Monday, June 29, 2009



Through donor recognition, The Rotary Foundation offers several ways to recognize Rotarians and friends for their generous support.

Read a few reminders about donor recognition based on questions the Foundation has received.

  • Foundation recognition points can't be transferred more than once; when a donor transfers his/her points to another's account, the points are added to the recipient's "recognition amount" balance. They are not reflected in the recipient's available "recognition points" balance.
  • Recognition points are not the same as the recognition amount, which is only used to calculate Paul Harris Fellow eligibility. The recognition amount can accumulate through personal outright contributions or receiving point transfers from others.
  • The recognition amount balance is not used to calculate Major Donor status eligibility.
  • Foundation recognition points and the recognition amount of inactive or former Rotarians will not expire on 1 July 2009. Foundation recognition points of deceased donors who were not Major Donors, or who were but have no surviving spouse, will expire on 1 July 2009.



"Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers."-Alfred Lord Tennyson



Summer’s here, and it’s the season for young scammers to start making their neighborhood rounds. In central Ohio, a charmer calling himself James Williams falsely claimed to be raising money for new uniforms for his high school football team. He collected not only cash at the houses he visited but also the names and phone numbers of his victims.

In West Virginia, a salesman sold coupon books offering discounts at area businesses to benefit a youth achievement program at an area college. At $5 each, they seemed to be a great deal. Unfortunately, the coupons—like his story—were bogus.

But the most common scheme is a summer classic: door-to-door deceivers selling subscriptions for magazines that never arrive.

Since May 2008, the Better Business Bureau has received some 1,100 complaints from consumers in 46 states and the District of Columbia about student-age scammers selling magazines door to door.

Prices of magazine subscriptions sold door to door, for instance, are often marked up about 300 percent.

This season is expected to be a banner year for these young con artists, who often bilk their victims of hundreds of dollars.

“The sales reps might claim to be a neighborhood youth trying to raise money for charity, a school trip, or even for troops in Iraq,” explains BBB spokeswoman Alison Southwick. “The victim pays with a check on the spot, but the magazines never arrive.” Neither do any refunds requested from the 50 companies employing those sales crews.

What’s more, your signed check provides the dupers with your bank account and routing number. Or, if you don’t use fraud-preventing gel ink pens, cellophane tape can be placed over the front and back of your signature and the check can be “washed” with acetone to remove everything else you’ve written—leaving a blank, signed check that can be used to steal more of your money.

Practice these defensive strategies:

Don’t buy. Whenever strangers come knocking, don’t buy their stories or their products. Prices of magazine subscriptions sold door to door, for instance, are often marked up about 300 percent. If you really want a magazine, ask the salesman for an order form and investigate the company at the Better Business Bureau’s website.

Although rip-off vendors often change their names, some to avoid include Trinity Public Relations and Seedtime Publications in South Carolina, Prestige Sales in Arizona, Omni Horizons in Indiana, True Visions in Virginia, Greater Image Inc. in Memphis, Tenn., and Seattle-based Fresh Start Opportunities. All have generated dozens to hundreds of complaints and have an “F” rating with the BBB.

• Cancel quickly. If you make a purchase at your door or elsewhere and want to cancel it, act quickly: The Federal Trade Commission dictates a three-day cancellation allowance for a full refund on purchases over $25. (Legitimate salesmen must reveal this rule during their pitch; if they don’t, assume it’s a scam.) If you have a receipt, the company must provide a refund within 10 days of receiving your mailed cancellation notice. Report violators to the FTC, the BBB and your state attorney general.

Close the door. Never allow a hot and sweaty “sales rep” into your home. “While the resident is in the kitchen getting them a glass of water, often the solicitor is stealing their medication, checkbooks and wallets,” says Phil Ellenbecker, who runs a website that tracks door-to-door scams and other crimes. So far this decade, at least 300 felonies—including rape and murder—have been committed by traveling sales crews against residents and fellow crew members.


1974: Isabel Perón is sworn in as Argentina’s first female president after her husband, Juan Perón, falls ill.

