Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Native Americans, African Americans, And Japanese Americans

Native Americans


Q: When did the first Native Americans arrive in America?
A: Most say that Native Americans were always there. Most scientific evidence suggests that Indian ancestors came from Asia in prehistoric times, either by foot, over a land bridge, or by using ancient boats. This would have happened more than 20,000 years ago.

Q: Where did the Native Americans come from?
Nobody knows for sure, but most people think they come from Asia.

Q: How many Native Americans are there today?
A: Today, there are about 2 million Native Americans.

Q: Where do Native Americans live today?
A: Most still live in North America (Canada and the United States)

African Americans


Q: Where did African Americans come from?
A: They came from Africa.

Q: Where do African Americans live?
A: African Americans are all around the world, Africa and America probably have the most Africans.

Q: When and where did the African Americans first arrive in America?
A: Around 1619 in Jamestown.

Japanese Americans


Q: When did the first Japanese Americans arrive in America?
A: About 1959.

Q: Where do Japanese Americans live?
A: Most live in Japan, but some live in America.

Q: Where did Japanese Americans come from?
A: Japan.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Charles Ives

(Click on a picture to enlarge)

1874 Died: 1954

Born in Danbury, Connecticut on 20 October 1874, Charles Ives pursued what is perhaps one of the most extraordinary and paradoxical careers in American music history. Businessman by day and composer by night, Ives's vast output has gradually brought him recognition as the most original and significant American composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Inspired by transcendentalist philosophy, Ives sought a highly personalized musical expression through the most innovative and radical technical means possible. A fascination with bi-tonal forms, polyrhythms, and quotation was nurtured by his father who Ives would later acknowledge as the primary creative influence on his musical style. Studies at Yale with Horatio Parker guided an expert control overlarge-scale forms.

Ironically, much of Ives's work would not be heard until his virtual retirement from music and business in 1930 due to severe health problems. The conductor Nicolas Slonimsky, music critic Henry Bellamann, pianist John Kirkpatrick (who performed the Concord Sonata at its triumphant premiere in New York in 1939), and the composer Lou Harrison (who conducted the premiere of the Symphony No. 3) played a key role in introducing Ives's music to a wider audience. Henry Cowell was perhaps the most significant figure in fostering public and critical attention for Ives's music, publishing several of the composer's works in his New Music Quarterly.

In 1947, Ives was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his Symphony No. 3, according him a much deserved modicum of international renown. Soon after, his works were taken up and championed by such leading conductors as Leonard Bernstein and, at his death in 1954, he had witnessed a rise from obscurity to a position of unsurpassed eminence among the world's leading performers and musical institutions.

List of Works:


* Symphony No. 1 (1901)
* Symphony No. 2 (1902, revised 1910)
* Symphony No. 3: The Camp Meeting (1901, rev. 1911)
* Symphony No. 4 (1916)
* A Symphony: New England Holidays (1919)
* Universe Symphony (1928, unfinished)


For orchestra

* Orchestral Set No. 1: Three Places in New England (1912–16, revised 1929)
* Orchestral Set No. 2 (1909–19)
* Orchestral Set No. 3 (1919–26; notes added after 1934)

For chamber orchestra

* Set No. 1 (1912); includes Calcium Light Night
* Set No. 2 (1912); includes "Gyp the Blood" or Hearst—Which is Worst!? (inc.)
* Set No. 3 (1917)
* Set No. 4: Three Poets and Human Nature (1925-30?)
* Set No. 5: The Other Side of Pioneering, or Side Lights on American Enterprise (1925-30?)
* Set No. 6: From the Side Hill (1925-30?)
* Set No. 7: Water Colors (1925-30?)
* Set No. 8: Songs without Voices (1930?); derived from Set No. 5
* Set No. 9 of Three Pieces (1934)
* Set No. 10 of Three Pieces (1934) [There are also two more chamber sets assembled in 1934 that are found listed in the same Work-List of Compositions.]
* Set for Theatre Orchestra (1915)


* Alcott Overture (1904, mostly lost)
* Emerson Overture for Piano and Orchestra or Emerson Concerto (1911–12, incomplete)
* Matthew Arnold Overture (1912, inc.)
* Overture and March: 1776 (1904, rev. 1910)
* Overture in G Minor (1899, inc.)
* Overture: Nationals (1915, mostly lost)
* Robert Browning Overture (1914, rev. 1942)

[edit] Marches

* Holiday Quickstep (1887)
* March No. 2, with Son of a Gambolier (1895?)
* March No. 3 in F and C (1893?, inc.)
* March No. 3, with My Old Kentucky Home (1895?)
* March No. 4 in F and C (1894?, inc.)
* The Circus Band (1898)


* Central Park in the Dark (1906, rev. 1936)
* Chromâtimelôdtune (1923?)
* Country Band March (1905?, rev. 1914, inc.)
* The General Slocum (1910?, inc.)
* The Gong on the Hook and Ladder (1934)
* Piece for Small Orchestra and Organ (1905?, mostly lost)
* The Pond (1906, rev. 1913)
* Postlude in F (1899?)
* Three Ragtime Dances (1911, mostly lost)
* Four Ragtime Dances (?)
* Nine Ragtime Pieces (1902?, mostly lost)
* The Rainbow (1914)
* Skit for Danbury Fair (1909, inc.)
* Take-Off No. 7: Mike Donlin-Johnny Evers (1907, inc.)
* Take-Off No. 8: Willy Keeler at Bat (1907, inc.)
* Tone Roads et al. (1915?)
* The Unanswered Question (1908, rev. 1935)
* Yale-Princeton Football Game (1899, inc.)


* Fantasia on Jerusalem the Golden (1888)
* March in F and C, with Omega Lambda Chi (1896)
* March Intercollegiate, with Annie Lisle (1892)
* Runaway Horse on Main Street (1908, mostly lost)
* Schoolboy March in D and F, Op. 1 (1886, mostly lost)


String quartet

* String Quartet No. 1: From the Salvation Army (1900)
* String Quartet No. 2 (1913)
* Pre-First Sonata for Violin and Piano (1913)

Violin sonata

* Violin Sonata No. 1 (1917?)
* Violin Sonata No. 2 (1917?)
* Violin Sonata No. 3 (1914?)
* Violin Sonata No. 4: Children's Day at the Camp Meeting (1916)


* Decoration Day (1919)
* From the Steeples and the Mountains (1901)
* Fugue in B-flat (1895?, inc.)
* Fugue in D (1895?, mostly lost)
* Fugue in Four Greek Modes (1897, inc.)
* Fugue in Four Keys on The Shining Shore (1903?, inc.)
* Hallowe'en (1914)
* In Re Con Moto et al. (1916)
* Largo for Violin and Piano (1901)
* Largo for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano (1934? arrangement of Largo for violin and piano)
* Largo Risoluto No. 1 (1909)
* Largo Risoluto No. 2 (1910)
* An Old Song Deranged (1903)
* Piece in G for String Quartet (1891?)
* Polonaise (1887, inc.)
* Practice for String Quartet in Holding Your Own! (1903)
* Prelude on Eventide (1908)
* Scherzo: All the Way Around and Back (1908)
* Scherzo: Over the Pavements (1910)
* Scherzo for String Quartet (1904)
* A Set of Three Short Pieces (1935?)
* Take-Off No. 3: Rube Trying to Walk 2 to 3!! (1909)
* Trio for Violin, Violoncello, and Piano (1907, rev. 1915)


* Variations on "America", for organ (1891) (arranged for orchestra by William Schuman and also arranged for piano solo by Lowell Liebermann)
* Piano Sonata No. 1
* Piano Sonata No. 2 Concord

Songs that were orchestrated

* General William Booth Enters into Heaven (based on a poem by the same name written by Vachel Lindsay)

Choral Psalms

* Psalm 14 (1902, 1912-13)
* Psalm 24 (1901, 1912-13)
* Psalm 25 (1901, 1912-13)
* Psalm 42 (1891-92)
* Psalm 54 (1902)
* Psalm 67 (1898-99)
* Psalm 90 (1923-24)
* Psalm 100 (1902)
* Psalm 135 (1902, 1912-13)
* Psalm 150 (1898-99)


Wikipedia- List of Compositions by Charles Ives

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Picture Gallery:

Above are all examples of Renaissance art.


