Sunday, January 31, 2010


"Magnificent promises are always to be suspected." – Theodore Parker



The stabbing violins of Psycho? The signature songs of The Graduate and Saturday Night Fever? The eerie woo-woo-woo-woo-woo of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? The thumping funk of Shaft?

They're all in the new list of 15 Most Influential Soundtracks chosen by Turner Classic Movies in connection with Sunday's Grammy Awards.
It's interesting how many of the picks come from movies released in the '60s and '70s. Maybe that's because the studio system was dying, and filmmakers found a new freedom to play with audio aesthetics as well as visual dynamics and mature content. That era certainly offers a rich mix -- some of the TCM-cited sounds are orchestral, some rock out, and others flash back to find fresh uses for both classical masterpieces and vintage pop songs.
What's also intriguing is that the list only covers a span of 45 years (1932-1977). There wasn't much movie music before that, since silents only started giving way to talk in 1927. But you'd think some scores in the last three decades would have made their mark.
Then again, it's hard to think of any. Maybe Randy Newman's The Natural score? Prince's Purple Rain songs? The retro rock of The Big Chill? But how influential were they? Slumdog Millionaire's Bollywood breakthrough only matters if someone follows the trail it blazed. (Thus disqualified is the deliriously creative song score of South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut.)
Here are TCM's 15 picks (read more about the scores here) --

