from the great filmmaker Maria Maggenti of The Incredibly True Adventure of 2 Girls in Love fame.

This movie has been widely compared to Woody Allen, but I liked it better because it's so warm-hearted. Yes, it's a sophisticated screwball comedy of relations in New York, but it's so much subtler than Allen has become, and most definitely less sour. People are funny and witty, but without underlining their cleverness here--the jokes come almost unbidden, as in the best screwball comedies. They open their mouths and say outrageous, hilarious things, but quietly, and as if forced to by the peculiar circumstances they're in. I loved the script and every lead, and replayed many scenes because we laughed so hard we missed things.


Although there are stereotypical characters scattered through this movie in the roles of supporting characters, the main 6 characters are realistically complex enough to completely escape your predictions for their behavior. You will like them. They will surprise you. You will luxuriate in the company of these people (who you may wish were your friends- they are cooler than my friends).

(y) (y)

Mutantur omnia nos et mutamur in illis.

All things change, and we change with them.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-10-2007, 07:09 AM
(f) (f) (f) (f) (f)

Missing in America (2006)

After hiding out in the woods for 35 years, an emotionally damaged Vietnam veteran takes in the young daughter of an Army buddy in this heartwarming drama. Life will never be the same for grumpy recluse Jake (Danny Glover) when he winds up caring for the daughter of a terminally ill friend (David Strathairn). The spirited girl gives the scarred shut-in new purpose -- and brings hope to a community of forgotten veterans. Linda Hamilton co-stars.


Danny Glover, Ron Perlman, Linda Hamilton, Zoe Weizenbaum, David Strathairn, Gabrielle Rose, Jesse Moss, Ty Olsson, Frank C. Turner, Colin Lawrence

(~) (~) Reviews:

I was drafted in Jan.1969 and was in the Army until Aug. 13, 1970 14:34. There are thousands of men that can relate to a film of this type. Being one of the first to get home and having it a lot easier than most that I went to school with. I seen how much different each one of them had changed, and how long it took for some, just not to jump at a loud sound. This film really does show why these men are like they are, but more of how they are living a very lonely life and they want it that way, maybe a little kindness and understanding would help them change a little. I do know that some people can handle a lot more than others and many hate themselves for things that they had to do. I enjoyed this film, but that’s just my point of view.

(~) (~)

I recently saw this film at the Monaco International Film festival and it was excellent, it even got Best Film at the festival. You should definitely see this movie, especially with someone you love. The acting and directing was superb, and it was a great story.

(l) (f) (l) (f) I gave it four stars. Amazing film.

What goes around, comes around.

Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-10-2007, 08:47 AM
(l) (l) (l) (l) (l) (l) (l)

The Mayonnaise Jar and 2 Cups of Coffee

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in
a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front
of him When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and
empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then
asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar
He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between
the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They
agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of
course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar
was full. The students responded with an unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and
poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty
space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to
recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the
important things -= your family, your children, your health, your friends
and your favourite passions -- and if everything else was lost and only
they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and
your car.

The sand is everything else -- the small stuff. "If you put the sand into
the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the
golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy
on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are
important to you."

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend
time with your children Spend time with your parents. Visit with
grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to
dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and
fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first -- the things that
really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and enquired what the coffee
represented. The professor smiled and said, "I'm glad you asked."

The coffee just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem,
there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

(f) (f)

Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-13-2007, 10:50 AM

Weekend showers - of meteors - expected

David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Look up! Look up! The Perseids are coming!

Meteors will be racing across the sky from the dusty fragments of an old comet this weekend and, with no moon out at night, should enchant patient sky watchers who've never seen them before, and give astronomers delightful work.

The Perseid meteor shower happens every August, and although it's not unusual at this time of year for nighttime fog to obscure the spectacle for everyone in San Francisco, the problem can be overcome by heading for the hills outside the city. Other good spots for viewing include Bay Area parks and meadows where city lights can't pollute the dark sky.

The best time to view the Perseids should be from Sunday after 10 p.m. until well before dawn Monday, but a few meteors will already be flying across the sky before midnight tonight and dawn Sunday, astronomers say.

Peter Jenniskens, an astronomer at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, calculates that by 11 p.m. Sunday, about 15 streaks of light every hour will be flaring like falling stars across small segments of the sky. But by 5:14 a.m. Monday - just before dawn - the count could rise to nearly one every minute, Jenniskens said.

Most Perseids are likely to be somewhat faint, but now and then a single streak could shine as brightly as a star, he said.

The Perseid meteors are named after the region in the constellation Perseus known as the radiant where, to those watching, they appear to originate. They are, in fact, the dusty debris of a comet named Swift-Tuttle that orbits the sun and flies through the inner solar system roughly every 120 years.

The comet was discovered in 1862, and astronomers last observed it in 1992. But each year Earth's orbit carries it through the trail of particles from the comet - some are even as large as pebbles - that the sun's violent energy has stripped away. When those particles pass through the Earth's upper atmosphere they vaporize by friction into short-lived white-hot streaks.

At the end of this month, a truly rare and perhaps even more spectacular meteor shower called the Aurigids will also be visible briefly over Northern California skies, Jenniskens said.

About 2,000 years ago, a comet now called Kiess passed by the sun and flew back beyond the solar system before returning again in 1911, leaving behind a thin stream of dust particles that only occasionally encounter Earth's orbital path. The dusty meteors appear to originate in the constellation Auriga, hence the shower's name.

This year the Aurigid meteors will flare for only about an hour and should peak around 4:36 a.m. on Sept. 1. Sky watchers should be able to count almost 160 of the "falling stars" in that brief period, according to Jenniskens. Some could be colorful and some even brighter than starlight, he said.

Amateur astronomers - and professionals, too - will use this weekend's Perseid shower to practice their observation skills in preparation for the peak appearance of the Aurigid meteors.

Jenniskens will be flying out of the NASA Ames Research Center this weekend to practice observing and counting the Perseids, and then will lead two NASA planes on a rare all-night airborne mission to observe the Aurigids.
Online resources

Astronomer Peter Jenniskens has created a "Fluxtimator" applet that enables computers users with Java software to calculate the approximate meteor count each night for both showers. It can be found at:


Meteor viewing tips

Andrew Fraknoi, chairman of astronomy at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, offers these recommendations:

-- Get away from lights as much as possible.

-- Allow 15 minutes for eyes to adapt to the dark.

-- The meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, so try to have a full sky view away from trees and don't use binoculars.

-- Be patient. A shooting star may appear every few minutes.

-- Take someone with whom you like to sit in the dark.




Ab Iove principium.

Let's start with the most important.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-13-2007, 10:52 AM
(l) (f) (l) (f)

The Scotsman Sun 12 Aug 2007

Meteor shower to be star attraction for astronomers, but cloudy sky's the limit


A SPECTACULAR meteor shower will be seen over the UK this weekend, if the clouds stay away.

The Perseids, which streak through the sky every summer, will appear brighter than usual because of a new moon.

Astronomers estimate that under ideal conditions, up to 80 meteors an hour - one every 45 seconds - could be visible. Although the showers have already begun, they will be at their maximum tonight.

The shower will peak at around 3am. Although the meteors appear to radiate from a point in the constellation Perseus in the north-eastern sky, they can be seen from anywhere in the UK, depending on the weather. Enthusiasts in Scotland will need to be lucky or patient as tonight's forecast for most of the country is for rain.

Robin Scagell, vice-president of the Society for Popular Astronomy, said: "The Perseids are the most reliable of the meteor showers. Although you could see 80 an hour, I'd say one a minute is more realistic, and that's a good number.

"They are distinctive meteors, which move quite quickly in a sudden flash of light. Some are quite spectacular with long contrails, and occasionally you get a trail that carries on glowing for a minute or two.

"Because there's going to be a new moon, this will be a good year to see them. Amateur astronomers will be out in force."

Dr Martin Lee, an expert in meteorites at Glasgow University, said: "It's actually about the same number of meteors, but because of the lack of moonlight you will be able to see them much better, but you need to try and get away from the light in and around the cities or you won't see it very well. If you live in Edinburgh, head for the Pentland Hills, that should be just far enough to give a really good view. And if you're in Glasgow then I would suggest travelling to around Helensburgh."

Dr Robert Massey, of the Royal Astronomical Society, added: "If you have never seen a meteor shower, this is a really nice opportunity to watch one. It can be spectacular. The nice thing about it is that it is really easy to watch. You just have to get out of bed and look toward the east. Even if you just watch for just a minute or two, you should see quite a few meteors."

Skywatchers are advised to avoid being in close proximity to artificial lighting such as street lights in order to maximise their vision.

The Perseids are made up of dusty debris shed by Comet Swift-Tuttle, discovered in 1862. Each year the Earth's orbit causes it to plough through the meteors, which burn up as they shoot through the upper atmosphere. Most of the meteors are no bigger than a grain of sand, but as they shoot through the Earth's atmosphere at around 135,000mph they burn up in a bright light and many leave a glowing streak in their wake. Occasionally, they ignite into a bright fireball as larger meteors shoot through.

The Perseids, which are named after the constellation from which they appear to originate, Perseus, used to be known as the "tears of St Lawrence" after a 3rd-century archdeacon of Rome. When he was executed by the Romans, meteors streaked through the night sky and reappeared every year around St Lawrence's feast day on August 10.

Chinese records from 36AD contain the earliest reports of the Perseids.

Star-gazers should also watch out for Mars, which will be especially bright in the northern sky over this weekend.


(y) (y)

Ad astra!

To the stars!

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-13-2007, 10:54 AM
(f) (l) (f) (l) (f)

The Tibetan plateau is framed by a dining-car window. For luxury travelers, no place now seems too remote for a train trip.


August 12, 2007

Journeys | Luxury Trains

Riding the Velvet Rails


AS the train rolled across the Tibetan countryside, I stared out into a harsh, bleak landscape. Tibetan nomads rode horses across seemingly endless grasslands dotted with small alpine lakes and ravines cut across snow-capped peaks. Tibetan traders hauling wheelbarrows piled with meat and barley walked a solitary road alongside the train route.

Inside the new Tibet train, which opened last summer and climbs to 16,000 feet while linking Lhasa to other parts of western China , passengers luxuriated in creature comforts. Groups of Chinese travelers played cards in their plush reclining chairs and four-bunk cabins. Even the waitresses, normally surly on Chinese trains, seemed to have attended remedial charm school — they laughed and even bowed slightly as they handed out plates of noodles and spicy Sichuan sautéed tofu. And next year, the trip will become even more luxurious; the company Rail Partners plans to open a high-end route to Lhasa that will include 24-hour butler service and flat-screen TVs.

Even in remote Tibet, it seems, the era of luxury train travel has returned, albeit to areas where it never before existed. Many nations are reinvesting in their train systems since flying has become more uncomfortable and far less luxurious in the age of terrorism and low-cost airlines; this summer has produced more stories of flight delays. And with growing interest in airplanes’ carbon footprint, some travelers also are realizing trains may be more environmentally friendly.

In a world of cramped and unpleasant planes, trains actually may be the last respite of luxury. Sensing this demand, luxury travel companies like Orient-Express have invested in restoring the world’s most famous train routes. And travelers are responding by packing new trains. In China, tickets for the Tibet route are so coveted that a black market has sprung up at some stations, and I had to pay a scalper four times face value to get one of the coveted berths when I traveled last August.

Much of the new boom in luxury trains has come in Asia , which has a generation of newly wealthy tourists eager to see their own countries. Vietnam has upgraded the train system running the length of the country. India’s rail system long has knitted the nation together, but in recent years it has moved beyond its utilitarian purpose. The upscale Taj hotel group, for one, has helped roll out the Deccan Odyssey, which rumbles from Mumbai to Goa and Pune. The Deccan’s interiors resemble maharajas’ palaces, with overstuffed sofas and rich wood walls, and stewards onboard monitor their guests’ every need. A similar luxury train, the Palace on Wheels, runs from Delhi through the tourist triangle of Jaipur and Agra, and the Indian government is considering another luxury route across the entire country.

Orient-Express pioneered the new age of upscale Asian trains, by creating the Eastern & Oriental Express between Singapore and Bangkok in the early ’90s. That train simulates the grand, formal Asian trains of the early 20th century, with cherry paneling, silk curtains and cabins complete with Bulgari toiletries.

The Eastern & Oriental benefits from innate Thai hospitality, which can make even a train breakdown endurable. On one recent trip heading south from Bangkok, on a normal Thai train, the carriage shuddered to a halt just before the next station, leaving my fellow passengers and me staring out the window at rice fields and an occasional water buffalo. The air-conditioning started to falter — not a welcome development on a 100-degree day. Still, while the engineers tried to fix the power, members of the cabin staff distributed bottles of water and boxes of icy fresh papaya and pineapple.

Many of these Asian trains pattern themselves after cruise ships and include amenities far beyond traditional railroads. The Deccan includes a spa room, where you can sample local ayurvedic massage and steam baths as the train rolls on. Other new trains include boutiques and Internet access.

European and African nations also have recognized the demand for luxury rail trips. Competing with South Africa’s long-running Blue Train between Cape Town and Pretoria, a formal experience where men don jackets for dinner in the train restaurant, the South African businessman Rohan Vos began Rovos Rail. Using restored carriages from as far back as 1911, Rovos offers itineraries across southern Africa. Even small, isolated Eritrea has revamped its narrow-gauge railway, dating from the Italian colonial era, so it can run charters. It ascends through impossibly steep passes rising from Asmara, the capital.

As in Asia, Orient-Express helped rebuild the European luxury rail market by restoring 1920s coaches and trying to re-create the most famous train in history, the Orient Express route to Istanbul, which inspired mystery novels and films. The new-old train comes complete with afternoon tea and snaking curves through Austrian mountain passes. No microwaved burgers or other typical train fare here: At meals on Orient-Express’s trains, guests can dig into beluga caviar, white truffle risotto and roasted Alaskan white king salmon.

GW Travel, a British travel company, this year began a luxury trans-Siberian service from Moscow to Vladivostok. The service barely resembles the trip I once took on an old Siberian spur route, where cabin attendants screamed at passengers in the middle of night and, during an hours-long train stop, we waited outside in a dark, decrepit border town as traders tried to sell us ratty Mongolian cashmere sweaters and moldering fruit. Instead, GW’s train features cabins with flat-screen TVs and DVD players.

Even long-maligned Amtrak is getting into the act, and plans to introduce restored vintage cars on several long cross-country and Eastern Seaboard routes.

Working with Grand Luxe Rail Journeys, Amtrak is equipping the cars with lounges that feature live piano music and upscale dining cabins with uniformed waiters. The restored cars will be connected to regular Amtrak trains, but passengers from other cars will not be able to enter the upscale section.

Some things, apparently, never change.


The most comprehensive Web site about international train travel is www.seat61.com. It’s run by a former employee of British train companies and offers route details, extensive information about how to book in many nations and detailed histories of some of the world’s most famous trains.

For organized all-inclusive luxury rail trips through Europe, try the tour operator Great Rail Journeys (www.greatrail.com). These trips normally include train tickets, guides and accommodations for wherever you stop, though this can vary. A 10-day tour of the Tyrol starts at £795 (about $1,645 at $2.07 to the pound), and an 11-day tour through Spain and on to Morocco by ferry starts at £1,750.

Or, you can book luxury trains more directly. For more information about the Deccan, go to www.deccan-odyssey.com, and for more information about the Eastern & Oriental Express and the restored Orient Express see www.orient-express.com. (The Orient Express, now called the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, primarily runs to Venice, but it offers occasional special trips to Istanbul.) For more information about the upscale trans-Siberian route go to www.gwtravel.co.uk. Twin shares on the trans-Siberian route next year start at £5,495. Blue Train information is available at www.bluetrain.co.za, and Rovos information is at www.rovos.com. Information on Amtrak’s new upscale service is available at www.grandluxerail.com. Berths start at $789 a person.

For train bookings in Thailand other than on the Eastern & Oriental, see www.thaifocus.com. An interesting side train trip is to Kanchanaburi, in western Thailand, where museums commemorate the World War II railway link with Burma built by Thai laborers and Allied prisoners of war, which inspired “The Bridge on the River Kwai.”

(l) (l) (l) (l)

Ad augusta per angusta.

To high places by narrow roads. (Or train tracks.) ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-13-2007, 10:56 AM
(f) (f) (f)

Four restaurants on the Outer Cape make an effort to offer the kind of quality cooking that nowadays everyone can find in their hometowns.

Mac’s Shack, serving local fare and authentic kitsch.


August 12, 2007

Choice Tables | Cape Cod

In Clam-Shack Country, the Classics Reign


LOCAL bounty is increasingly the attraction in the world's best eating places. And although the waters off Cape Cod have seen a terrible decline in fish (if it were discovered today, it would be named Cape Clam Shack, or Cape Summer House) there are still enough commercial fishermen to supply local restaurants. So I wish the reigning philosophy would be more as it is in coastal communities elsewhere: “Here's what we've got, and we hope you like it.” Aren't well-traveled Americans, having eaten whelk in France, head-on sardines in Italy, and fresh sea cucumber in Spain, venturesome enough to sample local shark, monkfish, octopus, skate and more?

Sadly, I see little evidence of this. Even good cooking all too often focuses on an audience, real or imagined, that doesn't care where it is. This mythical clientele wants meat, chicken, shrimp and salmon (oh, and tuna tartar) no matter where they find themselves.

So though I found little uncommon or adventuresome — none of the shark, monkfish or other above-mentioned fish, all plentiful in the waters there, were on any menus I saw — what I did find in a tour of Outer Cape restaurants was more attention paid to common local seafood (like cod, clams and oysters) and other local ingredients than 10 years ago, and an effort to offer the kind of quality cooking that nowadays everyone can find in their hometowns.

Abba is a good example, a big-town restaurant in a little house just outside the heart of Orleans (Old Colony Way and West Road, Orleans; 508-255-8144). Along with the Wicked Oyster, which I'll discuss next, it's the most promising development in food on the Cape since they began selling scallops with roe at Hatch's Fish Market (310 Main Street, Wellfleet, for those of you cooking). The house is an old wooden Cape, with wide-board floors and a semi-formal, modern look. It feels geared toward an older, moneyed crowd, but it isn't overpriced: an average meal for two, with tip and a $40 bottle of wine (the wine list is appealing), runs about $150. For the quality of the food, and especially the efficient service, this isn't bad. (Because Abba is open year-round, everything seems more professional than in places that rely on seasonal help.)

I wish there were more local fish, but as you've gathered, that's a recurring theme; otherwise the food is mostly interesting and well-prepared. The chef is Israeli (abba means father in Hebrew), but the menu is ostensibly pan-Mediterranean (I'd call it neo-Californian), with a little Thai thrown in. In principle I'd rather ditch the Thai food, but in reality the grilled squid on watercress and tomato, laced with lime and chili and nam pla, is probably the most unusual salad you'll find east of Providence. Steamed mussels in coconut milk is another winner, as was pad Thai. Thai seafood stew, however, made with a variety of fish, did not sing, and when I thought of what you could do with a few local clams, mussels, squid and finfish, I felt a little sad.

The non-Thai cooking was more consistent, especially creamy, subtle artichoke soup; crisp hot falafel with cool tahini sauce; rack of lamb with North African spices; and perfectly cooked king salmon with sweet chili jam. These dishes do not give Abba a sense of place — you might as well be in Healdsburg — but they do give mid-Cape diners a chance to escape from the mind-boggling dullness of mediocre clam shacks and pretentious country club-style restaurants. For that, and the sticky rice black pudding with coconut ice cream and pineapple, I love it.

I'm equally fond of the Wicked Oyster, which is just off Route 6 on the way into Wellfleet Center (50 Main Street, Wellfleet; 508-349-3455). The setup is similar, but less design-y: an old house, replete with foot-wide floorboards but without the sophisticated trappings. The light fixtures might be from Ikea, there's a lively bar scene with the Red Sox game on television, and the mostly hard surfaces seem to amplify noise. Although the Wicked Oyster is also open year-round (and for breakfast and lunch), the staffing is a bit more Cape-like, which is to say amateurish. On one visit, my server — to her credit — actually apologized for being so far behind.

But, the food there is honest, and someone is alive and awake and paying attention in this kitchen — you'd be as happy to eat their food on the Upper West Side as you will be in Wellfleet. (Actually, the Upper West Side would benefit from the presence of a place like this.) Prices are fair, but without exerting ourselves my companion and I spent $200 on dinner; you could keep it lower, but, again, this is a real restaurant and priced accordingly. (The wine list is another good one.)

The most expensive entrée was my $33 lobster stew with fresh corn, peas and pea shoots, and it was sensational, as good a dish as I've had in months, one in which everything worked. Nearly as satisfying was striped bass in a stew with potatoes, arugula, leeks, cream, clams and bacon. Two dishes, and as much local fish and even vegetables as you see on entire menus in other restaurants.

Also notable was seared yellowfin tuna with three sauces (a hot chili sauce, which should be sampled last — wish I'd had warning — a mellow herb sauce and a mustard mayo); oyster stew had too much thyme for my taste, but was otherwise credible. Most of the other offerings are what you might call classic contemporary: seared foie gras, fried calamari, walnut and gorgonzola salad, rack of lamb, grilled salmon, a pork chop from Niman Ranch in California. I stuck with what appeared to be the local fish and was happy I did.

Desserts provided an example of one of those kitchens where either the chef has a split personality or is at war with the pastry chef. Out of a sense of duty, I ordered — get this — a banana white-chocolate ice cream cake, the description of which is as long as this sentence; not surprisingly, it didn't make for compelling eating. Strawberry shortcake, the “chef's whim” of the evening, was better, but unexciting. You might be better off going back to PJ's on Route 6 for a soft ice cream. (While I'm at it, PJ's — 2616 Route 6, Wellfleet; 508-349-2126 — has the best fried clams and onions rings I've had on the Cape.)

If the Cape is as touristic as Manhattan, Provincetown is the Empire State Building, and the food has long been about as good as that you expect around 34th and 5th, which is to say not very. But the Red Inn, a 200-plus-year-old house that has been beautifully maintained and restored and updated — yes, there are wide-plank floors here too — is at least making an effort (15 Commercial Street, Provincetown; 508-487-7334). I wish that there were more local fish on the menu (and now I'll shut up). There is a lovely dish of Chatham cod with a huge quantity of confited garlic, rosemary, potatoes, lemon and bacon, and it would feed two; a plate of four gargantuan sea scallops over orzo was not as complex, but equally satisfying. And the raw bar is first-rate.

But beyond that, the food, while in general well prepared, is aimed at people who visit the Cape to eat the same food they do at their local restaurants at home. A gargantuan serving of lamb chops with mashed potatoes in red wine demi-glace; yellowfin tuna over Provençal-style beans; Kobe beef mini-burgers (which, with a salad and a glass or two of red, would make a lovely little dinner).

And the place is gorgeous, with walls of white, taupe and ochre, tongue-and-groove paneling over a bay window in the beautiful back room, fireplaces, a great barroom, a killer view, lovely gardens, a deck right on the water. It's not the best food on the Outer Cape, but it may well be the best food in Provincetown, and it's an altogether positive experience.

Back in Wellfleet, the hard reservation (especially since they don't take any) is at Mac's Shack, near the harbor in Wellfleet (91 Commercial Street; 508-349-6333). I was excited about it for a couple of reasons in addition to its popularity. One, I'm a fan of Mac's takeout on the town pier (the best view of any clam shack I know), and of its fish market in “downtown” Truro. And two, I have a historical fondness for the space, which was once the Lobster Hutt (sic) and is still adorned with a boat attached to the roof, in which is standing a mannequin dressed as a fisherman, casting a net down to a huge model of a lobster. Now, this over-the-top variation on vernacular Cape Cod architecture — bring your camera — overlooks an incredibly busy bar scene, which includes, from 3 in the afternoon, a raw bar and sushi.

There's a sushi bar inside, too, and about as ambitious a menu as you'd want to see, all the way from poblano peppers stuffed with wild Maine shrimp to coconut curried scallops to sake-marinated tofu to the usual fried stuff, to tuna tartar. There are truffled mashed potatoes, tuna mango martinis, and those weird, large sushi rolls. There are lobster dinners, surf and turf, and New York strip, and plain broiled fish.

All of this in a big, open, noisy, crowded room with lots of very cool copper-topped tables and just about as many people as can fit. The service is beyond informal (my party of four, which included a woman, was called “guys” at least 10 times); the plates are real, though the napkins are paper; the prices are fair, though not cheap. (You can easily spend $50 a person here before wine, but you can also hold it to $30 and eat well.)

The great thing is that there are a lot of local fin- and shellfish: bluefish, cod, swordfish, striped bass, haddock, scallops, clams and oysters. The not-so-great thing is that like the servers, the kitchen staff seems inexperienced: swordfish and scallops were overcooked, striped bass was undercooked, and cod was right on the money. One out of four isn't exactly a sweep. I'd like to see this place with better focus, and perhaps a bit less of a mob, so the quality of the fish can shine through.

Still, more restaurants like Mac's — ambitious, but with an eye toward using Cape seafood — would go a long way.

(l) (f) (l) (f)

Amicus optima vitae possessio.

A friend is the greatest treasure in life. (f)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-13-2007, 11:01 AM

Once again, you’re bound for Guest Hampton or Give-Me-Shelter Island, and once again, you’re pondering what to take your weekend hosts. Hostess gifts should convey the giver’s wit, good taste and gratitude — without kicking down the doors of ostentation. Below are a clutch of clever indie-shop choices for the well-behaved guest, all $55 or less. Accessorize them with a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou-washing-dishes, and odds are you’ll be invited back at Thanksgiving.

Slide Show:


Knitted Fruit Covers? :| :|

:o All of the items seemed a wee bit (or alot) over the top, don't you think? :D Must be nice to be willing to pay $2. per paper cup with a nose on it......;)

^o) I've never gone empty-handed to a shindig, but what about wine, flowers and/or a fantastically fabulous fresh fruit dessert to somebody's home? <Still smiling over the knitted fruit covers as well as my love of alliteration...)



Ars longa, vita brevis.

Art is long, life is short. (f)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-13-2007, 11:04 AM
(l) (l) (l) (l)

August 8, 2007

The Minimalist

101 Quick Meals? Make It an Even 111


“SUMMER Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less,” the Minimalist column on July 18, clearly struck a chord.

From the comments posted at nytimes.com, which numbered close to 400, it was evident that the heat was not the only factor driving a desire for ultrafast cooking.

Summer did enter into many people’s thinking. One reader suggested taking a half-gallon of ice cream outside for the family to consume before it melted.

But another wrote, “With an uncooperative spouse, a demanding job and three impossible children, five-minute meals are perhaps more the ticket.”

Then there were the jokes: “Put two quarts water in stock pot, add salt, set to boil. Pick up phone and call local pizzeria; order. Wait for water to boil. Answer doorbell. Open door, pay for pizza. Turn off water; let water cool while eating pizza. Pour water down drain.”

And there were the posts in the “I wish I’d thought of that” category. My favorites, not easily achieved in the average American kitchen, were along the lines of this one: “Spread homemade lard (or goose fat if you have any) on slices of farmhouse bread; sprinkle with salt and paprika. Eat as is, or with scallions and/or Hungarian wax peppers.” (Try substituting the phrase “lardo di colonnata” for “lard,” and you will quickly understand how trendy this simple idea is.)

There were pasta dishes ad infinitum. (Indeed, when putting together the original list, I eliminated a dozen or more pasta possibilities in a search for balance.) While many pasta recipes suggested by readers sound wonderful, I’m setting them aside for the same reason.

Following are some of the other suggestions that are worth sharing with a wider audience.

(l) (l) (l) 1. Tortilla soup: Obviously best with fresh salsa, homemade stock and so on, but even with store-bought ingredients this has appeal: Combine one cup of cooked black beans and one cup of corn kernels with four cups of chicken stock in a pot; heat through. (You can add leftover chicken meat.) Fill four bowls with cilantro, tortilla chips, salsa and shredded cheese. Pour broth over chip mixture and serve.

2. Fast beans and vegetables: Sauté chopped onions, minced garlic and sliced zucchini in extra virgin olive oil. Add two cups of cooked white beans and two cups of chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, lots of basil and a little more oil. Serve plain or over couscous.

3. Sauté chopped chorizo (the hard Spanish kind) in olive oil until it begins to crisp. Add two cups of chopped tomatoes and one cup of water or clam juice; cook until saucy. Add a dozen or more well-scrubbed littleneck clams and cook until they open. Serve in bowls, along with bread.

4. Lebanese fava bean salad: Heat equal amounts of canned fava beans and chickpeas; mash with a potato masher along with a minced garlic clove, lemon juice to taste and salt. Garnish with chopped parsley and diced tomatoes. Eat with pita.

5. The Greek fried egg: Heat olive oil gently in a skillet with fresh oregano; fry eggs in it. Pour into a bowl and top with crumbled feta cheese and a handful of olives. Serve with country bread.

6. Basil chicken, Indian style: Ideally, this is marinated for hours, but you can either cheat and skip that, or think ahead. Grind together half a cup of basil leaves, five cloves garlic, a one-inch piece of ginger, half a cup of plain yogurt, two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, one tablespoon lemon juice and some salt. Toss with one-and-a-half-inch chunks of chicken breast (or salmon, pork or other protein); marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Shake off excess marinade and broil or grill chicken until done, turning once.

7. Mix grated lemon peel with softened butter (or olive oil) and salt. Cut the lemons into quarters and alternate on skewers with shrimp. Grill or broil, brushing with lemon butter, until shrimp are done.

8. Bean-and-tuna salad: Good, olive-oil packed tuna is a must here: Combine two cups of cannellini beans, drained, with a minced red onion, a can of tuna, olive oil and salt and pepper as needed. Chopped sage is great in this, as are rosemary and basil.

9. Toss three cups of strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered, with a tablespoon of good aged balsamic vinegar and some black pepper. Wash and dry four cups arugula, then toss with salt and olive oil. Combine with the berries, and crumble fresh goat cheese over all.

(l) (l) 10. Cucumber soup: Peel and seed, if necessary, four to six medium cucumbers (or three English cucumbers); purée in a food processor with a seeded, stemmed jalapeño (optional), a scallion, a clove of garlic and a cup or more of yogurt or sour cream; add a little cold water if necessary to get the machine to work. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls, garnished with a little more yogurt or sour cream, and some snipped dill or chives.

(y) (y) (y)


Aut disce aut discede,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-13-2007, 11:07 AM
:o :o :o :o :o

August 12, 2007

God Bless Amerigo



The Man Who Gave His Name to America.

By Felipe Fern&#225;ndez-Armesto.

231 pp. Random House.

It’s one of the stranger quirks of history and geography. The continent that was supposedly discovered by Christopher Columbus is named for a decidedly second-rate Johnny-come-lately of an explorer named Amerigo Vespucci. Like Columbus, Vespucci was an Italian who sailed on occasion under the flag of Spain. But unlike Columbus, Vespucci was more at home in a counting house than a sailing ship. (Even Ralph Waldo Emerson, normally a booster of all things American, dismissed him as a mere “pickle dealer.”) What Vespucci did have, according to Felipe Fern&#225;ndez-Armesto’s wonderfully idiosyncratic and intelligent new biography of the explorer, was a gift for chicanery and self-promotion, along with an aching need to be remembered. As it turns out, America — this nation of notorious hucksters, dreamers and spin doctors — was named for just the right guy.

Fern&#225;ndez-Armesto’s previous books about world history and exploration — “The Americas,” “Civilizations” and “Pathfinders,” among them — are must reading in these globally minded times. But even a historian of Fern&#225;ndez-Armesto’s learning and reach might have chosen to ignore the fact that 2007 marks the 500th anniversary of the naming of America. Except for a few brief narratives and letters, the record is maddeningly slight when it comes to Vespucci. But “Amerigo: The Man Who Gave His Name to America” is much more than an occasional throwaway. Using the bare bones of what is known about Vespucci to expatiate on subjects as diverse as the brutal world of Renaissance Italy, the importance of trade winds to world history and the poetics of travel writing, Fern&#225;ndez-Armesto has written a provocative primer on how navigators like Columbus and Vespucci set loose the cultural storm that eventually created the world we live in today.

Vespucci (1454-1512) grew up in the turbulent orbit of the Medici family in Florence. Although he spent considerable time as a student and traveled briefly to Paris on a diplomatic mission, most of his early years were spent juggling a variety of business ventures. It might seem like an unlikely way to prepare for a career as a navigator and cosmographer, but as Fern&#225;ndez-Armesto says, “a man with a head for accounts may also have a head for astronomical lucubrations.”

It was business that brought Vespucci to Seville just around the time that Columbus was mounting his famous voyage across the Atlantic. By the time Columbus returned in triumph in 1493, Vespucci was intimately connected with the group of merchants that supplied the explorer’s subsequent, far less successful voyages. By the late 1490s, with Vespucci’s financial prospects deteriorating and with the example of Columbus’s sudden fame offering apparent inspiration, Vespucci (now in his late 40s) opted for a career makeover. He would go to sea. Even though Columbus had so far failed to find the westward route to Asia, Ferdinand and Isabella were still willing to follow up on Columbus’s discoveries — as long as it didn’t involve Columbus, who was now in disfavor with the court. Into the breach leapt Vespucci.

Vespucci earned what reputation he has as an explorer by participating in two trans-Atlantic voyages between 1499 and 1502. It was during the second voyage, this time under the Portuguese flag, that Vespucci ventured to the coast of modern-day Brazil and claimed to have discovered a new continent — what he called the New World. As Fern&#225;ndez-Armesto explains, this claim was not as bold and prescient as it might otherwise seem. Several years earlier, in 1498, Columbus had sailed past the mouth of the Orinoco River and reasoned that this huge outwash of fresh water could come only from a landmass of continental proportions. Columbus called it “an enormous land, to be found in the south, of which at the present time nothing has been known.” In claiming that South America was a continent, Vespucci was only confirming what his mentor and role model Columbus had already established. Vespucci, it turns out, was also not the first to use the phrase “New World” — that distinction goes to Peter Martyr, who had coined the term three years earlier.

Even more important than his actual accomplishments were the accounts of his voyages. In his writings he was driven, like many explorers before and since, by a desire to establish a lasting name for himself. In one of his few existing manuscript letters, Vespucci tells of his decision to write an account of his most recent voyage so he can leave “some fame behind me after I die.” In these narratives, Vespucci depicts himself as a navigator par excellence. While mere seamen rely on experience and orally transmitted sailing instructions to find their way across the ocean, Vespucci ostentatiously wields his navigational instruments. Much like that of the medical doctors of his day, Vespucci’s science appears to have been more about deception and bluff than actual results, but as Fern&#225;ndez-Armesto writes, “the difference between magic and science is narrower than most people think today.”

It was in 1507, with the publication of a large cut-out map suitable for creating a do-it-yourself globe, that Vespucci’s first name, if not Vespucci himself, achieved lasting renown. On this map, published in the intellectual backwater of St. Di&#233; in Lorraine, the designation “America” (the feminine of Amerigo) was chosen for the portion of the hemisphere where Vespucci claimed to have landed during his second voyage. In 1538, the noted mapmaker Mercator, apparently referring to the earlier map from St. Di&#233;, chose to use the name America to mark not just the southern but also the northern portion of the continent. The rest, as they say, is history. “The tradition was secure,” Fern&#225;ndez-Armesto writes, “the decision irreversible.” And so, because of Mercator and assorted others, more than 350 million of us now call ourselves Americans.

As Fern&#225;ndez-Armesto astutely observes, it’s probably a good thing Mercator went with America instead of what might have been the more obvious choice, Christopheria or, say, Columbia. “Columbus has such an ineluctable presence in history,” he writes, “that a hemisphere named after him would never be free of association with him. With every vocalization, images of imperialism, evangelization, colonization, massacre and ecological exchange would spring to mind. The controversies would be constant, the revulsion unendurable.” Since Amerigo Vespucci is a historical nonentity, the term “America” is free of the disturbing connotations that would have been associated with his more famous forebear. “History has made him irrelevant,” Fern&#225;ndez-Armesto writes, “to the major resonances of his own name.” Thanks to the ephemerality of Amerigo Vespucci’s reputation as an explorer, America was given an enduring name.

Nathaniel Philbrick is the author of “In the Heart of the Sea,” “Sea of Glory” and, most recently, “Mayflower.”

:| I never knew (or completely forgot) how the Americas including our own country was named! :o Can't you just imagine some President beginning his speech with the words, "My fellow Vespuccians..."?

;) ;)

Cibi condimentum est fames.

Hunger is a spice for any meal. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-13-2007, 11:12 AM
(f) (f)

The Buddy System (1984)

(~) Plot Summary: A quiet school truant officer, Joe, uncovers a young boy's attempt to fake a residential address, and subsequently gets involved romantically with the boy's mother. The truant officer waffles between a sadistic relationship with his on-again, off-again girlfriend and the mother. When one of the officer's inventions takes off, he chooses the girl and shatters the friendship with the boy and his mother. Only at the last possible moment does he figure out what he's sacrificed, and attempts to get it back. Written by Cheryl Pickard.


Richard Dreyfuss ... Joe

Susan Sarandon ... Emily

Nancy Allen ... Carrie

Jean Stapleton ... Mrs. Price

Wil Wheaton ... Tim

(~) (~) Reviews:

I loved The Buddy System. Yes, it was very cheesy and completely predictable. But, if you like slushy romantic dramas, this one is for you. Richard Dreyfuss is brilliant as usual as the wannabe writer. Susan Sarandon plays the potential love interest, and the ever cute Wil Wheaton as her little son. The scene in which Timmy (Wheaton) explains to his mother (Sarandon) about the meaning of "The Buddy System" is like the core of the film - this is where you understand the whole meaning of it. A very cosy movie that leaves you believing there could be happy endings in real life, too.



(f) (f) What a very young Susan Sarandon - already luminous and so gifted. Dreyfuss is no slouch outfit as an actor either. The kid steals many scenes with his lines. (y) (y)

(co)(co) Was a nice break from the computer glass - for the eyes as well as jumping the synapse to right brain. :)

Claude os, aperi oculos!

Shut your mouth, open your eyes. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-13-2007, 11:17 AM
(f) (f)


"My expectations for this computer were, I must admit, not very high. But it completely took me by surprise. It was cleverly designed, imaginative, straightforward, easy to understand (I was given no instructions on how to use it. It was just, 'Here. Figure it out yourself.'), useful and simple, entertaining, dependable, really a 'stick to the basics' kind of computer. ...

"My main problem with this laptop is how very slow it is. ... I had to wait two minutes to get onto one application. That's just a little longer than I can accept. Also, it got slower and slower and slower the longer I went without rebooting it. ... And one of the most frustrating things about the system was that it gave no warning when it was out of power (as it was often because it lost charge very quickly) but just shut down. ...

"All in all, this laptop is great for its price, its job, and its value. It is almost perfect. Just speed it up, give it a little more battery charge hold, and you have yourself the perfect laptop. I'm sure kids around the world will really love, enjoy, and cherish these laptops."

-- A 12-year-old reviews the One Laptop Per Child program's XO computer.




:| :| :|

Caveat emptor.

Let the buyer beware.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-13-2007, 11:21 AM
....that have been translated as "easy to read, exciting teenage novels" in which "difficult passages and complicated events are made easy and illuminated as the stories unfold."

(f) (f)


"The Tempest":




(f) (f) (f)

De gustibus non est disputandum.

In matters of taste there is no dispute. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-14-2007, 01:09 PM
:) (f) :) (f)


If you're not familiar with the work of Steven Wright, he's the famous
scientist who once said: "I woke up one morning and all of my stuff had been
stolen...and replaced by exact duplicates."

His mind sees things differently than we do, to our amazement and amusement.
Here are some more of his gems:

1- I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.

2- Borrow money from pessimists - they don't expect it back.

3- Half the people you know are below average.

4- 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

5- 42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

6- A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.

7- A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

8- If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.

9- All those who believe in psycho-kinesis, raise my hand.

10- The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

11- I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met.

12- OK, so what's the speed of dark?

13- How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?

14- If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked

15- Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

16- When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

17- Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.

18- Hard work pays off in the future, laziness pays off now.

19- I intend to live forever -- so far, so good.

20- If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?

21- Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

22- What happens if you get scared half to death twice?

23- My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn

24- Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?

25- If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

26- A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

27- Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

28- The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.

29- To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is

30- The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.

31- The sooner you fall behind, the more time you'll have to catch up.

32- The colder the x-ray table, the more of your body is required to be on it.

33- Everyone has a photographic memory, some just don't have film!

(y) (y) (y)

Ars longa, vita brevis.

Art is long, life is short.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-14-2007, 01:10 PM



Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-14-2007, 01:13 PM
(l) (l) (l) (l)

Houseboats on Princes Canal in Amsterdam, once a low-cost alternative to living on land, have gone upscale in recent years.


Low Coast Canal Living SLIDE SHOW:


August 14, 2007

Amsterdam Journal

A Rising Tide of Gentrification Rocks Dutch Houseboats


AMSTERDAM, Aug. 8 — On a recent Saturday during the confusion of this watery city’s annual Gay Pride Parade along the majestic Princes Canal, a beach umbrella was knocked into the water from the foredeck of Jackie Wijnakker’s houseboat, so she dove into the water to fetch it, unsuccessfully. It was only the second time in 17 years that she had jumped into the canal, and she cannot recall what she was trying to retrieve the first time. At any rate, she said with a laugh, “I’m too old to be diving into canals.”

She told the tale as a testament to how clean the water is, despite its murky, khaki color. “The canals are flushed regularly,” said Ron Van Heukelom, a neighbor who lives on dry land and has never ventured into the canal.

The flushing is necessary because, while most of Amsterdam’s 2,800 houseboats have running water, electricity and gas heat, few are connected to sewerage systems and continue to spill their waste into the canals.

The houseboats’ lack of toilet training is their dirty little secret, one that sits uncomfortably with a new generation of wealthier, more demanding owners who are leading a gentrification of the houseboat scene. In the process, they are displacing the less affluent boat people, many of whom are relics of the 1960s and 1970s era of flower power now struggling to pay the upkeep on their boats.

“The water is cleaner than it looks,” said Monique J. M. Jacobs, an official of the city agency responsible for water and the boats. The canals, she explained, are flushed by opening and closing locks about twice a week, and in summer more often. “Small fish are coming back, and also birds that feed off the fish,” she said. “In the old days it was awful. It stank in summer.”

The city wants to go further. It plans to install sewage pipes along the canals for the boats to hook into. This poses a threat to boat people like Ms. Wijnakker, who will have to pay about $28,000 to link up to the new system. The threat is not imminent; boat owners will have until 2017 to hook up.

Houseboats were traditionally the refuge of people without the means to live on dry land. After World War II, working-class families took to the water when housing on land was unavailable, and old canal barges were cheap, as the Dutch renewed their fleet.

“It’s difficult to find a good house on land,” said Pom Dupré, who has lived for 20 years on a 65-foot boat, the Nova Cura, along the canal. “And of course, this is a fine neighborhood,” she added, glancing at the stately 17th-century homes along the canal, many of them law offices or professional services.

There are drawbacks, she admits. Every four years the boat has to be hauled to a dry dock to have its hull checked for canal-worthiness. The family must find a place to stay, or live on the boat in the wharf; water pipes, which are exposed to the air between boat and canal wall, often freeze in the winter.

To make ends meet, or simply to enjoy onboard company, some boat owners have transformed their boats into bed-and-breakfasts. Ms. Wijnakker began taking in guests three years ago and now does a busy trade in summer.

Two years ago, Luc Couvée, 51, a graphic artist, and his wife, Laura Tollenaar, bought a canal freighter on the canal, then added two showers and two bedrooms to take in paying guests. “I’m a very boat-minded person,” Mr. Couvée said. “And it’s cheaper than an apartment, though not by much.”

The couple paid about $420,000 for the boat, which they renamed Vreiheid, or freedom. An apartment in the neighborhood would have cost about $700,000. They have solved the sewage problem, installing the necessary plumbing and a cesspool that can be emptied regularly. When the city’s plumbing is in place, they will be ready.

The popularity of houseboats reflects a general awakening in Amsterdam to the beauty of water. “Up to the 1970s and ’80s, Amsterdam’s water was forgotten,” said Maarten Kloos, an architect who runs Arcam, an independent foundation that promotes architecture. “Now, not only houseboats, floating has gained currency.”

Indeed, the architecture of some new apartment buildings near the center of Amsterdam suggests huge houseboats. “Talking about water is now the topic,” Mr. Kloos said. “People used to say, ‘With the beauty of our 17th-century canals, why can’t we get rid of those boats?’ ” he said. “Now, like all of Amsterdam, the boats are more and more bourgeois.”

Mr. Kloos might have been thinking of a squat, sleek houseboat on the River Amstel that suggests Mies van der Rohe more than Peter Stuyvesant. Five years ago, Steven Westerop, a personnel executive, left his home in Leiden, a short train ride from Amsterdam, to buy a dilapidated boat on the Amstel from an elderly German who came to Holland during the flower power days. With an architect’s help, Mr. Westerop, 46, designed and built a split-level home on a hull that was essentially a reinforced concrete shoebox.

“There are many kinds of boats I didn’t like,” he said. “I wanted people to say, ‘O.K.!’ Maybe even a little over the top.”

“It’s now a yuppie market,” he said. “You need a good job, otherwise you can’t afford it.” The old boat people, like his German, are selling, he said, and all of the houseboats on both sides of his have changed owners in the past five years.

“Sometimes, though, I still feel like a Gypsy,” he went on. “But I have a big mortgage.”

:D Who's ready to go? I'd spend some time here. Amsterdam ROCKS!!! (l)


Carpe Carpio.

Seize the carp. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-15-2007, 06:19 AM

Splash Cast Media

Be a cyber-TV producer...

Looking to add streaming media to your Web site, blog, or social-networking page? Splash Cast Media provides a "skinless" player that lets users seamlessly mix video, music, photos, narration, text, RSS feeds, and more! Named one of PC World magazine's "25 Web sites to watch."

No paddle required:


(y) (y)

Vive Ut Vitas!!

Live, so that you may live." or "Live life to the fullest.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (l)

08-15-2007, 06:26 AM

Cowboy Poetry

What rhymes with cattle prod?

As wide-ranging as the western skies, this site keeps fans of cowboy verse connected through a roundup of CDs, newsletters, public readings, and a heckuva lot more. Git along, rhymin' doggies!

Oh, give me a—Who's eatin' beans?




:| :| What's up with the SLOW LATENCY this morning? I'm heading out soon - and I guess I'll have to post later when the download times from the server are significantly faster. I have a cable modem and am sitting here waiting as if I have an old 28.8 dial-up modem.


Semper ubi sub ubi.

Always wear underwear.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-15-2007, 06:29 AM


No CC required

If your day involves sending and receiving multiple email attachments—and outfoxing over-zealous spam filters—this freeware is your reprieve. Users can upload, share, edit, and approve documents created with MS Office, Adobe PDF, JPGs, GIFs, PNGs, FrameMaker, Autocad, and more—without wondering if it got there.

I can't blame cyber goblins?


(y) Collaborators unite. Or something like that. ;)


Carpe Carpio.

Seize the carp. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-15-2007, 05:25 PM
<:o) <:o) <:o)


Juice up your party...

Want your get-together to be "off tha hizzy?" That takes planning—or it used to. With MyPunchbowl, any regular Joe or Jane can create custom invitations (with maps), locate the nearest party store, share party photos, create a public or private guest list, and lots more!

Am I early?


<:o) <:o)


Absentem lædit, qui cum ebrio litigat.

He who quarrels with a drunk hurts an absentee. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-15-2007, 05:27 PM

Klingon Language Institute

"Hab SoSlI' Quch!"

Translation: "Your mother has a smooth forehead." That's a nasty insult in Klingon; users beware. You’ll find plenty more pithy phrases, as well as sound bites, pronunciation guides, a Klingon alphabet, and lots more on this Trek-tastic site.

To boldly go...outside the house:


|-) |-) However, to each their own, right?



Ad astra.

To the stars!

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-15-2007, 05:29 PM

The Gyros Project

Greek fast food, or pop art?

If you're Jonesin' for a gyro, Chicago's your kind of town. The Windy City has more colorful places to purchase this Grecian fast food delight than you can shake a skewer at. And this site reverently chronicles the kooky and creative street art the gyro inspires.

Sophocles had a little lamb:


:) :) Opa!!! (In Detroit, Michigan that is....) :)



Amicus optima vitae possessio.

A friend is the greatest treasure in life. (f)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-15-2007, 05:32 PM

LogonStudio — Windows

Flip your welcome mat

Change your Windows XP logon screen with LogonStudio. It comes with several logon screens to choose from, along with access to thousands that are available online from Web sites. It also includes an editor for creating your own logon screen.




Aut dosce, aut disce, aut discede.

Either teach, or study, or leave. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-15-2007, 05:34 PM
8-| 8-|

Game: Brain Hotel — Mac

Check-out time is...

Brain Hotel is a point-and-click adventure game in the tradition of such classics as Maniac Mansion and the Monkey Island series. You play the role of Ed Arnold, a hapless deliveryman who gets tangled in the annual supervillain convention at the Brain Hotel and a plot to defeat one of the more ruthless supervillains at the convention.


(y) (y)


Bona valetudo melior est quam maximæ divitiæ.

Good health is worth more than the greatest wealth.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-15-2007, 05:36 PM
(l) (l) (l) <Sigh>

August 15, 2007

In the Fruit Belt, Selling Summer Off the Truck



THE sky was still pitch-black and crickets chirped as trucks began pulling through the gates at the Benton Harbor Fruit Market well before 6 o’clock on a recent August morning.

As the drivers eased into their assigned stalls, the scent of summer produce began to pierce the muggy air: fat red tomatoes, just arriving at ripeness, voluptuous Red Haven peaches, their fuzzy skins colored deep red and gold, and tender bicolor sweet corn, piled high on truck beds.

Fruit and vegetables are king in Benton Harbor, the heart of the legendary Midwestern fruit belt. Since 1860, the city has had a wholesale market that claims to be the world’s biggest for fresh produce.

Once sprawled across downtown Benton Harbor, the market moved in 1970 to a 25-acre site that features three types of commerce. There are brokers, who buy from the biggest farms and supply distributors patronized by supermarket chains. There are also out-of-town wholesalers, who bring produce from elsewhere to sell here, and return with Benton Harbor’s bounty.

Finally, there is the daily market. Here small farmers from the region sell produce ripened to a peak of sweetness on the plant, often picked just hours earlier. It is the kind of summer produce many people pine for. And yet it is not what most of them will end up eating.

Today the daily market, which still functions much as it did a century ago, is dwarfed by the rest of the commerce here. The farmers who keep it going don’t grow enough produce to interest the brokers and wholesalers. And their exquisitely ripe fruit here wouldn’t survive a cross-country trek or last long in a supermarket.

“It is too bad that agriculture here is but a shred of its former glory,” said Lee LaVanway, Benton Harbor’s market master. Mr. LaVanway, a tireless advocate for local food, is frustrated that so few people in Michigan actually eat its fruit, even though the western part of the state leads the nation in the production of 15 different crops.

Even in Berrien County, where the market is located, Mr. LaVanway estimates that only one-quarter of the food eaten by local residents is raised nearby. Local supermarkets, he said, are far more likely to stock varieties shipped from thousands of miles away than the fruit grown in their backyards.

Since 1969, the number of farms in the area has declined by 60 percent, while strawberry production has all but vanished. A number of farmers who sell at Benton Harbor own family farms that are just big enough to stay in business. They lack the acreage or the production power of the big corporate farms who sell to distributors with familiar supermarket names, like Dole, Driscoll or Del Monte. Although Benton Harbor has 1,000 farmers registered to sell here, only about 70 arrived on a recent summer Friday, to sell to a similar number of customers.

But the buyers who still shop at Benton Harbor come because of its reputation for ripe produce, ready to eat, from a region long recognized for its agricultural products.

“We’re not going because it’s cheaper, we’re not going because it’s an easy trip, we’re going because it tastes better,” said Rick Peshkin, the owner of the Produce Station in Ann Arbor, Mich., a specialty fruit and vegetable store.

In early August, the variety here ranged from peaches so juicy they stained a T-shirt on the first bite, to blueberries packed carefully in 10-pound cartons to protect their dusty white bloom, not a defect but the sign of a fresh berry, and bushel baskets piled with bright green peppers.

By and large, the biggest customers at the cash market are other growers who buy for their own roadside stands or fruit and vegetable markets, which are plentiful in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio.

That might come as a surprise to food shoppers who deliberately trek to places like Perrysburg, Ohio; Fennville, Mich.; or LaPorte, Ind., expecting that they are buying directly from the farmer. But many of those vendors no longer have the ability or inclination to stock their stalls by themselves.

Some of the Benton Harbor farmers also sell their produce, flowers and other food items at the sprawling farmers’ markets in big Midwestern cities, such as Chicago and Madison, Wis. Typically, they can command double the prices they charge customers here.

Joining the farm stand owners and fruit sellers are a few individual buyers like Ron and Loida Mueller of Sibley, Ill., who drove three hours the night before to buy produce for their family of 14. Mrs. Mueller, who had bought a truckload of peaches for jam, declared, “You can’t get a good peach like a Michigan peach.”

At some trucks, farmers held auctions, scribbling down the prices that buyers were willing to pay for their truckloads. Prices here can be high when the first varieties of the year arrive. If the weather is hot or a type of fruit or vegetable is in ample supply, farmers sometimes leave Benton Harbor without making a sale.

On a recent Friday, when the temperature soared above 90 degrees, peaches went for only $12 to $14 per half bushel. “It’s bloody today,” said Mr. LaVanway, with a scowl.

But a week later, in cooler weather, peaches were fetching as much as $18.

Weather plays a critical role, since the peaches, tomatoes and truckloads of corn sold here generally are not refrigerated in advance, as are many of the products sold at the big terminal markets around the country, in Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles and at the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx.

Nor, for the most part, are they organically grown, like the fruits and vegetables fast becoming the rage at farmer’s markets.

Lacking both the trend factor and the shelf life of terminal market produce, these products must find their customers quickly — factors that are combining to reduce the number of buyers and sellers in Benton Harbor.

But no matter the number, the action moves swiftly. The buyers are eager to load up and get back on the road, so they can stock their stores by early afternoon. Sellers, meanwhile, must ponder whether to cut prices or take leftovers home to sell at their own roadside stands.

Don Karaus, of Glenn, Mich., had driven 30 miles to select produce for his market, Dee’s Lakeshore Farm, which sits in the heart of the lakeside vacation area in southwestern Michigan.

Mr. Karaus, who has farmed since 1965, grows his own peaches, apples and plums, but buys produce in Benton Harbor to round out his offerings.

Vacationers to Lake Michigan “want to shop at the fruit market,” said Mr. Karaus, who had loaded his GMC pickup with 75 dozen ears of sweet corn. He paid $175 and expected to sell it for twice that.

At Benton Harbor, “I’ve gotten to know the farmers, I’ve gotten to know their quality and I’m buying what I consider to be the best,” he said.

Rose Moser, of Perrysburg, Ohio, said the shoppers at her farm market outside Toledo had come to expect her to carry top-quality fruit, grown close by. “More and more, they want to know where it came from,” said Ms. Moser, who was making the three-hour trip home with blueberries and peaches.

Back in Ann Arbor, the Produce Station’s general manager, Andrew Gorsuch, was arranging Honey Rock melons, peaches, blueberries, and sweet corn, all labeled as Michigan grown. Tracy Jones, of Ann Arbor, was already waiting to select her favorites.

“As I pulled in, I said, ‘Michigan sweet corn, yea!’ ” said Ms. Jones, who was accompanied by her children, Olivia, 11; Sophie, 8; and Charlie, 11 months.

While Charlie reached for a plastic sack of bright red tomatoes, Ms. Jones confided, “Honestly, I would pay more for it. But don’t tell them.”

(l) (l)

Cibi condimentum est fames.

Hunger is a spice for any meal.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-15-2007, 05:41 PM
^o) (i) ^o) (i)

Home Is Where the Art Is:

Slide Show: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2007/08/14/realestate/greathomes/20070814_MEXICO_SLIDESHOW_index.html


The nighttime view from the roof of Ms. Mead's house highlights La Parroquia, the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel, and a panoramic view of San Miguel.


August 15, 2007

Vacation Homes as Art Projects


To Susan Mead, a Dallas attorney, old houses are canvases and she is the painter. Even the most dilapidated structures become striking compositions, three-dimensional landscapes for Ms. Mead’s blend of contemporary and antique furnishings, folk art and fine art — and always with an architectural twist.

“My mother was an art major in college before she went into law,” said Ms. Mead’s daughter Katya Jestin, herself an attorney based in New York, “and I think that for her, renovating houses is a form of art. She uses the raw frame of a house and imagines how beautiful she could make it.”

In addition to her Dallas apartment, Ms. Mead now has four “works”: a 3,500-square-foot rental in Akumal, Mexico, on the Caribbean Mayan Coast; a tiny whaler’s cottage in Sag Harbor, New York; a multilevel beauty overlooking San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico and a Pacific Ocean cliff-house in the fishing town of Puerto Angel, Mexico.

The latter is her latest purchase, bought in 2005, and renovated to emphasize the dramatic ocean views. Ms. Mead has put it on the market but she is keeping the Sag Harbor and San Miguel houses for herself, friends and family.

Over the past 30-odd years, however, she has renovated a dozen homes, from New England to southern Mexico. Her first was a 1840s farmhouse in Simsbury, Conn., which she tackled when she was 20 years old.

“I was in college and my husband at the time was teaching high school. We couldn’t afford a livable house,” said Ms. Mead, now in her late 50s. “So we bought one that had been uninhabited for 20 years.”

“We renovated while we lived in it, an eye-opening experience,” she said. “At that point, I started hanging out in hardware stores and learned how to rebuild chimneys, lay shingles. The notion of scraping plaster out of your bed every morning was new to me.”

Nonetheless, she was hooked. Next, she bought and refurbished a home in Beverly Farms, outside Boston. Then in the 1980s and ’90s, after returning to Dallas for law school, she restored and sold a half-dozen historic homes in dilapidated neighborhoods that now are trendy and high-priced.

Ms. Mead is not an investor, although her talent for finding old homes in the right place at the right time helped pay for law school for both her and her daughter, now 37. But it is the bones of a house, the feeling of a property, that attracts Ms. Mead.

“I just really love architecture, especially historic architecture,” she said. “I grew up in my grandmother’s house in Dallas, which was built in 1938, so that’s kind of historic — for Dallas.”

Of the places Ms. Mead owns now, she said the one that reflects her personality most is in San Miguel.

An airy, vertical home built into a hillside during the 1930s, its seven levels and 4,000 square feet include four bedrooms — one on each main level and one with a balcony overlooking the courtyard garden — and four- and-a-half bathrooms. A split-level rooftop area offers a view of San Miguel’s historic center.

Throughout the house, a dual attitude of elegance and whimsy prevails. Contemporary Mexican paintings by Manuel Vel&#225;squez of Veracruz and Gilberto Sanchez of San Miguel, among others, are hung along with carved masks and various folk-art pieces.

The most striking of these is a 6-foot plaster/wood/papier-m&#226;ch&#233; woman in pious dress and pose, which stands sentinel at the bottom of the main stairwell. “I call her my Mexican virgin. She’s at least 100 years old,” Ms. Mead said. “She’s from an old chapel owned by a family outside of Mexico City, and they were selling some of the statuary. I loved her right away.”

When she bought the house in 2002 there was work to be done. “It took six months of rehab to heighten the original ceilings, which were ‘shed’ ceiling that went from 7 to 11 feet high and now slopes from about 11 to 15 feet,” she said. “Then I enclosed the salon, or what had been a patio with a large fireplace, and I kept the fireplace. Otherwise, the building was in pretty good shape.”

Ms. Mead said that comparable houses in the neighborhood now are selling for around $1 million but, when she bought, prices were far less. In fact, she said, “I couldn’t afford to buy any of these houses as they are now.”

As is typical of homes in San Miguel, this one does not look like much from the street: A large, carved wooden door next to a discreet two-car garage. But the door opens onto interior stairs, which lead up to the salon and an immediate view of the courtyard and bougainvillea cascading down its 30-foot-high walls. The salon then opens onto the kitchen, a formal dining room and a sitting room.

In 2003, the year after buying in San Miguel, Ms. Mead and her daughter found the 1,100-square-foot, two-bedroom and one-bath cottage in Sag Harbor.

“I’d just sold my house in Dallas, the one I’d redone and lived in for 18 years, and moved into a small apartment downtown,” she said. “I knew I wanted to buy something small near Katya and her husband and my grandson, who live in New York. But I also knew it couldn’t be in the city. I love trees and water too much.”

The two wandered over to Sag Harbor and discovered the cottage for sale. It is one of the village’s oldest, built in 1693, and its historic designation limited any renovations, but Ms. Mead said very little work was needed. She added a kitchen, with cabinets and counter tops — “there had been only a free-standing stove and refrigerator,” she recalled. Now the low-ceiling cottage doubles as a getaway for her daughter’s family and, several weeks a year, a refuge for Ms. Mead.

Discussing her properties, Ms. Mead returns again and again to potential projects: Perhaps redoing the house at Akumal (Casa Pantera, it’s called), and the Puerto Angel house needs to be painted. And the Sag Harbor bathroom could use some work ...

Then she stops herself.

“I’ve got too many houses. That’s why Angel is for sale,” Ms. Mead said. “It takes a whole day just to get there, whereas I can be in San Miguel or Akumal or Sag Harbor in four-to-six hours. I’m trying to simplify as I get closer to retirement age.”

The statement makes Ms. Mead laugh. “You do get attached to these houses,” she admitted. “They can be hard to sell. I guess because they become an extension of yourself; they reflect who you are.”

^o) If anything ever happened between the U.S. and Mexico, this lady would be in deep financial straits with most of her homes being located in Mexico, IMHO.

Very impressive though, what she's done. (y) Beautiful. I would love to re-do old homes with someone who knew how!


Cuiusvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare.

Any man can make a mistake; only a fool keeps making the same one. :)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-16-2007, 11:01 AM





Ab esse ad posse.

From being to knowing.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-16-2007, 11:02 AM





Audiatur et altera pars.

The other part should be heard as well.

Sweetlady and Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-16-2007, 11:04 AM



Quantus il cannus in es fenestrum.

How much is that doggy in the window? (&)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-16-2007, 11:08 AM


Broadband over powerline gets boost from US

Jo Best, ZDNet Australia

16 August 2007 02:37 PM

A new initiative in the US could give broadband over powerline (BPL) a kick-start, with two US companies getting together to provide Internet connectivity through electricity cables.

DirecTV, a satellite TV company, has reached a deal to resell BPL provider Current's service in parts of Texas, around Dallas-Fort Worth, from the end of this year.

Under the deal, 1.8 million homes will be covered by broadband over powerline connectivity over the coming years, at a speed of up to 3Mbps, according to reports.

The satellite TV company intends to offer its customers an Internet and VoIP package using the BPL connectivity, and plans to expand its user base as Current increases its network coverage.