1990: Oakland’s Dave Stewart and the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela both pitch no-hitters. Never before in modern baseball have two no-hitters been pitched on the same day.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Credit Hasbro. In a boundless toy universe where the toy gods practice both creation and evolution, it was Hasbro who gave the world perfection. Face it, to 80s children everywhere, Hasbro was the Prometheus who gave us fire. It was like creating a toy with the child’s imagination already inside. After that, everywhere children went, they saw them in a van, a patrol car, a helicopter. And the toy gods have mercy on the mother who drove past an eighteen-wheeler. The possibilities were endless: Toy vehicles that turn into toy robots that fight each other. Toy robots that turn into toy vehicles that you can actually drive. Toy vehicles that turn into laser-toting robots. Laser-toting robots that turn into… Initial credit lies with a Japanese company called Takara, little renowned for the Diaclones and New Microman toy line. What Takara invented, Hasbro perfected. Expanding upon the concepts and adding a backstory, Hasbro unleashed Transformers (short for Transportation Formers) on America in 1984. Two warring robot factions from the mechanized planet of Cybertron seek to replenish fuel sources and crash on prehistoric earth. Millennia later, a volcanic eruption powers their depleted cells and their war is reborn in the modern day. The heroic Autobots – VW bugs, ambulances, and other cars – battle the sky-domineering Decepticons. The success was so immediate that Hasbro partnered with Marvel Comics to create a comic book line and a syndicated cartoon. Every week, the metallic voice of Megatron (the Decepticon leader who could transform into a hand cannon) threatened earthlings everywhere with the help of duplicitous jet Starscream, ghetto blaster Soundwave, and others while Jazz, Prowl, Bumblebee, and other Autobots sought to thwart them. And of course, for children everywhere, nothing seemed quite as iconic as the voice of Peter Cullen bringing Autobot leader Optimus Prime to life with the words, “Autobots Transform!”
As the war waged and popularity soared, new Transformers joined the toy and cartoon ranks. Dinobots, Aerialbots, Terrorcons, Constructicons and more, surrendered allegiance to either side and joined the fray, each with their own unique abilities. Constructicons (Decepticons who transformed into construction vehicles) could unite to form one gigantic robot. T-shirts, video games, and every other trapping of pop culture brought Transformers into the public conscience For over twenty years, the popularity of Transformers has waxed and waned but never actually died. New lines have been released every year since 1984 (not all in the U.S.), with reincarnated characters and concepts. Generation 2 rose in 1992 to be followed by Transformers: Beast Wars in 1995 and Robots in Disguise in 2001. Dreamworks has announced production of a Transformers movie slated for summer ’07 starring Shia LaBeouf and featuring the indelible voice talents once again of Peter Cullen. Though trends and fashions come and go, Transformers has remained a fixture not only in toys but popular culture ever since its inception. Whether it’s due to the solid concept or creative reworking over time is debatable, but the theme song by Lion perhaps summed it up best by saying, “Transformers… more than meets the eye.”

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"I'd rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate."-George Burns


Sol + stice derives from a combination of Latin words
meaning "sun" + "to stand still." As the days lengthen,
the sun rises higher and higher until it seems to stand
still in the sky.

The Summer Solstice results in the longest day and the
shortest night of the year. The Northern Hemisphere
celebrates in June, but the people on the Southern half of
the earth have their longest summer day in December.

The Celts and Slavs celebrated the first day of summer with
dancing and bonfires to help increase the sun's energy. The
Chinese marked the day by honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess
of Light.

Pagans called the Midsummer moon the "Honey Moon" for the
mead made from fermented honey that was part of wedding
ceremonies performed at the Summer Solstice.

Ancient Pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires, when
couples would leap through the flames, believing their
crops would grow as high as the couples were able to

Midsummer was thought to be a time of magic, when evil
spirits were said to appear. To thwart them, Pagans often
wore protective garlands of herbs and flowers. One of the
most powerful of them was a plant called 'chase-devil',
which is known today as St. John's Wort and still used by
modern herbalists as a mood stabilizer.
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Dr. Jane Goodall, the renowned primatologist and humanitarian, addressed the fourth plenary session of the 2009 RI Convention in Birmingham, England, on 24 June, stressing the potential for using the common ground her organization shares with Rotary to effect change.

Goodall, the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education, and Conservation and a United Nations messenger of peace, greeted the audience "in chimpanzee," imitating the vocalizations of the animals she studied for years in Gombe, Tanzania. She said her research revealed a common bond that humans share with animals and the environment. An awareness of this bond can lead to the development of holistic community service projects that involve the community members themselves in problem solving, she said.

The institute's Lake Tanganyika Catchment Reforestation and Education (TACARE) scholarship fund provides family-planning instruction from peer educators who live in poverty near Gombe. "The [young women] have their own lives now. They look forward to a future where their children will not have to suffer the way they did as young people," said Goodall. "Rotarians in Tanzania have helped us with this project, just as Rotarians have helped us in other parts of the world."