  • King Kong (1933) -- Composer: Max Steiner
  • Alexander Nevsky (1938) -- Composer: Sergei Prokofiev
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) -- Composer: Bernard Herrmann
  • Blackboard Jungle (1955) -- Music Adaptor: Charles Wolcott
  • The Man with the Golden Arm (1955) -- Composer: Elmer Bernstein
  • Psycho (1960) -- Composer: Bernard Herrmann
  • A Hard Day's Night (1964) -- Musical Director: George Martin; Songs: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
  • Goldfinger (1964) -- Composer: John Barry
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) -- Composer: Ennio Morricone
  • The Graduate (1967) -- Composer: Dave Grusin; Songs: Paul Simon
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) -- Musical Consultant: Patrick Moore; Music Editor: Frank J. Urioste
  • Shaft (1971) -- Composers: Isaac Hayes and J.J. Johnson
  • American Graffiti (1973) -- Music Coordinator: Karin Green
  • Saturday Night Fever (1977) -- Composers: Barry, Maurice & Robin Gibb and David Shire
  • Star Wars (1977) -- Composer: John Williams
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In 1906, Belle Gunness started running personal ads in Midwestern papers. She described herself as an attractive widow with a lush Indiana farm property, interested in an equally affluent new husband. She included a tart postscript: "Triflers need not apply."
Suitors answered her call by the dozen—and disappeared at a similar rate. After Ms. Gunness herself vanished in 1908, the La Porte, Ind. police department eventually set the body count at more than 40. This figure included her children and stepchildren, pieces of whom were found buried around the farm.
A conspirator later detailed Ms. Gunness's favorite method for murder: a little chloroform in a tumbler of whiskey, followed by a strychnine chaser. Once her gentleman callers dropped dead, she would wait for dark to dismember and bury the bodies.
Ms. Gunness was one of the most successful poison killers to belong to the era historians call the golden age of poisoning, from the early 1800s to the early 1900s. The rise of spectacular poisoners like Ms. Gunness—or Mary Ann Cotton in Britain, who was hanged in 1873 for eliminating more than 20 people with arsensic—drove a sense of urgency among scientists, eventually leading to the creation of forensic toxicology. Unfortunately, that didn't mean the end of homicidal poisonings. Under pressure, killers simply became more secretive and creative in their plans.
And thus began a deadly cat-and-mouse game, with scientists and poisoners pitted against each other as intellectual adversaries. The rate of poisoning has declined, yet the competition grinds on today, with the overhanging threat of global terror. In 2005, the National Academies of Science warned that the U.S. milk supply was a vulnerable target to poison attack by terrorists. In 2006, former Russian KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko died in England after the radionucleotide polonium-210 was slipped into his tea. The radioactive material had not been used as a poison before and was not identified until after his death. Mr. Litvinenko was a fierce critic of the Russian government, living in political asylum, and his death is widely considered a political assassination. The old-fashioned poison murders haven't gone away either. Homicides by poison still regularly occur in India, where access to plant poisons like strychnine remains easy. The poison diethylene glycol, found in anti-freeze formulas, has been used in the last few years in murders in Europe, Africa, Latin America and the U.S. And the risky poisons of the early 20th century still haunt us—a report in the New England Journal of Medicine last year told of more than 50,000 accidental carbon-monoxide poisonings, an increase over previous years.
Until the early 19th century, few tools existed to detect a toxic substance in a corpse. Sometimes investigators deduced poison from the violent sickness that preceded death, or built a case by feeding animals a victim's last meal (in one trial, a courtroom poisoning of frogs led to a rapid guilty verdict).Yet, poisoners walked free more often than not. As a result, murder by poison flourished. It became so common that the French nicknamed the metallic poison arsenic "poudre de succession," or the inheritance powder.
The earliest recorded evidence of homicidal poisoning is from the hieroglyphics of Egypt, a reference to "death by peach," taken to mean the use of cyanide, which concentrates in the fruit's pits. By medieval times, poisoning had grown into a weapon of choice. The Italian Borgia family made poison murder both famous and feared in the 14th century; they reputedly cooked up an arsenic-based poison called "la cantarella." The recipe was so deadly it was ultimately destroyed but the reputation of poisons continued to grow. In 17th century Naples, a woman only now remembered as "Toffana" taught wealthy women how to eliminate their husbands with the arsenic-based face paint she sold them. By some accounts she was responsible for 600 deaths before she was sent to prison.
The wholesale use of poison got another boost during the chemical revolution of the 1800s. Scientists learned to isolate and identify the basic elements and the chemical compounds that define life on Earth, gradually building a catalogue they called The Periodic Table of the Elements. In 1804, the elements palladium, cerium, iridium, osmium, and rhodium were discovered; potassium and sodium were isolated in 1807; barium, calcium, magnesium, and strontium in 1808; chlorine in 1810. Once researchers understood individual elements, they went on to study them in combinations, examining how elements bonded into familiar substances, such as the sodium-chlorine combination that creates basic table salt, or deadlier mixtures such as the carbon-hydrogen-chlorine formula for chloroform.
Most of the pioneering scientists who worked in elemental chemistry weren't thinking about poisons in particular. But some were. In 1814, in the midst of this blaze of discovery, the Spanish chemist Mathieu Orfila published a treatise on poisons and their detection, the first book of its kind. Mr. Orfila suspected that metallic poisons such as arsenic might be the easiest to detect in the body's tissues. By the late 1830s, the first test for isolating arsenic had been developed, and within a decade, more reliable tests were successfully being used in criminal prosecutions.
The very science that made it possible to identify the old poisons, like cyanide and arsenic, also made available a lethal array of new ones. Morphine was isolated in 1804, the same year that palladium was discovered. In 1819 strychnine was extracted from the seeds of the Strychnos nux vomica tree. The compound coniine was isolated from hemlock the same year. Chemists extracted nicotine from tobacco leaves in 1828. Aconitine—described by one toxicologist as "in its pure state, perhaps the most potent poison known"—was found in the beautiful flowering monkshood plant in 1832.
And although researchers had learned to isolate these alkaloids— organic (carbon-based) compounds with some nitrogen mixed in—they had no idea how to find such poisons in human tissue. Mr. Orfila himself, conducting one failed attempt after another, worried that it was an impossible task. One exasperated French prosecutor, during a mid-19th-century trial involving a morphine murder, exclaimed: "Henceforth let us tell would-be poisoners: do not use metallic poisons, for they leave traces. Use plant poisons ... Fear nothing; your crime will go unpunished. There is no corpus delecti [physical evidence], for it cannot be found."
With determination, researchers do learn how to get ahead of threats and win their turn in the game. In the 19th century, for instance, after murderers turned to plant poisons, scientists redoubled their efforts to capture those alkaloids in human tissue. And in 1860, a single-minded French chemist named Jean Servais Stas figured out how to isolate nicotine, an alkaloid of the tobacco plant, from a corpse. Other plant poisons soon became more accessible, and chemists were able to offer new assistance to criminal investigations.
Police detectives and chemists, who had rarely worked together, began to consider themselves allies. "One can be a famous poisoner or a successful poisoner, but not both!" the British toxicologist John Glaister said proudly. And Britain had made progress in catching and executing famous poisoners: An estimated 100,000 people watched the Glascow execution of the Scottish poisoner Edward William Pritchard in 1865, after he was convicted of murdering his wife and her mother with the metallic poison antimony. Thomas Neill Cream was hanged in 1893, after poisoning three London prostitutes with strychnine.
The scientific knowledge and scientific determination, spread across the Atlantic to the U.S. The 1896 book "Medical Jurisprudence, Forensic Medicine and Toxicology," co-written by a New York research chemist and a law professor, documented the fierce race between scientists and killers. In one remarkable case in New York, a physician had killed his wife with morphine and then put belladonna drops into her eyes to counter the telltale contraction of her pupils. He was convicted only after Columbia University chemist Rudolph Witthaus, one of the book's authors, demonstrated the process to the jury by killing a cat in the courtroom using the same gruesome technique. There was as much showmanship as science, Mr. Witthaus admitted; toxicology remained a primitive field of research filled with "questions still unanswerable."
In the early 20th century, industrial innovation flooded the U.S. with a wealth of modern poisons, creating new opportunities for the clever poisoner and new challenges for the country's early forensic detectives. Morphine went into teething medicines for infants; opium into routinely prescribed sedatives; arsenic was an ingredient in everything from pesticides to cosmetics. Mercury, cyanide, strychnine, chloral hydrate, chloroform, sulfates of iron, sugar of lead, and carbolic acid were among the new chemistry that stocked the shelves of doctors' offices, businesses, homes, pharmacies and grocery stores. During the Great War, poison was established as a weapon of warfare, earning World War I the name, "The Chemist's War." And with the onset of Prohibition a new Chemist's War raged between bootleggers and government chemists working to make moonshine a lethal concoction. As the government worked to make supplies of alcohol more poisonous—seeking to discourage bootlegger thefts—critics compared the national policy to mass murder. In New York's smoky jazz clubs, each round of cocktails became a game of Russian roulette. Some years, the death toll easily topped 1,000.
In 1918, however, New York City made a radical reform that would revolutionize the poison game and launch toxicology to front-page status. Propelled by a series of scandals involving corrupt coroners and unsolved murders, the city hired its first professional medical examiner, a charismatic pathologist named Charles Norris. Once in office, Mr. Norris swiftly hired an exceptionally driven and talented chemist named Alexander Gettler and persuaded him to found and direct the city's first toxicology laboratory. Together Messrs. Norris and Gettler helped elevate forensic chemistry in this country into a formidable science, so much so that Mr. Gettler would come to be known as "the father of American forensic toxicology." Trailblazing scientific detectives, they earned a respected place in the courtroom, crusaded against compounds dangerous to public health, and stopped a great many Jazz Age poisoners in their tracks.
They were part of another boom in the history of the poison game, a fierce drive to improve the science of forensic medicine. The National Research Council launched a scathing review of coroner operations around the country, citing death certificates that listed conclusions such as "either an auto accident or diabetes." The NRC championed the New York City department as a national model, with its dedicated laboratory, full-time chemists and research partnerships with universities. And the country's major cities rapidly followed suit, with labs springing up in Boston and Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
In one 1929 case in Northern California, a young woman named Eva Rablen, was accused of getting rid of her deaf husband, Carroll, by putting strychnine into his coffee during a dance. The coroner had found no trace of the poison in Carroll Rablen's body. So the sheriff's department called in one of the new forensic scientists, Edward Heinrich, who redid the autopsy, turned up strychnine in the body, and also found it in the coffee cup and even in some stains on her dress, after learning that she had stumbled while carrying the cup. Eva Rablen changed her plea to guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. Mr. Heinrich, who was based at the University of California, Berkeley, became popularly known as "The Wizard of Berkeley."
In a 1933 case, Alexander Gettler provided damning evidence in a case against a Bronx foursome who had created a murder syndicate to collect insurance money from the death of a friend named Mike Malloy. After numerous false starts, the group killed Mr. Malloy with carbon monoxide. Although Mr. Malloy had been dead for months when the investigation began, Mr. Gettler was still able to prove that the man had been killed by the poisonous gas. All four of the conspirators died in the electric chair at Sing Sing prison.
The Malloy case and the Rablen case—which drew such large crowds that the trial was held in an open-air dance pavilion—sent a very public, very unmistakable message that scientists were now capable of catching the most scheming of poisoners. They could find strychnine in a coffee stain, carbon monoxide in a rotting corpse. They'd developed tests and built new devices. They had found increasingly sophisticated means of finding poisons in tissue, both living and dead. They were polishing up the profession; by the early 1930s, both New York University and Harvard had created forensic medicine programs. And as ever more sensitive machines—like the gas chromatograph—were put into play, those detection abilities would become ever better tuned.
These days, homicidal poisonings are rare. A study conducted last year at the University of Georgia looked at federal mortality data between 1998 and 2005. It found 523 poison murders in the U.S. during that period, less than 1% of all homicides. On the other hand, the researchers, Greene Shepherd and Brian Ferslew, spotted a slight increase in such killings, from 0.2 cases per million in 2000 to 0.3 cases per million in 2005. Infants accounted for most of these victims, followed by the elderly. Mr. Shepherd said, "We may never know the true incidence because some cases undoubtedly evade detection and classification." Which is another way of saying that scientists and poisoners are still playing that same old cat and mouse game, and it's only getting harder.