The controversial technology has already been trialled in several places across Australia. Utility company Aurora Energy reported favourable results when it trialled the tech in 2006. Silk Telecom and Country Energy have also previously expressed an interest in the technology.

So far, however, the technology has gained little real foothold in the Asia Pacific region. In the US, however, BPL subscriber numbers are expected to reach around 2.5 million by 2011, according to industry watchers Parks Associates -- up from an estimated 400,000 this year.


(y) (y) Depending on power company. More critical would be whether they had both top execs as well as field service technicians who migrated over to the electric utility business from the broadcasting (digital video transmission) industry. Success depends on SENIOR people with decades of experience, IMHO.




Quidquid discis, tibi discis.

Whatever you learn, you learn it for yourself. (y)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-16-2007, 11:10 AM


STARDUST: Viewed in ultraviolet, the star Mira A has an unexpected wake of stardust stretching 13 light-years that began forming an estimated 30,000 years ago.


August 15, 2007

Shooting Bullet Star Leaves Vast Ultraviolet Wake

Fluctuating star discovered four centuries ago still holds surprises for astronomers

By JR Minkel

Scientific American

Like witnessing a bullet's supersonic trail through the air, astronomers have discovered a vast ultraviolet contrail streaming from the red giant variable star Mira A, about 420 light-years away. Spanning a full two degrees of sky as viewed from Earth, the muddied wake may consist of cold hydrogen and heavier elements that have sloughed off from the star over the past 30,000 years and interacted with interstellar dust in the object's path.

The wake stretches 13 light-years, or about three times the distance between the sun and the next closest star.

Researchers say the finding provides an unprecedented record of the twilight years of stars like our own, including the kind of stellar breeze from spent stars that was the source of, among other things, the carbon in our bodies and the oxygen we inhale. "If Neanderthal man had had ultraviolet eyes and could look above the atmosphere, he could have seen the beginning of this tail forming," says astronomer and team leader Christopher Martin of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Seventeenth-century astronomers marveled at the star Mira A, or Omicron Ceti, for its dramatic changes in brightness every 332 days. (Mira is Latin for "wonderful.") Researchers now believe this variation occurs because the star has burned all the hydrogen-helium nuclear fuel in its core into the heavier carbon and oxygen and puffed up into a cooler red giant, heated by unsteady nuclear fusion reactions in its remaining fuel shell. Such burned-out stars are thought to seed still-forming stars and planets with medium-weight elements such as carbon, nitrogen and oxygen that blow off of the spent stars' envelopes.

Martin and his colleagues noticed Mira's tail in images captured by NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) ultraviolet satellite, launched in 2003. The imagery revealed a bow shock—like the wave that piles beneath the prow of a moving ship—in front of the star and its smaller companion, Mira B, as well as a wake broken into turbulent knots or loops, according to a report in Nature.

The researchers suggest that because the star is moving at a relatively quick pace of 130 kilometers per second (or three times a bullet's speed) relative to the galaxy, it has compressed and heated the interstellar gas in front of it. This hot gas excited the cool, five-kilometer-per-second breeze of hydrogen molecules and heavier elements emanating from Mira, causing it to glow in the ultraviolet.

The team estimates that Mira A loses one millionth of the sun's mass a year, out of its total bulk of perhaps 1.5 solar masses.

Martin says ultraviolet tails may be quite common despite going unnoticed until now. The red giant phase awaits many smaller stars, including our own sun in four billion to five billion years.



Quidquid id est timeo puellas et oscula dantes.

Whatever it is, I fear the girls, even those giving kisses. ;) ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-16-2007, 11:19 AM
(l) (l) (l)

August 14, 2007

A Grass-Roots Effort to Grow Old at Home


WASHINGTON — On a bluff overlooking the Potomac River, George and Anne Allen, both 82, struggle to remain in their beloved three-story house and neighborhood, despite the frailty, danger and isolation of old age.

Mr. Allen has been hobbled since he fractured his spine in a fall down the stairs, and he expects to lose his driver’s license when it comes up for renewal. Mrs. Allen recently broke four ribs getting out of bed. Neither can climb a ladder to change a light bulb or crouch under the kitchen sink to fix a leak. Stores and public transportation are an uncomfortable hike.

So the Allens have banded together with their neighbors, who are equally determined to avoid being forced from their homes by dependence. Along with more than 100 communities nationwide — a dozen of them planned here in Washington and its suburbs — their group is part of a movement to make neighborhoods comfortable places to grow old, both for elderly men and women in need of help and for baby boomers anticipating the future.

“We are totally dependent on ourselves,” Mr. Allen said. “But I want to live in a mixed community, not just with the elderly. And as long as we can do it here, that’s what we want.”

Their group has registered as a nonprofit corporation, is setting membership dues, and is lining up providers of transportation, home repair, companionship, security and other services to meet their needs at home for as long as possible.

Urban planners and senior housing experts say this movement, organized by residents rather than government agencies or social service providers, could make “aging in place” safe and affordable for a majority of elderly people. Almost 9 in 10 Americans over the age of 60, according to AARP polls, share the Allens’ wish to live out their lives in familiar surroundings.

Many of these self-help communities are calling themselves villages, playing on the notion that it takes a village to raise a child and also support the aged in their decline. Some are expected to open this fall on Capitol Hill; in Cambridge, Mass.; New Canaan, Conn.; Palo Alto, Calif.; and Bronxville, N.Y.

“Providers don’t always need to do things for the elderly,” said Philip McCallion, director of the Center for Excellence in Aging Services at the State University of New York at Albany. “There are plenty of ideas how to do this within the aging community.”

Although not a panacea for those with complicated medical needs, the approach addresses what experts say can be a premature decision by older people to give up their homes in response to relatively minor problems: No way to get to the grocery store. Tradesmen unwilling to take on small repairs. The isolation of a snowy winter.

As these small problems mount, sometimes accompanied by pressure from adult children, experts say, the elderly homeowner is caught off guard. Remaining at home without sufficient help is frightening. But moving to an assisted-living center is often an overreaction that can be avoided or postponed.

“A few neighborhood-based, relatively inexpensive strategies can have an enormous effect,” Mr. McCallion said. “If people don’t feel so overwhelmed, they don’t feel pushed into precipitous decisions that can’t always be reversed.”

For inspiration, the nascent groups looked to Beacon Hill Village in Boston, which pioneered the approach six years ago. Beacon Hill’s 400 members pay yearly dues — $580 for an individual and $780 for a couple, plus &#224; la carte fees — in exchange for the security of knowing that a prescreened carpenter, chef, computer expert or home health aide is one phone call away.

Experts in aging say the self-help approach provides a sense of mastery, often lost with the move to an institution or even an adult child’s spare bedroom. That can-do spirit is attractive to baby boomers like Alisia Juarrero, 59, who is a board member of the Allens’ group, which spans the Palisades neighborhood, an enclave of single-family houses northwest of Georgetown, and Foxhall, an adjacent area of attached Tudor homes.

Ms. Juarrero is mindful of the future because of the struggles of her 89-year-old mother and 92-year-old aunt in Coral Gables, Fla. “This is where we’re all headed,” she said. “If I help set this up, it’ll be there when I need it.”

So far, most of the villages are in places where residents are well connected and skilled in finance, law, medicine and philanthropy as a result of their own careers. That raises the question of whether the model is viable only in neighborhoods of privilege. But experts point out that most care for the elderly is already out of reach for all but the wealthy.

The amenities of an assisted-living center are far more expensive than a village’s membership fee. Medicare does not pay for long-term care, and private help is costly. Only the destitute are protected in old age because Medicaid pays their nursing home fees.

A few villages are cropping up where low-income families live, such as in the Richmond District of San Francisco, with its recent wave of Russian immigrants; Falmouth, Mass., where year-round residents struggle when the summer crowd is gone; and in pockets in Westchester County, like Yonkers, with diverse populations.

In such locations, social service organizations are likely to organize the project, instead of the older residents, and they rely on volunteers or bartered services to keep fees down. One member fixes another’s faucet, banks the time and in exchange gets a ride to a medical appointment.

Groups also share expertise online and at local and national conferences, including several this past spring. Some have access to regional resource centers that help with matters like hiring an executive director or buying liability insurance.

In terms of government support, New York State is at the forefront, with a 20-year-old model known as a NORC, or naturally occurring retirement community. Since 1995, the state has financed social services, including nurses and case managers, in many apartment buildings with a concentration of residents over 60. Last year, it added a few suburban neighborhoods, so-called horizontal NORCs.

On the federal level, Congress authorized experiments in aging in place in the 2006 Older American Act but did not finance them.

The sprawl of suburbia presents challenges to the elderly once they cannot drive. Amid the rolling hills of Fairfax County, Va., one group is grappling with how to serve prospective members in a place with a single general store and five-acre lots. Taxi vouchers may be too costly when running errands can take hours. Recruiting volunteer drivers from 118 home owners’ associations and 17 churches presents liability issues.

“The question is distance and time, and the money that relates to that,” said William Cole, 77, the founder of the group. Mr. Cole anticipates yearly dues of $1,000, which may be prohibitive for neighbors who are real estate rich but cash poor. One likely service, Mr. Cole said, will be advice about reverse mortgages.

Many of the villages are concerned about whether they can provide adequate support once the founding members, who tend to be vigorous regardless of age, decline either physically or cognitively. In this regard, the New Canaan group, with annual dues of $360 and $480, may be less vulnerable than most. The suburb already has a home health care agency, an assisted-living center and a nursing home, thanks to years of advocacy by a local physician, an 87-year-old board member.

Because of that, “we have the confidence to live without these problems getting the best of us,” said Tom Towers, 69, the board president of the group, Staying Put in New Canaan. “And if they do, we can take care of it right here.”

The first village in the Washington area is expected to be on Capitol Hill. When it opens for business on Oct. 1, annual memberships will be $750 for a couple and $500 for an individual.

Among those eager to join are Marie Spiro, 74, and Georgine Reed, 78, who share a rambling house that they insist they will only leave “feet first.” Between them, Ms. Spiro, an emeritus professor of art history and archaeology, and Ms. Reed, a retired designer of museum exhibits, have already endured three knee replacements and an array of other ailments.

Ms. Spiro describes huffing and puffing while grocery shopping; Ms. Reed is increasingly reluctant to visit friends across town. Both women, who are childless, would already welcome help with meals, transportation and paperwork. If they need home care, Capitol Hill Village will be able to organize that.

“I’ve never had to rely on other people, and I never wanted to,” Ms. Spiro said. “But I’d rather pay a fee than have to ask favors.”

Members of all these groups share an independent streak — and the willingness to plan for the future. Those characteristics were on view recently in a living room in Hollin Hills, a post-World War II development in Alexandria, Va., where a half-dozen neighbors who once organized baby-sitting co-ops are now organizing for their final years.

Now, in their 70s and 80s, they still drive, play tennis and travel the world. None has yet lost a spouse, but they fear what will happen to the one left behind.

“The vast majority of people don’t have the capacity to be realistic,” said Ruth Morduch, 71. “We don’t know what’s going to happen in X number of years, but we know we’re going to need help. In my own home, that’s less likely to be humiliating. And an organization like this gives me a sense that we’re all in this together, our last grand adventure.”

(y) (y) With a few folks I know already worrying about "being allowed" (their words, not mine) to buy into an assisted living or 50+ or 55+ residential community - this article seemed to provide at least one solution. And definitely an opportunity for entrepreneurs to provide services to older members of the GLBT community. (l) (l)

^o) Food for thought for those of us starting to think about where to live and continue to be self-employed as well as self sufficient. (f) There is nothing like having one's own home. And, I can't even imagine what it would be like for a transgendered person to live and grow older in a retirement "home", rather than their own home.


Sapientia est potentia.

Wisdom is power.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-16-2007, 11:24 AM
(l) (l)

"The agreement to participate in this life is a pact with grief." - Mark Doty

Mr. Doty is nothing if not opinionated: sentimentality is a mask for anger; "compassion for animals is an excellent predictor of one's ability to care for one's fellow human beings;" "no death equals another;" "the wounds of loss, the nicks and cuts made by our own sense of powerlessness, must form a sort of carapace, an armor."


Dog Years: A Memoir

by Mark Doty (Author)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Award-winning memoirist (Firebird) and poet (School of the Arts) Doty explores, with compassion and intelligence, the complicated, loving territory inhabited by devoted dogs and their loyal humans. In 1994, when the author's longtime lover was dying of AIDS, beloved pet Arden kept the surviving partner afloat. A new adoptee, the rambunctious Beau, in his "sloppy dog way," becomes a part of the tribe and carries some of the burden of grief. Doty says Beau "carried something else for me too, which was my will to live." In a time of devastating pain, as well as in happier times, Doty's two dogs are the "secret heroes of my own vitality." The dog characters in the book are irresistible, and the arcs of their lives are delineated with the tenderness and passion of the truly smitten. Arden's quiet nobility and slow decline breaks the heart, while Beau's goofy enthusiasm peaks with youth and mellows in illness. With a marvelous ability to present the pain of mourning with a poet's delicate hand, and an irrepressible instinct for joy, Doty delivers a soulful love story which illuminates no less than the big human mysteries: attachment, death, grief, loyalty, happiness. The book nimbly sidesteps sentimentality and lands squarely on a philosophical, inquisitive tone as intellectually evocative as it is emotionally resonant. (Mar.)

From Booklist

To be loved by Doty, as a human or a canine, is to be elevated into a realm of utter glory, where one is cherished and cradled, sheltered and supported, and, most of all, where one's very essence is acknowledged and appreciated in a manner both simple and sublime. In his latest elegant and elegiac memoir, poet Doty recounts how the love of two dogs, Arden and Beau, sustained him during times of his most grievous losses, and how he, in turn, came to nurse them through their inevitable years of failing health. On the brink of a life-threatening depression, Doty recognized the necessity of caring for his beloved dogs, which then metamorphosed into a life-affirming realization that he was, in fact, the one being attended. Sprinkled among poignant and merry anecdotes about typical and peculiar doggie behavior are Doty's tender yet cogent reflections on the underlying truths such conduct reveals about the canine species, observations that transcendently celebrate the essential connection between man and pet. Carol Haggas

(l) (&) (l) (&) (l) I LOVE this quote: "Compassion for animals is an excellent predictor of one's ability to care for one's fellow human beings." If we are talking about pet parents of big dogs, talk about profound, in my view. And one that I have found to be frighteningly true.


Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.

The times are changed, and we are changed in them.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-16-2007, 11:27 AM
(l) (l) (l)

Just Gus: A Rescued Dog and the Woman He Loved

by Laurie Williams (Author), Roslyn Banish (Photographer)

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Gus was a lucky dog. Injured and abandoned, he could have become another of the 7 million animals euthanized every year. Then Stephanie Williams entered the picture. A successful journalist, she had been diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer at the age of 30. On medical leave and living alone, she wanted a warm four-legged companion. When she saw Gus's soulful eyes and goofy grin, it was love at first sight: she would rescue him, and he would return the favor. Just Gus is about how much one dog did to make a dying woman happy — giving tireless love, comfort, and support. This extraordinary story shows how one dog brought joy and hope to a woman's last days.

What a wonderful book for both young and old. This is such a beautiful story about the bond between humans and their canine companions. The photography is fantastic as well. This one should not be missed!

(y) :( (y) :(


Sic Itur Ad Astra.

Thus do we reach the stars. (*)(*)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-19-2007, 02:21 AM
(y) (y) (y)

August 16, 2007

At Netflix, Victory for Voices Over Keystrokes


HILLSBORO, Ore. — Megan Funk had been on the phone for 30 minutes and had already untangled one billing knot, listened to a woman insist that she had returned a Pilates DVD when it was clear she had lost it and received one request to replace a cracked copy of “Hotel Rwanda” and another to replace a disappointing husband.

Ms. Funk is one of 200 customer service representatives at the Netflix call center here, 20 miles west of Portland, where she is on the front lines of the online movie rental company’s efforts to use customer service as a strategic weapon against Blockbuster’s similar DVD-mailing service.

Netflix set up shop here a year ago, shunning other lower-cost places in the United States and overseas, because it thought that Oregonians would present a friendlier voice to its customers. Then in July, Netflix took an unusual step for a Web-based company: it eliminated e-mail-based customer service inquiries. Now all questions, complaints and suggestions go to the Hillsboro call center, which is open 24 hours a day. The company’s toll-free number, previously buried on the Web site, is now prominently displayed.

Netflix is bucking several trends in customer service. Booz Allen Hamilton, a management consulting firm, and Duke University studied 600 companies last year and found a continued increase not just in outsourcing, but also offshoring, in which call centers are moved overseas.

“I don’t think there’s any trend to pull back,” said Matt Mani, a senior associate at Booz Allen. “This is a unique strategy for Netflix. There’s so much more competition, this is something they’ve done to get closer to the customer, because without that, there’s really no connection a customer has to Netflix.”

Netflix’s decision to greet anxious consumers with a human voice, not an e-mail, is also unusual in corporate customer service. “It’s very interesting and counter to everything anybody else is doing,” said Tom Adams, the president of Adams Media Research, a market research firm in Carmel, Calif. “Everyone else is making it almost impossible to find a human.”

In contrast, Blockbuster outsources a portion of its customer service, and when people do call, they are encouraged to use the Web site instead. Its call center is open only during business hours, said Shane Evangelist, senior vice president and general manager for Blockbuster Online, because the majority of customers prefer e-mail support, which is available 24 hours a day. “Our online customers are comfortable using e-mail to communicate,” he said.

The decision to invest heavily in telephone customer service was an expensive one for Netflix, but it may be one advantage that the company with the familiar red envelopes has over its rival with the blue ones, analysts say. “It’s vital in a world where they’re no longer growing their customer base," Mr. Adams said.

Indeed, for the first time in its eight-year existence, Netflix has found itself losing customers. It is not the quality of customer service that is driving them away, but rather the heightened competition from Blockbuster. Late last year, soon after Blockbuster introduced its Total Access program, which allows members to swap a movie they have rented online for an in-store movie, the nationwide chain began gaining on Netflix’s base of 6.7 million subscribers.

By the first quarter this year, after years of outstripping Blockbuster in subscriber growth, Netflix added 480,000 new subscribers while Blockbuster signed up 780,000 new members. And in the second quarter of this year, Netflix, which prides itself on customer loyalty, lost 55,000 customers. Blockbuster added 525,000, bringing its total to 3.6 million.

The Hillsboro operation, which occupies about 30,000 square feet of a low building in an office park, is intended to keep the red envelopes coming. Michael Osier, vice president for information technology operations and customer service, said he rejected cities like Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, which are known as call-center capitals, because of their high employee turnover rates. He settled on the greater Portland area because of the genial attitude on the part of most service workers.

“In hotels and coffee shops and the airport, it’s amazing how consistent people are in their politeness and empathy,” said Mr. Osier, who is based at Netflix headquarters in Los Gatos, Calif. “There’s an operational language in the industry that people are so jaded about — phrases like ‘due to high caller volume.’ We’re very consciously trying to counter that mentality.”

Netflix’s decision to eliminate the e-mail feature was made after a great deal of research, Mr. Osier said. He looked at two other companies with reputations for superb phone-based customer service, Southwest Airlines and American Express, and saw that customers preferred human interaction over e-mail messages. “My assessment was that a world-class e-mail program was still going to be consistently lower in quality and effectiveness than a phone program,” he said.

When Mr. Osier presented his findings in January to fellow executives, Reed Hastings, the Netflix chief executive, sent an enthusiastic message, BlackBerry to BlackBerry, from across the room. Mr. Hastings quickly became a supporter of the e-mail elimination project.

The company has tried to give the service representatives more discretion in deciding when to assuage disgruntled callers with bonus discs and account credits — and they are allowed to err on the side of generosity. More often than not, a month’s credit will be issued or a missing disc marked simply as lost, and the customer will not be charged. Netflix places no particular requirements on call duration, preferring that customer service representatives take the time they need to keep a customer happy and loyal.

Ms. Funk, 36, said some people call because they are lonely. Her lengthiest call of that kind lasted 35 minutes. Others need basic help with their computers or with the Internet. Some people do not own a computer and call regularly to have a call center employee rearrange the titles in their queue.

More often than Netflix might like these days, people call to cancel their subscriptions. One reason for emphasizing direct phone contact over e-mail messages is that on the phone, a Netflix employee has a fighting chance of persuading the customer to stay.

And it is up to the call center representatives to help retain customers. Autumn Daste, 30, who has worked at the call center for two months, managed to halt one potential defection recently when a call was routed to her from a polite but unhappy woman in New Jersey who had not received any movies recently.

Ms. Daste called up the member’s account information on her screen, including the type of service to which she subscribed, the frequency with which the member ordered movies, the number of months she had been a member, the number of times she had contacted Netflix in the past and a brief description of what those calls had been about.

Ms. Daste pointed out, ever so politely, that no movies had been sent to her because the woman’s queue was empty. “There’s nothing on your list that’s of interest to me,” said the caller, referring to the 80,000 movies Netflix carries.

Undeterred, Ms. Daste suggested they find a movie together. The woman mentioned one she had been wanting to see for a while, an Indian film titled “Fire.” Within seconds, Ms. Daste had it on her screen. She added it to the customer’s queue and told her she would be receiving it shortly. Customer pleased. Disaster averted.

Ms. Funk has been working at Netflix for eight months, a veteran by call center standards. (Mr. Osier said his goal was to keep people there for an average of two years, twice as long as the industry average.) At $12.50 an hour, she said, the pay is slightly higher than in her previous job, in retail sales.

One of the first questions customers ask, Ms. Funk said, is where she is, and they express their approval at the answer. “They like hearing it’s not being outsourced,” she said. Very few callers have asked about the disappearance of the e-mail option, she said.

Disappearance of discs, though, remains a common customer anxiety. Shortly before clocking out for the day recently, Ms. Funk took a call from woman who had just found a DVD she had reported lost a few weeks earlier. It was in her husband’s car. “All right, I need to get a new husband,” she told Ms. Funk, who gave a sympathetic chortle in reply.

(l) (y) (l) This strategy is a winner and I hope it beats Blockbuster. Netflix has an amazing number of GLBT films while Blockbuster prides itself on being a "family" company. (and does not have much in terms of their film library....)

:| :| Who would YOU want to do business with? I've been a member with netflix since they started a few years back. Blockbuster could not PAY me to be a member.

(l) Netflix rocks and I sincerely hope they survive the competitive machinations. ;)


Ab Iove principium.

Let's start with the most important.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-19-2007, 02:25 AM
.....and here's what they came up with...........

(y) (y)



What goes around, comes around.

Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-19-2007, 02:27 AM
:s :s


:| :|

Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-19-2007, 02:29 AM




Amicus optima vitae possessio.

A friend is the greatest treasure in life.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-20-2007, 08:10 AM

Before the 2001 inauguration of George Bush, George
was invited to a get acquainted tour of the White House.

After drinking several glasses of iced tea, he asked
Bill Clinton if he could use his personal bathroom.
When he entered Clinton's private toilet, he was
astonished to see that President Clinton had a solid
gold urinal.

That afternoon, George told his wife, Laura, about the
urinal. "Just think," he said, "when I am president, I
could have a gold urinal too. But I wouldn't do
something that self indulgent!"

Later when Laura had lunch with Hilary at her tour of
the White House, she told Hilary how impressed George
had been at his discovery of the fact that, in the
President's private bathroom, the President had a
gold urinal.

That evening, when Bill and Hilary were getting ready
for bed Hilary smiled, and said to Bill "I found out
who pissed in your saxophone!!"



Ars longa, vita brevis.

Art is long, life is short.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-20-2007, 08:12 AM

August 20, 2007

Op-Ed Contributor

Pore Me


THE main thing is not to rush. If my pace accelerates past “Leisurely Stroll,” I’m done for. So I give myself time. I allow 30 minutes for a 10-minute walk. I head out at 5 o’clock for a 7 o’clock meeting 10 blocks away. Men hurry past. Women tut as they shoulder by. “It’s called a sidewalk,” mutters an old lady with a cane.

“Easy,” I tell myself, “It’s not a race.” I meander. I saunter. I mosey. And just when the day is ending and I think I’ve made it — one day without being covered in sweat, one day without coming home drenched — they switch my train from Track 6 to Track 11.

“Anyone sitting here?” I ask the unluckiest passenger on the train, pointing to the empty seat beside her. She looks at my shirt — at the dark patches under my arm, at the other one forming on my chest, at the streams of salt water sheeting down my forehead and stinging my eyes — and she smiles kindly.

“Yes,” she says. “Yes, there is.”

I sweat. I am a sweater. I sweat in T-shirts, I sweat in shorts, I sweat in the shower. It is not a certain dampness. It is not a masculine bit of moist. Sweat spurts out the top of my head like I’m a lawn sprinkler. I sit down on the curb at lunchtime and a little girl leaps over my head.

When I was young, the first thing my teachers told me about hell was that it was hot; after that, the punishments seemed redundant. “Yes, yes, hung by my tongue, eyes gouged out, boiled alive. How hot is hot, exactly? How about fans, do they have any fans?”

Summertime, when the living’s theoretically easy, is three long months of hell. The cold is easy — there’s no limit to the clothing you can put on. You can layer yourself so thick that your arms stick out and you can’t bend your legs at the knees. But heat — once you’re naked, there’s nowhere left to go.

So I plan ahead. By Memorial Day, I am usually rummaging the stores, preparing for the looming meltdown, hoping for salvation in linen pants and moisture-wicking shirts. I keep hoping that some sort of full-body sweatband will be the must-have this season, but the shop windows fill, as they always do, with easily-stained white shirts, off-white shirts, tan shirts. I stand in the men’s department and seethe.

In this season of blue skies and white beaches, I wear black. Black holds more heat than white but it shows damp patches less, the universe’s twisted sartorial/thermodynamic joke. I dress like an undertaker on Casual Friday: black T-shirt, black khakis and a pocket full of paper towels that will not suffice when the levee of my hairline eventually breaks.

As the solstice approaches, my mood darkens like the collar of a red button-down. I stare at the men on the subway in three-piece suits, each one dry as a bone. Something’s going on. Someone’s not telling me something.

I try to figure it out. Is it something I’m eating? Something I’m drinking? Am I drinking too much — or not enough? I drop caffeine. I eat less salt. I eat more salt. Last summer I thought it was my weight. I lost 10 pounds and seemed to sweat twice as much as I did before. Maybe if I gain 20 pounds I’ll stop sweating completely? Maybe if I gain 100 I’ll just drop dead, giving my washing machine a much-needed break?

The globe turns. The globe warms. July arrives. I look to science: Aisle 4, Anti-Perspirants. I’m a rabid anti-perspirant. I want the perspirants rounded up. I want them killed. I find Dry. I find Extra Dry. I find Cool Wave. I find Extra Dry Cool Wave Extreme.

I end up choosing one from the bottom shelf — that’s where they keep the good stuff: hair gel that sets like concrete, Advil 6000 for Fast Relief of Sudden Dismemberment and a roll-on deodorant so strong you’re supposed to put it on at night so it has time to alter your gene structure. I put it on that night, and sweated twice as much out of the top of my head the following day as I had the day before.

August. Misery now. I spend my time trying to figure out a way to earn a living without leaving the pool. I watch reports of global warming with evil glee: Soon you will know how I feel. Soon you will all know.

I try to take my mind off the thousands of small leaks my body has sprung by sitting still in the dark and watching movies; for me, “March of the Penguins” was an 85-minute, sub-zero happy ending. I replay the storm scenes. Look at all that ice! Look at all that snow!

And then, finally, Aug. 1 turns to Aug. 10, and Aug. 10 turns to Aug. 20, and I realize that the march of this urban penguin will soon be over. Soon it will be September and then fall and with fall will come a return to normality, a return to dryness, maybe even a white shirt now and again.

And one day, as the ice forms on the Hudson and the snow whips across Broadway, I’ll be sitting on the train and a woman will appear, a woman in earmuffs and mittens, a woman covered in so many layers that her arms stick out and she can’t bend her legs at the knee.

“Anyone sitting there?” she will ask, trying to point to the empty seat beside me.

“Yes,” I will smile kindly. “Yes, there is.”

:D :D (y) (y)


Ab Iove principium.

Let's start with the most important.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-20-2007, 08:13 AM
8-| 8-|

August 19, 2007

Questions for William Gibson

Back From the Future


Although you’re known as the father of cyberpunk science fiction, your new novel, “Spook Country,” is set in the post-9/11 present and endows the whole culture with a noirish gloom. At what point did American life become stranger than science fiction? If I had gone into a publisher in New York in 1981 and told them I wanted to write a novel that is set in a world where the climate is out of whack and Mideast terrorists have hijacked airplanes and in response the U.S. has invaded the wrong country — it’s too much. Contemporary reality is like an overlapping set of dire science-fictional scenarios.

Your main character is a female journalist who’s researching “locative art,” which is basically mural-making that is so cutting-edge you can’t even see it except digitally. Where did you get that idea? I wanted something that was lowbrow, like something in Juxtapoz magazine. It’s the magazine of the lowbrow-art movement. It’s actually the only art magazine that I read on a regular basis.

I’m not sure that’s something to boast about. I’m a very pro-art kind of guy, but I’m not that visually literate. My inner redneck looks at something and says, “Oh, that’s so cool.” At home I bump into a couple of artists. When I was starting to write, two of my neighbors were Jeff Wall and Rodney Graham.

This is in Vancouver, British Columbia. Did you, as a transplanted American, move to Canada to escape the draft? I was always registered for the draft. Like a lot of people in the Bush administration, somehow I wasn’t called.

What leads a novelist to dedicate himself to imagining the future as opposed to the vanished past? I wanted to immigrate to the future as a boy because all the physical artifacts around me were very old. I wanted the future that was pouring out of the television screen.

Television no longer represents the future? No, television is going away. It’s going to be like radio. It’s going to be appropriated into the realm of the digital.

You had an uncommonly sad childhood, losing your father to a choking accident when you were 6. It was a pre-Heimlich restaurant. He was away on a business trip. My mother never told me. She couldn’t tell me. She had someone else tell me.

Then your mom died suddenly when you were in your teens. Loss is not without its curious advantages for the artist. Major traumatic breaks are pretty common in the biographies of artists I respect. Not that I’d wish that on anyone.

Do you feel that you’ve transcended the science-fiction genre in your work? My roots are in a genre. That is the funny thing. Novels are called novels because, ideally, they provide a novel experience. But in genre, you’re sort of buying a guarantee that you are going to have essentially the same experience again and again. It’s a novel. It won’t be too novel. Don’t worry.

Are you sick of being known as the writer who coined the word “cyberspace” in 1982? I think I’d miss it if it went way.

What is the derivation of the word? “Cyber” is from the Greek word for navigator. Norbert Wiener coined “cybernetics” around 1948 to denote the study of “teleological mechanisms.”

What is your hope for the future? That we’ll turn out not to have already terminally soiled our unthinkably rare and lovely little sphere of water and air.

Isn’t that a rather perfumed way to describe the earth? I suppose it’s a bit wet, but I’m from Vancouver. Green streak a mile wide.

(y) (y)


Carpe Diem,

SL &b WTB (l) (&) (l)

08-20-2007, 08:14 AM

The 60 most popular names each for male and female, dog and cat in the United States and Australia:


August 19, 2007

On Language

Gifts of Gab



“Names” is the apt appellation of “A Journal of Onomastics,” a scholarly quarterly dealing with the study of proper names. A recent article caught my eye: “Stereotypic Gender Naming Practices for American and Australian Dogs and Cats.”

I have two dogs, the older named Geneva because she is a Bernese mountain dog and the city of Geneva is not far from Bern, Switzerland, where the breed originated. The other is a Portuguese water dog (similar to a standard poodle, but with a square face and fearless demeanor) that I wanted to name Neptune or Poseidon, but my neighbors with the same breed already took those watery names, so my Sobachka name for him is Daniel.

What are other owners around the world naming their pets? Ernest L. Abel and Michael L. Kruger at Wayne State University in Detroit used “a database listing the 60 most popular names each for male and female, dog and cat in the United States and Australia (www.bowwow.com.au/top20/index.asp).” The criterion for popularity was based on a pet identification-tag business that claims to process tens of thousands of orders from both countries. Disclaimer: Your survey may differ.

The onomastic envelope, please. Most popular female names: Maggie, Molly, Daisy, Bailey and Abby. Males: Buddy, Jake, Max, Hunter and Cody. Both sexes, raining both cats and dogs, but probably mainly cats: Tiger.

What ever happened to Spot and Rover and Kitty? They went the way of yesterday’s kids named Jack and Jill.

:o :o


Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-20-2007, 08:16 AM


Need a quick wardrobe tuneup? Fall’s auto-inspired parts only look high maintenance.

SLIDE SHOW: Fall Preview: Spiffy Lube:



Carpe Carpium.

Seize the Carp. ;)

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

08-20-2007, 08:17 AM
(l) (l) (l)

At Wooster Square Farmers’ Market in New Haven, customers have their choice of produce.


August 19, 2007

In Pursuit of Farm Fresh Flavor


MY church is a farm. Give me a few chickens, a long row of carrots and the smell of dirt, and I’ll find the open heart and inner peace others might seek from a prayer book or a pew.

The connection between what I put in my body, the land around me and the miracle of things that grow makes me feel as if I’m part of something bigger than myself.

But before you dismiss me as some sort of patchouli-scented wacko, allow me to share my hedonistic bottom line: a perfect ear of Long Island corn or a lovely little lump of Hudson Valley goat cheese simply tastes better to me than anything I may find at the supermarket.

Of course, in the city or the suburbs, a farm is a really impractical church to have. So in a pinch, I’ll go to a farmers’ market. And on some days, a bin of local apples at the supermarket will do.

But luckily, it’s getting easier to find something local to eat. All over the tristate area, the church of local food is growing at rates that have farmers, serious cooks and even the most casual farm stand shoppers in awe.

“We have people calling every week wanting to start farmers’ markets,” said Linda Piotrowicz of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture. “It’s gotten to the point where we’ve had trouble recruiting enough farmers.” That’s a bold statement, when you consider that the state has about 4,000 farms.

This year, about 90 farmers’ markets are operating across Connecticut. Twenty years ago, there were only 22. The story is the same in other areas. New Jersey has 95 farmers’ markets, almost double the number from five years ago. New York has almost 300.

And local food fever is stretching beyond farmers’ markets. Dairies in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut are promoting 100 percent local milk and getting a dollar or two more a half gallon for it. Grocery stores like Whole Foods Market and the regional chain Wegmans have developed special programs to get locally produced food on store shelves.

That is not as easy as it may seem. In the Northeast, regional pride is at stake, said Jeff Turnas, vice president of purchasing for Whole Foods in the region that covers its tristate stores. “It is pretty territorial,” he said. “If they live in Connecticut, they want to see products from Connecticut. If they’re from New York, they want to see products from New York.”

Of course, in the summer, there are so many other options, who cares what’s in the produce aisle at the supermarket? On Long Island, humble roadside farm stands and more elaborate farmers’ markets are jammed with day trippers and locals who try to avoid the grocery store.

“If you live here you know that the supermarket is for winter,” said Sandra Fox, a retired schoolteacher who lives in Southampton.

Sure, shopping at a grocery store is more convenient and sometimes cheaper, conceded Lisa Tamra of Yonkers. She was at the Bronxville farmers’ market recently, picking up nectarines for $2 a pound.

“My fiancé thinks I’m a nut that I come down here,” she said. “But I go to the grocery stores and it’s not up to par.”

For some, even a trip to the farmers’ market isn’t good enough. They want to connect directly with the farm. So they sign up for community-supported agriculture projects. These nifty little pieces of commerce allow customers to buy shares in a farm for a few hundred dollars and then get boxes of whatever the farm is producing that week. Some are so popular there are waiting lists.

Jane Hutnik, who lives in Lake Shawnee in northern New Jersey, is one of 140 people who bought a share in Upper Meadow Farm this summer. Boxes of Chinese cabbage and Rose Gold potatoes help her feel more connected to her food and the people who grow it.

“You’re involved in the same gamble as the farmer,” she said. “If there’s been a bad storm and there’s no broccoli, then you don’t get broccoli.”

Gail Brussel of Larchmont, N.Y., started Farm Share in June, and already 200 people have signed up. The program delivers organic, local fruits and vegetables to chefs and home cooks in Westchester and parts of Connecticut. In May, Maryanne Hedrick of Peekskill, N.Y., started My Personal Farmer, which allows people in Westchester to shop online and eat the best of Hudson Valley farms without having to leave home. The food comes from farms within 150 miles of New York City.

“We’re losing the equivalent of seven acres of farmland a day in the Hudson Valley,” Ms. Hedrick said. “I’m using new technology to support an old idea: that there is great bounty in this region that we should all be enjoying.”

Of course, even the most ardent supporters of local food draw the line. Merilyn Rovira, who lives in Princeton, N.J., has been a member of the Honey Brook Organic Farm, a community-supported agriculture project in Pennington, N.J., for a dozen years. She loves the farm, but she has her limits.

“We’re not going to be 100 percent local,” she said. “I’m not convinced enough to buy New Jersey wine and I’m not giving up olive oil, but from May to November eating locally is an important thing.”

So why is local fever gripping the region? The trend is a case study in cultural and environmental changes.

Let’s start with the runaway train called organics. In 2000 when the federal Department of Agriculture announced a set of standards, the spirit of the organic food movement was changed forever. You would think people who wanted to eat food from small, well-run, pesticide-free farms would have welcomed a national set of rules. But it unleashed a monster.

Now, the market is more than $15 billion a year and draws players like Wal-Mart and General Mills. Somehow, organic garlic from China doesn’t have quite the same appeal as some hard-neck variety from the Hudson Valley.

For small farmers, the paperwork can be expensive and cumbersome so they don’t apply for organic certification, even though their practices are in line with organic principles. And the organic label doesn’t mean a product is from a farm that uses sustainable practices.

So local has become the new organic, helped in large part by a growing concern over the environmental impact of transporting food thousands of miles. A few years ago, the term food miles moved into the lexicon. Dedicated people calling themselves locavores began limiting their diets to food that came from a radius of a couple hundred miles.

The author Barbara Kingsolver became a locavore and in May published “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” (HarperCollins Publishers), which chronicles her family’s yearlong adventure trying to eat locally. That book and Michael Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma” (Penguin Press) have become the bibles of the church of local food. Laura Singer, a resident of Trumbull, Conn., who shops at the Westport Farmers’ Market, has read both.

“I’m on this total guilt trip about buying food and having it shipped halfway across the world,” she said. “My consciousness has really been raised about supporting local farmers and the amount of fossil fuel it takes to get food from long distances.”

The desire to save shrinking farmland in densely populated areas also figures into the equation. There is no better way to save a small farm than to buy the farmer’s food. And buying directly at a farmers’ market or through a community-supported agriculture project brings in more money for farmers than the wholesale market, said Tim Warner of Orient, N.Y., who helps run his family’s 120-acre farm. “The farmers’ markets are our only outlet,” he said. “That’s what keeps us going. We couldn’t wholesale anymore. It was just really hard.”

The last two threads of the local food trend come from concerns over food safety and the talent of area chefs.

Mix a little mad cow disease, bags of spinach infected with E. coli and an obesity epidemic and people begin to question what is happening to the food supply. A bunch of kale from Hepworth Farms in Milton, N.Y., may not solve those problems, but it is one sure, small step toward a healthier family dinner table.

The modern notion that food grown organically and close to home tasted better might have been pioneered in the 1970s by people like Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., but chefs like Dan Barber at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills in Westchester County and Michel Nischan at the Dressing Room in Westport, Conn., are perfecting what Adam Platt from New York Magazine calls haute barnyard cuisine.

Of course, trying to buy more local meat and produce isn’t without its problems. Finding what you want isn’t convenient, and it can be more expensive. And food coming directly from the farm means washing your own lettuce and learning how to cook beets.

But there is value beyond the price per pound. Mr. Pollan points out that the American food system is devoted to increasing quantities and reducing prices. The average American spends less than 10 percent of his or her income on food. In 1947, the figure was 24 percent. Mr. Pollan believes people who can afford to pay more for better food should.

Still, we all become misers at the supermarket. There are those of us — and I certainly have done this — who will happily spend $4 for a cup of warm milk and coffee but balk if organic tomatoes cost 40 cents a pound more than something shipped from Mexico.

The farmers know customers are price- sensitive.

“Getting people to understand why things are more expensive is a challenge,” said John Ramsey, who runs a four-acre family farm in the heart of Scarsdale, N.Y. “For years we’ve had the same prices. A bunch of basil was always 50 cents.”

Now, with fuel prices up and a year of tough weather, he is going to have to raise it to 75 cents. But imagine what that brings. You get the basil, and you get to be part of a community and help save some farmland.

Earlier this month, I visited Cindy Burke, an old friend who created the recipes for a book I wrote on trans fat. She lives in a Seattle suburb and recently published her book, “To Buy or Not to Buy Organic: What You Need to Know to Choose the Healthiest, Safest, Most Earth-Friendly Food” (Marlowe & Company). She knows more about the dynamics of buying local than most people I know. And like me, farms are her church.

I asked her about why people were so interested in buying local as we drove with her young daughter to a farm about a half-hour from her West Seattle home. We were picking up a pig. Half a pig, actually. She had bought a share in a Berkshire-Duroc mix. It had been cut into chops and roasts and was ready for her freezer. In all, the meat cost a little more than $4 a pound.

Local food is more delicious, true. But buying it does more than fill our bellies, she said. It keeps us connected. Technology, the mass media, long commutes and the never-ending pressure to earn more money keeps us separate from our neighbors and families, she said. And these days, people are so mobile that they don’t necessarily live in the place where they grew up.

“Eating locally ties us to a place,” she said. “It give us roots in the local community where we live. It makes us think about other people, and how we’re connected. It puts us in touch with a life force we can’t find anywhere else.”

To which I say, amen.

(y) (y) (y) (y)


Amicus optima vitae possessio.

A friend is the greatest treasure in life.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-20-2007, 08:22 AM

HEALTHY ECONOMY The Union Square Greenmarket, free yoga in the park, and juice bars have created a blend of commune and commerce in this part of Manhattan.


August 19, 2007

A Harmonic Convergence in Union Square


IN the taxonomy of New York City, the mere mention of a certain neighborhood conjures an image of its local tribe: the Williamsburg hipster. The meatpacking district club-goer. The Park Slope Earth Mama. But whom does Union Square conjure?

People like Amanda Bird, for one. On a recent Wednesday, Ms. Bird was ommming away the city’s distractions at the free weekly yoga class in the park. Afterward she strolled through the Greenmarket, looking for snacks free of trans fats.

Ms. Bird, 25, comes to Union Square from her home in Brooklyn regularly: to work out and to shop at the farmers’ stalls; to see her doctor, who advocates holistic health; and to eat curry supreme at Zen Palate, a favorite vegetarian restaurant.

If she wanted, she could also leave clothing at Union Cleaners in the neighborhood, one of the city’s few organic dry cleaners. Or shop for a reclaimed wood table at Environment Furniture.

If she wanted to apply green thinking to her night life, she could stop by the Village Pourhouse, a pub that recently began using recycled paper products.

Though other areas of the city offer one or a few of these services, Union Square is becoming a one-stop destination for those who consider themselves health-conscious, eco-friendly and deserving of the kind of spiritual and bodily nurturing that in the past was mainly the province of spa vacations. If the meatpacking district is where you go to party, Union Square is where you detoxify.

“We call it the wheatpacking district,” said Lisa Blau, who with Amanda Freeman founded VitalJuiceDaily.com, an e-mail newsletter devoted to healthy living that they publish from an office in the neighborhood.

With its high concentration of popular organic food suppliers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, plus gyms (a half-dozen major ones in a 10-block radius), yoga and Pilates studios, alternative health practitioners, spas and other peddlers of vitality, Union Square may be the city’s greenest neighborhood.

“This is a new face of new New York: an upscale, health-conscious district,” said Robert Snyder, a professor of journalism and American studies at Rutgers who has written about the history of Union Square, a longtime site of political rallies and of the first Labor Day parade in 1882. But leave your Birkenstocks at home. “It’s not granola,” Ms. Freeman said of the area. “Formerly, if something was environmentally friendly, it was oatmeal-colored and styleless. Because eco-consciousness and the green movement has become popular, it’s risen to appeal to the luxury class.”

OVER the last six years, there has been a proliferation of spas and other personal care businesses in the area. Acupuncturists and massage therapists cluster there and, according to SpaFinder, whose offices are three blocks north of Union Square, there are more day spas there than on the Upper East Side. (The neighborhood’s borders, according to the Union Square Partnership, are First and Sixth Avenues on the east and west, and 18th and 13th Streets on the north and south.)

But this focus on luxury does come at a price, Dr. Snyder said. “Good health and environmental consciousness expressed as a habit of consumption” has the tinge of elitism, he said. “Looking at the real estate and prices around the area, I do grow concerned that the new Union Square will be less inclusive than the old one.”

Rosie Kanellis, 41, a textile designer who comes from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to shop at the Greenmarket, said that the area had become too corporate, and that she was “opposed to the Whole Foods” because “it’s quick-fix healthy.”

Nonetheless, businesses are capitalizing on the area’s new personality. Davide Berruto, chief executive of Environment Furniture, a Los Angeles-based store that opened its first East Coast outpost in Union Square last month, said an eco-conscious energy is “in the air, it’s in the people walking around.” But that wouldn’t matter, he said, if people had no money to spend. “If you said, ‘Oh there is this neighborhood and it’s very green but it’s not commercial,’ we couldn’t have done that.”

Andrew Tanner, a managing partner of Tao Yoga & Tai Chi, spent months walking around the city looking for space for a new flagship studio before finding what he called the ideal 4,000-square-foot spot on Union Square West last year.

“It’s the yoga haven of New York City,” he said, ticking off a few of the dozen major studios and schools located there, like Om Yoga, Prana Power, Bikram and Jivamukti. “The energy field around Union Square is one of the best places around New York City,” Mr. Tanner said. “There’s a lot of happiness here.”

Jeffrey Williams, 22, a fashion designer from Harlem, agrees. He comes to Union Square almost daily for a healthy lunch and a berry smoothie. “It feels fresh,” he said of the area. “When I think of Union Square, I think of unity and a good vibration and a connection to the earth.”

Mr. Williams’s generation may be the first to feel that way.

“Twenty, 30 years ago, you took your life in your hands going in there,” said Joyce Mendelsohn, a city historian and the author of “Touring the Flatiron: Walks in Four Historic Neighborhoods,” which includes Union Square. Once considered a needle park, it was a refuge for drugs and prostitution. “Any middle-class people who lived in the neighborhood didn’t feel comfortable using the park,” she said. “It was such a gloomy place.”

Not until the Greenmarket arrived, in 1976, did the park begin to attract crowds. In interviews, historians, city officials, business owners and residents credited the Greenmarket, the city’s largest farmers’ market — along with the restaurateur Danny Meyer, whose Union Square Cafe began offering a Greenmarket-inspired menu in 1985 — with helping transform the area.

“The Greenmarket was able to fill a vacuum to give Union Square a citywide identity,” said Mitchell L. Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at New York University.

As a major subway switching point, Union Square is “the dividing line between hip New York and the old fogies,” said Dr. Moss, who occasionally ventures into fogy territory.

The park has not totally lost its roots as an activist center: The Critical Mass bike ride, meant to promote oil-free transportation, departs from there monthly, and protesters coexist with skateboarders and vendors of antiwar T-shirts. Plus, there is near-constant canvassing and promotion: “Do you have a minute to save the planet?” or “Free energy bar!” is the 21st-century version of getting onto one’s soapbox.

“It’s become a place to talk about greening and environmental issues and things that relate to the earth,” said Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner, whose father, Barry Benepe, was a founder of the Greenmarket. When the city wanted to launch a pilot program of public recycling bins, it chose Union Square as one of two Manhattan locations. Next month, the Department of Sanitation will add electronics recycling there. It’s also the only site that offers both composting and clothing recycling in conjunction with the Greenmarket, whose shoppers are sought after as eco-guinea pigs.

All of this helped draw people like Kate Sinding, a wheatpacking convert who moved to Union Square from Lower Manhattan in 2002. Like Ms. Bird, she does yoga, inspects labels, eats organic, conserves energy and rides a bike.

“It was very easy to have a relatively green lifestyle” in Union Square, said Ms. Sinding, 36, a senior lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council (whose headquarters are three blocks north of Union Square). But, she added, “It’s more of yuppie green lifestyle than a hippie green lifestyle. You can go to the Diesel store before or after you hit Whole Foods or the Greenmarket.”

That juxtaposition is perhaps most indicative of the new Union Square, where the onetime headquarters of the Communist Party, on the east side of the park, is now a Babies “R” Us, and the allure of selecting a perfectly ripe peach is often trumped by rubbing shoulders with a television chef doing the same. It’s no eco-topia, like Berkeley or even its New York equivalent, Park Slope.

“Park Slope has really great energy,” said Mr. Tanner, who considered placing Tao Yoga in that neighborhood. “But Union Square just takes the cake. I see celebrities there all the time.”

(y) Nice for New Yorkers to have a place like this. I have to drive all over hell's half acre AND still order things (such as Stevia Plus sweetener) via the Internet. The lack of a concentrated area of organic + "spiritual services" in many suburbs and rural areas - also seems to prevent the fellowship and sense of community as well.

(f) (f)

Ad astra!

To the stars!

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-21-2007, 09:01 PM
(f) (f)

(h) Who knew how television shows and the lunch box would be combined into what now are long-ago memories this time of year?? (And for some, quite an expensive hobby...)

Lunch boxes bring back a lot of memories to many older Americans. It reminds us of the days when the lunch box you chose was one of your biggest decisions when getting ready to go back to school in the fall.

For generations, the lunch containers many of us have hauled to school and work have reflected American culture. No meal has received more cultural attention to its transport than our lunch. Of all the bags, boxes, trays, cans, and cartons carried over the past century, the most message-laden is the child's metal lunch box. This selection of boxes and their drink containers from the collections of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History explores that colorful heritage.


The First Generation

American industrial workers have often carried their lunch in plain metal buckets. Since the mid-19th century, miners, factory workers, dock hands, and other laborers have used sturdy dinner pails to hold hard-boiled eggs, vegetables, meat, coffee, pie, and other hardy fare. In 1904, "thermos" vacuum bottles began keeping workers' drinks hot or cold until the noon whistle blew.

Parents 100 years ago often gave their schoolchildren an empty tobacco or coffee tin to carry some fresh-picked strawberries and bread, a wedge of cheese, and possibly a handful of shelled hickory nuts. Other children carried a fancy store-bought lunch pail, a paper sack, or no lunch at all.


The Other Box

Television transformed the lunch box from an ordinary food conveyor into a storyteller. Beginning in the 1950s, the screen-like sides of the lunch box offered children a new form of self-expression.

Box makers paid for the right to use TV shows to promote box sales. The studios used boxes to gain market exposure. And children acquired a new statement of their power and influence in the emerging world of mass-marketed consumer goods.


The Flying Nun Lunch Box:


Cowboys and Astronauts

Comic books, radio shows, and television introduced a cast of action characters to American school children. Fearless champions of a mythical Old West joined with explorers of outer space on the illustrated metal lunch box and its companion drink container.

The steel box had reached its ideal form. Change shifted to the action circulating around all sides of the two containers. Manufacturers competed for rights to the latest horseback hero or starship warrior.


Cool Lunches and Cold Steel

As grade school children became teenagers, box makers devised new themes to keep boxes selling. Musical groups, hit movies, athletes, bold TV shows, and wild geometric patterns added zip to boxes of the 1960s and 1970s.

By the mid-1980s, box makers had replaced steel with less costly synthetic materials. The rule of the metal lunch box was over.


Barbie Vinyl: http://americanhistory.si.edu/lunchboxes/images/04-08_full.jpg



The Lunch Box Museum in Columbus Ga., has over 4,000 different lunch boxes and thermoses that depict just about every cartoon character, comic book hero and television series. Down in Columbus, Ga., Allen Woodall displays his collection of 4,000 lunch boxes and thermoses, one for practically every cartoon and superhero ever invented, including a mint condition 1954 Superman lunch box worth around $10,000 and one with PacMan, the hungry video game character shown scarfing down ghosts.

"When they come in and they spot the box that they had back in school, the smile really comes on their face," said Woodall, who started his collection in 1985. "I've had many people tell me that we should install a video camera at the end of the room to catch their expression."





Another Lunch Box Museum, in CA:



Lunchbox Heaven

Molded orange plastic Dukes of Hazard and Flash Gordon lunch boxes (complete with rocket-styled thermos)... blue Transformers and Star Wars lunch boxes... these are as much a part of childhood as Sunday morning cartoons and cooties. And while it may be years yet before the Smurfs are recognized for their invaluable contribution to television history, their contribution to lunchtime elementary gastronomy is not forgotten.

Behold: The Lunchbox as a work of art!

The Atlanta Museum of Design (formerly the Atlanta International Museum of Art and Design) will host an exhibition of 75 rare metal lunch boxes beginning January 8th and continuing through February 14th. An opening reception will be held from 6pm to 8pm on the evening of Thursday, January 8, 2004.

The exhibition, Lunch Box Memories, is a nostalgic new Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition that illustrates the transformation of the lunch box from a practical, functional object to a prized possession.

The collection is comprised of illustrated metal lunch boxes – dating from the 1880’s to the 1980’s, and including one of the last metal lunch boxes manufactured in 1984 – from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and other rare examples on loan from Allen Woodall, a private collector from Columbus, Georgia. According to the Museum's web site, "the design of these everyday objects celebrates America’s fads and fantasies, heroes and heroines, reflecting trends in 20th century popular culture."

The exhibition features a wide variety of designs, from recycled tobacco tins and lard pails to classic boxes illustrating figures such as Batman and Robin, the Harlem Globetrotters, Annie Oakley, Howdy Doody, Roy Rogers, Popeye, Garfield, a VW bus, the Bionic Woman, Superman, H.R. Pufnstuf, Sesame Street, the Lone Ranger, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and Indiana Jones.

The lunch boxes featured in the exhibition include some of the most rare and most significant boxes available to collectors today. Among the most prized in the collection are: the Mickey Mouse Oval (1935), the first character lunch box; Hopalong Cassidy (1950), the first box based on a well known TV hero; and The Beatles (1965), the first metal lunch box to use pop music performers, embossed 3-D portraits, and individual signatures.

Lunch Box Memories was developed and organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Behring Center, and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).

Look for your Cloudjammer friends at the exhibition. We'll be the ones with the Harry Potter lunch boxes clutched to our chests.


:o Seems there were thousands of these:


Jetsons: http://scoop.diamondgalleries.com/news_images/8515_23559_4.jpg

;) Oh like, wow: http://scoop.diamondgalleries.com/news_images/8515_23557_2.jpg



My folks would never let me have one of these. I always carried a metal one:


(l) (l)


De gustibus non est disputandum.

In matters of taste there is no dispute. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-21-2007, 09:04 PM
:s :s



:o No wonder I am such a clothes horse now.........;)


Aut disce aut discede,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (l)

08-21-2007, 09:06 PM
(f) (f) (f)

Tafi Toleafoa has a male body, but was raised in Samoa as a female.

Tafi Toleafoa answers questions after her presentation on fa'afafine at the Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on a recent Sunday in West Anchorage. Her talk was titled "What Do I Call You? What Are You? Gender and Sexual Identity at American Universities."



Cultural contradictions

Tafi Toleafoa explains what it means to be fa'afafine


(Published: August 19, 2007)

"What are you?"

The question came at Tafi Toleafoa from a young woman across the computer lab.

People always want to know, but they rarely ask out loud. Students wear the question on their faces the first day of class. Professors trip over pronouns. It's been that way since Tafi came from Samoa two years ago to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage.

"Are you a boy or a girl?"

Now, one more time, Tafi had to explain, to untangle the contradiction of her long thick hair and plump, glossy lips with the masculine tenor of her voice and her tall, substantial body. She had to tell the girl that, no, she isn't a boy, or a girl, exactly. She's something else.

"I'm fa'afafine," Tafi said. "That means I have a boy's body, but I was raised in Samoa as a girl."

Tafi could have explained that in the islands, nobody ever asked. She could have told the girl that a Samoan mother with a fa'afafine among her children is considered lucky. Fa'afafine help with babies and cooking, they tend the elderly and the sick. They are presumed to have the best traits of both men and women.

But the girl didn't want to know more. She picked up her things and left, giving Tafi one last look over her shoulder.

The way most Americans understand it, gender breaks down simply: there are men and there are women. But across Asia and the Pacific Islands, many cultures recognize a third gender with characteristics both male and female. In Samoa, when a son or a daughter prefers the work and clothes of the opposite sex, they are called fa'afafine "like a woman" or, far less commonly, fa'atama, "like a man."

Tafi has a male body, but she lives her life as a female and asks that people refer to her as "she." That's how she will be described in this story.

In the islands Tafi was more accepted, but her life was still complicated. Many fa'afafine live as women, the maleness of their bodies ignored by those around them.

Outside of the cities, especially in Christian families, they must follow strict social rules binding them to household duties.

Many families, including Tafi's, expect they will remain celibate. In a culture that prizes both its tradition and Christianity, fa'afafine are tolerated, but behavior that hints at homosexuality is not.

Still, many fa'afafine, who see themselves as women, do have discreet relationships with men.

In her ideal world, Tafi, who was raised as an oldest girl-child named Alicia, wouldn't have to change her body to be accepted here. She wouldn't have to rearrange her outside to make people accept what she is inside: a straight woman who is attracted to straight men.

But the world isn't ideal. Since she came to Anchorage, Tafi's family, who loves her as she is, has pressured her to dress like a man. They have decided she needs to fit in to avoid ugliness she isn't used to.

Now, at 23, she's torn between the expectations of her family who accept her as an asexual helper, and American culture that's less accepting but offers her what she wants most: a chance to become physically female, to find a husband and have a family of her own.

Tafi wasn't surprised that the girl in the computer lab didn't know what she was seeing. Sometimes Tafi doesn't know how to see herself -- or her future.


Ropeta Toleafoa knew her son was fa'afafine at age 4. Unlike his brothers, he stayed close to her and didn't like getting dirty, she said, speaking in Samoan with her son Taivaleoaana "Seven" Toleafoa translating.

"He didn't like going outside and doing what men do," she said.

Tafi's life wasn't like the stories she watched on re-runs of American talk shows as she grew up in Samoa. She never felt she was a woman trapped in a man's body. She never felt shame.

Samoa is a tribal, communal society, different from America where individual desires rule. Samoan parents hold a powerful role and commonly influence their children's decisions far into adulthood. Children don't choose to be fa'afafine; their mothers decide for them.

At 5, Tafi, a sweet, outspoken child, began hoisting babies on her hip, filling bottles for her mother and helping with the dishes. Ropeta, a mother of eight, was pregnant or nursing for many years and welcomed Tafi's help.

Tafi wasn't encouraged to dress like a girl, but she gravitated toward her sisters' clothing, playing dress-up in private. "I loved skirts, short skirts to be specific," she said. "I always had to be pretty."

At school, Tafi bonded with girls and other fa'afafine among her classmates and teachers. By third grade, most everyone called her Alicia. Her younger siblings, all girls, saw her as an oldest sister.

Tafi's father, Saunoa "Noah" Toleafoa is a religious man, an elder in the Seventh Day Adventist church that missionaries brought to the islands along with Western ideas about gender. Noah had fa'afafine in his family, but he held on longest to the idea that Tafi would be like her older brothers. A boy dressing as a girl is not what God intended, he said.

He tried forcing her to change her clothes and cut her hair like a boy's, but nothing worked. Tafi couldn't be forced.

"This one thing I know," he said. "Tafi is different."

By the time Tafi reached her teens, the idea of an actual sex change consumed her. Tafi found many examples of adult fa'afafine around her, some of whom had surgery. To each other they spoke a fa'afafine language, a mixture of English and Samoan. Tafi soon caught on.

"It wasn't hard to ask them, 'Hey, how did you get boobs?'" she said.

Out of respect for her father, Tafi dressed "androgenous," wearing women's pants, a T-shirt, and her long hair pulled into a bun. Her one indulgence was glitter.

"Lots of glitter," she said. "I loved shiny stuff."

Ropeta and her daughters insulated Tafi from her father's disapproval, which gradually waned. For junior prom, Ropeta saved two paychecks to buy Tafi the material to make a pink dress.

By 2002, all the Toleafoas had immigrated to Anchorage, following family connections and the promise of better jobs. Tafi stayed behind, her immigration status complicated because she was born in western Samoa, which is an independent country, different from the U.S. territory of American Samoa. She'd graduated from high school and was working on her associates degree.

"That's when I started dressing like a woman full-out," she said.

In a snap-shot from that period posted on her MySpace.com site, Tafi glows, her chest full under a black blouse.

"It felt right," she said. "Perfect."


In 2005, on her way to Anchorage to start at UAA, Tafi took her first step on U.S. soil in Hawaii, wearing platform sandals and short-shorts. She always imagined Americans, with their gay celebrities and liberal attitudes, would accept her. She remembered RuPaul and the movie "To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything!" a drag queen comedy she'd watched in high school.

"I thought, 'OK if there's people like that, then probably I don't have to explain myself,' " she said. "I didn't know that it was going to be like there's nobody that dresses like that in a real everyday life."

When she showed her passport, which said she was a man, customs officials singled her out for two special searches. Standing in the balmy Honolulu airport, she felt the disapproval of strangers for the first time.

The collapse of her expectations continued in Anchorage. The first day of her liberal studies class, when she answered a professor's question, she heard whispers. Her voice betrayed her.

"When they look at your face and you have earrings on and you have make-up on and you have long hair, then automatically you're supposed to have this kind of voice," she said. "If you are not going to have that voice, then you are kind of like an alien or something."

After her first two weeks of school, her father sat Tafi down. He had four fa'afafine on his mother's side, he said. One of them came to America 10 years ago, to California. People didn't understand her there, he said. At a party, Americans beat her and threw her from a window. She was killed.

"He said he's concerned about my life and my safety," Tafi said. "That's why he advised me that I should change my style to kind of like, umm, androgenous, sort of like professional."

There would be no more short-shorts or glitter. Instead, it was T-shirts, and slacks. And if her professor asked about pronouns, she'd go by "he." But, even in her toned-down outfits, Tafi seemed feminine. Her professors struggled with what to call her in class.

"Even the most inclusive people do not know what this is," said her professor Ann Jache. "They don't know how to talk about a person that is both male and female."

Tafi took her classmates' judgment as a challenge. A gregarious "he," she excelled in class, tackling complicated literature, winning a seat on the student senate, making a loyal group of friends in the school Polynesian association.

Tafi didn't want to hide, Jache said, she wanted to explain. Jache and Tafi crafted a project on fa'afafine over the generations. Tafi gave a presentation to her class, and then to the campus, and then to a Unitarian church. Each time, she grew more confident.

Tafi began to see it as her job to inform the campus about fa'afafine.

