Sunday, July 31, 2005

FYI: Emma's Still On The Prowl

FYI: Emma's still on the prowl for that mouse. Right now, she's crouched at the kitchen doorway with her eyes fixed at that corner in between cabinets with her ears moving now and then. Whenever she hears something, she runs to the kitchen to look. Sometimes, she takes a look around the living room. She's now walking slowly across the kichen floor and is sniffing around.

A Little Kitchen Visitor

A little critter paid a visit to our kitchen. While looking around and thinking, I thought I was hallucinating when I thought I saw something dark moving across the kitchen floor. My cat, Emma, was sitting right next to me with her ears all perked up and making circular movements in response to the noises.

Another dark streak went across the kitchen floor. Emma sat up and locked her gaze into the kitchen. After a long gaze waiting to see if there really was a dark streak going around or if it was just my tired eyes seeing things, I gave up and went back to what I was doing. Emma's jump from the couch and dart into the kitchen caught my attention. She crouched furiously and ultimately caught a small mouse. Either that or it was one cute baby rat that hadn't shed its soft tail hair yet. Emma pounced into the living room and played with it for a while before playing the mouse into the hallway and behind boxes under the console table.

I was captivated by this during early morning hours and told Emma she was a good girl for catching the rodent. She wasn't going for a kill at all. She was simply playing with it. I decided to let her play with it for a while before taking it outside. When enough was enough, I had quite an adventure trying to get the mouse of Emma's mouth or grabbing it whenever Emma dropped it on command. (See, my cat is smart and well-trained.)

I spent half a hour trying to catch that gosh-darned little creature. Finally, the little critter used its natural defensive behavior by pretending to be dead and motionless. I went in for the tail and picked it up.

I know most of you New Yorkers hate rodents. I've been told in the past to flush them, dump them down the trash chute or toss them out of the window whenever I came across one and caught it. But, see, I grew up with a father who works with rats, mice and other critters. So, rodents do not bother me at all. In fact, most of them are cute innocent critters just living their lives. The exception are those infamous huge rats I have frequently seen running across sidewalks and streets, especially in certain areas. I know how to handle and (most of the time, with the exception of last night) catch them. I would never pick up a foot long rodent, but I most certainly could pick up a tiny weeny mouse. My limit is few inches long (excluding the tail). Otherwise, I just catch it with a box. I always release creatures outside to an appropriate spot. I just cannot harm them. (Exceptions are insects and spiders. I'm a scaredy cat and wimp with them, especially spiders which deeply frighten and horrify me. I go nowhere near these, and I always ask someone to dispose of them, alive or dead, as long as these things stay away from me and do not come towards me).

Back to this little tiny critter who was obviously a juvenile. While holding it up by its tail, I noticed that it was a male. Do not ask me how I knew. Just use your common sense. And, no, he did not have balls. His thing just protruded out, probably in fear or immaturity. I decided to bring it outside to release it behind a trash bin. It stayed on my shirt as I gently held its tail. It calmed down while I walked down the stairs to outside. I even petted it. It was soft and did not stink at all. In my head, I was wondering if it could spread some crap to me. But, I figured washing my hands very thoroughly and changing my shirts afterwards would suffice. If I drop dead tomorrow, you'll know what caused it. *knocking on wood now*

I walked up few flights to my apartment. Emma was in the hallway sniffing around and on high alert for the mouse. When I sat down in the living room, she was looking throughout the kitchen and the living room, even checking inside the cat post few times and sniffing along the furry cat string toy thingy. Now, she's finally asleep. What an interesting night. I was somewhat sleepy when the mouse paid a visit. Since then, I've been wide awake and unable to sleep. Talk about being overstimulated by the evening visitor.

NOTE: I checked online to determine if I was correct about it being a mouse, not a rat. It indeed was a mouse. While looking up the pics, I happened to find them on this website. I was surprised and humored by the existence of this association:

*drumroll*

American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

www.afrma.org


On its front page, it said:

Welcome to the home page of AFRMA!

AFRMA
The American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association (AFRMA) was founded in 1983 and is a non-profit international club. Anyone that has an interest in rats or mice can be a member. The main purpose of AFRMA is to promote and encourage the breeding and exhibition of fancy rats and mice for show and pets. We also educate the public on their positive qualities as companion animals and provide information on their proper care. Competition shows are currently held 6 times a year throughout Southern California including the Orange County Fair. These shows are very similar to cat, rabbit, or dog shows. Judges evaluate the animals based on official standards for each type of rat or mouse. We also have 1–2 shows each year dedicated to Pets only with fun classes for rats and mice regardless of their physical qualities. The club has information booths set up at several events around Southern California during each year to educate the public on rats and mice as pets and show animals.

Views
AFRMA as a club does not hold any views on, nor promote the matters of culling, reptile keeping/feeding, or animal rights. We leave these decisions up to each individual person. We have always been open to the different views the membership has and hope we can all learn from these different ideas. Any ideas or view expressed in AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales are of the individual contributor and do not reflect any policy of the organization.

Membership
As a member you receive a subscription of our club magazine-style newsletter Rat & Mouse Tales. It contains articles, stories, questions, medical information, genetics info., ads, show results, photos, etc. Membership also includes the Rulebook, Show Regulations & Standards Book, Directory, Sales Catalog, membership card, and other informative materials. We have pamphlets on pet care, showing, medical, etc., available online to those interested.

Membership dues: Individual or family (same household) $25; Canada US$30; Overseas US$35. A printable membership application form is available. Just print out the form, include cashier's check or money order, and send it to AFRMA!


Must have been created by suburban folks with kids who bring home the classroom critter on weekends to learn and practice having responsibilities. I strongly doubt that any of the co-founders hailed from NYC.

And, no NYCers would hold championships for mice and rats. Yes, this association holds awards such as Spottie Guy Award, Grand Champ - Rats, and Grand Champ - Mice.

At least I had a humorous research while determining if the little kitchen visitor was a mouse or rat.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Strange But True Headlines

Those who know me know I love AOL's "Strange But True" headlines and stories. It's quite amazing what happens in societies across the world and with creatures. Strange but true headlines are quite distractors from all these repetitive negative news about wars, politics and so on. Here's the most recent listing.

-S


Santas From Across Globe Meet in Denmark
By JAN M. OLSEN, AP


COPENHAGEN, Denmark (July 25) - More than 100 Santa Clauses and their little helpers danced, bellowed ho-hos and raced up a rapidly melting hill made of snow at the annual World Santa Claus Congress.

Despite a sprinkle of rain and trees in full Nordic summer bloom, the Papa Noels, St. Nicks and Sinter Klaases from 10 countries were in a yuletide spirit Monday as they kicked off a three-day convention in Denmark, including a Santa parade and a chimney-climbing competition.

To the strains of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," the bearded Santas dressed in red and white gathered in a northern Copenhagen amusement park as dozens of children watched in astonishment.

"I didn't know that there were that many Santas," said Cecilia Bergqvist, an 8-year-old Swedish girl.

While all Santas professed to be the real thing, one delegate from Marysville, Washington, could make a pretty good case. He legally changed his name to Santa Claus, saying he hated "to lie to children."

Claus, who has worked as Santa for the past two decades, showed his passport to an AP reporter to prove his claim.

To qualify as Santa, candidates must sport a white beard, don a red suit in which they must not smoke tobacco - and refrain from drinking alcohol before addressing children. At the Denmark congress, their physical skills also were put to the test.

A team of three foreign Santas - including Claus, Tokyo resident Paradise Yamamoto and Norway's Thorvald Moi - easily beat three Danish Julemaend in a race up a snowy 5-foot hill atop which they put a small present under a Christmas tree.

Yamamoto, who traveled to Denmark with his sidekick, Yutaka Iwabuchi, dressed as the reindeer Rudolph, said being Santa was "tough work."

A chimney-climbing competition was set for later Monday.

Later this week, the Santas are also scheduled to parade in Copenhagen, visit hospitalized children and take a dip in the sea.

They also were expected to have a few good laughs as they draft proposals to improve their working conditions.

Their demands include standardizing chimney widths in the 25-country European Union and holding Christmas twice a year to lessen the burden on Santas, whom they said must currently rush around the world to distribute presents in just one day.

The festival has grown from a local summer activity created 42 years ago by the Bakken amusement park, 13 miles north of downtown Copenhagen, to an event attracting Santas from around the world. By tradition, the festival is held each year six months before Christmas.


07/25/05 21:17 EDT


Dead Woman Shot in Casket, Mourners Flee

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (July 28) - A dead woman lying in her casket was hit by a stray bullet during a wake in Rio de Janeiro and mourners fled in panic, police said on Wednesday.

The bullet, fired in a shootout between a drug gang and police in a slum adjacent to the cemetery Tuesday, pierced the casket inside the cemetery's chapel and got lodged in the corpse's pelvis. Clenilda da Silva, 49, a babysitter, had died the previous day of a heart attack.

The bullet was not removed before burial.

"This is just too sad. My God, to get shot after death," Extra tabloid newspaper quoted da Silva's sister, Maria de Lourdes Pereira, as saying. The newspaper said another bullet broke a window in a neighboring chapel and bullet holes could be seen on many trees and cemetery walls.

Standoffs between drug gangs and police or just between rival gangs often claim innocent lives in Rio, which has one of the world's highest murder rates.

07/28/05 08:26 ET


Wild Ponies Make Annual Swim in Dense Fog

CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. (July 27) - Between 150 and 200 wild ponies made the annual swim to the shore of this resort island in dense fog Wednesday morning.

"You couldn't see the crowd," said Evelyn Shotwell, the chamber of commerce's office manager. "It was really foggy."

The hot weather in recent days - a high of nearly 100 degrees was expected Wednesday - didn't appear to reduce the crowd of thousands of onlookers.