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I'm going to be discussing global warming next week, it's quite a heated topic.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Each of us has, at one time or another, been asked the question, what is Rotary? There are many ways to answer, depending on the questioner, the context, and the time available. The shortest and simplest answer is that Rotary is the world’s oldest service club organization. This is, of course, an accurate but necessarily incomplete response, for any true understanding of Rotary must include an explanation of how we in Rotary strive through our service to achieve more than the goal of each individual project. By working together in our clubs, our districts, and internationally, we strive to establish the simple foundations of a better society: friendship, trust, honesty, and hope.
The structure of Rotary, along with our international club projects, helps make friendly connections between Rotarians in different countries. Our emphasis on ethical and honest behavior works to build strong and open relationships between people and nations. Our service projects in water, health and hunger, and literacy help eliminate many of the practical obstacles to peace. And our Rotary Foundation and Rotary Youth Exchange programs go a step beyond by training the leaders of tomorrow to be active builders of a more peaceful world.
These programs help shape responsible citizens of better communities -- people who will have a broad and nuanced perspective, enhanced by opened eyes and open minds. They will be indelibly marked by their experiences, and throughout their lives -- both now and in their later careers -- they will not keep the benefits of these experiences to themselves. These are the people who will help build the kind of future that we as Rotarians strive to create through our every action.
What is Rotary? It is a network of people who care -- people who are both realists and optimists. We recognize the challenges before us and our own limitations; we also recognize our abilities and our responsibility to use them to the fullest. If we are ever to realize Paul Harris’ vision for Rotary as an organization that promotes goodwill among nations, then, as he wrote, “the hearts of men must be so touched and molded that mutual understanding and goodwill will take the place of fear and hatred.” In this, World Understanding Month, we do well to remember these words -- and to remember as well that in all of our service, we reach for the larger goal of fellowship, understanding, and peace.
John Kenny
President, Rotary International
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"Anything that is of value in life only multiplies when it is given." – Deepak Chopra