"I knew that they are not educated about it. They wouldn't be mean like that if they knew ... Fa'afafine are all coming to Alaska," she said. "If they are running into the same problems, I have to do something about it."


Tafi's west Anchorage home is crowded with her parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and in-laws, 13 in all. Tropical flowers decorate the walls and a grass mat covers the carpet. Among her sisters, she's Alicia, a dutiful oldest daughter with a flower behind her ear, chasing her toddling niece, carrying dishes from the kitchen.

Tafi's brothers and sisters have a better idea than her parents about how Americans view her. They know that some people with a sibling like her would feel ashamed. Her brothers, who see her alternately as a sister and a cross-dressing brother, defend her fiercely.

"Samoan culture believe that God gave you a freedom of choice, you are who you are and it doesn't matter," said her brother, Asosaotama, a security guard who goes by "Ace."

"Shame is nothing when it comes down to blood," said Seven, a soldier on Fort Richardson. "Blood is blood."

But for her father and her brothers, one thing is very important. Tafi must follow the rules. A fa'afafine brother is one thing, but a gay brother is quite another.

Living as women in Samoa, fa'afafine do have relationships with men, but they are rarely, if ever, public. Tafi has heard of older fa'afafine, those whose parents have died, who live like closeted gay men in America, pretending their partner is a platonic friend. More commonly fa'afafine live with a large family, and have strings of short, secret relationships with straight men who may later marry, sometimes leaving them brokenhearted.

When the subject of a boyfriend came up at the table after church, Tafi's mother and sisters cheered with approval. Her brother shook his head.

"Tafi can act like a girl, dress up like a girl, but if he had a boyfriend, that's too far," said Seven.

Tafi excused herself to the kitchen.

"My sister-in-law, my mom, my sisters, they want me to be happy, they know who I'm attracted to, what I'm attracted to, which is men, and they accept that," she said later. "My dad and my brothers, no. It's probably because they just have that expectation of me marrying a woman because I was born male. But then I'm not a male now, it's obvious I'm not male."

If anything makes Tafi unhappy, it's this. Growing up she thought she'd be like other fa'afafine, staying with her aging parents until they passed away, caring for her sister Narese, who has Down syndrome.

But since she's been in America, and read in her classes about people born male becoming female, she dreams of a future more like her sisters, with a partner of her own.

She thinks of taking hormones and eventually getting surgery to make her body match the way she feels. Her mother and sisters would understand. Her father and brothers would eventually accept it. But even then, if she chose to have a relationship with a man, she would be breaking the rules. She would have to keep it from them.

"Everything else is okay," she said. "But, boyfriend? No."


Saturday morning at Anchorage Community Seventh Day Adventist church in Airport Heights, and the youth choir lines up on the altar. Tafi's sisters Sina and Cherish clap and sing "This little light of mine" in their aloha-print dresses, their long hair in heavy buns, glittery gloss on their lips.

Outside of family, church is the most important thing for Tafi. But it's also a place where she feels conflicted. At first the family attended with a mostly Samoan congregation who understood her, but when they moved to a mixed-race church, things changed. Once again, Tafi's father asked her to dress like a man.

"Now I have to be a certain way because some of the members' culture do not have a kind of person like that," she said.

Her brothers and father are leaders in the church. People have approached them about her.

"I hope that if they want to understand they would feel free to come and ask me because, I mean, how friendly could I get?" Tafi said.

Pastor Edson Joseph, who is from Antigua, has led the evangelical Christian church for 20 years. The congregation's become increasingly diverse, with American blacks, Africans, people from the Caribbean and Pacific Islanders. A church should welcome everyone, but Tafi and other fa'afafine have raised troublesome questions, he said.

"I have had to defend him," he said, meaning Tafi. "I have been accused of encouraging or upholding his unbiblical behavior."

But, he said, all people are sinners and Jesus welcomed everyone, even prostitutes and criminals. So long as Tafi isn't influencing children, there is a place for him and others like him. It would be a very different matter if Tafi were in a relationship with a man, he said. Then, he would have to intervene.

Tafi, dressed in slacks and a man's dress shirt, carrying a knock-off designer purse, fills a back pew every Saturday, belting out harmonies to her sister's songs. She's made her peace with Jesus.

"I don't think God sent his son for perfect people, he sent his son for sinners, whatever kind of sinner that is," she said. "Jesus came to wash away the sins. I don't think he came just to wash away the straight people's sins."


Away from church and school, there is one place where Tafi feels most like herself: among the women of her family.

One sunny day in June, the first birthday of Tafi's niece, the Toleafoa family threw a barbecue for a hundred guests at the park behind the YMCA on Lake Otis.

Under the picnic shelter, where meat marinated in super-sized coolers and giant grills smoked, Tafi filled foil-covered lunch boxes with turkey tails, taro, flank steak, sausage, potato salad and rice.

"Faster, Alicia, faster," called her sisters.

In her sarong, a flower behind her ear, Tafi carried plates of food to the elders from church, she dished out salad and chow mein, she sliced the elaborate banana cake. A child fell; She picked him up and shushed his tears.

R&B rolled out of a big set of speakers and the rhythm took hold of her sisters. They stopped work to dance, raising their palms to the sky. The mood captured their mother, Ropeta, who bounced her shoulders and swayed. Tafi put down her big spoon and let the song catch her hips in a slow groove.

Cherish and Sina hooted. Aunties cracked up. Ropeta looked at her happy child dancing in the barbecue smoke and felt moved to cheer her on in English: "Go, girl! Go, girl! Go, girl!"


(f) (f)


Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-21-2007, 09:10 PM
:| :| :|

America's Wildest Weather Cities

By Tom Van Riper, Forbes.com

July 20, 2007

Visiting Disney World anytime soon? Have fun, but watch for storms moving in. The odds of having to duck away from a bolt of lightning in the land of Disney's Magic Kingdom, Orlando, Fla., are greater than anywhere else in America.

That's what happens when hot air that rises during the summer months in the state's central region draws the wet air from both coasts; the resulting mix means a ton of late-day thunderstorms that spew out as many as 40,000 bolts of lightning. Overall, Florida has been home to over 1,500 lightning deaths and injuries since 1959, according to the National Weather Service.

Ask yourself--how important is weather in your day-to-day life? If you can't stand humidity, be sure to steer clear of Quillayute and Olympia, in the state of Washington, which both average about 80% humidity during the year.

Washington is also one of the rainiest states in the country, though it doesn't even compare with parts of Hawaii. The city of Hilo, on the state's main island, gets 277 days of rain per year, more than any other town. There's plenty of sunshine, too, though most every day sees a shower come through. That combination keeps the local area at a consistent tropical green year-round.

At the other end of the spectrum is Yuma, Ariz., where it rains an average of 17 days per year, or just once every three weeks.

As for temperatures, those who don't mind trading extreme winter cold for a relatively cool summer might like International Falls, Minn., near the Canadian border, which averages 36 degrees year-round. Midsummer temperatures can hit the 70s and 80s around midday, but only for a handful of days each summer. Then they often drop to the 40s at night.

Dan Baker, who by day works a loss prevention expert for Sears Holdings in Dallas, has spent a chunk of his free time indulging his hobby of tracking weather facts across the U.S. since 1998. His Web site not only provides information on all things Texas, but tells readers where they can find the wettest, driest, snowiest and most volatile weather cities in America.

"Growing up in Dallas, with severe weather, my parents gave me an anemometer, which measures wind," he says, and his interest took off from there.

Some of Baker's findings are surprising. Who but the most informed would know that Flagstaff, Ariz., is among the top 10 U.S. cities for snow, with 99 inches per year? That's what happens to a city more than a mile above sea level, no matter how close to the desert it might be.

The windiest city? It's not Chicago, which doesn't even make the top 10. The distinction goes to Milton, Mass. (elevation 628 feet), the highest peak within 10 miles of the Atlantic that's a sitting duck for strong ocean breezes. And Baker reports that his hometown of Dallas is hotter in the summertime than downstate Houston, which is more known for sweltering heat. Dallas averages 96 degree highs during July and August, four degrees hotter than Houston, which nonetheless has daily downtown employees walking from their cars to their office buildings through air-conditioned breezeways.

Overall, the title of hottest American city (weatherwise, that is) goes to Key West, Fla., which averages 78 degrees year-round.

And for those who don't like the weather, or at least changes in it, there's the West Coast. Eight of the top 10 cities described as having the "least variety" are in California, led by the big three of San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. Why? Cities on the water don't heat up and cool down as extremely as landlocked areas do, and the relatively calmer waters of the left coast means less volatility. "The Pacific coast current keeps the water cool," Baker explains.


In Pictures: America's Wildest Weather Cities:


:o :o Who knew? I learn something new (at least) everyday. :)


Vive Ut Vitas!!

Live, so that you may live." or "Live life to the fullest.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-21-2007, 09:12 PM


An elderly lady phoned her telephone company to report that her telephone failed to ring when her friends called -- and that on the few occasions when it did ring, her pet dog always moaned right before the phone rang. The telephone repairman proceeded to the scene, curious to see this psychic dog or senile elderly lady.

He climbed a nearby telephone pole, hooked in his test set, and dialed the subscriber's house. The phone didn't ring right away, but then the dog moaned loudly and the telephone began to ring.

Climbing down from the pole, the telephone repairman found:

1. The dog was tied to the telephone system's ground wire via a steel chain and collar.

2. The wire connection to the ground rod was loose.

3. The dog was receiving 90 volts of signaling current when the phone number was called.

4. After a couple of such jolts, the dog would start moaning and then urinate on himself and the ground.

5. The wet ground would complete the circuit, thus causing the phone to ring.

Which goes to show that some problems can be fixed by pissing and moaning.

;) ;)

Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-21-2007, 09:15 PM

What do you think is the most important weather invention of all time?

Thermometer 26.6%

Air conditioning 68.4%

Umbrella 3.35%

Rain coat 1.55%


:) What is the most important weather invention of all time?

The refrigerator!



Semper ubi sub ubi.

Always wear underwear.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-21-2007, 09:19 PM


"Anything less than being the next Yahoo, Google, or eBay is a failure as far as I'm concerned."

-- Jason Calacanis, now launching human-powered search outfit Mahalo, is not known for aiming low.


(um) (um) May Your Smile Be Your Umbrella. (um) (um)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-21-2007, 09:21 PM


|-) |-) |-)


Carpe Carpio.

Seize the carp.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-21-2007, 09:22 PM
:| :| :|




Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-21-2007, 09:26 PM
^o) ^o)




(f) (f) 's,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-21-2007, 09:27 PM




Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.

The times are changed, and we are changed in them.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-21-2007, 09:35 PM

(l) (l)





Sapientia est potentia.

Wisdom is power.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-21-2007, 09:56 PM
(l) (l)

Last Call at Maud's (1993)

A look at the world's longest-running lesbian bar and its colorful and sometimes tragic past, from the the underground days of the 40's to 1989, when it closed its doors for good.

Director: Paris Poirier

(~) (~) Review:

"I can think of no place better to have suspense and a real eerie feeling of decadence than a lesbian bar, because lesbians are outlaws, we've always been outlaws and I hope we always stay outlaws, and lesbianbars are our secret hiding places." With these remarks by lesbian mystery writer Mary Wings, Last Call at Maud's begins its descent into the underground "secret sorority" of the lesbian bar scene from the 1940s to the present. For the next seventy-five minutes, both drinks and conversation are free flowing, as a who's who list of lesbian luminaries and local bar regulars recount tales of coming out, first bar visits, pick ups and affairs, police raids, hippie lesbians, the women's movement, Castro Street clones, Anita Bryant, and AIDS.

The occasion and setting for this documentary by first-time director Paris Poirier is the closing of Maud's, the world's oldest and longest- running lesbian-owned bar, located in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury. Maud's is the most recent in a growing subgenre of historical documentaries within queer cinema (Silent Pioneers, Before Stonewall, Tiny And Ruby: Hell Divin' Women, Comrades In Arms, Women Like Us, and the classic Word Is Out) that reconstruct pre-Stonewall gay and lesbian his/herstories using oral histories, personal photographs and memoirs, home movies, and archival materials. Within this tradition, personal stories and social histories blend and blur in an attempt to make real for audiences the not-so-distant, but often hidden or ignored queer past in a homophobic America.

In Last Call at Maud's, the memories of the women interviewed are frequently accompanied by personal photographs of younger selves and lovers. When Rikki Streicher, of Maud's' describes the post-World War II bar scene crowded with butches with their slicked-back hair and femmes with their lipsticked mouths and drop-dead dresses, youthful photos of Streicher in earnest boy drag serve to both illustrate and verify her reminiscences. The film displays a fascinating wealth of archival material testifying to repressive police actions and media coverage which, in those days, had no qualms of outing' those arrested in bar raids by listing their names and addresses. These events and counterstrategies are fleshed out through individual accounts given by Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin (founders of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first international organization of lesbians) and political activist Sally Gearhart. Gearhart remembers going to mixed' bars (gay and lesbian) that had panic alarms alerting patrons to possible raids. By the time the police arrived, they found a myriad of heterosexual' couples dancing sedately. The most arresting' moments of the film are those which powerfully remind viewers not only of the sanctioned police harassment and the Alcoholic Beverage Control's threat to revoke the liquor license, but also of the risk every lesbian ran simply by patronizing the bar.

While Maud's tends toward the maudlin at times, its historic reevaluation of the lesbian bar scene as both a site of cultural and sexual exchanges and as a space of growing political activism puts the post-Stonewall spectator firmly in her place. Poirier describes Maud's as a "maternal cuffing" at a younger generation of lesbians that she feels has taken for granted certain freedoms, such as having a safe social space for lesbians. Judy Grahn, author of Another Mother Tongue, drives this point home in the film when she remarks, "It wasn't just about loving women, but it was about a whole cultural underground that didn't exist anywhere else except in that milieu which at the same time was dangerous to us."

It is this image of Fifties dykes as rebt. with a cause that younger lipstick lesbians are increasingly reconsidering as compelling historical role' models (evidenced in part by a renewed interest in butch/femme role playing). Many older lesbians may find this outlaw image reaffirming after bearing much criticism by second wave feminists who argued that such roles merely reproduced heterosexual norms.

Yet, for all its claims of representing lesbians as outlaws, the film remains conventional, glossing over internal conflicts within the lesbian communities, particularly regarding race and class, in favor of a seamless and linear historical narrative in which the butch/femme couples are suddenly and effortlessly replaced by psychedelic, long-haired, braless hippie dykes who are just as suddenly eclipsed by Harvey Milk's assassination, Anita Bryant's antigay crusades, and AIDS. (Historical transitions are conventionally made through photo montages with appropriate accompanying music.) The historical interactions and conflicts between lesbians and gay men are somewhat more fully sketched out, but are uncomfortably subsumed under the AIDS epidemic where lesbians appear as comforting supporters (which they have been), but do not seem to be at risk themselves.

Thus, the film's balance between the personal and the social, between memory and history, between revision and nostalgia, is at best precarious. The choice of subject matter, the closing of Maud's, provides the film with a sense of urgency that asks important questions about what effects these bar closings will have on lesbian culture. (Streicher recently shut down Amelia's, another prominent San Francisco lesbian bar.) At the same time, its narrow focus is at times claustrophobic (all the inter-views and moving footage take place in or around the bar) and the spectator is limited to only tantalizing peeks outside Maud's of the broader historical, social, and political issues of the time.

MORE: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/LastCallatMauds.html

(*)(*)(*) (y) (y) It was kind of a sad film in some ways - but great documentary - meaning it was entertaining AND I learned new things.


Ad astra!

To the stars!

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-21-2007, 10:01 PM
(l) (f) (l)

Shirley Valentine (1989)

Pauline Collins reprises a role she originated onstage in this Academy Award-nominated drama about Shirley Valentine, a housewife who decides in her middle age that there's more to life than stifling domesticity. An unplanned trip to Greece with a friend expands her horizons in ways she could never have predicted, allowing her to fall in love again beyond the bounds of marriage, find herself and grab the reins of her future.

Cast: Pauline Collins, Tom Conti, Julia McKenzie, Alison Steadman, Joanna Lumley and Bernard Hill

(~) (~) Reviews:

This is one of my top 10 movies ever! It is very rich... and very real! I am ecstatic to see that it is coming out on DVD so that I can ditch my VHS (crappy) copy! All the characters are great, from Shirley's "street poet" son, whiney spoiled daughter to her school-yard-nemesis, the "air hostess"! HA!! Ah, and Tom Conti... perfect as the reticent Greek paramour who has one of the shockingly best and most intriguing pick-up lines I have ever heard... "boat is boat...." And then there is Shirley's crazy neighbor with the vegetarian dog...who unwittingly sets the ball in motion causing Shirley's half-unexpected trip to Greece. Every time I watch this movie, I come away with some new insight... this last time, I realized that I had not listened closely enough to Shirley's last lines in the movie...listen closely to what she says and decide for yourself which way the movie "really" ends! "Eh, wall?"

(~) Shirley Valentine far exceeded my expectations. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long-time. In the genre of "chick flick," Shirley Valentine tells a wonderful story of living and loving oneself.

(~) Pauline Collins is perfect as Shirley, an over-the-hill London housewife - but not so far over that she can't make a credible comeback on a Holiday in Greece. R-rated, but not that steamy, really. Supporting cast is excellent, as is the Mykonos scenery. More a woman's movie than a man's, but solid entertainment for all. Music is also a big plus.

(y) (y)


Cuiusvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare.

Any man can make a mistake; only a fool keeps making the same one.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-22-2007, 06:47 AM
:o :o

Rent or buy? Do the math

15:32 ET, Wed 15 Aug 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The American Dream of home ownership may not be quite as dreamy as it once was.

Sky-high prices, risky mortgages, and job instability have made home buying a bigger investment than it used to be. For some folks, it's an investment not worth making.

"I see people giving up the American Dream because it's not the reality they can afford," says San Francisco financial adviser Barry Taylor. Even people who can afford to buy a house may have reasons not to do so, he says. Lately he's been crunching numbers and telling some of his clients to rent instead.

Of course, owning your own home is still a great way to use leverage and build equity, and Taylor himself owns several, including some that he rents out.

In general, it's good to own your home, but there are some reasons not to. Here are some situations where renting makes sense.

-- If you don't have a downpayment. Taylor has doctor clients with good incomes who haven't been out of medical school long enough to save up a down payment. He has advised them to wait. Given their salaries, they can probably save the downpayment in a year. Even if the homes appreciate modestly, they'll end up with a lower monthly payment and a better mortgage. Mortgages for folks who have no downpayment are usually at higher rates and have extra insurance fees attached.

-- If you're getting a divorce. A common scenario when couples with children get divorced if for the husband to get the retirement account and the wife to get the house. She'll often cling to the family home as the center of familiarity for the kids. But she may need cash more than she needs the house, and the mortgage payments can dominate her future. Sell the house, settle the divorce, rent while you figure out where you stand and then shop for a new home if that's what you want.

-- If you're downsizing into retirement. This is tricky. Many people do want to own their homes in retirement, they just want less expensive homes and no mortgage payments. But if they tie up too much cash in the home, they may not have the money available to invest for future cash to fund the rest of their long-term retirement. Someone who sells their home for $600,000 and plunks down $400,000 in cash for their retirement home will only have $200,000 from that sale to invest for income. And with stocks averaging over 10 percent over the long term and real estate averaging 6.6 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors, the rent-and-invest plan could afford some people better retirements.

-- If you think you're going to have to move soon. If you think you may have to relocate, you may not be in the house long enough to make buying it worthwhile. People who bought houses in the hot hot 2003-2004 markets are now sitting on places they can't sell. In some areas, properties have been on the market for more than a year, and home sellers have to bring cash to settlement to unload a house. Unless you've got at least five years to stay put -- or you are looking in an area where you'd be able to rent out your home if necessary -- rent, don't buy.

Take a cold, hard look at your job prospects and your own housing market before buying a property with an adjustable rate loan. And rent, if you can't get into the house unless you go with an interest-only loan or one that allows "negative amortization" -- (keeping payments down but the amount you owe keeps going up). Just forget it and rent, until you're in a better place financially.

-- If you live in an area where homes are overpriced. How would you know that? It's not easy, but you can ask real estate agents in your local market what's been happening with sales and prices. You can check data at www.realtor.org, the Web site for the National Association of Realtors. Then get someone to crunch the numbers for you, but remember that all professionals have their own agendas. Realtors will want you to buy. Financial planners will want you to rent, and turn over extra money for them to manage. Look at properties you like, collect the relevant data (property taxes, rental fees, etc.), and then compare the costs. You can use an online calculator, like the one at Freddie Mac's site to make your comparisons.

Remember that the big difference between renting and owning is this: After you've been making your payments for a few decades, buyers will own a house. And renters will just have another monthly bill coming their way.




(um) (um) May Your Smile Be Your Umbrella. (um) (um)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-22-2007, 06:48 AM
(f) (f)



Quidquid discis, tibi discis.

Whatever you learn, you learn it for yourself.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-22-2007, 06:50 AM


LONDON (Reuters) - The Eagles will release "Long Road Out of Eden", their first full studio album for 28 years, in October, Universal Music Group said on Wednesday.

Eagles to release first studio album in 28 years

Wed Aug 22, 2007 9:14AM EDT

LONDON (Reuters) - The Eagles will release "Long Road Out of Eden", their first full studio album for 28 years, in October, Universal Music Group said on Wednesday.

The top-selling band, whose hits include "Hotel California" and "Life in the Fast Lane", split in 1980 but reunited 14 years later and have toured intermittently since.

Universal will distribute the new album outside North America, while in the United States the record will be released through Wal-Mart stores, warehouse retail chain Sam's Club and the band's Web site www.eaglesband.com.

It will hit the shelves internationally on October 29 and in the United States one day later, Universal added.

The first single from the album, "How Long", has already had its video and radio premiere.

"It's rare to have the opportunity to be involved with a band of their stature, as they define popular music in so many ways," said Lucian Grainge, CEO of Universal Music Group International.

The Eagles, comprising Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit, last released a studio album of new songs -- "The Long Road" -- in 1979.

The band's "Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975" is the best-selling album in recorded music history in the United States, with sales of more than 29 million copies, according to Universal. The Eagles have sold around 120 million albums worldwide.


(8) (y) (8) (y)


Ab Iove principium.

Let's start with the most important.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-22-2007, 06:52 AM
(f) (l) (f) (l) (f) (l)




LONDON (Reuters) - In life and death, Princess Diana shook the House of Windsor to the core.

In life and death, Diana shook the House of Windsor

Wed Aug 22, 2007 10:23AM EDT

By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - In life and death, Princess Diana shook the House of Windsor to the core.

Critics have not always been kind to "The People's Princess" in the decade since her death in a Paris car crash on Aug 31, 1997, but none would deny she mattered.

Among royal watchers who spent their careers following the world's most photographed woman live out a royal soap opera, few doubt her effect on a staid royal household that abhorred histrionics and never abandoned the British stiffer upper lip.

"She gave the monarchy a jolt. She was determined to make it less remote and she led by example on that," said former BBC royal correspondent Jenni Bond, who spent almost 15 years covering the tribulations of the royals.

"The Queen said afterwards that lessons had to be learned from Diana's death. Slowly they have been. There has not been a massive change -- it's a question of evolution not revolution."

The Observer newspaper, summing up her contradictions when reviewing a flood of Diana biographies, asked "Was she shy or just sly? Compassionate or coldly calculating? The Queen of Hearts or the self-promoting chief executive of Brand Diana?"

Diana espoused a string of causes -- AIDS patients, lepers and landmine victims -- which, by the force of her fame, became headline news.

"The royal family are not stupid and they looked at the effect she was having and realized they were missing a trick," said royal biographer Penny Junor.

"She was behind a lot of modernization. The way that things are done now has been largely influenced by her."



(f) (f)

Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.

The times are changed, and we are changed in them.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-22-2007, 07:32 AM
(l) (f) (l) (f) (l)

Princess Diana was our fairy-tale, our gossip story, our style icon, our humanitarian hero and our heartbreak. A decade after her death in a Paris car crash on August 31, 1997, our fascination with the Princess of Wales is as strong as ever.

Timeline photos:


(f) (f)

Quidquid discis, tibi discis.

Whatever you learn, you learn it for yourself.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-22-2007, 07:33 AM
(l) (f) (l) (f) (l)

British aristocrat ... Diana was known to be shy in early and later life:


Poised ... she enjoyed ballet:


Infamous fashion choice ... and was a kindergarten assistant when she started dating Charle:


Cherished ... she wasn't afraid to show her love for sons William and Harry:


Thrill ... and was known to be a fun-loving mother:


Dress ... she was admired for her fashion sense:


Classic ... which never went out of style:


Versace funeral ... she was equally at home among A-listers:


Charity ... but was also dedicated to causes:


Mother Theresa ... and meeting with the poor:


Hassled ... and was known to be the most photographed woman in the world:


BBC interview ... and divulged how media pressure and her marriage breakdown led to bulimia:


Moving on ... after her divorce to Charles in 1996, Diana found happines with Harrods heir Dodi Al Fayed:


Fresh start ... she was estranged from the royal family but was satisfied with her new life:


Ominous ... but her new-found happiness was tragically cut short:


More photos and articles: http://www.news.com.au/feature/0,,5013055,00.html

(f) (f)

Quidquid discis, tibi discis.

Whatever you learn, you learn it for yourself.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-22-2007, 07:34 AM
(l) (f) (l) (f) (l)


(l) (l) Start of the Diana Slide Show:


In the picture ... call by the National Portrait Gallery for an exhibition /no spamming of other sites/ on the walls until January 2008 /no spamming of other sites/ of portraits of the "people's princess" by some of the world's leading portrait photographers:


More Diana ... Princess Diana: Ten Years On: our fairy-tale, our gossip story, our style icon, our humanitarian hero and our heartbreak. A decade after her death in a Paris car crash on August 31, 1997, our fascination with the Princess of Wales is as strong as ever:


(l) (f) (l) (f) (l)

Quidquid discis, tibi discis.

Whatever you learn, you learn it for yourself.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-22-2007, 07:36 AM



Women comedians are strutting their stuff on stage as never before.

Muscling in on the men: Zoe Lyons:


Fringe finds its feminine side

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 22/08/2007

This year, women comedians are strutting their stuff on stage as never before, but are they just too nice to triumph over their male rivals, asks Dominic Cavendish

I can't remember an Edinburgh Fringe like it. Ten years ago, I would have been hard pushed to scrape together a list of half a dozen acts from the XX side of the chromosome divide worthy of much excited attention. Now, every Charlotte, Joanna and Zoe is muscling in on what has for too long been too much a male preserve.

Whether any of those female comics I've taken most delight in will make it on to the shortlist for the if.comedy awards (formerly the Perrier), announced today, is open to question. Their defining characteristic is that they're an incredibly nice bunch and in the cut-throat world of Edinburgh, kind hearts as a rule don't win comedy coronets.

Mind you, if any female comedian deserves to be on the list, it's the kindest kidult on the block, Josie Long (Trying is Good, Pleasance). Long is no Florence Nightingale but symptomatic of her benign outlook is the fact that she kicks off her set with a description of an incident she witnessed at a local pool.

A tubby boy, she explains, was prevented from clambering on to an inflatable slide by a vindictive staff-member armed with a jet hose. Instead of poking fun at the obese, Long, a tomboyish figure with a permanent grin, takes only delight at the lad's eventual hard-won victory. "He got stuck as he went down," she adds, but it's the trying that counts.

Hence the title of her show. "I love people who put in the effort - no matter how misplaced that effort may be," she says, building by twists and rambling turns to a celebration of the American folk artist Edward Hicks, who painted the biblical scene on the theme of the "Peaceable Kingdom" at least 100 times. To make something so gentle the theme of your show requires real courage, I reckon.

Elsewhere at the Pleasance, Joanna Neary (Joanna Neary's Little Moments) also has a huge amount of quirk-appeal. She's been likened to Joyce Grenfell, and again, as with Long, there's a goodness and a goofiness about this elfin entertainer that's utterly enchanting.

Her idea of crossing Celia Johnson's character from Brief Encounter with a contemporary (trapped) housewife - relaying her diary's 1940s-styled entries to us throughout the show - is so inspired, and beautifully executed, it deserves its own Radio 4 series.

Neary's own teenage diaries are also read out as a source of running mirth, and if the remainder of her skits are more hit-and-miss, she's still a talent to watch.

In Fight or Flight, personable Zoe Lyons tackles the wide-ranging subject of things we fear. Mercifully, she steers clear of fundamentalist terrors, instead reminding people of the days when the government pamphlet Protect and Survive laughably advised you to phone the council in the event of a nuclear strike. You know you're getting old when the audience around you looks blank at such things - genuinely terrifying.

Charlotte Hudson and Leila Hackett, appearing as "Two Left Hands", struggle to keep the laughs coming with their seaside-themed show.

Their hour's three saving graces, though, are a running skit about a hairdresser whose nattering clients are famous women from history, a rubbish clairvoyant whose range of names doesn't fit the demographic of her posh clients and a wonderful bitch-off between Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson, on account of their differing fortunes since the duet I Know Him So Well.

Brassiest act of the bunch this year is Tameka Empson - star of 3 Non Blondes - who's in character as "Marcia Brown", a hurricane-strength black American diva plugging her album "Always and Forever in Love, Vol 1". She belts out Motown classics, themed round the fictive highs and lows of her love life, sending herself up something rotten: "I've given men diabetes in my time, 'cos I'm sweet."

Never was a truer word spoken; she instantly has the whole audience wrapped around her beckoning finger.


(y) (y)

(f) (f)

Sic Itur Ad Astra.

Thus do we reach the stars.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-22-2007, 07:39 AM
:| :| :|

:s :s


Court tries 18 for cross-dressing

Tue Aug 21, 2007 9:53AM EDT

By Estelle Shirbon

BAUCHI, Nigeria (Reuters) - Eighteen Nigerian men accused of dressing up as women during a party at a hotel went on trial Tuesday before an Islamic sharia court in the northern state of Bauchi.

Dozens of residents shouted abuse and hurled stones at the men as they were escorted into an armored prison vehicle after the hearing, prompting police to fire tear-gas at the crowd.

The men, mostly in their 20s, were arrested in a Bauchi hotel on August 4. Police say they were dressed as women, which is illegal under the state's sharia penal code.

The offence is punishable by up to a year in prison and 20 lashes by cane.

The accused, who tried to hide their faces as they were jeered on their way in and out of court, deny the charge. One of them told Reuters they went to the hotel for a graduation party.

Muhammad Bununu of the Hisbah Commission, a body charged with enforcing sharia law in the state, told reporters the accused were "addressing each other as women and dressing themselves as women."

"They said they went to the hotel to witness a wedding between a male and a male," he said.

The police brought handbags and suitcases containing women's high-heel shoes and clothing to the court as evidence.

The 18 are not formally charged with homosexuality, which is illegal in Nigeria and considered immoral by the vast majority of people, both Muslims and Christians.


Bauchi is one of 12 states in the predominantly Muslim north that started a stricter enforcement of sharia law in 2000 -- a decision that alienated sizeable Christian minorities and sparked bouts of sectarian violence that killed thousands.

Sharia courts have been active for centuries but under British colonial rule their powers were curtailed. In the 12 states, they regained the right to impose strict punishments such as death for adultery or sodomy and amputation for theft.

Only one man, a convicted murderer hanged in 2002, is known to have been executed under sharia law since it was reinforced in the 12 states.

Nigerian media had originally reported that the 18 men arrested in Bauchi were charged with sodomy and facing death by stoning, raising concerns among human rights groups who sent observers to Tuesday's hearings.

But Bununu said the reports were incorrect.

Judge Tanimu Abubakar adjourned the case until September 13 to allow time for a Bauchi state prosecutor who is taking over from the police to familiarize himself with the evidence.


:| When I read news such as this, I realize that despite the "increasing reduction" of civil liberties and freedoms here in the U.S. - THIS would/could not happen here. At least I hope so. Everyone has the right and freedom to "be" whom they are. (f)

(f) (f)

Sapientia est potentia.

Wisdom is power.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-22-2007, 07:41 AM
(f) (f) (f)

AKARTA (Reuters) - A plan to carry out virginity tests on female high school students in a district in Indonesia's West Java province has been dropped after a public outcry, media reports said.

Indonesia district drops school virginity test plan

Tue Aug 21, 2007 9:52AM EDT

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A plan to carry out virginity tests on female high school students in a district in Indonesia's West Java province has been dropped after a public outcry, media reports said.

The head of Indramayu district, Irianto Syafiuddin, is reported to have made the proposal for virginity tests after a video showing two high school students having sex circulated via mobile phones.

"Because many people oppose it, we cancelled (the plan)," Syafiuddin was quoted as saying by online news service Detik.com.

Syafiuddin could not immediately be contacted, but according to media reports he will look for an alternative way to prevent students from engaging in pre-marital sex.

Students, parents and activists viewed the planned virginity tests on thousands of high school students in the district as a violation of human rights, the Jakarta Post said.

"We can't accept this idea. It's unfair as the porn video was just an isolated case," a female student, Gita, was quoted as saying by the Post.

Many in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, place high value on virginity, although pre-marital sex is not uncommon among the younger generation.


:| :|


What goes around, comes around.

Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-22-2007, 07:45 AM
8-| 8-| 8-|

LONDON (Reuters) - Popular mapping service Google Earth will launch a new feature called Sky, a "virtual telescope" that the search engine hopes will turn millions of Internet users into stargazers.

Google Earth to launch new service for stargazers

Wed Aug 22, 2007 8:13AM EDT

By Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) - Popular mapping service Google Earth will launch a new feature called Sky, a "virtual telescope" that the search engine hopes will turn millions of Internet users into stargazers.

Google, which created Google Earth to give Internet users an astronaut's view that can zoom to street level, said the service would be a playground for learning about space.

"Never before has a roadmap of the entire sky been made so readily available," said Dr. Carol Christian of the Space Telescope Science Institute, who co-led the institute's Sky team.

"Sky in Google Earth will foster and initiate new understanding of the universe by bringing it to everyone's home computer."

Like Google Earth, Sky will enable users to float and zoom in on over 100 million individual stars and 200 million galaxies. Users will view the sky as seen from earth.

It has created different layers which will show the life of a star, constellations, high-resolution images provided by the Hubble Space Telescope and a users guide to galaxies.

A backyard astronomy layer lets users click through stars, galaxies and nebulae visible to the eye, binoculars and small telescopes.

The imagery was stitched together from numerous third parties including the Digital Sky Survey Consortium, the United Kingdom Astronomy Technology Centre and the Anglo-Australian Observatory. The imagery will be updated over time.

"We're excited to provide users with rich astronomical imagery and enhanced content that enables them to both learn about what they're seeing and tell their own stories," said Google Product Manager Lior Ron in a statement.

"By working with some of the industry's leading experts, we've been able to transform Google Earth into a virtual telescope."

Google Earth launched in June 2005 to combine its search service with satellite imagery, maps and 3D building to display geographical information of the world. The search engine says over 250 million people have downloaded it.

The Sky service will be available on all Google Earth domains, in 13 languages from later on Wednesday. Users will need to download the newest version of Google Earth which can be found at www.earth.google.com


One of the photos at the article URL:


Another "pretty", facinating photo:


(o) Time is marching on and I have an appointment and an errand yet to run today. :)


(um) (um) May Your Smile Be Your Umbrella. (um) (um)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-22-2007, 07:48 AM
:o :o


Hemlines are back hovering below the knee again, says Clare Coulson.



From maxi to midi: winter's new trend will be the midi skirt:


It's time for a Midi moment

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 22/08/2007

City analysts caught out by last week's stock market slump would have done well to heed the autumn/winter fashion collections unveiled at the start of the year.

The first shoots of financial trouble emerged back in February, just after designers sent midi-length skirts - which hover anywhere between the knee and mid-calf - down the catwalks. As extraordinary as it might sound, hemlines and prosperity go hand in hand. Almost without fail, skirt lengths rise when times are good, and fall when they're bad.

This observation, dubbed the "hemline effect", was first made in the 1920s by economist George Taylor. As markets soared after the First World War, Taylor noted, skirts rose to daring new levels. After the Wall Street Crash in 1929, hemlines tumbled to the ankles, where they remained throughout the 1930s. It's a theory that was borne out time and again throughout the last century.

This year's autumn/winter collections herald a dip in hemlines, from last summer's mini to the midi-length skirt. Which means, by Taylor's model, the markets are in for a stormy patch. It's time to start tightening your belts.

It's not just grim news for economists. Women are divided about the virtues of the midi. Fashion people see it as refreshing, exciting and "challenging" - stylist-speak for extremely tricky to pull off - but others are justifiably concerned about the merits of wearing a skirt that can look both unsexy and unflattering (on the wrong shape, it can draw attention to stumpy legs).

Perushka de Zoysa, contemporary buying manager at Selfridges, agrees. "Midi-skirts might have looked great on the catwalk, but in reality they are quite tricky to wear," she says. "Put them with the wrong things, and you go from 1940s siren to frumpy teacher in one swift move."

There's a knack to carrying off a midi with style - and it's mostly in the buying. First, avoid mid-calf-length skirts that are excessively billowy or printed, which is a certain recipe for frumpiness. Marc Jacobs's below-the-calf-length skirts were a borderline success on the models - what hope for mere mortals?

Instead, take a tip from the Louis Vuitton catwalk, where midis came in shimmering metallics: a flash of intense colour makes gentle A-line shapes look sharper and more modern - especially if you add a contrasting patent leather belt and floppy Vermeer-style beret.

One of the season's most prominent looks is the 1940s, and the midi plays a key role. Many designers, from Alberta Ferretti to Antonio Marras at Kenzo, have produced skinny 1940s-style, fine-tweed skirts which look fabulous paired with silky or satin tops. Just avoid thicker tweeds, which look bulky and schoolmarmish.

According to Bridget Cosgrave, womenswear buyer for the Matches boutiques, the safest midi silhouette is the pencil skirt. "Alexander McQueen's pencil encapsulates the best way to wear it," she says. "The cinched-in waist adds definition and it hits at the calf, which is the most flattering.

"The key with the midi is to be mindful of proportion," she advises. "Balance the length with a fitted silhouette to keep the look young and create a lean, elongated shape."

As Yasmin Sewell, buying director of Browns, points out, the right shoes are crucial. "This is a very sophisticated length for all ages, but it's very important to keep ankles slim. Either wear it with high heels or a great boot that really tapers in on the ankle. Definitely no slouchy leg boots, and avoid flats altogether."

The new length will also have an impact on other parts of our wardrobes. Shorter jackets or 1940s-style swingy coats that end at the hip work best. Underneath, opt for neat, fitted sweaters and tops - especially with narrow belts.

The high street - mindful, perhaps, of the associated financial doom - has so far been slow to warm to the new length. But there are a few torch-bearers out there.

Ever on the pulse, Topshop has included midi-length skirts and dresses in its Unique collection. These include billowing calf-length dresses and neater black skirts with decorative zips.

Classic long pencil skirts which fall below the knee are far easier to find: L.K. Bennett and Jaeger have some of the chicest versions.


(l) (l) (l)


Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.

The times are changed, and we are changed in them. (again) ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-23-2007, 08:15 AM
(S) (S) (S) (S) (S) (S) (S)

27th of August is what the Whole World is waiting for...*The planet Mars

will be the brightest in the night sky starting August.It will look as

large as the full moon to the naked eye. This will culminate on Aug. 27

when Mars comes within 34.65M mile s of earth. Be sure to watch the sky on

Aug. 27 12:30 am. It will look like the earth has 2 moons. The next time

Mars may come this close is in 2287.Share this with your friends as NO ONE

ALIVE TODAY will ever see it again.

(y) (g) (y) If it lasts two nights AND it's a clear night, what an amazing b'day present. That and world peace and I'd be doing (virtual) backflips. ;)

Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-23-2007, 08:17 AM
<:o) <:o)

Fashion for fall is tailored, elegant, rational. There’s not a whiff of Britney or Paris about it.


August 23, 2007

Special Fall Fashion Issue

Après Rehab: A Lovely Sobriety


FASHION designers usually hate things that women can actually wear. Or, at any rate, they hate it when someone calls their clothing wearable. They feel profoundly reduced by the taint of utility. For that reason, a lot of fashion in the last few years has looked not merely extreme but also tangential to women’s lives.

Is that abbreviated blob for me? What were they thinking?

“The danger is we’re losing sight of what women really want to wear,” Azzedine Alaïa said recently. Mr. Alaïa, one of the great innovators of our time, is saying that for fashion to move forward it must relate more directly to women’s lives and bodies. It must be something women can wear.

This fall many designers seem to share that view. In the buzz of words of the new season — “chic,” “tailored,” “sophisticated” — there is the pleasing symmetry, the able-bodied logic of “elegant sufficiency.” The clothes are at once elegant and practical, but more, they project an attitude that is above the trendy fray: not a contentment, but certainly a reasonableness.

At the leading edge of this more elegant mind-set is John Galliano, with his mix of sharp suits, fresh colors and romantic accessories like colored hosiery and gloves. Calvin Klein and Donna Karan focused on daytime dressing, with slim knee-length skirts and coats. Gucci has a 1940s-inspired look, and that means more covered-up, feminine dressing. Jil Sander and Versace emphasized tailoring.

Marc Jacobs’s streamlined skirts and coats reflect a more mature sensibility. And as conceptual as Prada is this season, with its novel fabrics and textures, the clothes are ultimately wearable.

This change in direction comes at a good time, offering women more choices in fit and style, and at a bad time. Concerns about the credit and mortgage markets are likely to make consumers curb their spending. Since June 1, the Morgan Stanley Retail Index, which measures the performance of 34 retail companies, has fallen 21 percent.

“I think it’s an indication that people are worried,” said Julie Macklowe, who follows the retail business for Sigma Capital Management, a hedge fund in New York.

Evelyn Gorman, the owner of Mix, a boutique in Houston, agreed: “People are being very careful. I’ve not heard them talk this much about what’s going on with the stock market in a while.”

Still, it’s hard to deny fashion’s womanly turn, and how it may attract consumers. “I don’t feel I’m going to be square in a suit,” said Linda Fargo, the fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman. “The suit is cooler now.”

Like a lot of women, Natasha Elkon, who works with her mother at the Elkon Gallery in New York, says her taste tends to be classic. “This year there are really things you can wear,” said Ms. Elkon, who found a puff-sleeved jacket and trousers at Chloé. “I love something that you can dress up or down.”

Citing how grown-up clothes look after a season or two of girlish smocks and trembling platforms, Julianne Quay, the executive editor of V and V Man magazines, said: “This is why I’m so looking forward to going back to school, back to work. You can actually dress up.” She added, “I think a lot of designers fell into this Britney moment, where they did a two-inch rise on all their pants.”

Ms. Quay recently bought a gray wool Saint Laurent dress with a cowl neck, which she describes as “very Dolly Parton in ‘Nine to Five.’ ” In fact, to Ms. Quay, the look for fall is “very ‘Working Girl,’ very office.”

That’s scarcely a put-down. Many women have struggled to find clothes that fit across all the compartments of their lives: work, family, civic and social commitments. Marsha Cross, who manages her family’s real estate investments in Houston, likes the minimal suits and flattering dresses that Raf Simons designs for Jil Sander because, she says, “they go more places, especially for somebody who’s working and traveling a lot.”

Fashion is a short-haul experience, and a lot of us went for the ride. “Love the platforms and baby-doll dresses” soon became “Hate the platforms and baby-doll dresses.” Though we can’t blame Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton for everything, they came to symbolize a style based on an endless turnover of clothes bolstered by a good watch and a devouring handbag. Was there anything memorable about this look other than its cartoonish scale?

Ms. Quay recalls the effect of a pair of Saint Laurent wedges: “I looked like Minnie Mouse.”

There are lots of explanations for what brought about the reality check. Ms. Gorman says women became tired of trying to make youthful clothes work for them. Samantha Gregory, the director of publicity at Tory Burch, where pencil skirts are a big seller, suggests that women want clothes that show off their figures. And Julie Gilhart, the fashion director of Barneys New York, says that consumers in general are making more conscientious choices about what they wear, eat and drive.

Dresses are still popular. For Amanda Goldberg, who lives in Los Angeles and has written a novel called “Celebutantes” with Ruthanna Hopper, a daughter of Dennis Hopper, about Hollywood during Oscar week, dresses are an easy way to look polished and still casual — a requirement in Los Angeles.

“You can pair a dress with ballet flats or flip-flop sandals rather than a full-on stiletto,” says Ms. Goldberg, who is 33.

But Ms. Macklowe of Sigma Capital wonders if fall’s longer, more elegant silhouette is an antidote to loose generic-looking dresses. She points out that you get more craftsmanship in jackets and suits than in a flirty little dress. For her own wardrobe, she gets mileage from Prada and Fendi.

In a season when shoes may be a more important accessory purchase than a handbag — the clean pump with its modest scale — there’s a satisfying sense that fashion has returned to human proportions. Even hairstyles seem, well, normal. As Ms. Quay says with a laugh, “It’s not about Jennifer Aniston hair.”

If women feel excited about fall, it may be that they’re getting what they want.

(f) (f)

Sic Itur Ad Astra.

Thus do we reach the stars. (*) (*)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-23-2007, 08:19 AM
:| :| :|


How to wear autumn makeup shades without looking as exaggerated as a female impersonator is an annual problem.

August 23, 2007

Skin Deep

No, I Haven’t Been Mugged. Why Do You Ask?


YOU know fall is upon us when beauty companies start pushing femme fatale makeup.

Ideally, theatrical colors — mulberry lips, scarlet-fever blusher, black-widow eyeliner — should conjure a glamorous diva. But, in reality, a face anchored by a dark matte mouth and penumbral eyelids could easily qualify for the pages of Glamour Don’t.

“Look! It’s Grandpa from ‘The Munsters,’ ” exclaimed a colleague when I returned to the office last week wearing the latest fall makeup, freshly applied by a beauty adviser at a department store.

How to wear autumn makeup shades without looking as exaggerated as a female impersonator is an annual problem.

Every spring, cosmetics companies bring out new pink, pastel and terra cotta tones, marketing them with terms like “fresh,” “healthy” and “glowing.”

Come fall, the same beauty brands inevitably introduce deeper-hued jewel and berry shades, with slogans like “a return to glamour,” a marketing scheme intended to induce women who may have pared down their summer grooming routines to a bit of bronzer and a dash of lip gloss to reinvest in foundations and lipsticks.

Every year there are new names for this heavy-lipped, heavy-lidded look. Estée Lauder’s fall makeup collection is called After Hours. Prescriptives has The Seducers. Department stores are advertising Smokin’ Hot from Yves Saint Laurent Beauté.

But that is just rebranding. The look was old when Gloria Swanson wore it in 1950 in “Sunset Boulevard.” The practice of using color pigments to play up the seductive quality of eyes and lips predates even Cleopatra (the consort of Caesar and Mark Antony, not the movie in which Elizabeth Taylor disports with Richard Burton).

The question is whether a retro look befitting Norma Desmond or an Egyptian mummy could work on a contemporary woman who spends her working day not in a West Hollywood swimming pool or on a Nile barge but in a Midtown office.

I decided to sample the fall collections to find out.


Products used (11): concealer, foundation, liquid eyeliner, four eye shadows, eyelash primer, mascara, blush, lipstick.

Total cost of products used for makeover: $200.

Time spent: one hour.

The makeover started well enough.

A beauty adviser primed my face with a little concealer and foundation. Then she set about creating what she called “the fall eye.”

Using a black liquid eyeliner, she drew a thin line from the inner corner of my eye, widening it into a graphic block at the outer corner, which turned up into a 45-degree angle.

“It’s called the cat’s eye, or the Egyptian eye,” she said.

In combination with pale primed skin and nude lips, the thick eyeliner recalled Brigitte Bardot circa 1960. It looked intense, but it worked.

Then came the overkill: The adviser layered on white, black, purple and lilac eye shadows patted on thickly both above, and a bit below, my eyes. My eyelids looked like I had gone a few rounds with the heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko.

Next, she chose a lipstick called Purple Prose, which she applied above my lip line, halfway to my nose.

“It looks strong to you now because it is still summer,” the beauty adviser said. “But when the weather is cooler and you are wearing fall clothes, the makeup will fit right in.”

Somehow I doubted it.

I bought just the eyeliner.


Products used (14): exfoliating cream, face serum, eye cream, age-defying cream, concealer, liquid foundation, loose face powder, eye shadow compact (four colors), eyeliner, mascara, two blushes, lipstick, lip gloss.

Cost of products used in makeover: $941.

Time spent: 40 minutes.

“Feel your skin!” commanded the beauty adviser, taking my hand and running it along my face. “It’s so uneven. You have dry patches and your pores are clogged!”

Apparently the old negative reinforcement technique still moves products.

She remedied the situation by applying a $300 face serum and several other skin-care products to provide a smooth canvas, the better to show off the makeup, she said.

To create fall’s smoky eye, she used a new eye compact called Palette Esprit Couture. She started with a nude eye shadow as a base coat. Then came purple along the eye socket. And then a deep brown, patted all over the eyelids. She brushed on several coats of mascara and then used a blue eyeliner, drawing it along the lash line.

“See how much wider your eyes are!” she pronounced.

It looked good — if I were Avril Lavigne got up for a semiformal dinner at the captain’s table on a Bahamas cruise.

“Well, this is a nighttime look,” she conceded. “You can take it up or take it down.”

Tone it down, I suggested. She obliged with a lot of beige eye shadow under my brows, blending it into the dark brown to lighten it and cancel out the mauve.

To top it off, she chose a deep scarlet lipstick, using it liberally to enlarge the size of my mouth.

It was a look John le Carré described as “a fat lipstick mouth drawn over the little thin one underneath.” Not something to emulate.

Upon request, the adviser toned down my lips as well, applying concealer to the lipstick that had overrun my lips and adding a neutral lip gloss to mute the bright pigment.

At dinner that night, a friend said: “It’s not you, but it looks beautiful.”

I am going to use the eye shadows, remembering to skip the mauve and to go easy on the brown.


Products: 1 lipstick.

Time spent: 10 minutes.

Cost: $10.

Lipstick sales have declined in the last decade while lip gloss sales have increased almost tenfold, according to NPD Beauty, a market research firm.

But don’t tell that to Sephora.

Earlier this month, Sephora installed signs in some stores trumpeting the idea that “Lipstick Is Back!” To bolster this notion, saleswomen, referred to in-house as “cast members,” said they had been encouraged to swap their glosses for lipsticks.

At the Times Square store, I installed myself at a long red table topped with lighted vanity mirrors and asked a beauty adviser to help me choose a fall lipstick.

“Do you want a classic red red or a deeper red?” she asked. “The pinkier red is easier to wear, but the classic red makes more of a statement.”

We chose Sephora Cream Lipstick 94, a take-no-prisoners matte tomato of a color described as “fierce” in the company’s fall catalog. Indeed, it was so fierce that I wondered whether I should wear foundation and eye shadow or at least a lip liner, some kind of cosmetic diversion to distract people from looking at it.

“You don’t need to wear makeup with that. You can wear it as a stand-alone,” said the woman, clearly a graduate of the soft-sell school of beauty advising. “Why, do you want a lip liner?”

She applied the red lipstick to my mouth, miraculously staying within the lines. The result was vaudevillian.

“It looks great,” she said. “You can pull that off.”

There are some women who can pull off cherry-popsicle lipstick. Madonna, say, in “Who’s That Girl?” Paloma Picasso. Gwen Stefani. But it was too bright for me.

Still, I have to admit I liked it. Even if it was too fierce, the lipstick served a purpose, providing an instant and welcome change, like a new haircut. It made me want to wear deeper lipstick shades this fall, albeit in sheerer formulas.

Reader, I bought it.

^o) And what is up with their comment about "female impersonators"?? ^o) ^o)


What goes around, comes around.

Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-23-2007, 08:20 AM

SLIDE SHOW: Head Turners:


August 23, 2007

Your Attention, Please!


IN her memoir, “DV,” Diana Vreeland recalled the time she saw Josephine Baker breeze into the back seat of her Rolls-Royce with Chiquita, her pet cheetah, in tow. According to description, Baker was beautifully dressed in a short black skirt and a barely there Vionnet shirt — “no sleeves, no back, no front, just crossed bars on the bias.” But the pièce de résistance was her animal accessory. “I had never seen anything like it,” Vreeland wrote. “It was speed at its best, and style.”

If walking around with a wild beast is not an option, the fall collections present an array of bold accessories intended to turn heads. Louis Vuitton’s resplendent feather bracelet, Prada’s oversize woolly clutch, Pierre Hardy’s Mondrian-ish shoes — designers seem to be telling their customers to have a little fun, take a bit of a risk and wear something that will start a conversation.

“It’s like wearing a piece of art,” said Nevena Borissova, the owner of Curve, a clothing boutique in SoHo that sells attention-getting jewelry from Erickson Beamon, Tom Binns and the Carole Tanenbaum Vintage Collection. At her shop last week, it was a vintage gold Valentino horse pendant, roughly the size of a hamster, that garnered the most attention; a small crowd of Scandinavian tourists was entranced by it. “An over-the-top accessory is the easiest way to have instant style,” Ms. Borissova declared.

It can also be a confidence boost. Susan Saas, a milliner based in Harlem, often wears her witty designs despite her modest personality. “It’s weird for someone shy to put something on that attracts attention,” she said. “But I do feel more powerful under one of my hats.”



Carpe Carpium.

Seize the Carp.

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

08-23-2007, 08:22 AM
(y) (y)

SLIDE SHOW: Off Kilter, on Target:


LOVE: Rosalind Russell in “Auntie Mame."


(l) (l) Succinct advice on going overboard with "successful eccentricity".


Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-23-2007, 08:25 AM

FLASHBACK In “Mad Men,” obsessive details evoke its era.


August 23, 2007

A Return to That Drop-Dead Year 1960


I’M from Bay Ridge. We have manners,” Peggy, the pony-tailed secretary, scolds the colleague who has just propositioned her in “Mad Men,” the new drama on the cable channel AMC. Do Peggy’s colleagues at Sterling Cooper, the turbo-powered advertising agency where she works, fall a little short in that department?

No matter. They have style.

The “girls” in the steno pool, the nakedly striving junior executives, the smooth-talking bosses and their stay-at-home wives have done their best to acquire the veneer of graceful gestures that stand in for real courtesy. Their mannerisms, and their sleek appurtenances, come with the turf: the steel-and-glass landscape of Madison Avenue in 1960, where burled wood and frosted-glass-panel interiors form a sumptuous backdrop against which the players stride about in sheaths and glen plaid suits.

Taking it all in, viewers may find themselves hooked, not just on the show’s artfully shaded characterizations and plot twists, but on its insistent attention to detail. To a style aficionado, “Mad Men” is that rare TV show in which an ashtray, a lipstick or an aerosol tin gets star treatment, and is a protagonist in its own right.

Why not? “The story is told in the details, and those details have their own life,” said Matthew Weiner, who conceived and wrote the series. Spiffed up by amber lighting, the camera lingering almost lewdly on a whiskey tumbler, a gilded compact or the polished surface of a conference table, those details reflect the growing materialism of the Eisenhower years.

Jaeger-LeCoultre watches, Delman pumps and Buick sedans are as essential to the action as a glistening smile or arched brow — projections of the characters’ idealized selves. His hair slicked with Brylcreem and flashing cuff links, Don Draper, Sterling Cooper’s brooding creative director, can imagine himself an impenetrably suave Lothario. In her scarlet-lined kimono, Midge, his mistress, can convince herself that she is a faintly louche, spirited adventuress. Floating into a party, Betty, his wife, can play the suburban princess in crinolines and pearls.

That fixation on objects, surfaces and status signifiers also holds up a mirror to the fetishistic obsessions of the present day. It would hardly seem alien to an aspiring red-carpet queen swinging an outsize Balenciaga tote, or to an ambitious young Manhattan trader girded for battle in a Hugo Boss suit.

Or, for that matter, to a fashion addict, who would surely note that the show’s aura of pulled-together formality is in step with the look of the runways, which returned this fall to mannerly 1950s-inflected tailoring.

From a modern vantage, it is easy to forget that 1960 was a watershed. An election loomed, the Pill became widely available, and there dawned a conviction, one later promoted by Andy Warhol and his ilk, that image trumps content, that style and substance may in fact be all but interchangeable.

The seeds of that notion were planted during the newly prosperous postwar years. Happiness then was not some hard-won spiritual attainment. In Don’s glib assessment, it was rather “the smell of a new car ... freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams: ‘Whatever you’re doing, is O.K. You are O.K.’ ”

In such a climate, a presidential candidate could turn unembarrassed to an agency like Sterling Cooper to rev up his image. Who knew better than Madison Avenue’s tastemakers that putting him across was largely a matter of packaging? As Don is told by Roger, his mentor: “Consider the product: He’s young, handsome, a Navy hero.

“Honestly, it shouldn’t be too difficult to convince America that Nixon is a winner.”

Like Nixon’s infamous five o’clock shadow, a dusting of grit mars the otherwise sleek surfaces of “Mad Men.” That is by design, said Mr. Weiner, a former writer and producer of “The Sopranos.” Not a single prop is an afterthought, he said. “The metal fixture that clasps like a clothespin onto the guest towel — my grandmother had it, my mother had it,” Mr. Weiner said. “It’s actually written into the script.”

Roughly $2.5 million went into the filming of each episode. “All of that money has been funneled onto the screen,” he added, down to the conference tables coated in cigarette ash, and the homely touches bestowed on the characters — wrinkled shirts, sweat stains, ill-applied makeup — that lend the show an air of authenticity.

“The period is usually very glamorized,” Mr. Weiner said. Production teams, he pointed out, generally look to films like “The Best of Everything,” or Vogue or Architectural Digest, to ferret out examples of the crystal tumblers, towering beehives and pristine swing coats thought to typify the period.

“I told them that’s not the way it works,” Mr. Weiner said. “We are not doing a show from the perspective of the movies. We are doing a show about the people who watch those movies. Often they are imitating what they see.”

Imperfect creatures, they mix and match at home, placing a streamlined silver-tone coffee brewer in front of rustically patterned cafe curtains. Their drawers are full. So are their garbage pails.

Even their hair and accessories are not always tidy or up to date. “We looked at Vogue, but we also looked at the Sears catalog,” Mr. Weiner said. In the idealized world of a ’50s movie, Don might drive a Cadillac. In “Mad Men,” he drives a Buick LeSabre. In “The Best of Everything,” Hope Lange is coiffed to perfection, not a hair out of place. On “Mad Men,” chignons tumble, pageboys wilt.

“The secretary has to have a hairstyle that will basically degrade over five days of the week,” Mr. Weiner explained. “And each character has a closet — she will wear the same six dresses during a single season.”

At times throwaway gestures betray an infatuation with Hollywood and distinguish the characters from their modern counterparts. Women deftly roll down their stockings and shut their compacts with a definitive click; men flick at their lighters and habitually tug at their ties. As Mr. Weiner pointed out, they loosen the knots in private, but snap them back into place the moment a female enters the room.

An uptight move, it did not betoken good manners exactly. But it was good style.

(l) I'll take the 1930s, 1940s and 1960s, myself - for retro-style that is. ;)


Ab Iove principium.

Let's start with the most important.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-23-2007, 08:27 AM
;) ;)

Individual tartlets made with heirloom tomatoes, basil and Parmesan.


August 22, 2007

Recipe: Multicolored Tomato Tartlets

2 to 3 small firm heirloom tomatoes, preferably in different colors

Flour for dusting

1 14-ounce package puff pastry, defrosted but cold

1/4 cup mascarpone, optional

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Coarse sea salt, to taste (fleur de sel is a good choice)

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese.

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Slice stem and bottom ends from tomatoes. Slice remaining tomato crosswise into rounds 1/2 inch thick. You will need 6 or more nice rounds (see Step 2). If you like, you can cut rounds from 6 different-colored tomatoes. (Use leftover tomato for another recipe.)

2. Dust a flat surface with flour, and unfold pastry onto the surface. Cut pastry into circles about 1 inch wider than tomato slices. You will need at least 6 circles. (If your tomato slices are small and you can cut more than 6 circles out of the puff pastry, cut more rounds of both tomato and pastry. The important thing is that the pastry circles be close to an inch larger than the tomato slices.)

3. Transfer pastry to baking sheet. Spread some mascarpone, if using, over each pastry circle. Sprinkle pastry with basil; top with a tomato slice. Pinch edges of pastry up around edges of tomato. Season tomato rounds with salt and pepper. Scatter Parmesan over rounds. Bake until pastry is puffed and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve warm.

Yield: 6 or more tartlets.

(y) (y) As Emerile always says, "Oh yea, babe!"



Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.

The times are changed, and we are changed in them.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-23-2007, 08:29 AM
8o| 8o|

August 23, 2007

HBO’s Rivals Say It Has Stumbled, Though Catching Up Is Tough


Has HBO, the pay-television channel stocked with so many outstanding shows that it declared itself in a category all its own — as in “It’s not TV, it’s HBO” — finally tumbled from its pedestal of prestige?

While the channel rejects that notion as both inaccurate and unfair, some of its long-suffering competitors are only too eager to advance that message. As evidence they point to the final exit from center stage of HBO’s greatest performer, “The Sopranos,” and the subsequent quick demise of the show that inherited its spot on the schedule, the quirky surfer tale “John From Cincinnati.”

John Landgraf, president of the FX network, which has introduced a series of highly regarded dramas including “Nip/Tuck,” “Rescue Me” and this season’s “Damages,” said of HBO, “I wouldn’t call them vulnerable. What they were was unassailable. And they aren’t that anymore.”

Showtime, the next biggest pay-cable channel, has had some of its executives go so far as to use a new title for their biggest rival: “HB-Over.” Matthew C. Blank, the chairman of Showtime, said, “I’ve heard that term used for HBO both outside and inside our network.”

Dismissing that remark as a cheap shot from jealous competitors, HBO executives labeled the suggestion that their channel might have anything serious to worry about as a misrepresentation of how well its programs beyond “The Sopranos” have performed this year and a misreading of what its business is about.

Michael Lombardo, the president of the HBO Programming Group, said “We’re disappointed that ‘John’ got a poor critical response and didn’t resonate with audiences, but I would not for a second trade our slate in 2007 with any other network.” He added that HBO took a risk with David Milch, the creator of “John From Cincinnati,” because “that’s what we do.” HBO has made a new long-term deal with Mr. Milch and expects a new show from him soon.

As for the rest of its lineup, Richard Plepler a co-president of HBO, offered a long list of accomplishments, topped by the channel’s continued dominance of the Emmy nominations. The channel has also seen its subscriber numbers increase this year, according to a survey by Kagan Associates.

Mr. Plepler pointed to positive recognition for HBO’s movies, like “Longford,” as well as for its documentaries, like “When the Levees Broke,” which recently won a Peabody Award. And he cited the continued success of the comedy “Entourage,” the drama “Big Love” and the new comedy “Flight of the Conchords,” which was renewed for a second season.