Q: What is Renaissance?
A: Renaissance is a period that started at the close of the Middle Ages and the rise of the modern world.

Q: What does the word Renaissance mean?
A: The word Renaissance means "rebirth".

Q: What are some famous artists from this era?
A: Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Bellini, Raphael, along with many more artists.

Q: How long did Renaissance last?
A: It lasted from the 14th century to the 17th century.

Q: What's probably the most valued painting made in the time of Renaissance?
A: I'd say that The Mona Lisa (painted by Leonardo Da Vinci) is most valued.

On the left is the normal Mona Lisa...But on the right, it shows the digitally restored one! After centuries, most of the color must've faded. (And I always thought that Mona Lisa was painted like the one on the left!)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Français Écouter

France, officially République française, is the largest country in Western Europe.
Paris [paʁi] is the capital of France. It is located in the north-bending arc of the river Seine.
In France, kids play with a bilboquet. A bilboquet is a "ball and cup" game, similar to the Japanese kendama.
Madeline is a famous French character in children's literature.
Tour de France is a bicycle race held in July. Bikers ride for 2299 miles!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cheese Essay



No matter how far archaeological finds go, there is evidence that cheese came into being in prehistoric times. Cheese can not really be said to have been

"invented". This delicious food must have resulted from the simple observation that milk left in a container ends up by coagulating, even more if it is hot.

People living in areas where the climate changed seasonally would also have noticed the effect of temperature on this process: in warmer weather the milk

would curdle faster than in the cold. This might be considered the first technological cheesemaking discovery.

There are hundreds of different types of cheese that can be differentiated both by the type of milk - raw, skimmed or pasteurised, and by the animal's milk -

cow, goat, sheep, buffalo, horse or camel.



Soft white cheeses

This is the simplest type of cheese. They are neither fermented nor matured. Their high moisture content, coupled with the high humidity, attracts and

encourages the growth of the classic white penicillium mould. This type of cheese is creamy and smooth. They are based on cow's milk, skimmed or

unskimmed, and sometimes enriched with cream.

Bloomy-rind cheeses

These cheeses are neither pressed nor cooked. They are salted and seeded with Penicillium candidum that gives them their bloom (the white down that

takes on a golden aspect as it ages.)

Washed-rind cheeses

The curd, which may or may not be cut depending on how soft the final cheese should be, is scooped into moulds and left to drain. The high moisture of the

curd and the humidity of the maturing rooms attract a bitter-tasting, grey, hairy mould called "cat fur". They are raw or pasteurised milk cheeses that come

from the north of France, the east of Belgium, Luxembourg and the western marches of Germany. The maturation period lasts from two to six months, then

the cheeses are washed in slightly salted brine. These cheeses are rather spicy and outrageously piquant in taste and aroma. They can smell yeasty or

almost meaty.

Pressed, uncooked cheeses

For this type of cheese the raw or pasteurised milk is heated to 36 C and coagulated at a slightly lower temperature. The curds are fragmented into tiny

particles the size of rice grains and pressed through cloths to extract the whey. The maturation takes two to three months. The rind is brushed to obtain a

regular patina and prevent patches of humidity.

Pressed, cooked cheeses

Hard, pressed, cooked cheeses are virtually identical to the semi-hard, pressed, cooked cheeses. These cheeses are made using the evening's milk, left to

stand overnight and skimmed, mixed with that of the next morning. Maturation takes place in a cool, humid cellar, and lasts four to ten months, during

which the cheese is washed in a low-salt brine and scraped.

Blue-mould cheeses

The blue mould is a strain of penicillium that is added to the milk before the rennet is added either in liquid or powder form. Most blue cheeses are normally

wrapped in foil to prevent them from drying out. They are neither pressed nor cooked. They are usually made from cow's milk.

Natural-rind cheeses

These are mainly goat's and sheep's cheeses. When young, they have a slightly wrinkled, cream-coloured rind. In time they dry out, the wrinkles become

more pronounced and the character and flavour increases, along with the growth of bluish grey mould. Their taste is fresh, almost fruity, with undertones of

goat. To mature, these cheeses must be kept dry.

Processed cheeses

These are the result of melting one or more pressed, cooked or uncooked cheeses, and adding milk, cream, butter and sometimes flavouring agents. One or

several ripened cheeses are heated and mixed, then pasteurised at high temperature (130-140 C) after other dairy products, such as liquid or powdered milk,

cream, butter, casein, whey, and seasoning, have been added.



* Did you know that there are over 2,000 varieties of cheeses! Sureeee Enough! This information is heaven for us cheese lovers.

* Did you know the #1 cheese recipe in America is "Macaroni and Cheese"

* Did you also know that "Macaroni and Cheese" is on the Top 10 list of childrens favorite foods? Well it surrre isssss! It's everybody's childhood favorite and

its been served since the late 1700's.

* CHEESE HOLES: The most recognizable characteristic of Swiss cheese is its holes which punctuate the pale yellow exterior. These holes, also called

"eyes," are caused by the expansion of gas within the cheese curd during the ripening period.

* MOLD: Mold may develop on the surface of cheese. Although most molds are harmless, to be safe, cut away 1/2 inch of cheese on all sides of the visible

mold. Use remaining cheese as quickly as possible.

* Did you know that what appears to be the remains of cheese has been found in Egyptian tombs over 4,000 years old!

* Cheese was popular in ancient Greece and Rome, but fresh milk and butter were not. This was probably due to the fact that olive oil was available in the

Mediterranean area, where the climate would have spoiled milk and butter quickly.

* The terms "Big Wheel" and "Big Cheese" originally referred to those who were wealthy enough to purchase a whole wheel of cheese.

* Cheese takes up about 1/10 the volume of the milk it was made from.

* Greek historian Xenophon (430?-355? B.C.) mentions that goat cheese had been known for centuries in Peloponnesus.

* The first cheese factory to make cheese from scratch was started in Rome, New York in 1851 by Jesse Williams. He had his own dairy herd and purchased

more milk from other local farmers to make his cheese. By combining the milk and making large cheeses he could produce cheese with uniform taste and

texture. Before then, companies would buy small batches of home made cheese curd from local farmers to make into cheese, each batch of curds producing

cheese with wide differences in taste and texture from one another.