JANUARY 30, 1948

Mohandas Gandhi, who became a world leader through nonviolence, is shot by a Hindu assassin. The Mahatma (“great soul”) was 78.

The Beatles perform in public for the last time on Apple Records’ roof. The concert is shot for the documentary Let It Be.

“Bloody Sunday.” Thirteen Roman Catholic protesters are killed by British soldiers in Northern Ireland.
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“When you come to a fork in the road….take it” – Yogi Berra
“Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas, take your next trip in kilometers.” – George Carlin
 “If you’ve seen one redwood tree, you’ve seen them all.” – Ronald Reagan
“Too often travel, instead of broadening the mind, merely lengthens the conversations.” — Elizabeth Drew
“Thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.” – Charles Kuralt
 “The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist.” – Russell Baker
 “You can find your way across this country using burger joints the way a navigator uses stars.” – Charles Kuralt
 “You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra
 “Do not insult the mother alligator until after you have crossed the river.” – Old Haitian Proverb
 “Canada is the vichyssoise of nations – it’s cold, half French and difficult to stir.” – Stuart Keate
 “On a New York subway you get fined for spitting, but you can throw up for nothing.” – Lewis Grizzard
“France is the only country where the money falls apart and you can’t tear the toilet paper.” – Billy Wilder
“Boy, those French. They have a different word for everything.” – Steve Martin
 “Climbing K2 or floating the Grand Canyon in an inner tube. There are some things one would rather have done than do.” – Edward Abbey
“If you are going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill
 “I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places”. – Henny Youngman
 “Two great talkers will not travel far together.” – Spanish Proverb
 “Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel.” – Yogi Berra
 “I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Living on Earth is expensive, but it does include a free trip around the sun every year.” – Unknown
 “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money”. – Unknown
“Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.” – Mark Twain
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In January, the Berkeley (Calif.) School Board began consideration of a near-unanimous recommendation of Berkeley High School's Governance Council to eliminate science labs from its curriculum, reasoning that the classes mostly serve white students, leaving less money for programs for underperforming minorities. Berkeley High's white students do far better academically than the state average; black and Latino students do worse than average. Five science teachers would be dismissed.
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Friday, January 29, 2010




1963:Running backs Jim Thorpe and Red Grange are among the 17 men inducted as charter members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Hall director Dick McGann calls them “milestone men.”

Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth are among first five players named to National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The San Francisco 49ers defeat the San Diego Chargers 49-26 to become the first team to win five Super Bowl titles.
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 Do you want to know why there are no frogs in China? Give a listen as Lewis and Clark Community college president Dale Chapman answers that question and tells us all about what is happening on campus. 

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Television fans lost another beloved actor on Sunday, with the passing of Pernell Roberts. His career spanned over four decades, including Broadway and film, but he is best remembered for his work on television. He was also a noted activist, frequently battling networks over their casting of white actors in minority roles, as well as marching alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 60s. Pernell was 81 at the time of his death.

Roberts began appearing on television in the late 50s, but it was his portrayal of Adam Cartwright on Bonanza for six seasons that made him a household name. After leaving the series in 1965, Roberts appeared in numerous popular shows, such as The Big Valley, Mission: Impossible and Gunsmoke, before eventually landing the starring role in his own series in 1979, Trapper John, M.D. A spin-off of the hugely successful sitcom, M*A*S*H, Roberts portrayed Dr. “Trapper” John McIntyre (a role originally played by Elliot Gould in the film adaptation, and Wayne Rogers on the TV series.) Taking place 28 years after the end of Korean War, Trapper served as the Chief of Surgery at San Francisco Memorial Hospital. The series ran for seven seasons. Roberts last television appearance was on Diagnosis Murder in 2001.
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I received a great gift this year for Christmas: a pressure cooker. Popular in Europe, India and many other parts of the world, pressure cookers have become quite modern: my five-quart Swiss-made Kuhn Rikon has a lid that is simple to close, a lock inside which prevents me from opening the lid until the pressure is released, and a pressure indicator so I know when to turn down the heat. No more soup on the ceiling.
With it, I can cook most dried beans in twenty minutes or less. Some, like lentils or split peas, can be done in less than ten. Most vegetables need five minutes or less in a pressure cooker, and grains cook in a third of the time it would take in an ordinary pot. You can be endlessly creative: combine them in soups like a black-eyed pea chili or in Indian-style curries.
Lorna Sass, the author of the re-released cookbook “Cooking Under Pressure,” says that the pressure cooker “makes possible a healthy, new definition of fast food.” She continued, “I’m an impatient cook. If I have an appliance that allows me to eat a delicious lentil soup about 15 minutes after the idea comes to mind, that’s my idea of a great appliance.”
The key to pressure cooking is in the liquid you add to your grains, beans, veggies and meat. Liquids heat fast, and the steam produced helps build pressure in the sealed pot, quickly tenderizing the fibers of the food inside. The result of that contained cooking holds other surprises: intense flavor, and more nutrients maintained in the food.
Risotto, says Lorna Sass, is an impressive dish that has succeeded in converting many people to pressure cookers. I decided to make a basic broccoli risotto, based on her recipe. I chopped an onion, diced a clove of garlic and sautéed both in the pressure cooker, lid off. After the onions became translucent, I added a finely chopped head of broccoli and 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice, stirring to coat everything in the oil. I already had stock in the fridge (a simple recipe of Mark’s from “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”: a quartered onion, two halved garlic cloves sautéed in olive oil, to which I added three tablespoons of soy sauce, carrot peels, a quartered potato, one chopped rib of celery, a bunch of parsley stems, and eight cups of boiling water, cooked under high pressure for five minutes), so I added four cups along with a pinch of saffron and salt, and then locked the lid in place. The prep took longer than the five minutes the dish required to cook; after that, I let the steam out by pressing on the valve with an oven-mitted hand. Then I slid open the lid to find a transformation of rice and broccoli into the creamy, delicious Northern Italian dish. I stirred in a cup of grated parmesan and then tasted it: delicious.
Critics of pressure cooking are often people who like to monitor what’s going on in the pot. With this technique, it isn’t an option. However, once the pot is sealed, and the timer is set, the cook using a pressure cooker is free to set the table, open the wine, or prepare dessert. It takes some getting used to, but the time savings is always worth the trade off.
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Thursday, January 28, 2010


Join the East Alton Rotary club and Lewis and Clark Community College President Dale Chapman as he gives us a sneak peak of the new National Great Rivers Research and Educational Center.  link here for more info


TCM, 8 p.m. ET
The first Bing Crosby-Bob Hope-Dorothy Lamour road movie, made in 1940, kicks off TCM’s prime-time comedy travelogue tonight. It’s followed at 9:30 p.m. ET by another, even sharper romp, 1941’s The Road to Zanzibar.