Goodall also stressed the common ground that her institute's Roots & Shoots program shares with Rotary youth programs such as Rotaract . Roots & Shoots is a community-based program targeted at young people that involves tens of thousands of participants in 111 countries. She asked Rotarians, who share many of her concerns, for continued collaboration. Read more about Roots & Shoots in a Q&A with Goodall .

"That's what Rotarians are all about: seeing that appeal for help and doing something about it. We need teamwork, we need a network -- that’s what you have, that’s what we have," she said. "Let's put the networks together, and together make this a better world. Together, let's create the change we must create if we care as we do about our children and grandchildren and theirs."

Further call to action came from Deepa Willingham, of the Rotary Club of Santa Ynez Valley, California, USA, who discussed the problem of extreme poverty during the plenary session.

"Currently, half the human population is living on less than [US]$2 per day and that, my friends, is something we should be concerned about," said Willingham. She went on to describe the three broad categories of poverty: extreme, moderate, and relative.

Willingham discussed a project she initiated that focuses on a community in India living in extreme poverty, with no access to clean water or sanitation resources. Inspired by the 2003-04 RI theme, Lend a Hand , Willingham developed Promise of Assurance to Children Everywhere (PACE Universal), which helps educate 130 young girls who might otherwise become part of the sex trade.

The session closed with a preview of the 2010 RI Convention in Montréal, Québec, Canada , slated for 20-23 June. Robert S. Scott, chair of the 2010 convention committee, and Linda Bradley, chair of the Host Organization Committee, addressed the audience in French and English, waving Canadian flags and accompanied by Royal Canadian Mounted Police.



MIAMI - A fight broke out on a Florida bus when news of Michael Jackson's death sparked debate over whether he should be remembered as a great musical talent, and one passenger was charged with assault, police said on Friday.

The bus was moving through the city of North Lauderdale on Thursday when passenger James Kiernan received a text message about Jackson's death on his cell phone, and he read it aloud on the bus, the Broward County Sheriff's Department said.

The unidentified bus driver opined that "Michael Jackson should have been in jail long ago," prompting Kiernan, 60, to retort that "the world just lost a great musical talent," the police report said.

It said the last remark enraged another passenger, Henry Wideman, who started a swearing match with Kiernan, then pulled out a knife and chased Kiernan down the aisle with it.

The driver called his dispatcher and pulled over near a convenience store to wait for sheriff's deputies, who arrested Wideman, 54. He remained in jail on Friday on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

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Chris recognized our 2009 Business of the year award winner, Abert Siding.


Sure you could set up for summer grabbing popsicles from the freezer aisle, but you'd be missing out on the deliciousness of frozen bananas and chocolate. All you need are bananas, chocolate, popsicle sticks, and some basic tools from your kitchen, and you're in business. Making chocolate-covered bananas is only marginally more complicated than melting the chocolate, coating the bananas, and leaving them to set in your freezer. If you're going to undertake the project, we'd suggest buying some strawberries at the same time, as using the leftover melted chocolate for a batch of chocolate-covered strawberries is an excellent way to squeeze a little extra gourmet magic out. For more details and tips on making your treats turn out just right, check out the tutorial at the link below:
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1914: Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie are assassinated by a Serb nationalist, triggering World War I.

1919: President Woodrow Wilson meets with the leaders of Great Britain, France and Italy to sign the Treaty of Versailles, the peace settlement after World War I.

Saturday, June 27, 2009



"Women want mediocre men, and men are working hard to become as mediocre as possible."-Margaret Mead



Why are zero scores in tennis called "love?

In France, where tennis first became popular, a big, round zero on the scoreboard looked like an egg and was called "l'oeuf," which is French for "egg." When tennis was introduced in the U.S., Americans pronounced it "love."


Ray Klinginsmith, of the Rotary Club of Kirksville, Missouri, USA, was elected as president of Rotary International for 2010-11 by delegates during the fourth plenary session at the 2009 RI Convention in Birmingham, England.

Klinginsmith thanked the audience, saying that his election completed a long Rotary journey of nearly 50 years that began with a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship.

"Thank you for permitting me to complete a circle in my Rotary life. It was 25 years ago, in this very building, that the delegates to the 1984 convention elected me as an RI director," said Klinginsmith. "That election in 1984 permitted me to become the youngest director on the RI Board as a result of my early exposure to Rotary as a college student, because I was a Rotary Scholar."

Klinginsmith said that when the RI Convention is convened in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, in 2011, it will be the 50th anniversary of his "monthlong trip that lasted a lifetime."