In terms of raw numbers “Conchords,” with only about a million viewers on average for its initial run on Sunday nights, is not in the same league as previous HBO hits like “Entourage,” which has drawn as many as 3.8 million viewers. But increasingly HBO is measuring its success both by how many viewers a show accumulates over multiple plays and especially by how well it drives the on-demand business, where viewers can order specific episodes of shows.

HBO says that its on-demand business is not dominated by its hit shows but by the niche interests of its audience for choices from theatrical movies to sports programs. According to the channel, “Flight of the Conchords” has been a strong on-demand entry with men between the ages of 18 and 34.

Robert Greenblatt, the president for entertainment at Showtime, acknowledged that the “HB-Over” term was “a zeitgeist comment,” and that “it was never going to be over for HBO.” But he argued, “This sort of thing is inevitable when you get to where they got to, where you’re saying, ‘It’s not TV, it’s HBO,’ and that you’re superior to everyone else, and then you hit a fallow period.”

Mr. Blank meanwhile boasted about Showtime’s lineup, led by shows like “The Tudors” and “Dexter” that he called hits. But comparisons in ratings terms or financial terms always favor HBO by wide margins. In audience terms HBO and Showtime are still in separate leagues. Shows on Showtime, which almost always fall well below a million viewers for their first runs, have far fewer viewers than even “John From Cincinnati” and nowhere near what HBO brings in for “Entourage.” Showtime, with 14 million subscribers, has only about half the reach of HBO.

This week Showtime purchased full-page newspaper ads to trumpet some critical raves that a pair of its shows, “Weeds” and “Californication,” have received. The move emulated HBO’s aggressive marketing strategy with its own acclaimed shows, and at the same time represented a shot across the bow of its rival.

Still, other cable channels are pointing to successes with their own high-profile shows, dramas like “The Closer” on TNT and “Mad Men” on AMC, and saying that HBO no longer has an automatic edge with viewers as the network of high-quality programming. “Mad Men” seems an especially HBO-like series and was offered first to the channel. (Showtime also passed on it.)

Matt Weiner, that show’s creator and a longtime writer on “The Sopranos,” said he had sent the pilot script to HBO and heard nothing back for a long time. He concluded that HBO “might not be interested in another period piece.” Some HBO executives now quietly concede “Mad Men” might have been a good choice for them.

Some of that has to do with the shifting sensibilities of the executives in charge. HBO’s series success was forged under the leadership of Chris Albrecht, who was forced out this year after a domestic violence charge. Mr. Plepler and Mr. Lombardo now head the creative team. But Mr. Lombardo said the offerings in the next year should answer all questions about the strength of the channel.

HBO has another season of its widely praised comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm” about to start, as well as a much-talked-about drama series about sex therapy called “Tell Me You Love Me.” Longer term is a lavish “John Adams” miniseries, and a new drama about vampires from Alan Ball, the creator of “Six Feet Under.” Among the ideas in development is an Atlantic City casino drama from Martin Scorsese.

But HBO made what some considered a puzzling decision by inserting “John From Cincinnati,” a show many critics labeled all but unfathomable, in the channel’s center-ring time period, 9 p.m. Sunday nights. At the same time HBO relegated the second season of its most promising new drama, “Big Love,” to Monday nights.

Though Mr. Plepler said the move was not a mistake because “Big Love” has accumulated just as big an audience this season as it did last season, HBO seemingly acknowledged that Monday might not have been the best place for “Big Love” when it shifted the show back to Sunday for its last two episodes of this season. Last Sunday “Big Love” doubled the audience that “John From Cincinnati” had been attracting.

“Over time you start to make stumbles like that,” Mr. Landgraf of FX said. He did not argue that HBO had fallen apart, simply that it had fallen back to the pack. “HBO was really the only game in town,” he said. “It was the only place to go if you were a producer or writer or actor who didn’t want to play that 22-episode, broadcast network game.” But he said that FX and Showtime were now proving to be just as hospitable to talented people.

Mr. Plepler said HBO has never been concerned about other networks having hit shows. "There is plenty of room for other people’s shows to do well,” Mr. Plepler said. “ It’s not a zero sum game. If we do what we do well, we’ll continue to be the most vibrant business in our category."

(y) I am writing a letter to HBO's President about the DEADWOOD cancellation. I am also dropping HBO as well from my cable service.

Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-23-2007, 08:30 AM
(f) (f)

A new documentary offers a portrait of combat and its aftermath that bears no relation to the sanitized version of war that often comes from politicians and the news media.

August 21, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

War’s Chilling Reality


Bryan Anderson, a 25-year-old Army sergeant who was wounded in Iraq, was explaining, on camera — to James Gandolfini, of all people — what happened immediately after a roadside bomb blew up the Humvee that he was driving.

“I was like, ‘Oh, we got hit. We got hit.’ And then I had blood on my face and the flies were landing all over my face. So I wiped my face to get rid of the flies. And that is when I noticed that my fingertip was gone. So I was like, ‘Oh. O.K.’

“So that is when I started really assessing myself. I was like, ‘That’s not bad.’ And then I turned my hand over, and I noticed that this chunk of my hand was gone. So I was like, ‘O.K., still not bad. I can live with that.’

“And then when I went to wipe the flies on my face with my left hand, there was nothing there. So I was like, ‘Uh, that’s gone.’ And then I looked down and I saw that my legs were gone. And then they had kind of forced my head back down to the ground, hoping that I wouldn’t see.”

HBO’s contribution to an expanded awareness of the awful realities of war continues with a new documentary, “Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq.”

Mr. Gandolfini, one of the executive producers of the film, steps out of his Tony Soprano persona to quietly, even gently, interview 10 soldiers and marines who barely escaped death in combat.

The interviews are powerful, and often chilling. They offer a portrait of combat and its aftermath that bears no relation to the sanitized, often upbeat version of war — not just in Iraq, but in general — that so often comes from politicians and the news media.

Dawn Halfaker, a 28-year-old former Army captain, is among those featured in the documentary. She lost her right arm and shoulder in Iraq, along with any illusions she might have had about the glory of war.

“I think I was a little bit naïve to what combat was really like,” she told me in an interview on Sunday. “When you’re training, you don’t really imagine that you could be holding a dying boy in your arms. You don’t think about what death is like close up.

“There’s nothing heroic about war. It’s very tragic. It’s very sad. It takes a huge emotional toll.”

Still, she said, there was much about her experience in Iraq that she was grateful for.

“Nobody in the film is asking for pity or sympathy,” she said. “We’re just saying we had this experience and it changed our lives, and we’re coping with it.”

The term “alive day” is being used by G.I.’s to refer to the day that they came frighteningly close to dying from war wounds, but somehow managed to survive. There are legions of them.

Miraculous advances in emergency medicine, communication and transportation are enabling 90 percent of the G.I.’s wounded in Iraq to survive their wounds, although many are facing a lifetime of suffering.

It’s become a cliché to talk about the courage of the soldiers and marines struggling to overcome their horrendous injuries, but it’s a cliché embedded in the truth. Sergeant Anderson, a chatty onetime athlete, is doing his best to put together a reasonably satisfactory life without his legs or his left hand, and with a damaged right hand

He told Mr. Gandolfini, “If I didn’t have my hand, if I lost both my hands, I’d really think, you know, it wouldn’t be worth it to be around.”

He has a wry take on the term “alive day.”

“Everybody makes a big deal about your alive day, especially at Walter Reed,” he said. “And I can see their point, that you’d want to celebrate something like that. But from my point of view, it’s like, ‘O.K., we’re sitting here celebrating the worst day of my life. Great, let’s just remind me of that every year.’ ”

Last year HBO produced a harrowing documentary called “Baghdad E.R.” that showed the relentless effort of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel to save as many lives as possible from what amounted to a nonstop conveyor belt of G.I.’s wounded in combat. At the time, Shelia Nevins, the head of documentary programming at the network, said, “We tried to put a human face on the war.”

They’ve done it again with “Alive Day Memories,” which is scheduled to premiere Sept. 9.

There are no politics in either production. They are neither pro- nor anti-war.

But the intense focus on the humanity of the men and women caught up in the chaos of Iraq, and the incredible sacrifices some of them have had to make, is an implicit argument in favor of a more thoughtful, cautious, less hubristic approach to matters of war and peace.

(f) (f)

Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-23-2007, 09:32 AM
8-) 8-)

August 23, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

Sarkozy’s New Order



Nicolas Sarkozy, the neophyte French president who can’t keep still, has already been likened to Napoleon Bonaparte. Set aside visions of Sarko invading Egypt or retreating from Moscow and you get to the kernel of truth in this comparison: he wants to trash the old order.

The presidency of the French Fifth Republic, built for Charles de Gaulle in 1958, was always the most monarchical of democratic institutions. It was conceived to allow a national hero to deliver France from its Algerian nemesis and imbued with something of Louis XIV’s crisp view: “L’état, c’est moi,” or “I am the state.”

Sarkozy has long indicated his impatience with this regal presidency, once comparing his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, to an out-of-touch French monarch on the Revolution’s eve. In a relentless road show since taking office in May, he has trampled tradition, abandoned aloofness and targeted taboos.

The performance has been exhausting to watch — suggestive of an unscarred first-term Tony Blair on amphetamines. But it has produced results. Among them are new forms of parliamentary oversight of the presidency and a bipartisanship that has allowed opposition Socialists, like Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, into high office.

Above all, Sarkozy has redefined presidential style, doing the unthinkable by vacationing in Wolfeboro, N. H., alongside millionaires. Money has never been a thing to display in France. That was the vulgar Yankee way.

To grasp the enormity of all this, imagine President Bush abandoning Texan brush for a three-week sojourn in St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

As it happened, Bush showed up at the family compound in Kennebunkport, Me., to meet Sarkozy. The choreography was blown when Cécilia, the volatile first lady of France, failed to show (illness was professed, a tiff widely assumed). Still, the presence of Bush’s father signaled a desire to bury Iraqi bitterness and return to the good times of the former president’s “Europe whole and free.”

French-American relations are always complex. Seldom have two countries been more reluctant, or stubborn, allies. The universalizing ambitions of both nations, their thirst to embody and spread the ennobling values of mankind, lead to tensions at the best of times. When things go south, as they did with Iraq, you get freedom fries and other less trivial forms of vilification.

So a warming of relations is good news if you believe, as I do, that when the trans-Atlantic bond is broken, the world grows more unstable. Still, the ironies of the amiable Maine picnic were hard to swallow. On one end of the corn on the cob you had a French president who seems determined to make his office more accountable, more accessible, more open, and invoking American-style checks and balances to achieve that.

On the other, you had an American president who, in the name of the war on terror, has, with Dick Cheney, been bent on placing the authority of the White House as far as possible beyond the offsetting power of the legislative and judicial branches.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the late historian, found in Nixon the villain of his 1973 book “The Imperial Presidency,” but thought Bush had gone further still in pursuit of a Caesarist democracy.

Schlesinger discerned in Nixon “the all-purpose invocation of ‘national security,’ the insistence on executive secrecy, the withholding of information from Congress, the attempted intimidation of the press.”

Sound familiar? The Bush presidency has shown contempt for due process, placed “illegal enemy combatants” in unacceptable limbo, fired politically recalcitrant federal prosecutors, dreamed up a bizarre oversight-free definition of the vice presidency, resorted to warrantless surveillance and disdained Congress’ constitutional role.

The price of keeping America safe, Bush would argue. But the real price has been the tarnishing of the country and consequent erosion of its ability to coax other nations to its views and objectives. American isolation in Iraq has been devastating.

Which brings us back to universal ambitions. France under a president descended from the heights seems more at ease in the world, attuned to globalization and attractive because less remote. The U.S. under Bush has seen its magnetism dimmed as the commander in chief has built his fortress of executive privilege.

To the next U.S. president will fall the huge task of restoring America’s international standing. I wonder whether a dynastic succession back to the House of Clinton as if all we had were Tudors and Stuarts would be the best way of stripping the regal and so returning the country to itself and the world.

(y) (y) "The U.S. under Bush has seen its magnetism dimmed as the commander in chief has built his fortress of executive privilege."

Gee, you don't say.........:| :|


De gustibus non est disputandum.

In matters of taste there is no dispute.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-23-2007, 09:35 AM

A guy walks into the local welfare office, marches straight up
to the counter and says, "Hi... You know, I just HATE drawing
welfare checks. I'd really rather have a job."

The social worker behind the counter says, "Your timing is
excellent. We just got a job opening from a very wealthy old man
who wants a chauffeur and bodyguard for his beautiful nymphomaniac

You'll have to drive around in his Mercedes, but he'll supply all of your
clothes. Because of the long hours, meals will be provided. You'll
be expected to escort her on her overseas holiday trips. You will have to
satisfy her sexual urges. You'll be provided a two-bedroom apartment
above the garage.

The starting salary is $90,000 a year."

The guy, wide-eyed, says, "You're bullshitting me!"

The Social Worker says, "Yeah, well... You started it."

|-) |-)



Amicus optima vitae possessio.

A friend is the greatest treasure in life.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 12:37 AM

TreeHouse Workshop co-owner Pete Nelson stands in front of one of the treehouses built by participants in his workshop.


Lolly Shera's Fall City treehouse, which she uses as an art studio, has power, insulation, plug-in heat, alder paneling, stairs and a deck. It was built in 2002 as a project for TreeHouse Workshop students.




A few years back, when Lolly Shera's son was 9, he peppered their yard with four treehouses he banged together from scrap lumber, like a modern-day Huck Finn.

His mom can still glimpse some of them -- from the window of her own treehouse, a professionally built getaway she uses as an art studio.

"This is a deeply creative place," said Shera, surrounded by her sculpture and drawings. "I don't have any distractions. There are no 'voices' in here. There's no pull to do the laundry."

Unlike the kiddie versions, Shera's Fall City treehouse has power, insulation, plug-in heat, alder paneling, stairs and a deck. Its expansive windows mimic the fire lookouts she stays in when she's hiking and climbing in the backcountry.

Increasingly, this is the new face of the backyard treehouse -- as an "escape pod" for baby boomers with enough disposable income or sweat equity to rise above it all.

"The more amenities and creature comforts (it has), the more this becomes like a serious addition to your house," said treehouse builder Jake Jacob, co-owner of Ballard-based TreeHouse Workshop. "It's not a play fort."

Though treehouses have been around for thousands of years, the past decade especially has brought about a high-flying revival, thanks to innovative designs, new technology and a seemingly endless supply of clients with the money to feed their dreams.

Shera's treehouse, built in 2002 as a project for TreeHouse Workshop students, is modest compared with the whimsical retreats being commissioned worldwide by musicians, movie stars and captains of industry.

Stories on deluxe treehouses -- with amenities like fireplaces, flat-screen TVs, kitchens and baths, leaded-glass windows and fine woodwork -- are turning up everywhere, from The New York Times to Architectural Digest. Some cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and are, in the most literal sense, houses in trees.

"We're building treehouses that will last as long as a (traditional) house," said Michael Garnier, a pioneering treehouse builder in southern Oregon who has traveled as far as China to build treehouses.

Garnier is best known for his Out 'n' About Treesort, which has 22 tree-borne structures, including 13 rentable units, plus walkways and zip lines.

Garnier's own home is a 2,000-square-foot, multistory treehouse with glassed-in cupola and sprawling deck.

By comparison, Shera's 156-square-foot studio is a model of restraint -- and priced accordingly. By offering their land as a teaching site, she and her husband got some free labor and kept costs under $15,000 in materials and professional finish work.

Shera said students came from "literally all over the world" to build it.

"We had people come from Germany, New Zealand, Japan, California, North Carolina, Vermont."

The studio, supported by two cedars and a maple at the edge of the yard, has helped Shera with her career transition from classroom teacher to struggling artist. It's a peaceful, contemplative space where the most audible sound is the rustle of leaves through the open door.

"When it's blowing hard," Shera said, "this structure moves, and it feels like a boat that's moored. It groans and creaks. It's like being in a live animal. There's a soul in it that, if you're open to, you can feel."

This is the poetic side of treehouses -- the side that fires the imagination of TreeHouse Workshop co-owner Pete Nelson, whom Jacob dubs the "poster boy" of the treehouse movement.

Blond and boyishly handsome at 45, Nelson is a talented designer who still retains a wide-eyed, gee-whiz enthusiasm for the magic of tree-borne structures.

"They're sacred spaces, really," he said.

At one time, he even dreamed of housing his family in a series of interconnected treehouses. His wife, Judy -- worried about the safety of their three kids -- said no.

By 1994, Nelson was turning out full-color coffee-table books that helped popularize what was then a quietly unfolding trend. The most recent of his four books, "Treehouses of the World," was published by Abrams in 2004.

But treehouses were just his sideline until a couple of years ago, when Nelson left his career as a spec-home builder in Seattle to pursue treehouses full time.

"When you get the fever," he said, "it's pretty all-consuming."

John Rouches, who was Nelson's partner in P.J. Construction, declined to go that route. He does, however, work out of a 180-square-foot treehouse office that Nelson, his Fall City neighbor, helped him build in the late 1990s. The $20,000, Craftsman-style structure has cedar shingles, double-pane wood windows, blown-in insulation and a nautical-themed interior with remilled wainscoting.

It also boasts power, cable, phone, fax, Wi-Fi, a copier, scanner, printer, computer, daybed and drafting table.

Rouches has to forgo water and plumbing, but he jokes, "There's an executive men's room right off the deck."

Founded in 1997, TreeHouse Workshop was one of the first companies to specialize in tree-borne structures. It has built or remodeled about 100 treehouses in 29 states and several countries and expects to do nearly a million dollars in business this year.

Their average project costs $85,000 to $100,000 -- sometimes much more -- partly because of the increasingly rare, second-use beams and planks that go into them.

"What we're being asked to do," Nelson said, "is in the very high end of woodworking."

Jacob said the demand for upscale treehouses comes from well-heeled baby boomers with fond memories of childhood treehouses of the 1950s and '60s. Longing for a simpler time -- but not necessarily a simpler treehouse -- they're raising these retreats "to the comfort level of their lifestyle today."

One client, identified only as a record producer in Magnolia, hired them to build a wine and cigar retreat, complete with flat-screen TV. The owner is keeping it under wraps in hopes of shopping it to Architectural Digest or another of the glossies, which won't touch it if it first gets written about somewhere else.

Another client -- this one in the Midwest -- has been chewing on the idea of a cigar retreat, too, but the technical drawbacks have him stumped and the project is on hold.

"He wanted it quite high," Jacob said, "but then, when he realized it was going to be 35 feet of vertical stairs -- maybe some of the gents didn't want to do that. Maybe they didn't want to pee over the side."

As for building it -- no problem. Jacob, 55, who works out of the Port Townsend area, is a make-it-happen guy who was trained in marine engineering and has expertise in rigging and structural mechanics.

"I'm constantly exploring how we can get structures into trees," he said.

TreeHouse Workshop has collaborated on occasion with New York artist and treehouse designer Roderick Romero of Sky Cries Mary, the former Seattle-based indie rock band. One of their joint projects was a treehouse for actor Val Kilmer.

Jacob likens upscale treehouses to RVs and well-appointed boats. But they're still so new and unconventional that lenders, insurers, real estate agents -- even phone directories -- don't know what to make of them.

"We've occasionally not been able to proceed on a job," Jacob said, "because we've discovered how difficult it is to insure these structures."

He said real estate people tend to worry that a treehouse -- like a swimming pool -- will narrow a home's appeal, but some agents have been pleasantly surprised. "I've even had a Realtor call me back and say, 'Your treehouse is what sold the property,' " he said.

On the down side, treehouses may need occasional nip-and-tuck retrofitting as the supporting trees thicken with age.

Rouches said he finds his tree-borne office hard to keep clean because "you've got a lot of bugs and squirrels." When the wind blows, he jumps ship because the sway feels "a little insecure."

Even so, he'd build it again because treehouses, literally, give you a new perspective on life. "It's a nice place that I can retreat to," he said, "and apply myself to my work."


Whether you're an aspiring do-it-yourselfer or prefer to leave it to the pros, there are books, classes and Web sites that can help. Here are a few:

"Treehouses & Playhouses You Can Build," by David and Jeanie Stiles (Gibbs Smith, $19.95). Step-by-step instructions for the average do-it-yourselfer.

www.treehouseguide.com: Building tips, links to plans, treehouse articles and forum.

www.treehouseworkshop.com: Services include design, consultation, construction and occasional instructional workshops. Site has a cool treehouse gallery, some dos and don'ts of construction and helpful links.

www.treehouses.org: Forever Young Treehouses, a non-profit in Vermont, builds wheelchair-accessible treehouses around the country.

www.treesolutions.net: Scott Baker, a registered consulting arborist, is part of the staff at Seattle-based Tree Solutions Inc. Services include treehouse consultation.

www.treehouses.com: Reserve lodging at Michael Garnier's Out 'n' About Treesort in Takilma, Ore., sign up for a building course at his Treehouse Institute or enroll in the World Treehouse Conference. The site also offers construction tips and sells plans, specialized materials and Garnier Limb hardware ($85).


Seattle's building code treats treehouses as play equipment, so permits generally aren't required. But exceptionally large ones could spark land-use issues, so check with the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (www.seattle.gov/dpd) if you plan to exceed 120 square feet.

King County generally doesn't require permits for family-fun treehouses of 200 square feet or less. But you'll need a permit if you intend to live in your treehouse or use it for commercial ventures. (www.metrokc.gov/permits)



Ad astra!

To the stars!

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 12:38 AM
(l) (l)

Breathe new life into vintage items

By Claire Whitcomb, Primary Color

Article Last Updated: 08/22/2007 08:47:55 PM MDT

If you want to live the good life and lessen your environmental footprint at the same time, start by treasure-hunting at your local salvage yards. You'll find everything from flooring and doors to newel posts and the proverbial kitchen sink.

The ultimate in sustainable chic, salvage is being discovered by more and more decorators, says Brian D. Coleman, whose latest eco-style book is "Details: How to Design With Architectural Salvage and Antiques" (Gibbs Smith, $21.95).

Price is one reason. A vintage lamp can be rewired for a song, and a 1930s sink is generally cheaper than a modern reproduction.

But character counts as well. Think how different a stair rail looks when you make it out of old garden fencing. Or how interesting a bathroom is when you outfit it with mirrors from an old barber shop.

Here are Coleman's tips for incorporating recycling into your decor:

Instead of buying new kitchen cabinets, collect an assortment of old ones and paint them a single color. Add distinctive knobs like the vintage ones you can find at crowncityhardware.com or discoverys.net - and you'll create a stylish, un-cookie-cutter kitchen.

Turn an old shop counter into a kitchen island. Or create an island by cobbling together a collection of cabinets and chests of drawers. Paint them a single color and top them with a salvaged piece of marble or butcher block.

"Panel" your walls with beautiful old doors. The pocket doors that were once standard issue in Victorian houses are particularly easy to recycle as paneling.

Reuse decorative windows. Incorporate them into new construction or simply hang them in front of modern thermal windows. Old stained glass looks particularly beautiful when it is set on a window sill.

Give schoolroom fixtures a new life. A pull-down map makes a great window shade, and a vintage globe can be turned into a shade for a hanging light fixture.

Instead of buying new bookcases made with veneer or particle board, have a carpenter build bookcases using sturdy vintage lumber and door trim.

Be creative with lighting. If you find a beautiful cast-iron trivet, hang it on the wall as a decorative sconce. Or wire old lamp parts together for a one-of-a-kind chandelier.

Turn an old dresser into a bathroom vanity. It's easy to drop in an old sink and add vintage faucets. The latter can be easily repacked and refitted by someone who restores old faucets and hardware.

Appreciate the imperfections in vintage sinks.

"I put a vase over one spot on my bathroom sink," Coleman confesses. "But part of the charm of old pieces is that they have wear and patina."

And don't be discouraged if your plumber says he can't install an old bathroom or kitchen sink.

"That just means he doesn't want to," Coleman says. "Styles of sinks may have changed, but most plumbing functions have remained constant over time."

Beware of reporcelainized sinks.

"Honestly, they don't wear well," Coleman says. But don't worry about cracks in slate or soapstone. They can be successfully sealed.

Customize a refrigerator by covering it with vintage pressed ceiling tiles. The texture is great in a sleek modern kitchen.

Sometimes you can't buy enough old tile for projects such as backsplashes. Mix old tile with new and you'll have patina plus pattern.

Make your own medicine cabinet. Coleman used the space between the studs in his bathroom to create recessed shelves. He added hinges on the side and attached a mirror in a burled walnut frame.

Search the Web. Some good salvage sites are webwilson.com, oldegoodthings.com and citysalvage.com.

Don't wait for things to end up at a salvage yard. Watch newspaper ads to see if buildings are being demolished. When you spot something that's too beautiful for a landfill, rescue it. If it doesn't work in your house, post it on eBay or Craigslist.



De gustibus non est disputandum.

In matters of taste there is no dispute.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 12:39 AM
(y) (y)

Bionic boomers

As we live longer and work out more, we push our bodies to their limits, but medical marvels are enabling us to stay in the game longer.

By Linda J. Buch

Special to The Denver Post

Article Last Updated: 08/19/2007 04:25:19 PM MDT

Baby boomers have got "game." They also have sore shoulders, injured knees, painful hips, aching feet, twitchy elbows, stiff fingers and gnarly backs, often from trying to stay in the game for too long.

"Science has done a great job extending our life span," says Nicholas DiNubile, an orthopedic surgeon in Havertown, Pa., who invented the term "boomeritis."

"But we have not extended the warranty on our frame or musculoskeletal system, and things break down," he says.

Boomers are the first generation to attempt - in droves - to remain active on aging frames, says DiNubile, author of "FrameWork: Your 7-Step Program for Healthy Muscles, Bones and Joints" (Rodale).

"Years of pounding sports, like running, basketball, aggressive skiing and soccer, break down cartilage, making it thinner and thinner until you are bone-on-bone. Then arthritis sets in as a result," says Dr. Jan Leo, an orthopedic surgeon in Littleton.

How well Rob Phillipe knows that. A commercial real estate developer in Frisco, Phillipe, 57, is one of those people who used to ski all winter and bike all summer.

Until three years ago, that is, when just an hour of his favorite sports caused him pain (precipitated in part by surgery he had when he was 6 years old). His pain level was increasing along with the amount of medication he took until he decided to have his hip replaced.

"Now I am a walking, skiing, and biking miracle," Phillipe says. "This was a really big lifestyle-changing surgery for me."

While rehabilitation was largely on his own via a series of strengthening exercises from a physical therapist, he had no problem with being on crutches for a month of nonweight bearing, followed by another month of crutches with gradual weight bearing. "Lack of pain was my rehab. Suddenly I can do what I want again," he says.

As Phillipe's case demonstrates, there's often an initial "mismatch between what the mind wants to do and what the body can do," says Dr. Ted Parks, a Denver surgeon who specializes in joint replacement.

But that doesn't mean you have to give up.

Ignoring one doctor's advice to stop skiing expert slopes, drop her competitive USTA tennis activity and give up golf, Bar Chadwick instead had knee surgery after an injury in 1999.

"I told them I did not want to stop. I wanted it fixed," says Chadwick, 56, a project manager for the city of Denver.

After eight weeks of rehabilitation following surgery on her anterior cruciate ligament, she was back at full activity. A second surgery was required in June 2006. She was again encouraged to slow down but chose to push herself through a painful 11 months of rehab (done largely on her own after two weeks with a professional).

Her knee is stronger, but she still feels the pain. "Arthritis is a given, but as long as I keep exercising consistently it will stay strong," Chadwick says.

Aging athletes are able to keep going largely thanks to advancements in the technology of joint replacement, yet nothing beats what Mother Nature originally gave you.

"We are able to push the limits further than we have ever been able to before, but these devices still have serious limitations when it comes to high-impact activities such as running regularly on hard surfaces," DiNubile says.

Parks also sounds a cautionary note to people who expect that the replacement knees and hips will function perfectly. "People can regain activities," Parks says, "but we are still at science, not fiction. The current technology is high-tech enough to allow patients to still be active; it just may be better to cycle or swim instead of running marathons."

Hollynd Hoskins, 42, is among those who have gone from intense sports including soccer, rugby and football to the less punishing pursuits of cycling and weightlifting - but only after four surgeries that spanned 20 years.

"Surgery in 1982 meant the big zippers (before arthroscopic techniques, large incisions had to be made on the leg), five-day hospitalization and morphine," she recalls.

Less-invasive and more-advanced procedures followed, including ACL surgery, a patella tendon graft and a cartilage transplant.

"I am trying to hold off on knee replacement with joint lubrication injections and strengthening exercises," says Hoskins, a lawyer who continues to do long bicycling events like the weeklong Ride the Rockies tour each June.

Parks emphasizes the need to either get into or maintain good physical condition, especially before a surgery. "Rehabilitation takes longer the more deconditioned you are," he says. "Better shape equals better response to treatment equals a faster rehabilitation and a better and more complete recovery."

Tobi Watson, 60, a retired accountant, had knee replacement surgery a year ago. She found rehabilitation to be an almost full-time job.

"I really, really worked hard getting myself in shape before the surgery, as well as after the replacement," Watson says.

She worked out twice a week at the gym with a trainer and worked three times a week with a physical therapist. She continues to do something every day, adding twice-weekly Pilates to her twice-weekly training sessions; and bike riding (or other cardiovascular activity) the other days.

Dr. Andrew Robinson, an internist for Kaiser Permanente, says that complaints about sore joints account for 10-15 percent of all visits to primary-care physicians.

"Many of the problems can be initially diagnosed and treated by general internists, often with the help of physical therapists," he says. Many injuries can be treated with rest, ice (or in some cases, heat), compression, intermittent elevation, gentle stretching followed by more focused rehabilitative exercises, massage, as well as pain relieving or anti-inflammatory medications.

"Patients can usually return to normal activities anywhere from one to 12 weeks from the onset," Robinson says.

Leo notes that age can affect the blood supply to the connective tissue, tendons and ligaments, and boomers need to train accordingly. She recommends lifting weights to strengthen the muscles and the bones.

"When you use muscle, the muscle will demand blood supply; this also helps tendons and ligaments get blood supply. Anything that will increase the blood flow without pounding the cartilage is good." She endorses walking, snowshoeing, bicycling and gliding sports (such as in-line skating) instead of running and skiing.

Joint resolutions

In 2003, according to statistics from the American Association for Orthopaedic Surgeons, baby boomers had:

20 percent of the 220,000 hip replacements

15 percent of the knee replacements.

Joint-transplant surgery has grown to a $10 billion a year industry in the U.S. 478,000 knee replacements were performed in 2004, compared with 209,000 just 10 years earlier.

Between 1994 and 2004:

Shoulder replacements tripled, and hip replacements nearly doubled

Demand for knee replacements alone is projected to increase more than 600 percent in 25 years.

For more information:

"FrameWork: Your 7-Step Program for Healthy Muscles, Bones and Joints," by Nicholas DiNubile, M.D., Rodale Press, 2005, www.drnick.com

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 6300 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018-4262; 847-823-7186; www.aaos.org


(y) (y)


Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 12:40 AM
(l) (l) (l)

Sierras by saddle

By Hugo Martin

Los Angeles Times

Article Last Updated: 08/18/2007 05:14:01 PM MDT

Campers fire up some conversation on a Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit trip. (Los Angeles Times / Spencer Weiner)

The smell of steaks sizzling on a campfire grill wafted through tamarack and Jeffrey pines as the sun set over the saw-toothed crest of Duck Pass in the eastern Sierra Nevada about 8 miles south of Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

We sat on folding chairs around the crackling fire, sipping beer, while our cook prepared a dinner of surprising delicacy. Surprising, because in the heart of the John Muir Wilderness, 10,000 feet above sea level, this bespectacled man had conjured a tasty, three-course meal, capped by a freshly baked pineapple upside-down cake and kettle-brewed coffee filtered through a tube sock.

In a nearby meadow, the horses and mules that carried us and our camping gear to the shores of Purple Lake grazed peacefully. It's the only way to get here - unless you hike.

As darkness closed in on the last night of our four-day pack trip, I thought about the poor fools who made the trek on foot to these high-country woods. On the dusty trails, we trotted past them as they politely shuffled out of our way. Some smiled and waved happily. Others held their noses because of the stench and dust we kicked up.

Equestrians and pedestrians have shared trails in the Sierras for more than 100 years, but the relationship has become strained of late as the two sides quarrel over the effect horses and mules are having on the wilderness. As I dozed off under a million shimmering stars in late August, I wondered whether I was witnessing some of the last days of mule packs in the Sierras.

Outfitters began in 1915

My trip began at an old wooden bunkhouse that once served as the post office for Mammoth City, an 1870s mining camp near the shores of Lake Mary. The mining camp is long gone, replaced by horse and mule stables a few miles outside the ski resort of Mammoth Lakes.

It was within this shady pine forest that a rancher's son named Lloyd Summers started Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit in 1915, making it one of the oldest in California.

This is where I met John Summers, Lloyd's grandson. He now runs the outfit out of the weatherworn shack. Summers has a graying goatee and hands so rough you could strike a match on them. Ten years ago, he got fed up with the construction business and took over the outfit launched by his grandfather.

At the stables, the head wrangler - a bowlegged cowboy with a Fu Manchu mustache - paired me with Dillon, a 12-year-old quarter horse with a chocolate-brown hide. Nearby, other wranglers took my camping equipment, along with the food and gear for the 11 other guests, and strapped it all onto several stocky, grizzled mules.

We headed out on a 5-mile ride along the John Muir Trail to our campsite near Purple Lake. I immediately saw why pack trips are taking heat. Decades of horseshoes and mule hoofs had turned this historic trail into a deep channel - rocky and dusty, like a dried creek bed.

High in the saddle, we rode past half a dozen clear-water lakes, each more dazzling than the last. Skelton Lake was aqua-green, bordered by a red, rocky mountain. Duck Lake was vibrant blue with a flat green meadow on one shore and pine groves on the other.

At the top, we crested 10,427-foot Duck Pass and looked down on Cascade Valley, the result of a glacial movement about a million years ago. At 2 p.m., we reached our base camp, near the shores of Purple Lake.

Base camp is the domain of Del "Cookie" Andrus, a cheerful guy with a white mustache, thick glasses and a wide-brim cowboy hat. As we rode in, he was preparing dinner: meatloaf he had cooked back at headquarters and would reheat at the campsite in a cast-iron Dutch oven.

Despite our remote setting - no electricity, no running water and no bathrooms - I knew at least I wouldn't go hungry.

A civilized campsite

As the sun broke over the purple mountain, we awoke to the smell of eggs, bacon and pancakes. Camp consisted of a fire ring with a grill and a tall canvas and aluminum-frame tent that housed Andrus' cooking gear. Summers and his crew have been bringing guests to this site for years.

About 50 yards away was a clearing where the wranglers fed and cared for the animals.

The camp seemed so organized and civilized, making me wonder whether the critics might have a reason to complain. Isn't this supposed to be a wilderness, a place "where the Earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain"? That's how the Wilderness Act of 1964 characterizes wild places.

But my thoughts were interrupted by a wrangler hollering, "Let's go!"

A few of us had planned a day-long ride to the bottom of Cascade Valley to a spot called Fish Creek. Purple Lake drains into the valley by way of several waterfalls. We saddled our horses and rode the switchback trails, following the waterfalls to the valley.

After a hot but relaxing day of trout fishing, we rode back to camp for dinner.

Nearby, in the meadow where the horses were grazing in the fading evening light, I found Summers drinking a beer next to a stream. Earlier, he had dropped a couple of six-packs into a gunnysack and submerged them into the cold water. I popped open a can and listened to him recount the history of packs in the Sierra Nevada.

It began, he said, in the 1800s, when ranchers drove sheep and cattle into the mountains. In those days, the mule packs transported people and supplies between Mammoth City and a place called Fresno Flats. Back then, the packs were a way of life - as automobiles are today - and the Pacific Crest and John Muir trails were the main thoroughfares. Anyone who settled in the Sierras relied on mule packs for tools, medicine and clothes - their very survival.

Summers thinks he is keeping alive a part of history by bringing campers to the Sierras to experience the wilderness the way Muir saw it.

But that vision was dealt a blow in 2000 when a group of northern California hikers and environmentalists sued the U.S. Forest Service, claiming the agency had approved permits for pack companies in the John Muir and Ansel Adams wildernesses without considering the damage.

The charge was that horses and mules eroded the trails, overgrazed the meadows and left manure piles on the paths. A federal court agreed and imposed restrictions in 2001 on the number of guests, horses and mules, and the time they spend in the backcountry.

Summers shook his head. Because of the restrictions, he said, pack outfits have had to increase their rates. He thinks some outfits might go out of business. (Peter Browning, spokesman for the High Sierra Hikers Association, the main plaintiff in the case, said the group didn't want to ban the outfits but simply wanted reasonable restrictions to preserve the wilderness.)

We had mounted up early the third day of our trip for a 6-mile ride through the valley, after a hearty breakfast of biscuits and gravy prepared in Andrus' oven. Summers led the group, narrating the ride with historical references dating to the Pleistocene epoch. Right after lunch, we came upon a meadow with blossoming wildflowers and lush, knee-high grass. The meadow is bordered by Fish Creek, a steep mountain and pine groves.

Summers motioned to the green expanse that rippled with each gust of wind. This was the meadow that the lawsuit claimed was "devoid of vegetation due to intensive use by pack stock." The lawsuit cited the meadow as key evidence of the damage caused by the pack companies.

An irresponsible pack owner had overgrazed it nearly 20 years ago, Summers conceded, but he saw the meadow - now green and thriving - as proof of nature's resilience.

We returned to base camp that afternoon, excited to see what Andrus would prepare for the trip's epicurean climax.

It featured that upside-down pineapple cake. First, he melted butter and brown sugar in the Dutch oven. Then, he laid down a bed of pineapple slices and topped that with cake batter. While the cake baked, he grilled steaks over the campfire and heated baked beans on a popane grill. After 35 minutes, the cake was done.

I thought about the hikers in the wilderness who didn't have the benefit of our sturdy mules to carry heavy cooking utensils, gas ranges and frozen meat. Instead of sizzling steaks and cold beer, they sat down to freeze-dried pasta, granola bars and filtered water.

As the sun set over the jagged crest of Duck Pass, a dozen of us ate in near silence. Words would have only ruined the moment.

The details

On the all-inclusive trips, the mules carry up to 30 pounds per person.

Outfitter provides horses, food, drinks, cooking equipment, dishes, lanterns, portable toilet. You provide clothes, a tent, sleeping bag, day pack, sunscreen, toiletries, hat, hiking boots, camera, aspirin, fishing rod and tackle.

The rides run from one hour to seven days, but you also can hire a pack to drop you and your gear in the wilderness and pick you up several days later. Some outfits allow children as young as 6 with little or no riding experience. The multiday rides can be as physically demanding as a long hike.

The eastern Sierras around Mammoth Lakes are home to about 16 pack outfits. Most travel in and out of different areas of the eastern Sierras, so your choice might depend on where you want to go.

Prices range $160-$275 a day. Go to easternsierrapackers.com for a list of pack outfits.


(l) (l)


Aut disce aut discede,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 12:42 AM
(f) (f)

Susan Stanton in June after Judge Cynthia Newton approved her official name change to Susan Stanton from Steven Stanton at the Clearwater , Fla. Courthouse.


Transgender candidate pursues Tempe top spot

Katie Nelson

The Arizona Republic

Aug. 23, 2007 06:30 AM

Tempe officials have long talked the proverbial talk when it comes to being a progressive city. Now, they are being asked to take steps along that proverbial walk as the City Council chooses a new manager.

One of the 23 applying for the position is the former city manager of Largo, Fla., who was fired from that post soon after revealing an in-progress sex change.

Susan Stanton went by Steve throughout her 14-year tenure as Largo's manager. She divulged in February that she was undergoing hormone therapy and was preparing for a gender reassignment operation.

The revelation rocked Largo, a 76,000-person suburban inland community just west of Tampa. The case garnered national attention as the city's seven commissioners used a legal stipulation in Stanton's contract to fire her without cause in a 5-2 vote.

Stanton appealed the dismissal, unsuccessfully, and has since applied for city manager jobs in Sarasota, Fla. and Berkeley, Calif., according to news reports. In the meantime, her name has risen on the national radar: Presidential candidate John Edwards was asked about his views on her situation during a debate.

Tempe officials would not confirm Stanton is a job candidate because they are not disclosing any names except the finalists. Multiple attempts to reach Stanton were unsuccessful. Several City Hall sources identified her as an applicant.

The City Council will start choosing the finalists Monday at an 8:30 a.m. closed-door executive session.

Whether or not Stanton makes that finalist list, that she applied at all shines a light on Arizona equality laws. Tempe is among only three Arizona cities that protect transgender people with a non-discrimination policy.

That's at least part of the reason Stanton applied to Tempe, said Tempe Diversity Manager Rose Inchausti, who said she heard about Stanton's plans through a member of the Tempe community.

"Tempe is big on being appreciated and being valued as an individual," Inchausti said. "I've been here 15 years and I can tell you I wouldn't do this job if we ever wavered on that and we don't. People will have a fair shake at this (city manager) position."

Phoenix and Tucson are the only other cities to pinpoint "gender identity" in addition to "sexual orientation" in legal protection language, according to information collected by Equality Arizona, a statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization. Neither the state nor the federal government specifically protects transgender people.

"It's a much harder subject for the community at large to get on board with," said Kyrsten Sinema, a state House representative who works closely with Arizona's gay community organizations.

Tempe's non-discrimination policy was written by Inchausti's city diversity office, which was formed five years ago.

Tempe is also the home of Arizona's first and only openly gay mayor. Neil Giuliano - now head of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation - was forced into outing himself two years into his 10 as mayor.

"It was . . . by a very vocal faction of religious extremists," Giuliano said. "Tempe has moved so far beyond that since then and so far beyond accepting that kind of bigotry and blatant intolerance for other people in the community. Tempe is night and day back from what it was in 1996."

Members of the gay advocacy community say they will watch Tempe's city manager selection process closely.

"Tempe has always shown leadership in the Valley when it comes to those (gay community) issues," said Barbara McCullough-Jones, a Tempe resident and the head of Equality Arizona. "I'm thrilled she wants to come here. I think it's great. It gives us yet another opportunity to walk the talk and not just put these things in policy and never have them put it to the test."


(y) (y) (y)


Vive Ut Vitas!!

Live, so that you may live." or "Live life to the fullest.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 12:43 AM
8-| 8-|

'Heroes' cast prepares for new season, DVD release

Bob Bloom

(Lafayette, Ind.) Journal & Courier

Aug. 21, 2007 12:00 AM

They've saved the cheerleader and saved the world - at least for now.

But superheroes can never rest. So the cast of "Heroes," last season's breakout new series, faces two daunting tasks: maintaining the same quality of work for season two and preparing for the first season's release on DVD.

To promote the latter, creator Tim Kring and cast members Masi Oka (Hiro) and Hayden Panettiere (Claire, the cheerleader) spoke by phone during a teleconference to discuss the DVD as well as the second season.

Both Oka and Panettiere were sketchy about what to expect in the upcoming season, which they are currently shooting, except to discuss generalizations about the growth of their characters and their search for how to best use and control their powers.

After listening to Oka, it is easy to understand why his character is so popular. Several times during the conference call, when Kring was discussing some of the bonus features in the seven-disc DVD set, Oka interrupted and in an announcer-like voice, began hawking the set, saying it will hit stores on Aug. 28 and is loaded with extras.

Kring says plans for the DVD release began early. The set will contain a lot of behind-the-scenes extras, including a segment on the show's special effects, as well as deleted scenes and commentary tracks.

"Our core audience is very savvy about these kind of things," Kring says. He wants "a DVD that reflects the nature of the show. We are aiming very high with this."

The set also will be released in high-def DVD, he says, adding that it will feature tremendous capability. People will be able to "navigate onto the Web to collect various materials and games."

Oka says he is excited that the show's original pilot, which was cut, will be included.

Kring concurred, saying that some storylines that had to be cut are reinstated. "It gives tremendous insight into the original impetus of the story."

For Panettiere, who was watching one of the DVDs during the interview, the commentaries and deleted scenes are special. The set contains about 50 deleted scenes, which, she says, "are fun to watch. You totally forget how many scenes were deleted."

In an hour show, "you have such limited time to explain the information the audience needs to know."

She, too, enjoyed the expanded pilot episode. "It explains more about characters, goes more in-depth."

Oka, Panettiere and the rest of the cast are currently shooting the first few episodes of the second season. But many of them are taking time off to go on international tours to promote season two and the DVD.

Oka is among those going to Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong, while Panettiere is in the group going to Munich, Paris and London.

Any regrets?

Oka, though, had one regret. Kring would not buy into his ideas for either "Heroes: The Musical" or "Heroes on Ice."

Perhaps, if he teleports into the future, that's one of his dreams that also can come true.




Semper ubi sub ubi.

Always wear underwear. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 12:45 AM
(l) (l) (l) (l) (l)


No. 1: Grand Canyon

One of the seven natural wonders of the world is a four-hour drive from Phoenix. At more than 1.2 million acres in size, the Canyon has so much to see and do that the options can seem as overwhelming as the view.


The countdown so far ...

No. 50: Swansea - A reviving ghost town

Despite the site's formidable access road, tourists and history buffs have been coming to Swansea from around the world for decades. Every year, 3,500 to 5,000 people explore the miners' barracks, slag heaps and smelter ruins. An iron fence surrounds the main shaft, which is 1,200 feet deep.


No. 49: Summer celebrations in White Mountains

The White Mountains sprawl across eastern Arizona, a land of rugged peaks, tall pines and lovely lakes. Other than the San Francisco Peaks, it is the highest mountain range in Arizona, with several peaks topping out at more than 11,000 feet.


No. 48: Shake, rattle and roll at South Mountain

South Mountain Park is one of the great recreational resources of the Valley. With more than 50 miles of multiuse trails crisscrossing more than 16,000 acres of rugged desert beauty, the park is adored by hikers, bikers and horseback riders alike.


No. 47: Camelback Inn endures

Marriott's Camelback Inn lies between two of the Valley's signature mountains and smack in the middle of many locals' hearts. Nominated as one of 50 favorite places in Arizona by readers, the 70-year-old resort has played host to movie stars, business tycoons, political leaders and legions of tourists, but the hometown crowd is among the most loyal clientele.


No. 46: Playing Arizona

Arizona and Las Vegas casinos both offer the chance to win and lose large amounts of money, but ours are different from the Vegas brethren. Arizona's are scattered around the state, rather than being concentrated on or near a strip and downtown. However, there are advantages to the Arizona experience.


No. 45: Rustic fantasy

Wouldn't it be great to have a cabin tucked away in the mountains or hidden in the forest? For most of us, that's a fantasy. But thanks to the "Rooms With a View" program run by the Forest Service, the dream can become a reality, at least for a day or two.


No. 44: Walking in beauty

After writing four Arizona hiking guides and hiking thousands of miles on hundreds of trails in the past dozen years, I still discover hidden jewels. But some trails linger in my mind's eye and keep me coming back. Here's a selection of the 10 most scenic trails.


No. 43: Arizona Strip remote wonderland of beauty

Arizona is full of remote, backcountry beauty. No place, though, is quite as remote or difficult to reach, or, arguably, more beautiful than the Arizona Strip, a 5 million-acre swath of splendor between the Colorado River and the Utah line.


No. 42: Santa Cruz's little acre

Besides birds, Santa Cruz County also is well known for destinations such as the arts colony at Tubac and the old mission at Tumacacori. It's a county rich with lesser-known destinations, too, such as the Amado Territorial Inn that houses restaurants and artist studios.


No. 41: Sizzling summer resorts

Scorching triple-digit weather means triple-digit savings in the neighborhood of $200 to $1,000 a night at some Valley resorts. Stay at resorts during the off-season, now through September, and experience how celebrities, presidents and the wealthy live - without spending what they spend.


No. 40: Sycamore's secret splendor

Sycamore Canyon may be the best place in Arizona you never heard of. The second-largest canyon in the state - 20 miles long and, in places, seven miles wide - slices through the Mogollon Rim just a dozen miles northwest of Sedona. It has been described as Oak Creek Canyon without the people.


No. 39: 2 mountain hamlets lure big-city refugees

Leave the hustle and bustle of city life - and the triple-digit heat - and head north to experience the neighboring mountain communities of Pine and Strawberry. Just 15 miles north of Payson, the air is fresher and 15 degrees cooler than metropolitan Phoenix.


No. 38: A relaxing train of thought

No matter how many times you ride the Grand Canyon Railway or the Verde Canyon Railroad, there's something different to see. And there's always a new group of guests eager to explore another area of the state.


No. 37: Jerome strikes it rich with art

Jerome draws visitors with its Old West history and sends them away with a healthy appreciation for its modern-day charm. Today, the town is home to artists, writers, merchants, hippies and restaurateurs.


No. 36: Chino Valley winery

Granite Creek Vineyards is a 20-acre organic winery in Chino Valley, a town known more for its mishmash of farms, retirement villas and sandstone pits than Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.


No. 35: Mount Lemmon lifts desert-baked spirits

Mount Lemmon is a cool place - literally (the daytime temperature rarely gets higher than 80 degrees), figuratively (as in "Cool!") and superlatively ("Way cool!").


No. 34: Tonto Bridge a natural high

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park features picnic areas, four steep trails into the gorge, paved paths near the parking lot, designated viewpoints and herds of javelinas.


No. 33: Undergound fantasy

Kartchner Caverns State Park is 2-1/2 miles of nearly unrivaled wonders and as magnificent as that big hole in the ground north of Flagstaff. It's the Grand Canyon with a lid.


• Arizona's other fantastic caves


No. 32: Canyon de Chelly awes

There are several ways to view the labyrinth, and they're all good, because the canyon is one of those spectacular creations that have no bad side. The south rim drive alone seven wondrous overlooks.


No. 31: Riordan Mansion, a treasure in the pines

Visitors will see a home filled with the Riordans' belongings — from flypaper to luggage. Their furnishings include nearly pristine, now priceless, handcrafted chairs, tables and rockers by Gustav Strickley.


No. 30: Chiricahua Mountains

In few places on Earth are the forces of geology on such extravagant display as in the Chiricahua Mountains, in the southeastern corner of the state.


• Ariz. a wonderland of stone formations


No. 29: Apache Trail to 3 Lakes

The trail's saguaro-covered hills and deep canyons stretch for miles, broken by red-rock cliffs and hoodoos. The area remains a favorite among local sightseers, boaters, hikers and anglers.


No. 28: Petrified Forest National Park

Visitors to the vast park (its boundaries, extended in 2004, encompass 218,533 acres) will see the petrified remains of trees that grew here millions of years ago.


No. 27: Grand Canyon's Phantom Ranch

Nestled along Bright Angel Creek at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch is one of the world's premier destinations. And for good reason.


No. 26: Picacho Peak

The redundantly named Picacho Peak ("peak" in Spanish is picacho) rises abruptly from the desert floor between Phoenix and Tucson and for centuries has served as a landmark for explorers.


No. 25: Havasu Falls, a watery gem

Little else matters, especially not the lawn that needs mowing or office desk buried with work, as I recline against a warm, smooth rock after a swim in the turquoise-hued pools of Havasu Creek.


No. 24: Monument Valley towers in lore

We know it from the movies as John Ford's favorite stage. And yet Monument Valley feels like the most foreign of places, even exotic - if such things still can be said about a large piece of our map.


No. 23: Desert Botanical Garden rewards patient visitors

This 67-year-old Arizona treasure hosts events from the annual Music in the Garden concert series to winter holiday evenings that feature thousands of candlelighted luminaries.


No. 22: Canyon Ranch Spa

Voted best spa by Condé Nast Traveler magazine 10 times, Canyon Ranch may be the best-known resort of its type in America. It's been a leader among destination spas in combining health and fitness, and it employs 3 staff members for every guest to ensure that customers leave happy.


No. 21: Offbeat Sedona

Had enough of viewing Sedona's red rock beauty and searching for bargains at Tlaquepaque? Don't leave yet. There are lesser-known, hidden-away places that are well worth exploring. And they don't cost nearly as much as a foray into the upscale attractions.


No. 20: The sky's the gimmick at Benson inn

At the Astronomers Inn in Benson, stargazers can stay all night and examine the heavens through a variety of telescopes, then enjoy a hearty breakfast the next morning.


No. 19: Globe-Miami renaissance

The twin mining towns of Globe and Miami are becoming destinations for Valley travelers, not just a passage to the White Mountains. The communities lay claim to spectacular views in the foothills of the Pinal Mountains and provide a glimpse into the state's rich mining history.


No. 18: Sabino Canyon

There's no off-season in Sabino Canyon, a desert oasis and spectacular canyon at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains northeast of Tucson.


No. 17: Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle, a five-level cliff dwelling in a limestone alcove above Beaver Creek near Camp Verde. The structure was home to Sinagua people more than 600 years ago. It's one of three well-known ruins in the Verde Valley, about 90 miles north of Phoenix. Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well and Tuzigoot National Monument make a scenic and informative day trip from the Valley.


No. 16: Old West comes alive in Wickenburg

Wickenburg is near the Hassayampa River, a rich riparian area that has sheltered the Yavapai Indians, lured there by its fertile planting ground. Gold wooed miners. Clear skies, uncluttered mountain views and the Sonoran Desert lure Valley visitors, who can escape urban life, journey into the state's historic past and still make it home before sunset.


No. 15: Delightful bookshop in Benson

For more than 20 years, Singing Wind Bookshop has been delighting its visitors, not just from Arizona but also from around the world. Charmingly, the bookstore is plunked in the middle of a cattle ranch just north of Benson.


No. 14: Southern Arizona's 'White Dove'

Nine miles south of Tucson, the towers of San Xavier del Bac Mission rise unexpectedly from the sun-baked desert floor. Nestled in the Santa Cruz Valley, the mission is one of the state's gems.


No. 13: Lake Havasu hums year-round

Forget London Bridge and spring break. The real fun of Lake Havasu lies, surprise, in the lake. From boating to scuba diving to wakeboarding, visitors to Lake Havasu have myriad choices when it comes to water-related activities.


No. 12: Old West meets art scene in Scottsdale

Downtown Scottsdale covers a lot of territory historically, from remnants of the Old West farming community founded in 1888 by Army chaplain Winfield Scott to the contemporary art interspersed with traditional pieces in galleries around Main Street and Marshall Way.


No. 11: El Presidio Historic District

Walking through El Presidio, Tucson's historic, geographic and psychic center, you'll see vibrant reminders of a past that's still celebrated.


No. 1-10: Your top spots in Arizona


Main Article:


(l) (l) (l)


(k) (k) 's,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 12:47 AM

Ann Taylor Loft

A model wears a gray shirtdress in this photo provided by Ann Taylor Loft. Fall fashion this year is about a proper suit, long leather gloves, an oxford shoe or a power pump, and a structured handbag.


Structured style

Samantha Critchell

Associated Press

Aug. 22, 2007 12:00 AM

NEW YORK - OK, it's time to get serious.

Fall fashion this year is about a proper suit, long leather gloves, an oxford shoe or a power pump, and a structured handbag. It completes the 180-degree revolution away from the loose and carefree bohemian styles that were all the rage mere seasons ago.

The word that best defines the new look is polished - which is, of course, an old look.

"It really is a head-to-toe look with matching handbags and shoes. When was the last time we saw that?" says Sandra Wilson, accessories fashion director at Neiman Marcus. "We feel good about ourselves when we dress like this. It just looks right. There's no more messiness - I feel that's the period we're in right now."

It's a reaction we've seen before: In the 1990s, for example, grunge in the early part of the decade was replaced by super-sleek styles as we headed toward the new millennium.

"We're coming off several seasons inspired by the 60s and the youthful mod look was in - babydoll and trapeze dresses all summer long. It's fun, but designers are always looking for something new and so are shoppers. The answer is a crisp, polished look," says Nicole Phelps, executive editor at Style.com. "It's a little bit 1940s with a sharply cut, nipped-waist suit. It's a little 80s with the strong shoulder."

Designer Elie Tahari thinks it's style with staying power. "Fashion always has a cyclical nature with past trends inspiring new collections. It is hard to gauge how long a cycle will last in the fashion world but the more polished, clean look is a classic one that never seems to go away."

It is, however, a dressier look than many women who've been wearing denim, loose layers and funky, chunky jewelry are used to. But it shouldn't be hard to acclimate to: This is practically a ready-made uniform to put on in the morning. The only thing missing are the personal touches.

With a suit as the centerpiece - Phelps choses a pantsuit while Lucky fashion director Hope Greenberg suggests a men's style blazer that can be worn with wide-leg cuffed trousers, a shorter skirt or a gray daytime dress - you wake up with a ready-made uniform. Just add your accessories.

"If you're afraid of the pant being too mannish, add a feminine bow-tie blouse, which are again pretty popular or something with a ruffle. Or, maybe a subtle metallic - that's a little less classic and a little edgier," says Greenberg.

Designer Tahari even thinks there is something sexy about this put-together look because it makes women feel confident. "My wife Rory is my inspiration," he says. "When she is dressing for an event, for instance, she usually bares a bit of her shoulders, decolletage or legs, never all at the same time. The best bet is to stay clean and tailored - slim fit trousers, a pencil skirt, etc. - and add sex appeal by wearing a blouse with an interesting neckline or even a sleeveless piece."

Greenberg envisions a style similar to Katharine Hepburn in "The Philadelphia Story."

"I think there's always an element every fall of classic, but I think that this fall, what makes it look modern, is it's a little less preppy and a little more sophisticated," she adds. "The twist to the blazer is that it's boxy, not fitted, and the shoe has a good substantial high heel."

Another wise purchase, she says, would be a gray dress. Women certainly showed their affinity with dresses this past spring when most retailers credited them for a boost in sales.

It's the color that's key this time around, not the shape or fabric. "It could be a heavier wool, wool jersey, even silk, just some type of sophisticated gray dress depending on what shape you are."

The nice thing about gray is that it's easy to coordinate accessories: brown, black, navy, hunter green, purple and burgundy all work.

Neiman's Wilson, thinks the most effective punctuation on an outfit will come from opaque tights; an elegant pump shoe - either peep-toe, round-toe or pointy-toe - but with a straight and substantial heel; a structured handbag in an exotic skin, gray or patent leather; a fur collar for the neck and red lipstick.

"The finishing polish in accessories would be a long glove," Wilson says. "On top of the glove could be a cuff bracelet."

And don't forget fall-favorite boots or, more important this season, booties, adds shoe designer Bettye Mueller.

"I like sort of a loafer stretch boot with a little heel or a low bootie that wraps around and is held with Velcro," she says. "You can put your pant inside of it or wear it with a dress. It's a little wide at the bottom so it stands away from leg. It's cool but polished. You look like you've made an effort," Mueller says.

Unlike other recent trends, such as the empire waists that don't flatter everyone or the teetering stiletto heels or chunky platform shoes that throw some people off balance, a neat appearance complement anyone - anywhere.

"I can't imagine a place where at least some elements wouldn't be appropriate," says Lucky's Greenberg.

The polished look also can go easy on that classy pocketbook you're carrying: "All of this is accessible, It's not just at the designer level so it's easy to find and all the pieces are easy to wear," Greenberg says. "You don't have to be especially tall or especially skinny. There are plenty of other trends when you do have to be those things."


What the experts will be wearing:

Some experts' picks for essential items for this fall's put-together look:

-Nicole Phelps, executive editor of Style.com.

The key piece is a pantsuit, says Phelps. The shape is yours: Some are streamlined and minimal, others have a very strong shoulder, while still others - especially those that likely will have a place in the spring 08 wardrobe - are a little less structured.

-Hope Greenberg, Lucky magazine fashion director.

Greenberg has a long list that includes wide-leg cuffed trousers, an oxford heel shoe, a top-handle satchel bag, a gray dress and a menswear-style boxy blazer.

"The blazer should be crisp - a little oversized but not sloppy and well fitted through the shoulder. That's why you can't wear your old one," or your boyfriend's blazer, Greenberg says.

-Bettye Mueller, shoe designer.

A straightforward, sophisticated pump shoe with a column or blocky heel is the first shoe to buy, she says. "I'm not saying a towering heel is not valid, but there's a little bit of everything out there - and that's good - but for the polished suit looks, the shoe of the moment is something with a little heavier heel."

-Sandra Wilson, accessories fashion director for Neiman Marcus.

Another fan of the pump, Wilson says it could have a peep-toe, rounded or pointy front. But she also points to short lace-up booties; opaque tights; an elegant bag either in an exotic skin or a dark-colored patent leather; red lipstick; belts to wear around the waist of your coat; and long leather gloves.

-Nicole Chavez, celebrity stylist.

"Gloves are going to be huge!" she agrees. Yes, some people will stick with shorter ones, Chavez says, but she advocates long opera-length ones to be worn with the many coats that have shorter than normal sleeves. "The glove is what will help keep you warm."




Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 12:48 AM

Attention loud cellphone talkers, overzealous horn honkers, inconsiderate cab drivers and other everyday pests. Your days may be numbered. Inventors are expanding the ranks of electronic vigilantes. These new gadgets -- from a jacket that zaps subway gropers to an ultrasonic device that silences the neighbor's dogs -- are designed to help people neutralize antisocial behavior at the push of a button.

Revenge by Gadget

Zapping subway gropers, shaming bad drivers, speeding up slow golfers. Jennifer Saranow on the growing ranks of electronic vigilantes.


August 17, 2007; Page W1 WSJ

Attention loud cellphone talkers, overzealous horn honkers, inconsiderate cab drivers and other everyday pests. Your days may be numbered.

Thanks to the falling cost of microcontroller chips and the lure of easy online sales, inventors are turning out record numbers of gadgets. One growing subset of these inventions: products that help people neutralize antisocial behavior at the push of a button.

The brains behind these devices range from entrepreneurs in suburban Los Angeles to graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A Tennessee company has created a $50 device that shuts up other people's dogs by answering their barks with an ultrasonic squeal that humans can't hear. (The unit is disguised as a birdhouse.) British inventors are exporting a new product for people who hate lousy drivers -- it's a luminescent screen that fits in a car's rear window and, at the driver's command, flashes any one of five messages to other motorists. These include a smiley face, a sad face and phrases like "Back Off" and "Idiot." (Since the product's U.S. debut, the company says it also has received several requests for images of offensive hand gestures.)


While many of these gadgets are built by small companies or basement tinkerers, the field has caught the attention of graduate students at MIT's Media Lab, where it is known as "annoyancetech." Among their recent creations: a "No-Contact Jacket" that, when activated with a controller, delivers a blast of electricity to anyone who touches the person wearing it. During a demonstration in Japan, co-creator Adam Whiton says it drew interest from women who were eager to retaliate against gropers on the subway.

"It's becoming easier for people to imagine that technology is a conduit through which they will solve all their social problems," says Christopher Csikszentmihalyi, director of the Media Lab's Computing Culture group.