* Cheddar, Cheshire and Leicester cheeses have been colored with annatto seed for over 200 years. Carrot juice and marigold petals have also been used to

color cheeses. Coloring may have originally been added to cheese made with winter milk from cows eating hay to match the orange hue (from vitamin A) of

cheeses made with milk from cows fed on green plants.

* A giant wheel of Cheddar cheese was given to Queen Victoria (1837-1901) for a wedding gift. It weighed over 1,000 pounds. A normal Cheddar wheel

weighs 60-75 pounds.

* Almost 90% of all cheese sold in the United States is classified as a Cheddar type cheese.

* Chevre is French for goat and refers to cheese made from goat's milk.

* Americans are eating more cheese than ever. In 2003, American s consumed 8.8 billion pounds of natural cheese. On a per capita basis, the average

American ate 30.6 pounds of natural cheese in 2003. That's four pounds more per person than in 1994 and 19.5 pounds more than in 1970. Overall, Americans

ate 1.8 billion pounds more cheese in 2003 than in 1994. Approximately half of that increase was supplied by California, the fastest-growing cheese producer.

* Americans are stuck on mozzarella. It will be no surprise to pizza lovers that the single most frequently eaten cheese is Mozzarella, which recently edged

past Cheddar in popularity. Americans ate 2.8 billion pounds of gooey Mozzarella in 2003, the majority of which came from California, the country's largest

producer. Cheddar was a close second and we ate 2.7 billion pounds of that.

* Americans purchased $40 billion worth of cheese last year. The market value of all cheese consumed in the U.S. was nearly $40 billion in 2003. In addition

to supermarket sales, this includes cheese sold through restaurants and fast food outlets, as well as the cheese sold as ingredients in frozen and packaged


* America has 440 cheesemakers.This includes more than 350 producers of specialty, artisan and farmstead cheeses. While most states have at least one

cheese plant, more than two-thirds of the specialty cheesemakers in the country are located in just three regions - California, Wisconsin and New England.

Many cheesemakers now invite visitors to stop by and sample cheese and learn more about Cheesemaking practices. For a visitor's map to California



Thursday, November 27, 2008


Thanksgiving Prayer:


Our Father in Heaven,
We give thanks for the pleasure
Of gathering together for this occasion.
We give thanks for this food
Prepared by loving hands.
We give thanks for life,
The freedom to enjoy it all
And all other blessings.
As we partake of this food,
We pray for health and strength
To carry on and try to live as You would have us.
This we ask in the name of Christ,
Our Heavenly Father.

History Of Thanksgiving:

Most stories of Thanksgiving history start with the harvest celebration of the pilgrims and the Indians that took place in the autumn of 1621. Although they did have a three-day feast in celebration of a good harvest, and the local Indians did participate, this "first Thanksgiving" was not a holiday, simply a gathering.

The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating. At the beginning of the following fall, they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast -- including 91 Indians who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives. The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival than a true "thanksgiving" observance. It lasted three days.

Thanksgiving was proclaimed by every president after Lincoln. The date was changed a couple of times, most recently by Franklin Roosevelt, who set it up one week to the next-to-last Thursday in order to create a longer Christmas shopping season. Public uproar against this decision caused the president to move Thanksgiving back to its original date two years later. And in 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.

Bibilography: Thanksgiving Prayer History Of Thanksgiving

Opinion: Interesting story, Thanksgiving is really fun to learn about!


Hope you enjoyed! Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Coco Chanel

Born: August 19, 1993, Saumur, France

Died: January 10, 1971, (Aged 87) Paris, France

Early Years
Gabrielle "Coco" Bonheur Chanel was born second daughter to Jeanne Devolle and Albert Chanel. Her parents married in 1883. She had five siblings, Julie, Antoinette, Alphonse, Lucien and Augustin. When Coco was 12 years old, her mother died of tuberculosis, soon after Coco's father leaving to take care of the other children. Young Coco Chanel spent 7 years in the orphanage of the Catholic Monastery of Aubazine. When she turned eighteen, she left the orphanage and became a local tailor.

While working at a tailoring shop she met and soon began an affair with the French playboy and millionaire Étienne Balsan
who lavished her with the beauties of "the rich life", diamonds, dresses and pearls. While living with Balsan, Chanel began designing hats as a hobby, which soon became a deeper interest of hers. After opening her eyes, as she would say, Coco left Balsan and took over his apartment in Paris, France. In 1913, she opened up her very first shop which sold a range of fashionable raincoats and jackets. Situated in the heart of Paris, France it wasn't long before the shop went out of business and Chanel was asked to surrender her properties. This did not discourage Chanel, it only made her more determined.Later in life, she told an elaborate false history for her humble beginnings. Chanel would steadfastly claim that when her mother died, her father sailed for America and she was sent to live with two cold-hearted spinster aunts. She even claimed to have been born in 1893 as opposed to 1883, and that her mother had died when Coco was six instead of twelve.

The Chanel Empire
Chanel always kept the clothing she designed simple and comfortable and revealing. She took what were considered poor fabrics like jersey and upgraded them. She was instrumental in helping to design the image of the 1920s flapper, a "new breed" of young women who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz music, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior.

Later Years
In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, the designer closed her shops. She believed that it was not a time for fashion. She took up residence in the Hôtel Ritz Paris and for more than 30 years, Chanel made this hotel her home, even during the Nazi occupation of Paris.

Chanel died in Paris on January 10, 1971, 87 years old, in her private suite at the Hôtel Ritz, and she was buried in Lausanne, Switzerland. Her tombstone is carved with stone lion heads representing her birth sign, Leo.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Poetry- For The Want of A Nail, Jimmy Jet And His TV Set, Knoxville Tennessee, And How Doth The Little Crocodile

For Want of A Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.


A clever set of lyrics in "For want of a nail" encouraging children to apply logical progression to the consequences of their actions. "For want of a nail" is often used to gently chastise a child whilst explaining the possible events that may follow a thoughtless act. 

"For want of a nail" American usage
Benjamin Franklin included a version of the rhyme in his Poor Richard's Almanack when America and England were on opposite sides. 

During World War II, this verse was framed and hung on the wall of the Anglo-American Supply Headquarters in London, England.


Knoxville, Tennessee
By Nikki Giovanni

I always like summer
you can eat fresh corn
From daddy's garden
And okra
And greens
And cabbage
And lots of
And buttermilk
And homemade ice-cream
At the church picnic
And listen to
Gospel music
At the church
And go to the mountains with
Your grandmother
And go barefooted
And be warm
All the time
Not only when you go to bed
And sleep

Knoxville… Tennessee!!!



Lines 1 – 2

In each line of this poem, the speaker identifies something about summer. It is clear by the simplicity of language and affections that this speaker is not an adult but perhaps a child. It seems to be told from the point of view of a young person who is both nostalgic about a past summer spent and also looking forward to the return of summer's delights.

Lines 3 – 12

In these lines, the speaker focuses on the taste sensations of summer and the quality of abundance. The presence of the family patriarch is perhaps the only slightly political statement in the whole poem. This poem can be determined as political if one considers the times in which the author was writing this poem and the feeling that black men were under siege. Otherwise, having a "daddy" who has a "garden" could not be more natural to a child's memories.