Awarded a scholarship to study at the University of Cape Town, Klinginsmith said he was the first student from his community to study abroad. He told the audience how he embarked on his journey on a ship that sailed from New Orleans to Cape Town, where he made friends and was first exposed to the transformative power of Rotary.

"I had the good fortune to travel 16,000 miles in Africa and to visit 35 Rotary clubs in four different countries, and therefore, I am pleased to stand here today as a product of The Rotary Foundation," Klinginsmith said.

The Rotarians who will serve as 2010-12 RI directors were declared elected at the plenary session. They are Noel A. Bajat, of the Rotary Club of Abbeville, Louisiana, USA; Elio Cerini, of the Rotary Club of Milano Duomo, Italy; Kenneth W. Grabeau, of the Rotary Club of Nashua West, New Hampshire, USA; Stuart B. Heal, of the Rotary Club of Cromwell, New Zealand; Masaomi Kondo, of the Rotary Club of Senri, Osaka, Japan; Barry Matheson, of the Rotary Club of Jessheim, Norway; Samuel F. Owori, of the Rotary Club of Kampala, Uganda; and John C. Smarge, of the Rotary Club of Naples, Florida, USA.

RI General Secretary Ed Futa also declared elected the nominees for district governor in 2010-11 and announced the officers for Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland in 2009-10.


President Kevin talks about his plans for the 2009-10 Rotary year
1973: John Dean reveals a Nixon White House “enemies list” to the Senate Watergate Committee. Arnold M. Picker, a Hollywood executive and the finance chairman for Sen. Ed Muskie’s presidential campaign, tops it.

1957: More than 500 people die in Louisiana and Texas after Hurricane Audrey storms the coast.

1942: The FBI captures the last of eight Nazi saboteurs who plotted to bring the war’s violence to the American home front.

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Friday, June 26, 2009


You've seen them in the grocery store refrigerated coolers, with fancy names, like Red Bull, Monster, Full Throttle, and Rockstar. They're the so-called "energy drinks" that come loaded with caffeine, sugar, vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients. But are they really good for you? Johns Hopkins reviews the data.

The popular high-caffeine, high-sugar beverages, typically sold in 8.3 oz aluminum cans (two-thirds the size of a standard size of Coca-Cola) contain about seven teaspoons of sugar and as much as two to four times the amount of caffeine (9 milligrams per fluid ounce) as Coke.

Caffeine is a drug and should be treated with caution. Some people are now suggesting that warning labels be placed on energy drink cans because of their high caffeine levels and their potential to raise blood pressure. Elevations in blood pressure were the point of small study presented at a recent American Heart Association meeting.

While the increases didn't reach dangerous levels in the healthy volunteers, the increases in blood pressure and heart rate could prove to be clinically significant in patients with heart disease or in those who consume energy drinks often, said James Kalus, Pharm.D., senior manager of Patient Care Services at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, who led the study. "Individuals with high blood pressure and heart disease should be advised to avoid these drinks," he said.

Most energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine and taurine, an amino acid also found in protein-containing foods such as meats and fish. Both have been shown in some studies to effect heart function and blood pressure. In contrast, "sports drinks" like Gatorade and POWERade are simply mixtures of water, sugars, minerals, and salts, without chemicals aimed at increasing "energy" or alertness.

In Dr. Kalus' study, blood pressure and heart rate levels increased in healthy adults who drank two cans a day of a popular energy drink. According to Dr. Kalus, these changes occurred while the participants were sitting in chairs watching movies. "The increases in heart rate and blood pressure weren't enough for something to happen acutely," he said, "but a person on hypertension medication or who has cardiovascular disease may not respond as well. While energy drinks increase concentration and wakefulness, people with risk factors for heart disease could have a bad reaction. The subjects in this study were healthy, with low blood pressure."

Dr. Kalus feels that the increases in blood pressure and heart rate may be due to the caffeine and taurine in the drinks. The energy drink used in the study had as much caffeine as one to two cups of coffee, but some of the other energy drinks available contain much higher levels of caffeine.

Bottom line: "Energy drinks could affect some individuals if they didn't know they had a blood pressure problem in the first place," he said. "The study raises some concerns." Until further study, Dr. Kalus said people with high blood pressure or heart disease should steer clear of energy drinks because they could affect blood pressure and may even alter the effectiveness of hypertension medications.


After four days of celebrating Rotary's spirit of international fellowship and service, Rotarians from all over the world bid adieu to the 100th RI Convention in Birmingham, England, on 24 June.

RI President-elect John Kenny, the first Scotsman to head the international humanitarian service organization in its 104-year history, encouraged the more than 16,000 Rotarians from over 150 countries at the convention to join in the last push to eradicate polio.