Shotwell said the town of about 3,500 seemed to be crowded with about the same number of people as the 40,000 who came for last year's event.

It took the ponies about five minutes to cross the 200-yard channel from Assateague, Md., a barrier island in the Atlantic Ocean, shortly after 8:30 a.m., Shotwell said.

The ponies were then herded through town to a corral on the carnival grounds, where they will be sold at auction Thursday.

Yearlings and younger are sold to thin the herd and raise money for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, which cares for the ponies.

Ponies that aren't sold, as well as those donated back to the fire department, will swim back to roam again on Assateague, a national wildlife refuge.

The pony swim was made famous by Marguerite Henry's 1947 novel "Misty of Chincoteague." This year's swim was the 80th organized by the fire department.

07/27/05 19:37 EDT


Teen Who Threw Up on Teacher Sentenced

OLATHE, Kan. (July 27) - A high school student convicted of battery for vomiting on his Spanish teacher has been ordered to spend the next four months cleaning up after people who throw up in police cars.

Johnson County Magistrate Judge Michael Farley said during the sentencing Tuesday that he considered the boy's actions "an assault upon the dignity of all teachers."

The teen, now 17, vomited on teacher David Young as he turned in his textbook on the last day of classes at Olathe Northwest High School. His attorney, Brian Costello, said the student vomited because he was nervous about his final exams.

But two other students testified that the teen said he threw up intentionally. One girl said he told her in advance that he planned to throw up on Young on the last day of school. The girl wasn't in class when the teen threw up, but she testified that the boy later told her, "You missed it. I did it."

Young said the student, who was failing his class, made no effort to avoid throwing up on him. "I was just sort of stunned," he said.

07/27/05 05:35 EDT


Amorous British Couple Sparks Rescue Drama

LONDON (July 26) - An British couple who headed out to sea in a dinghy for an amorous liaison sparked a major rescue operation when their cries of passion were mistaken for someone in trouble, British police said on Tuesday.

A passer-by raised the alarm after hearing strange noises coming from the waters near a beach in Torbay on the southwest coast of England on Saturday morning, prompting the coastguard to send lifeboats and police to the scene.

"It was found that there was a partially-clothed couple in a small rubber dingy that were brought ashore and asked to put their clothes back on," a spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police told Reuters.

"Our log actually mentions that 'they were having fun in their boat!', but doesn't say anything other than that."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press


Kenyan Holding a Torch for Chelsea Clinton

NAIROBI, Kenya (July 27) - A Kenyan says he offered Bill Clinton 40 goats and 20 cows for his daughter's hand in marriage five years ago - and is still waiting for an answer.

Godwin Kipkemoi Chepkurgor told the East Africa Standard newspaper last week that he wrote Clinton asking for Chelsea's hand in 2000 during the then-president's visit to Kenya.

Chepkurgor, a 36-year-old elected city councilor in Nakuru, recounted writing to the U.S president through the Kenyan government.

He described his plans for a grand wedding presided over by South African Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He named then-President Daniel arap Moi and the president of his university as references.

"Had I succeeded in wooing Chelsea, I would have had a grand wedding," he told the Standard in an interview published Friday during Clinton's recent visit to Kenya.

Chepkurgor said his letter praised Clinton's leadership and commended his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, for standing by her husband "like an African woman" in the face of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

The electrical engineering graduate said he promised to pay his would-be father-in-law 20 cows and 40 goats in dowry for his only daughter in accordance with African tradition.

But he said the letter prompted security checks - on him, his family and his classmates, and he was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Nairobi for a meeting that he missed because of his graduation from university.

A National Security Intelligence Service officer told the Standard the letter probably never made it out of the office.

"We gathered that this man was a teetotaler and a staunch Christian who seemed to have been struck by Chelsea, and I thought maybe he just took the joke too far," he said.

Chepkurgor vowed to remain single until he gets an answer to his proposal to marry Chelsea, 25.

07/27/05 14:48 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press


Cops Find Nude Man Looking for Gump's Home

LITTLEVILLE, Ala. (July 26) - A 26-year-old vagrant was charged with indecent exposure after police found him standing naked in a cornfield chewing on a cob near a country club. "He said he wanted to see the house where Forrest Gump lived," said Police Chief William Nale.

Gump is the fictional character in a novel by Alabama author Winston Groom that became a hit movie.

The Littleville police chief declined to release the man's name Tuesday but said his family lives in Michigan and he had been in a California institution earlier this year. After his arrest, the man was taken for a mental evaluation.

He was spotted Monday morning near twin Pines Country Club.

"He was standing in a cornfield, picking the corn and eating it raw," Nale said. "He didn't have anything on, not even his shoes. He was as naked as the day he was born."

Authorities said the man was taken into custody without any trouble.

"I asked him where his clothes were and he said he got hot (Sunday night), took them off and laid them on the railroad tracks and then couldn't remember where they were," Nale said.

The suspect told authorities that he was a homeless drifter following the railroad tracks to south Alabama, where he thought he would find the Gump home.

07/26/05 17:53 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.


Police Give Man Amputated Foot Back

LAWRENCE, Kan. (July 26) - Ezekiel Rubottom now has his left foot back exactly where he wants it - in a bucket on the front porch. Police in Kansas have returned the amputated foot to him after seizing it during the weekend to check out just how it got there.

The 21-year-old man's foot was amputated three weeks ago after a series of medical problems, and he started keeping it in a five-gallon bucket filled with formaldehyde.

It came to the attention of police after a call from a parent whose child reported seeing the severed foot. Officers who went to the home late Saturday night found the foot, and some of Rubottom's friends, but no sign of Rubottom himself.

Unsure of what to make of the unusual discovery, police confiscated the severed foot and put it into evidence storage.

"We had to make sure that no crime had been committed," Sgt. Dan Ward said.

Rubottom, an artist, recovering methamphetamine addict and occasional hip-hop master of ceremonies, said he was born with a clubbed foot and has dealt all his life with pressure sores and infections. An infection this summer became so severe that doctors at Lawrence Memorial Hospital decided it should be amputated.

Rubottom asked to have the severed foot. A pathologist at the hospital checked to make sure it wouldn't be a hazard and told him he could have it, provided he kept it in a container labeled with instructions for handling the formaldehyde.

Karen Shumate, a vice president at the hospital, said people can keep parts removed from their bodies if they want them.

"They've had women that want their uterus," she said. "People take tonsils. They take appendixes. I think it's unusual that someone would want a foot, but it's within their rights because it's theirs."

After a friend picked up the bucket at a hardware store, Rubottom added several objects as well as the severed foot - including a porcelain horse and can of beer - to make what he called "a collage of myself." He also cut off two of the toes, saying he was considering giving them to friends.

On Monday, police returned the foot to Rubottom after taking him to the hospital, where he signed a release allowing them to see his medical records.

"It's cool. It's all good," said Rubottom. "Now I've got my foot back. That's all I wanted.

"I'm not sick or, like, a danger," he said of his decision to keep and display the foot. "I just wanted my foot ... I just figured I'd do with it whatever I pleased."

07/26/05 14:03 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.


Amish Teen Charged With Stealing Numbers

HUNTSBURG, Ohio (July 26) - Callers complaining about loud music coming from a buggy led deputies to charge a 19-year-old Amish man with stealing house numbers and flower pots. David Byler was charged with theft and underage consumption of alcohol, both misdemeanors.

Callers to the Geauga County sheriff's office told dispatchers early Sunday about a buggy playing loud music and stealing items from outside houses in a rural area of northeast Ohio.

"When our officer caught up with him in the middle of the road, there were flower pots and house numbers in the buggy," sheriff's spokesman John Hiscox said.

Information from: The News-Herald, http://www.news-herald.com/jrc-html/index/index-p33.html

07/26/05 16:57 EDT
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.


Farmer Killed by Falling Cow

ZAGREB (July 26) - A Croatian farmer was killed when a cow he was about to milk fell and crushed him, local media reported Tuesday.

The unfortunate 61-year-old farmer, from the village of Cadjavacki Lug in central Croatia, went into the stable where his family keeps nine cows, as he had every morning for the past 20 years, the Vecernji List newspaper reported.

"I think he slipped, grabbed the milking machine and knocked it over. That must have frightened the cow, which slipped and fell on top of him," his distraught daughter-in-law, who was in the stable with him, told the daily.

"It took me and the rest of the family almost three minutes to get the cow off him."

She said the cow, named Lara, had been very meek and that even children could milk her without fear. The newspaper did not say what had become of the cow.

07/26/05 10:02 ET
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.


Horsepower
A Brazilian man transports the remains of an abandoned Volkswagen Beetle, which caught fire, on his horse-drawn carriage in Rio de Janeiro, July 25.
(Bruno Domingos, Reuters)


Oink Ink
Pigs tattooed with the Louis Vuitton logo rest at a farm in Beijing, July 14. Belgian artist Wim Delvoye has a staff of local farmers and tattoo artists raising sows to use them as canvases for skin art.
(Jason Reed, Reuters)

Jellyfish Gone With the Wind in California

I came across this at 3:30 in the morning. At first, the title made me do a double look. "Gone with the wind." Did this mean that some winds picked up the jellyfish out of the water and blow them away in California? I reread closely and realized it meant differently. Glad that they eventually "blew away" so people could appreciate the ocean once again.
-S


Jellyfish Gone With the Wind in California

By ROBERT JABLON, AP

LOS ANGELES (July 28) - They came, they stung, they left. Tens of thousands of purplish-black jellyfish that invaded Orange County beaches for the past week mostly disappeared by Thursday along with a red tide of microscopic plankton on which they may have been feeding.

"The jellyfish blew away yesterday," said fire Capt. Jim Turner in Newport Beach, down the coast from Los Angeles. "The red tide has diminished tremendously, just a few streaks offshore. The water's looking blue-green and lovely. It's gorgeous."