Lines 13 – 17

Now, the speaker evokes a higher sensation, perhaps an almost spiritual quality to the memory by asking the reader to consider the "gospel music" and the tight-knit community centered on the "church." The fact that these lines fall in the center of the poem suggests that perhaps this is the heart and soul of the speaker's memory. The importance of this vision of a "homecoming" cannot be overlooked and can perhaps tell the reader that the speaker is not always in this earthly paradise.

Lines 18 – 24

Finally, the speaker makes the connection to the place itself. The place is identified by "mountains," which often represent truth or vision. That the speaker goes to this place with a grandmother re-enforces the idea that wisdom is somehow shared by osmosis. The way that the speaker connects to the time and place is like the feeling of a good dream and perhaps that is why the reader is taken to the end of the day, to "sleep."


How Doth The Little Crocodile 
By Lewis Caroll

How doth the little crocodile 
Improve his shining tail, 
And pour the waters of the Nile 
On every golden scale! 
How cheerfully he seems to grin!
How neatly spread his claws, 
And welcomes little fishes in 
With gently smiling jaws!

Opinion: Uh oh! Run fishies run!



"How Doth the Little Crocodile" is a poem by Lewis Carroll which appears in his novel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It describes a crafty crocodile which lures fish into its mouth with a welcoming smile. "How Doth the Little Crocodile" is a parody of the moralistic poem "Against Idleness And Mischief" by Isaac Watts. Watts' poem begins "How doth the little busy bee," and uses a bee as a model of hard work. In Carroll's parody, the crocodile's corresponding "virtues" are deception and predation, themes which recur throughout Alice's adventures in both books, and especially in the poems.


Jimmy Jet And His TV Set
By Shel Silverstein

I'll tell you the story of Jimmy Jet --
And you know what I tell you is true.
He loved to watch his TV set
Almost as much as you.

He watched all day, he watched all night
Till he grew pale and lean,
From "The Early Show" to "The Late Late Show"
And all the shows between.

He watched till his eyes were frozen wide,
And his bottom grew into his chair.
And his chin turned into a tuning dial,
And antennae grew out of his hair.

And his brains turned into TV tubes,
And his face to a TV screen.
And two knobs saying "VERT." and "HORIZ."
Grew where his ears had been.

And he grew a plug that looked like a tail
So we plugged in little Jim.
And now instead of him watching TV
We all sit around and watch him.

Opinion: I don't watch TV much, but watching him would be quite interesting :[)


"Jimmy Jet And His TV Set" is a poem included in the book "Where The Sidewalk Ends", a children's poetry book, by Shel Silverstein. It is about a boy who watched TV all the time and didn't do anything else really, not even sleep! So after awhile, he turned into a TV!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Losing 185kg (29 stones) in body weight might seem like an extreme way to get into the record books.

Manuel says reading The Bible has encouraged him during his diet
But that is what Manuel Uribe from Monterrey, Northern Mexico, has done.
Now the world's heaviest man is on track to become the planet's most successful slimmer.
Put another way, his weight loss in one year is the equivalent of shedding two fully grown adult males from his body.
Manuel is already in the latest edition of the Guinness World Records as the heaviest living person.
That's because, not long ago he weighed 560kg (88 stones), or half a tonne.
Supervised diet
Supersized by nature, he has now downsized through diet and willpower.

A demonstration of how much weight Manuel Uribe lost
And that will put him in the record books again.
"Look at my face," he says. "I have lost a lot."
Manuel puts it all down to something called the Zone Diet.
The diet, supervised by a team of scientists and nutritionists, consists of a strict formula of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
It's about controlling hormone levels in the body, particularly insulin and glucagons.
Those behind the diet say that when these are at the correct levels through the right intake of food, anti inflammatory chemicals are released to keep the body's weight in check.
They say the body then uses its stored fat for energy, thereby causing weight loss.

Manuel cannot leave his reinforced bed"Life is good now because food is medicine," said Manuel. "If you have the right food your body gets what it needs. If I can lose weight, anyone can."
Manuel certainly doesn't starve himself to achieve his weight loss.
He eats roughly five times a day.
His lunch was a plate of chicken cooked in olive oil with broccoli, tomatoes and slices of raw red pepper.
Mother 'proud'
He can eat fish, chicken, some meat, many types of fruit and pretty much any vegetables, but all in strictly controlled portions called 'blocks'.
He is even allowed one fizzy drink a day - sugar-free, of course.
"He likes his food," said his mother, Otilia. "But I am very proud for what he has achieved in the past year."
The Zone Diet is controversial.

Manuel's mother says she is proud of her son's achievement
The American Heart Association doesn't recommend diets high in proteins. It also says there is not enough evidence about the long-term effects of being on the diet.
The Zone Diet's backers say they have a lot of evidence to prove it is safe and that it is not 'high protein', as such.
They say that the amount of protein a person absorbs depends on their height and build. They say that goes for carbohydrate and fat intake as well.
Manuel's weight problems are partly genetic, partly down to overeating.
His scale of morbid obesity puts him in the top half of one percent of overweight people.
Extreme case
Dr Roberto Rumbaut, a surgeon in Mexico who specialises in obesity, puts Manuel's case in perspective.
"Manuel Uribe is an extreme case," he said. "Where the obesity crisis lies is in people who are 13 to 31kg (30 to 70lb) overweight."
Dr Rumbaut said there were 1.6 billion overweight people in the world, of which about 450 million are obese, according to figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Dr Roberto Rumbaut says obesity puts pressure on health services
"It's these people who are putting pressure on health services everywhere," he said.
Dr Rumbaut says it's not just diet that will resolve what has been called the world's "globesity" problem.
"It's the old fashioned stuff like exercise and lifestyle changes," he said.
Back at the house, Manuel sits on the reinforced steel bed that he has not left in six years.
Next to it is a massage machine that he uses to draw the circulation along his limbs. His only movement is to use his hips to swing himself from the lying down position to sitting upright.
New girlfriend
It is a dream of his to walk.
It's a dream shared by his new girlfriend, Claudia, who has helped to wash, feed and encourage him through this last year or so of dramatic weight loss.
"We are very happy for the effort he has been making recently," she said.

Manuel's girlfriend, Claudia, has encouraged him
"Sometimes he is sad and cries because he cannot get off his bed. But he is an example for other obese people to move forward. As he says: 'If I can, you can'."
Alongside his copy of the Guinness World Records lies another text, The Bible.
"I have Claudia, my mother and God to thank," said Manuel. "I am happy."
Still larger than life, but now, the incredible, shrinking, Manuel Uribe.

Today In History

NYSE (1914): Closed due to the outbreak of World War I, but opened again four months later to help the war effort by selling bonds.

Word of The Day

Oldster: An old or elderly person.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

News; Swimming For Survival

Slow-moving turtles might not seem like very exciting racers. But this spring, the first-ever Great Turtle Race will pit migrating leatherback sea turtles against each other in a 750-mile (1,207-kilometer) swim to the Galápagos Islands. The race is part of an effort to educate people about the threats facing sea turtles.

In February, Pacific leatherbacks started swimming their way from Costa Rica, where they nest, to the waters near Ecuador's Galápagos Islands, where they feed on jellyfish. Eleven of these turtles were wearing satellite harnesses that tracked their location.

By using this satellite tracking data, the Great Turtle Race organizers will show online viewers the turtles' journey, starting on April 16 and running through April 29. The winner will be the turtle that swam the farthest.