Edward Tenner, a historian and author of books on the consequences of technology, says he isn't surprised that people are turning to gadgets. The idea of solving problems with a gadget rather than a direct confrontation makes more sense, he says, at a time when people are concerned about the growth of social explosions like road rage. A study published last year in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that intermittent explosive disorder -- characterized by recurrent, violent, out-of-proportion reactions -- is more common than previously thought in the U.S. and may be on the rise.

These devices are also a way for people to bridge the gap between the birth of a new form of annoyance (people driving while sending text messages, for instance) and the point at which lawmakers finally organize a response. "In those petty cracks of life is where you can see the desire for revenge is alive and well," says Michael McCullough, a professor of psychology at the University of Miami.

For inventor Michael Donine of Temecula, Calif., the problem was simple enough: His wife, Laurie, didn't approve of his habit of going to a local casino to play poker on weekday mornings -- and would regularly call his cellphone to check up on him. While sitting at the poker table one day, the 47-year-old entrepreneur lit upon a possible solution: A device that would play background sounds that could fool her into thinking he was actually somewhere else.

Excuse Booth

Mr. Donine first imagined building an "excuse booth" for patrons at casinos, nightclubs and racetracks, but dropped the idea when he realized he would have to rent a warehouse and hire employees to collect change. In October, after consulting with a Chinese manufacturer, he came out with a quicker solution -- a device the size of a keychain that plays 10 one-minute "excuse" tracks, including police sirens, a thunderstorm, airport public address announcements, an auto-repair shop and a secretary who says "Excuse me, you have an urgent call on line two."

After selling nearly 100,000 units of the "Xcuse Box," Mr. Donine says he's working on an updated version with new sounds, including a carpool of screaming and fighting children. "It's a little bit more edgy," he says.

Calum Dunan's idea came to him during a golf tournament in Scotland as he stood waiting at the tee while the group in front of him spent 15 minutes scouring the course for a lost ball. As he became increasingly frustrated, Mr. Dunan realized his problems might be solved with a gadget. He's currently working on the final prototype of "Timeball," a device with five LED lights that turn on, one by one, until a golfer has exceeded the regulation five-minute limit on looking for a lost ball. He hopes to convince golf courses to promote the device. "I do believe this is going to be a household name," he says.

Some products, like the "Outdoor Bark Control Birdhouse," which aims to quiet loud dogs, came about by accident. Though the technology has been around for five years, the manufacturer, Radio Systems of Knoxville, Tenn., initially sold it as an indoor training tool for pet owners. But the company says it began getting requests from customers for an outdoor version that could be used on annoying neighborhood dogs. When a market analysis showed 60% of consumers would welcome a covert way to shut up somebody else's canine, the company decided to proceed. Mike Taylor, a Radio Systems executive, says the company doubled the bark controller's range to 50 feet, then asked a focus group to help figure out a way to camouflage the unit so neighbors wouldn't know what it was. After flirting with fake rocks and footballs, the company settled on a somewhat unlikely design -- a brightly painted Bavarian-style birdhouse. "I was the first user," says Mr. Taylor, who says he tested the prototype on an obnoxious neighborhood German shepherd. "I'm sleeping pleasantly now."

Zap Them With Silence

Not everyone building devices like these is interested in making a buck. Phil Torrone, an editor for Make, a do-it-yourself technology magazine, was fed up with taxi drivers who blast grating music or irritating talk shows on their radios and are nearly impossible to reason with. To address the problem, he bought a product from Griffin Technology that allows people to broadcast music from their iPods over FM stations. He pulled out the antenna to increase the device's range and then downloaded a noiseless track to his iPod.

Now whenever a cab driver switches on an annoying FM station, Mr. Torrone uses his creation to zap it with silence. "I travel a lot and when you are trapped and a hostage, you start thinking of an escape plan," he says. "This is my escape plan."

The spread of these behavior-regulating devices is part of a larger invention boom. There were 442,479 new patent applications filed in the U.S. last year, nearly double the number from a decade ago. In general, any device that sells more than 100,000 units qualifies as a smashing success -- and few of them do. One of the more successful products of this kind is the TV-B-Gone -- a $20 handset that allows people to shut off loud televisions in public places like doctor's offices and bars. The manufacturer says it has posted sales of $1.5 million in nearly three years.

Many of these products are little more than practical jokes. A New Jersey company called Outrageous International has sold 300,000 golf balls loaded with magnetic gyroscopes that can be made to zig and zag on the putting green with a remote handset. While some marketing materials suggest using it "if you're being thrashed by your opponent," company spokesman Alan Sutton says its chief target is pranksters. "It's supposed to be a joke," he says.

Likewise, a British invention called the Beer Burglar Alarm -- a $12 device that attaches to a glass or bottle and uses a motion sensor to sound an alarm when anything comes within one foot -- was designed as much for laughs as for social utility. One alarm consists of a threatening voice that says "Keepa da hands off ma beer." James O'Brien, the device's inventor, says he thought up the idea in a pub. "After coming back from the toilet I found my friend drinking my beer," he explains.

According to Dr. Tenner, the technology historian, the first widely marketed "countergadget" may have been the Zenith remote control of 1950, since it was invented in part to help people skip commercials. The trend continued in the 1970s, he says, with the proliferation of radar detectors. Though illegal in the U.S., cellphone jammers have been floating around for nearly as long as cellphones.

But inventors say the current gadget boom is far more widespread. The chief difference is the falling cost of programmable microcontrollers, the integrated circuit chips that were once too expensive for small-scale production. Doug Freedman, a semiconductor-industry analyst, says these chips are smaller and more complex than just five years ago and cost about $1.50 on average, down from about $5 to $6 in 2002. At high volumes, he says, these chips can be found for as little as 75 cents each. Inventors say inexpensive Chinese manufacturers have also helped reduce production costs.

American Airlines says it has barred a nearly four-year-old product called the Knee Defender that lets airline passengers keep the seats in front of them from reclining. To guard against products like the TV-B-Gone, some business owners have removed the infrared receivers from televisions in public spaces.

In some cases, however, businesses are embracing the technology: Regal Entertainment 8 announced this May that customers in 114 of its movie theaters can ask for wireless paging devices that allow them to summon ushers or managers if someone misbehaves by pressing a "disturbance" button.

More of these products are on the way. There's an updated version of the TV-B-Gone in the works that will be powerful enough to shut off televisions from behind sheets of glass. A well-publicized British invention called "the Mosquito" that emits high-frequency sounds particularly irritating to congregations of teenagers is now being marketed in the U.S. by a company called Kids Be Gone.

Several years ago as an engineering graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, Eric Paulos built a device called the "I-Bomb" that emits an electromagnetic pulse that disables all electronics in its range (a similar device was depicted in the movie "Ocean's Eleven"). While Mr. Paulos says he has operated the I-Bomb only about half a dozen times in front of audiences -- he considers it a work of performance art -- he says he continues to get emails from would-be manufacturers and marketers and, more oddly, people who live nearby and just want to borrow it. One such message: "My neighbor is playing loud music, I just want it to stop."

Excessive Honking

If Joseph Mauriello has his way, the entire island of Manhattan will soon be a quieter place, thanks to a gadget. For 20 years in New York City, the 55-year-old says he's been disgusted by all the honking. As a tour company operator who's on the street constantly, he says he often finds it hard to hear over the clamor.

Mr. Mauriello has spent three years and tens of thousands of dollars developing the "Automobile Horn Audit System," a device that records honk stats like time, date and duration and has a GPS component to determine where the honking occurred.

He envisions it being installed in all cars in New York so that when owners bring them in for a state inspection, the data will be sent to a central office that will be empowered to assess levies on anyone who has demonstrated a pattern of excessive honking.

After drawing up blueprints and hiring a lawyer, Mr. Mauriello is waiting for a final decision from the U.S. patent office. He's already looking for a corporate partner and lobbying legislators. "It's not a matter of if this is going to be a reality," Mr. Mauriello says, "it's a matter of when."

Annoyance Armor

Here's a look at some of the gadgets inventors are developing that allow people to neutralize antisocial behavior from minor nuisances like loud cellphone talking to serious social wrongs.

A Connecticut company called Big Mouth Toys recently launched the "Cell Phoney," a keychain device that allows people to get back at cellphone addicts by mimicking their ring tones and sending them scrambling for their phones in vain.


Because "you can only make so much" as an electrical engineering consultant, Mike Kosco was always trying to come up with a product idea. Inspiration hit him one morning on his way to work two years ago. The 43-year-old from Orange County, Calif., was getting into his Hummer H1 when a group of teens heckled him about his vehicle, which has an image of the Incredible Hulk on the hood. "I wished I had a button to push to make my car growl," Mr. Kosco remembers thinking. Called Horntones, it's a $250 device that lets drivers communicate how they are feeling with sounds blasted from speakers under the hood.


Next month, Radio Systems Corp.'s PetSafe brand plans to begin selling a birdhouse-shaped device designed to emit unpleasant ultrasonic squeals when it detects a dog barking. The birdhouse design won out over other designs resembling footballs and rocks. Competitor Viatek Consumer Products is considering similar ones shaped like rocks and tree stumps.


To help a local shop owner deal with loitering and intimidating teens, Howard Stapleton, a security systems specialist in the U.K., developed a product called "the Mosquito" that emits irritating sounds at a frequency that young people still have the ability to hear. Dan Santell, who is importing the $800 device to North America under the company name "Kids Be Gone," tested it last summer at his home on the boardwalk in Newport Beach, Calif., where groups of male teens would frequently congregate and fight. When they would ask him what the noise coming from the device in his window was, "I'd say it's to keep the seagulls off the house," he says.


This device, which has been on the market nearly four years and is called the Knee Defender, lets airline passengers keep the seats in front of them from reclining. American Airlines does not allow the gadget on its flights.


Last year, Privacy Technologies stopped distributing the $50 TeleZapper, a device launched in 2001 that fooled telemarketers' automatic dialing equipment into thinking a number was disconnected and dropping the call. With the launch of the Do Not Call list, consumers "didn't see the value in the TeleZapper anymore," says company spokeswoman Jessica Gardner.


A number of years ago while in graduate school, Eric Paulos, now an Intel researcher in Berkeley, Calif., built a device called the "I-Bomb" that disables all electronics in its range, including pacemakers and computers by emitting an electromagnetic pulse. Mr. Paulos, who has only operated it about half a dozen times because of its large size and ethical concerns, still gets contacted by people who want it.


(y) (y) (y)


Ab Iove principium.

Let's start with the most important.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 12:51 AM

The house once owned by inventor Edwin Howard Armstrong, who played a crucial role in the development of FM radio, is on sale in Rye Beach, N.H. The asking price: $3.25 million.



Radio Days


August 17, 2007; Page W8

What: 1860s main house of roughly 7,500 square feet, plus outbuildings, on about 2.75 acres.

Where: Rye Beach, N.H., about 50 miles north of Boston

Amenities: Two living rooms, bay windows, media room with pool table and home theater, four-car garage with conference room and gym

Asking Price: $3.25 million

Listing Agent: Barbara Dunkle, of Carey & Giampa Realtors, 603-964-7000, ext. 145

Due Diligence: Inventor Edwin Howard Armstrong, who played a crucial role in the development of FM radio, and his wife, Marion, lived in this house, about one block from the ocean. Once a resort area, Rye Beach is now a mainly full-time residential community, Ms. Dunkle says. The current owners -- consultant Wes DeVries and his former wife, Sharon, a judge -- bought the property in the 1980s and renovated twice, including expanding the kitchen. The main floor includes a sun porch; a media and game room is on the third floor. There's an attached office extension with a galley kitchen, and the barn-style garage includes a meeting space with room for dinner seating for 70. The property also has a circular driveway, with plantings including mature apple trees.

(y) (y) When I was a kid, I read a book about Major Armstrong, who invented FM in
the 1930's, and who also invented the triode vacuum tube in the 1920's,
but lost his claim in a long patent battle.

His Wiki entry is worth a read. It gives you an idea of what a snake
David Sarnoff was.


Armstrong was simply brilliant!

(y) (y)


What goes around, comes around.

Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 12:53 AM
(l) (l)


Why the West Was Won


August 17, 2007; Page W5


If America, as some assert, is the New Rome, then our Caesar surely was James K. Polk, the 11th president, who in his single term pushed the country's western border from the middle of the continent all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Yet posterity relegates Polk to the back bench of the presidential pantheon, with obscure mediocrities like Franklin Pierce and Millard Fillmore.

Why is Polk denied a Caesar-size portion of fame? Because the Rubicon he crossed was the Rio Grande, when he sent his armies to invade Mexico in 1846. Americans naturally prefer to credit the the winning of the West to the bold pioneers who settled the land rather than to the president who acquired the title by right of conquest. This impulse to look on the bright side of history irritates revisionists like Richard Kluger.

In "Seizing Destiny," Mr. Kluger focuses on the less ennobling aspects of America's transcontinental surge, which reached its apogee under Polk. "For the United States," he writes, "the decisive savaging of Mexico was the most brazen chapter in an ongoing saga celebrating what some of the nation's most forthright statesmen had dignified as its providential mission."

'Multiplying Millions'

Mr. Kluger is a former journalist who has written such nonfiction books as "The Paper," a history of the New York Herald Tribune, and "Ashes to Ashes," a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the tobacco industry. In "Seizing Destiny," he takes aim at the mindset epitomized by the journalist John O'Sullivan, a Polk supporter who famously urged "the fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allowed by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions."

For Mr. Kluger, lust for land was the engine that drove American history. The War of Independence? Motivated in part by frustration over Britain's refusal to let colonists cross the Appalachians to settle the Mississippi Valley. The Louisiana Purchase? Napoleon knew he had to sell or the Americans would seize New Orleans by force. The War of 1812? A failed American plot to conquer Canada. The acquisition of Florida from Spain? A land grab by Gen. Andrew Jackson, abetted by the extortionist diplomacy of John Quincy Adams. The annexation of Texas? A Southern bid to expand slavery's reach. The Mexican War? An imperialist thrust by Polk, who had just bluffed the British out of Oregon and now sought to secure California.

Give Mr. Kluger this much: The push west did owe less to lofty principles than to the self-interest of the settlers, for whom land was the basis of wealth. They sought better lives for themselves, and in the process they built a mighty nation, as Mr. Kluger concedes. What annoys him are the self-justifying myths that the settlers spun to clothe their history in virtue. "They were simply all too human in confusing opportunity with entitlement and mistaking the abundance of liberty doled to them by history and geography for a license to have their way," Mr. Kluger writes. "Those Americans given to blind chauvinism would do well to consider the darker side of the tale as well."

Mr. Kluger concludes his narrative in the early 1900s, shortly after the frontier era ended, when Americans "chose to sublimate their compulsively acquisitive drive by redirecting it from the massive accumulation of land ... to other forms of expansionism." You can see where he is going with this: America's rapid growth created an overconfident and self-righteous nation, which eventually would overreach and come to grief in such places as "Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia and Iraq."

Here Mr. Kluger himself overreaches. Americans are hardly unique in their tendency to conflate self-interest and selflessness. Besides, the nation's transcontinental expansion was mostly accomplished by 1849, when Polk left office. Mr. Kluger's labored attempt to connect the dots from that distant "manifest destiny" era to our own time is not persuasive. He further undercuts his case with occasional sloppiness, as when he identifies the "waspish and eloquent" statesman John Randolph as a Federalist from South Carolina. Randolph was a Virginian and the opposite of a Federalist. Elsewhere Mr. Kluger asserts that, apart from Cuba, slavery had been outlawed "in the rest of Latin America" by 1848. At that point, slavery remained legal in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, among other places.

Rude Methods

Still, "Seizing Destiny" raises some questions that are worth pondering, even by readers who will reject Mr. Kluger's conclusions. How should we view the complicated legacy of nation-builders like Polk and Jackson, whose rude methods we would not countenance today? Even in their own time, they were condemned by Abraham Lincoln, who bitterly opposed the Mexican War. Mr. Kluger rebuts John O'Sullivan with Horace Greeley, who in 1845 bewailed the tendency of nations like America "to covet and seize what is their neighbor's." Yet Greeley today is better remembered for his association with another line: "Go west, young man." The west to which he referred, of course, was in large part the same west that Polk had wrested from Mexico.

O'Sullivan was right: It was indeed America's manifest destiny to overspread the continent. James K. Polk was an instrument of that destiny. We would not undo his accomplishments; nor would we celebrate his mugging of our southern neighbor. So we tactfully ignore him and focus history's spotlight on more appealing figures, such as Lincoln. Yet it was Polk and his expansionist predecessors who built the nation that Lincoln saved and that we still proudly inhabit, from sea to shining sea.

Mr. Lewis is writing a book about America's colonial experience in the Philippines.

(y) (y)


Quidquid discis, tibi discis.

Whatever you learn, you learn it for yourself.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 12:55 AM
:s :s :s


Suicide Rate Among U.S. Soldiers Hits 26-Year High, Report Says

Associated Press

August 17, 2007 10:45 a.m. Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON -- Ninety-nine U.S. soldiers killed themselves last year, the highest rate of suicide in the Army in 26 years of record keeping, a new report says.

Nearly a third of soldiers who committed suicide did so while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to a report released Thursday. Iraq accounted for the overwhelming number -- with 27 of the suicides coming from that conflict and three from Afghanistan. Also, there were 948 attempted suicides, officials said, adding that they didn't have a comparison for previous years.

The report said the 99 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers compares with 87 in 2005 and was the highest raw number since 102 suicides were reported in 1991, the year of the Persian Gulf War, when there were more soldiers on active duty. Investigations are still pending on two other deaths and if they are confirmed as suicides, the number for last year would rise to 101.

In a half million-person Army, last year's suicide toll translates to a rate of 17.3 per 100,000, the highest since the Army started counting in 1980, officials said. The rate has fluctuated over those years, with the low being 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001.

Failed personal relationships, legal and financial problems and the stress of their jobs were factors motivating the soldiers to commit suicide, according to the report. It also found a significant relationship between suicide attempts and the number of days deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan or nearby countries where troops were participating in the war effort.

There was "limited evidence" to back the suspicion that repeated deployments are putting more people at risk for suicide, the report said. With the Army stretched thin by years of fighting the two wars, the Pentagon has had to extend normal tours of duty this year to 15 months from 12 and has sent some troops back to the wars several times.

Officials found no direct link between suicide and deployments or exposure to combat except in how they affect a soldier's marriage or other close relationships, Col. Elspeth Ritchie, psychiatry consultant to the Army surgeon general, said in a Pentagon press conference.

"Unfortunately, suicide is very often a compulsive act," she said, and the fact that soldiers are armed can make it harder to prevent.

"Very often a young soldier gets a 'Dear John' or 'Dear Jane' email and then takes his weapon and shoots himself," she said.

Preliminary numbers for the first half of 2007 indicate the number of suicides could decline across the service but increase among troops serving in the wars, officials said.

The increases for 2006 came as Army officials worked to set up a number of new programs and strengthen old ones for providing mental health care to a force strained by the longer-than-expected conflict in Iraq and the global counterterrorism war entering its sixth year. In a flurry of studies in recent months, officials found a system that might have been adequate for a peacetime military but has been overwhelmed by troops coming home from war.

Some troop surveys in Iraq have shown that 20&#37; of Army soldiers have signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress, which can cause flashbacks of traumatic combat experiences and other severe reactions. About 35% of soldiers are seeking some kind of mental health treatment a year after returning home under a program that screens returning troops for physical and mental health problems, officials have said.

The Army has sent medical teams annually to the battlefront in Iraq to survey troops, health-care providers and chaplains about health, morale and other issues. It has revised training programs, bolstered suicide prevention, is adding 25% more psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to its staff, and is in the midst of an extensive program to teach all soldiers how to recognize mental health problems in themselves and their comrades.

The Army also has been working to stem the stigma associated with getting therapy for mental problems, after officials found that troops are avoiding counseling out of fear it could harm their careers.

(f) (f) (f) (f)

Cuiusvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare.

Any man can make a mistake; only a fool keeps making the same one.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 12:57 AM
:| :| :|


Professors on the Battlefield


August 17, 2007; Page W11 WSJ

Marcus Griffin is not a soldier. But now that he cuts his hair "high and tight" like a drill sergeant's, he understands why he is being mistaken for one. Mr. Griffin is actually a professor of anthropology at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va. His austere grooming habits stem from his enrollment in a new Pentagon initiative, the Human Terrain System. It embeds social scientists with brigades in Afghanistan and Iraq, where they serve as cultural advisers to brigade commanders.

Mr. Griffin, a bespectacled 39-year-old who speaks in a methodical monotone, believes that by shedding some light on the local culture -- thereby diminishing the risk that U.S. forces unwittingly offend Iraqi sensibilities -- he can improve Iraqi and American lives. On the phone from Fort Benning, two weeks shy of boarding a plane bound for Baghdad, he describes his mission as "using knowledge in the service of human freedom."

The Human Terrain System is part of a larger trend: Nearly six years into the war on terror, there is reason to believe that the Vietnam-era legacy of mistrust -- even hostility -- between academe and the military may be eroding.

This shift in the zeitgeist is embodied by Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the multinational forces in Iraq. Gen. Petraeus, who holds a doctorate from Princeton University in international relations, made a point of speaking on college campuses between his tours in Iraq because he believes it is critical that America "bridge the gap between those in uniform and those who, since the advent of the all-volunteer force, have had little contact with the military." In a recent essay in the American Interest, Gen. Petraeus reflects on his own academic journey and stresses how the skills he cultivated on campus help him operate on the fly in Iraq. As such, he is a staunch proponent of Army officers attending civilian graduate programs.

Over the past few years, Gen. Petraeus has been cultivating ties to the academic community, drawing on scholars for specialized knowledge and fresh thinking about the security challenges facing America. "What you are seeing is a willingness by military officers to learn from civilian academics," says Michael Desch, an expert on civilian-military relations at Texas A&M. "The war on terrorism has really accelerated this trend."

The terms of this relationship are most evident in the new Counterinsurgency Field Manual. In the face of a gruesomely persistent Iraqi insurgency, Gen. Petraeus was charged with revamping the outdated counterinsurgency doctrine. In an unprecedented collaboration, he reached out to Sarah Sewall, who directs the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, to help him organize a vetting session of the draft manual at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

The conference brought together journalists, human-rights activists, academics and members of the armed forces to exchange ideas about how to make the doctrine more effective and more humane. Ms. Sewall, who since 2001 has been trying to get the military to bring the concerns of the human-rights community to the table, tells me that with Gen. Petraeus it is like pushing on an open door. And according to Montgomery McFate, who had a hand in drafting the manual, this was probably the first time that anthropological insight has been officially incorporated into more than 200 years of military doctrine. In chapter one, it explicitly states that "cultural knowledge is essential to waging a successful counterinsurgency. American ideas of what is 'normal' or 'rational' are not universal." (The manual was published last month by the University of Chicago Press. Ms. Sewall wrote the foreword.)

"Anthropologists have the opportunity right now to influence how the national security establishment does business," writes Ms. McFate in an email from Afghanistan, where she is a senior adviser to the Human Terrain System project. A Yale University-trained anthropologist, she has been the target of bitter criticism from the anthropology establishment on account of her tireless efforts to convince the military that cultural knowledge is key to winning over the people in war-torn societies like Iraq and Afghanistan. She insists that a growing number of anthropologists are questioning the conventional wisdom and reconsidering whether the most effective way to influence the military is "by waving a big sign outside the Pentagon saying 'you suck.' "

That may be wishful thinking on Ms. McFate's part. A majority of members active in the American Anthropological Association seem to reject her as naïve and dangerous. And history provides plenty of legitimate cause for concern. There is a toxic legacy of military-funded clandestine research -- most notably the infamous Project Camelot in Chile in the mid-1960s and a 1970 scandal triggered by American social scientists' efforts on behalf of a Thai government counterinsurgency campaign. Roberto J. Gonzalez, a professor of anthropology at San Jose State University and a leading critic of rapprochement between the national-security community and professional anthropologists, has taken to the pages of the Chronicle of Higher Education to warn against "the militarization of the social sciences." In recent years, the annual meetings of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Anthropological Association have been dominated by discussion about what ethical responsibilities scholars have in relation to war, terrorism and torture. At such events, Ms. McFate and her rare sympathizers often sound like a lone voice in the wilderness.

So will these instances of cooperation be enduring? Do they represent the harbinger of a more pervasive reconsideration of Vietnam-era pieties in academe? Hard to say. But it somehow seems significant that no less an archetype of Vietnam-era agitation than Tom Hayden emerged last month to raise the dusty banner of anti-military antagonism. In an essay posted on the Web site of the Nation magazine, he attacked Ms. Sewall for collaborating with Gen. Petraeus on the new manual, which he dismissed as "an academic formulation to buttress and justify a permanent engagement in counter-terrorism wars" that "runs counter to the historic freedom of university life."

Mr. Hayden's article suggests a bizarre conception of the role of scholars in American life: that they should be held to a priestly standard of ethical purity. "Are academics so much purer than anybody else that we can't ever be in situations where we are confronting tough ethical choices?" asks Noah Feldman, a professor of law at Harvard who briefly, in 2003, was an adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority. "If academics didn't get involved with these kinds of difficult questions, maybe all that would be left is a department of Kantian philosophy," he jokes. "Then we would be pure, but we would be irrelevant."


Quidquid discis, tibi discis.

Whatever you learn, you learn it for yourself.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 12:58 AM
:| :|



Are We Teaching Our Kids To Be Fearful of Men?

August 23, 2007; Page D1

When children get lost in a mall, they're supposed to find a "low-risk adult" to help them. Guidelines issued by police departments and child-safety groups often encourage them to look for "a pregnant woman," "a mother pushing a stroller" or "a grandmother."

The implied message: Men, even dads pushing strollers, are "high-risk."

Are we teaching children that men are out to hurt them? The answer, on many fronts, is yes. Child advocate John Walsh advises parents to never hire a male babysitter. Airlines are placing unaccompanied minors with female passengers rather than male passengers. Soccer leagues are telling male coaches not to touch players.

Child-welfare groups say these are necessary precautions, given that most predators are male. But fathers' rights activists and educators now argue that an inflated predator panic is damaging men's relationships with kids. Some men are opting not to get involved with children at all, which partly explains why many youth groups can't find male leaders, and why just 9% of elementary-school teachers are male, down from 18% in 1981.

People assume that all men "have the potential for violence and sexual aggressiveness," says Peter Stearns, a George Mason University professor who studies fear and anxiety. Kids end up viewing every male stranger "as a potential evildoer," he says, and as a byproduct, "there's an overconfidence in female virtues."

In Michigan, the North Macomb Soccer Club has a policy that at least one female parent must always sit on the sidelines, to guard against any untoward behavior by male coaches. In Churchville, Pa., soccer coach Barry Pflueger says young girls often want a hug after scoring a goal, but he refrains. Even when girls are injured, "you must comfort them without touching them, a very difficult thing to do," he says. "It saddens me that this is what we've come to."

TV shows, including the Dateline NBC series "To Catch a Predator," hype stories about male abusers. Now social-service agencies are also using controversial tactics to spread the word about abuse. This summer, Virginia's Department of Health mounted an ad campaign for its sex-abuse hotline. Billboards featured photos of a man holding a child's hand. The caption: "It doesn't feel right when I see them together."

More than 200 men emailed complaints about the campaign to the health department. "The implication is that if you see a man holding a girl's hand, he's probably a predator," says Marc Rudov, who runs the fathers' rights site TheNoNonsenseMan.com. "In other words, if you see a father out with his daughter, call the police."

Virginia's campaign was designed to encourage people to trust their instincts about possible abuse, says Rebecca Odor, director of sexual and domestic violence prevention for the state health department. She stands by the ads, pointing out that 89% of child sex-abuse perpetrators in Virginia are male.

Mr. Walsh, host of Fox's "America's Most Wanted," began advocating for missing children in 1981, after his son was killed by a stranger. He knows some men are offended by his advice to never hire a male babysitter. But as he sees it, if a teenage boy wants to experiment with sex, you don't want him using your kids.

"It's not a witch hunt," he says. "It's all about minimizing risks. What dog is more likely to bite and hurt you? A Doberman, not a poodle. Who's more likely to molest a child? A male."

Airlines use similar reasoning when they seat unaccompanied minors only with women. They are trying to decrease the odds of a problem. Certainly, many men would be safe seatmates for kids, but sometimes, especially on overnight flights in darkened cabins, "you have to make generalizations for the safety of a child," says Diana Fairechild, an expert witness in aviation disputes. Airlines have had decades of experience monitoring the gender of abusive seatmates, she adds, quoting a line repeated in airline circles: "No regulation in aviation takes effect without somebody's blood on it."

Most men understand the need to be cautious, so they're willing to take a step back from children, or to change seats on a plane. One abused child is one too many. Still, it's important to maintain perspective. "The number of men who will hurt a child is tiny compared to the population," says Benjamin Radford, who researches statistics on predators and is managing editor of the science magazine Skeptical Inquirer. "Virtually all of the time, if a child is lost or in trouble, he will be safe going to the nearest male stranger."

:| :| I don't think so. (n) (n)


Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.

The times are changed, and we are changed in them. (again)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 01:01 AM
(y) (y) (y)

Peggy Noonan analyzes "Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat," a 90-page report from the NYPD.


Hatred Begins at Home


August 18, 2007; Page P14


Whenever I think of war, I think of this: It was 1982 or '83, I was in Northern Ireland, and a local reporter was showing me around Derry, then a center of the Protestant-Catholic conflict. The neighborhood we were in was beat up, poor, with Irish Republican Army graffiti on tired walls. There were some scraggly kids on the street.

Suddenly an armored British army vehicle slowly rounded the corner, and the street came alive with kids pouring out of houses, grabbing the heavy metal lids of garbage bins, and smashing them against the pavement. They made quite a racket.

A woman came out. She was 35 or 40, her short hair standing up, uncombed. It was late afternoon, but she was in an old robe, and you could tell it was the robe she lived in. She stood there and smirked as the soldiers went by. She'd come out to register her dislike for the Brits, and to show the children she approved of their protest.

As I watched this nothing sort of scene, I thought: That's where it comes from. That's what keeps it alive.

I knew what kind of person she was. She was lost, neglectful; she was what would come to be called dysfunctional, and whichever of the kids were hers you could tell she wasn't giving them order or safety, not often.

But here at this moment she was being responsive to something -- the presence of the enemy. And she was showing an emotion: hatred.

And I thought: Those kids banging the lids on the pavement, they are going to wind up like her, and for some utterly human reasons. To get her notice and approval. To ally themselves with her grievances -- if they can't have access to any other part of her, at least they can have her resentment. To be part of her world, of any world.

They would grow up and assign their misery to outside forces. The boy humiliated because he's never sent to school with a clean shirt will turn that into "Britain Get Out of Ireland."

I know I'm being broad here. But we often think it is large and abstract forces that drive history, when it is personal forces, too. The headlines on today's paper, whatever they are -- stock market decline, bomb blast -- are in their essence personal stories. Somebody bought, somebody sold, somebody made the fuse. People make history.

I remembered the woman in Northern Ireland this week while reading the New York City Police Department's report "Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat." It is an interesting piece of work.

(You can find the 90-page report at the NYPD Web site, www.nyc.gov/html/nypd1.)

We associate terrorism with a threat from overseas, but since 9/11, terror plots have tended to be planned by homegrown terrorists. These young men have tended to be "unremarkable" local residents who came to look to a radical form of Islam for inspiration and meaning. Terror acts are preceded by a radicalization process in which young men are recruited to jihad.

The report traces the creation and development of terror cells throughout the West -- in America, Western Europe and Australia. Young recruits are often middle class, and their interest is often sparked by an immediate or protracted crisis -- the loss of a job, a change in family circumstances. They do not necessarily come from anything particular lacking in the family, but they have nothing to hold onto until this absolute thing, this fundamentalist belief, and its grievances, comes by. Their rage is tended and encouraged by spiritual and operational leaders who offer a sense of community, of belonging and of approval.

The report suggests an evolution in thinking. "We're very good at capturing these guys after a terror incident," John McLaughlin, former deputy CIA director, told me, "but in the past we haven't spent as much time at the front end -- how do they get to be terrorists." He said terrorists "are changing their profile. . . . Al Qaeda knows what we're looking for. They're not dumb." The terrorists of our future will likely be more credentialed, and here legally; they will be "integrated into American life."

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told me, "I want a better understanding on the part of all law enforcement as to how radicalism takes place. This report connects the dots." It is also meant to heighten awareness. If the terror of the future is homegrown, local eyes will see it first. Cofer Black, former director of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, told me that an important message of the report is similar to the signs on New York subways and in train stations: "If you see something, say something."

Mr. Black repeated one of the report's main warnings: about the increased use of the Internet in the radicalization of young men. Everyone knows about these sites, but recruitment videos have become "more extreme," and their number has proliferated in only the past few years. More and more they feature "Hollywood techniques -- music, heroic images -- to basically seize the imagination of isolated youths."

All who follow American antiterrorism efforts closely wind up looking to what they call "the New York model." The city consistently seems more advanced than the feds in this area. There are reasons New York is so good. They've already had a catastrophe, which sharpens the mind. They know they're still and always a target. New York has a lot of money, a lot of cops, a lot of capability, and a citizenry with a heightened awareness. Because the city has a low crime rate, it can shift resources.

Part of the reason for New York's effectiveness has also been solid leadership in the form of a popular mayor, Mike Bloomberg, and his police commissioner, Mr. Kelly. Mr. Black calls Mr. Kelly "hard charging and no-nonsense."

So that's the latest report on young men and how they become drawn to terrorism. It's also the latest on what terror networks are up to, and how they're planning to move. The only thing I'd add is that all modern young people come from two environments. The first is the immediate family, which is human and therefore by definition imperfect, sometimes to a serious and destructive degree. The other is the broader culture in which we all live, and which includes everything from schools to the neighborhood to the media. It's not a new thing to say but it's still true that the latter, which is more powerful than ever, is wholly devoted to the material. People are money winners or luxury item enjoyers. They just want stuff. It is soulless.

The view we show of life to ourselves, and to whatever lost young men are watching, is not broad or inspiriting. It is limited and dispiriting. It is every man for himself.

We make it too easy for those who want to hate us to hate us. We make ourselves look bad in our media, which helps future jihadists think that they must, by hating us, be good. They hit their figurative garbage bin lids on the ground, and smirk, and promise to make a racket, and then more than a racket, a boom.

(y) (y) (y)

(f) (f)

Amicus optima vitae possessio.

A friend is the greatest treasure in life.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 01:03 AM
(l) (f) (l) (f)



Writer Barbara Chai on where to eat, where to stay and how best to peruse the architecture in this Dutch port city.


August 21, 2007; Page D2

What to Do: Rotterdam's cutting-edge architecture is the subject of a citywide exposition that is running now until early September. The program includes special events such as an Open Monument Day and an exhibit devoted to Le Corbusier (Netherlands Architecture Institute, Museumpark 25, Tel. 010-4401200). A good place to start is the audio walking tour, Sites & Stories, available at the tourist information office. The tour takes visitors to 40 of the city's most unusual buildings. Don't miss the De Stijl-inspired Cafe de Unie (Mauritsweg 35), with its bold lines and colors. The classic railway lifting bridge De Hef contrasts with the iconic Erasmus Bridge (nicknamed "The Swan") on the Nieuwe Maas River. Exhibition space Kunsthal, designed by Rem Koolhaas and Fumi Hoshino, is a work of art in itself (Westzeedijk 341, Tel. 010-4400300). For more details on the exhibition, check www.rotterdam2007.nl.

The Erasmus Bridge straddles the Nieuwe Maas River.


Where to Eat: Enjoy seafood and meat dishes at Old Dutch, built in the 1940s as a rustic cottage. The menu includes lobster bisque and lamb with Provencal vegetables (Rochussenstraat 20, Tel. 010-4360344). Hip locals pack into Bazar Restaurant for tasty North African and Middle Eastern dishes, such as couscous and grilled kebabs (Witte de Withstraat 16, Tel. 010-2065151). Cafe Dudok is housed in a former insurance office that features high ceilings, columns, and gorgeous glass windows. Order a delicious apple tart and iced coffee to go with the sublime view (Meent 88, Tel. 010-4333102).

Where to Stay: A room at Hotel New York will help you appreciate Rotterdam's maritime legacy; the building once served as the headquarters for the Holland-America Line (Doubles start at €105, Koninginnenhoofd 1, Tel. 010-4390500). The five-star Westin is in a convenient location opposite the train station and near most tram lines (contact hotel for rates, Weena 686, Tel. 010-4302000).

(l) (l) (l)


Sic Itur Ad Astra.

Thus do we reach the stars.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 01:05 AM
(l) (y) (l) (y)

Amtrak's performance is improving and ridership on the Acela Express and some state-supported corridors is up sharply. Meanwhile, airlines are running later and with more delays than ever.

Crowds Heed Amtrak's 'All Aboard' Improved Service, Air Woes Lure Travelers in Northeast; Long Hauls Still Suffer


August 23, 2007; Page B1

Airplanes are getting stuck in lots of traffic jams this summer, but Amtrak is on a roll.

Ridership on the passenger rail system is up 6&#37; so far this year, the biggest jump since the late 1970s. On the Acela Express, trains that run at higher speeds between Washington, New York and Boston, the number of riders has surged 20% over the past 10 months. That's enough new passengers to fill 2,000 Boeing 757 jets.

Richard Rosen, who heads a pharmacy-fulfillment company in Boston, is making as many of his trips to New York as possible on the Acela.

Flying to New York, with traffic to and from La Guardia Airport, flight delays and security lines, has become "an absolute horror show," he says. A recent one-hour flight turned into four hours of exasperation. Mr. Rosen says the Acela, which takes about 3&#189; hours to get from Boston's Back Bay Station to Pennsylvania Station in midtown Manhattan, is more comfortable and reliable. "The train is much better, and you can do your work and use your cellphone during the whole trip," he says.

While airlines are running later and with more delays than ever -- a third of flights arrived late at La Guardia Airport between June 1 and Aug. 15, according to Flightstats.com -- Acela's performance is improving. The train is running on time 88% of the time, so far this year -- up from 84% a year ago. It was 90% on time in June. With Amtrak selling every seat on some Acela trains in peak travel periods, Amtrak recently added another weekday Acela round trip between New York and Washington to keep up with growing demand. The new train dropped all but one stop, Philadelphia, shaving 15 minutes off the normal 2&#190;-hour, five-stop New York-Washington trip.

All this represents a big change for Amtrak, the perennial Rodney Dangerfield of passenger transportation, which has faced scathing criticism in recent years for late trains and poor service. The Bush administration has in recent years tried to cut or eliminate its federal subsidies, which total $1.3 billion in 2007. And allies of the White House remain harsh critics. "Amtrak still needs to change its way of doing business," says Joseph Boardman, the Bush administration's top rail official as head of the Federal Railroad Administration and an Amtrak board member.

The Bush administration has repeatedly called for a major overhaul of Amtrak that would turn over Amtrak's Washington-New York-Boston Northeast Corridor to the states along the route. Amtrak would become a pure passenger rail operating company that would then compete for state contracts to provide intercity passenger rail service. The administration plan would create a long-term partnership where states determine passenger rail needs and the federal government provides matching funds similar to highways and transit.

But Amtrak's success lately isn't confined to the Northeast. While the railroad's long-distance trains continue to suffer from lengthy delays, its ridership is up sharply on some improved state-supported corridors, including Chicago-St. Louis, up 53% in the 10 months through July.

The improved service is being noticed by Amtrak's supporters in Congress and helping tilt the odds in the railroad's favor on more funding for future improvements.

"This means a lot of goodwill in the bank for Amtrak among policy makers for increasing its funds and expanding service," says Rep. James Oberstar, a Democrat from Minnesota, who heads the House transportation committee. "The dynamics have shifted in favor of a strong future for Amtrak."

The House recently passed a fiscal 2008 funding bill with $1.4 billion for Amtrak plus $50 million to match state funding of capital projects. The Senate is considering Amtrak funding of $1.37 billion plus $100 million for the capital program.

Airlines, of course, have their own ideas of how best to improve travel in the Northeast. Many of them are actively supporting a federal government proposal to replace the current air-traffic-control system with a more modern one that allows more flights. The Next Generation air-traffic-control system is estimated to cost nearly $40 billion and take until 2025 to be fully implemented, says the Air Transport Association.

"If that is taken care of, a lot of the problems we have today will be eliminated," says a spokesman for US Airways Group Inc., Tempe, Ariz., which operates one of the two hourly air-shuttle services between Washington, New York and Boston. A spokeswoman for JetBlue Airways Corp., Forest Hills, N.Y., says it's wrong for tax dollars to be used to subsidize Amtrak passenger trains "when a modernized air-traffic-control system is not yet in place or even funded."

But some big names in the airline industry are supporting Amtrak by calling for the U.S. to do what governments in Europe and Asia have long done -- building high-speed train lines for short-distance travelers and freeing up runway space for long-distance flights.

"You have to begin to put the infrastructure in place to put in high-speed trains," says Gordon Bethune, who retired in 2004 as chief executive of Continental Airlines Inc. "It should be a national priority. If the French can do it, why can't we?"

Another airline-industry legend Robert Crandall, former CEO of American Airlines parent AMR Corp., says improvements to Amtrak's network in the Northeast are one of the best ways to reduce aviation gridlock.

Since Amtrak introduced higher speed Acela trains in 2000, the railroad's share of the 10,000 daily plane or train passengers traveling between Washington and New York has grown to 54% from 45%. The Acela runs as fast as 135 miles per hour between New York and Washington. It reaches its top 150 mph speed on a small part of the route between New York and Boston. Amtrak's share of the Boston-New York air-rail market is also up, but by a lower amount.

Chris Gremski, who manages travel for the New York-based Open Society Institute, investor George Soros's charitable foundation, says a significant number of the foundation's employees have switched to Acela from air shuttles between New York and Washington. Airport security lines and flight delays are wiping out the time savings of the plane, he says, and Acela is cheaper (the one-way nondiscounted fare for the New York-Washington Acela is $199, compared with $324 for the air shuttle).

Mr. Gremski says some employees also are using the train because they think it is more fuel-efficient and less polluting than the plane.

But there are definite limits to how much more Acela can do. Alex Kummant, Amtrak's president and CEO, said in a presentation recently that Amtrak is constrained by the size of the Acela fleet, which numbers 20 trains. If he had his druthers, Mr. Kummant said Amtrak would be able to add cars to Acela trains to meet demand, rather than being limited to 304 passengers by Acela's fixed complement of six cars and two locomotives.

Acela will never clock the steady 180 mph speeds reached by the fastest European and Japanese trains as they travel on dedicated tracks from city to city. On the Northeast Corridor, Acela is stuck with curvy tracks that it must share with freight and commuter trains. Space for more and faster trains is limited particularly in New York, where the Northeast Corridor squeezes down to just two tracks under the Hudson River.

Still, for $625 million in upgrades to tracks, equipment, signals and electrical power systems, Amtrak could shave 15 minutes from the Acela's 2&#190;-hour schedule between New York and Washington, Mr. Kummant told Congress last month. Further time savings would come at a higher cost. Mr. Kummant says that to save an additional 10 minutes would cost $7 billion for new tunnels in New York and Baltimore, new bridges at other locations and track upgrades at five stations.

Truly high-speed rail requires a straighter, dedicated line built to highly exacting standards. David Gunn, who was fired as president of Amtrak in 2005 after a policy dispute, put it bluntly: "If you really want a super-zippy train from Washington to New York, you have to build another railroad."


'It's Not Luxury Service' - Amtrak CEO Alex Kummant On Service Strategies, Solutions

August 23, 2007

Nearly a year after becoming president and chief executive of Amtrak, Alex Kummant is taking on some of the railroad's most nettlesome problems. In June, he struck a deal with Union Pacific Corp. that will prod the freight railroad to hurry repairs on deteriorating tracks in Utah and Nevada that are used by Amtrak trains and contribute to a woeful 30% late-arrival rate.

In addition, to show that Amtrak is trying to think more like a for-profit company, Mr. Kummant agreed to attach luxurious dining, sleeping and lounge cars owned by a private rail-tour operator to Amtrak's Silver Meteor train between Washington, D.C., and Miami, starting in November. Traveling in the upscale car will cost $789 to $1,299 a person one way, compared with $569 for the largest Amtrak bedroom and give Amtrak a chance to spiff up the grubby image of its train service.

A stylish 46-year-old who carries a blue backpack instead of a briefcase, Mr. Kummant has surprised skeptics who weren't expecting much when he came to Washington. His predecessor, David Gunn, fought constantly with the Bush administration before being fired after three and a half years on the job. Some members of Congress worried that Mr. Kummant, who worked at industrial companies and Union Pacific, would rubber-stamp efforts to slash Amtrak's funding.

So far, Mr. Kummant has maneuvered skillfully through the politically charged debate over Amtrak's future. While he insists that long-distance train service should remain, some of the worst-performing routes may have to be overhauled. To win more control over its fate, Amtrak needs to become more financially transparent, he says. Still, he hasn't resolved one of Amtrak's thorniest challenges -- reaching agreement with about two-thirds of Amtrak's work force, which hasn't had a new contract for about seven years.

Mr. Kummant, who at 18 joined a "track gang" that cleaned and fixed lines at the U.S. Steel Corp. plant in Ohio where his dad worked, spoke with The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Machalaba about how he plans to get the railroad on track. (See related article.)

* * *

WSJ: What are Amtrak's biggest strategic issues?

Mr. Kummant: Our growth is going to be 100- to 500-mile corridors, and to do this we need capital for track and equipment. We have aging equipment, and we have to replace [it] and provide for future growth.

WSJ: Amtrak critics point to Amtrak's 15 long-distance trains as sadly outdated. What do you plan to do with the long-distance trains?

Mr. Kummant: I'm very reluctant to simply end some of these services. The cost of keeping the long-distance network is something like $450 million a year. That's $1.50 per year a head in order that we even have a long-distance train network five years from now. In other words, a cup of coffee and a cheap one at that.

WSJ: Which ones would you like to modify?

Mr. Kummant: We will always be working on a couple of our lowest performers. It is logical to have a dialogue about splitting the California Zephyr, which operates from Chicago through Denver to the Bay Area, into an eastern and western service. The Chicago-Denver service runs very well. You can get on the train in the mid-afternoon in Chicago, have a nice dinner and wake up in Denver. The western part is slower, more of an excursion train, where the real selling feature is the dramatic landscape it crosses.

WSJ: Is Amtrak considering other changes?

Mr. Kummant: You might add six or eight cars to one of those trains and folks pay $6,000, $7,000, $8,000 a ticket and cross-subsidize the rest of the [train]. There are private operators that run excursion trains, very high-end, Ritz-Carlton-type service. I would call us more a national motel chain, and I don't mean that in a bad way. That's the reality. I've heard the comment, "Why should the taxpayers pay for this luxury service?" Guys, it's not luxury service.

WSJ: Where are opportunities for creating shorter-haul corridors?

Mr. Kummant: We need to look at any place that has a large population. It's Phoenix to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Los Angeles to Oakland. It could be expanding service between Seattle and Portland, and on almost any route from Chicago. Texas clearly has large population centers, and Florida is a good example of growing population. I would love a major new intercity corridor to catch fire outside the eastern seaboard. It would clearly demonstrate the wisdom of capital investment in passenger rail. I think Chicago-Detroit might be a real possibility. There, we could create a 100-mile-per-hour corridor city to city, except for about for a 35-mile stretch through Indiana which is highly congested. There, you might put in a separate line. It might cost $500 million to $1 billion.

WSJ: Who would pay for a Chicago-to-Detroit corridor?

Mr. Kummant: This could be done through a coalition of stakeholders, including three states, the federal government and, perhaps, the freight railroads, which are eager to mitigate congestion in the Chicago region.

WSJ: Do you think the U.S. will get high-speed trains like France and Germany?

Mr. Kummant: That is a goal we could all aspire to, and the question is how and when the country will be ready. We are talking about tens of billions of dollars, or euros, for a single corridor. I think we could get there in a couple of steps. I believe we could build an incremental approach where we could develop 100 mph corridors with conventional equipment. You build ridership and consciousness. Let's not forget that before the TGV [train &#224; grande vitesse -- high-speed train] was there in France, there was a lower-speed train. There was a natural evolution from lower to higher speeds, and there is no reason we can't do that in the U.S.

WSJ: Why did you take this job if the guy before you had such a difficult time?

Mr. Kummant: I have been involved in a lot of different types of operations. I am sort of a combination of a marketing, strategy and operations guy, and I find nothing quite as engrossing as rail operations. The other piece is that public service and Washington, D.C., have always been interesting to me. I don't want to give sort of a tear-jerking, immigrant-son story, but that's a little bit of it. My office overlooks the Capitol dome. I never thought I would have an opportunity to be a fly on the wall in Washington. Look, I am like a kid from Ohio walking around, and in Congress, I go: "Wow, there's Lieberman!" I unabashedly say I enjoy that kind of thing.

(l) (l) (l) I will take the train anyday over air travel. Have you been on a plane recently??

(ap) (ap) Air travel is absolutely INSANE.

I would also prefer to DRIVE and have even more control over my travels. Who needs to wait to use the loo when the cart is blocking the aisle in a plane? I also much prefer Wyatt's company to strangers on a plane.

(y) (y)

(f) (f) 's,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 01:10 AM

Online words created by heavy users of Internet games and chat groups are gaining currency in their spoken forms, stoking the ire of linguists, parents and others who denounce them as a debasement of the English language.


What Did U $@y? Online Language Finds Its Voice 'Leetspeak' Is Hot Button With Gamers, Scholars; One Campus Isn't 'LOL'


August 23, 2007; Page A1


TEh INTeRn3T i5 THr3@+EN1N9 t0 Ch@n93 thE W4Y wE $p34k.

(Translation: The Internet is threatening to change the way we speak.)

For years, heavy users of Internet games and chat groups have conversed in their own written language, often indecipherable to outsiders. Now, some of those online words are gaining currency in popular culture -- even in spoken form.

Online gamers use "pwn" to describe annihilating an opponent, or owning them. The word came from misspelling "own" by gamers typing quickly and striking the letter P instead of the neighboring letter O. Other words substitute symbols or numbers for similar-looking letters, such as the number 3 for the letter E. The language is sometimes called elite speak, or leetspeak, written as l33t 5p34k.

There is no standardized code. The letter A, for example, can have several replacements, including 4, /\, @ , /-\, ^, and aye.

As the Internet becomes more prevalent, leetspeak, including acronyms that used to appear only in text messages like "LOL" for laughing out loud, is finding a voice.

"I pone you, you're going down dude, lawl!" is how Johnathan Wendel says he likes to taunt opponents in person at online gaming tournaments. Pone is how he pronounces "pwn," and lawl is how "LOL" usually sounds when spoken. Mr. Wendel, 26 years old, has earned more than $500,000 in recent years by winning championships in Internet games like Quake 3 and Alien vs. Predator 2. His screen name is Fatal1ty.

During the televised World Series of Poker last year, one player, remarking on a deft move, told an opponent that he had been "poned." In an episode of the animated TV show "South Park," one of the characters shouted during an online game, "Looks like you're about to get poned, yeah!" Another character later marveled, "That was such an uber-ponage."

One problem with speaking in such code: there is little agreement on pronunciation.

Jarett Cale, the 29-year-old star of an Internet video series called "Pure Pwnage," enunciates the title "pure own-age." This is correct since "pwn" was originally a typo, he argues, and sounds "a lot cooler." But many of the show's fans, which he estimates at around three million, prefer to say pone-age, he acknowledges. Others pronounce it poon, puh-own, pun or pwone.

"I think we're probably losing the war," says Mr. Cale, whose character on the show, Jeremy, likes to wear a black T-shirt with the inscription, "I pwn n00bs." (That, for the uninitiated, means "I own newbies," or amateurs.)

Those who utter the term "teh" are also split. A common online misspelling of "the," "teh" has come to mean "very" when placed in front of an adjective -- such as "tehcool" for "very cool." Some pronounce it tuh, others tay.

The words' growing offline popularity has stoked the ire of linguists, parents and others who denounce them as part of a broader debasement of the English language.

"There used to be a time when people cared about how they spoke and wrote," laments Robert Hartwell Fiske, who has written or edited several books on proper English usage, including one on overused words titled "The Dimwit's Dictionary."

When a reader of his online journal, called the Vocabula Review, proposed "leet," as in leetspeak, for his list of best words, Mr. Fiske rejected it.

"Leet: slang for 'good' or 'great,' apparently, and 'idiotic,' certainly," he wrote on the Vocabula Web site. "Leet" is in dictionaries with other meanings, including a soft-finned fish.

Lake Superior State University, in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., this year included "pwn" on its annual list of banned words and phrases -- those it considers misused, overly used and just plain useless. Others on the list included "awesome" and "Gitmo" (shorthand for Guantanamo Bay).

Some suggest such verbal creations are nothing new and are integral to how language evolves.

Gail Kern Paster, director of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., has reason to believe that a certain English poet and playwright would cheer the latest linguistic leap. Just as the rise of the printed word and the theater spurred many new expressions during Shakespeare's time, the computer revolution, she notes, has necessitated its own vocabulary -- like "logging in" and "Web site."

"The issue of correctness didn't bother him," says Ms. Paster. "He loved to play with language." As for leet, "He would say, 'Bring it on,' absolutely."

The word "OK," one of the most widely used words in many languages, first appeared in a Boston newspaper in 1839 as an abbreviation for "oll korrect," according to Allan Metcalf, a professor of English at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Ill. Other abbreviations, such as O.F.M. for our first men, referring -- sometimes sarcastically -- to a community's leading citizens, also became briefly popular in Boston newspapers at the time, says Mr. Metcalf.

The Internet is not the first technological advancement to change the way language is used. The telegraph required people to communicate "with lots of dots and dashes and abbreviations," says Mr. Metcalf. "Since it charged by the word, you compressed your message as much as possible -- grammar be damned."

Some of those words, like SOS, the popular call for help, have survived from their telegraph-era origins.

Leetspeak first became popular in the 1980s among hackers and those adept enough to gain access to an early form of online chat forums called bulletin boards. These "elite" users developed leetspeak, occasionally to conceal their hacking plans or elude text filters. (It still has that use for some: "pr0n" is leetspeak for pornography.)

But leetspeak's growing appeal, and use among the un-cool, could undermine it. "Now moms are saying, 'LOL,' so that takes away from it," says Mr. Cale of the Internet show "Pure Pwnage."

A couple of years ago, Katherine Blashki, a professor of new media studies, didn't understand some of the words used by her students at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. Her subsequent, semester-long research on the subject found their use of leetspeak stemmed partly from wanting to find faster ways to express themselves online. As with other forms of jargon, it also enhanced a sense of belonging to a community, she says.

"It's ultimately about creating a secret language that can differentiate them from others, like parents," says Ms. Blashki. "That's part of being a teenager."

She presented her work at a conference in Spain and has since written nearly a dozen research papers on the topic. She admits she hasn't received much grant funding for her work. "My peers were aghast," she says.

Despite their facility with the new language, some leet fans insist that good grammar is still important.

Mr. Wendel, the online gamer, says he makes a point of using proper capitalization and punctuation in his online missives during competition. "It's always a last resort," says Mr. Wendel. "If you lose you can say, 'At least I can spell.'"


Gail Kern Paster, the director of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, considers what Shakespeare -- known for his mastery of the English language -- would think of leetspeak. With two versions of her comments, one in English and one in leetspeak.

Shakespeare Would Like Leet, Scholar Says

$H4Ke5P3@Re W0ulD L1k3 L33t, $cH0L4r $@y5

Below are side-by-side comparisons of an interview with a Shakespeare scholar about the online slang sometimes called "elite speak," or leetspeak, often written as l33t5p34k, with one side in English and one in leetspeek.


Though Gail Kern Paster, the director of the Folger
Shakespeare Library in Washington, has some misgivings about the rise of Internet slang such as leetspeak, she thinks
Shakespeare would applaud it.

As a professor of Shakespeare at George Washington
University for 27 years before taking her current job in 2002,
she says she was "a stickler" for proper English. During
a recent trip to New York, Ms. Paster saw a message
on a large banner with an incorrect apostrophe that "bothered
me terribly," she says.

Nevertheless, she thinks Shakespeare would approve of
leetspeak. "He would say, 'Bring it on, absolutely,'" she says.

The reason is that Shakespeare introduced countless new
words and expressions into the English language through his
plays, she says. "The issue of correctness didn't bother him," she says. "He loved to play with language."

A difference between Shakespeare's time in the late 16th and
early 17th centuries and today is that rules on grammar,
spelling and syntax had not yet been codified. Through the rise
of newspapers and other periodicals, printed English was only just becoming mainstream during that period. As a result,
there were fewer obstacles to making up words and
expressions, she says.

A similarity between now and then, however, is that cultural
developments and technological advances created a need
for new words. The computer revolution required vocabulary,
such as "logging in," and "Web site." The rise of theater and
the printed word during Shakespeare's lifetime likewise
pushed the English language in new directions, she says.

Nevertheless, some forms of leetspeak may just be laziness,
which is not acceptable, warns Ms. Paster. "There is a
distinction between creating new words and a collapse of
standards," she says.

8y CHR1$T0PH3R RH04D5

THOu9H g@iL k3Rn P4$T3r, +H3 D1REC+OR 0PH +H3 fOl9Er
$H4Ke5P3@Re LiBR4Ry 1n w4$H1n9t0N, h@$ 50mE M1591v1N95 48oU+ Th3 ri53 Of 1ntErN3+ 5L4n9 $UcH @$ Le3T5Pe4k, 5HE +h1nk5
5H4K3$p3@RE wOulD 4ppl@UD I+.

45 4 ProPh3$$or OPH $HaK35pE@r3 @+ ge0Rg3 WA5h1N9tON
UNIveR5I+y FOR 27 Y34R5 8EPhOre T4k1ng H3R CURrEn+ jo8 1n 2002, SH3 $4y$ SH3 W45 "@ 5tICKl3R" PHOr PrOP3R eNgl15h. Dur1ng
4 R3cEN+ +rip +O new Y0rK, M5. P@$+3R s@W 4 MES5493
On @ L@r9e B4nn3R w1th 4N INCORr3c+ 4PO$trOpHe +h4T "bO+Her3d
mE TeRr18lY," 5h3 $@yS.

n3v3R+hEL3$5, 5He tHiNk5 $h4k3Sp34r3 WOuLD APpr0VE of
lE3t5P3@K. "H3 WOUlD 54Y, 'BRIn9 i+ ON, 4b50luT3LY,'" she Say$.

+h3 R34s0n I$ Th4t $H4Ke$pe4r3 INTRODuC3D CoUN+LES5 nEW
WOrd5 4nD exPre$$iON$ iN+O +H3 3Ngl15H l4n9U49e +hr0u9h h1s
pL4YS, $he $4Y5. "+He i$5Ue 0F coRreCtne55 d1dn'+ 8oth3r HIm," Sh3 54y$. "HE lOVed +0 pl@Y wi+h L@n9u49e."

4 dIFPhereNCE 83+w33n 5H4k35P34re'5 T1Me 1n t3h LAt3 16Th 4Nd
E4rLy 17th c3nTUr135 @nD t0d4Y 1$ +H4+ RULe$ 0n 9r4mm4R,
$pell1NG 4ND SYnT4X HAD N0+ YEt 833N c0dIF1ed. +hr0u9h +hE r1S3
0PH nEW$p4pER5 @nd 0+HeR PEr1OD1C4L$, pR1NT3D 3NgLi5H w@5 0nLY ju5+ 83C0min9 Ma1N5Tr3@m DUr1ng +H4t PEr10D. 45 a r3$uLt,
TH3r3 W3R3 f3W3r 085TaCLE5 +o m4k1nG uP woRD5 4nd
3XPR3$51ON5, $hE 5@Y5.

4 sIMIl@riTY 83Tw3EN n0w 4nd +H3n, HoWEVER, 15 THAt cUl+ur4l
DeveLopmEntS @nD +3CHNOLOg1C4L 4Dv4ncE$ CR34TeD @ n3eD
ph0r New wOrD5. tH3 CompUt3r ReV0LuTi0n reKW1ReD VOC@Bul4rY,
$uCh a5 "L09giNg 1N," AND "w38 5iT3." +Eh R1s3 OPH +H34t3r 4Nd
+3H PRIN+3D w0rd dUR1N9 5H@Ke5P3@r3’5 L1phEt1M3 likeWiS3
PU$HeD +He eNgl15H l4N9U49E in n3w d1reCtiON$, 5h3 5@Y5.

NeVeRThele$$, $Ome f0rm$ OF l33t5P34k m4y ju$T b3 L4ZiNE$5,
WHicH 15 nO+ @cc3pt48L3, w@rn5 M5. p@5T3r. "THerE 15 4
d15T1nc+1oN 83+weEN CR34+1nG neW woRD5 4ND 4 C0Ll4p53 oPh
$+4Nd@rD$," 5H3 $@Y5.

:| :| :| :|

:) I prefer proper English myself. ;)


Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 08:31 AM
(l) (l) (l)

"I was probably thinking more about technical stuff than the beauty of it, like ‘Is it going to be too hazy?’"

PHOTOGRAPHING MOUNT SHASTA, WEED, CALIF. May. 11, 2007 James Whitmore, 29, a waiter from Bend, Ore.: “I was probably thinking more about technical stuff than the beauty of it, like ‘Is it going to be too hazy?’ I don’t have a lot of good equipment; I don’t have the right filters. My picture didn’t come out nearly as well as this one did. I moved to Oregon from Nebraska two years ago. Nebraska’s always home; it’ll always be a special place to me. It has its own charm, but it’s a different mentality. It’s extremely conservative. The West is — I feel like it’s more like where my spirit, my soul and my heart is. It was a move that needed to be done.”


(l) (l) Been here many times although it was quite the drive from where I lived either south of San Francisco or the East Bay. :)


Sic Itur Ad Astra.

Thus do we reach the stars.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 08:33 AM
(l) (l)

Word has gotten out about the majestic scenery and still affordable second homes in the Thousand Islands, bringing buyers from around the United States.



August 24, 2007

A Bit of Paradise on Island No. 999


CINDY LOZO walked through her new stone and cedar-shake house and onto a sun porch filled with white wicker, blue paisley cushions and floor-to-ceiling windows. “This is the view that made me agree to live on an island,” she said. Outside, antique mahogany Lyman boats cruised along the sparkling deep-blue expanse of the St. Lawrence River. Upstream, a stone structure resembling the biggest drip sand castle ever constructed stood against the horizon. And rising from the water in several directions were chunks of land sprouting beech, pine or poplar trees — a half-dozen of the famous Thousand Islands.

Mrs. Lozo, 52, a school employee in Rochester, didn’t even know how to pilot a boat when her husband, Bob, 50, who works for an information services company, convinced her that their summer home should be on an island. Now they spend every weekend with their three daughters at their newly built 4,400-square-foot, five-bedroom house on Wauwinet Island, a one-acre member of the Thousand Islands chain. The house offers every amenity a landlubber could want, including an oversize television set and Internet access. Their 28-foot Sea Ray and 19-foot Chaparral boats are tied up at their dock. And Mrs. Lozo can now operate them.