But a renewed wind could blow them back to shore "like Mary Poppins," Turner said.

In fact, the jellyfish aren't really gone; they're heading north. Researchers say there even have been a few recent reports of a jellyfish matching the description appearing in British Columbia.

"They're drifting up coast," said Dennis Kelly, head of the Marine Science Department at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.

"They could come ashore again in Santa Monica Bay or even Ventura in a couple of days. There are literally hundreds of thousands of them out there," he said. "They're basically drifters. They go wherever the current takes them."

The species is called the giant black jellyfish, and Kelly said it can grow to have a 3-foot-wide canopy and tentacles up to 12 feet long.

The species was only identified about a decade ago by researchers in San Diego County and they never have appeared in such profusion, Kelly said.

A few jellyfish were spotted in La Jolla in San Diego County a month ago, vanished, were later spotted 40 miles up the coast, and then appeared in profusion in Newport and Huntington beaches last week, Kelly said.

Researchers have been taking advantage of the invasion to capture and study the jellyfish, about which little is known.

"This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime-like-thing," he said. "I've been doing marine science for 30 years and this has never happened before, not in these numbers."

The population explosion may be due to a combination of factors, Kelly said. The temperature apparently is perfect for the jellyfish and they may be feasting on a type of plankton that, in turn, feeds on the microscopic plankton of the red tide.

The tide itself has lasted for five months now, compared to the usual seasonal bloom of about a month. Kelly said the phytoplankton causing the discoloration may have been feeding off of sewage dumped into the ocean and on nutrients from urban runoff.

"We've had horrendous runoff this year because of the tremendous rainfall," Kelly said.

Other species of jellyfish are common along Southern California's coast. Turner said invasions occur periodically, and he can remember, in the 1970s, people standing in line to be treated for stings.

However, some lifeguards said they had never seen as many jellyfish.

"I've never seen that many jellyfish in my 30 years of lifeguarding and 40 years of growing up around the beach. And I've never really seen that," said Newport Beach lifeguard Capt. Eric Bauer. "We treated hundreds of stings. At one point in time, there were miles of beach with no one in the water. They were so numerous that people couldn't avoid them."


07/28/05 20:07 EDT

Some Cities Are Finding Money Does Grow on Trees

Some Cities Are Finding Money Does Grow on Trees

By Haya El Nasser, USA TODAY
(July 28) -- Cities are starting to treat trees less as decoration and more like public utilities now that they can calculate how much money trees save by cutting air pollution, storm runoff and energy costs.

Charlotte, Cincinnati and Salem, Ore., are among a growing number of cities that have adopted or toughened ordinances that protect trees, require them as part of development or provide incentives for homeowners to plant them. The efforts reflect growing recognition that trees can be as crucial to urban and suburban living as sewers, roads and water-treatment plants. (Related story: Barren cities turn over new leaf)

"Tree cover not only produces beauty but services that the city has to go out and buy otherwise," says Gary Moll, vice president of the Urban Forest Center at American Forests, a non-profit conservation group in Washington, D.C. "It's a whole lot cheaper than building concrete infrastructure."

Tree cover has plummeted since the mid-1980s in all 25 metropolitan areas American Forests studied with satellite and aerial imagery.

The "green infrastructure" strategy springs from imaging software that allows cities to quantify the financial benefits trees bring because they:

• Clean air by filtering pollutants and producing oxygen. A 35% decline in the Charlotte metropolitan area's tree cover from 1984 to 2003 led to a similar reduction in the amount of carbon monoxide, ozone and other pollutants that trees removed from the air, American Forests research says.

• Reduce the need for huge storm-water systems that prevent rain from washing oil, auto coolant, pesticides and other chemicals into rivers and lakes. Cities in 10 counties in the Atlanta area had to spend $2 billion on storm-water facilities to handle runoff caused by the loss of trees over more than two decades, the analysis shows. Salem asks developers to plant trees in parking lots; the city hopes to increase its tree canopy from 18% to 25%.

• Lower energy costs by providing shade and cooling the air. Cincinnati encourages homeowners to protect trees on and near their properties.

"You can tell them these two trees each can save you $55 a year" in air-conditioning bills, says Dave Gamstetter, natural resource manager for the Cincinnati Park Board. "That's the key — the pocketbook."

Toilet Cleaning Instructions

Toilet Cleaning Instructions :


1. Put both lids of the toilet up and add 1/8 cup of pet shampoo to the water in the bowl.

2. Pick up the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.

3. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids. You may need to stand on the lid.

4. The cat will self agitate and make ample suds. Never mind the noises that come from the toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this.

5. Flush the toilet three or four times. This provides a "power-wash" and rinse".

6. Have someone open the front door of your home. Be sure that thereare no people between the bathroom and the front door.

7. Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both lids.

8. The cat will rocket out of the toilet, streak through the bathroom, and run outside where he will dry himself off.

9. Both the commode and the cat will be sparkling clean.


Sincerely,
The Dog

Blacks Pin Hope on DNA to Fill Slavery's Gaps in Ancestry

Blacks Pin Hope on DNA to Fill Slavery's Gaps in Ancestry

By AMY HARMON, The New York Times

(July 25) - All her life, Rachel Fair has been teased by other black Americans about her light skin. "High yellow," they call her, a needling reference to the legacy of a slave owner who, she says, "went down to that cabin and had what he wanted."
So it was especially satisfying for Ms. Fair, 64, when a recent DNA test suggested that her mother's African ancestry traced nearly to the root of the human family tree, which originated there 150,000 years ago.

"More white is showing in the color, but underneath, I'm deepest Africa," said Ms. Fair, a retired parks supervisor in Cincinnati. "I tell my friends they're kind of Johnny-come-latelies on the DNA scale, so back up, back up."

Ms. Fair is one of thousands of African-Americans who have scraped cells from their inner cheeks and paid a growing group of laboratories to learn more about a family history once thought permanently obscured by slavery. They are seeking answers to questions about their family lineages in the antebellum South - whether black, white or Native American - and about distant forebears in Africa.

The DNA tests are fueling the biggest surge in African-American genealogy since Alex Haley's 1976 novel, "Roots," inspired a generation to try to trace their ancestors back to Africa. For those who have spent decades poring over plantation records that did not list slaves by surname and ship manifests that did not list where they came from, the idea that the key lies in their own bodies is a powerful one.

But the joy that often accompanies the answers from the tests is frequently tempered by the unexpected questions they raise. African-Americans say the tests can make the ugliness of slavery more palpable and leave the hunger for heritage unsatisfied. Some are unsure what to make of the new information about far-away kin, or how to account for genes that undermine a racial identity they have long internalized.

The interest in using genetics to construct a family tree comes despite warnings from scientists that the necessary tools to tell African-Americans what many want to know the most - precisely where in Africa their ancestors lived and what tribal group they belonged to - are still unreliable.

The most that blacks who use DNA tests can hope to learn now is that their genetic signature matches that of contemporary Africans from a given tribe or region from a DNA database that is far from complete. To assign an ancestral identity based on that match is highly suspect, scientists say; a group whose DNA has not been sampled may be a more precise match, or the person might match with several groups because of migration or tribal mixing.

Each test can also trace only one line of a person's many thousands of ancestors, making the results far more murky than the promise held out by some testing companies.

Still, the popularity of the DNA tests seems a testament to the unremitting craving for a story of origin. However flawed or scientifically questionable, the results provide the only clue many African-Americans have to the history and traditions that members of other American ethnic groups whose immigration was voluntary tend to take for granted.

"There's just something about knowing something after years of thinking it was impossible to know anything," said Melvin Collier, 32, a black student at Clark Atlanta University who recently learned that his DNA matches that of the Fulani people of Cameroon. "It's still pretty overwhelming."

Some African-Americans, more interested in searching out recent relatives who in many cases can be dependably identified with a DNA match, are asking whites whom they have long suspected are cousins to take a DNA test. And in a genetic bingo game that is delivering increasing returns as people of all ethnicities engage in DNA genealogy, some are typing their results into public databases on the Internet and finding a match that no paper trail would have revealed.

"I've been sitting here for years with nothing left to try and then, boom, this brand new thing," said B. J. Smothers, a retired urban planner in Stone Mountain, Ga., who says the results of a DNA test have brought her closer than she had ever been to discovering the identity of her father's grandfather. "DNA is our last hope."

Ms. Smothers's father, 88, knew that his father was born a slave in Wilcox County, Ala., but the DNA test showed that he has a European paternal ancestry, a result shared by nearly a third of African-Americans who take the test. The news was not exactly a surprise. But as eager as she is to discover the identity of her great-grandfather, Ms. Smothers is also bracing for a wave of new anger.

"I am kind of preparing myself for what I am going to feel when I find the family, when it's real," she said. She regularly looks for matches to her father's DNA in the online databases where amateur genealogists publish their genetic identities along with more prosaic contact information. Some day, she is certain, she will find a match that will lead to her white relatives.

Family reunions via DNA are not always warm affairs. When Trevis Hawkins, 37, a black oncology nurse from Montgomery, Ala., e-mailed a white man with the same surname whose DNA matched his this year, the man seemed excited. But after Mr. Hawkins gave him the address to his family Web site, which includes pictures, he never heard from him again.

One African-American, upon confirming a match with a white man whose ancestors had owned his, told him he owed reparations and could start by paying for the test, said Bennett Greenspan, chief executive of Family Tree DNA, which offers tests for $129 and up.

But Charles Larkins, whose great-grandmother was a slave, says proving or disproving his suspicion that her owner was his great-grandfather would be cathartic.

Mr. Larkins recently e-mailed Hayes Larkins, the slave owner's white great-grandson, to ask whether he would take the DNA test. Because the Y chromosome, which determines maleness, is passed virtually unchanged from father to son, scientists can use it to determine whether two men share a common ancestor.