Each of the 11 burly competitors will have its own sponsor for the broadcast, including big companies like Microsoft and Travelocity. The Los Altos, California, Bullis Charter School is sponsoring a turtle with help from the San Francisco-based Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

The school's sixth-grade class traveled to Costa Rica this February to help researchers study the turtles. Back at school, students from all grades are learning about these big oceangoing reptiles as part of a special course. They're also working on a blog to help kids across the country learn about leatherbacks. The students named their turtle Saphira, after the female dragon from the book Eragon.

Leatherbacks are the biggest sea turtles on Earth, with some weighing in at more than 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms). "They can be the size of your kitchen table," says Lisa Bailey of Conservation International. They're also ancient—leatherbacks have lived on Earth for about 100 million years.

But today they're in trouble. At sea, turtles can get tangled in fishing nets or suffocate on drifting plastic bags, which they mistake for jellyfish. On the beach, bright lights from hotels and houses sometimes confuse both adult females coming ashore to lay their eggs and hatchlings trying to find their way to the ocean.

These and other problems have caused Pacific leatherback sea turtle populations to drop by 90 percent over the past 20 years. "If we don't do something, they'll be gone in ten years," said Bullis Charter School student Talliya Smith, 11. Smith helped release hatchlings and excavate leatherback nests with her classmates at Playa Grande in Costa Rica. 

The migrating leatherbacks swim more than 750 miles (1,207 kilometers) south to the waters around the Galápagos. Some go even farther south to the colder waters off Chile. Cruising at a rate of more than 43 miles (70 kilometers) per day, they make the trip in about two or three weeks. Once they arrive, the turtles dive to depths of more than 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) in search of jellyfish and other food. In four years, when the turtles are ready to nest again, they'll return to Costa Rica, says sea turtle expert James Spotila.

Saphira, the Bullis Charter School's turtle, is a veteran nester. Since researchers first spotted her nesting at Playa Grande in 1995, Saphira has made 25 nests, averaging 55 eggs in each clutch.

Warren Zhang, 11, and his classmates saw Saphira—who is an amazing 56 inches (143 centimeters) long by 41 inches (103 centimeters) wide—while they were out on turtle night patrol at Playa Grande. "The turtle dug its nest in record time," he said.

The satellite tags that Saphira and her ten turtle competitors carry on their journey will help researchers learn more about where leatherback sea turtles go, even after the online race ends. However, her hatchlings' journeys are more mysterious; researchers think hatchlings drift and feed in offshore ocean currents, but little else is known about what they do until they return to nest for the first time at Playa Grande, which can be ten or more years later.

Check up on the turtles at, including picking your pre-race favorite beginning April 5.

Today In History; Death of Rufus Bowen, American Mathematician

1978: Rufus Bowen worked in mathematical dynamics systems theory. His untimely death at age thirty-one cut short his pioneering work, including studies of topological entropy, symbolic dynamics, Markov partitions and invariant measures. His ideas have had lasting importance, inspiring much of today's research. Bowen’s friends and colleagues established the Bowen Lectures as an annual memorial to his life and contributions to mathematics. Each year, the Department of Mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley invites an outstanding mathematician to deliver the Bowen Lectures on important mathematical research topics. 

Word of The Day

Wangle: To adjust or manipulate for personal or fraudulent ends. To make or get by devious means, finagle.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

News; Tigers Cuddle With Apes

Bogor, West Java, in Indonesia

Tigers don't normally snuggle with orangutans. The big cats are meat-eaters, after all. But when Demis and Manis the tiger cubs were rejected by their mother, zookeepers at Taman Safari Zoo thought they might like the company of two other orphan siblings: Nia and Irma the orangutans.

"The first time I put them together, they just played," says zookeeper Sri Suwarni. The four shared toys, wrestled, and took naps together. Then one morning, Nia and Irma began hugging Demis the tiger, and he lick-kissed them back! "That's when I knew they were true friends," Suwarni says.

As the tigers grew, their natural instincts started showing, so Suwarni moved them into a separate exhibit. Now two other apes Suwarni is raising have also made a new friend—a leopard cub.

Today In History; Rasputin, Russian Mystic

1872: Born Gregory Yefimovich in the icy land of Siberia, Rasputin grew up in poverty with a life as harsh as his environment. As a child and young man, he gained a reputation as a mystic and seer, revered by some and feared by others. His reputation grew to that of holy man and followed him to St. Petersburg, where he was introduced to the Romanovs, Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra, the rulers of Russia. Rasputin soon became their friend and confidante, then their most trusted government advisor, eventually wielding absolute power over the Romanovs and over Russia. His power came to an end when he was murdered in December, 1916, by members of the royal family. 

Word of The Day

Impecunious: Having very little or no money usually habitually, penniless.

Friday, July 25, 2008

News; Harriet Tubman, Civil War Spy

Harriet Tubman is well known for risking her life as a “conductor” in the Underground Railroad, which led escaped slaves to freedom in the North. But did you know that the former slave also served as a spy for the Union during the Civil War and was the first woman in American history to lead a military expedition?During a time when women were usually restricted to traditional roles like cooking and nursing, she did her share of those jobs. But she also worked side-by-side with men, says writer Tom Allen, who tells her exciting story in the National Geographic book, Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent. Tubman decided to help the Union Army because she wanted freedom for all of the people who were forced into slavery, not just the few she could help by herself. And she convinced many other brave African Americans to join her as spies, even at the risk of being hanged if they were caught.In one of her most dramatic and dangerous roles, Tubman helped Colonel James Montgomery plan a raid to free slaves from plantations along the Combahee (pronounced “KUM-bee”) River in South Carolina. Early on the morning of June 1, 1863, three gunboats carrying several hundred male soldiers along with Harriet Tubman set out on their mission.Tubman had gathered key information from her scouts about the Confederate positions. She knew where they were hiding along the shore. She also found out where they had placed torpedoes, or barrels filled with gunpowder, in the water.As the early morning fog lifted on some of the South’s most important rice plantations, the Union expedition hit hard. The raiders set fire to buildings and destroyed bridges, so they couldn’t be used by the Confederate Army. They also freed about 750 slaves—men, women, children, and babies—and did not lose one soldier in the attack.Allen, who writes about this adventure and many others, got to know Tubman well through the months of research he did for the book. The historic details he shares bring Tubman and many other important figures of her time to life.To gather the facts, Allen searched libraries and the Internet, and even walked in Tubman’s footsteps. “I went on the river just south of the area where the raid took place,” he says. “You are in that kind of country she would have known, with plenty of mosquitoes and snakes, and there are still dirt roads there today—so you get a feeling of what it was like.”Allen says his most exciting moment came when a librarian led him to written accounts by people who actually saw Tubman and the raiders in action.“She was five feet two inches (157 centimeters) tall, born a slave, had a debilitating illness, and was unable to read or write. Yet here was this tough woman who could take charge and lead men. Put all that together and you get Harriet Tubman. I got to like her pretty quickly because of her strength and her spirit,” Allen says.To find out more about this courageous and adventuresome woman, read the book, Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent.

Today In History; Birthdate of Maxfield Parrish, American Artist

1870: Fred Maxfield Parrish began illustrating children's books in 1897. Many of his book titles became valuable collector’s items and are still sought after by collector’s today. Parrish also illustrated magazine covers for Collier's and Ladies Home Journal. Advertisers eagerly sought his art work for their ads. Parrish easily made the transition from illustration to fine art and many of the world finest art museums have displayed his work. More than a century after his first published images, Maxfield Parrish remains the most reproduced artist in history.