1986:America mourns as Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher sent into space, and six others die aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

1908: Julia Ward Howe, writer of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” is the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

1916: Louis Brandeis is appointed by President Wilson to the Supreme Court. He becomes its first Jewish justice.
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Is it ever a good idea to get openly angry at work? The answer depends on who you ask.
Medical researchers say repressing "desk rage" could be hazardous to your health. Men who suppress anger at work are two to five times more likely to suffer a heart attack or die from heart disease than those who express it, says a study by Swedish researchers published in a recent issue of the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
Most at risk are workers who use "covert coping"—that is, refraining from confronting a co-worker who treats you unfairly, ignoring the situation or walking away instead. Researchers tracked 2,755 men with no history of heart problems from the early 1990s until 2003 and found those who used covert coping were far more likely by 2003 to have heart attacks or die from heart disease. The results were controlled for age, socioeconomic factors, job strain and biological risk factors. Workers who reacted by protesting directly, yelling or airing their grievances right away had significantly less heart trouble.
Career coaches would usually give different advice—to avoid blowups at work, rather than damage your career or important work relationships.
"As someone who has worked with a couple of gentlemen who chose to vent at work, letting loose with expletive-laden tirades at subordinates, slamming fists on to tables, etc., I can only say "HOLD IT IN!!" … I don't want to work in an environment where people feel free to vent at will."
"I have on many occasions expressed anger at work, and it hasn't hurt my career…You don't have to yell, scream or throw things. … You can calmly and sternly tell a co-worker, "It is inappropriate for you to attempt to give my reports work without asking me" without throwing a tantrum. When you use your anger in that way people actually respect you."
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It is a pretty safe assumption to say that, for many of us, our early exposure to reading came via a wonderful series called Little Golden Books. After all, some billion and a half of these charming stories have been sold since 1942, when they were first introduced by publishing house, Simon and Shuster for the affordable price of 25 cents. Perhaps the most popular titles of the series are The Poky Little Puppy, which boasts sales in excess of 15 million copies, along with Mother Goose, The Little Red Caboose, Tootle the Train, and The Little Red Hen.
As we remember these literary jewels of childhood, we also want to share some interesting info on the genesis of the artwork style that became a trademark of these books – courtesy of the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive. Take a look at this informative article which focuses on the work of Swedish-American illustrator, Gustaf Tenggren, who also happened to be the chief illustrator for The Walt Disney Company in the 30s, and contributed to such iconic films as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, and Pinocchio. If the art of book illustration interests you, we think you will find it to be an interesting read.
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010



US haggis fans rejoice - 21 year old ban on haggis imports lifted!

Any fans of boiled sheep heart, liver and lungs cooked with oatmeal inside an animal stomach? Well, good news for you - the twenty one year old US ban on Haggis imports has been lifted!

Back in 1989, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (better known as mad cow disease) forced authorities to ban the import of haggis. Apparently, sheep offal can be lethal when infected with BSE.

Even though haggis is not exactly the kind of dish most Scots serve for dinner once a week, it is an important part of the heritage. During the annual Burns Night celebrations, Haggis is always on the table.

American butchers tried making their own haggis, but seriously, who in their right mind would eat an American copycat haggis served in a can - especially when it looks (and apparently smells) like dog food?

It will take a couple of months for the first Scottish produced haggis to make it over here, and even then, you'll need a specialty butcher to actually get your hands on one.
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As many a nomadic modern road warrior knows all too well, while you can get Internet access, juice for your laptop, and phone service on-the-go, privacy is at a premium. Thankfully, an Australian Design Science student named Kerry Jia Yi Lin has developed a little something called Hermit -- an "experimental interactive shell" that uses RFID tags to know when you've crossed your arms and set your head down for a nap. Once you've assumed the position, the felt shell closes above you, providing "a personal refuge in a communal environment." Sounds nice and peaceful, no?  If you prefer a low-tech version, we suppose you could just throw a coat over your head.
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1945:Soviet troops liberate thousands of inmates at Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration camp, where more than 1 million were killed.

1967: Astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee perish in a fire aboard the command module during an Apollo I preflight test in Florida.
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Crayola's 13 retired colorsImage by crayonsman via Flickr
Cousins Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith introduced their first eight Crayola crayons in 1903. Since then, the world has changed, and so, too, have the names of their waxy creations. Be it ever-shifting societal, racial, or political atmospheres, these crayons of yore have a revisionist history unto themselves.