"I'm not going to be like the Jefferson descendants, denying anything happened," Hayes Larkins said, referring to a 1998 DNA test that indicated that Thomas Jefferson had fathered at least one child with his slave Sally Hemings, which his white family had denied.

The two Mr. Larkins are waiting for the results to arrive.

For Nickesha Sanders, who already knew her great-great-grandfather was a white slave owner in Tennessee, the appeal of the DNA test was the promise of a link to Africa. "I wanted to be able to connect to my history before slavery," said Ms. Sanders, 26, a student at Texas Southern University. "I wanted it to be more than, the boat stopped at the shores, then slavery, emancipation, civil rights, all that struggle."

To find out about her maternal ancestors, Ms. Sanders paid $349 for a test that analyzes mitochondrial DNA, which is passed on largely intact from mothers to their children and serves a similar purpose as the Y chromosome for scientists tracing ancestry.

The results, from a Washington company, African Ancestry, indicated that Ms. Sanders shared a genetic profile with members of the Kru people of Liberia, who, she was pleased to learn, were known for inciting slave rebellions. But the news did not mean as much to her grandmother, who had hoped to find proof of the American Indian blood she had always been told ran in the family, a frequent quest for African-Americans taking the tests.

The results have propelled some test-takers to plan visits to their newly adopted homelands and to find others here who have been told they share the same ancestry. In online discussion forums, African-Americans with the same DNA test results call each other "cousin." After a lifetime of knowing only that their family came from Africa, some liken the new association to adopted children finding their birth mother.

"Africa is not a country; it's a continent," said LaVerne Nichols Hunter, a retired mathematics teacher in Pittsburgh, whose DNA test results placed her ancestors in Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

But if DNA test-takers are making too much family history out of too little genetic information, social scientists say, it is not a phenomenon unique to the new technology.

"Identity is a process," said Alondra Nelson, a sociologist at Yale who studies the intersection of race and genetics. "Narratives and stories about family and kinship are always to some extent people making meaning out of their experiences with whatever tools they have."

When a radio host in Chicago revealed at a Kwanzaa festival last year that he was of Mende descent, several attendees who had received the same DNA result gathered to trade notes, a moment some said they found especially meaningful because slave owners made a point of separating Africans from the same tribes to prevent them from communicating.

But Kwame Bandele has learned enough about the civil war in Liberia, which the tribe his paternal DNA test identified is involved in, to feel deeply troubled by the kinship. A manager at General Electric, Mr. Bandele has tried to persuade the company to provide ultrasound machines for pregnant women in refugee camps.

He sends out e-mail with news about the war to friends, but feels he should be doing more.

"There was a massacre with machetes the other night," he said. "My people are in bad shape."

Ray Winbush, a psychology professor at Morgan State University, said being told that his ancestors hailed from the Takar people of Cameroon served to underscore his disconnectedness, both from an ancestral tribe he knows little about and from an American society that can still be a hostile place for African-Americans.

"It's like being lost and found at the same time," Mr. Winbush said.

Your Age By Chocolate Math...

Something fun to do....
-S


Your Age By Chocolate Math...

DON'T CHEAT BY SCROLLING DOWN FIRST!!!

It takes less than a minute. Work this out as you read. Be sure you don't read the bottom until you've worked it out! This is not one of those waste of time things, it's fun.


1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to have chocolate. (more than once but less than 10)...

2. Multiply this number by 2 (Just to be bold)...

3. Add 5. (for Sunday)...

4. Multiply it by 50 I'll wait while you get the calculator...

5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1755...

If you haven't, add 1754...

6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born...

You should have a three digit number.

The first digit of this was your original number (i.e., how many times you want to have chocolate each week).


The next two numbers are...

YOUR AGE!!! (OH YES, IT IS!!!)

THIS IS THE ONLY YEAR (2005) IT WILL EVER WORK, SO SPREAD IT AROUND WHILE IT LASTS

Deaf kids tune in to celebrity (Jerry Ferris of The Bachelorette show)

Do any of you remember Jerry Ferris from The Bachelorette show? He's single. If you're interested in him, contact him! He's up for grabs! :)

-S


From the newsroom of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, Saturday, July 23, 2005 .....

Deaf kids tune in to celebrity

Brockport native of 'Bachelorette' fame delivers hugs, smiles, praise

Greg Livadas
Staff writer

As a finalist on ABC's The Bachelorette earlier this year, millions of people saw Jerry Ferris ultimately rejected on national television.

But that emotional blow hasn't slowed the Brockport native. He's had two movie offers and is in Rochester this weekend helping raise money for Rochester School for the Deaf.

Ferris, 29, an art gallery director now living in Los Angeles, is the son of deaf parents.

His mother, Paula, lives in Sweden; his father, also named Jerry, died in a car accident in 1991.

Surrounded Friday by 100 children — about half of them summer students at RSD — Ferris willingly posed for pictures and signed autographs: "Great Job!" he wrote to RSD student Rachel Broadhurst, 11, of Chili and included a drawing of a hand making "I love you" in sign language.

Rachel said Ferris was the first famous person she's met.

Ferris said he decided to become more involved in the deaf community after the Bachelorette episode where he took his date home and told her his mother is deaf.

"After the hometown date, there was an overwhelming response to that episode from other children with deaf parents, like me," he said.

Called CODAs, or children of deaf adults, hearing children with deaf parents often share common experiences growing up, such as serving as their parent's ears, making telephone calls for them and being interpreters.

Bailey Engler, 7, of Clarkson, a hearing child of deaf parents, also attended the event, even though he didn't know who Ferris was. He enjoyed the clowns, the twisted balloons and building crafts provided by Home Depot.

RSD student Trish Sickler-Sherman, 12, of Springwater, Livingston County, got a giant hug and a smile from Ferris. "He was very nice," she said.

Ferris hoped to be a role model for the children, to let them know they can succeed whether they are deaf or hearing.

"I'm glad this is what is important to him," said Ferris' sister, Lynda, 24, as their mom looked on.

Ferris was to participate in a golf tournament today before returning to L.A.

And for the women wanting to know whether he's still single, Ferris says he is.

"If you know of anybody, let me know," he said.

Copyright 2005 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

At Synagogues, Services Open Doors for the Deaf

From the newsroom of The New York Times, New York City, New York, Saturday, July 23, 2005 .....

At Synagogues, Services Open Doors for the Deaf

By MAREK FUCHS

Before she joined a synagogue for the deaf where services are conducted in sign language and two of the five choir members cannot hear, Roz Robinson found herself lost, unable to follow the cantor in her former synagogue as he chanted the prayers that had once been so familiar.

"I remember feeling very embarrassed to have my family tell me that the tunes I knew to various prayers were not being used," Mrs. Robinson said in an interview conducted by e-mail because it was the easiest form of communication. Though she had hearing loss in childhood, Mrs. Robinson, a 55-year-old resident of Woodland Hills, Calif., was not profoundly deaf until her late 30's.

Mrs. Robinson, now at Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf in Tarzana, Calif., said, "It got to the point where I would go and just pray quietly to myself so as not to feel uncomfortable."

Many aspects of society are not easy for the deaf to navigate, but synagogues historically held particular challenges. Few people spoke both sign language and Hebrew, so accurate translation was difficult. Moreover, a good deal of care and education of the deaf population was traditionally done by nuns. Jewish organizations helped the deaf, but many focused on social programs more than religious education.

"Synagogues just were not accessible to the deaf," said Paula Tucker, who was recently elected a member of the Jewish Deaf Congress board and is the director of Hillel at Gallaudet, the Washington, D.C., university for the hearing impaired. The Gallaudet Hillel has about 15 members and attracted 45 people for its Seder this past Passover.

"The deaf were alienated from the Jewish community and had very little education" outside of what they got in the secular world, said Ms. Tucker, who can hear.

Religiously, she said, "Christian thought was to save the souls of the deaf, and since Jews don't have that approach," not as much effort was made.

Rabbi Gordon Tucker of Temple Israel in White Plains, who also teaches at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan, said: "In the time of the Talmud, the assumption was that people who did not hear were, in effect, incapable of learning the culture. They were not considered to have the obligations of the commandments, and so while they were otherwise cared for, they were outside the culture. That is an anachronism now, when people who cannot hear can be more a part of the culture than those who do."

In 1960, Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf was founded in Los Angeles, seeking to serve this overlooked population. Ordained rabbis and a Hebrew school came a decade later. Around the nation, too, others began to find more ways to accommodate the deaf.

Among those moved to serve was Naomi Brunnlehrman of Hartsdale, N.Y., who is a freelance interpreter at synagogues in the New York area, shuttling between Shabbat services at one synagogue and bar and bat mitzvahs at another. Ms. Brunnlehrman, who can hear, first became interested in the deaf during a high school internship at a residential school run by nuns.

She got a degree in speech pathology, but her interest in the deaf was abiding, as was her conviction that Jews needed particular help.

She studied at nights at a community college to become an interpreter and then at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan to get a master's degree in philosophy and Talmud. The combined skills put her in great demand.

To Ms. Brunnlehrman, 43, signing a service is much more than a matter of direct translation. Knowledge of the service, especially nonverbal components, must be complete, especially in times of great emotion, when, Ms. Brunnlehrman said, it is important to cue deaf congregants to look around the sanctuary at other congregants to get a sense of what is happening off the page.

Today, some synagogues have their own signers. Temple Emanu-El in Westfield, N.J., also has two members who use sign language. Carolyn Shane, the executive director, said invitations went out to congregants and noncongregants to attend services when one of the signers was translating, with the first two rows of the synagogue set aside for the deaf. The synagogue also has technological aids for the deaf in those first rows.