Word of The Day

Bindle Stiff: Hobo; especially: one who carries his clothes or bedding in a bundle.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

News; When Pupils Are Too Shy To Learn

No parent wants their child to be the one left out in the playground - waiting on the sidelines for an invite to join in. 

But many may not realise that being very shy can also mean they miss out on learning too. 

According to the National Education Trust, some children are not benefitting fully from school because they lack the confidence to put up their hands in class. 

It is offering to train schools so they can run their own emotional support programme which helps children develop the resilience and confidence to participate. 

Six and seven-year-olds chosen for the scheme are taken out of their class groups for a 45-minute session once a week for six weeks. 

Angela Jackson, who trains teaching assistants to run the sessions, says they are not aimed at the child who is already seeing an educational psychologist or the one with a recognised learning difficulty. 
 There's nothing wrong with being quiet 
Angela Jackson

"Instead, it's designed for the child that is sitting in the classroom and not attracting much attention," she says. 

"They may have had something happen outside of school - maybe they have moved home or maybe there is a new baby in the family. 

"Or they might just be a bit shy or have difficulty forming relationships." 

Mrs Jackson says there is nothing wrong with being quiet, it is just important that children are able to participate. 

"They may be a perfectly happy child, but if they do not have the confidence to put their hands up and ask questions they are not going to get the full benefit from all that's going on around them," she adds. 

Richard Lee, head teacher of Barford Primary School in Ladywood, Birmingham, said he decided to try the scheme because he had a year group of children with a lot of interesting characters. 

'Clamming up' 

"We thought this would be useful for them because it's all about social interaction and how to relate to their peers and adults. 

"We chose a selection of children who weren't necessarily the most difficult or challenging but would benefit from raising their self-esteem. 

"They might have been classed as your classic wall flowers, or they were stigmatised by a certain type of behaviour. 

"They didn't know that they were being treated any different but they were all taken out of class on a regular basis. 

"They all thoroughly enjoyed it and we saw quite a change throughout the period that we ran the sessions." 

Mr Lee described one child who was very, very shy and had a tendency to clam up. 

"He had a lot to say but he just couldn't get it out in an acceptable manner. He would get it all mixed up in his head and stutter a lot. 

"By the end of the programme, he was the child who could have a full 10 or 20 minute conversation with the rest of a group." 

Another child, Mr Lee recalled, lacked the social skills to interact in class properly. 

Fear of ridicule 

"He wasn't malicious, he was a bit over-enthusiastic, and didn't take his turn to speak. 

"By the end, he could wait and listen and respect other people's points of view." 

And it is not just the children's ability to participate and play by the class rules that improved, they have also shown improvements in their ability to organise themselves and learn in a group effectively. 
  The children are wonderful but they may not necessarily have all the acceptable manners 
Head teacher Richard Lee

The 6s and 7s programme is all about helping children with their social and emotional development so they can make friends and participate in class. 

And by all accounts it seems to work. 

In another school, a year group was assessed for their suitability for the programme against a range of skills and characteristics. 

Those with scores in the middle range were picked for the special classes. 

By the end of the programme, half of those who had been on it had upped their scores to the maximum scores recorded by the year group as a whole. 

Mr Lee concludes: "We are in an inner city school in an area of Birmingham which is pretty deprived. 

"The children are wonderful but they may not necessarily have all the acceptable manners. 

"I've always said you can have the most wonderful teacher, but if they can't manage the class and there isn't that social relationship between the children, then the children won't learn. 

"You have to create a situation where children feel comfortable to speak out and know that they won't be ridiculed by anyone."

Word of The Day

Soupçon: A little bit, trace.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

News; Schools Hunting 'Missing' Papers

Schools in England are trying to track down national curriculum test papers mislaid by the Sats contractor, ETS.

Some have been sent back to the wrong school, but promises that they will be retrieved have not been kept.

Some schools continue to have pupils marked "absent" in the ETS database even though they took the tests.

Conversely the BBC has heard from one that has been allocated marks for two pupils who genuinely were absent.

• The Priory School in Southsea, Hampshire, was unhappy about the consistency of Key Stage 3 English marking. In preparing papers for appeals, staff realised the list of results for the writing test, published by the National Assessment Agency, included scores for two pupils who had not taken it, and who had been recorded as being absent from the room.

Officials are investigating.

• Rose Green Junior School in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, was trying to locate 30 missing English test scripts when it was contacted by Whiteways Junior School in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, which had been sent them.

The National Assessment Agency was told on 15 July and promised to arrange for them to be picked up the same day. The papers were still in Sheffield on 23 July.

• Some schools are invoicing ETS for the time spent dealing with problems with the tests. The head of a large primary in Manchester has sent a bill for £350 with a letter "setting out the more obvious costs in supply cover and admin time in trying to sort this fiasco out".

• Reports continue to come in of missing scripts and questionable marking.

Ian Kendal, head of St Joseph's Catholic primary in Hertford, Hertfordshire, said: "Our Science scripts have not yet been marked. The National Assessment Agency has informed the school that the scripts are not lost; they just don't know where they are!"

Phil Thomas, head of Wey Valley School and Sports College in Weymouth, Dorset, said: "We received the results in a print out four hours before the end of term. This format meant that staff had to retype the data into computers for us to start the analysis.

"Fortunately, the papers arrived the day before so unusual marks cold be investigated. 39 'borderline' level 5 papers have been returned after pages of answers have received no marks and the standard of marking is extremely variable."

• Schools had complained about the deadline for submitting appeals - that is, requests for marking to be reviewed. It had been extended from 18 July to 10 September, but it was pointed out that this was only two days into the new term in some areas.

So it has been further altered to "10 days after the start of their term, or after receipt of both scripts and results, whichever is the later".

Figures published on Tuesday showed that about one in five primary schools still lacked results and almost a quarter of English results for 14-year-olds were missing.

Margaret Morrissey, spokeswoman for the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, said parents felt very let down

"Most feel this has been a total let down. Their kids have been through all this stress, and the parents have been through it too.

"To hear the secretary of state on the radio, when challenged, not going to take responsibility and say it is a matter for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and ETS is not right.

"What's making it even worse is that now all the ministers have gone off on their 11-week summer holidays and parents are at home with children who still haven't got their results."

Today In History; Albert Warner, Founder of Warner Bros.

1884: Albert Warner, who was born in Poland on this day in 1884, founded Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc., with his three brothers. Among the first of the great Holloywood studios, Warner Brothers gave the world the first "talkie" - The Jazz Singer, which starred Al Jolson. Later, the studio produced many of the American film noir classics, such as The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca. In the mid-1990s Warner Brothers founded the WB television network.

Word of The Day

Cyberspace: Coined by William Gibson in his 1984 novel "Neuromancer," it is a futuristic computer network that people use by plugging their minds into it! The term now refers to the Internet or to the online or digital world in general.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

News; Schools Still Wait For SAT Marks

The problems with this year's Sats tests in England show no sign of ending, with the latest update showing many schools are still without marks. A statement from the Schools Secretary Ed Balls shows there has been little more progress in returning missing primary test results. 
About one in five primary schools lacks results and almost a quarter of English results for 14-year-olds are missing. 