"Until the day the earth is declared polio-free, this work must be our first priority and our main focus," Kenny said during the closing plenary session. "It is up to us to finish the job."

Kenny, a member of the Rotary Club of Grangemouth, has emphasized the important role that individual Rotarians and Rotary clubs play in the future of the organization, a message captured in the 2009-10 RI theme, The Future of Rotary Is in Your Hands.

"The future of Rotary is being decided every day, in every one of our clubs -- by every one of you," Kenny said. "Every Rotarian adds fresh ideas and energies to their clubs and their districts. Each one of you can make important contributions and pass on to your successors stronger clubs, healthier communities, and a better world."

Throughout the week, Rotarians, friends, and other members of the family of Rotary heard prominent speakers discussing how close the world is to eradicating polio, and encouraging Rotarians to make that last push to get the job done.

During the keynote address at the Rotary World Peace Symposium, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said Rotary has earned the world's respect. "When they started out saying they wanted to eradicate polio, a lot of people said you ought to have your head read," he said. "Now there are only four countries where polio is endemic. This is fantastic. It is going to happen, and it is fantastic." (Read more and see the video.)

During the Rotary Alumni Celebration, Jean-François Rischard, who recently retired as World Bank vice president for Europe, suggested that Rotarians can help influence top policymakers to bring necessary change to the world. (Read more.)

At a special appearance at the opening plenary session, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Rotary the heart and soul of the worldwide polio eradication effort and pledged the UN's continued cooperation and support. Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation gave Ban the Polio Eradication Champion Award, which he dedicated to three polio workers who were killed by a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan in 2008. (Read more and see the video.)

Actress and UNICEF goodwill ambassador Mia Farrow, who delivered a keynote address during the third plenary session, told Rotarians that they are almost there and to push just a little further. "Polio is a terrible, terrible disease. We are right to be pushing for the end of it," she said. (Read more and see the video.)

During the fourth plenary session, primatologist and humanitarian Dr. Jane Goodall stressed the goals that her organization shares with Rotary and called for increased collaboration. "We need to join together, to work as a team," she said. (Read more.)

Jan Egeland, director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, told Rotary World Peace Fellows that he feels optimistic knowing that a new generation of peacemakers coming out of Rotary's programs will have unparalleled knowledge, technology, and training to do much-needed work. And Clarissa Brocklehurst, UNICEF's chief of water, sanitation, and hygiene, spoke about the urgent need for collaborative efforts to ensure access to clean water and improved sanitation around the world.

Throughout the convention, Rotarians enjoyed fellowship and learned more about club service projects and Global Networking Groups at the House of Friendship. Attendees were treated to cooking demonstrations by finalists in a young chef competition, won by 16-year-old Hailey Vickers, of the Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester, England.

As attendees entered the convention center, they had a chance to take part in a fundraiser to raise money for polio eradication, donating ₤5 (about US$8) to pull a sticker off a large display, gradually revealing theMake Dreams Real logo, and sign their names on a panel. (See the video.)

During host-ticketed events, opera diva Katherine Jenkins entertained, attendees toured Warwick Castle for a Medieval Spectacular, and downtown Birmingham staged performances by the Birmingham Royal Ballet and Treorchy Male Choir, as well as the East Meets West variety show. The End Polio Now logo was projected onto the side of the Birmingham Central Library 23 June during Birmingham Greets Rotary night.


When did you last camp out? Tomorrow is the Great American Backyard Campout! It is a day designed to bring kids closer to nature. Sleeping under the stars is fun for kids of all ages. It doesn't matter if you're sleeping in your yard or a campsite. At the National Wildlife Federation's site, you can find the perfect camping spot. Click the map to see nearby campsites. You'll also find advice to help you get more from the experience. For example, learn what camping gear you'll need. There are also recipes that are easy to prepare outside. Learn about fun activities and other ways to engage your children.
Here is the link-

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Outgoing President Roger took the opportunity to summarize the club's accomplishments during the past year at our Installation of Officers dinner. Listen to what he had to say and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.


BERLIN - A thief in Germany was arrested after he tried to sell a garden mower online to the man he had stolen it from, police said Wednesday.

"The owner went to inspect the goods and recognized the mower as his own," said a spokesman for police in the southern town of Tuebingen. "Then he left and told police."

Officers confronted the 46-year-old suspect, who confessed to stealing the mower from a shed in February. He later put it for sale on internet auction site eBay, the spokesman said.