Congregation Ohev Shalom, a synagogue in Orlando, Fla., has a rabbi, David Kay, who can sign. Rabbi Kay met his future wife, who also signs, when they were temporarily working at Congregation Bene Shalom - Hebrew Association of the Deaf in Skokie, Ill.

With signing more prevalent in synagogues and assisted technologies to help, deaf Jews have been going to worship and be educated in far greater numbers. But that has created a challenge for Mrs. Robinson, who sometimes leads services at Temple Beth Solomon, which has no permanent rabbi and where attendance has dwindled. There are currently 71 members, down from a high of 400, said Jan Seeley, the administrator of the synagogue and a hearing, non-Jewish interpreter.

"Deafness doesn't run in families," Mrs. Robinson said, "so as our founding members are dying, few new members come to replace them."

Five years ago, the synagogue sold its building and shut its Hebrew school. It now shares space with Temple Judea, a hearing synagogue in Tarzana.

Ms. Seeley said that the synagogue also used to attract many nondeaf Jews, but that with greater access all around, there was less need today.

"The fact that deaf people have so many choices now," Ms. Seeley said, "and can live in the mainstream with the help of gigantic technological advances and much less frustration is a triumph of their struggle."

Mrs. Robinson said she wanted to see her synagogue for the deaf survive. "Temple Beth Solomon gave me back the ability to fully participate in services enriched by the use of hands," she said.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

How New Zealand meets needs of deaf mentally ill

From the newsroom of the Belfast Telegraph, Belfast, Ireland, Friday, July 22, 2005 .....

How New Zealand meets needs of deaf mentally ill

Stimulated by the challenge of an international placement, profoundly deaf Portadown girl Emma Crowe decided to go to New Zealand to do her nursing studies and to take the opportunity to compare health care there with services in the UK. This is her story:

"I am currently based at Salford University, where I have been studying mental health nursing for three years with full access to interpreters and note-takers. This course involves 50% theory and 50% practice, which means that throughout my course I have had the chance to explore different hospital deaf units and care systems.

"In my final year, there was the opportunity to work abroad in a nursing environment and that appealed to me enormously.

"But we first had to write 500 words on why we wanted to go, with specific reasons on what we wanted to get out of the experience. This and the follow-up 20-minute presentation terrified me, but I was one of the ten to be selected and decided on Auckland, New Zealand.

"This was New Zealand's first specialist community mental health support service for deaf people and was so pioneering it won a NZ Mental Health Award. The service was established in 2001 following research that showed 44% of deaf people have an unidentified or un-met mental health need.

"Studies demonstrates that psychiatrists were using interpreters for only 50% of the time, and some referrals came from deaf patients in acute mental health facilities who did not have an interpreter for up to two weeks. They were unable to communicate with anyone in the health team, let alone discuss their feelings and state of mental health.

"Many health professionals still mistakenly believe they can effectively communicate with deaf people by passing notes, and it is also clear that deaf people themselves need help to understand the concept of mental health before the illness can be treated. Some deaf people are very isolated from their families due to communication difficulties and support workers help to bridge that gap.

"When out in the community meeting clients, they were astounded to discover I was deaf myself and had come all the way from the UK. It was inspiring to be regarded as a role model and show that a deaf person could do this professional work and help them achieve success in their own lives.

"The service has helped clients understand their own capability, what mental illness means and what recovery is all about. As part of my work experience I met some of these deaf patients and helped explain how medication may help and the side effects to watch out for.

"Contact with colleagues at the workplace was efficient and they continually came up with new ideas on how to improve communication within the team. I felt they benefited from my experience of working in several UK hospitals and hope it will encourage health professionals to look more closely at ways to improve the mental health service for deaf people in NZ.

"My visit involved a lot of travelling in the north and south islands of New Zealand and I fell in love with the magnificent country. The five weeks passed all too quickly and I really enjoyed the spectacular scenery and would consider spending time as a qualified nurse if a vacancy arises in somewhere like Auckland.

"The School of Nursing in Salford has launched Europe's first course for deaf students and when they qualify they go into the nursing register as Mental Health Nurses and take up careers in their chosen field of mental health".

÷ Further information from Naomi Sharples at Tel. 0161 295 7299. E-mail: n.sharples@salford.ac.uk

© 2005 Independent News and Media (NI), a division of Independent News & media (UK) Ltd.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

NAD TO HOST 125th ANNIVERSARY NATIONAL GALA!

NAD TO HOST 125th ANNIVERSARY NATIONAL GALA!
Charter 1880 Club Recognition

A News Release from the National Association of the Deaf
Release Date: July 28, 2005
For Immediate Release

Contact:
Anita B. Farb
Director, Outreach and Communications
National Association of the Deaf
Email: nadinfo@nad.org
Voice: 301-587-1788
TTY: 301-587-1789
FAX: 301-587-1791

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

NAD TO HOST 125th ANNIVERSARY NATIONAL GALA!
Charter 1880 Club Recognition

Silver Spring, MD - The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is pleased to announce that it will host a 125th Anniversary National Gala starting at 6 pm on Saturday, September 17, 2005 at the Wyndham Baltimore Inner Harbor Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.

The NAD 125th Anniversary National Gala will be an evening of fine dining, entertainment and dancing in downtown Baltimore, Maryland's beautiful Inner Harbor.

"I encourage every NAD supporter from across the country to join in celebration of this special event by attending the National Gala in Baltimore, Maryland or making a donation in honor of NAD 125th anniversary," said Andrew Lange, NAD President. "After all, he continued, it will take a lot of people to blow out 125 birthday candles!"

The theme of the 125th Anniversary celebration that began in January 2005 and continues through the end of the 48th Biennial NAD Conference in July 2006 is "Cherish, Celebrate, and Commit – Cherish the past, Celebrate the present, and Commit to the future."

125th NAD NATIONAL GALA INFORMATION

Register now to attend this once in a lifetime event! Check the 125th National Gala web site at: http://www.nad.org/125thGala for registration and hotel information. The NAD negotiated a special guest room rate at the Wyndham Baltimore Inner Harbor Hotel, where the Gala will be held, for guests wishing to stay overnight.

Gala ticket prices are $125.00 per person. A portion of the individual $125.00 Gala ticket is tax deductible as a donation ($50.00 value) according to IRS regulations.

SPONSORSHIP AND ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES

Gala sponsorship and advertising opportunities are being offered.

We are producing a beautiful, keepsake program book for this special event. Full and half page ad space are being offered. Affordable Booster ads are also being offered for individuals and organizations who want to recognize the NAD 125th Anniversary.

To place an ad in the National Gala Program Book, visit:
http://www.nad.org/125thad
Ad placement deadline: August 15, 2005.

The NAD also invites organizations and businesses to sponsor the National Gala. It’s not often that businesses and organizations are invited to a birthday party celebrating 125 years of existence! To view a list of sponsorship levels and benefits that maximize corporate brand awareness and contact with Gala attendees, please visit:

For sponsor information,please go to:
http://www.nad.org/125thsponsor

THE 1880 CLUB – WHAT IS IT AND HOW CAN YOU BE PART OF IT

Since 1880, the NAD has advocated for the civil rights of deaf and hard of hearing Americans. The NAD is inviting contributions in celebration of 125 years of civil rights advocacy. "This is a time to celebrate successes to date, and to commit to building a stronger NAD that is more powerful and influential!" said Nancy J. Bloch, NAD Chief Executive Officer.

Special 1880 Club recognition will be made for individuals who contribute $1,250 between January 2005 and August 2006 in honor of the 125th Anniversary of the NAD. Donors attaining 1880 Club status will be recognized in the NADmag, the NAD Annual Report donor listings and in the program books for the National 125th Anniversary Gala and the 2006 NAD Conference in New Orleans.

All donations, small or large, are greatly appreciated and support the advocacy mission of the NAD. Donations received between January 2005 and August 2006 will be recognized in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the NAD. To make a donation, go to: http://www.nad.org/donate

###

About the NAD

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) has safeguarded the civil rights of deaf and hard of hearing Americans since 1880. As a national federation of state association, organizational and corporate affiliates, the advocacy work of the NAD encompasses a broad spectrum of areas including, but not limited to, accessibility, education, employment, healthcare, mental health, rehabilitation, technology, telecommunications, and transportation.

The NAD website (http://www.nad.org) has a wealth of advocacy information and resources.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Japanese Giant Hornet

Recently watched a National Geographic Channel documentary about dangerous toxic creatures. Amongst the creatures was the Japanese Giant Hornet. The Japanese Giant Hornet is actually 2 inches long and when wings are out, 3 inches wide!!! Eeeks! They live in the mountains of Japan. While watching the show, I felt so grateful that I live in NYC and in the Northeastern area in general. I don't have to deal with red ants, scorpions, certain breeds of venomous snakes, black widow spiders, and so on. There are fewer toxic creatures in the Northeast compared to other regions of America, based on the documentary I watched.

I looked up the Hapanese Giant Hornet online and came across this article: 'Hornets From Hell' Offer Real-Life Fright. Happy reading!

Website address: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/10/1025_021025_GiantHornets.html

Article:


"Hornets From Hell" Offer Real-Life Fright

Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News

October 25, 2002
A small but highly efficient killing machine—a hornet two inches long and with a wingspan up to three inches—lurks in the mountains of Japan. The voracious predator has a quarter-inch stinger that pumps out a dose of venom with an enzyme so strong it can dissolve human tissue.

Bees, other hornet species, and larger insects such as praying mantises are no match for the giant hornets, which often stalk their prey in relentless armies. Just one of these hornets can kill 40 European honeybees a minute; a handful of the creatures can slaughter 30,000 European honeybees within hours, leaving a trail of severed insect heads and limbs.



People are not the Japanese giant hornet's usual prey, but those who have felt its sting describe the pain as excruciating. Masato Ono, an entomologist at Tamagawa University, near Tokyo, said it's "like a hot nail through my leg."