There are fears from schools that some test papers have been completely lost. 

Mr Balls says that ministerial intervention or "commentary" on the negotiations between the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and the private tests contractor, ETS, "would be totally inappropriate". 


Speaking to the House of Commons, Mr Balls repeated that responsibility for the problems lay with the QCA and ETS and declined to apologise.

The schools secretary said that he had been advised that marking quality was as good as in previous years so publication of the results would go ahead. 

Mr Balls said the deadline for appeals against marking had been extended to 10 September, or 10 days after the start of the autumn term. 

Shadow schools secretary Michael Gove accused Mr Balls of having failed to intervene when there had been warning signs of problems. 

"Is it not the case that he failed to make sure contracts had been awarded properly, failed to heed warning signs and failed to act quickly to avert a fiasco which every teacher in the land could see coming?" 

The Liberal Democrats' schools spokesman, David Laws, said this year's tests remained a "shambles" - and warned that assurances over the quality of marking were "complacent and premature". 

The statement from Mr Balls sets out the latest figures for the return of the delayed test results for 11 and 14-year-olds - which should have been delivered to pupils a fortnight ago. 

These show that there has been some catching up on the return of English results to secondary school pupils - with 77% of marks published compared with 71% last week. 

For maths tests for 14-year-olds, 94% of results have been published and 93% in science. 

However there has been little apparent progress in the return of missing primary school test results - with 98% of all results published, similar to the position at the end of last week. 

This means that about one in five primary schools will have ended the school year without a complete set of marks for English, maths and science. 

'Extreme disappointment' 

One of the primary schools still waiting for their results is St Augustine's primary school in Weymouth - in the constituency of Schools Minister Jim Knight.

Head teacher Stephen Mason says that since the first missed deadline he has been chasing missing English test results - but on Tuesday, the last day of term and the last chance to give results to the 11-year-olds in person - the results have still not been returned. 

Writing to parents and pupils about his "extreme disappointment", Mr Mason said: "I can only apologise on the government's behalf for the way in which all your hard work has been treated. 

"I promise to give you the English marks as soon as we receive them. 

"I want to thank you for the way in which you approached these tests last May. Your conduct, preparation and hard work made your teacher and I extremely proud." 

Mr Mason says that when he contacted the ETS helpline on Tuesday morning he wanted to know if the test papers had been lost. 

He says he was told that they were not lost but they might have been "mislaid". 

A spokesman for ETS told the BBC most of the work being carried out now for primary school test papers involved putting the marks into its results database, rather than actual marking of test scripts.

Today In History; Edward Hopper, Artist

1882: July 22, 1882, was the birthdate of the American painter Edward Hopper (Early Sunday Morning, 1938; Night Hawks, 1942). Hopper, who was associated with the American realist painters known as the Ash Can School, exhibited alongside the French Impressionists and others at the landmark New York City Armory show in 1913. Like the Impressionists, he was a master of light. However, his realistic subjects were ordinary people whose isolation often moves the viewer to melancholy.

Word of The Day

Caustic: Capable of destroying or eating away by chemical action: corrosive, marked by incisive sarcasm.

Monday, July 21, 2008

News; Interview With Zeb Hogan, Aquatic Ecologist And National Geographic Emerging Explorer

Aquatic ecologist Zeb Hogan travels around the world, striving to save critically endangered fish and the livelihood of people who share their habitats. Get to know the man behind the megafishes.

Q: What were you like as a kid?
Hogan: My brothers and I grew up in a city (Tempe, Arizona), but we had a big backyard with lost of trees. We spent our free time climbing trees and catching lizards. We each had our favorite place in the biggest tree and we worked out ways to climb from tree to tree to tree without ever touching the ground. My family went camping in the summer and we'd usually visit zoos and aquariums on our family vacations. My clearest memories as a child all have to do with animals and the outdoors. As I got older, I became fascinated with animal shows on public television and I'd wake up early to watch Wild, Wild World of Animals before the rest of the family got up.

Q: Do you have a hero?
Hogan: I know it'll sound like a cliché, but as a kid I loved hearing about Jacques Cousteau. My mom bought me one of his books and I read it over and over again. I also liked how in his early shows, he focused more on catching (and killing) fish, but as he got older (and other members of his family got involved in his work) they changed from wanting to catch the fish to trying to protect them. Nowadays my heroes are people who are obviously passionate about their work and those who are working, in their own way, to make the world a better place. Personally, I have a special feeling for anyone who loves rivers and aquatic life and I guess one role model is the late Ransom A. Myers, who was a dedicated biologist and conservationist. Honestly though, I am even more impressed by everyday people that I meet who show a love for animals and the environment. It's obvious that biologists will care about living things but what we really need is more non-biologists who take an interest in protecting our natural world. Kids are great in the sense that they have a love and a curiosity about animals and the outdoors that somehow we lose as adults.

Q: What do you daydream about?
Hogan: This summer I have been daydreaming a lot about my garden. I planted it a month ago. It has tomatoes, peppers, chilies, eggplant, herbs, cucumbers, watermelons, and pumpkin. It hasn't started producing vegetables yet. I find myself daydreaming about picking vegetables and also simple things, like which plants need water or which plants are sick. It's an obsession really.

Q: How did you get into your field of work?
Hogan: The simple answer to that question is: I've always done what I love, which led to where I am now. Whenever I've had choices, I've chosen the path that made me excited, that interested me more, or that piqued my curiosity. I'm hesitant to recommend that approach though, because there is hard work involved and not everything that I've ever done has been enjoyable. Plus, I probably would have benefited from a little more hard work in my life, if you know what I mean. (I'm a little lazy.) Still, in a world where it's difficult to know what to do or where life may take you, following your heart isn't a bad approach.

I followed a very typical path for an academic research scientist. I received a Bachelor's degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona, participated in the Fulbright Program as an exchange student to Thailand, studied for a Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis in their Graduate Group in Ecology, and then continued as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. While not all students need to follow this exact path, it is important for all aspiring aquatic ecologists to receive good grades and have a relatively well-articulated idea of their research interests.

Q: What's a normal day like for you?
Hogan: It's hard to describe a typical day because every day is different. When I am in my office at the university, I spend my time reading and responding to emails, making plans, buying equipment, meeting with students, attending seminars, writing reports, submitting grants, and preparing scientific manuscripts.

When I am in the field, I spend almost all of my time on or near the water. In Southeast Asia, most of my field sites are near populated areas and I rely on fishers to help gather the information that I need. In Cambodia, I stay in Phnom Penh and usually go to the river twice a day (once in the morning and once in the evening). We own a small boat and take it along the river to meet with as many fishers as possible. If the fishers catch an endangered fish, we work with them to get the fish tagged and released back into the water. I also interview all the fishers that I meet to ask them about their catches and the abundance of endangered species. By evening, my team and I usually return to a hotel or guesthouse in a town or village on the riverside. In Mongolia, we work with recreational fishers to gather information about the ecology of the world's largest trout. In a typical day, we wake up at 7 a.m., go out on the river about 9 a.m., spend the day tagging and releasing fish, return to camp at 6 p.m., clean up, and eat. At night, we take care of work-related chores (charge batteries, enter data, fix equipment, make calls by satellite phone) and prepare for the next day. Working in Mongolia is especially interesting because we live in Mongolian yurts, eat traditional food, and rely on solar energy to power our equipment. Temperature can drop to zero degrees late in the season, so it is sometimes a challenge just to keep our equipment and ourselves in good condition.