In the Gilded Age, “the River” — the part of the St. Lawrence between northern New York and Canada that is dotted with about 1,800 closely spaced islands of all shapes and sizes, was a summer destination to enormously rich families, many of whom came by train from New York City. The homeowners included George Boldt, a hotelier; Frederick Bourne, president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company; Andrew McNally of Rand McNally maps; George Pullman, creator of Pullman railroad cars; and Nathan and Isidor Straus, owners of Macy’s. Singer and Boldt built castles, complete with turrets and underground passageways. Boldt’s (the one that resembles a sand castle) even has a drawbridge.

Some wealthy vacationers also spent time aboard their houseboats, floating mansions that could reach 100 feet long. La Duchesse, built for George Boldt in 1904, had a formal dining room, a piano and three fireplaces aboard.

Large hotels and guesthouses also catered to well-off visitors. Promotional literature for one advised, “Just bring your trunks and servants.” Thousand Island dressing was created at a local hotel, some say. It was Boldt who introduced it to the wider world by instructing his maître d’hôtel at the Waldorf to put it on the hotel menu.

Some mansions still exist along a stretch of the river dubbed Millionaire’s Row. But by 1940, the wealthy families were gone. The area remained a vacationland for families of lesser means, mostly from upstate New York, but economic activity declined.

Now the direction is upward again. Word has gotten out about the majestic scenery and still affordable second homes in the Thousand Islands, bringing buyers from around the country, local real estate agents say, who pay $250,000 to more than $1 million for a piece of real estate along the river — or in it, on the islands themselves.

The Thousand Islands region, about 340 miles northwest of New York City, begins at Kingston, Ontario, where the St. Lawrence arises from Lake Ontario, and extends about 40 miles downstream. Its honky-tonk heart is Alexandria Bay, N.Y. (“A-Bay” to the locals), which has seven bars on a two-block stretch. Other towns are more sedate. Clayton, N.Y., has a restored opera house and an Antique Boat Museum where visitors can tour La Duchesse.

The international boundary runs down the middle of the river, and often the only way to tell if an island house is American or Canadian is to look at the flag flying outside. Gary DeYoung, director of tourism for the Thousand Islands International Tourism Council, estimated the year-round population along both sides of the river and on its islands at 175,000, with about 15,000 additional summer residents.

Housing varies widely. “You can have a dumpy trailer next to a home with granite countertops and a custom library,” said Melanie Curley of Thousand Islands Realty in Clayton. “It takes some getting used to.” Summer homes may be tiny cottages, small Victorian houses, rustic ranches, splendid 100-year-old stone manses with original woodwork or large shingled homes on bluffs overlooking the river. Two condominium developments are in the works.

The Lozos’ house cost “under a million dollars,” Mr. Lozo said, including the extra 10 to 25 percent of construction costs that builders typically charge to build on an island. “I would do it again in a minute,” he added. The Lozos snorkel in the river, explore the local towns and wave at the tour boats and motorboats. Cargo-carrying behemoths bearing Liberian, Greek and Panamanian registry also ply the river, an international trade route. “I love to watch the tankers,” Mrs. Lozo said.

In some places, the river’s glorious past lives right alongside its present. In 2006 Tracy Gensler and her husband, Howard, bought a two-bedroom, two-bath condominium in the remodeled Swiss Chalet, originally a guesthouse built on Wellesley Island by George Boldt in 1895. The Genslers, whose main home is in Chevy Chase, Md., had been looking in Bethany Beach, Del., but “everything was two and three million, or a teardown and a rebuild, and there was no view,” Mrs. Gensler said. They paid $285,000 for their 1,300-square-foot unit right on the St. Lawrence. A string of fishing-lure party lights now adorns their kitchen cabinets, and framed vintage sepia-toned photographs of the Chalet hang on the walls.

Mrs. Gensler, 44, a freelance health writer, arrives on Wellesley Island with the couple’s daughters, Harper, 11, and Libby, 10, just after school ends in June and stays until the day before school starts again in the fall. Mr. Gensler, 42, a software consultant, joins them on weekends and for three vacation weeks. Wired for work, Mrs. Gensler often totes her laptop and cellphone to the water’s edge while the girls swim or go tubing and waterskiing with friends.

Summertime temperatures routinely reach the mid-70s to 80. The river is cool — the water reaches 72 degrees by mid-August — but the girls never miss a dip. “So far,” their mother said, “I haven’t had an entire day when we didn’t go in the water.” Libby has 7 swimsuits; Harper has 12.

Bradlee and Chad Roffers of Sarasota, Fla., bought a house last year on 17-acre Summerland Island. Mrs. Roffers vacationed in the area as a child and wanted her two daughters, Stella, 21 months, and Eloise, 6 months, to have the same experience. Their five-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home, built in 1912, cost them less than a million dollars and came with a three-slip boathouse and antique furnishings. A pair of vintage wooden water skis is mounted on one wall.

“This property in the Hamptons, Rhode Island or the Vineyard would be $2 million,” said Mr. Roffers, 35, president of SKY Sotheby’s International Realty in Sarasota. For substantially less, he said, “you get this, and much less pretense as well.”

Those who dream of an island all to themselves can still make that wish come true, provided they also have deep pockets. At noon today, 263-acre Fox Island, near Cape Vincent, goes up for auction. The island has six miles of shoreline, an eight-bedroom lodge filled with Stickley furniture, a private harbor, a dock and a runway. The suggested starting bid is $1 million.

Not everyone wants to haul the garbage off-island in a boat or put off errands because the river is choppy. Most second-home seekers want a mainland waterfront property with deep dockage and a view of the main channel, said Cathy Fiacco-Garlock of Garlock Realty in Alexandria Bay. Houses with those features begin at $500,000, so some developers are offering less-expensive alternatives.

Rick Merola, a local speedboat dealer, developed the Harbor Villas in Alexandria Bay and has so far sold 26 two-bedroom condominiums, each built over its own boathouse. Prices begin at $300,000 to $350,000. Linda and Frank Inserra of Copper Mountain, Colo., who have family ties in the Thousand Islands, bought one of the units and plan to use it six weeks in season and rent it out the rest of the summer. Mrs. Inserra, who runs a produce brokerage business, said she believed the project is going to “kick-start” Alexandria Bay.

About 20 minutes upriver, in sleepy Morristown, N.Y., Jarrett Newby has constructed Dockside Resorts, a development of waterfront condominiums directly across the river from Brockville, Ontario. The river is far narrower at this point, and there are none of those picturesque islands, but the view is completely unobstructed and the tankers still pass by. Each 1,100-square-foot unit comes with two bedrooms, one bath, a fireplace, a marina slip and a carport large enough to fit a boat. The units are on the market for $285,000, and 30 of 36 have been sold.

Property values in the Thousand Islands have risen 25 to 30 percent in the past 10 years, according to Ted Weisberg of Garlock Realty. Property taxes are high, at least in the estimation of some longtime homeowners. “Taxes on a $400,000 home could be $10,000 to $15,000 and up,” said Mrs. Curley of Thousand Islands Realty.

The costs have led some owners to sell their homes to a new generation, who seem only too happy to carry on the centuries-old traditions of summer on the River.

(y) (y) (y)


Carpe Carpium.

Seize the Carp.

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 08:34 AM
(l) (l) (l) (l)

A sea-kayaking journey on the Maine coast without forgoing hot showers and a warm bed by paddling from one bed-and-breakfast to another.

August 24, 2007

Paddling Down East From Inn to Inn


THE tides and wind were against us and the sun was in our eyes as we paddled into the harbor at Rockland, Me. My friend Kira and I emerged from the marina in our life jackets and spray skirts, lugging paddles, nautical charts and clothing across the street to the Old Granite Inn, our shoulders sore and heads aching from two hours of paddling in the heat.

We were so tired we thought about going straight to sleep — but then someone told us about a local restaurant, one of the best in Maine. Within the hour, we were seated at its elegant copper bar, drinking strawberry-and-rhubarb cocktails, mixed with ingredients from the garden out back.

We had paddled a quarter of the way up Penobscot Bay, starting about 60 miles northeast of Portland, because I wanted a sea-kayaking journey on the Maine coast. But I also wanted hot showers and a warm bed. I didn’t mind doing some of the hard work (the paddling), but I didn’t want to do all of it (the cooking). The answer: an inn-to-inn kayaking trip.

Finding help in arranging such a trip wasn’t easy. Water Walker Sea Kayaks, based in Belfast, Me., is a rare outfitter leading guided and guide-supported inn-to-inn trips on the Maine coast for beginner and intermediate paddlers. We opted for guide support, which meant that the owner of the company, Ray Wirth, devised an itinerary and provided us with nautical charts, compass, guidebook and radio, and accompanied us for the first hour to give us safety tips and paddling pointers.

Our route went north from Tenants Harbor, stopping for one night each at bed-and-breakfasts a few miles apart in South Thomaston, Rockland and Camden. In kayaks, we could dip into coves and inlets and circumnavigate small islands, exploring a seldom-seen side of Maine.

We started on a late-June day at the town dock in Tenants Harbor, adjacent to Cod End, a seafood restaurant whose backyard is littered with stacks of lobster traps and bushes of wild roses. A gusting onshore wind flooded the entire harbor with the smell of roses as we pushed off past moored lobster boats and the occasional white-clapboard house.

The wind sent a ripple of whitecaps across the ocean’s surface and kicked up some waves, which washed over the tandem kayak Kira and I were paddling. There was also the issue of the tide, which can be quite strong because it is linked to the extreme tidal fluctuations of the Bay of Fundy, and the fact that the water was a biting 53 degrees. But Mr. Wirth had told us that in eight years of guiding, he had never seen a tandem capsize.

To be extra safe, we headed for the leeward side of Whitehead Island, three miles out from Tenants Harbor, surfing the waves into the calmer waters of a small channel, then cruising alongside gray granite slabs surrounded by rosebushes. Our boat skimmed a couple of feet above boulders covered in weeds that looked like the sea’s answer to shag carpeting, and we glided around the island until we popped out at the base of the magnificent Whitehead Island Lighthouse, at the southern entrance of Penobscot Bay. Seeing that lighthouse felt like an official Maine welcome.

We continued on through Seal Harbor and into an inlet where, according to our chart and itinerary, we would find our lodging for the night, the Blue Lupin B & B. As we searched the coastline for the inn, a great blue heron flew past us, and a plump seal sunbathed on a rock.

THE Blue Lupin is a white two-story house on a grassy bluff beside a pier. We dragged our boat up off the beach and set it under one of three hulking maple trees on the lawn. Inside the house, we found the innkeeper, Helen Mitchell, a 55-year-resident of the property, sitting on her living room sofa finishing up some sewing.

Staying at the Blue Lupin was like stopping in for a night with your great aunt — if you were lucky enough to be born into a family with a stunning oceanfront plot of land and one of Maine’s best lobster shacks as a neighbor. To get to the shack, Waterman’s Beach Lobster — recognized a few years ago by the James Beard Foundation for its lobster roll — we walked out of our rooms, across our private decks, a hundred yards through the grass to the beach and up a set of stone steps beside the pier.

We ate lobster, of course, and rhubarb pie (both to die for) as we watched lobstermen on the pier pulling traps and a group of local kids on the beach skipping stones. Later that night in my room, I listened to waves breaking outside and studied the chart, planning the next day’s route.

At breakfast, Ms. Mitchell quizzed us on our Maine trivia.

“Guess how much the most successful lobsterman makes around here?” She said. “Four hundred thousand dollars!” she answered her own question proudly.

She showed us a newspaper clipping about the rare yellow lobster that was caught just offshore last year, and pictures of blue lobsters that are discovered a little more frequently in the bay. She asked if we’d seen the eagle fly overhead at dawn, and she pointed out a nest atop a white pine on Tommy Island.

Soon it was time to get back on the water. We packed the boat and paddled past dozens of colorful lobster buoys, headed for the Muscle Ridge Islands, an archipelago a couple of miles offshore, where underwater ledges serve as a breeding ground for harbor seals. We reached the archipelago within an hour, landing our boat on Birch Island for a short hike.

The cries of an osprey protecting its nest on the far side of the island grew more urgent the closer we got, so we backed off and returned to the boat, swishing past tufts of daisies and roses. We pushed off again into shallow, rocky water crammed with mussels. A seal popped its head up, and then disappeared at the sight of an oncoming lobster boat.

It was a long paddle to Owls Head, where we would have our choice of a few stony beaches with good shelter for lunch beneath the 1825 lighthouse that marks the entrance to Rockland Harbor. We stuck close to shore, examining giant maples and pines rising up from a thin layer of soil covering slabs of rust- and brown-colored igneous rock. The rock, blocky and jagged, reminded me of a brooding Picasso painting.

When you reach it by road, Rockland doesn’t look like your quintessentially quaint Maine town. But because we approached it from the water, we missed the Wal-Mart and Pizza Hut most people drive past. My visit to Rockland started with the Old Granite Inn — an airy bed-and-breakfast with a meticulously kept garden and a front porch overlooking the harbor.

When Kira and I walked into the Black Bull, a bar two blocks from the Old Granite Inn, we were so exhausted we’d given up on dinner. Kira had been attacked by black flies at Owls Head and her forehead was now bulging with a welt the size of a Ping-Pong ball.

The bartender came to the rescue with ice for the welt, dinner reservations at Primo and a taxi to take us there. Even though the Black Bull serves food (including a delicious burger, according to our innkeepers), he was adamant that we have dinner at Primo.

“People fly in just to eat there,” he told us. I wondered how many people had paddled in.

THAT’S how we wound up having fresh-fruit cocktails from the garden of Primo’s owner, Melissa Kelly, a James Beard-award-winning chef who trained with Alice Waters and grows most of her ingredients in Primo’s backyard. We went on to order a delicious halibut caught just offshore in Vinalhaven that was served with steamed clams, mussels and sweet shrimp gnochetti.

Our last day of kayaking was leisurely, the wind and tides pushing us all the way to Camden, about 25 miles from our starting point at Tenants Harbor. We beached ourselves just below the Camden library, to the right of a waterfall. Mr. Wirth met us there, we hauled the boat onto his trailer, and he dropped us at our final stop, the Hawthorn Inn, a massive Victorian where king-size beds and Jacuzzi bathtubs awaited.

We still had to drive back down to Tenants Harbor to pick up our car. But first, we stopped at Camden Cone for a scoop of Maine blueberry ice cream, filled with enough whole berries to rival the flavor of those heavenly strawberry-and-rhubarb drinks we’d had, the ones that tasted so good after a long day’s paddle up the coast of Maine.


WATER WALKER SEA KAYAKS (207-338-6424; www.touringkayaks.com) runs guided and guide-supported inn-to-inn sea kayaking trips in Penobscot Bay in June, July and August. A guided tour, including kayak rentals, costs $100 a person a day (food and lodging not included).

Maine Kayak in New Harbor (866-624-6352, www.mainekayak.com) offers two- and four-day inn-to-inn trips in the Boothbay Harbor area starting at $380 from May through mid-October.

Blue Lupin Bed & Breakfast, in South Thomaston (207-594-2673; www.bluelupinbandb.com), has rooms for two from $85 to $155.

Old Granite Inn (800-386-9036; www.oldgraniteinn.com), in Rockland, rents eight rooms, all but one with private bath, for $80 to $170, including breakfast.

The Hawthorn Inn (866-381-3647; www.camdenhawthorn.com), in Camden, has 10 rooms, including suites with garden views. Doubles run from $139 to $289, including breakfast.

Waterman’s Beach Lobster (207-596-7819), in South Thomaston, is open Thursday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The lobster roll costs $14.95.

Primo Restaurant, on the south side of Rockland (2 South Main Street; 207-596-0770; www.primorestaurant.com), serves dinner nightly. Dinner for two with wine runs about $150

The Black Bull, also in Rockland (420 Main Street; 207-593-9060, www.blackbulltavern.com), serves local beer and pub food. Sandwiches from $7.95.

(y) (y) I would definitely do this trip. :)


Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 08:36 AM

What was derelict is now one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods, with water taxi service connecting it with the hotels and shops of the Inner Harbor.

August 26, 2007

Day Out | Baltimore

Cold Yuengling, Fresh Oysters


THEY certainly don't can anything anymore in Canton.

For almost a century, the Baltimore waterfront neighborhood nestled between Interstate 95 and Fells Point in this city's southeast corner was the center of the area's industrial sector, boasting more than a dozen canneries, a Navy yard and a bunch of factories owned by the old Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Almost all that activity faded away decades ago.

In the last seven years, however, local urban improvement grants have helped transform former factories and row houses into modern and spacious condos, with a slew of new homeowners moving in to join people who started remaking the area in the 1980s. What was derelict is now one of the city's most desirable neighborhoods, with water taxi service connecting it with the hotels and shops of the Inner Harbor (www.thewatertaxi.com).

Today, Canton revolves around a four-block green space called O'Donnell Square. Named after Capt. John O'Donnell, who founded Canton as a plantation in the late 1700s, the square is a manicured grassy knoll where locals walk their dogs, play Frisbee and bask in the sun.

The park is bounded by a stone Evangelical Lutheran Church to the east and an old firehouse to the west. It splits traffic on O'Donnell Street and is, essentially, a glorified median. In between, raucous bars, inventive restaurants and tiny independent boutiques line either side, giving the spot the feeling of a college quad.

As if everyone were still in college, most lazy days in O'Donnell Square begin at a bar. Ravens and Orioles fans hang out at Looney's Pub (2900 O'Donnell Street, 410-675-9235), which boasts 50 televisions and 24 beers on tap. The vibe is equally sport-focused at Claddagh Pub (2918 O'Donnell Street, 410-522-4220), where the venerable Pennsylvania beer Yuengling is $3.50 a pint, and mashers (a k a mashed potatoes) come with every entree.

Other bars pride themselves on night life. At Coburn's Tavern & Grill (2921 O'Donnell Street, 410-342-0999), fancy drink specials and live D.J.'s keep crowds shoulder-to-shoulder well beyond midnight on Thursday through Saturday nights. Dancing also can be found at the Cosmopolitan Bar & Grill (2933 O'Donnell Street, 410-563-5000), which has a menu of 72 martinis, including butterscotch and key lime.

There are different kinds of bars, too. At Mama's on the Half Shell (2901 O'Donnell Street, 410-276-3160), for instance, the focus is oysters. Fried oysters, oysters Rockefeller and oyster shooters all make for delicious appetizers. Another highlight is Mama's oyster stew, which sells for $6.99 a bowl and is made with Blue Point oysters the size of harmonicas.

For finer dining, try Helen's Garden Restaurant (2908 O'Donnell Street, 410-276-2233). The owners Ed Scherer and Tom Looney offer a Mediterranean-themed menu with items like shrimp sautéed with ouzo ($19.95) and brined lamb with honey ($24.95). Weekly specials include half-price entrees on Wednesdays and $14 bottles of wine on Thursdays, a promotion for which locals have been known to wait hours.

After dinner, wander across the square to Vaccaro's (2919 O'Donnell Street, 410-276-4744) to be tempted by Italian pastries. The Canton outpost of a Baltimore chain, the shop offers traditional deserts like cannoli and sfogliatelle (each $4.75), but Vaccaro's signature dish is a nacho-style platter of cannoli chips and cannoli cream dip for $11.75.

Of the few shops on O'Donnell Square, the most eclectic is called 2910 on the Square (2910 O'Donnell Street, 410-675-8505). It specializes in Judaica, including menorahs, dreidels and Seder plates, but the owner, Stephanie Fleishman, also sells Baltimore-specific knickknacks, including bricks painted to look like local row houses (prices start at $25).

(y) (y) Oh yea, babe. ;)


What goes around, comes around.

Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 08:38 AM
(l) (l) (l)

Eighty years after Cather’s “Death Comes for the Archbishop” was published, it is possible to use her narration as a visitor’s guide.

The church at Laguna Pueblo.


The 17th-century mission church at Ácoma Pueblo, high on a mesa where the Indians lived to protect themselves from their many enemies.


August 26, 2007

Footsteps | Pueblos of New Mexico

Entering the World of Willa Cather’s Archbishop


IN October of 1852, a French clergyman saddles up a fine cream-colored mule and rides south out of Santa Fe. As the new Catholic bishop of the territory of New Mexico, he is embarking on his first visit to Indian pueblos.

“His great diocese was still an unimaginable mystery to him,” wrote Willa Cather in her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Death Comes for the Archbishop.” “He was eager to be abroad in it, to know his people.”

Isleta Pueblo, 13 miles south of Albuquerque, looks almost familiar to the bishop, with its startlingly white church, its clustered town and its acacia trees of the same blue-green color he knew in the south of France.

The scenery turns strange, though, as he rides west with his young Indian guide to Laguna Pueblo, and he begins not to believe his own eyes. Clumps of wild pumpkin look “less like a plant than like a great colony of gray-green lizards, moving and suddenly arrested by fear.” What seems at first to be bright waves of sand turn out to be petrified rock, “yellow as ochre” and dotted with ancient juniper trees.

By the time the travelers approach Ácoma, the third pueblo, they are passing colossal rock mesas, jutting upward 700 feet from the sandy plain. These formations look so bizarre to the bishop as to seem not part of nature at all, but rather like “vast cathedrals” or the remnants of a monumental city.

Today, these three pueblos are connected by freeways. Isleta and Ácoma have their own casinos. But each community still preserves its ancient identity. Eighty years after Cather's novel was published and more than 150 since the events she recounted, it is possible to use her narration as a visitor's guide. One warm March day, paperback in hand, I found my way to all three pueblos, grateful for Cather's sensitivity to the great beauty and mystery of the Southwest and for her ability to bring to life the characters who had encountered one another in the same landscape so long ago.

Cather's portrayal of Jean Marie Latour (her fictional name for the real-life bishop, John Baptist Lamy) paints a complicated but very romantic picture of New Mexico in the mid-19th century, just after its annexation to the United States. Despite its fictional embellishments, her book provides a realistic account of the bishop's efforts to replace the lawless and profligate Spanish priests of the territory, his visits to a beloved Navajo chief, his friendship with the Old West explorer Kit Carson and his dream of building a cathedral in Santa Fe.

But it is the trip to the pueblos that reveals the most about the bishop's predicament in the new country, because it imagines how he felt as he first entered the strange world of the Pueblo Indians. In Cather's telling: “When he approached the pueblo of Isleta, gleaming white across a low plain of gray sand, Father Latour's spirits rose. It was beautiful, that warm, rich whiteness of the church and the clustered town. The church and the Isleta houses were made of adobe, whitewashed with a bright gypsum.”

Today the pueblo houses are earth-colored, but the church is still pure white, its surface still regularly refinished. With its plain walls and heavy iron bells, it is an archetype of humble Southwestern style.

The church would have looked a little different in the bishop's day, and even then not as it did when it was first built in 1613. The roof and choir loft of the original building — a simple, long, high-ceilinged sanctuary — were destroyed in 1680, when the Pueblo Indians rebelled against the Franciscan missionaries. Rebuilt on the same walls in 1716, the church was given two wooden bell towers, now gone, which the bishop would have seen.

Leaving Isleta, Father Latour and his guide, Jacinto, ride through a sandstorm on their way to Laguna Pueblo, passing by the lake for which the village was named. That lake is dry now. But the 300-year-old mission church of St. Joseph remains precisely as Cather described it: “painted above and about the altar with gods of wind and rain and thunder, sun and moon, linked together in a geometrical design of crimson and blue and dark green, so that the end of the church seemed to be hung with tapestry.”

The bishop says Mass at St. Joseph's, but retires with Jacinto to the rocks north of the village to camp for the night. As the sun sets, the two men have the briefest of conversations about the stars and then lapse into their accustomed silence, contemplating the night sky.

“There was no way in which he could transfer his own memories of European civilization into the Indian mind,” Cather wrote of the bishop, “and he was quite willing to believe that behind Jacinto there was a long tradition, a story of experience, which no language could translate to him.”

The two continue their ride west, across the low plain among the great mesas, and the bishop is struck with the way each of the rock towers seems to be “duplicated by a cloud mesa, like a reflection, which lay motionless above it or moved slowly up from behind it.”

On the freshly paved highway through the same territory, just before reaching Ácoma, I passed another mesa that once had been inhabited, but was a ghost town even by the time the bishop rode by. As Jacinto explains in the novel, “the stairway which had been the only access to it was broken off by a great storm many centuries ago, and its people had perished up there from hunger.”

How, the bishop asks, did the people come up with the idea of living hundreds of feet in the air on naked rocks with no soil or water?

“A man can do whole lot when they hunt him day and night like an animal,” Jacinto says. “Navajos on the north, Apaches on the south; the Ácoma run up a rock to be safe.”

Ácoma is no longer the community it once was either. Ácoma families keep houses there as weekend and vacation homes. But the tribe has decided not to outfit the mesa top with electricity or running water, and it now lives mainly in a village on the valley floor. To reach the top now requires signing up for a guided tour, and taking a bus ride up.

For the bishop and Jacinto, a rugged rock stairway with primitive steps and handholds is the only route. When he reaches the top, the bishop is amazed at the white two- and three-story dwellings clustered together on the 10-acre pueblo, with “not a tree or blade of green upon it.” And he is alarmed at the sight of the mission church.

“Gaunt, grim, gray, its nave rising some 70 feet to a sagging, half-ruined roof, it was more like a fortress than a place of worship,” Cather wrote.

The bishop wonders why such a big church had even been built there in the early 1600s: “Powerful men they must have been, those Spanish Fathers, to draft Indian labor for this great work without military support.”

The priests forced the Indians to carry up not only building materials for the church but great quantities of earth for the churchyard cemetery.

“Every stone in that structure,” the bishop mused, “every handful of earth in those many thousand pounds of adobe, was carried up the trail on the backs of men and boys and women. And the great carved beams of the roof — Father Latour looked at them with amazement. In all the plain through which he had come he had seen no trees but a few stunted piñons. He asked Jacinto where these huge timbers could have been found.

“ ‘San Mateo mountain, I guess.'

“ ‘But the San Mateo mountains must be 40 or 50 miles away. How could they bring such timbers?'

“Jacinto shrugged. ‘Ácomas carry.' Certainly there was no other explanation.”

The Ácoma woman who guided my tour seemed to regard the building of the church with the same outrage. The Indians resented the missionaries' demands on their ancestors to such a degree, she remarked, that the Ácoma today speak only English and their native language, but never Spanish.

The Indians clung to their ancient religion even as they genuinely cooperated in the Catholic rituals. The practices still go on side by side. A short walk from the mission church is the pueblo's sacred kiva, its white-painted outdoor ladders angled northward, toward the place from which the ancestors came.

When the bishop says Mass in the church, he finds it difficult to go through the ceremony. “Before him, on the gray floor, in the gray light, a group of bright shawls and blankets, some 50 or 60 silent faces; above and behind them the gray walls. He felt as if he were celebrating Mass at the bottom of the sea, for antediluvian creatures; for types of life so old, so hardened, so shut within their shells, that the sacrifice on Calvary could hardly reach back so far. ...When he blessed them and sent them away, it was with a sense of inadequacy and spiritual defeat.”

Father Latour waits until the next day to descend. That night, he sleeps in the loggia in the corner of the priest's cloister. “He was on a naked rock in the desert, in the stone age, a prey to homesickness for his own kind, his own epoch,” Cather wrote, “for European man and his glorious history of desire and dreams.”



Isleta Pueblo is a 15-minute drive south of Albuquerque on Interstate 25. Laguna is a half-hour drive west of Albuquerque off Interstate 40 (exit 114), and Ácoma is 20 to 25 minutes farther west from Laguna. To reach Ácoma, take exit 102, turn south and drive through mesa country for 11 miles. Park at the visitors center.


The pueblos are close enough to Albuquerque that it is convenient to stay in hotels there. But the Sky City Casino Hotel in Ácoma, 11 miles north of the old mesa-top pueblo, has modern, clean and comfortable rooms for $89 a night (888-759-2489; www.skycity.com).

To get a flavor of the bishop's favored New Mexico landscape, stay on the grounds of his old getaway. The sprawling Bishop's Lodge (505-983-6377; www.bishopslodge.com), three miles north of downtown Santa Fe, has preserved the simple little white wood-and-stone chapel and rooms where Bishop John Baptist Lamy planted orchards and spent his retirement. Today, the 450-acre resort offers horseback riding, pool swimming, tennis, extensive walking trails and, in the spa, massage therapy. Rooms range from $200 to $1,500.


St. Augustine Church (505-869-3398) at Isleta Pueblo and the San Jose Mission Church (505-552-9330) in Laguna are both open to the public. (No charge but donations are accepted.) The only way to see the old Ácoma mesa-top pueblo and its mission church of St. Stephen is to take a guided tour (800-747-0181; www.skycity.com). Buses drive visitors to the top of the mesa, and the tour of the church, cemetery and surrounding homes and cisterns takes about an hour. The cost is $12 for adults, $11 for seniors and $9 for children. A $10 permit is required to carry a camera.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (505-982-5619) in Santa Fe, whose construction was planned and overseen by Bishop Lamy, is a block east of Santa Fe Plaza and open to the public.


The best place to buy Ácoma pottery, distinguished by pale pink clay and delicate designs, is on the mesa top. Individual artists sell directly to visitors from tables on the tour path.

In Isleta, Pueblo Indian pottery and other arts and crafts are on sale at Josephine Padilla's Hummingbird Gift Shop (505-869-3941), a short stroll from the mission church.

:) If you don't have a clue as to who Willa Cather is? I would suggest that you google her name and start reading her books. Awesome writer. Especially if you love stories of the "west". (y) (y)


Quidquid discis, tibi discis.

Whatever you learn, you learn it for yourself.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 08:43 AM
(o) :) (o) :) (o)

August 26, 2007

Ten Things to Do Before This Article Is Finished


1) Write a catchy opener.

“Zen has no goals,” according to a traditional koan. “It is always on its way.”

If so, Rachael Hubbard, a preschool teacher in Salem, Ore., will not be accompanying it. Ms. Hubbard has many goals — 78, to be exact. And it is only by dutifully ticking them off, she said, that she has found her path toward enlightenment.

Two years ago Ms. Hubbard compiled what is known as a life list, a contract with herself enumerating dozens of goals she hoped to accomplish before she died (build a house for Habitat for Humanity, read “Pride and Prejudice,” etc.) and posted it online.

“I just felt like I was slowly getting older and was looking around saying, ‘Well, I haven’t really done a whole lot with my life yet,’ ” she recalled.

But once she began the journey prescribed by her list, it quickly became an addiction.

“Earn a master’s degree” (No. 5): check.

“See a dinosaur fossil” (No. 27): check.

As for her latest challenges, “become quadri-lingual” or “swim with dolphins,” well, she is only 24.

“Hey, I am actually accomplishing things with my life,” she said, “even if it’s little by little.”

2) Distill the point of this article in a “nut graph.”

Once the province of bird-watchers, mountain climbers and sufferers of obsessive-compulsive disorder, the life list has become widely popular with the harried masses, equal parts motivational self-help and escapist fantasy.

3) Demonstrate the popularity of life lists.

Evidence of the lists’ surging popularity is all around. The travel writer Patricia Schultz currently has two “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” books lodged on The New York Times paperback advice best-seller list, two in an avalanche of recent life-list books, like “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die” and “101 Things to Do Before You Turn 40.”

In December, Warner Brothers will release Rob Reiner’s “Bucket List,” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as cancer patients who set out on a series of life-list adventures, including a Harley ride on the Great Wall of China.

Multiple life-list oriented social-networking Web sites have cropped up, inviting strangers to share their lists and offer mutual encouragement. Even Madison Avenue has chimed in. Visa is currently running a print campaign built around a checklist called “Things to Do While You’re Alive” (and credit-worthy, presumably).

4) Offer an explanation of the phenomenon.

And no wonder life lists are so ubiquitous. They are, proponents say, the perfect way for anxious time-crunched professionals to embark on spiritual quests in a productivity-obsessed age. The lists are results-oriented, quantifiable and relentlessly upbeat. If Aristotle were alive, he might envy the efficiency of a master list in which the messy search for meaning in life is boiled down to a simple grocery list: “get a tattoo,” “learn to surf.”

5) Consult the experts.

“People are dying to make this list, and most haven’t been given a chance since grade school,” said Josh Petersen, a founder of the Robot Co-op, a Seattle company that runs the Web site 43Things.com, which since 2004 has enrolled 1.2 million members who post customized life lists, find others with similar goals and encourage one another to check them off. Sky diving ranks 24th in popularity; losing weight, unsurprisingly, is first. “Pull a prank involving 100 lawn gnomes” is a goal shared by 65 members.

“In school you’re asked, ‘What do want to be when grow up?’ ” Mr. Petersen said. “Then people stop asking the question.”

Caroline Adams Miller, a life coach and motivational-book author in Bethesda, Md., asks that her clients create their own list of 100 things to accomplish. “What it does is give you a road map for your life,” she said. “To check items off your list gives you a sense of self-efficacy, or mastery.”

Gary Marcus, a psychology professor at New York University, agrees that people are happiest when making progress toward clear-cut goals, but said that those who set unreasonable goals (or overly ambitious timelines to meet them) set themselves up for stress. “Evolution vested us with a carrot — happiness — and a stick — anxiety,” he explained. “We feel happy when we make progress toward our goals, anxious when we don’t.”

6) Include the celebrity angle.

There was a time when life lists seemed mostly favored by overachievers who viewed their years on earth as heroic narratives. As recounted in “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” the motivational speaker and self-described adventurer John Goddard wrote a list of 127 life goals when he was 15 — pilot the world’s fastest aircraft, milk a poisonous snake — and now, at age 88, says he has checked off 110 of them. (He has yet to visit the moon.)

The college football coach Lou Holtz jotted down a life list of 107 items that included telling jokes on the “Tonight” show and winning a national championship. By 1988 he had done both.

Last year Ellen DeGeneres asked celebrity guests to share their lists on her talk show. Orlando Bloom vowed to learn to play the bongos. Beyoncé Knowles promised to take ballet lessons.

7) Return to the experiences of everyday people.

Non-celebrities tend to use their lists to overcome more-fundamental hurdles. Stacey Morris, 40, a sales manager at a housewares company in Ventnor, N.J., created a 100-item list after consulting with Ms. Miller, the life coach, because she said she felt unmotivated and “needed more focus.” Several of her items seemed vague (“develop a more positive attitude,” for example), but the goals have forced her to take specific steps toward self-improvement, she said.

To make good on her vow to “develop persistence,” she trained herself to pause at work every 15 minutes to record the activities she had just finished. The point, she said, is to eliminate distractions like inessential phone calls. She says she has doubled her daily productive hours.

“Having a life list,” she said, “changed my life.”

When she turned 40, Jill Smolinski, a single mother and freelance writer in Los Angeles, drew up a life list that unearthed ambitions she hadn’t known she had. “The first thing I wrote was ‘live in a beach house,’ ” said Ms. Smolinski, now 46. “That’s weird. I didn’t even know that was important to me.”

“Within a week, I was going for walk and noticed a beach house for rent,” she said, adding, “and I’m standing in it right now.”

The list also yielded a novel. Her book “The Next Thing on My List,” about a woman who vows to live out a dead friend’s life list, was published in April by Shaye Areheart Books.

8) Explore grand theories about the lists’ popularity.

Ms. Schultz, the travel author, who has sold 2.5 million copies of her first book and has seen it spun off into games, desk calendars and a Travel Channel show, surmised that there were demographic factors behind the sudden interest in this alluring, if gimmicky, pursuit.

“Seventy-nine million of us baby boomers are at a point in our life that this is the moment to stop and take stock,” she said. Ms. Schultz, 54, added that she had visited 80 percent of her 1,000 must-see places. “If ever there was an awareness that this is no dress rehearsal, this is it.”

Those in midlife, wrestling with issues of personal worth, seem to be the target for many of the life-list books, like “Fifty Places to Play Golf Before You Die,” by Chris Santella (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2005).

But Justin Zackham, 36, who wrote the screenplay for “The Bucket List” and was one of its executive producers, argues that the life-list impulse is actually strongest among members of Generation X, like himself: those who have grown up watching boomers stress out over high-paying conventional jobs and have vowed to chart their own course.

“We grew up as a generation questioning all that,” said Mr. Zackham, whose own life list includes sky diving (check) and “get a bunch of movies made” (check). “People do more lists now because they are actually thinking outside the typical progression of what life is supposed to be like.”

9) Postulate that life lists show a universal longing for adventure, fulfillment and grace.

The concept of the life list is as old — and American — as the self-improvement regimen that the young Jay Gatsby scribbled inside his tattered copy of “Hopalong Cassidy,” in which he vowed to “practice elocution, poise and how to attain it.”

Decades later the life lists of average Americans do not seem unlike those of people who strived to be extraordinary, and became so. For a companion book to “The Bucket List,” Mr. Zackham collected life lists from dozens of celebrities and high achievers. Jerry Rice, the football great, said he wished to visit Rome. Mr. Freeman, the actor, said he hoped to attain the perfect golf swing.

“These people pretty much want the same thing you do,” Mr. Zackham said. “So how extraordinary are they — or how un-extraordinary are you?”

10) Find a humorous “kicker.”

Then again, some Americans lead lives too extraordinary to augment with a life list.

For his book, Mr. Zackham visited Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion and asked him what he still hoped to experience.

“Nothing,” was Mr. Hefner’s answer to him. “He said, ‘I honestly can’t think of anything I don’t already have.’ ”

(o) (o) I have a mental list of places I wanted to visit (and have visited many of them already) as well as experiences. Experiences like eating sushi in a mom & pop sushi bar in Japan. (Did THAT many times.) ;)

(o) I don't think I will ever climb Annapurna, Dinali or other mountain - but I still could. It's more a matter of if I still wanted to.

:) Do you have a list?


Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.

The times are changed, and we are changed in them. (again)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-25-2007, 08:47 AM
(l) (f) (l) (f) (l) (f)

August 25, 2007

Summer Rituals | It Takes Two

Tangoing Cheek to Cheek for 3 Minutes in the Park


It was a sultry 6 p.m. in Central Park, and over by the 1872 Shakespeare statue at Literary Walk, melancholy rhythms spilled from two speakers propped up on park benches.

Courtenay Nugent rose. He asked Fran Beaumont to dance. There they were: the two it took to tango.

They moved sensually across the asphalt pavers, counterclockwise around the monument, under a coquettish breeze and what was to become a limitless starry sky and an oblong moon. As dozens of onlookers watched over the next three hours, about 50 couples swayed to the steps of the dance that has been called a three-minute love affair.

“I’m first to get up because I’m not shy,” said Mr. Nugent, 59, a translator and teacher who lives in St. Albans, Queens.

For more than a decade, free tango in Central Park, Saturdays from June through September, has been the emblem of one of the city’s most fermenting — make that obsessed — subcultures. Acolytes ritually gather in a wholly accessible yet somehow intimate domain surrounding the Bard, who, at that hour, was still dappled in sunlight, and seemingly amused.

As she danced, Ms. Beaumont flourished lipstick and nail polish of Tango Red. Her black lace gloves matched her tight black chemise with its see-through sleeves, and her floral red and black skirt was slit high to accommodate the most vertiginous dips, spins, kicks and drops. Her feet, of course, were wrapped in strappy black tango shoes.

By 6:15, two other couples had joined in. The disc jockey, Hernan Brizuela, 33, was playing sets, or tandas, of Argentine tangos: fast, medium, then slow.

“What happens on the tango floor stays on the tango floor,” said William Lawrence Parker III, 50, who is known as Trey and has been one of two organizers of the Central Park dance practically since it began.

Rick Castro, 48, the other longtime organizer, explained that it takes one tango “to meet your partner, the second to get used to your partner, and the third to just enjoy.”

Mr. Castro estimated that 75 percent of the dancers — young or old, skilled or neophyte — “are non-couples.” Even the regulars “don’t normally see each other during the week,” he added, “but I guess you could call them a family, scattered though it is.”

The makeshift dance floor in the park is one facet of a teeming city sub-universe: There are dozens of Argentine tango milongas, or gatherings, in New York, most of them charging a modest fee, and many of them listed on a Web site, newyorktango.com.

“I go every night,” said Natalie Rogers, a psychotherapist in Manhattan who said she prescribes tango to some of her patients struggling with performance anxiety. “I tell women that it’s a great way to meet men.”

Mr. Castro said the Central Park tango has produced many relationships and occasionally the syncopation of wedding bells, though most people just dance with tango friends or even strangers.

Lucille Krasne, a Manhattan artist recognized by everyone as the founding mother of Central Park tango, said it all began in the summer of 1995, when she and a handful of dancers took a boom box into Central Park at the Bethesda Fountain. “I called it Hit and Run Tango, because we had no permit and if the police came we’d run,” she recalled.

The next summer, the dance became more regularized. “The tourists loved us, the strollers loved us and the dogs loved us,” Ms. Krasne said.

Mr. Parker chimed in, “It became Hit and Stay Tango.”

Mr. Castro said the group was driven from the fountain by a Saturday night drumming ensemble that drowned out the tango vibe, so the dancers segued south to Shakespeare about seven years ago. Payment for the speakers, D.J. and park permits is fronted by Mr. Parker and Mr. Castro, who pass the hat to defer expenses.

Thanks to word of mouth and the site online, the weekly event has prospered, and even spread, to the South Street Seaport, where a free Sunday milonga has been flourishing since 1999, Mr. Castro said.

Through the years, joggers, cyclists and carriage passengers have been drawn into the tango vortex. Many times bridal parties venturing into the park have stumbled upon the tango worshipers “and just joined in,” Mr. Castro said.

The Olympic torch bearer, he added, suddenly turned up one night on the run through Central Park, “and we all stopped and applauded.”

Then there are the sporadic visitations by rain showers that have sent the tango revelers fleeing to the roofed-over refuge of the Dairy.

“Of course, some people keep dancing like crazy in the rain,” Ms. Krasne said.

Central Park tango has drawn its share of celebrities, including Kofi Annan, Robert Duvall (who wrote, directed and starred in the 2003 film “Assassination Tango”) and the actress Bernadette Peters, who has jetted to Buenos Aires to tango the night away.

“When celebrities come by, they just hang out,” Mr. Castro said. “We don’t bother them. Tango people are not grovelers.”

Tango is a leveler of age differences too. Alexander Turney, 89, a Central Park regular, said he learned to tango at 67, “and it gave me a new lease on life.”

There are even regular onlookers. Every summer Saturday for the last three years, George Rodriguez has propelled his lumbering Home Depot shopping cart full of belongings to the periphery of the dance. Mr. Rodriguez, who said he is not homeless since he stays with a friend on West 82nd Street, said he has never once danced. He just sits there, transfixed.

“This is the best place,” he said, “and tango is the best dance.”

For the most part, “men always ask the women to dance,” said Peggy Chen, 27, a neuropsychologist who started dancing in Central Park this summer. But while the men lead, she added: “We are improvising together. It is very creative.”

Ms. Rogers said she asks men to dance, adding, “Especially the very good dancers.”

Anthony Blackwell, 36, a Central Park dancer for the last eight years, said he loves “the synchronicity of it, the fact that you can suddenly connect with people.” Mr. Blackwell, who arranges housing for the homeless and mentally ill in Manhattan, added, “It’s a lot more fun than going to the gym, where you feel like a hamster.”

At 7:30 p.m., more than 60 newbies gathered for a free tango lesson near the Ann Reinking London plane tree (nearly everything in Central Park is a naming opportunity).

“For beginners, tango is about patience and discipline,” explained Jak Karako, 40, the instructor. Later, after the lesson, he said: “Argentine tango is like a Lego game with very tiny pieces. And you are building your own very intricate structure.”

The dancers dragged their soles in a cornstarch-and-talcum powder mixture sprinkled on the asphalt by Mr. Parker — the better to slide and pivot. Dark descended, and dancers cast eerie shadows from the park lamps. During breaks they caught their breath, hobbed, nobbed and gossiped on the surrounding E. B. White bench, Lee Salk bench and David Niven bench.

The last tango in Central Park ceased throbbing at 9:21 p.m. Mr. Castro began collecting trash as Mr. Parker helped pack up the sound system.

They would be back in a week. “It is,” Mr. Parker said, “greater than we are.”

(l) (l) I LOVE to dance. I dance pretty well too. I have been thinking about taking tango and other Latin dance classes. Most of them require two people to sign up. My quest is in finding a dance studio where I can go alone and dance with whomever is there to learn too.

(f) Have a lovely rest of your weekend.

Sapientia est potentia.

Wisdom is power.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-28-2007, 08:32 AM
(l) (S) (l) (S)


(f) (f)

Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.

The times are changed, and we are changed in them. (again)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-28-2007, 08:34 AM
:o :o

TVs, PCs fight for living room space at tech fair

Tue Aug 28, 2007 6:15AM EDT

By Georgina Prodhan, European Technology Correspondent

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Internet TV, mobile TV and video on demand may be the talk of the technology sector but when it comes to buying decisions at this week's IFA electronics fair, television sets are set to be bigger business than ever.

Exhibitors from around the world will descend on Berlin hoping to tempt almost a quarter of a million visitors expected at the show to upgrade to slimmer, sleeker TV sets promising sharper pictures and helped by rapidly falling prices.

"Glass, in the form of TVs, is going to be huge again," says Gartner analyst Mike McGuire. "I don't see the TV losing the space in the living room just yet."

Globally, more than 200 million TV sets are expected to be sold this year, worth about $115 billion, or more than a third of total consumer electronics sales. Of those, most will still be traditional curved-screen cathode-ray tube TVs.

Electronics manufacturers are hoping a looming cut-off of analogue TV signals in the United States, Europe and parts of Japan together with slowly starting high-definition TV (HDTV) broadcasts will persuade consumers to exchange their old sets.

Thin-screen LCD or plasma versions are on average five times more expensive.

A TV from Grundig that can be watched outdoors and a Loewe HDTV that can communicate with digital cameras, MP3 players and PC networks will be among the thousands of models on display at Europe's biggest consumer electronics fair.

In time, though, televisions, hi-fis and other analogue equipment are expected to be replaced by PC-based systems. Gartner estimates this will take another three to four years. By that time, most market researchers expect TV set sales to begin falling.

That development is being pushed not only by PC makers such as Hewlett-Packard or Fujitsu-Siemens who have been offering complete home-entertainment systems for years, but also telecoms operators keen to enter a new market.

This year's IFA will include a day-long conference on IPTV, which is still being held back by limited broadband delivery capacity and content rights issues. Deutsche Telekom's stand display will focus on IPTV.

While frenzied demand for hot consumer electronics products such as MP3 portable music players has slowed this year, PC sales are reviving.

Makers of video games consoles are also vying for their devices to take a central place in the living room while the portable versions are gaining new features.

Sony, for example, is expanding a planned video download service for its PlayStation Portable and aims to start selling an accessory next year that will turn it into a satellite navigation device.

Navigation devices themselves, meantime, are becoming much more than route finders: iPublish will be showing off its Merian Scout Navigator that comes complete with audio guides that automatically play when you pass a place of interest.

Gartner's McGuire says the new generation of young adults will drive a move away from TV-centered homes.

"If you're a young adult who grew up playing on a PlayStation 3 it's easier conceptually to add on features, it's a kind of logical extension if those subsystems perform well," he says. "They're a kind of Trojan Horse into the living room."

The IFA opens to the public on August 31 and runs until Sept 5.



What goes around, comes around.

Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-28-2007, 08:36 AM
(f) (p) (f) (p) (f)


(*) (*) Excellent quality as well as extreme number of galleries from which to choose. (f)

Semper ubi sub ubi.

Always wear underwear. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-31-2007, 06:59 AM
(l) (f) (l) (f)

Perrette supports many charity organizations, including animal rescue, the American Red Cross, civil rights and gay rights





http://z.about.com/d/horror/1/0/o/r/ncis_3.jpg Oh Marilyn!!










(f) (f)

What goes around, comes around.

Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-31-2007, 07:01 AM


I'll skip the "3:10 to Yuma".....don't much care for Russell Crowe after the way he treated Meg Ryan (and broke up her marriage) while filming "Proof of Life" several years ago. (I seem to be pretty opinionated at times......:o :o



Ab Iove principium.

Let's start with the most important.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-31-2007, 07:03 AM
:| :| You don't say.......


Job satisfaction increases with age: study

Wed Aug 29, 2007 3:02AM EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Most Americans are happy with their jobs and work satisfaction increases with age, according to a new study.

Eighty-six percent of people questioned between 1972 and 2006 said they were content in their work and only four percent were not satisfied.

The study showed workers over 65 years old were the most satisfied while people under 29 were the least happy in their work.

"In general, job satisfaction increases with age," said Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion Center at the University of Chicago.

He added that as people get older they move up the career ladder and get into better positions. They also sort through different alternative careers and find something that matches their talents and abilities better.

Many of the least satisfied younger people are in starter jobs, according to Smith.

"They are the bottom of the ladder, lowest paid and doing the most basic work, and not the creative work," he explained in an interview.

But Smith pointed out that many of these people eventually move out of these unhappy jobs and that's when job satisfaction levels increase with age.

Blacks, Hispanics and those doing unskilled labor also reported low levels of job satisfaction, while those in high prestige positions who earn more money were the most satisfied.

But money and prestige do not guarantee satisfaction.

"Money helps. Money isn't everything but better paid jobs do have higher satisfaction," said Smith.

He also pointed out that in terms of general life happiness, aside from the job, members of the clergy topped the list.

"Presumably, their satisfaction is very high because they are convinced they are doing God's work," he said.

"The rule is that most people are pretty satisfied ... The level of job satisfaction has remained virtually unchanged in the last four decades."


(f) (f)

Sic Itur Ad Astra.

Thus do we reach the stars.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-31-2007, 07:04 AM
(l) (l) (l) (l)

Don't know if all this is true but banana's taste good so what's
the harm?

Never, put your banana in the refrigerator!!!

This is interesting.

After reading this, you'll never look at a banana in the same way

Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose
combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and
substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas
provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the
banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes. But
energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also
help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and
conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst
people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a
banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein
that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax,
improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS: Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains
regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.
Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of
hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in
potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood
pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just
allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to
reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school were
helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast,
break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has
shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making
pupils more alert.

Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help
restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without
resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make
a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the
stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels,
while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if
you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep
blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing
the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people
find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in
Austria found pressure at wor k leads to gorging on comfort food like
chocolate and crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers
found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The
report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we
need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods
every two hours to keep levels steady.

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal
disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only
raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases.
It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the
lining of the stomach.

Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling"
fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of
expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat
bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers
because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking &Tobacco Use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up
smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and
magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of
nicotine withdrawal.

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the
heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water
balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby
reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the
help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine,
eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by
strokes by as much as 40%!

Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to
kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart,
with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a
plaster or surgical tape!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you
compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate,
three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and
twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium
and is one of the best value foods around So maybe its time to change that
well-known phrase so that we say, "A banana a day keeps the doctor

:) PS: Bananas must be the reason monkeys are so happy all the time! I
will add one here; want a quick shine on our shoes?? Take the
INSIDE of the banana skin, and rub directly on the shoe...polish with dry cloth.

;) Amazing fruit!


Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-31-2007, 07:06 AM
:) :)

It happened at the Denver Airport . This is hilarious.
I wish I had the guts of this girl. For all of you out
there who've had to deal with an irate customer, this
one is for you. An award should go to the United
Airlines gate agent for being smart and funny, while
making her point, when confronted with a passenger who
probably deserved to fly as cargo.

A crowded United Airlines flight was canceled. A
single agent was re-booking a long line of
inconvenienced travelers. Suddenly an angry
passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his
ticket on the counter and said, "I HAVE to be on this
flight and it has to be FIRST CLASS."

The agent replied, "I am sorry, sir. I'll be happy to
try to help you, but, I've got to help these folks
first, and I'm sure we'll be able to work something

The passenger was unimpressed He asked loudly, so that
the passengers behind him could hear, "DO YOU HAVE ANY

Without hesitating, the agent smiled and grabbed her
public address microphone, "May I have your attention
please, " she began, her voice heard clearly
throughout the terminal. "We have a passenger here at
Gate 14 WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can
help him find his identity, please come to Gate 14."

With the folks behind him in line laughing
hysterically, the man glared at the United agent,
gritted his teeth and swore "F*** You!".

Without flinching, she smiled and said, I'm sorry sir,
you'll have to get in line for that too.

(y) (y)


Semper ubi sub ubi.

Always wear underwear.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

08-31-2007, 07:08 AM
(f) (f)

Wolfgang's Perfect Steak

Posted Fri, Aug 24, 2007, 2:54 pm PDT

Every August my parents would declare "the summer's over." I was not a fan of this proclamation and have since vowed to stretch out the summer as long as humanly possible. If we're always focused on the next season, we lose great present moments. With that in mind, here's Wolfgang Puck's perfect grilled summer steak recipe to celebrate these fabulous late summer days and nights. Enjoy!

New York Steak with Mushrooms and Grilled Scallions

Yield: Serves 4

4 New York strip steaks, each 8 to 10 ounces (240 to 300 g), cut 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick

2 cups good-quality canned beef broth

2 ounces (60 g) unsalted butter

1 pound (500 g) fresh shiitake or oyster mushrooms, wiped clean, trimmed, and cut into slices 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick

Freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup Port (80 ml)

1 small package fresh enoki mushrooms

12 large scallions

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

Chopped fresh chives, for garnish

About an hour before you want to serve, set out the steaks at room temperature and build a fire in an outdoor charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill. Meanwhile, put the broth in a wide skillet, bring to a boil, and continue boiling until reduced to 1 cup (250 ml), 10 to 15 minutes; set aside.

In a heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over high heat until bubbling slightly. Add the shiitakes and saute, stirring frequently, until they are lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and transfer the mushrooms to a bowl. Return the skillet to low heat, carefully pour in the Port, and, with a long kitchen match, carefully ignite. Let the flames die out on their own, then raise the heat. While stirring and scraping with a wooden spoon to deglaze any pan deposits, cook until the Port has reduced to 2 tablespoons, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the reduced beef broth and continue cooking until the liquid has thickened slightly but is still fairly light, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Stir the shiitake mushrooms and their juices back into the skillet and taste, adjusting the seasonings if necessary. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, one small piece at a time. Then stir in the enoki mushrooms. Set the sauce aside, covering it to keep it warm.

When the grill is hot, lightly brush the scallions with a little olive oil. Grill them until browned and tender but still crunchy, about 2 minutes per side. Set the onions aside and keep them warm. Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper, then brush them with olive oil. Grill them until medium-rare, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and let rest for a couple of minutes in a warm place.

If necessary, reheat the sauce briefly.

Place a grilled scallion on the side of each of 4 warmed dinner plates. Spoon most of the mushroom sauce in the middle of the plates, reserving a few tablespoons. Place a steak on top of the sauce, spoon the remaining sauce onto the center of the steak, garnish with chives, and serve immediately.




Vive Ut Vitas!!

Live, so that you may live." or "Live life to the fullest.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 11:43 AM


Let the answers come to you

Need to ask a question or send an announcement to a group of friends, coworkers, or anyone else? This free site offers a simple way to get back a single organized result to use and share instead of a blizzard of emails and instant messages.

What's the question again?


(f) (f)

Aut disce aut discede,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 11:44 AM


Mix your own videos

Edit and mix videos, photos, and music—your own as well as material from other EyeSpot users—then share your creations with friends. It's easy and free. Plus, you can even create without a video camera.

The easy way to look creative:


(f) (f)

Quidquid discis, tibi discis.

Whatever you learn, you learn it for yourself.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxe (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 11:45 AM

Dumb Criminals

Even dumber crimes

There's almost nothing funnier than stupid criminals and their foiled capers. Now there's a whole site filled with ridiculous and apparently true tales about dumb criminals and the dumb crimes they attempt to pull off in their dumbness.

Pure genius:




Semper ubi sub ubi.

Always wear underwear.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 11:46 AM

American Folklore

Stories for cold winter nights

A rich repository of American folk tales, native myths and legends, ghost stories, and other tall tales from every U.S. state. You can also read about famous characters and historical figures.

Gather round the campfire:


(f) (f)

De gustibus non est disputandum.

In matters of taste there is no dispute.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 11:47 AM
(ap) (ap) (ap) (ap)

Virtual Traveler

See the world in ten minutes

Gorgeous photos and a photo blog written by a guy who's really been there. Places, animals, buildings, and garden spots from all over the world. He's also British so he spells traveller differently.

Go there...or not:


(f) (f)

Ad astra!

To the stars!

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 11:48 AM


Game: Digby's Donuts — Windows

Start dunkin'!

Here's your chance to run someone else's life—the hapless Digby, who opens and runs a chain of donut shops! The extent of your controlling Digby's world comes in stacking and dropping colorful donuts to form matches and combos while avoiding blunders. But you get to travel to 20 different cities and play across more than 80 levels. Fun, right?


(f) (f)

Vive Ut Vitas!!

Live, so that you may live." or "Live life to the fullest.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 11:49 AM
(*) (*) (*) (*) (*)

Poser — Mac

No messy clay...

Poser is a powerful 3D character design and animation tool. Create 3D figures using a diverse collection of ready-to-use 3D human and animal models. You can map facial photos, grow and style dynamic hair, and create dynamic cloth to add extraordinary realism to your figure. Hey, who knew you're an artist?!


(f) (f)

Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 11:50 AM
:o :o

Bureau of Missing Socks

Or, That darned footwear!

Instead of stalking your missing stocking, check here first to find out what really happens to single sock runaways (or is that hopaways?)... Don't be a heel: Go in search of your sole.


;) ;)

De gustibus non est disputandum.

In matters of taste there is no dispute.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 11:52 AM


(y) (y) Very cool sushi: http://i.fosfor.se/i05/051207_usb_3b.jpg

(y) Yum: Dimsum: http://i.fosfor.se/i05/051207_usb_5b.jpg

Barbie? http://i.fosfor.se/i05/051207_usb_1b.jpg

(f) (f)

Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 11:54 AM




(f) (f)

Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.

The times are changed, and we are changed in them. (again)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 11:55 AM



Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.

The times are changed, and we are changed in them. (again)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 11:56 AM


(y) (y)


Vive Ut Vitas!!

Live, so that you may live." or "Live life to the fullest.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 11:57 AM
:o :o :o

:| :|



Elton and the Queen:




Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 11:58 AM


(y) (y)


Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 11:59 AM
:| :| :| :| :| :|

The data breach at Monster.com continues to look nastier and nastier. Earlier this month, the employment site learned that a Trojan horse program out in the wild was turning PCs into zombies that would log in to Monster using the passwords of legitimate employers, snarf up the personal information revealed by job seekers and forward it to a computer in Russia. Initially, the number of customers affected was estimated in the hundreds of thousands, then as many as 1.3 million and now something much higher. "We're assuming it is a large number," Monster CEO Sal Iannuzzi told Reuters this week. "It could easily be in the millions." Thursday, it was revealed that the damage extended to almost 150,000 people who recently applied for federal jobs through the USAJobs site. Most worrisome to security experts is that this represents the largest and most sophisticated attack yet by crooks engaged in "spear phishing," the careful targeting of phishing messages to those most likely to be fooled by them. The real bounty in these heists wasn't the fodder for identity theft, but the e-mail addresses. The evildoers can then craft e-mail that looks like it comes from Monster, a trusted source to the recipient. The e-mail actually contains embedded links that install additional malware -- for instance, something to sniff out your online banking password. And the really bad news? The way Monster is set up, it takes only one compromised employer password to get access to a ton of jobseeker info. "There is no guaranteed fix," Iannuzzi said.




:| :|

Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.

The times are changed, and we are changed in them. (again)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 12:01 PM



Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 12:02 PM



(f) (f)

Amicus optima vitae possessio.

A friend is the greatest treasure in life.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-01-2007, 12:04 PM
(*) (*) (*)

We're moving a tad closer toward "Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi" holography. Researchers at USC have come up with a way to produce a 3-D image viewable from all angles using a high-speed video projector, a spinning mirror covered by a holographic diffuser, and some fancy video circuitry. Check out the video at Engadget. Still a bit too much equipment for most home decors, but we can wait ... some more.



(y) (y) Very, very cool.

(ap) (au) Safe holiday weekend travels. (au) (ap)

(f) (f)

Quidquid discis, tibi discis.

Whatever you learn, you learn it for yourself.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 06:32 AM
:s :s :s

Please Help this Person Find a Job

This individual seeks an executive position.
He will be available in January 2009, and is willing to relocate.


1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20520


Law Enforcement: I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976
for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty, paid a
fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days. My Texas
driving record has been "lost" and is not available.


I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to
take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By
joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat
duty in Vietnam.


I graduated from Yale University with a low C average. I was a


I ran for U.S. Congress and lost. I began my career in the oil
business in Midland, Texas, in 1975. I bought an oil company, but
couldn't find any oil in Texas. The company went bankrupt shortly
after I sold all my stock. I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team
in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money. With the
help of my father and our friends in the oil industry (including
Enron CEO Ken Lay), I was elected governor of Texas.


I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies,
making Texas the most polluted state in the Union. During my
tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city
in America.

I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of
billions in borrowed money.

I set the record for the most executions by any governor in
American history.

With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida, and my
father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President
after losing by over 500,000 votes.


* I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with
a criminal record. I invaded and occupied two countries at a
continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week. I spent
the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury.

* I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S.

* I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed
in any 12-month period.

* I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month

* I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history
of the U.S. stock market. In my first year in office, over 2
million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues
every month.

* I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of
any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire,"
Condoleeza Rice, has a Chevron oil tanker named after her.

* I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a
U.S. President.

* I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving
the most corporate campaign donations. My largest lifetime
campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay,
presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S.
history, Enron.

* My political party used Enron private jets and corporate
attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court
during my election decision.

* I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against
investigation or prosecution. More time and money was spent
investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent
investigating one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in
history. I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S.
history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the
oil industry was revealed.

* I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history.

* I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be
awarded government contracts.

* I appointed more convicted criminals to the administration
than any President in U.S. history.

* I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest
bureaucracy in the history of the United States government.

* I've broken more international treaties than any President in
U.S. history.

* I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United
Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.

* I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law.

* I refused to allow inspector's access to U.S. "prisoners of
war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva

* I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations
election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election).

* I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of
any President since the advent of television.

* I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any
one-year period. After taking off the entire month of August,
I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.

* I garnered the most sympathy ever for the U.S. after the World
Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S.
the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of
diplomacy in world history.

* I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to
simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people),
shattering the record for protests against any person in the
history of mankind.

* I am the first President in U.S. history to order an
unprovoked, pre-emptive attack and the military occupation of
a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United
Nations, the majority of U.S. citizens and the world

* I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a
cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families
in wartime.

* In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for
attacking Iraq and then blamed the lies on our British friends.

* I am the first President in history to have a majority of
Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to
world peace and security.

* I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical Bunker
Buster," a WMD.

* I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin
Laden to justice.


All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my
father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view.

All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my
bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public

All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President,
attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and
unavailable for public review.