Someone who is stung by the hornet and doesn't receive proper treatment soon thereafter can die from the venom, which is powerful enough to disintegrate human flesh. About 40 people die each year after being stung by giant hornets, mainly as a result of an allergic reaction to the venom.

This weekend the National Geographic TV series EXPLORER takes a close look at this powerful overlord of the insect world. The program, Hornets From Hell, airs Sunday, October 27, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on MSNBC.

Ono, who has studied the giant hornets for more than a decade, champions the insects despite their vicious reputation. "[They] seem brutal to us," he said, "but they're just doing what they have to do to survive. They're excellent mothers and fierce protectors."

The film's producer, Jeff Morales, said he wanted to give the Japanese giant hornet a fair hearing. "Hornets get a bad rap for the most part, but they really are an integral part of a delicate ecosystem," he said. "Social insects like the hornet are incredibly intriguing animals, and there are so many things we have yet to discover about their ways."

Lethal Attacks

European honeybees are a favorite target of the giant hornets. Commonly used by Japanese farmers, the honeybees are not native to Japan and have no natural defenses against an onslaught of giant hornets.

Once an enterprising hornet scouts out a bee colony, it marks the nest with a type of bodily chemical substance called a pheromone. Soon, a horde of giant hornets—each hornet five times larger than a European honeybee—arrives to decimate the colony.

The annual cycle of life and death begins anew each spring on the Japanese island of Honshu. As the cold weather fades, giant hornet queens awake from six months of hibernation. Inside, they carry the eggs of those who will be the hive's workers and soldiers.

A hornet queen lays thousands of eggs that take only a week to develop into larvae. The size of a hornet hive grows quickly as the season progresses—and so does the ravenous hunger of the young hornets.

The queen feeds her young at first, but soon an army of hornet hunters is dispatched to surrounding forests in search of more food sources. The hornets are highly industrious while their season lasts, relentlessly slaughtering other insects and building the size of their hives.


As cold weather approaches, the giant hornets' dominance comes to an end. The queens lay unfertilized eggs that will become the male hornets that are needed to fertilize a new generation of queens, which in turn hibernate until spring arrives again.

Powerful Saliva

Adult hornets feed their young by chewing the flesh of their victims into a gooey paste that the offspring devour. The larvae are well fed, and in turn provide the adults with a powerful energy-boosting cocktail in their saliva.

It's called vespa amino acid mixture, or VAAM. Regular doses of VAAM from the larvae give giant hornets their incredible stamina and energy—when pursuing prey, they can travel a range of 60 miles (96 kilometers) at speeds reaching 25 miles per hour.

The incredible effects of VAAM have not gone unnoticed in Japan: The country's latest sports drink is based on this "hornet power." It contains a synthetic form of components in the hornet larval saliva, which is touted as performance-boosting. Japanese gold medalist and world-record marathon runner Naoko Takahashi declared that VAAM gave her an edge in the Olympic Games held in Sydney, Australia.

In Japan's mountain villages, the hornets are valued as part of the basic diet. They are eaten deep fried, or even as hornet sashimi.

Join the world's largest nonprofit scientific and educational organization, and help further our mission to increase and diffuse knowledge of the world and all that is in it. Membership dues are used to fund exploration and educational projects and members also receive 12 annual issues of the Society's official journal, National Geographic.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

ASL Poetry & Storytelling Night

I've gone to the Bowery Poetry Club few times for ASL Poetry Slams & Storytelling. It's wonderful and fun! Here are info below copied from DNN.
-S



ASL Poetry & Storytelling Night at Bowery Poetry Club!

July 25th, 2005

Next event is August 15

Aslian Poetry and Storytelling Night

at the

Bowery Poetry Club!

Free of charge!

The event starts at 6 pm until 7:45. This is an 'open mike' event. Anyone wanting to tell an ASL story or poetry are welcome to come on stage and give it a try! This is not an 'American Idol' performance event but a community of Aslian (ASL signing people-deaf or hearing) in a rustic downtown east village 'Bouwery' bricked environment sharing the ASL work-in-progress or completed work.

ASL students, interpreters, ASL pros, die-hards, and any one signing are encouraged to come. ASL students: make it a part of the 'Deaf Event' project for your ASL class! Teachers, tired of the classroom? Bring your class over!

Where: The Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery @ Bleecker, right across from CBGB's
F train to Second Ave | 6 train to Bleecker


Go click on 'http://www.bowerypoetry.com/' and check out the Calendar at the bottom of the web page.

Come one and come all!! and witness ASL Storytelling and Poetry in Motion!

Robert Arnold

-Spoken language travels at the speed of sound; sign language travels at the speed of light. RWA

A Wonderful Night to Savor!

Rinconcito Peruano Restaurant
803 9th Ave,
Btwn 53rd & 54th St

Went there last night with 2 dear friends. It looked like a hole-in-the-wall family style restaurant. I wanted to go in and eat anyway because these kind of places are usually authentic with great services and food. Sure enough, the place was great. It quickly filled up with a mix of Peruvian and American diners alike.

It all started with my friends paging me saying they were on their way back to NYC from upstate. They wanted to know if they could swing by and go out to dinner on 9th Ave. Naturally, I said yes!

Picked out an authentic Peruvian place. It was so good. We were happy with everything we ordered.

Afterwards, my friend claimed that he was so stuffed that he felt like walking more than 20 blocks. We giggled and said sure. We set off for Columbus Circle nearby then back home for "a little exercise." While on 57th Avenue, we passed a florist shop and did few double-looks. Sure enough, we ran into a colleague and her acquaintance. We laughed about how we did double looks at each other then finally realized it really was us all together on 57th St. Chatted for a while. Later, we went into the Time Warner building in search of a bathroom. All were closed off. So, we headed back home.

On the way home, we stopped by Dippin Dot, this ice cream place we never saw or tried before. I had seen a documentary about it on TV and had never seen it anywhere before. We sampled few flavors before placing our orders. They got vanilla with some mint chocolate while I settled on cookies and cream with Oreo and a small scoop of vanilla. See, Dippin Dot serves real ice cream. The twist is that their ice cream come in small ball pellets instead of being scooped from a gallon. A different concept. A fun way to eat ice cream.

Going out and having a good adventurous night was a good way to unwind and just enjoy good company with friends.

Allergies, Go Away & Don't Come Back Another Day!

Ahhhhh! Allergies! Runny nose, wet eyes, sneezing, etc. The pollen is high here in the city today for trees. Has been high over the past week. Woke up due to allergies. That ain't dampening my mood or my plans for the day. Took my allergy meds and will go on with my day - with extra tissues in my pocket. I probably look like I'm crying although I'm not. All allergies... thanks, allergy pollens. Do me a favor and go away and do not come back another day! :)

Special Friends

Sometimes in life, you find a special friend;
Someone who changes your life
just by being part of it.
Someone who makes you laugh
until you can't stop;
Someone who makes you believe
that there really is good in the world.
Someone who convinces you
that there really is an unlocked door
just waiting for you to open it.

This is Forever Friendship.
May we all be loved so much.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Airplane Crash Involves Deaf Pilots

I like how the Olathe news has a weekly columnist, Leonard Hall, who writes for the deaf community. How many other newspapers have weekly columnists for the deaf community?

On another note, I hope that the pilot and other passenger recover from their injuries without permanent changes.

-S


From the newsroom of the Olathe News, Olathe, Kansas, Thursday, July 7, 2005 .....

Airplane Crash Involves Deaf Pilots

By Leonard Hall

Two weeks ago at the national Deaf Pilots Association fly-in event, a deaf pilot with two former Johnson County deaf residents crashed at the Katama Airfield on Martha's Vineyard Island near Boston, Massachusetts. The former residents were Jeff Willoughby and his teenage daughter, Jessica.

The deaf pilot, Mr. Naiman, and the passengers suffered broken legs and other serious injuries at the airport located on Martha's Vineyard Island. The pilot is still in critical condition. Jeff was recently released from the hospital and Jessica is still improving in the hospital.

The convention was at Martha's Vineyard Island, where during the late 1800s, there was a large deaf community and it was considered normal to be deaf living on the island.

The crashed plane was one of the 11 small planes used by the deaf pilots with the Deaf Pilots Association convention as part of the week long convention where deaf people fly in from across the country.

The national media and FAA have been following the crash as it highlighted the issue of deaf pilots and even hearing pilots without radio in their small airplane flying into untowered airports.

In the crash, the deaf pilot was preparing to land his plane on one of the two runways that shared the same starting points. A biplane was coming on the runway that forced the deaf pilot to abort the landing by pulling up abruptly and to attempt a go-around.

While the deaf pilot was trying to pull up the plane, the plane stalled and crashed.

There was a big debate about who had the right-of-way to land or take off from the airfield.

One party said that an aircraft on final approach has priority at a non-towered airport. He said it may be pilot error but it was not caused by his deafness.

Another party said that an airplane going onto the runway to take off would have the right-of-way.

FAA became concerned as a number of small airplanes without radio continued to land at the airport while it was closed after the crash. The airport had been unable to notify other planes that the airport was closed due to the crash.

FAA issues pilot certificates to deaf pilots. The deaf pilots are restricted to flying into uncontrolled or non-towered airports or airports that do not require radio communications for landings or takeoffs. The airport in Gardner, Kansas is a non-towered airport where deaf pilots have landed during the last Deaf Pilot Association conference in Kansas City several years ago.

There are the "visual flight rules" that allow deaf pilots and hearing pilots without radio to use about 4,500 non-towered airports across the country. The federal rules allow pilots to fly into most airports by sight alone.

Most pilots including deaf pilots operate safely under visual flight rules. There is no difference between a deaf pilot and a hearing pilot flying an aircraft not equipped with a radio.