1. “Flesh” Crayons Change Their Name

While everyone acknowledges that the civil rights movement brought about great strides in American society, most individuals overlook the huge advances it brought to the crayon community. In 1962, Crayola voluntarily changed Flesh to Peach in an attempt to avoid any legal issues and encourage people to embrace seeing the world in black and peach.

2. Prussian Blue receives Icy Treatment

The Kingdom of Prussia (part of modern-day Germany and Poland) remained an independent state from 1701 to 1871, but the crayon dubbed Prussian Blue had a far shorter reign in the kingdom of colors. Introduced in 1949 alongside a cadre of 39 new cohorts, Prussian Blue was unceremoniously stripped of its name in 1958, after teachers continued to voice concerns that the crayon wasn’t Cold War–sensitive. Crayola hoped the color’s new name, Midnight Blue, would help make it less political and certainly less useful in coloring Iron Curtains.

3. Indian Red was a nod to India?!

Introduced in 1958 with 15 additional colors (finally giving children 64 shades to work with!), this color was actually named for a pigment that originated in India. Over the years, teachers began to worry that children would see the crayon as a reference to American Indians’ skin color. In 1999, the Crayola company changed the name to Chestnut—but that too came with a disclaimer. The crayon manufacturer warned children that, despite the famous song, these chestnuts should never be roasted over an open fire. Mainly because they soften and melt at around 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Eight Men Out: Colors Get Waxed Off

The year 1990 brought about the first forced retirement of colors in the house of Crayola. And just like that, old fogies Blue Gray, Green Blue, Lemon Yellow, Maize, Orange Red, Orange Yellow, Raw Umber, and Violet Blue were sent out to waxy pastures. They were replaced with new-generation colors including Cerulean, Fuchsia, and Dandelion, which were considered bolder, more vibrant, and more likely to boost your Scrabble® score.

5. Kindergarteners Get Drunk with Power

In celebration of Crayola’s 100th birthday in 2003, consumers were encouraged to suggest new crayon names as well as vote out four crayon colors. The casualties of the Crayola tribal council were newer colors Blizzard Blue, Magic Mint, and Teal Blue, and the older Mulberry. These proud veterans stepped aside for such wildly creative crayons as Inch Worm, Jazzberry Jam, Mango Tango and Wild Blue Yonder—proving that allowing kindergarteners to have veto power over your marketing department isn’t always the best idea.
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010


SAN FRANCISCO - APRIL 22:  A tractor moves a p...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Even the most avid recyclers have moments of brain freeze where we forget if something can be recycled or needs to be just tossed out. Here's what to do when you're not sure.
Of course, the easiest approach would be to fling the item into the regular trash. On the other hand, is it really that big of a deal if you guess wrong and toss an non-recyclable item in with your other recyclables?
A single plastic cup in the wrong trash bin isn't going to bring the entire recycling industry to its knees, so mixing similar items—like milk jugs and yogurt cups, for example—isn't much to worry about. Putting distinctly different materials together, however, might cause a big headache (think glass bottles in machinery meant to digest plastic recyclables). Most unwanted items will be culled at the recycling facility before they can do any damage, but it never hurts to be proactive.
If you think the packaging from the frozen dinner you just ate might be recyclable but you're not sure, here's what to do:
The next time you find yourself hovering indecisively over a set of trash bins, here are some rules of thumb. Plastics marked No. 1 or No. 2 are virtually guaranteed to be accepted, so go ahead and toss them in with your recycling. Newspaper, corrugated cardboard, magazines, and office paper are almost always good to go as well. If your mystery object doesn't fall into one of those categories, trash it.
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After taking the stage to the tune of "California, Here I Come," RI President-elect Ray Klinginsmith announced the 2010-11 RI theme, Building Communities -- Bridging Continents, during the opening plenary session of the 2010 International Assembly .
Klinginsmith said he arrived at the theme after reviewing RI themes of years past. He noticed that only a few spoke to non-Rotarians.
"As a result, I decided to search for a briefly stated theme that would fulfill two objectives: the first to explain Rotary to non-Rotarians, and the second to validate our work for Rotarians," he said. "The words I have selected to describe Rotary's current mission and to highlight our achievements are what we do best: Building Communities -- Bridging Continents. "
The president-elect described how his 50 years of Rotary experience have contributed to his focus on communities at home and abroad. For example, as a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar, he studied for a year in South Africa, becoming the first student from his small town of Unionville, Missouri, USA, to study abroad.
The timing of the theme announcement, which took place in the evening, was a break in tradition from past assemblies and a reflection of Klinginsmith's willingness to embrace change. He encouraged district governors-elect to reexamine traditional procedures that were no longer best practices and to begin new traditions where appropriate.
He also paid homage to Rotarians of the past who helped raise Rotary to a place of prominence on the world stage. He urged district governors-elect to meet the past RI presidents and other former officers in attendance to deepen their connection to Rotary's past.
"I love it," says Governor-elect Robert Martin, of District 5020 (British Columbia, Canada; Washington, USA). "I'm going to be promoting Rotary pride in our district next year, and Building Communities -- Bridging Continents is something we can all be proud of."
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"We are rich only through what we give, and poor only through what we refuse." – Anne-Sophie Swetchine