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"I take the view, and always have, that if you cannot say what you are going to say in twenty minutes you ought to go away and write a book about it"-.Lord Brabazon


1963:JFK speaks in West Berlin, saying to those who think communism is better than democracy, “Let them come to Berlin.” He says: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

1990: Despite telling Americans to read his lips and promising “no new taxes,” President George H.W. Bush calls for tax increases.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


No matter what your age or what your “generation” is or was, mood rings bring in a rush of youthful memories made and those about to be made. Many first attempts at demystifying the crazy emotions found while growing up were facilitated with the magical mystical mood ring, giving it a long-lasting relationship with pop culture, a relationship that was at its heady best in the 1970s when everyone wanted something to put their emotions on display. Of course, if thermometers and temperament work in tandem, the extremities seem like the least likely place to take a temperature, but alas the mood ring took off like the rocket ship of trinket fashion. Mood rings work as a sort of “biofeedback” based on your body temperature. Inside of the ring are little heat-sensitive crystals that change, usually turning green, based on body temperature. Good mood and feeling flushed – ooh la la, it’s green! It takes the cold touch of bitterness and anger to produce black… or sometimes it was just the refrigerator. Be careful when experimenting, though – one misstep with a freezer or boiling water and your mood ring will develop an attitude and quit on you. Whether you’re black, blue, in the middle with that grey-amber-red color, or good-to-go with green, mood rings have been one of the more steadfast fads pop culture has found in the last few decades. Though they may have had less to do with mood prediction than we thought, mood rings were good fun and a cheap prediction at a whim. Plus, an observant someone may just realize that you needed your hands warmed and that wasn’t always a bad thing.

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1876: Lt. Col. George Custer and 256 troops of the 7th Cavalry are slaughtered in less than an hour by Sioux and Cheyenne Indians in the Battle of Little Big Horn.

1950: North Korean troops cross the 38th parallel to start the Korean War.


The following five sites have proven the most consistently useful for the editors of Budget Travel, who do thousands of searches a year.
Strictly for booking plane trips entirely outside of the U.S., such as a flight between Paris and Rome.
The site runs simultaneous searches of multiple airports serving the same city—five airports in London, for instance—and it retrieves fares from no-frills independent carriers like EasyJet and Ryanair, which many better-known travel sites overlook. That said, be warned that Dohop doesn't work nearly as well for booking airfares leaving the U.S.
The all-time best site for finding the cheapest plane tickets in the U.S.
Our biggest beef with Kayak's competitors is that when you click to book a fare, they typically direct you to a new page. Sometimes it's only then that you find out your actual departure time—or worse, you're forced to plug in your dates and departure cities all over again, only to discover far different results. Kayak stands apart. Once you've found a good flight on Kayak, click on the price and you'll be sent directly to the airline's website, where the exact price for the exact flight you selected unfailingly appears. Another perk: If you are flexible on your travel dates, we recommend you try Kayak's flexible-date search tool, which covers the broadest scope of routes and airports of any site we've tested.
The granddaddy discounter helps hotels, car-rental agencies, and airlines unload all sorts of inventory at well below published prices.
We admit that Priceline's name-your-own-price option—in which travelers don't know specific details until after their bids have been accepted—isn't for everyone. But as flexible travelers, we're fans of using Priceline to bid blindly. You'll find the best results when bidding for upscale hotels in large cities, paying up to half off what other guests pay. The trade-off is that your hotel's location will be something of a surprise. But in many big cities, it doesn't really matter which neighborhood you're staying in, because you're hopping all over town sightseeing anyway. Of course, Priceline also sells travel the straightforward way (with the price and details quoted up-front), but, in our opinion, it's no better at doing that than Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, or CheapTickets.
Harnessing the power of the masses, the user-hotel-review site TripAdvisor is the top way to hunt for hotels.
We admit that the site's spectrum of good, bad, and mixed reviews for the same property can be confusing. But you know what? After reading the reviews and disregarding ones that seem off or biased, you get a decent sense of what to expect in a hotel—which is the point. For now, TripAdvisor is the top dog in user-generated hotel reviews, but we're also watching Kayak-owned TravelPost, a newly-launched site that offers a similar service (though to date it posts only about one-tenth as many reviews and opinions as TripAdvisor).
Spotlights independently owned properties overseas, many of which never show up on American travel sites.
Any booking site can point you to large, widely known hotels. But you might prefer to stay in a charming inn or a small property on your next trip, especially if you're traveling to Europe. Well, Venere is the go-to source for this type of mom-and-pop lodging, which usually provides better value for the money than hotel chains. A recent search on Venere for hotels in Nice, France, for example, turned up 20 spots charging nightly rates of less than 60 euros ($82). That's well below the typical rates for large hotels in the resort town. Venere also offers other kinds of alternative lodging, such as apartments, pensions, and farmhouses.