(Leonard Hall write a weekly column for the deaf community. He can be reached at Legalnetwk@aol.com.)

Copyright 2005 Olathe News

Friday, July 22, 2005

Microchip Saves Rare Cambodian Turtle

I always delight in coming across news like this. I've always been for saving endangered species and was very glad to read this. I never cease to be amazed, disgusted and apalled with how human greed, consumption and actions harm other living creatures on this Earth we share and live on. Articles like this always give me some hope and relief knowing that one more living creature, especially an engandered one, has been saved. I hope no other species become endangered although, in reality, this may happen to any species.

-S



By MARGIE MASON, AP

HANOI, Vietnam (July 20) - They're calling him "the lucky royal turtle" - a rare and endangered reptile that was saved from a likely fate in a Chinese soup pot by keen-eyed wildlife officers and a microchip.

Poachers snatched the animal, a species called "Royal Turtle" in Cambodia because its eggs were once fed to kings, from a Cambodian river two months ago and toted it across the Vietnamese border on a motorbike with a stash of other, more common, turtles.

Conservationists said that at 33 pounds, the animal was sure to have fetched a good price when it reached the smuggler's destination: The food markets of China, where turtle meat is a delicacy often made into soup.

A raid on the smuggler's house in southern Vietnam's Tay Ninh province was the turtle's first stroke of good luck. About 30 turtles were confiscated and transported to a wildlife inspection center, where workers noticed there was something different about this one.

"My staff said they had never seen a turtle that big," said Ta Van Dao, head of the forest control bureau in Tay Ninh. "Its head and eyes were also different from the regular turtles."

The Vietnamese wildlife officials consulted an endangered species book, then called Doug Hendrie, an Asian turtle specialist based in Hanoi for the New York-based World Conservation Society. They told him they thought they had a Batagur baska, or Asian river terrapin.

At first, Hendrie thought the wildlife officers must be joking.

"I was very surprised when I heard they had a Batagur baska down there," said Hendrie, who also works for the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. "Initially I said, 'What else do they have? A lion? A zebra?"'

But a photo soon confirmed it was indeed a Batagur baska, a species thought to have disappeared in Cambodia until it was rediscovered in 2001. Conservationists eventually began tagging the animals with tracking devices and monitoring their nests, and King Norodom Sihamoni personally ordered their protection.

That led to the captured turtle's next good fortune. When officials inspected it in Ho Chi Minh City, they found a tiny microchip implanted under its wrinkly skin, pinpointing its exact home on the Sre Ambel River in southern Cambodia.

Hendrie said there are only about two to eight females remaining there, making the return of this adult male turtle even more vital. It had been tagged in Cambodia for research two years ago but not seen again until its discovery in Vietnam.

Vietnamese and Cambodians officials worked together to repatriate the turtle. He was shipped back to Cambodia last week and is undergoing health checks before being returned to the wild.

Many Asian turtles are in danger because of the thriving trade in animals in the region, where a species' rarity can add to its value on a menu or as a traditional medicine.

The Batagur baska is found only in parts of India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia, and populations have been sharply declining in recent years.

On one river in western Malaysia, 690 Batagur baska turtles were found in 1999 compared to only 40 last year, Hendrie said.

"Every single turtle is important to the population," he said. "This was the first case where an animal had been transferred back to where it came from in Cambodia. It was a landmark event."


07/20/05 12:01 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

Deaf Golfer Will Make History With PGA Tour Debut

Big Ten Champion Hall Tees It Up at US Bank Championship

By ARNIE STAPLETON, AP Sports

MILWAUKEE (July 20) - "See you on the Tour someday."

Those six words out of Tiger Woods' mouth stuck with Kevin Hall for six summers, serving as motivation as he won the 2004 Big Ten championship, and again as he set off afterward on the Nationwide Tour, where he's made three starts.

Hall never heard the Woods' words himself because he's been deaf since a bout of meningitis stole his hearing when he was a toddler. But he read his lips after Woods corrected his backswing at a golf clinic when Hall was 16.

And they've proved prophetic.

On Thursday, Hall will make his PGA Tour debut after getting a sponsor's exemption to play in the US Bank Championship at Brown Deer Park, the same course where Woods turned pro in 1996.

Hall's father, Percy, e-mailed his son on Monday with word that he should cancel his tee time at Beckett Ridge Country Club in Cincinnati because they had bigger things to do in Milwaukee.

"Dude, are you totally kidding me?" Hall replied on his Sidekick. "My first PGA tournament is THIS WEEK?"

"I couldn't believe it," Hall signed Wednesday. "I was walking on air."

So was Percy, who retired from his job as a meat cutter in 1999 to follow his son's fledgling career.

The PGA Tour couldn't find any other instances of deaf golfers in their records.

The 22-year-old Hall communicates with his caddie and playing partners by reading lips, writing in a notebook or typing sentences into his Sidekick, which combines a phone with e-mail, instant messaging, Web-surfing, a digital camera, a personal organizer and games.

Hall said he's not handicapped by his disability, although one time in college he was penalized a stroke for picking up his ball because he didn't understand there had been a rule change for the tournament.

And there's actually some advantages on the golf course for being deaf, he said.

"I can't hear the distractions. I can't hear the airplanes," Hall said. "But I still struggle with my mental game. Just the same as any other golfer."

Hall said he knows he's ready to tee off with the pros because he has the same confident feeling he did before the Big Ten championship last year, when he coasted to an 11-stroke victory that gave Ohio State the crown.

"I believed in myself, that I could win. I knew it could happen," Hall said. "So, from that point on, I believe in myself, I believe in my game, I believe in my skills and I know that I can do it."

Hall lost his hearing at 2 1/2 after a monthlong battle with haemophilus influenzae meningitis. A year later, his parents enrolled him at the St. Rita School for the Deaf and later signed him up for baseball and bowling.

But they never gave golf a thought until a family friend asked if he could teach Hall the game.

One swing and he was hooked.

He participated in the Junior World tournament as a member of Tiger Woods' team for two years and his resume states he's the first African-American golfer to play on scholarship for Ohio State.

His parents will be in the gallery along with several friends. And if he makes the cut - "No, when I make the cut," he corrected - several more will join him in Milwaukee for the weekend.

"If I can finish the tournament feeling good, that's successful," he said.

And he won't be bothered if fans flock to his threesome to point out the deaf golfer, either.

"If people identify me as a deaf golfer, that brings attention to the deaf community. And those people look up to me for motivation for themselves and their lives," he said.

"If they identify me as a deaf golfer, that's fine. Eventually people will identify me as just Kevin."

A pro golfer, just like Tiger.


07/20/05 18:17 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Cities Turn to Humiliation to Fight Prostitution

From the July 21, 2005 edition of Chrisian Science Monitor.

Cities turn to humiliation to fight prostitution

Police are posting photos of 'Johns' on websites or billboards, but critics say the tactic ignores causes.

By Amanda Paulson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

CHICAGO – Anyone who's ever wondered just who the men are who cruise this city's seedier strips looking for sex can now satisfy their curiosity.
Starting last month, the Chicago Police Department has been posting the names of "johns" arrested for engaging or soliciting prostitutes - along with their photo, address, age, and place of arrest. A recent sample included men from low-income Chicago neighborhoods and relatively well-to-do suburbs, of all ages and ethnicities.

It's part of a tactic more and more cities are using, cracking down on prostitution by focusing on demand, often using tactics of humiliation - like Chicago's website or billboards in Oakland, Calif. - to try and convince potential customers to stay home.

It's a trend that some applaud, saying the men who drive the trade have been overlooked too often while prostitutes get arrested. Others question its effectiveness, suggesting that websites and "john schools" that educate customers about the realities of prostitution accomplish little.

"The first thing you have to ask is why are people involved in prostitution - overwhelmingly it's related to economic issues," says Juhu Thukral, director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York. Focusing on demand, Thukral says, won't reduce the amount of prostitution; rather, more resources should go toward supportive housing, job training, and legal services - "programs that teach people how to get mainstream jobs that will provide a living wage."

Still, others involved in the issue say that efforts like Chicago's are an encouraging sign that cities are both waking up to the problems around prostitution and are recognizing that customers play as important a role as the prostitutes.

In Chicago, the website has been up for only a month, but has gotten more than 497,000 hits, says David Bayless, a spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department. [Editor's note: The original version incorrectly counted the traffic to the police website.]

"If we can get them to think twice about coming here, if they think they're at risk of being arrested and having their picture online, then the website's done its job," he says. "It's an acknowledgment that customers are contributors to the problem."

In addition to getting their photo online and having their vehicle impounded, arrested men have to attend a local "john school" run by Genesis House, an organization that helps Chicago sex workers.

The men pay $500 to attend the eight-hour class, and the money goes to support Genesis House's programs. During the day, they learn about the law, the health risks of patronizing prostitutes, and the reality of what life is like for prostitutes.

"This is not a victimless crime," says Patti Buffington, director of Genesis House. "There is a victim here, and it's the women performing this. About 95 percent of these women were abused."

For the men who attend john school, the biggest impact often comes when they learn more about the women themselves, says Norma Hotaling, a former prostitute who founded The Sage Project in San Francisco and started the nation's first john school about 10 years ago.

Midway through the class, she often reveals her own background. "You see them turn to Jell-O," Ms. Hotaling says with a laugh. "They say, 'You're smart, and you have power here, but you're' " a prostitute.

She's helped numerous cities around the US, including Chicago, launch their own john schools, and says the programs are remarkably successful; in San Francisco, she only sees about two percent of the men a second time.

Hotaling also has sympathy for the men who come through her classes; most, she says, simply don't have all the facts to make good decisions. As a result, she's not a fan of humiliation tactics.

"You don't tear down their support system and humiliate them," she says. "Do you want them to be total outcasts?"