:| :| :| :| :|

(f) ,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 06:34 AM

"we will conserve only what we love

we will love only what we understand

we will understand only what we're taught"

- Baba Dioum, Senegal


Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 06:35 AM
:| :|

September 4, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

City as Predator


Las Vegas

There is probably no city in America where women are treated worse than in Las Vegas.

The tone of systematic, institutionalized degradation is set by the mayor, Oscar Goodman, who told me in an interview that the city would reap “tremendous” benefits if a series of “magnificent brothels” could be established to cater to johns from across the country and around the world.

“I’ve said there should be the beginning of a discussion of that,” said Mr. Goodman, a former defense lawyer for mobsters who unabashedly describes his city as an adult playground where “anything goes — as long as you don’t go over the line.”

Most of the lines in Vegas have long since been erased. It is without a doubt, as the psychologist and researcher Melissa Farley, says, “the epicenter of North American prostitution and sex trafficking.”

Vegas is a place where women and girls by the tens of thousands are chewed up by the vast and astonishingly open sex trade. You can be sitting at a traffic light and a huge mobile billboard will drive past, promising, “Hot Babes — Direct to Your Room.”

I was drawn to this story by an advance copy of Ms. Farley’s book-length report, “Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections.” It’s being published online today.

The report explores what Oscar Goodman doesn’t appear to understand: the horrendous toll that prostitution, legal or illegal, takes on the women and girls involved. If you peel back the thin, supposedly sexy veneer of the commercial sex trade, you’ll quickly see the rotten inside, where females are bought, sold, raped, beaten, shamed and in many, many cases, physically and emotionally wrecked.

Start with the fact that so many of those who are pulled into the trade are so young — early-20s, late-teens and younger. Child prostitutes by the hundreds pass through the Family Division courtroom of Judge William Voy, who views the hapless, vulnerable girls as victims and tries to help them. The girls he sees are as young as 12, with the average age being 14.

He told me about a 14-year-old who was seven months pregnant by her pimp. She was suffering from a sexually transmitted disease, had a drug problem, was undernourished and still craved a relationship with the pimp. “These cases will tear your heart out,” the judge said.

Ms. Farley was asked to study the Nevada sex trade and its consequences 2 ½ years ago by John Miller, who at the time headed the U.S. State Department’s effort to fight human trafficking around the world. Prostitution is legal in some parts of Nevada but not in Vegas, where 90 percent of the state’s prostitution occurs. Vegas is a world-class embarrassment to any U.S. official attempting to reduce prostitution and trafficking in foreign countries.

“We did surveys of people on the street,” said Ms. Farley, “and nearly half thought prostitution was legal in Las Vegas. Guess why that is? Massive advertising.”

There are more than 150 pages of ads in the Las Vegas yellow pages for “college teens,” “mature women,” “mothers and daughters,” “petite Japanese women,” “Chinese teens in short skirts” and every other variation imaginable. I asked Mayor Goodman about that, and he said: “We’ve changed that a little bit. They used to have pictures.”

Sex clubs with teenage girls dancing nude and offering lap dances to johns are legal, ubiquitous and widely advertised. Many of those girls are either prostitutes or one short step away.

What is not widely understood is how coercive all aspects of the sex trade are. The average age of entry into prostitution is extremely young. The prostitutes are ruthlessly controlled by pimps, club owners and traffickers. In the case of legal prostitution, they are controlled by their own pimps and the brothel owners — pimps who have been legalized by the state.

The women are exploited in every way. Most of the money they receive from johns goes to the pimps, the brothel owners, the escort service managers and so forth. Strippers and lap dancers have to pay for the right to dance in the clubs, and the money they get in tips has to be shared with the club owners, bartenders, bouncers, etc.

Huge numbers of foreign women are trafficked into Vegas. The legions of Asian women in the massage parlors and escort services did not come flocking to Vegas from suburban U.S.A.

Mayor Goodman said that he is no fan of illegal prostitution, but is convinced the legal variety could be a boon. He is proud of his city’s tourist slogan: “What happens here, stays here.”

Back in the ’90s, Las Vegas tried hard to promote a family-friendly image.

“That ended when I became mayor,” said Mr. Goodman.

:| :|


Sapientia est potentia.

Wisdom is power.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 06:38 AM

To save houses with a history, states let “curators” move in, fix them up and stay ... for a while.

August 30, 2007

Nothing Down, $0 a Month, Hammer Required


WHY would some people willingly spend decades — and hundreds of thousands of dollars — renovating houses they will never own? For a small but growing number of so-called resident curators living in old and cherished state-owned houses up and down the East Coast, the answers include the pleasure of bringing an abandoned landmark back to life, freedom from mortgage payments and the chance to live in the kind of home that would otherwise be out of reach.

“We’re people of modest means,” said Darrold Endres, a nursing home administrator who has been living in and restoring an 1860s farmhouse near Boston with his family for 12 years. “We could not afford to live in an incredible spot like this, in a town with wonderful public schools for the girls, if not for the curatorship program.”

Programs like the one in Massachusetts have come about because many state governments own more houses of historical interest than they can afford to maintain, mainly on farms acquired decades ago and converted to parkland. Now a few states have begun turning these properties, along with some of the surrounding land, over to live-in curators, who take on restoration responsibilities in lieu of paying rent or taxes.

More states are looking to resident curator programs as a way to hold onto history, especially since a more familiar approach — opening the old houses to the public as museums — is on the wane, mainly because of a decline in visitors.

The houses mostly date to the 19th century, and have often sat vacant for years in remote forested areas; their tenants — typically married couples — often do much of the renovation themselves. Many have professional experience in construction as well as “creative skills that are especially good for dealing with the finer details in the house,” said Kevin M. Allen, who oversees the 28 properties in the Massachusetts Historic Curatorship Program, founded in 1994.

Maryland started the first network of 40 house curatorships in 1982, and Delaware began its program with three properties in 2004. In the last year, Vermont has offered the first three of what it expects will be a half a dozen or so houses, and Pennsylvania parks officials are meeting next month to discuss the establishment of the park system’s first curatorship, in an 18th-century farmhouse outside Philadelphia.

As part of the arduous application process, potential resident curators are asked to submit detailed restoration plans and budgets (usually at least $150,000), and to sign long leases (in Massachusetts, typically for 25 years, with options to renew; in Maryland and Delaware, for the life of the leaseholder).

A state inspector visits at least once a year to monitor the work — exteriors have to be brought back to their period look, and vintage interior features cannot be drastically altered — and the projects can last many years.

The resident curator system appeals to some preservationists as an alternative to selling properties off, or to maintaining them as museums at a time of “low visitorship, no endowments and aging board members,” said Donna Ann Harris, a preservation consultant and the author of the recent book “New Solutions for House Museums” (AltaMira Press). Resident curator arrangements, she said, “are an option that would serve these institutions well, in a business situation that’s pretty grim.”

For the curators themselves, though, the attraction is more basic. Here, three couples who have been restoring state-owned houses for 3 to 16 years explain why they are doing it, what they expected and what it has really been like.

At Home in a Tavern

NO one but Richard and Hedy Stewart and their daughter Hattie applied to live in the 1820s Buck Tavern in Bear, Del., just southwest of Wilmington, when the state called for curators three years ago. The gabled brick building’s boarded-up windows and missing interior walls may have scared away everyone else. But Mr. Stewart, 58, who runs a building restoration company in Dayton, Md., could tell that the tavern’s problems were more aesthetic than structural.

Mrs. Stewart, 56, a retired insurance-company executive, was skeptical. “When I first saw this place, I said some things — a couple of things — that I don’t think your newspaper would want to publish,” she recalled. “There was stuff growing on the tavern floor, and moving around, too. And I’m still scared to go down to the basement.”

But she fell for the charming arched dormers, the winding staircase and the location, on the edge of a 200-acre lake in Lums Pond State Park.

The Stewarts had been looking for a suitable curatorship in Maryland or Delaware and attending open houses for seven years. They had restored an early-20th-century farmhouse 30 years before, and then moved into an uninspiring 1970s ranch house where they still live, in Dayton. Mrs. Stewart is an avid family genealogist and practitioner of traditional crafts: she quilts, braids rugs, weaves baskets, and makes her own pickles, jellies and relishes. Hattie, 27, the youngest of the couple’s four children, is a legal secretary who lives in Laurel, Md., and is learning her mother’s skills and taking history courses at the University of Maryland while helping her parents restore the house. “Think how good ‘resident curator, Buck Tavern,’ will look on my résumé someday,” she said.

The tavern, which originally served travelers and workers on nearby canals, was gutted and moved to the park in the 1960s. The Stewarts estimated that its restoration would cost $150,000, but now expect to spend over $200,000, which they will finance partly by selling the ranch house. They plan to retire and move into the tavern in a year or so, and Hattie will eventually join them. For the past three years they have been commuting to Delaware, handling some of the minor work themselves — clearing out trash, patching floorboards, scraping woodwork — and leaving the rest to Robert L. David, a local contractor.

“I have to say, I like this job, putting back the whole outside the way it was in the 1820s, and not having to deal with any tear-out inside,” said Mr. David, who runs a one-man company called Things of Wood.

The tavern’s plywood-floored interior will someday be eight oak-paneled rooms, including what the Stewarts jokingly call the “pah-lor.” Mrs. Stewart is already envisioning the plaid and floral window treatments she’ll make, the antiques she’ll buy with some of the profits from the ranch house, and the parties she’ll give.

“That’s my front porch, and those are my decks,” she said, pointing to empty space outside the windows. “I can’t wait, that’s where all the Stewarts will spill out after dinner.”

From an 1890s Renovation to an 1860s One

DARROLD ENDRES and his wife, Janet Fritz, pitied Litchfield House long before the state let them take it over. In the early 1990s, they would take breaks from restoring their 1890s farmhouse in the Boston suburb of Billerica by hiking in the forest at Great Brook Farm State Park in nearby Carlisle, Mass. Whenever they walked past an empty 1860s farmstead on the grounds, they peered in.

“It was literally falling apart,” said Mr. Endres, 60, who is the director of a nursing home. “The windows were broken. The ceilings and the barn roof had collapsed. There were holes in the floors. And we kept thinking, ‘What a sad shame.’ ”

In July 1994, they saw an article in The Boston Globe announcing that the state was seeking resident curators for the three-bedroom house. Mr. Endres and Ms. Fritz, 51, a school psychologist, beat out 10 other candidates with an application that detailed the success of their Billerica project, his experience as a furniture-maker and barn builder, and her talents for gardening and sewing. “We even brought in samples of herbs we’d grown in Billerica and cider we’d made from our apple trees,” Ms. Fritz said.

The state signed them on for at least 25 years. They have a 5-year lease-extension option, and the state may eventually offer more extension options, and may even transfer the curatorship to their three daughters, Emily, now 18; Theresa, 16; and Julia, 10.

The couple’s estimate for the cost of the restoration was around $200,000, but so far, they said, in addition to $150,000 of their own money, they have put in $270,000 worth of sweat equity, at a state-determined rate of $20 per hour (Massachusetts requires its curators to spend or work off an agreed-upon minimum annually). Still, the money they have spent is a fraction of what the house would cost on the open market, Mr. Endres pointed out, where it “would be in the seven figures.”

They have kept costs down by doing the plumbing and electrical work — as well as most of the hard labor — themselves. Their daughters have pitched in, sanding paint off clapboards and shingling the barn. During a recent visit, Mr. Endres brought out a stack of photo albums. “Here we are ripping out brush by the roots with a log chain attached to our old pickup truck,” he said with nostalgia. “Here we are rebuilding the barn with post and beam, mortise and tenon. Here’s Janet scraping away the black mastic that held down the linoleum on the kitchen floorboards — isn’t she a trouper?”

The couple furnished Litchfield House (named for Olive and Lowell Litchfield, who managed the surrounding farm-turned-park during the last century) in a mixture of pieces made by Mr. Endres and antiques: Windsor chairs, a pie safe, a pedal-powered sewing machine. The barn is home to white-crested ducks and Araucana chickens, and the garden overflows with exotica. This year, Emily planted Japanese cucumbers, Theresa put in Jerusalem artichokes and Julia built a tepee out of pole-bean vines. Road signs welcome hikers to stroll through this “earnest little vegetable garden” and to “Touch, smell, taste (and weed) to your heart’s content.”

Sometime in the 2020s, Ms. Fritz said, they might try to extend their lease. “We love the physicality of the work here, and the tangible results,” she said. “There are days when I walk around remembering all that’s left to do, and other days when I walk in and I’m like, ‘We did this, and how great it looks!’ ”

Early 1800s Farm Life in Maryland, but Grander

GALE JOHNSON is a bridal shop owner turned interior decorator and self-described perfectionist, and her husband, T. J., is a retired Air Force flight engineer turned historic preservation projects manager specializing in federal buildings. They’re both highly focused on keeping chaos at bay, or trying to.

Almost all of the 16 rooms at their 1815 farmhouse in Annapolis, Md., are serene: the fringed valances swoop just so and the crystal chandeliers, inlaid wood furniture and gilt picture frames glisten dust-free. But in several rooms on the ground floor, the temporary ceilings are lumpy gray plastic and the shattered brick walls are smeared with cement.

“We’ve tried to finish, completely finish, a room at a time, and that sense of accomplishment has kept us plugging away,” said Mrs. Johnson, 58. When they took on the resident curatorship of the house in 1991, she said, “we figured we’d be done in two years,” adding, “We didn’t realize how bad things really were. At times, it was very overwhelming.”

Mr. Johnson, 59, discovered the gabled brick house while serving as a preservation consultant to the state’s resident curatorship program. “I evaluated about 40 houses statewide, to see if they were suitable for curatorships, and a dozen of them were really just too far gone,” he said. The Annapolis farmhouse they live in had been abandoned in the 1940s, when the surrounding coastal property, now 786 acres, became Sandy Point State Park.

Mr. Johnson persuaded his wife to look past the decay — vines were growing through the roof and raccoons had chewed the window frames — to the backyard views of Chesapeake Bay, miles of steel suspension bridge and a red-brick lighthouse.

The farmhouse had no heat or functioning shower when the Johnsons moved there from their tidy 1970s Cape Cod in Columbia, Md. “We basically camped out in one room for two years, with everything but our bed in storage,” Mr. Johnson said. They estimated that restoration would cost $285,000, but have so far spent $400,000. Mr. Johnson rebuilt almost everything himself — his idea of weekend relaxation is to tear off a rotted front porch — including the tall crown moldings and turned stair spindles. “This place is fancier now than it ever was — it was a very simple farmhouse,” Mrs. Johnson said.

When asked whether it ever bothered him that he has invested so much in a house he will never own, Mr. Johnson bristled. “Why worry about something like equity in your house?” he said. “You don’t take anything with you when you die.” He is trying to interest his 29-year-old son, Tommy, who works for a local construction company, in taking over the curatorship one day.

If the house does end up in a stranger’s hands, though, Mrs. Johnson said, “We will come back and haunt them if they don’t take care of it.”

:s :s I would never do this. Where is the return on my money invested in the repairs AND perspiration equity? Simply having a roof overhead and maybe one that needs replacement at that? ;) Hmmm. Pass.


Carpe Carpium.

Seize the Carp.

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 06:40 AM


Start of slide show at Venice Film Festival:


(f) (f)

Quidquid discis, tibi discis.

Whatever you learn, you learn it for yourself.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 06:41 AM

Slide Show:


<Claustrophobic...> LOOK AT THE CEILING!:

Most of the 300 guest rooms, which will cost about $300 to $350 a night for a standard room, will be in a new tower adjoining the jail. Those who book one of the 18 rooms in the old building, shown here, will find themselves in units much larger than the original 7-by-10-foot cells.


(f) (f)

De gustibus non est disputandum.

In matters of taste there is no dispute.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 06:42 AM

Across the Potomac from Washington, the culinary scene in this Virginia city is heating up.



Amicus optima vitae possessio.

A friend is the greatest treasure in life.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 06:43 AM



What goes around, comes around.

Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 06:44 AM

"Clean look" hot at NY Fashion Week

Wed Sep 5, 2007 8:54AM EDT

By Jan Paschal

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fashion cleans up next spring, with lean, polished looks prevailing over the revealing styles favored by the Paris Hilton and Britney Spears set, designers say.

Designers unveil their spring 2008 looks in New York's semi-annual Fashion Week that kicked off on Wednesday. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend.

For women sick of seeing skimpy, baby-doll clothes meant for teens, this is their moment.

"It's a clean-up campaign," said David A. Wolfe, creative director of The Doneger Group trend forecasters.

New styles will be "not as flashy and not as vulgar as we've seen in the recent past -- fewer clothes for Britney and Paris Hilton, more for grown-up women," he said.

Designer Carmen Marc Valvo concurred. "It's going to be very polished," he said, "cleaner, more put together and a little more refined."

Designer Tracy Reese said silhouettes will get leaner. "Things will get closer to the body," she said.

That's a relief to fans such as Lynn Henschel Klein of Park Ridge, New Jersey, a big customer of designer Ralph Lauren.

"I didn't like the tent," she said, referring to this year's revival of the voluminous dress. "I work hard to look this good, and I don't want to hide it."

Of special note this week is a celebration of Lauren, one of America's most successful designers, marking his 40th anniversary. He will present his collection in Central Park, followed by an exclusive black-tie dinner.


To kick off Fashion Week, the lights atop the Empire State Building glowed orange, purple and red on Tuesday. "The bright color combination of red, orange and purple connoted spring and fashion colors," said a Fashion Week spokeswoman.

As for the color favored by fashionistas worldwide, she added: "Black wasn't an option."

In a first for the New York public, Fashion Week tickets are being sold to certain American Express card holders, at $100 a pop.

Fashion Week has grown so big that designers need to do something different to stand out from the crowd, experts say.

Shows run from A to Z -- from Abaete, maker of luxury goods as well as Payless shoes, and Turkish-born Atil Kutoglu to Britain's VPL by Victoria Bartlett and rising star Zac Posen.

Scott Sternberg, who started his line Band of Outsiders in 2004, planned to use a boat in the Hudson River to present his fresh take on the classic Sperry Top-Sider boat shoe.

And what's new that can be done with the preppy boat shoe?

"Grosgrain, like a cotton faille (woven fabric)," Sternberg said.

This year, the calendar is especially crowded with highlights including celebrity shows by rocker Gwen Stefani and hotel heiress Nicky Hilton as well as proven powerhouses Nicole Miller, Vera Wang, Diane von Furstenberg and Carolina Herrera.

Four shows an hour will not be uncommon, with more than 260 shows scheduled so far.

Despite fashion shows proliferating around the world, fans still flock to New York.

"You want to do business in the fashion industry in America, you come here," said Mallis. "Paris is very much a think tank, Italy is a design or manufacturing center, and New York is the center of practical and wearable clothing."



Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 06:47 AM
(ap) (n) (ap) (n)

The plane-maker wants to grab more market share from arch-foe Boeing.

Airbus to source more from China

Wed Sep 5, 2007 4:55AM EDT

By Joseph Chaney

HONG KONG (Reuters) - European plane-maker Airbus wants to source more parts from China and grab more market share from arch-foe Boeing (BA.N: Quote, Profile, Research) in a market it expects to double every five to six years.

The firm owned by EADS (EAD.PA: Quote, Profile, Research), which edged ahead of Boeing this year in the annual race to chalk up more sales, plans to buy as much as $400 million worth of parts from Chinese manufacturers by 2015, Airbus China President Laurence Barron told the Reuters China Century Summit.

Despite a global backlash over the quality and safety of goods made on the world's factory floor, Barron said Airbus would source more and more complex aircraft components, such as wings.

They "started out making basic parts like doors, fairly simple stuff. But a wing is about as complex as air structures get," Barron said at the summit, held in Hong Kong.

"The Chinese aviation industry now has the capability to be a world-class supplier.

"In aviation, you cannot compromise quality. You just can't take the risk."

Airbus sources parts from multiple Chinese manufacturers, including Xi'an Aircraft Company (XAC), an affiliate of listed Xian Aircraft International Corp. (000768.SZ: Quote, Profile, Research).


China is a pivotal battleground between Airbus and Boeing, both of which are battling to sell jetliners to the country's top carriers: China Southern Air (1055.HK: Quote, Profile, Research) (ZNH.N: Quote, Profile, Research) (600029.SS: Quote, Profile, Research), China Eastern (0670.HK: Quote, Profile, Research) (600115.SS: Quote, Profile, Research) (CEA.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Air China (0753.HK: Quote, Profile, Research).

Travel to and from China, the world's fourth-largest economy, is expected to keep climbing alongside double-digit economic growth and dwindling restrictions.

Boeing currently controls roughly 60 percent of China's in-service fleet, compared to Airbus' 36 percent, but Barron says the arch-rivals should draw level at 50/50 by 2013.

Airbus expects Chinese airlines to need up to 150 of its jets in each of the next five years, including its giant A380s, as they expand to serve a domestic and international travel boom.

Last year, the French firm agreed to set up an aircraft assembly facility with three Chinese partners in the northern port city of Tianjin -- a move Barron hopes will give Airbus greater access to China's booming market.

"There was a specific request made by the Chinese government to both Airbus and Boeing -- we responded positively," Barron said about the firm's plant in Tianjin.

"It's very obvious that if you say yes or no to a government request like that, you're either going to be popular or unpopular -- or maybe more popular than you may have been otherwise," Barron said.

The European plane-maker delivered 76 aircraft in China in 2006 versus 56 in 2005. Barron said that number could ease slightly this year.

"That is not because demand is dropping," Barron said. "It's because there are no planes available. It's a high-class problem -- to be sold out."

A320's, for example, would not be available until 2013, Barron added.

Last year, the plane-maker's China firm intake was 159 planes -- that compares to Boeing's 112. Airbus has yet to secure a firm order in China this year, Barron said.


:| :| If the Airbus planes are made like toys and other "Made in China" items being massively recalled, I'll take another company's plane, thank you very much.

^o)^o) "If it's not Boeing, I'm not going."


Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 06:49 AM
8-| 8-|

Analyzing the Websites of American Magazines

POSTED: Tuesday, September 04, 2007

FROM BLOG: The Bivings Report - The Bivings Report is the official group blog of The Bivings Group, a web-based communication firm.

The following blog post is from an independent writer and is not connected with Reuters News. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not endorsed by Reuters.com.

As a follow up to our most recent newspaper study and last year's examination of magazines, our team has finished some research evaluating America's top 50 commercial magazines (according to circulation) based on the presence or lack of certain web features. The purpose of this research was to determine how American magazines are using the Web, and how the online programs of magazines have changed over the past year.

Here are some key findings from the report:

* More magazines are using reporter blogs in 2007 than in 2006. Fifty-eight percent of the magazines researched now offer reporter blogs on their sites, compared to just 40 percent in 2006. Ninety three percent of these blogs allow reader comments, while just 31 percent use blogrolls, or links to external blogs.

* Newspapers fared better than magazines in nearly every category in 2007. The only exception is the use of tags; four percent of magazines use tags compared to just one percent of newspapers.

* The usage of required registration increased since last year from 38 percent to 42 percent.

* Video usage nearly doubled in 2007, with 60 percent of the magazine websites we researched now offering video content. In 2006, just 34 percent of the websites offered this feature.

The following chart summarizes the report's results. Many more charts are included in the actual study.


In general, we have found that magazines are slower at adopting Web 2.0 trends than newspapers. We can hypothesize that this is due to the differing cultures surrounding the two types of print media: newspapers and the content they present are essential to most people's daily lives. In contrast most magazines are something "extra", and are often focused on entertainment. Perhaps for this reason, magazine websites tend to be geared more toward the casual browser rather than a serious reader or application user.


Full Report:


:o Unusual info for free. :|


Ab Iove principium.

Let's start with the most important.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 06:51 AM


Aug. 31 - Home entertainment and the future of television come to the fore at IFA, Europe's biggest consumer electronics fair.

More than 1200 exhibitors from over 30 countries are in Berlin to try to tempt almost quarter of a million visitors to the show to upgrade their old electronics and gadgets for the newest models. Television sets are set to be bigger business than ever, as makers display their slimmer, sleeker sets and show off the newest innovations in internet and mobile TV.

Joanna Partridge reports for Reuters.

|-) |-)



Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 06:54 AM

Sep. 3 - Gone are the days of slow service and surly waiters at an automated restaurant in Germany.

Diners at the newly-opened restaurant in Nuremberg can now place their order using a touch-screen computer. Their meal then arrives via an elaborate spiral rail network that descends from the second floor ktichen. While the restaurant has a futuristic concept, the food served there is traditional, and it seems to be a hit with diners.

Joanna Partridge reports for Reuters


:| :| Oh yes, this is relaxed "dining" alright.......:s :s Anyplace where they allow kids is a place I'll skip. Like this place.

I also figure that if parents can afford to go to an expensive restaurant (with wait-persons) at night? They can afford the babysitter too. :)


Aut disce aut discede,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 06:56 AM
:o :o

Starbucks is known for its gourmet coffee, but it also serves enormous amounts of milk, which will soon be free of the growth hormone Posilac.


Posilac "mooves" over

16:47 ET, Tue 4 Sep 2007

By Terri Coles

TORONTO (Reuters) - Starbucks is well-known for selling grande lattes and frappuccinos, but it also buys enormous quantities of milk - about 32 million gallons a year.

Responding to consumer concerns about genetic engineering and food safety, those gallons will soon be free of Posilac, a controversial synthetic growth hormone used to boost milk production.

Last month, the company committed to making 100 percent of the milk supply for its more than 5,600 American locations free of the synthetic bovine growth hormone -- officially known as recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST) -- by the end of the year.

Grocery retailer Krogers has also said it would only sell rbST-free by early 2008.

"This is a very clear message to the dairy industry that consumers don't like having their cows treated with bovine growth hormone," said Marion Nestle, a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University and author of the book "What To Eat".

Posilac, sold by Monsanto Co., is the genetically engineered version of a hormone produced by lactating cows and found in all milk. The two hormones are chemically very similar, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says there is no difference between milk from treated and untreated cows.

The synthetic hormone has been controversial since it received FDA approval in 1993, amid scientific and consumer criticism and heavy lobbying by Monsanto. Critics argue that rbST was never properly cleared of safety concerns, and Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the European Union all refused to approve Posilac because of animal health concerns.

Today, about 30 percent of dairy cows in the United States are given biweekly injections of Posilac, which can increase their milk production by 10-20 percent. Monsanto said Starbucks's decision not to use milk produced with rbST will have negative consequences for farmers who use Posilac to increase profits and reduce resource consumption by getting more milk per cow.

"There's no difference in the milk, so a policy that discriminates against farmers who produce the same milk is unfortunate when it has a negative impact on the bottom line," said Monsanto spokesman Andrew Burchett.

The hormone itself likely poses no health risk. Both the natural and synthetic versions are specific to cows and structured differently than human growth hormones. As protein hormones, they are largely inactivated by stomach acid and further broken down by digestive enzymes in the intestines.

Recombinant bovine somatotropin does pose a risk to cows, however -- those given the growth hormone injections also have a 25-percent higher risk of mastitis, an udder infection, because of the increased milk production. Treated cows have also shown higher risk of infertility and lameness in studies.

More worrying is the possibility of a human health risk from the insulin-like growth factor IGF-1, a hormone found in slightly higher quantities in milk from cows treated with rbST. Unlike growth hormones, the human and bovine forms of IGF-1 are identical, and studies have shown a correlation between elevated levels and modest increases in rates of prostate and breast cancer.

There is no clear connection to the consumption of milk produced with rbST, however, and other factors like weight, physical fitness and genetics can affect IGF-1 levels in the blood. Also, because the hormone is a protein, much of it may not survive digestion. "I just don't think there's enough data to say anything about it one way or another," said Nestle, but IGF-1 remains a safety concern.

Consumer worry about rbST ties in with concerns about genetically engineered food, which does not have to be labelled. When the FDA approved Posilac, it also decided that labelling the milk produced using the hormone wasn't necessary.

(Nestle was a member of the four-person committee of consumer representatives who recommended mandatory labeling to the FDA.) Monsanto argued that labeling would mislead consumers into believing that there was a difference between milk with and without rbST.

Critics disagree. "If they choose not to use something, and that distinguishes them from their competitors, they should be able to say so," said Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch.

Starbucks became the target of Food and Water Watch's "Hold the Hormones" campaign a year and a half ago, and 72 percent of their dairy was rbST-free as of last month's commitment to a total phase out.

Author Nestle also argues that even if rbST is safe, that doesn't mean consumers are comfortable having it in their milk. "It was kind of shoved down the throats of the American people, much against their better judgement, for reasons of science that have nothing to do with policy or the way people feel about these things," she said.

The government is not responsive to concerns about rbST, Lovera said, so change will come from consumers and organized action aimed at large, influential companies like Starbucks.

"The progress on this issue has come from the marketplace," she said. "We thought if we can get another big company to switch, that's going to convince more dairies to get rid of this hormone."

Consumer feelings about artificial growth hormones is so strong that, soon, only rbST-free milk will be sold in the United States, said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association. The power of consumer pressure to change market dynamics is encouraging, he said, despite the FDA's refusal to change its stance on rbST.

Cummins adds that, overall, the tide may have turned on food safety. "Once you realize what's going on with modern food and farming systems and you make a decision that you're going to try to purchase alternatives to protect your health and your family's health," he said, "you're going to keep going."


:| What next?



Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 07:09 AM

Yo, Bush! And welcome to Australia

By Piers Akerman

September 06, 2007 03:00am

YO, Bush! Welcome to Sydney.

Forgive the informality, but you're a Texan and Australia is a pretty laid back as you'd know from the Aussies you've met over the years and though you're only visiting briefly, a lot of us hope you get to experience something of the flavour of the country we love while you're here.

You've had an opportunity to see something of the Harbour, the Bridge and the Opera House and perhaps you'll get a chance to see Bondi and some other famous beaches before you leave. I certainly hope so.

As you know from your escapades with your old mate John Newcombe, we're a pretty upfront, straight-forward bunch and we respect those who stand up for what they believe in and take their lumps when they have to.

Newk was famously in your car when you were arrested for drunk driving in Kennebunkport, Maine, nearly 30 years ago.

He says you paid the penalty for trying to keep up with an Aussie. The fact that you can remember the incident, despite registering a blood alcohol content of .10 and that you did cut back on the beers from that moment says a lot about your strength of character.

You'll be meeting the leader of the Federal Opposition, Kevin Rudd, later today. He's also fallen foul of the demon drink but unlike you, he can't remember anything of the affair. Not even semi-naked women pole-dancing.

Notwithstanding his forgetful moments, Rudd has asked for time with you and will give you the benefit of his opinion of US foreign policy.

You might want to state your position, but it really won't be necessary to respond as Rudd has already said he has determined the course of action he intends to follow when he is (as he has told business leaders) inevitably elected.

Still, thank you for extending the courtesy of listening to him and providing him with a photo opportunity.

As you said at your press conference yesterday, the US and Australia are engaged in historic and important work in Iraq and many of us hope your assessment that future generations will appreciate the "courage and sacrifice made by our respected countries in laying the foundations for peace" in that nation.

How Rudd is able to separate the fight in Iraq from the struggle in Afghanistan remains a puzzle.

Some in the West have tied themselves in knots trying to parse the gradations of human freedom, and define liberty, but there are some pretty simple guidelines which media gurus and academics always ignore (such as whether women are accorded equal status) that remain fair indicators.

You would think that given Rudd's predilections for the odd night on the sauce, he would be supporting the right of Iraqi women to lead their own lives, whether or not they wish to go pole-dancing, but apparently not so. Freedom for Afghan women, yes, but Iraqi females will be abandoned under Rudd's policies.

Your presence underscores the importance of APEC as a policy development forum but it is hoped that you get time to meet informally with the other heads of the other most powerful economies in the world, China and Japan, as well as talk to the leader of the world's largest Islamic nation, Indonesia, and, of course, Russia.

As your refreshingly informal salute "Yo, Blair" at the G8 meeting in St Petersburg last July indicated, the heads of the world's great powers can get to know each other and communicate at a pretty relaxed level at these gatherings.

Your lengthy friendship with our Prime Minister John Howard, is an example of the warmth of the relationship that can develop. You will have been briefed about the rent-a-rabble protesters, but be assured you needn't pay them attention.

Every country has its wilfully misinformed and willingly ignorant. Tellingly, some protesters are opposed to APEC's encouragement of trade even though a report released by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade shortly before you flew in noted that the amount of poverty in the Asia-Pacific is shrinking as trade and globalisation create jobs.

And finally, despite what you've been told about your friend John Howard's current level of popularity, your remarks about your mate will be warmly received by many Aussies.

When you said you admired his vision and courage, you reminded them that he has made difficult decisions, unpopular decisions, because he believed them to be right, not because of what their possible effect on his popularity and he has stuck with them.

As you said, "in international diplomacy, it is important to know a leader is being honest."

It is a big thing to be able to say, as you did: "And the thing I appreciate about dealing with Prime Minister Howard is well, you know where he stands. You don't have to read nuance into his words and when he tells you something he stands by his word and I thank you for that."

Those were simple words but they went beyond the diplomatic inconsequentialities that most leaders mutter and reflect a sincerity that is appreciated.

Thanks for visiting, and enjoy the rest of your stay.






Carpe Carpium.

Seize the Carp.

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 07:12 AM
:| :| :| :| :| :| :|

From correspondents in Washington

September 06, 2007 11:35am

A US bomber mistakenly flew with nuclear warheads over the United States last week, but the US Air Force says the flight was not a threat to public safety.

The Air Force has started an investigation into the incident and a review of all operational procedures.

“All evidence we have seen so far points to an isolated mistake,” Lt Col Edward Thomas, an Air Force spokesman, said.

“It is important to note that munitions were safe, secure and under military control at all times. The error was discovered by airmen during internal Air Force checks. The weapons were safe and remained in Air Force control and custody at all times,” Col. Thomas said.

The US military maintains a policy against discussing any nuclear weapons matters, and Thomas did not confirm the weapons aboard the B-52 were nuclear.

But one defence official confirmed the missiles were nuclear.

The B-52 flew from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana on Thursday.


:s :s


Semper ubi sub ubi.

Always wear underwear. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 07:19 AM

Some people smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. Some drink a few beers. The health risks are well documented. But tasty, buttery, microwaveable popcorn?

Disease's popcorn link eye-popping for all

The "popcorn lung" diagnosis given a Centennial man jolted him and his wife, surprised specialists and spurred action.

By Manny Gonzales and Katy Human Denver Post Staff Writers

Article Last Updated: 09/06/2007 06:12:26 AM MDT

Centennial - Some people smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. Some drink a few beers. The health risks are well documented.

But tasty, buttery, microwaveable popcorn?

Wayne Watson never figured that his two-bag-a-day habit of his favorite store-brand, extra- buttery snack would harm him, but his penchant for popcorn over the past decade - sometimes to the tune of three pouches a day - has been doing just that.

"I never eat out, never went to fast-food restaurants, ... but I popped popcorn," the 52-year- old sofa salesman said Wednesday from his living room, chuckling along with his wife, Mary. "And I popped a lot of it!"

Watson can laugh now that his "15 minutes of fame" have come as the result of eating too much popcorn. His lung capacity, which had deteriorated to about 50 percent, has stabilized and improved to about 75 percent since a doctor at National Jewish Medical and Research Center pinpointed the cause of his condition, broncheolitis obliterans, otherwise known as "popcorn lung."

However, the microwaveable-popcorn industry isn't laughing. Three manufacturers responsible for most of the products sold in the United States said Wednesday that they would stop using diacetyl - the chemical tentatively linked to "popcorn lung" - as soon as possible.

ConAgra Foods, General Mills and American Pop Corn Co. will change their recipes, The Associated Press reported, because of consumer- safety concerns brought up by Watson's case. The three companies sell Orville Redenbacher, Act II, Pop Secret and Jolly Time microwaveable popcorn.

Meanwhile, Mary Watson is surprised that her husband's story has garnered so much attention. While his consumption seemed over the top - he'd go through three cases of 24 bags a month - she figured "better (to eat) popcorn than candy bars."

"Wayne's a big movie person, too, and every night we'd sit at home, watch a movie or the Rockies, and he'd eat popcorn," Mary Watson said. "He'd normally have one bag at work and one later. I had no idea or ever thought of popcorn as a potentially dangerous snack."

Watson realized his health was a concern at a Christmas concert: His solo during the church-choir performance left him gasping for air. Later, he had trouble walking from his golf cart to a hole because he was so out of breath.

Lung specialists at National Jewish, who have been treating Watson since the beginning of 2006, tentatively diagnosed him with "popcorn lung" in February, said Cecile Rose, the center's head of environmental and occupational health sciences.

She and several colleagues have spent four years consulting with 16 U.S. manufacturers of buttery microwaveable popcorn and butter flavoring, trying to figure out how to keep dangerous fumes away from workers.

Rose said she was as surprised as Watson to discover that his then-excessive popcorn consumption might be causing his breathing problems. She asked him about his consumption after the other diagnoses came up short.

"My eyes bugged out, my jaw dropped, and it felt like flags were raised, whistles were blown and fireworks were going off," he said. "It was the epiphany of a lifetime for me.

"I told her, 'I am microwaveable popcorn."'

Immediately, Rose ordered him to cease and desist with all popcorn popping.

When she saw that his lungs stabilized after he stopped eating the suspect popcorn, she wrote about the case to federal regulators.

From now on, Watson says, he's living life by the adage that too much of anything is bad.

"America, read the labels on processed food and just be careful about what you put into your bodies - moderation with anything is always good," he said. "For right now, I'm really big into bananas and peaches."


:| Popcorn lung?


Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-06-2007, 07:25 AM

Northumberland contains the wildest, most exhilarating stretch of coast in England, loved by twitchers, wanderers and kite-flyers alike, says Nigel Richardson.

Northumberland: a birder's paradise

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 01/09/2007Last Updated: 12:01am BST

Slide Show (and breathtaking!)


Hot sunshine, sudden white-out: the sea fret poured over the cliffs like dry ice. I parked the car in a layby on the road between Seahouses and Bamburgh, opened the door on to poppies and cow parsley and walked across dunes to the beach.

In the pearly light of the sea fret the sand was now glassy, now iridescent. In patches it was speckled with lugworm casts and, in occasional channels, it looked like a sand sculpture of a mackerel sky. No one else was here. The beauty of the sand, the surge of the surf and the emptiness were head-cleansing.

And when I decided to return to the car I learnt my first lesson about Northumberland's beaches, especially when the sea fret is down: you should mark the spot where your path drops on to the beach (there's always a plastic bag or a dropped swimming cozzie nearby for you to anchor with a stone). Otherwise, like me, you'll bumble back and forth like a twit in a maze, envisaging your future self as sea-bleached bones.

Are there wilder, more exhilarating beaches than these? Certainly not in England. The wide, sandy crescents that stretch from just below Berwick-upon-Tweed in the north to Druridge Bay in the south enjoy the double accolade - and protection - of being part of both an officially designated Heritage Coast and of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

At Druridge Bay I met Tom Cadwallender, the AONB's natural and cultural heritage officer and an enthusiastic ambassador for the birdlife and beauty of this coastline. Standing among the marram grass on the dunes we gazed on near-emptiness in either direction. "It's basically seven miles of sand, a classic Northumbrian coastline of rocky promontories holding the sand in," he said.

At the foot of the dunes were the remnants of concrete blocks from the Second World War that were supposed to act as obstacles to an invasion. Out on the flat sands were a handful of people and two sprinting border collies. "Apart from really sunny Sundays, this is about as busy as it gets," said Tom, who recalls motorcycle meets at Druridge Bay in the 1950s and 1960s - it's that wide and flat at low tide. "The spectators stood on the dunes here.

Obviously it wouldn't happen now because of environmental concerns." A day after I arrived - from glorious sunlight on the Cheviot Hills, which felt like the heathered roof of the world - mist still enshrouded the coast. But the pale coin of the sun was just about visible above us, and Tom was optimistic. "The prevailing weather here is westerly," he explained, "while the dominant wind is northerly." This accounts for the relative lack of rain ("We rate as one of the two or three lowest rainfall counties in Britain"), but also for the cold wind and the sea frets, especially in summer.

"It's the cold sea reacting with the warm air, so they can be regular," he admitted. "But generally the sun burns them off." The sea mist had certainly made for an interesting trip out to the Farne Islands the day before. These 28 dolerite extrusions, lying between two and five miles off the coast east of Bamburgh, are hotel and maternity ward to 100,000 breeding seabirds.

Tom, a serious birder, reckons a visit there is "one of the top 10 ornithological experiences in the world"; I had been looking forward to going for years.

I had my doubts as I joined 40 other cagouled optimists on the open deck of the Glad Tidings VII at Seahouses. Would we see a thing, or freeze to death in the trying? In fact, the skippers of these sightseeing boats are highly skilled.

Ours kept up a knowledgeable running commentary and beat the fret by holding the boat close enough to sheer rock faces for us to smell the guano and feel like intruders on an avian world.

Gulls, terns, kittiwakes, guillemots, the occasional razorbill and, of course, puffins in their many thousands have created shrieking, reeking cities out here in the North Sea. It's a sight so awesome you even forget the razor-edged northerlies.

On Inner Farne island, sometime home of St Cuthbert, we landed for an hour and I met one of the National Trust wardens there, Neil Forbes (the NT owns all the islands). He scanned the rocks with his binoculars. "We have one nesting pair of roseate terns," he said (the roseate tern being Britain's rarest breeding seabird). "That's what I was just looking for. If we get a second pair that would be fantastic."

The following day Tom pointed out that on Coquet Island, off Amble, there were 100 nesting pairs of roseate terns last year - "the biggest colony in Britain. We're really quite proud of that."

Rest of this article:


(f) (f)

Sic Itur Ad Astra.

Thus do we reach the stars.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-07-2007, 06:42 AM
(f) ;) (f)

Women now want a 'lingerie wardrobe' with patterns for every day and mood.

In pictures: Undie-cover chic:


At last, underwear worth lusting after

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 03/09/2007

Drab black and white basics just won't do. Women now want a 'lingerie wardrobe' with patterns for every mood, says Hilary Alexander ... even when no one else can see it

Walk along the high street, behind any youngish male, and you will soon get an indication of where men's underwear sits in the scheme of things these days: around the hips, and well above the waistband of a low-slung pair of jeans.

Isn't it time men's underwear designers got a grip on the situation?

If underwear has to be visible to be remotely cool, why not make it more interesting to look at? Elastic, no matter whose name or logo is splashed across it, is still elastic - and about as sexy as a support bandage.

The women's underwear business has been so much quicker to appreciate this. True, there was that unfortunate time when even A-list celebrities went out with an elastic "catapult" visibly straining over the waistband of their jeans.

That lapse in taste, thankfully, has been overcome by lacy boy-shorts, low-rise thongs and the return of waisted jeans that eliminate the risk of builder's cleavage.

Accidental displays aside, if any part of your underwear is going to be on show - a waistband, bra strap or camisole - it had damn well better be worth looking at. This concept was first exploited by the Italian design duo, Dolce & Gabbana, who invented underwear-as-outerwear back in the late 1980s.

At the time, the underwear scene over here was stuck in a black-and-white rut, with imaginations extending only to red at Christmas.

Of course, this was in the days before Agent Provocateur, when you actually had to go to France to find something with the requisite Parisian ooh-la-la.

The arrival of Agent Provocateur in time for Christmas 1994 changed the underwear scene forever. "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" was, naturally, a little perturbed when, in 2002, the brand turned its talents to providing a cheaper diffusion collection for M&S, but by then the gloves were off.

The fallout has affected every retailer from Miss Selfridge to the supermarkets, while celebrity and supermodel collections have blossomed at a tremendous rate; Elle Macpherson's Intimates collection has turned her from supermodel to supertycoon.

Today, the choice is vast and the range of styles available varies from season to season, just like the outerwear trends that proliferate from the catwalk.

Shoppers expect their favourite designer names to appear on bras and knickers, just as they do on sunglasses or bags.

Calvin Klein was one of the first to oblige, with the likes of Miuccia Prada, John Galliano, Christian Dior, Donna Karan and Moschino in hot pursuit. Stella McCartney recently announced her first lingerie link-up, while actress Sienna Miller and her designer sister Savannah - whose first collection, Twenty8Twelve, is now on sale at their new shop in Notting Hill - are already talking about venturing into lingerie by next year.

The high street designer boom has been just as fruitful for underwear. Jasper Conran, Julien Macdonald, Janet Reger and the Sadie Frost-Jemima French duo behind Floozie-FrostFrench have all now added lingerie to their Designers at Debenhams collections. Matthew Williamson and John Rocha are both dipping their toes in the water with sleepwear ranges for the high street chain.

The collections all tap into the idea of the "lingerie wardrobe", shaped, coloured and patterned to suit your mood, and the various fashion roles you may play - from bold and bootylicious to boyish.

Jasper Conran's range, for example, includes a crème de menthe-coloured satin balcony bra and boy-shorts, which hint at the androgynous allure of Keira Knightley in her latest film, Atonement.

Julien Macdonald's collection, meanwhile, features showgirl-style black-and-white tiger stripes, trimmed with electric blue lace. FrostFrench's Floozie label focuses on girly glamour, with camisoles, bras and big knickers in cute, ditsy prints with contrasting ruffles.

Janet Reger's silk stretch leopard-print basque is seriously glamorous; it has a corset back that will whittle your waist to hourglass dimensions and is far too good to be hidden under a sweater.

If you did want to keep it under wraps, take comfort from the fact that you would not be in the minority; more than a third of women think wearing attractive underwear is as much about self-indulgence and feeling good as looking good for someone else's sake.

Tell that to the boys.



Ab imo pectore.

From the bottom of the chest (heart). ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-07-2007, 06:44 AM

Models promoting a men's magazine join a student demonstration against the visit of US President George W Bush to the APEC summit in Sydney:


(y) (y)


Absentem lædit, qui cum ebrio litigat.

He who quarrels with a drunk hurts an absentee. ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-07-2007, 06:45 AM
:D :D

Two cows on a pitch marked into with 750 squares play cow droppings bingo in Ruswil, Switzerland. Spectators bet on which square cow droppings will land on:




Adde parvum parvo magnus acervus erit.

Add little to little and there will be a big pile. :o ;)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-07-2007, 06:46 AM
(l) (l) (l) (l) (l)

Slide Show:



September 5, 2007

In Wales, a Family Retreat


Nantyfarddu, a Welsh farmstead, is Tim and Judith Sear’s second home now, but for years it was their first, and only, real home — the place where the British-born couple and their children retreated periodically as Mr. Sear’s career moved them around Asia in the 1960s and ’70s.

In fact, when the couple bought the place in 1965, it was a bare-bones retreat, a touchstone for a growing family as it hopscotched from Singapore to Hong Kong to Australia and, finally, to just south of Fort Worth, Tex., where Tim and Judith Sear now live as naturalized American citizens.

“It’s been a constant for more than 40 years,” said Mrs. Sear, the mother of four and grandmother of five. Even now, all three generations return as often as possible, traveling from their homes in the United States to the town of Builth Wells, about 60 miles north of Cardiff, the Welsh capital.

“We think Nantyfarddu means ‘the stream of the black bard,’ ” Mrs. Sear said, “but we can’t be sure.” The name came with the three acres of land, a “gently crumbling farmhouse” (as eldest son Adam, now 43, described it) and two dilapidated stone barns, all of which date to at least 1810 and embody stone construction traditional to the region.

The farmstead now has two carefully restored and modernized structures. The original main dwelling, Mr. Sear recalled, “was a classic little house with three tiny rooms upstairs.”

“It hadn’t been lived in for 20 to 30 years,” he added. “There was no electricity, no running water, no kitchen; only a salting slab, a bread oven and a big old fireplace. There were also the two stone barns, one of which fell down subsequently.”

For plumbing, the Sears ran a hose from a nearby creek to a 600-gallon concrete tank that they installed in the hillside above the farmhouse. “You’d have to suck on one end of the hose to get the water started,” said Mr. Sear, now retired as chief executive of Alcon Laboratories, an eye-care products company based in Fort Worth. “I tied a tea strainer to the one end to stop the leaves getting in and, once we had the tank filled, we gravity-fed the water into the tap.” A local builder then fashioned a basic bathroom and kitchen.

Over the past 10 years, the Sears converted the remaining barn into their primary living quarters with three bedrooms, two and a half baths, a modern kitchen and spacious family areas. Then they refurbished the farmhouse as a guest cottage, with three bedrooms and one bath. Geoff Jones, a local architect, navigated the strict zoning dictates of the Powys County Council to create designs for both structures, maintaining the regional vernacular and, whenever possible, reusing materials.

“Because planning restrictions in Britain are terribly strict,” Mrs. Sear said, “getting permission to renovate — particularly a traditional barn — is difficult. And rightly so; these buildings really are a part of the landscape.”

Of the barn-cum-house, Mr. Jones said: “Naturally, it was pretty dilapidated. The roof was corrugated metal sheeting that had gone rusty and was leaking.”

Once that was taken off, the beams were raised. “It was very tricky, but it gave us 15 inches more headroom upstairs,” Mrs. Sear said.

Mr. Jones added: “The first thing we did was to stabilize the walls. We kept a lot of the old features, of course. The old timbers, some of them we rebuilt, and others we stabilized with reinforced concrete.

“We put new slates in the roof. Then, the outside has lancet openings, windows used in barns for ventilating the hay, that are only about four inches wide. So we put in new windows that the planners approved.”

Next Mr. Jones tackled the farmhouse renovation, a less complex project.

Now the two homes accommodate all 15 of the Sears’ immediate family and have all the modern amenities: electricity, plumbing and, more recently, a telephone — whose introduction caused spirited family debate. The idea of television at Nantyfarddu is anathema to most of the clan, who spend their time there reading, playing games, hiking the hills or watching local sheepdog trials, often convening in evenings at a pub in a 13th-century building three miles across the fields.

This isolated region has a particular appeal for Mrs. Sear. “I grew up in South Wales, from the age of 7 until the time I was married at 21,” she explained, “so it’s really my home. My parents were English and, after my father died, we moved down there to stay with an aunt. I developed a great love for Wales, so when we had an opportunity to buy something there, we jumped at it.”

But Mrs. Sear laughed in near-embarrassment when she revealed the 1965 cost of Nantyfarddu: 1,200 pounds (about $3,360 at the time).

Today it is virtually impossible to find even a crumbling barn for sale, let alone something so cheap, said Mr. Jones, who has spent his nearly 50-year career in Mid Wales. “These places are disappearing,” he said. “People who live in the cities — in London, in particular — want sort of a second home, and what they’re looking for is remote locations, and Wales is known for that.”

“Just one with a little bit of space around it, maybe an acre, would cost probably 180,000 pounds ($361,500). And that could be a barn that’s falling apart.”

For the Sears, however, no amount of money could buy the peace and quiet of this rustic family retreat.

“Over the years, we have developed very close friendships in the local farming community,” Mr. Sear said. “And they take their vacations in places like Spain, where it’s warm. They’re slightly bemused that we’d want to spend our holiday on a rainy Welsh hillside. But we do.”

(l) (l)


Ad augusta per angusta.

To high places by narrow roads.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 06:39 AM

An art installation at the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert:


A sunflower is pictured after heavy snowfall in the Tyrolean village of Waidring:


Whole Slide Show:



Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 06:41 AM
..ordered by category, proximity, success, popularity and perspective in the fashion of the Tokyo Metro map.

We have done it before: the 200 most successful websites on the web, ordered by category, proximity, success, popularity and perspective. Now we have done it again /no spamming of other sites/ and better. Back by popular demand /no spamming of other sites/ here is iA’s next Web Trend Map:

Web Trend Map 2007 Version 2.0:




Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 06:42 AM
:) :)

:o Hey, this waterboarding ride sounds fun:

In perfect keeping with the times, the newest tourist attraction in Washington is at the privately owned International Spy Museum -- an interactive exhibit called Operation Spy that gives visitors the chance to experience the real thrills of espionage, as long as you consider Hollywood romanticizing real. During a one-hour "mission," museumgoers get to mess with hidden cameras and recording devices, creep through a dark tunnel, virtually ride in a noisy freight elevator and a cargo van, and ransack the office of a "foreign government official," all while trying to track a missing nuclear device through a generically Middle Eastern city. No word on whether you also get a chance to participate in any extraordinary renditions or try some deep pattern searches on domestic communications, but there may be some mandatory non-disclosure agreements involved. Sounds like good family fun, and choosing the superspy fantasy over a realistic exhibit is definitely the way to go. After all, nobody is going to buy a ticket to spend an hour analyzing agriculture reports from Kyrgyzstan.






Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.

The times are changed, and we are changed in them. (again)

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 06:44 AM

The Justice Department told the FCC Thursday that it was opposed to any "Net neutrality" legislation that would prevent the telecoms and cable companies from charging extra to deliver premium accessibility to select customers. The agency maintained that such regulation could hamper development of the Internet and prevent service providers from upgrading or expanding their networks. "Whether or not the same type of differentiated products and services [as the Postal Service] will develop on the Internet should be determined by market forces, not regulatory intervention," the DOJ said in its filing. And you could hardly see AT&T's lips moving. CNet's Declan McCullagh thinks Net neutrality is a dead issue for now and lists 10 reasons why (and the Bush administration is on there twice).





:| :| What a croc........odile.


(f) ,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 06:46 AM
^o) ^o)


"One of the things I've been doing in the eBay era -- I've become a really keen observer of the rationalization of the world's attic. Every class of human artifact is being sorted and rationalized by this economically driven machine that constantly turns it over and brings it to a higher level of searchability. ... The tentacles of that operation extend into every flea market and thrift shop and basement and attic in the world. ... Every hair is being numbered -- eBay has every grain of sand. EBay is serving this very, very powerful function which nobody ever intended for it. EBay in the hands of humanity is sorting every last Dick Tracy wrist radio cereal premium sticker that ever existed. It's like some sort of vast unconscious curatorial movement."

-- Author William Gibson, in an entertaining interview with the Washington Post





Quidquid discis, tibi discis.

Whatever you learn, you learn it for yourself.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 06:49 AM
:| :|


My goodness, the cynicism is thick in the air today, thick as the smoky haze that has reddened the valley's sunrises and sunsets the past few days. Steve Jobs' conciliatory offer yesterday of a $100 Apple store credit for iPhone buyers who jumped in before this week's big price cut had been barely greeted as a generous gesture and savvy bit of damage control before suspicious minds began to pick it apart.

Prominent among the chorus was Robert X. Cringely, who says the whole series of events smacks of just the sort of ego-boosting manipulation toward which Jobs is inclined. "It wasn't an accident. It wasn't a thoughtless mistake. It was a calculated and tightly scripted exercise in marketing and ego gratification. In the mind of Steve Jobs the entire incident had no downside, none at all, which is yet another reason why he is not like you or me," writes Cringely. He goes on: "Had nobody complained [about the timing of the price cut], Apple would have left it at that. But Jobs expected complaints and had an answer waiting -- the $100 Apple store credit. This was no knee-jerk reaction, either. It was already there just waiting if needed. ... So Steve slapped his customers around a bit and what happened? Apple got free publicity worth tens of millions and the iPhone, which was already the top-selling smartphone in the world, will now sell two million units by the end of the year, up from an estimated one million. And Steve, having deliberately alienated his best customers, now gets a chance to woo them back. He has finally placed millions of people in the role of every key Apple employee - being alternately seduced and tormented."



Kevin Kelleher at GigaOm is another who sees the strings being pulled. "I get this feeling that this is exactly what Steve Jobs had planned all along," he writes. "The chances are high that that extra $100 you would have saved, had the iPhone been appropriately priced to begin with, would have been spent outside an Apple store. Now it's staying in Apple's coffers. And Steve Jobs looks like a caring, responsive CEO who didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings."


On the other hand, Saul Hansell of the New York Times reaches for Occam's razor: "We are so used to cryptic and seemingly disingenuous communication out of Apple that we miss it when Mr. Jobs says crassly what most businessmen try to hide: Apple lowered the price of the iPhone because it wants to make lots more money by selling boatloads of them this Christmas."


There's no question the episode has soured at least some Apple loyalists, but we'll have to wait for the next big product launch to see how many are gun shy. Wall Street's reaction, on the other hand, has been quick and brutal. Apple shares were down on the news of the iPhone price cut, down on the unhappy reaction and the possible sales implications, and down again today on Jobs' $50 million peace offering. The three-day slide has knocked about $11 billion off the company's market cap.
But not to worry, Apple fans -- it's undoubtedly all part of Steve's master plan.





(y) (y) Jobs blew it big time. It should have been a $200. refund and additional compensation for avid loyalist Apple fans who camped out overnight outside retail outlets selling the first devices. IMHO, of course. ;)


Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 06:51 AM
(l) (f) (l) (f)

Each of the photos in this slide show have hot links to each beach.........


Abermawr, North Pembrokeshire

A huge pebble bank spans the beach, but as the tide drops a dark strip of sand is revealed.


Hornsea, Holderness, Yorkshire

The ever-shifting shingle of Hornsea provides a colourful contrast to the deep blue of the North Sea.



Talk about rock hound heaven. (l)



Amicus optima vitae possessio.

A friend is the greatest treasure in life.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 06:52 AM

In pictures: Autumn trends:


The seven wonders of autumn

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 27/08/2007

The new season is bursting with surprises and bold designs that will send a whirlwind through your wardrobe, says Hilary Alexander:


(l) Two 2007 Fall trends I really liked:

(l) 1. Adding more drama, the high street will soon be awash with purple, a colour that lends itself perfectly to autumn. If you're not feeling brave enough for violet, milder lilac and lavender hues will be making an appearance.

(l) 2. If none of these bold new autumn trends appeals, fear not: there is always the Little Black Dress. This season, the LBD has been told, rather like Amy Winehouse, to stop being a party girl and start concentrating on the day job. Make it a foundation stone of your 9-to-5 wardrobe: with any number of styles and shapes to choose from - including long-sleeved versions - anyone, regardless of age, shape or size, can wear it.

(y) (y)


Vive Ut Vitas!!

Live, so that you may live." or "Live life to the fullest.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 06:53 AM
(f) (f)

Slide Show:


I LOVE this look!

Katie Leeming poses - she was also a finalist in the first Ladies Day competition.


Goodwood revives some vintage tracks

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 03/09/2007




Carpe Diem,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 06:55 AM




"When I first suggested writing about chocolate gold jewelry, my colleagues thought I meant chocolate candy shaped into rings, bracelets, charms, necklaces, etc.; thinking, perhaps, that it was a rather quaint new Valentine gift idea but never dreaming that I meant the real thing: brown gold jewelry."




What goes around, comes around.

Id quot circumiret, circumveniat.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 06:56 AM
(y) (y) (y) (y) (y)

September 6, 2007

Love It? Check the Label


UNTIL recently, Bill Allayaud, who works as a director for the Sierra Club in Sacramento, thought people who checked labels on clothing or toys to make sure they were “Made in the U.S.A.” were everything he was not: flag-waving, protectionist, even a little xenophobic.

But lately, he said, he is becoming one of them.

“Everything I buy now, I look at the label,” said Mr. Allayaud, 56, who explained that the “buy American” movement — long popular among blue-collar union workers and lunch-pail conservatives — no longer seemed so jingoistic, and was actually starting to come into vogue for liberals like himself who never before had a philosophical problem with Japanese cars or French wine.

He said the reasons for his change of heart are many: a desire to buy as many “locally made” products as possible to reduce carbon emissions from transporting them; a worry about toxic goods made in the third world; and a concern that the rising tide of imports will damage the economy and hurt everybody.

“Every time you see ‘Made in China,’ ” he said, “you think, ‘wait a minute, something’s not right here.’ ”

“Made in the U.S.A.” used to be a label flaunted primarily by consumers in the Rust Belt and rural regions. Increasingly, it is a status symbol for cosmopolitan bobos, and it is being exploited by the marketers who cater to them.

For many the label represents a heightened concern for workplace and environmental issues, consumer safety and premium quality. “It involves people wanting to have guilt-free affluence,” Alex Steffen, who is the executive editor of www.worldchanging.com, a Web site devoted to sustainability issues, said in an e-mail message. “So you have not only the local food craze but things like American apparel, or Canadian diamonds instead of African ‘blood diamonds,’ or local-crafted toys.”

With so many mass-market goods made off-shore, American-made products, which are often more expensive, have come to connote luxury. New Balance produces less expensive running shoes abroad, but it still makes the top-of-the-line 992 model — which the company says requires 80 manufacturing steps and costs $135 — in Maine. A favorite in college towns from Cambridge, Mass. to Berkeley, Calif., each model 992 features a large, reflective “USA” logo on the heel, and an American flag on the box.

American Apparel, which carries the label “Made in Downtown LA” in every T-shirt and minidress, famously brought sex appeal to clothing basics that are promoted as “sweatshop free.” In the process it won the allegiance of young taste-makers.

Many of the American designers now showing collections at New York Fashion Week, which runs through Sept. 12, will have their goods stitched in foreign factories, a reflection of the battering of American garment manufacturing. From 2001 to 2006, clothing production in the United States declined by 56 percent, the American Apparel & Footwear Association said.

American high-fashion designers who do make clothes domestically tend to be too small, or in the case of Oscar de la Renta and Nicole Miller, willing to pay a premium in labor costs in order to maintain strict quality control.

But these brands have yet to exploit the cachet of “Made in the U.S.A.” in their marketing, in the way that some non-runway labels have seized upon. The designer Steven Alan, for one, while avoiding the Bryant Park tents, makes his distinctive rumpled dress shirts, which sell for $168, in factories in the United States, many in New York City. His “Made in the U.S.A.” labels include an embroidered American flag, which he said helps send a subtle message to his target consumer — downtown, hip, discerning — that his clothes are not just another mass-market knock-off from Asia.

Even though it is not always justified, “there is a perception that because it is made overseas,” he said, clothing is produced to the “lowest common denominator — there is not the attention to detail.”

Any move by the affluent left to conspicuously “Buy American” seems like an inversion of the internationalist sensibility that it always wore as a badge of distinction, said Robert H. Frank, an economics professor at the Johnson school of management at Cornell. These people tended to be ardent free-traders as recently the Clinton years.

“They always think of themselves as more sophisticated,” Professor Frank said. “The farther away something comes from, the presumption, the better it is.”

The evolving image of many American-made products as small-batch, high-craftsmanship products is true in other connoisseur-friendly industries as well. Fender, the guitar maker, builds entry-level electric guitars in Mexico, but it still makes higher-end Stratocasters and Telecasters — including its hand-made Custom Shop models, which sell for several thousand dollars — in California.

In bicycles, too, Schwinn and Huffy have decamped to Asia, leaving high-end specialty companies like Trek and Cannondale alone making bikes in this country, where there is “a greater sense of craft and small scale,” said Matthew Mannelly,the chief executive officer of Cannondale. The company recently started producing its “entry level” bikes, priced $500 to $1,000, in Asia, but says it still makes the bulk of its product line — and its best bikes — in Bedford, Pa.