It’s been 30 years since we last saw Detective Steve McGarrett and Danny “Danno” Williams, faithful public servants for the Hawaii State Police Department on the long-running crime drama, Hawaii Five-O. And while rumors have circulated for months about a potential return, it is now confirmed that the popular police show is making a comeback!
CBS has officially given the green light for an all-new series, although no airdate has been announced yet, nor who will star in the series. What we do know is that the show is expected to revolve around the son of the now-deceased Detective McGarrett (played in the original series by Jack Lord). And perhaps more intriguing, the pilot episode was written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, whose credits include the most recent Star Trek and Transformers movies, as well as television’s Fringe and Alias. The talented writing team will also serve as executive producers of the series.
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As president of the Rotary Club of Houston, it had been Michelle Bohreer's dream to travel to Haiti and conduct a service project to improve the lives of children there.
On 12 January, 45 minutes into a weeklong trip to Port-au-Prince to do just that, the dream quickly spiraled into a nightmare.
Bohreer and a team of five Rotarians from Houston were heading into Haiti’s capital city to implement a water project for an orphanage when a powerful earthquake rocked the area, causing widespread devastation.
"Minutes after the quake happened, thousands of people poured out into the street running and screaming. Hundreds were walking around bleeding," says Bohreer. "It was moments like that when the absolute catastrophe hit you."
The quake, the worst in the region in more than 200 years, flattened much of the capital, killing as many as 200,000 and leaving millions more injured. A massive international relief operation is underway to bring food, water, and medicine to those who need it.
"I was overwhelmed by sights, sounds, and smells that I will never forget," says team member Vicki Brentin, past president of the Houston club. "I held tight to the hands of frightened, injured children and looked deep into the eyes of their mothers or fathers begging for help. That left a compelling and lasting impression on me."
Unable to leave the country, the team members spent four days in Port-au-Prince trying to help in any way they could. They found a collapsed hospital, sifted through the wreckage, and found Tylenol and antibiotic ointment to distribute to injured people.
"The injuries were too severe for the medicine we had, but receiving care of any kind during that time gave them hope. It gave us hope," says Bohreer. "I've never been so proud to be a Rotarian."
On 15 January, she and her team were able to board a charter flight to the Dominican Republic and, from there, back to Houston, where they arrived safely the next day.
Brentin said the team drew strength from the Haitian people who they encountered. "I was so moved by the amazing spirit of the Haitian people who, in the face of their own tragedy, pain and suffering, reached out to us with such kindness and concern for our well being."
Bohreer says her club will be back to help the country rebuild.
"We as Rotary have an obligation to take care of people who are suffering under such difficult conditions," she said.

From safety into catastrophe

A day after the earthquake, Caleb Lucien, a member of the Rotary Club of Pignon, and nine other Haitians traveled 85 miles south from Pignon to Port-au-Prince to assess the damage and help victims.
"The city is completely destroyed," says Lucien, Health and Hunger Resource Group coordinator for District 7020 in the Caribbean. "We drove past hundreds and hundreds of dead bodies. The loss of life is beyond belief."
Lucien spent US$3,500 of his own money on water and food to distribute to victims. He also searched for Rotarians who he knew lived in affected areas and helped evacuate more than 120 injured people to Pignon.
"It was not a time to feel or think about the devastation. It was a time to act," he says. "I grieve, but I have to move forward and focus on getting Rotarians to help in the recovery."
He is working closely to bring relief supplies to affected areas with District 7020's Haiti Task Force, established two years ago to administer financial aid to the nation.
"The immediate need for the next two to six months is shelter, food, and clean water," says Lucien. "In the long term, I hope to see Rotary help with rebuilding infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, and churches."

How to help

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