Advocates at the Sex Workers Outreach Project, a San Francisco organization that favors legalizing prostitution, have also been outspoken against the humiliation efforts, such as the new campaign in Oakland that has billboards springing up with customers' faces - blurred in early versions - saying "Don't John in Oakland." "It's not going to stop the problem," says Robyn Few, director of the Sex Workers Outreach Project. "It's just going to move the problem from one place to another."

Still, many advocates of the efforts say the crackdown on customers is just one piece of an overall effort to reduce street prostitution and help sex workers move on to other jobs. In Chicago, where police estimate the number of prostitutes at anywhere between 16,000 and 25,000, Mayor Richard Daley has jumped with vigor on the new initiative. He cites not just the harm prostitution wreaks on neighborhoods and their quality of life, but also the harm done to the prostitutes themselves - a sign that politicians are starting to look at sex workers as victims rather than simply criminals.

"Once they become prostitutes, they're subject to even more violence, abuse, and possible death from their pimps and their customers," Daley said at a press conference to announce the new Internet site. "It's a terrible life, and a caring society has a responsibility to help these women turn their lives around, and to keep other young women from entering the profession."

Brain-Dead Woman's Fetus Reaches Milestone

I pray and hope that the baby will come to full term and be successfully delivered. I'm sad that Susan has cancer and is now brain dead. One good thing coming out of this is the miracle and gift of new life - the baby. I pray that the baby will stay safe and enter the world without any complications. I sure feel for Susan's husband.

-S


Brain-Dead Woman's Fetus Reaches Milestone
Family Finds Renewed Hope for a Successful Birth

By KRISTEN GELINEAU, AP

RICHMOND, Va. (July 20) -- A brain-dead pregnant woman on life support has reached the milestone in her pregnancy where doctors believe the baby could realistically survive outside the womb, giving her family renewed hope about the devastating ordeal.

Susan Torres, 26, lost consciousness from a stroke May 7 after aggressive melanoma spread to her brain. Her husband, Jason Torres, said doctors told him his wife's brain functions had stopped.

Her fetus recently passed the 24th week of development - the earliest point at which doctors felt the baby would have a reasonable chance to survive, her brother-in-law said.

''The situation is pretty stable,'' said Justin Torres, who is serving as the family's spokesman. ''Susan, we have said from the beginning, is the toughest person in that ICU room.''

He said the family is ''as certain within the limits of sonogram technology'' that the baby is a girl. ''Cecilia'' was one possible name the couple had discussed, Justin Torres said.

A Web site was set up to help raise money for the family's mounting medical bills, and they have now received about $400,000 in donations, Torres said. Jason Torres quit his job as a printing salesman to be by his wife's side and the family must pay tens of thousands of dollars each week that insurance does not cover, the family says.

Donations have poured in from around the world: Germany, Britain, Ireland, Japan - even a check with no note from a soldier in Iraq. On Monday, the family received a hand-knit baby blanket from a woman in Pennsylvania who was on a tight income but wanted to do something to help.

Jason Torres spends every night sleeping in a reclining chair next to his wife's bed at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, about 100 miles north of Richmond. The hospital has declined to comment on the case.

The couple's 2-year-old son, Peter, is staying with grandparents. He has not seen his mother, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, since her collapse.

If possible, the doctors hope to hold off on delivering the child until 32 weeks' gestation, Justin Torres said. A full-term pregnancy is about 40 weeks.

The melanoma has spread to her lymph nodes and taken over her vital organs, but they continue to function. There is a chance the cancer could spread to the placenta, but so far it has been spared, Justin Torres said. Extra precautions, including limiting the number of visitors, have recently been taken to help her avoid infections.

Doctors have held off on giving the family a prognosis because the situation is so rare, said Torres, who believes his sister-in-law will likely hang on for a few more weeks.

Since 1979, there have been at least a dozen similar cases published in English medical literature, said Dr. Winston Campbell, director of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center, which conducted research on the topic.

Aside from the tubes and machines she is hooked up to, the tall and athletic Torres looks remarkably well, her brother-in-law said.

''She would have wanted us to fight for this baby - there's no doubt in our minds,'' Justin Torres said.

The family received an unexpected sliver of joy on June 21, when Jason Torres felt his child kick for the first time.

''It was a very, very nice reminder of what this is all about, and very heartening to us to know that we're making progress and that we're getting closer and closer,'' the brother-in-law said. ''That was a very good day for everyone.''


07/20/05 22:34 EDT

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

To Have a Pedicure or Not...

Trying to decide if I should go out later tonight to have a pedicure or not. I have NYC summer feet due to walking around a lot. My heel and toes look dry plus it's getting a little rough-skinned. Eeeks! It's either get a pedicure or take a nap. I'm tired from classes this week plus the CT trip on Tuesday. I'm afraid that if I go to the pedicure place, I'll fall asleep while my feet are being pampered. It's always relaxing to get a pedicure, especially with the feet jacuzzi and someone taking care of ur feet. The place I go to even throws in a massage. Mmmm. Maybe it'd be better to go tomorrow before I head out to meet folks later in the afternoon and evening.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Day Trip to Connecticut

Went up to Connecticut on a day trip. It all started with me sleeping through my alarm for half a hour. When I finally woke up to look at the time, I was confused about what time my friend was picking me up. 8 AM? or, was it 9 AM? Eeks! Whew, 9 AM! Emailed my friend who was still driving (whew) and hurried to shower and get dressed for the day.

We headed straight to my aunt's cemetary for a memorial service. It was nice and sweet. When we entered the cemetary, there was such a huge flock of geese all over throughout the grounds. You could look out towards the water (Long Island Sound) in between the trees between the beach and the cemetary. My aunt's childhood friends, called the "Jolly Bowlers" (don't ask me why) came and locked elbows during the service. It was cool to see this and meet the "jolly bowlers" I grew up hearing about but never met. We celebrated my aunt's memory and reminisced. I sure miss my aunt. Yet I know she'd want us to celebrate. Afterwards, we headed out to eat at the Rainbow Gardens where our aunt used to always take the family out for Easter, celebration and graduation dinners. It was such a befitting place for the family to gather for our first meal there after her passing.

After a delicious meal, my brother and I headed out to shop. It's such a great time to buy things on sale. Got few shirts for myself, few adorable outfits for Sabine (couldn't resist, Julie!!!), and two tops for a friend. I knew she'd like them and how well they'd fit on her. Figured I'd get them for her. I love buying gifts for friends when I see something I know they'd like or appreciate.

After shopping, we all headed down to my parents' house. More relatives were there, and we just chatted away the afternoon. It was great to see cousins I hadn't seen in years. My aunt and uncle were there, and we spent time together. The next time we'll meet will be when I visit them in Scottsdale, Arizona at their new home. They recently retired and returned to the United States after working overseas for 20-something years. My cousins, brother and I exchanged emails and agreed to meet in NYC. The elders discussed their usual topics.

My brother, friend and I decided to visit Grandmommy at her nursing home. It was wonderful to see her! I love seeing her smile and being happy. She introduced me to a deaf resident, Harry. Harry and I ended up chatting for few hours. Turns out he attended Lexington School for the Deaf when it used to be in Manhattan. He shared a lot of history about deaf schools back in his days and what kind of services were available for deaf people in NYC. Harry's 92 or 94 years old! And, his mind is quite clear. His body just doesn't keep up with his mind. His own mother lived at the very same nursing home and passed away there at the age of 104. Harry felt funny yet comforted by the fact that he entered a familiar home where his mother once resided. He also asked about my grandmother. I explained to him why she was there (Alzheimer's) and what certain gestures and homemade signs of hers meant. He was pleased to know what my grandmother had been saying all long with him. Harry asked me about specific people and synagogues in NYC. He wanted to know who was still alive, how certain people were doing, how NYSD and Tanya Towers were doing and so on. Harry's such a pleasure to talk with. I promised Harry that I'd visit him the next time I was in CT.

On our way out to NYC, I decided to swing by my dear friend's mother's house nearby. Ended up that her sister, partner and fellow friend were gathered there. We ended up chatting and laughing all night long around the dining room table! Got home late in NYC at 12:30 AM.

What a day trip to Connecticut!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

State Wants to Weed Out Pot-Flavored Candy

State Wants to Weed Out Pot-Flavored Candy

NEW YORK (July 12) - Connecticut Tuesday joined a growing effort to weed out marijuana-flavored candy from store shelves when its attorney general said he would sponsor a statewide ban on "Pot Suckers" lollipops.

Five other states have either banned or are considering a ban on the candy, causing New Jersey distributor ICUP to suspend further sales of the green candy as of June 28.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the candy was being sold in novelty stores in large malls throughout the state, marketed with slogans such as "Every lick is like taking a hit."

The candy, which is flavored with hemp essential oil, does not contain THC, the hallucinogenic compound in marijuana, but Blumenthal called it "a gateway product" that "glamorizes drugs for children."

The candy has been banned by the Chicago City Council and in Suffolk County, New York. The New York City Council and the states of Michigan, New Jersey and Georgia are considering legislation to ban them.

ICUP president Steve Trachtenberg said reaction to the Pot Suckers "borders on ridiculous."

"Is it a novelty? Yes. Was it meant to encourage kids to use drugs? Absolutely not," he said, noting that more than 70 percent of U.S. candy consumption is by adults.

Trachtenberg said that in addition to suspending distribution of Pot Suckers because of the backlash, his company has put on hold plans for related items, including a hemp-flavored chocolate candy Buzz Bar.

Other marijuana-flavored candy products have found their way to the market place in recent months including "Kronic Kandy," made in the Netherlands and sold in the Atlanta area, and items from the Mary Jane Candy Company including "Ganja Pops" and "Icky Sticky Nuggets."

07/12/05 19:40 ET