The Hotel Caruso Belvedere's infinity pool

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Monarch butterflies journey from the Great Lakes to the
Gulf of Mexico, a distance of about 2,000 miles, and
return to the north again in the spring.

Butterflies cannot fly if their body temperature is less
than 86 degrees.

Many butterflies can taste with their feet to find out
whether the leaf they sit on is good to lay eggs on to be
their caterpillars' food or not.

Some moths never eat anything as adults because they don't
have mouths. They must live on the energy they stored as

Butterflies and insects have their skeletons on the outside
of their bodies, called the exoskeleton. This protects the
insect and keeps water inside their bodies so they don’t
dry out.
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BERLIN- A toy nuclear power plant built by two six year-olds sparked a public alert in Germany, only for authorities to discover the would-be security threat was the shell of a computer with a radiation warning sign stuck to it.

Fire services and police cordoned off several streets and told residents to stay indoors in the western town of Oelde after the two boys left their mock power station on the street when they went home for dinner Monday evening.

"It wasn't a prank, they were just playing," a local police spokeswoman said Tuesday. "The boys tried to go back later to carry on but the fire brigade wouldn't let them through."

The lock-down of the area began when a passer-by saw the metal object with the yellow and black symbol on it, took fright and alerted authorities, the spokeswoman said.

Police sent out warnings on local radio for residents to remain in their homes while a radiation detector was rushed to the scene to investigate the old computer casing and the warning sign, which the boys had printed out from the internet.

After the object had been identified, the boys' parents explained to police the children had gone out to "play nuclear power station" that evening, the spokeswoman said.

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1968: After 42 days, police close down Resurrection City, an encampment constructed on the National Mall as part of the Poor People’s March.

1949: William Boyd resurrects his old movie role as NBC airs the first TV Western series, Hopalong Cassidy.

1997: Air Force Col. John Haynes suggests that the 1947 “Roswell Incident,” in which witnesses reported seeing aliens, was nothing more than test balloons and life-size dummies.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009


"The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair."-Douglas Adams


"When thunder roars Go Indoors."  That is the wise message to all of us from our friends
at the National Weather Service here during national Lightning Awareness
There are a number of great websites for lightning information and
safety suggestions. NOAA's Lightning Awareness Week webpage is a good
place to start.
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Electricity travels at the speed of light - more than
186,000 miles per second!

A spark of static electricity can measure up to three
thousand (3,000) volts. A bolt of lightning can measure up
to three million (3,000,000) volts – and it lasts less than
one second.

Electricity always tries to find the easiest path to the
ground. It can be made from wind, water, the sun and even
animal manure.

The first power plant – owned by Thomas Edison – opened in
New York City in 1882. One power plant can produce enough
electricity for 180,000 homes.

Thomas Edison didn’t invent the first light bulb – but he
did invent one that stayed lit for more than a few seconds.

Benjamin Franklin didn’t discover electricity – but he
did prove that lightning is a form of electrical energy.
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TheMost Awesome National Food Holidays
Happy National Pecan Sandy Day, everyone!
The truth is, there's a different (and often strange) national food holiday for just about every day, even leap years. Here are our picks for the most awesome:
Lima Bean Respect Day (April 20)
Apparently, the lima bean is tired of being the Rodney Dangerfield of the legume world.
Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Omelet Day (July 9)
We've never tried to make an omelet from a whole carton of eggs -- that'd just be stupid -- but still, it's nice to have a hard-boiled reminder.
Ice Cream and Violins Day (December 13)
Time and space have separated what were once bosom buddies, but this day is a reminder of the romantic mashup of days past. It's also a justification for eating ice cream.
TV Dinner Day (September 10)
A holiday that celebrates the Hungry-Man and the couch potato in all of us, with no strain on energy levels except to defrost, zap, and maybe change a channel or two. What's not to love?
Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day (February 11)
In which spilling milk isn't particularly discouraged, which sounds like a lot of fun.
Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day (November 9)
Durian and Limburger sandwich, perhaps? Break out the nose plugs and go deep.
National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day (December 16)
Heaven knows we'll try just about anything fried or covered in chocolate. So maybe the quest to achieve both in one bite should be the proper focus here.
Something on a Stick Day (March 28)
This, too, leaves so much to the imagination that we can only love it. What freedom!
Eat What You Want Day (May 11)
Also known as the greatest day that ever was, from now till eternity. Amen.
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Lincoln’s first solution to slavery was a fiasco

Early in his presidency, Abe was convinced that white Americans would never accept black Americans. “You and we are different races,” the president told a committee of “colored” leaders in August 1862. “…But for your race among us there could not be war…It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated.” Lincoln proposed voluntary emigration to Central America, seeing it as a more convenient destination than Liberia. This idea didn’t sit well with leaders like Frederick Douglass, who considered colonization to be “a safety valve…for white racism.”