The new prestige of “Made in America” was not lost on Elizabeth Preston, a cycling advocate in Washington. While Ms. Preston, 33 , said that politically she is as “as far left as you can go,” she nonetheless felt drawn to the Handbuilt in the U.S.A. sticker on the $1,250 Trek road bike she bought for her boyfriend a few weeks ago. Since then, she has been showing off the sticker to friends.

“There’s something about the idea of the workmanship and supporting the United States’s economy,” she said.

Stephanie Sanzone, a graduate student in environmental policy at George Mason University, says she has seen ample evidence that a “buy American” attitude is expanding.

Ms. Sanzone, 47, who lives in Alexandria, Va., started the Web site www.stillmadeinusa.com three years ago to list and promote American-made products, for environmental and economic reasons, she said.

Unlike many “Buy American” Web sites, which feature images of weeping bald eagles or quotations from Pat Buchanan, Ms. Sanzone, a Democrat, keeps her site nonpartisan. In the last month, she said, traffic has jumped fourfold, with new visitors including vegans, green shoppers, “Free Tibet” activists and visitors from the Web site democraticunderground.com. Many said the recall of Chinese-made toys inspired them to act, but many also told her that they were starting to expand their focus beyond toys.

“I’m getting all these impassioned e-mails saying, ‘I’m never going to buy anything made in China again,’ and it really is from a different crowd,” she said.

The recent recalls of Mattel toys, made in China with lead-based paint, prompted many parents to seek American-made toys. Joan Blades of Berkeley, Calif., president of MomsRising.org, a mothers’ rights advocacy group with 100,000 members, predicts many parents are going to be checking labels and favoring American-made products, even if they are as simple as wooden blocks, as the holiday season approaches. “I think more and more mothers are going to be particularly distrustful of goods made in China,” she said.

Indeed, some domestic companies, such as Stack & Stick, which produces building blocks, or Little Capers, which makes superhero costumes, are working American flags and “Made in the USA” messages into their advertising, as well as marketing themselves as a safe alternative.

Skeptics say there are limits to how far the National Public Radio demographic will go as it flirts with a cause long associated with the Rush Limbaugh crowd. It is hard to imagine, say, that people who tote reusable cotton bags to Whole Foods will ditch their beloved Saabs for an American-made Chevrolet Cobalt.

“People like that don’t even know where the Chevy store is,” said Ernie Boch, president of Boch Automotive in Norwood, Mass., who operates Honda, Subaru and Toyota dealerships in the Northeast. “It’s kind of like people who stay at the Four Seasons. They’ve heard of Motel 6, but they don’t stay there. It’s not part of their vernacular.”

Nonetheless, the new interest from yuppies in seeking out domestically made products is evident to traditionalists like John Ratzenberger, best known as the actor who played Cliff in “Cheers,” who grew up in the factory town of Bridgeport, Conn., and is now the host of “John Ratzenberger’s Made in America,” a Travel Channel show that celebrates craftsmanship at factories.

“When we started doing this show, we were accused of being xenophobic, flag-wavers,” said Mr. Ratzenberger, whose show began five years ago. “The more we did our show, the more people are looking around in their own towns, realizing once these companies close, it’s going to affect the fabric of their communities. Things they took for granted, like sponsors for Little League for example, aren’t there.”

“This,” he said, “goes right across the political spectrum.”

(y) (y)



Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 06:58 AM

New York Collections:


September 7, 2007

Getting Noticed, Pretending Not to Care


Lurking in the background of the spring 2008 collections in New York, which at moments have seemed like a Bianca Jagger festival, is the news from Rome that Alessandra Facchinetti will succeed Valentino when he retires in January.

Few people had heard of Ms. Facchinetti when she replaced Tom Ford at Gucci, in 2004, and her departure after two lackluster seasons didn’t appear to hurt Gucci’s business. Brands, if they are well managed and don’t frighten the clotheshorses, will outlive a designer.

Still, it’s intriguing that the Valentino Fashion Group, which is owned by a British private equity firm, chose a woman to succeed Valentino Garavani. The big jobs in fashion have typically been held by men. Although there may be some lingering ideas that men are better judges of what looks right on a woman’s body, it is also true that the qualities that determine whether a garment looks right — fit, proportion and taste — hold less value today than marketing and branding. Fashion is gender-blind by default.

Plainly there are some talented female designers — Miuccia Prada and Isabel Toledo of Anne Klein, to name two — but in a way, the most powerful women in fashion are those who control image or a portfolio of investments. She might be a magazine editor or a fund manager, possibly a chief executive. In any case, her decisions will have more impact on the marketplace, and the marketplace of ideas, than a well-executed jacket.

For that reason, the opening days of Fashion Week seemed elaborate window dressing. Looking at a frothy white tulle dress at Marchesa, with an imperial swag of black lace crossing the bust, or at the St.-Tropez granny dresses from Sue Stemp, with their picture-book study of Ms. Jagger in the ’70s, you felt the tug of traditional female roles. The clothes were pretty but in a delighted arm-candy way.

If an older generation of designers preferred to dictate what women should wear — few more so than the Russian-born Valentina, who sent her clients to Macy’s if they asked for a bow — Ms. Stemp just gives them what they want. She had quite a crowd at her show at the Maritime Hotel, including the British models Jacquetta Wheeler and Agyness Deyn, as well as the three D.J.’s of the MisShapes.

The collection was awash in original prints, in a sea-bright palette of hot pink, jade and yellow with glints of pewter and antique gold. The silhouette was long and lean, dominated by dresses in that haphazard style that typifies English dressing. A poncho dress in black and white crocheted cotton was especially oddball, and most of the clothes you wanted to wear Saturday night, maybe to Ralph Lauren’s black tie party or the MisShapes’ last weekly party. And maybe that’s as far as people want to see.

Marchesa, the serenely impractical evening line designed by Keren Craig and Georgina Chapman, gets a lot of red-carpet play, though Ms. Chapman said at their presentation in Chelsea that they listen to their regular customers, who “don’t have to be hand-stitched into a dress.”

The best thing about Marchesa is the attitude it projects: that recognizably English scorn of high fashion that is registered in something as subtle as the droop of a ribbon sash or the nearly chestless front of a pale embroidered slip. And it’s the small details you tend to admire more in the designers’ work than the big effects: a small, crumpled, hand-set sleeve of a plain black-lace cocktail dress or a short Indian-inspired silk-chiffon tunic dress that has real style. Theirs is a delicate balance between getting noticed and pretending not to care, and it can be spoiled by something as common as a crystal-beaded bodice.

At Rag & Bone, Marcus Wainwright and David Neville’s collection had a Bond theme running through it, the lanky Bond of the Connery years, when there was something sexy about a safari shirt, a straw hat and the possibility of ejecting your enemies from your sports car. But now that Daniel Craig has come along, causing havoc with a cellphone, does the current generation feel the same affection for a neat blazer and a cardigan? The show had some cute effects, like windbreakers, but it lacked direction.

When the pop singer Gwen Stefani opened her L.A.M.B. show, it produced a vacuum. Weren’t platform shoes with knee socks last season? The clothes — the too-tight miniskirts, the checkered dresses, the coy black ties — were astonishingly bad, straight out of a mall in Ditzville.

(y) (y)

Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 06:59 AM



Sapientia est potentia.

Wisdom is power.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 07:02 AM
:| :|

September 7, 2007

Second-Home Showdown


FOR 30 years, Dena Aquilina has lived in an adobe house off a narrow dirt road in a historic area of Santa Fe, N.M. But lately, she said, the quiet neighborhood has felt a little less tranquil. Two of the homes on her block of 12 houses aren’t occupied by full-time residents or even by snowbirds spending winters in Santa Fe, she said. Instead, a steady stream of tourists have been renting the homes for stays as short as a few nights.

The visitors, she said, sometimes disrupt the neighborhood by driving too fast or simply making too much noise. “They get this Disneyland mentality because they’re on vacation,” she said. And with new cars on the block every few days, “it feels like a motel parking lot.”

Similar tensions have arisen in other popular getaway destinations as the vacation-home market has boomed, throwing together more short-term visitors and full-time residents. The result is a real estate showdown, with communities stepping in to regulate the industry or even trying to ban short-term rentals altogether.

The issue has popped up in the Shenandoah Valley community of Massanutten Village, Va.; the Pacific Beach community in San Diego; Maui in Hawaii; Venice, Fla.; and Clearwater, Fla., where owners of 31 vacation-rental properties took the town to court after a ban was passed. A lawsuit over a short-term rental ban in Monroe County, which covers the Florida Keys, has been in and out of court since 1999.

The tensions can be traced in part to enterprising second-home buyers who have scooped up investment properties in tourist-friendly towns, and also in part to the rise of professional management services and Web sites like Vacation Rentals By Owner (www.vrbo.com) and HomeAway.com, dedicated to helping owners make their vacation property work for them.

Quality-of-life complaints are a cornerstone of the push against short-term rentals. But Simon Brackley, the president of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, questioned the validity of such claims in his city. “We are a pretty sophisticated town; people come here for the art and culture,” he said. “We’re not a college town. We don’t have tequila-drinking contests.”

Roxanne Connan agreed. For the past five years she has rented out her two one-bedroom casitas in Santa Fe. Her tenants don’t exactly fall into the party-animal category, she said. “They are mostly couples in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Some are here because they are looking to buy a house,” she said. “I’ve never once had a complaint or a problem.”

Mark Ray and his wife, Debbie, have visited Santa Fe for the past 10 years and typically stay in a vacation rental for their trips, which last from four days to two weeks. “I wouldn’t describe us as rowdy,” he said, though he admitted that he could see both sides of the issue. Some homes are on small lots and close to neighbors, making even a low-key evening of backyard grilling a potential nuisance, he said. “Voices can carry.”

That said, Mr. Ray hopes that vacation rentals won’t be severely restricted in Santa Fe because he and his wife plan to buy a home there one day and would like to have the option to rent it out when they are not there. “Homes in Santa Fe are expensive,” he said. “Unless you are really wealthy, you need a little bit of income.”

Although rentals of less than 30 days were made illegal in much of Santa Fe several years ago, the short-term rental business has continued to thrive. While management companies and second-home owners admit that they may not have been following the letter of the law, they say the city has continued to accept their payments of lodgers’ taxes on rentals, even ones that are technically illegal.

The Santa Fe City Council formed a task force to re-examine the issue in 2005. A 75-member vacation rental owner’s group has also been formed, and several proposals to tighten short-term rentals have been put forward. One proposal, to be voted on by the City Council in November, would limit rentals to one per seven-day period, require that the homeowner apply for a $1,000 annual rental permit and cap the number of short-term stays at 17 per property per year.

THE proposals are seen by the rental industry and some local officials as restrictive enough to shut down the business. “It would kill the industry,” said Mr. Brackley of the Chamber of Commerce. “And it is a good industry. It employs a lot of people.”

But Karen Heldmeyer, a Santa Fe city councilor who supported a proposal to limit short-term rentals to just two a year that was killed by the city’s finance committee this August, said she hoped that reining in the industry would address a bigger problem. “The purpose is to maintain the residential character of a neighborhood,” she said.

While management firms and real estate agencies say that they have only been able to confirm one official complaint to the city over short-term rentals, Ms. Heldmeyer said the true number was much larger, adding that there has been “very little good record keeping.”

How such rules will be enforced remains a question, Ms. Heldmeyer said. Even towns that have long had bans on short-term stays have difficulty enforcing them. In Pismo Beach, Calif., short-term rentals have been illegal in much of the city for more than a decade, but Mayor Mary Ann Reiss, who is also a real estate agent, said enforcing the ban was difficult. “We only enforce by complaint at this time,” she said.

In Big Bear Lake, Calif., a resort community east of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino National Forest, the issue of short-term rentals will be on the ballot in 2008. The Private Home Rental Initiative would require owners of vacation rentals to secure a permit in addition to the local business license currently required, make their properties comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, submit to yearly inspections and have a property manager or owner on call around the clock to respond to complaints. A study commissioned by the city estimated that the passage of the initiative could cut local sales tax revenue by 12 percent, cause a 50 percent loss of jobs in the rental industry and potentially hurt real estate values.

Of course, people involved in the Big Bear vacation rental industry, which attracts visitors for skiing in the winter and boating in the summer, are worried. “Very few owners would be able to comply with this ordinance,” said Nick Lanza, the owner of Big Bear Vacations, a rental agency. “We feel that it is so restrictive it could put us out of business.” He said that much of the support for the initiative was coming from commercial lodging businesses (the ordinance was sponsored by a local bed-and-breakfast owner). “They feel that we are unfair competition,” he said.

On Maui, the owners of an estimated 800 vacation rentals operating without a permit in neighborhoods not zoned for short-term rentals are now being approached by county zoning enforcement officers. Jeffrey Hunt, the planning director for the County of Maui, said that the five zoning officers on staff were asking homeowners to roll up the short-term welcome mat.

“We are talking to them and giving them a reasonable amount of time to shut down their business,” Mr. Hunt said. The hope, he said, is that these homeowners will seek out tenants staying at least 180 days and fill the dearth of long-term rentals on the island. Alternatively, owners can halt rentals, apply for a permit to operate short-term lodging, and sit back and wait for county council approval. Mr. Hunt said the application permit process was already slow, even before the new crackdown. “Some of the applications have been sitting there for years,” he said.

WHILE fights over the future of vacation rentals can be contentious, JoAnn Yukimura, a county councilwoman on Kauai, said she had tried to write legislation that would satisfy both sides. There are designated areas on Kauai that are permitted to have short-term rentals, but an estimated 1,000 vacation rentals have popped up outside of those zones all over the island, Ms. Yukimura said.

“In some neighborhoods, it is more than 50 percent rentals,” she said. “It moves an area towards a horizontal hotel.” Her proposal would allow current short-term rentals, even those outside the designated areas, to continue accepting guests as long as the homeowner has been paying the local lodgers’ taxes, but it would restrict future rentals outside of approved areas on the island.

Ms. Yukimura said she hoped this would stop the spread of short-term lodging, which she said had been growing aggressively for understandable reasons. “This is an issue for very desirable places.”

8-) 8-) This one caused some pause, especially when I thought about members of the GLBT community - both as owners of these properties as well as renters. And about the discrimination.....:s


Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 07:03 AM



Carpe Carpium.

Seize the Carp.

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 07:05 AM
(f) (f) (f)

A six-day, 120 mile kayaking trip from the Anacostia River to the Chesapeake Bay is full of urban and rural sights.

Slide Show: A River Runs Through Maryland:


September 7, 2007

Paddles in the Potomac, History on the Shores


ON a morning heavy with summer, our five candy-colored sea kayaks sliced almost silently over a dead-calm section of river, cleaving wavy lines through pewter folds of water. Gauzy clouds hung motionless in the pale sky. Not a breath of air stirred as we paddled rhythmically along.

Suddenly a powerful roar nearly flattened our little flotilla. A huge helicopter rose directly overhead from a pad hidden behind a berm, each powerful whumph-whumph of the jumbo blades sending out sonic shivers. We were close enough to see its markings: it was one of the craft that function as the presidential helicopter. It clattered away, perhaps to some rendezvous with history.

Then the returning quiet was broken by a shrill shriek. Not 20 feet above us, a bald eagle with a five-foot wingspan was winging skyward with a limp breakfast catch, two bobwhites chasing along behind in hope of scoring some scraps.

Nearby, rush hour danced in a low hum as commuters filled the riverside highways and the bridges on their way to jobs in Washington.

We were venturing out onto the Potomac River in late June — six mostly middle-aged men; my 17-year-old daughter, Mary; and a 12-year-old boy — paddling downriver on a six-day exploration. The trip was organized by the Anacostia Watershed Society, a nonprofit group dedicated to cleaning up the polluted Anacostia River, a Potomac tributary that cuts through Washington just east of the Capitol.

We had started that morning a few miles up the Anacostia, flowed with it into the Potomac near the helicopter pad, and would kayak all the way to the Chesapeake Bay — a total trip of 120 miles. No trucks followed us with catered meals and ice. Accommodations would be the tents we were carrying, and there would be no plumbing until Day 5.

“The Potomac is an adventure, a mystery, for those who can give themselves over to it,” said Robert Boone, president of the watershed society and our guide. Mr. Boone, 63, a twangy North Carolinian with a master’s degree in psychology from New York University, created this trip, the annual Paddle to the Bay, 12 years ago. It covers a stretch of the river that’s wilder than most people imagine, and it’s a tour of historic sites from a vantage familiar to the history makers.

Minutes after pushing off, we passed below the commandant’s house at the Navy Yard, where Abraham Lincoln often walked on a balcony still visible from the river. Nearby, we passed under the nondescript 11th Street Bridge over the Anacostia; it replaces the wooden bridge that John Wilkes Booth crossed on his horse as he fled the capital after shooting Lincoln at Ford’s Theater.

Farther along, where the Anacostia meets the Potomac, with the Washington Monument as the backdrop and the Capitol dome visible just over the tree line, I thought of John Smith sailing up and finding this confluence of rivers in 1608. He returned to Jamestown, founded the year before, and worked up the first charts of this area for sailors. Later, he used his diary of that expedition in writing “The General History of Virginia,” which is crammed with geographic observations and romantic stories about his arduous adventures.

Even pushing against flat water, we were working hard. “I figure we’re using 5,000 to 6,000 calories a day just staying alive,” said Kenneth Furnkranz, one of our fellow kayakers. Mr. Furnkranz, 58, a chemist at the Food and Drug Administration, wasn’t fazed by the exertion. “I wanted to see some of the history on the river,” he said. “Boy, is there plenty of that.”

A few miles downriver, we passed the thick-walled, turtle-colored fortress known as Fort Washington, which surrendered to the British in the War of 1812. About a mile across the river, on the Virginia shore, Mount Vernon sat splendidly on its hill, ready for the day’s complement of tourists.

Past the fort, there’s another good view of Mount Vernon from the remains of the 3,000-acre Marshall Hall plantation, home of the slaveholding Colonial family that many say owned the ancestors of a future Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall. It’s now a protected forest that seems to stretch to an infinity of green.

David Rhodes, president of the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, had been on a Potomac paddle in 2001. He told me that the Marshall plantation was his most vivid memory. “Like so much of what we saw, there were no signs or plaques, nothing for tourists — heck, no tourists,” he said. And yet “the plantation is a symbol of everything Marshall argued against in his life’s work.”

Camp the first night was in Chapman Forest on the Maryland side of the river, a breathtakingly serene publicly owned preserve of more than 2,000 acres. Mount Aventine, a mansion built in 1840, sits deserted atop a hill. With only wandering deer as witnesses, we freshened our water bags at an outdoor spigot before cooking dinner over propane burners.

“This is my fourth time on the trip,” Gabe Horchler, 63, told me as he washed up with the mansion’s cool well water. The history interests him — at the Library of Congress, he oversees the digitalization of Congressional testimony back to the founding of the nation. He also finds the forced simplicity of kayaking appealing — “a way to get away from e-mail, phones and computers.”

From here there were 100 miles to go, and each mile brought something new. We faced muggy showers one day; on another, ferocious winds kicked up five-foot waves behind us, and we rode them for miles, like sailboarders, at speeds that made us laugh. The calm days were sweet, consumed in the muffled rhythm of paddling across flat water. In that kind of quiet, the low shoreline of farms and fields passed by as if in a dream, the constantly changing sunlight or cloud cover brightening and subduing colors in ways hard to appreciate from a motorboat or car.

WE passed waterfront mansions with huge powerboats at their private docks and hundreds of comfortable-looking houses that would fit in any suburb. But eventually another Potomac opened, the old one of river shacks and crab depots with rickety docks poking out on the water. Bait-and-beer shops clung to the water’s edge. While some people waved greetings, many seemed not to know how to react to the strangers paddling kayaks.

The few crabbers still working on the river nodded from their boats as we passed by — though they watched that we didn’t foul their trotlines. We kept our distance from the three commercial barges we saw; their wakes could easily swamp our kayaks.

Each camp was different. We slept on a skipjack sailboat at the Chesapeake Bay Field Lab, where students of varying ages learn about the seafaring life of the bay; at a duck blind in a county park; on a sandy beach.

When we camped on deserted St. Clement’s Island, about seven miles east of George Washington’s birthplace in Virginia, we found the island’s stories told in the St. Clement’s Island Museum in Colton’s Point, Md.

In 1634, Catholic settlers under George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, came to the island, establishing what would become the Maryland colony, where they could practice their faith without fear. Mathias de Sousa, a servant of African descent who arrived on that first ship, became a landowner and by 1642 was a member of the House of Burgesses then governing the colony, only to disappear from the public records by 1650. By 1664, laws were being passed imposing slavery for life on Africans brought in as slaves, and on their children in perpetuity.

One day we paddled into Mallows Bay, a mile-long inlet across the Potomac from the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia, to see the Ghost Fleet. In the years after World War I, 169 decommissioned wooden merchant vessels were scuttled in the shallow water there, and dozens more commercial and military ships met the same fate at other times. Now the struts, ribs and caved-in hulls of the Ghost Fleet rise from the mud at low tide.

According to Donald G. Shomette, an underwater archaeologist and former Library of Congress researcher, opportunists used parts of the wreckage to support five floating brothels and more than 26 illegal stills in the early 20th century — enterprises probably intended to attract the marines on the other shore.

On our last day, as we approached Point Lookout Lighthouse, where the Potomac meets Chesapeake Bay, a pelican the size of a tuba appeared before us stock-still on the water. We had stopped counting after 100 the eagles we’d seen earlier, and had long lost count of the osprey, herons, cormorants, ducks, geese and swans along the way.

Leading the flotilla, Mary paddled to within a few feet of the pelican. It lifted silently, brown and mottled, flapping a few feet above the water in a big slow circle. After we paddled by, it returned to the spot where it had been resting.

“In this little plastic boat,” Mary said, “you see a whole new world.”

(y) (y) Wonderful armchair reading......;)

(f) (f) 's,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 07:08 AM
(y) (y) (y)

A new approach to the later years: becoming a hermit, for spiritual reasons.

September 9, 2007


My Life as a Hermit


Mary Kathryn S. is a hermit, officially recognized by the Catholic Church. She used to live alone in an apartment in Omaha, Neb. Then the rent went up to $450, and Mary Kathryn, 60, was forced to move into her ailing 91-year-old mother’s two-bedroom house in Bartlesville, Okla.

“The move to Oklahoma was because Mother needed me,” said Mary Kathryn, who now prays alone in her bedroom and didn’t want her last name used in order to preserve her anonymous hermit’s life. “But I needed a place to go.”

It’s no picnic being a modern-day hermit. Beyond the loneliness and poverty common to the eremitic life in any era, the contemporary hermit struggles with an issue less vexing to hermits of old: finding a way to withdraw while earning enough to pay the rent.

“The biggest obstacle to the hermit life is the need to fund it,” said Karen Karper-Fredette, a former hermit, who parachuted back into society to marry and to publish Raven’s Bread, a hermit newsletter. “People with these ideals are content with a simple life, but you do need to have a place to live, and that can be hard to finance.”

Karper-Fredette says she has 1,000 subscribers, a fraction of what she estimates to be a growing number (in the tens of thousands) of hermits worldwide. She defines a hermit as someone who “chooses to live in solitude for spiritual reasons.” Various Christian churches acknowledge hermits, as do many Eastern religions.

Once figures of respect, hermits get a bad rap today. “Hermits freak people out,” said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author, “even within the church.” Part of the problem, Martin said, is confusion about what it means to be a hermit. It does not mean absolute seclusion or hostility to the world. Catholic hermits, for example, are sometimes required to work with others.

In 2001, Raven’s Bread did a subscriber survey, About half of their 132 respondents said that they lived in rural areas, half in urban areas. About 60 percent reported earning less than $20,000 a year. More than half said that they had begun living as hermits in their 40s or later, leading Karper-Fredette to conclude that the eremitic vocation is largely a second-half-of-life phenomenon.

Hermits find homes in many ways. The Rev. W. Paul Jones, 77, a Catholic priest, used his retirement money to build his own hermitage in Missouri. Randy Horton, an Episcopal hermit, works in a halfway house for addicts in Yonkers and snatches alone time in his small apartment.

Nancy Easter, 64, a self-described “spiritualist minister,” who says she communicates with the spirit world and advises others (generally by phone), said otherworldly forces called her to a mobile home outside Asheville, N.C., in 2003. She pays $350 a month for it now, a sum she won’t be able to afford next year when disability payments for a 1992 stroke run out.

“But I’m not worried,” said Easter, who lives with her cat, Mr. Horowitz. “I realized a while back I could withdraw. People in the world are struggling. I don’t want to struggle anymore.”

(y) (y)


Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 07:15 AM
:| :| :|

In Las Vegas, the city of sensory overload, a luxury-apartment developer deploys the latest tactics in olfactory marketing.

September 9, 2007

Scent and Sensibility


On a roof top high above the Las Vegas strip, across the street from a one-third-scale reproduction of the New York skyline, a device in a small black box was emitting a fine chemical vapor. Tiny, fragrant molecules entered the building’s ventilation system, tumbled through the ductwork and spilled from discreet panels in the ceiling of a large, circular room, the sales pavilion for a real estate development called CityCenter. Drifting invisibly downward, the particles perfumed the air — vanilla, paired with jasmine, lavender and rose; sweetened by coconut and peach; and enriched by sandalwood, amber and musk — an “aromatic symphony,” in the parlance of its creator, called Essence of Destiny.

A half-dozen visitors milled about the pavilion’s Great Room that January day, and if any of them noticed the aroma, they didn’t say so. There were other distractions. A tabletop model of the Strip measuring 15 feet across occupied the center of the space, and as the room lights dimmed, the miniature towers of CityCenter warmed with a platinum glow. A saleswoman approached the table with a male visitor. “Are you ready for a life-changing experience?” she asked. “Do you think you could be part of history?”

Amply hyped and outsize even by Las Vegas standards, CityCenter is a $7.4 billion venture initiated by the resort conglomerate MGM Mirage that is reputedly the most expensive privately financed development in United States history. Under construction on 76 acres between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo resorts, CityCenter will offer 4,800 hotel rooms and 2,700 condominium units, plus a mix of shops, restaurants, gambling areas, parks and theaters. When completed, supposedly in late 2009, CityCenter will total 18 million square feet — 7 million more than the entirety of what is slated for ground zero in New York.

Rather than erecting yet another Vegas-style hotel-as-stage-set (depicting Paris, Egypt or the like), MGM signed up the architectural equivalent of the Dream Team, with the firms of Norman Foster and Rafael Viñoly, among others, designing a set of sleek, glassy towers. With plans for its own fire station, a gourmet market and sidewalks to encourage walking, the developers of CityCenter are aiming not for a mere resort but a complete, high-end village. And they are charging correspondingly high prices — $500,000 to $12 million for a condo.

Tony Dennis, the executive vice president in charge of residential sales, says he knew that to persuade thousands of multimillionaires to spend that kind of money, he would need an elaborate presentation at the sales pavilion. To get people to buy what is essentially a very costly lifestyle accessory — “Be serious, this is a second or a third home, so it’s not a need,” he told me — Dennis wanted to appeal not just to the minds of prospective buyers but also to “their emotions, psyche, heart and soul.” A visit to the pavilion couldn’t just be informative; it would have to be a multisensory experience. One key to creating it, he thought, would be to employ the power of scent.

Instilling fragrance in the CityCenter salesroom seems quintessentially Vegas — the latest desperate attempt to stand out in the attention-deficit capital of the world. But the developers’ scent gambit is hardly isolated. Although CityCenter is probably the most sophisticated case yet of using smell to sell real estate, hundreds of businesses around the country, desperate to compete in a marketing-cluttered environment, are turning to piped-in scents. The open question is: Do they work?

Take a whiff. Maybe you’ve noticed — and maybe you haven’t, and this isn’t entirely by accident — that the world has lately become a more fragrant place. Westin hotels waft a blend of green tea, geranium and black cedar into lobbies; Sheraton has jasmine, clove and fig. Jimmy Choo stores smell of cardamom and ivy, while Thomas Pink opts for the tang of fresh linen. Artificially introduced aromas are seemingly everywhere, and while certain applications are obvious — like pumping the smell of fresh-from-the-oven bread into a supermarket to draw shoppers to the bakery department — a growing number of companies employ the technique to sell products with no intrinsic odors. Sony Style stores, for example, are scented with a blend that includes orange, vanilla and cedar, an aroma the company hopes will put female shoppers at ease. Even “new car smell” isn’t what it used to be. Cadillac, for instance, wanting to ensure that its models smell not just like any generic new car, infuses interiors with a custom scent called Nuance.

The use of piped-in aromas to set a mood, promote products or position a brand is known as scent marketing. Its efficacy is uncertain, but the practice is on the rise. Advertising Age named it one of the top 10 trends to watch in 2007; Dave Van Epps, president of ScentAir, a producer of aroma-marketing systems, told me that his business had quadrupled between 2005 and 2006. Harald Vogt, founder of the Scent Marketing Institute, a consulting firm based in Scarsdale, N.Y., estimates that over all, $50 million to $80 million was spent on scent marketing in 2006 and that the figure will surpass $500 million in the next decade. Scent marketing, whether for condos or cars, is part of a broader movement known as “full-sensory branding,” the key tenet of which is that to be successful in an advertisement-crammed world, companies must reach consumers not only through the overtaxed avenues of sight and sound but also through touch, taste and smell. Advertising shows up on eggs, on airplane tray tables and on horse tack. Smell, meanwhile, is viewed as wide-open bandwidth. “Fragrance is the only thing left,” Vogt says. “You cannot turn off your nose. You have to breathe.”

In real estate, a basic form of scent marketing has been around for decades; consider the seller’s trick of placing a freshly baked apple pie or cookies in the kitchen, which makes a house feel more like a home. The problem is one of scale, Van Epps says. “If I’m a homebuilder, and I’ve got six models to sell, I’m not baking cookies in all of those models every day, all day long,” he notes. ScentAir’s technology, originally developed for military simulators and theme park rides, is now used by Toll Brothers, D. R. Horton and other major builders to sell thousands of new homes nationwide. Some systems emit the classic pie or cookie smells, while others release a “brandscent”—a custom creation matched to the style and location of the real estate and designed to be as memorable as the Nike swoosh or the Golden Arches. “If you are effective with it, you can own an aroma,” Van Epps says, just as you can own “a color or a logo or anything else about your brand.”

CityCenter’s Dennis was inspired by the success of businesses like Pottery Barn and Starbucks at creating distinctive environments through meticulously chosen lighting, background music, furniture textures and other design elements. Taking this model to its logical extreme at CityCenter’s sales pavilion, he left no aspect of the customer’s sensory experience to chance. The design team started with the traditional vocabulary of interior design and expanded it to aromas and auditory elements to help tell the story of how, say, Viñoly’s condos differed from Lord Foster’s — what was the design gestalt, what were the target demographics. Dennis was especially intrigued by a scientific premise that seduces just about everybody who comes across scent marketing: that smell has an unrivaled power to awaken emotions and that this power can be harnessed to lift sales.

When you sniff something, signals from the odor receptors in your nose reach your amygdala first, producing an immediate, visceral reaction. No other sense is directly wired to this emotion-processing part of the brain; scent is unique in the way that any response in the higher cortical areas responsible for conscious thought comes second if it comes at all. “All of the other senses, you think before you respond, but with scent, your brain responds before you think,” says Pam Scholder Ellen, a Georgia State University marketing professor. Smell is our chemical alert system, responsible for detecting whether the molecules around our bodies are beneficial or toxic, a determination of fundamental importance to all forms of life. Richard Axel, a Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, notes that worms have about as many genes as we do devoted to smell; the anatomical organization of a fruit fly’s smell system is “remarkably similar to that of the olfactory system of mammals, suggesting that the mechanism of odor discrimination has been shared despite the 600 million years of evolution separating insects from mammals.” Smell is the primary way that most creatures identify mates, food and predators; it is our most primal and deeply rooted sense. No wonder marketers hope to tap into its power.

Companies are also intrigued by the potential of using smell to unleash memories — positive, deeply held ones that could then be associated with the products offered — and also to strengthen brand memory. In a rare instance of business practice being influenced by French modernist literature, scent marketers frequently reference Marcel Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past,” in which the taste and aroma of a tea-soaked madeleine unleash a torrent of childhood memories. Almost everybody has experienced something similar. The smell-linked amygdala, it turns out, also plays a key role in associating memories with emotions, which helps explain the nostalgic feeling researchers call the Proustian effect. “The emotional power of smell-triggered memory has an intensity unequaled by sight- and sound-triggered ones,” wrote Rachel Herz, a Brown University neuroscientist, in a paper summing up more than a decade of her research.

Martin Lindstrom, author of “Brand Sense,” the bible of full-sensory marketing, makes predictions for the CityCenter effort that go well beyond those uttered by anyone connected with the project — and for that matter, well beyond those made by most people who have researched scent marketing. He’s an unabashed zealot. “People will make quicker decisions, be willing to pay more for the property and most likely be so emotionally engaged that they are removed from the rational part of their behavior,” Lindstrom says. “I don’t need to tell you that this is on the ethical line in my opinion, but from a pure behavioral point of view, that is most likely going to happen.”

The hurdles that scent marketing would have to overcome to achieve anything like that effect, however, are significant. Scent doesn’t work like a broadly efficacious drug, but rather by playing on learned associations particular to individuals. One man’s cinnamon is another’s skunk. Preferences are cultural (vanilla tops the charts for Americans, while sandalwood is a hit in India) and generational (people born before 1930 love natural smells like grass and horses, while people born later are fond of synthetic smells like Play-Doh and SweeTarts). There is no such thing as a universally admired odor, and people form associations with negative smells more easily than with positive ones. “There’s something very seductive about the idea of using scent to affect consumers, but it can be a highly uncontrollable cue when you actually implement it,” Ellen says. “We’re not going to be able to put out a scent and transport you back to your aunt and the madeleines.”

“I’m aromatically curious,” says Mark Peltier, the founder of AromaSys, the company handling the scenting of the CityCenter sales pavilion. “I’ve been a sniffer since I was a little kid, smelling the grass, flowers, spices, dirt, sticks — just smelling.” The young Peltier loved cotton balls. To everyone else, naturally, they all smelled alike, but to him each was wondrously different. “They might as well have been candy: grape, watermelon, strawberry, banana.”

Peltier’s early 20s found him working as a technician for the Air Force in Sunnyvale, Calif., where he spent days cooped up in an office that reeked of cigarette smoke. He escaped into nature whenever he could, and what happened on a particular fall outing (“around 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning early in October of 1976,” he says) has become the company creation myth. Peltier was sitting on a bench amid the redwoods of Muir Woods. It had rained the night before; glistening ferns and rhododendrons dripped onto a damp carpet of moss and soil. “The fog is starting to burn off, the sun is coming through, and I am starting to feel, like, extra-exceptional — alert, refreshed, relaxed, peaceful, calm, just every kind of positive attribute you’d ever want to have,” he recalls. “It was all coming together and building up, and I’m, like, What in the hell is going on with me? And, bam, my mind flashes: It’s the smell.”

Peltier was inspired. What if you could capture this natural perfume and put it in a building? What if you could invent a device that played scents like music from a stereo? In 1990, after years of experimentation, he discovered that by using high-voltage, low-current electricity, he could convert liquid scent into vapor without destroying its delicate balance of top, middle and base notes. High-quality fragrance could thus be precisely and cost-effectively distributed through the ventilation systems of buildings. AromaSys was born.

By the time CityCenter came along, AromaSys was in hundreds of properties around the country, from the DeBeers store on Rodeo Drive to the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. Las Vegas was the company’s stronghold, and nearly half of the casino-hotels on the Strip used Peltier’s systems; the MGM Grand alone employed nine different aromas. (Peltier says that when walking on Las Vegas Boulevard, he can sometimes tell where a tourist has been by the way he smells; someone who emanates coconut, for instance, is probably coming from Treasure Island.) The company’s fragrances are developed by Peltier’s wife, Eileen Kenney. For CityCenter, she began last December, working from written and verbal descriptions of the various interior designs as well as from collages of materials, textures and colors. From a distance, however, she could do only so much. In early January this year, just after the pavilion opened, she went to Las Vegas. Trial versions of two of her scents were being pumped into the building, and it was time to see how they smelled.

The finishing touches were being applied to the 30,000-square-foot pavilion, built at a cost of $24 million, as Kenney walked through the Great Room with Mary Guiliano, the CityCenter executive who was overseeing her work. Above the tabletop model, on a screen that ringed the room, a video depicted an artsy montage of CityCenter promise and delight. (Loose interpretation: Your tee shot will reach the green. You will embark upon a vision quest in the desert. You will swim in a bottomless flute of Champagne and soar hand-in-hand, Peter Pan with an all-grown-up Wendy, over the glittering nightscape of Las Vegas.) As Kenney and Guiliano paused to watch, a saleswoman approached a pair of visitors and handed them bottles of water. “We’ll be right back with those mochas,” she said. “Nonfat milk this time.”

In addition to the Great Room, the sales pavilion has separate showrooms for each of CityCenter’s four glassy condominium and hotel towers, which have been named Mandarin, Veer, Vdara and Harmon. Guiliano led Kenney through a doorway into the Mandarin model unit, where a mock entryway was decorated with a small rock garden, two polished wood-stump sculptures and a tidy arrangement of young green bamboo. Essence of Destiny, the fragrance piped into the Great Room, yielded to a new aroma, one of orange and spice, like a rich herbal tea, which Kenney had named Escape to Hong Kong.

“You like it in the space?” Guiliano asked.

“I do,” Kenney said.

Kenney’s father was a chemist and her mother a professed clairvoyant; her own personality and approach to work encompass both scientific rationalism and free-spirited intuition. While living in Berkeley in the mid-1970s, Kenney says, she was “a failed hippie” but was also fascinated by chemistry; after graduation she applied to medical school but changed her mind and moved to Montana, where she holed up in a teepee, taught wilderness survival and studied natural healing and aromatherapy. She met Peltier and, sold on his idea “to bring the best of the outdoors indoors,” relocated to Minnesota with him as his wife and business partner. Though she had little formal training, she soon took the lead in scent development.

In concocting Escape to Hong Kong, Kenney had first considered the rarefied demographics of the Mandarin buyer. Units in the building, which was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, started at $1.5 million, so the scent needed to suggest a level of luxury and refinement. Aromas aren’t so specific that they can be aimed at an individual buyer profile — a 56-year-old businesswoman from Vancouver, for instance — so Kenney instead focused on expressing the mood of the space, a sort of stylized Zen minimalism.

The décor provided many of her cues. The core aromatic note of spicy orange was inspired by a burnt orange hue that recurred in accents such as the kitchen-chair covers and the place mats. The refrigerator and cabinets were dark umber and the floor lighter oak, so Kenney included the earthy smells of cedar, sandalwood and amber. Freshly cut flowers, carefully arranged in vases on a marble-topped kitchen island, were reflected in the aromas of lily, jasmine and rose. Other connections were less obvious. The Mandarin design is one of light and transparency — floor-to-ceiling windows, opaque shoji screens, mirrors that rise into cove lights — and for that reason, the scent contains violet, a cool and ethereal floral. The bathroom featured European fixtures, spare and chrome; metal has no smell, but Kenney incorporated an ozonic note that she said was “clean and crisp and has a kind of grayness to it.”

The two women went into Guiliano’s office to discuss possibilities for the Veer and Vdara showrooms, which weren’t fragranced yet. The two towers of Veer were designed by Helmut Jahn and lean strikingly 5 degrees off the vertical axis; the units were styled as hip urban lofts, the sort you might find in TriBeCa. Kenney’s challenge was to try to imagine what sort of scent the Veer customer would like, a selection process guided by intuition rather than by hard science. She put six vials of scent on the table, and Guiliano rejected several immediately. Too light. Too spicy. Too soft and powdery for the urbane Veer client. She wanted an aroma that was bright and unfussy. The winner, they decided, was in a bottle marked V3. “It almost smells like something a man might wear,” Guiliano said.

At the end of the day, Guiliano was escorting Kenney toward the lobby when she stopped in her tracks. “Do you smell that?” she asked. A fruity aroma, ripe and overpowering, filled the air. Frank Zoccole, an AromaSys operations manager, paced about, then stopped in the entrance to Mandarin, where the smell was strongest. “I’m going up to the roof,” he said.

Zoccole found the little black box marked AromaSys. He pulled out some tools and ran a few quick tests, but he already knew what he would discover. The building’s electrical system was going haywire, unleashing potent voltage surges and spikes. This was normal for a totally new building, but it was wreaking havoc on the scent system, which was pumping out way too much aroma. No wonder it stank downstairs.

“Scent is like fine music,” Kenney said when Zoccole returned. “If it’s on too loud, you’re still not going to like it.”

Do smells MAKE people spend? Two of the best known, if most controversial, investigations of the topic were done by Alan Hirsch, a Chicago neurologist who is the founder of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, a clinic and research group partly financed by the flavor and fragrance industry. Over the past three decades, Hirsch has conducted more than 180 studies, and while many of the findings have been eyebrow-raising (the odor of pumpkin pie increases male sexual arousal, Hirsch reports, while that of jasmine raises bowling scores), none have drawn more attention than his work on scent marketing. In 1993 Hirsch took two identical pairs of Nike running shoes and put them in rooms that were alike save a single detail: one was perfumed with a floral scent while the other was not. Subjects inspected the sneakers; afterward, 84 percent of them reported that they were more likely to buy the shoes in the scented room, and the value they estimated for that pair was, on average, $10 higher than for the other. Two years later, Hirsch wafted a pleasant smell into an area of slot machines at the Las Vegas Hilton. He checked the revenues for the weekend before and the weekend after and, verifying that there hadn’t been any casino-wide increase in revenue, determined that people plunked 45 percent more change into the slots in the scented area.

Hirsch’s famous studies have been criticized for lacking proper scientific controls, but subsequent experiments by other researchers have reported similar results. Shoppers in scented environments, when compared with those in aroma-free ones, tend to linger longer or perceive that they have spent less time shopping than they actually have. They rate the selection of merchandise as better and the offerings as more modern; they express a greater desire to purchase and a willingness to pay higher prices. Pamela Dalton, a psychologist with the Monell Chemical Senses Center, recalls industry colleagues doing experiments in which subjects are presented with three supposedly different brands of dish detergent. In reality, the products are identical except for their smell. “People will say they’re making their choices based on which one cleans better or leaves a better finish, but the driving force is always scent,” Dalton says. The same might be true for consumers evaluating closely comparable real estate, she continues, adding, “The ambiance that scent creates is critical.”

These results came mostly from lab-based experiments, with imaginary dollars being spent in fictional stores. Some of the most recent research, though, has examined real-world settings. Eric Spangenberg, a consumer psychologist and the dean of the business school at Washington State University, has studied scent marketing for more than a decade. For his latest study, published last year, he conducted an experiment at a local clothing store and found that when scents chosen to appeal to men or women were released (rose maroc for men, vanilla for women), cash register receipts for sales to the corresponding sex doubled. “Scent marketing is a viable strategy that retailers should consider,” he recently told New Scientist magazine. “But they really need to tailor the scent to the consumer.”

This is easier said than done, given the great variability in how people respond to scents — and for that matter, in their opinions about artificially introduced aromas. In December 2006, after the California Milk Processor Board introduced a set of bus-stop-shelter “Got Milk?” billboards in San Francisco that wafted the smell of chocolate-chip cookies, people complained vigorously: the smell might torture people with chemical sensitivities; taunt the homeless, who lack a ready supply of cookies and milk; and tempt the obese. The ads were yanked after only a day. “For a lot of people in our culture, we don’t like all of the scent,” says Ellen of Georgia State. “We don’t like being bombarded with smells that are unnecessary or inappropriate for an environment — it’s just like loud noises.”

When I returned to the CityCenter sales pavilion in June, clusters of visitors were being led around by tall women in ice-pick heels. One guide had the loose grin of Sandra Bullock, another the glistening, pneumatic pout of Angelina Jolie. Above the low pulse of ambient music, sales pitches drifted through the air: “High-end, upscale, starting at $1.5 million. . . . Hip and Hollywood, think Rodeo Drive on Las Vegas Boulevard. . . . We’re going to have spa treatments that don’t even exist yet in America.” In the Veer model unit, two dozen red apples sat in a bowl on the counter; nearby was a cookbook, “Barefoot in Paris,” opened to Page 100, Warm Mushroom Salad. A saleswoman steered a couple toward her glass-walled office. “Now,” she was saying, “if you’re ready to put down 10 percent today. . . . ”

The aromas we had sampled in January were still in the air, and fragrances were now being piped into two other model areas as well. The scent for Veer was barely perceptible but gave an impression — a feeling, really — of crisp modernity suited to the space. The Vdara model next door was a conservative retreat of right angles, stiff leather, burgundy upholstery and dark wood. You could picture an older businessman staying here on work trips, and the scent in the air was his aftershave, amber-colored, with woody notes and musk.

The aromas were obvious to me, but barely anyone seemed to notice them. I approached a heavyset man contemplating a tabletop model of Vdara. “Do you smell something?” I asked him and got an odd look back. “You know, like perfume?” He sniffed a couple of times and shrugged. “I don’t,” he said. He tilted his head toward his armpit and whiffed again. “Maybe it’s me?” A middle-aged woman said she was hypersensitive to allergens and was glad that the aromas at CityCenter were below her threshold of sensitivity. “Some people love it when the air smells all fresh and flowery, but those are the places I avoid,” she said. Questioned outside the pavilion, the few guests who had perceived scents could describe only them in vague terms like “clean” or “nice.” A young woman who worked for a local architectural firm racked her brain. “I didn’t smell anything,” she said. “No wait, maybe I did. Yes, I think I did. Something citrusy, right?”

The atmosphere inside the pavilion, though, did seem to influence the mood of guests positively. The people strolling about were noticeably relaxed, exhibiting an air of pleasant distraction more common to Saturday morning at the farmers’ market than to a sales office. I was in an elevated frame of mind, too. I wasn’t Mark Peltier in the redwoods, feeling “extra-exceptional,” but was suffused with an agreeable sense that life was . . . good. It was impossible to determine how much of the mood was established by scent versus the other elaborately choreographed elements of the center’s presentation. In some hidden corner of my mind, had I been reminded of gingerbread in Nana’s kitchen, a first kiss at Farview Ranch Camp? Who knew?

I spotted Tony Dennis in the pavilion, and without prompting, he voiced a close variant of Pamela Dalton’s hypothesis. “The entire goal is to make people feel comfortable,” he said. “If they feel comfortable, they’ll stay a little longer; if they stay longer, they’ll get to know us better; if they get to know us better, they’re more likely to buy.” The Mandarin units, available since January, were 90 percent sold; total sales at CityCenter had exceeded $1.3 billion. This was achieved against the backdrop of flagging home sales nationwide and a Las Vegas condo market that many analysts considered saturated.

Lou Buccieri, a real estate investor from Boynton Beach, Fla., entered the Great Room with his wife, Brooke, and began a tour. Angelina Jolie Lips guided them from Mandarin to Veer to Vdara, where the Buccieris dug in. Were two-bedroom corner penthouses available? What was the split with MGM if you rented your unit out? Was the deposit placed immediately into escrow? “Why don’t you come sit down in my office, and I can get you answers to all of that,” the saleswoman said.

The couple spent an hour behind the glass walls. When they emerged, Buccieri clutched a stack of sales literature. I caught them near the exit and asked if they noticed any smells. He didn’t; she did, but just barely. Is it possible that smell would make them more likely to purchase? Buccieri leaned in close and glowered. “The only thing that will make me buy,” he said, waving the documents under my nose, “is the number they write on this page.”

:| :| Talk about sneaky massive marketing manipulation......:o Baked bread smell when trying to sell a home is one thing. This article certainly increased my awareness (and nose "knows"......;)



Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 07:20 AM
:o :o :o

It seems the baby boomers will mostly stay put as they age, spiking the retirement populations of the suburbs and the Sun Belt.


September 9, 2007

By the Numbers

The New Gray Areas


Ever thought of retiring to someplace sunny and close to the beach? Or maybe you’ve considered moving into the city after raising a family in the suburbs. In fact, most of us will never do either. According to the United States Census Bureau, 9 out of 10 Americans over 60, or 41.5 million people, stayed in the same home or in the same county between 1995 and 2000. During that period, only 4.4 million Americans over 60 moved away. Those figures don’t seem likely to change anytime soon. Last year, AARP surveyed Americans over 50 and found that 89 percent wanted to stay in their current home as long as possible. “Americans are going to age in place,” says Elinor Ginzler, AARP’s director for livable communities.

William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, released a report in May called “Mapping the Growth of Older America.” Based on Census Bureau data and the bureau’s and his own projections, Frey found that growth in the pre-senior population — Americans 55 to 64 — was a key factor in pinpointing where the senior population would take off in the next 15 or 20 years. Frey forecast that states in the West like Nevada and Utah and Southern states like Texas, Georgia and Florida would have almost two and a half times as many retirees in 2030 as they had in 2000. And he predicted that the suburbs of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles would have much faster growth in their retirement populations than the cities they surround. Stephen M. Golant, a gerontologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, has studied the effects of a booming retiree sector on local communities and found that up until age 75 or so, older residents tend to be strong economic contributors to communities, spending on entertainment, restaurants, housing and health and medical services and often continuing to work or volunteer. But as they get older and their health fails and savings begin to run down, that effect may start to turn negative.

Ultimately, experts on aging say the impact of the graying of America on our communities may depend on our ability to plan ahead for the needs of the elderly — housing options, health care services, public transportation. Golant says, “The key factor will be whether we have the willingness as a society to respond to groups that become vulnerable — economically, physically and psychologically.”

(y) I definitely never planned on moving to hot, humid places like Florida, etc. but the numbers on the map surprised me. Maybe the research will turn out right - although after I move one more time. :) At least, who knows? At the end of the day, I suppose that everyone eventually - stays "put", so to speak. ;)

(f) (f) Sunny Sunday Thoughts,

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 07:32 AM

On a heli-hiking trip in Canada, you can explore remote mountain passages by day and then be whisked back to your luxury lodgings in time for cocktail hour.

Slide Show: Hiking to New Heights in British Columbia:


September 9, 2007

Five-Star Wilderness


THEY tell you — just before you crouch down for the first time in your little touristo huddle, with your gimme cap tucked in your pocket to keep it from flying away, and your hands placed nervously on the backpacks laid in a circle in front of you — they tell you that you’re going to be surprised by the sheer force of the helicopter’s whirring rotor, as the pilot prepares to land next to you. And they’re right: you are surprised; if you were standing up, you’d probably be blown over.

They tell you to keep your head down, so you won’t catch any of the stray pebbles that are strewn like shrapnel as the helicopter gets closer, and to stay low as you move quickly from under the whirring rotor — that’s how close he’s landed! — into the 14-seat Bell 212. It’s a little nerve-wracking, the first time you assume the position and wait for the helicopter to approach. And they know that. That’s why they like to call heli-hiking newcomers “helicopter virgins.” But of course they don’t tell you that.

That first time, the helicopter is waiting for you in an unpaved parking lot near Golden, a small outpost in British Columbia. You’ve come here from Banff, two hours away, where you stayed, on the first night of this four-day excursion, at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, a grand, rambling palace of a place built in the 1880s by the Canadian Pacific Railroad. To be honest, the first day of your heli-hiking trip, run by a company called Canadian Mountain Holidays, entailed exactly zero hiking, but plenty in the way of massages, therapeutic mineral baths, romantic dinners, poolside drinks and other forms of holiday spoils.

Then, the next morning, on the bus ride with your fellow heli-hikers along the Trans-Canada Highway to Golden, you’ve stared out, agog, at the breathtaking mountain ranges as you cross the Continental Divide: to the east, the Canadian Rockies; to the west, the older, and less traversed Columbia Mountains. (You’re a Rockies virgin, too.) Now, in the helicopter, you’re in the Columbia Mountains. Good Lord.

Your pilot is weaving in and over and around snow-capped mountain peaks, maneuvering up and down verdant valleys, sliding past ... wait: are those glaciers out there? They certainly are. Ten minutes later, the pilot lands in front of a big lodge that can house up to 44 people. You go into the lodge, pick out a pair of snug, sturdy hiking boots that you’ll use for the next few days, get outfitted with a backpack and other gear, hear a short lecture on the importance of your gear, put your gear in your room and head for the dining room. Yes, yes, you’ll get to the hiking shortly. But they’re not going to drop you on top of some amazing mountain on an empty stomach, are they? First, it’s time for lunch. And an amazing spread it is, with four different salads, lots of fresh meats and fish and five dessert choices.

In case you’ve never heard of it, heli-hiking is the bastard child of heli-skiiing. The latter is a sport in which you ski down long, untouched mountain slopes — powder that can be reached only by helicopter, which also serves as a very efficient, very expensive lift. It requires athleticism, some serious skiing skills, a touch of fearlessness and deep pockets. (A week of heli-skiing can cost nearly $10,000.) It is a gorgeous sport, with a soup&#231;on of danger. Good skiers find it utterly addictive.

As it happens, the founder of Canadian Mountain Holidays, an Austrian immigrant named Hans Gmoser, pretty much invented heli-skiing. Starting in the 1960s, Mr. Gmoser, who died last year, built a series of ski lodges in and around the Columbia Mountains in western Canada, which became his company’s heli-skiiing outposts. He hired guides to take people down the mountains, helicopters to take them up, cooks to feed them, massage therapists to knead and stretch their weary muscles, and a staff to cater to their every need.

Although he was something of a heli-skiing purist, Mr. Gmoser eventually became convinced that it made no sense to have the lodges empty in the summertime. Thus, about 30 years ago, heli-hiking was born. The idea is that a helicopter drops the hikers (and a guide) off at the top of a mountain in the morning. Then they spend the rest of the day hiking in and around unimaginably beautiful country before being helicoptered back to the lodge, just in time for a late-afternoon dip in the pond and some predinner wine and cheese.

It helps to be fit, but it’s not an absolute requirement, and it helps to know a little about hiking, but that’s not a prerequisite either. Other than the experience of the helicopter itself, there isn’t so much as a whiff of danger. (You also don’t have to be rich: not counting the airfare, I paid $2,400 for my trip.) Indeed, too much hiking experience might well be a drawback, since hard-core hikers seem perfectly happy sustaining themselves on beef jerky and sleeping in tents. Heli-hiking, by contrast, falls into a travel category that the industry calls “luxury adventure.” Which is to say, after a day of semi-roughing it, you get to take a warm shower, eat a good dinner, drink a fine bottle of wine and sleep in a real bed. Myself, I can’t imagine any other way of going about it.

We’re a half-hour into our first hike, in a place called Martin Valley, about 7,500 feet above sea level, when our guide stops to show us something. There is a big gouge in the ground, as if a dirt mover had taken a big swipe out of the earth. And in a sense, that’s what happened. “That is done with a grizzly’s paw,” says our guide. We look in amazement at the obvious strength of the grizzly.

He explains what happened: the grizzly had seen several holes in the ground — the telltale sign that this spot was home to some golden mantle ground squirrels. “To the grizzly, the golden squirrel is like the golden arches,” he says, letting out a small chuckle.

So I take it back: there is a whiff of danger in heli-hiking. Though we never saw a grizzly in our three days of hiking, we saw evidence of their presence everywhere, and talked about them constantly; there were times when our guide would walk ahead of us, yodeling to ward off any grizzlies that might be in the vicinity. And though they constantly told us that there was no chance a grizzly would attack a group as large as ours, the mere knowledge of their presence made us feel a little less like the coddled vacationers we were.

Most of the guides at the Bobbie Burns Lodge, where we were staying, were young Canadians who loved the outdoors. Our guide, however, fell into a different category. His name was Thierry Cardon; he was a 60-year-old Frenchman with a classic handlebar moustache, a former skiing guide in the Alps who had been lured to western Canada decades ago by Mr. Gmoser when first setting up his heli-skiiing operation. “I don’t drink wine and I don’t like cheese,” he liked to joke, “and that’s why they didn’t want me in France anymore.” He did, however, smoke like a Frenchman, and sometimes did so on the mountain; a few years ago, legend has it, he became so annoyed by one hiker who kept complaining that he was setting too fast a pace that he ostentatiously lit up a cigarette and started walking even faster.

Among the young guides, Thierry was a revered figure. “He is from Chamonix,” one guide told me. “They’re like the Sherpa of the Alps.” Within an hour of hiking, most of us had stripped down to T-shirts and shorts, and were huffing and puffing, but Thierry always wore long-sleeve shirts and long pants, and no matter how brisk the pace, even on the steepest uphill climbs, he always seemed to be strolling casually, his hands in his pockets, as if this were nothing more taxing than a leisurely walk in the park. For him, of course, it was.

Before you helicopter up the mountain the first time, when you’re driving up from Banff, say, or sitting in the sprawling deck of the lodge, admiring the view, it is the mountain range itself that fills you with awe, its vastness and beauty. But once you are actually up there, you come to realize that you are experiencing nature on two very different scales. There is, to be sure, nature at a distance — that same sensation that you experience on the lodge deck, only geometrically heightened. There was something exhilarating about landing on top of a mountain, 8,000 feet above sea level, and looking out, at eye level, at the other mountain peaks stretched across the horizon. You could not help but feel humbled by what you saw.

On my second day of hiking, a perfect, sunny day, I brought my iPod, and put on some music I loved. A young guide had tried to talk me out of it, saying that it would detract from “the purity of the experience.” I felt just the opposite. Walking through a valley, looking out at the mountains while listening to beautiful music, was a transcendent experience. It is one of those moments, all too rare, that causes you to contemplate God.

But there was also the nature of small things. The snow — and we walked on plenty of snow, even though it was July — was often a reddish tint. That, said Thierry, was the result of algae that often grew underneath during the summer. There were flowers everywhere, and Thierry loved to point them out and talk about what made them special. The Indian paintbrush could grow in any color at all — blood red or coral orange or bright pink. The bright yellow glacier lily that the grizzlies loved to eat. The sweet coltsfoot that grew along brooks and streams. There was water everywhere — lakes still half-frozen, with water so cold it numbed you; water dribbling down the mountainside; full-fledged waterfalls you could stand next to. And rocks and rock formations everywhere, including “fool’s gold.”

Indeed, it was the prospect of mining, and especially of finding gold, in the early part of the last century that opened this area up, at least to the extent that it is opened up. Our second day, we hiked in an area called International Basin. It was called that for the most prosaic of reasons: the International Mining Company had mined the area, accessing the mountains by helicopter back in the 1950s. But it turned out that there was almost no gold in the mountains, and very little else worth mining, so that took care of that.

What is surprising is that there is so little evidence that the miners were ever here. In our three days, we used almost no trails; just grass and dirt and rock and snow. We knew, of course, that others had been here before us, that the route had been planned out by Thierry and the others who ran the lodge, that nothing was being left to chance. We knew a helicopter would eventually come to pick us up at some arranged spot. Still, the illusion that no one had been there before was a pleasant one. I wanted to bottle the clean air, and to take the crispy icy water home with me.

It was surprisingly tiring, hiking up and down the Columbia Mountains all day. The climbs and the drops could be, at times, quite steep, over 1,000 feet each way before the ground leveled off. We’d slip in the snow, stop to catch our breath at the top of every steep climb, take breaks to gather some fresh water in our bottles. One woman badly hurt her ankle because her hiking boot rubbed against it. I myself had, of all things, a sore arm, which I eventually realized came from using a ski pole as a walking stick.

Naturally, I dealt with the problem by getting a massage. Massages were available every afternoon, usually after we’d had a drink and some hors d’oeuvres. I guess you could call that part of the day apr&#232;s hike. We would sit around the bar or the couches, pick out our bottle of wine for dinner, and sit and talk with our new hiking friends. In our little group, there were several couples who had done a lot of hiking in their lives; at first, they had been disappointed at the pace of our hikes — they had wanted to push harder — but eventually they came to see the wisdom of Thierry’s approach. This wasn’t really about pushing yourself physically so much as it was absorbing beauty that you rarely get to see up close, and learning about a place you were unlikely to return to for a long time.

In the evening, we all sat together at big family-style tables, eating pork tenderloin or steaks, quaffing our wine and acting as if we’d known each other for years. (One of the guides told us that C.M.H. really stands for Cheese and Meat Holiday, not Canadian Mountain Holidays.) It wasn’t the kind of luxury you would get in a five-star hotel, but here in the mountains, it was luxurious enough. Afterward, we could sit on the deck and watch the sun sink behind the mountains, before going to bed, dead tired, ready to do it again the next day.

We left the Bobbie Burns on the morning of our fourth day. We turned in our gear, packed our stuff, had one last over-the-top breakfast, and when the time came, headed out to the helicopter landing area. We didn’t need to be told how to crouch anymore, and we assumed the position with the feigned indifference of blas&#233; veterans.

We got into the helicopter just the way we were supposed to and headed back to Golden. When we looked down at the valleys and the glaciers and the mountains, it was with the slight feeling of melancholy you have when you depart something you know you’re going to miss. The ups and downs of the helicopter were no longer making us nervous. All of us were buried in our own thoughts.

We landed in Golden and headed to the bus that would take us to Lake Louise, where we were spending one last pampered night. With a touch of bemusement, we watched the incoming heli-hikers crouch down for the first time, as the rotor whirred above them.

Those heli-virgins, they looked a little scared. Lucky them.


Canadian Mountain Holidays (800-661-0252; www.canadianmountainholidays.com). Heli-hiking programs include three to six nights accommodation in a mountain lodge, meals and helicopter transportation to and from the lodge and hiking gear. Packages range from 2,207 to 4,864 Canadian dollars a person (about $2,063 to $4,546 at 1.07 Canadian dollars to $1) in double occupancy.

Here are some other heli-hiking options:

The Walking Connection (800-295-9255; www.walkingconnection.com). Small groups travel via helicopter into the peaks and valleys of the Monashees Mountains. Packages start at $2,087 (for three nights) a person and include lodging, meals and hikes.

Heli Canada Adventures (888-837-5417; www.helicanada.com) offers customized heli-hiking trips in the Canadian Rockies. One- to four-day packages start at 608 Canadian dollars a person.

Denali Heli-Hiking Adventure (800-426-0500; www.princesslodges.com/denali-heli-hiking-adventure.htm). Tours of the Alaska Range on four-hour heli-hiking treks. Packages are $399 a person and include weather gear, boots and snacks.

(y) (y) DEFINITELY my cup of bean. I love the concept of 5-star wilderness. THAT's the ticket. (y) And yet it is most definitely a non sequitur such as "military intelligence".



Sapientia est potentia.

Wisdom is power.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 08:56 PM
8-| 8-|


"Eight-five percent of all video we watch is pre-recorded, so you can set your system to download it all the time. You're still going to need live television for certain things -- like news, sporting events and emergencies -- but increasingly it is going to be almost like the iPod, where you download content to look at later."

-- Vint Cerf, the Internet's daddy, predicts the end of TV as we know it.


:o :o

(y) (y)


Die dulci fruimini.

Have a nice day.

Sweetlady & Wyatt the Boxer (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 08:56 PM




Carpe Diem,

SL & WTB (l) (&) (l)

09-09-2007, 08:57 PM