Luckily for Douglass (and the country), colonization failed spectacularly. One of the first attempts was on Île à Vache, a.k.a. Cow Island, a small isle off the coast of Haiti. The island was owned by land developer Bernard Kock, who claimed he had approved a black American colony with the Haitian government. No one bothered to call him on that claim. Following a smallpox outbreak on the boat ride down, hundreds of black colonizers were abandoned on the island with no housing prepared for them, as Kock had promised.

To make matters worse, the soil on Cow Island was too poor for any serious agriculture. In January 1864, the Navy rescued the survivors from the ripoff colony. Once Île à Vache fell through, Lincoln never spoke of colonization again.


1972: President Richard Nixon and his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, talk about using the CIA to keep the FBI from further investigating the Watergate break-in.

1988: NASA space studies director James E. Hansen testifies on Capitol Hill that global warming has started.

1931: Wiley Post and Harold Gatty take off from New York in what will be the first round-the-world flight in a single-engine plane.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Kodak ending KODACHROME run after 74 years, still can't get that Paul Simon song out of its head

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away

Kodak estimates supplies of existing stock will run out sometime in early fall. Don't forget to hum that cool acoustic guitar riff in between the verses

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We don't know exactly how, but Belkin's claiming its new Gigabit Powerline HD Starter Kit adapters can outpace the current 200Mbps standard speed of most other powerline devices by five fold. Of course, the caveat here is that the touted 1000Mbps is under ideal settings, and there's no telling what other network traffic, interference, or problematic wiring could lower that figure -- still, assuming all conditions are sound, we're talking some hefty numbers for an HD streaming network run via your home's electrical system. It's available now in North America at a penny under $150 for a pair of adapters
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At a special appearance at the opening plenary session of the 2009 RI Convention in Birmingham, England, on 21 June, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Rotarians for their work in advancing social justice.

Speaking to a packed hall, Ban called Rotary the heart and soul of the worldwide polio eradication effort and pledged the UN's continued cooperation and support.

"Rotary's vision of a polio-free world is in sharp focus," the secretary-general said. "I am with you in this campaign.

"Now is the time to finish the job. I call on global governments all around the world to help us," he continued. "Together, we can fulfill Rotary's vision and give future generations a polio-free world."

More than 14,900 attendees from 154 countries and geographical areas are convening in Birmingham for the 100th RI Convention. It is the second RI Convention for Birmingham, which hosted its first in 1984.

Ban's appearance demonstrates the close ties maintained by Rotary and the UN , which date back to 1945, when Rotarians helped draft the UN Charter. Ban said his appreciation for Rotary has deepened since he became secretary-general.

"I am deeply convinced the UN can continue to count on you to keep doing your part. One of the hallmarks of this new multinationalism is collaboration -- all partners must work together," he said. "And nothing will better convince the world that we can succeed than through completing the effort to eradicate polio."

Ban also asked Rotarians for their help in addressing other global challenges, including climate change, hunger, and a lack of access to energy.

RI President Dong Kurn Lee, a personal friend of Ban's, also took the stage.

Lee talked about how a business trip to Africa sparked his commitment to reducing child mortality. During that trip, he said, he was escorted to a village of mud huts by a local Rotarian. From one of the huts, he heard a cry, then saw a mother and child dying of hunger.

"At that moment, in my shock and horror, I wanted to do anything -- anything at all -- to help that mother and child," Lee said. "But then I realized that I was looking in only one hut, in only one village, in only one country, of the many, many poor and developing countries in the world.

"That was when I resolved to do everything I could to reduce the rate of child mortality and to Make Dreams Real ," he said.

Noting that the child mortality rate has dropped 27 percent in the past decade, Lee said he is certain Rotarians will continue the work and keep "making this great Rotary dream of a polio-free world into a reality."

The opening plenary session also included an East Meets West celebration that featured a variety of entertainment, including a reenactment of a royal court procession followed by the Little Angels children's choir, who sang "Greensleeves" in Korean and English, and a martial arts demonstration by the Tae Kwon Do Association of Great Britain.

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