Since the National Geographic Society funds most of my work, I also spend some of my time working with them to produce news stories or shows for television. I enjoy working with National Geographic because it gives me a chance to share my experiences with a large number of people that might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about threatened fish and their habitats.

Q: What do you do for fun or to be silly?
Hogan: Mostly I do what everyone else does, hang out with their friends, watch movies, read, work in my garden, mountain bike, hike, and swim. I also spend a lot of my free time with activities semi-related to my work—helping other scientists with their projects, visiting aquariums, viewing fish at dams and fish ladders, fishing, watching other people fish, or just sitting by on the river bank and watching the world go by.

Q: If you were a fish, what kind would you want to be?
Hogan: The kind that people don't eat! Fish in most parts of the world have a tough life. Fish like the Mekong giant catfish, the Chinese paddlefish, and the Murray cod are in danger of extinction and have to deal with all kinds of challenges. They have to deal with water pollution, avoid being caught and eaten, navigate around dams and irrigation canals (often impossible), and find a mate. It's nearly impossible for them to survive. So…if I had to be a fish I'd like to be a giant Eurasian trout living in a remote area. The giant Eurasian trout live in the clear waters of northern Mongolia and can live over 50 years. The only downside is that they have to live under ice for half the year when the river is frozen. It would also be fun to be a giant grouper or even a great white shark, as long as there weren't any humans around to catch me.

Q: What's the best place you've ever traveled to?
Hogan: The Okavango Delta in Botswana. But you don't have to travel all the way across the world to see beautiful places. Some of my favorite spots are in the U.S.A.—the slot canyons of northern Arizona and southern Utah, the freshwater springs of central Florida, the Yuba River in California, the swimming holes around Eugene, Oregon, and the Hudson River in New York State are also wonderful.

Q: What's the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you that you can share with others?
Hogan: Terry Goddard, a former mayor of the city of Phoenix once told me, "You aren't pushing yourself hard enough or taking enough risks unless you fail 50 percent of the time." While I don't agree with him 100 percent, I like the saying, because it means it's okay to take risks, it's okay to fail. I think that those have been important lessons for me and remembering his words helps ease the pain that I feel when I'm not successful.

Q: Do you like to swim? What's your favorite swimming stroke?
Hogan: I love swimming! I love any kind of swimming and love to do it anywhere. I like free style swimming, breaststroke, and doggy paddling. I like to see how long I can hold my breath and I love to SCUBA dive. I love the water!

Today In History; Ernest Hemingway, Author

1899: American author Ernest Hemingway was born on this day in 1899. Hemingway used his experiences as a battlefield ambulance driver and a globe-trotting reporter to create works such as A Farewell to Arms, Islands in the Stream, and The Old Man and the Sea. His simple, straightforward language and rugged, disillusioned heroes struck a chord with the post- WWI audience, called the Lost Generation, and still appeal to readers today.

Word of The Day

Epigone: Follower, disciple; also: an inferior imitator.

Friday, July 18, 2008

News; Unsafe Chargers 'Flooding' The UK

Hundreds of thousands of unsafe chargers for mobile phones, games consoles and music devices could have made their way into the UK. 

Trading standards officers studying dangerous chargers being imported from China say vast numbers are available on the internet and in shops. 

Their tests show one brand can overheat or cause electrocution. 

One of the chargers concerned has the code marking DE62347066. Others have no code and are called Travel Charger. 

Safety concerns 
  The UK appears to be flooded with them 
Chris Holden
Trading Standards

A specific warning has already been issued about chargers for Nintendo DS and DS Lite machines, but which could also be used to charge Gameboy machines. 

Trading standards officers are trying to recall the chargers. 

But Chris Holden, senior trading standards officer at Buckinghamshire County Council, told the BBC that investigations were shedding light on a much bigger problem. 

Some chargers carry a CE safety mark which officers believe to be fake. 

"The UK appears to be flooded with them. It probably runs into hundreds of thousands or even millions," Mr Holden said. 

Poor quality 

Mr Holden said that the chargers were being sold for about £5 on the internet and about £6 in shops. Safe chargers, which have been checked properly, retail for around £15. 

Officers have primarily found unsafe chargers for use with games consoles, although others are available to use with music devices and mobile phones. 

Wires become detached after being used for a while leading to a risk of electric shocks. The pins do not fit properly into UK sockets causing overheating. 

Numerous suppliers were bringing them into the UK, Mr Holden said. 

Concerns were raised about the safety of chargers 18 months ago following the death of British boy Connor Dean O'Keeffe. 

The seven-year-old was found dead by his mother on the floor of an apartment in Thailand during a holiday after using his games console charger.

Today In History; Great Fire of Rome Begins

64: According to Roman historian Tacitus, the Great Fire began on July 18 in the market district and then spread to the hills, helped by gangs of looters with torches. Tacitus describes the efforts of Emperor Nero to help those left homeless but also mentions the rumor that the mad ruler retired to his private theater to sing and play a stringed instrument while the fire raged.

Word of The Day

Piscine: Of, relating to, or characteristic of a fish or fishes.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

News; Say Goodbye To The Computer Mouse

It's nearly 40 years old but one leading research company says the days of the computer mouse are numbered. 

A Gartner analyst predicts the demise of the computer mouse in the next three to five years. 

Taking over will be so called gestural computer mechanisms like touch screens and facial recognition devices. 

"The mouse works fine in the desktop environment but for home entertainment or working on a notebook it's over," declared analyst Steve Prentice. 

He told BBC News that his prediction is driven by the efforts of consumer electronics firm which are making products with new interactive interfaces inspired by the world of gaming . 
Guitar Hero has been praised for its innovative interfaces

"You've got Panasonic showing forward facing video in the home entertainment environment. Instead of using a conventional remote control you hold up your hand and it recognises you have done that," he said. 

"It also recognises your face and that you are you and it will display on your TV screen your menu. You can move your hand to move around and select what you want," he added. 

"Sony and Canon and other video and photographic manufacturers are using face recognition that recognises your face in real time," he said. "And it recognises even when you smile." 

"You even have emotive systems where you can wear a headset and control a computer by simply thinking and that's a device set to hit the market in September." 

"This" Mr Prentice said, "is all about using computer power to do things smarter." 

Greatly exaggerated 

Naturally enough those in the business of making mice are not wholly in agreement that the end is nigh. 

"The death of the mouse is greatly exaggerated," said Rory Dooley senior vice president and general manager of Logitech's control devices unit. 
Microsoft has said touch screens will be all pervasive

Logitech is the world's biggest manufacturer of mice and keyboards and has sold more than 500 million mice over the last 20 years. 

"This just proves how important a device the mouse is," said Mr Dooley. 

But he also agreed that the number of ways people can interact with a computers were rising and that his own company was manufacturing many of them. 

"People have been talking about convergence for years," he said. "Today's TV works as a computer and today's computer works as a TV. 

"The devices we use have been modified for our changing lifestyles but it doesn't negate the value of the mouse," Mr Dooley explained. 


The mouse was invented by Dr Douglas Engelbart while working for the Stanford Research Institute. He never received any royalties for the invention partly because his patent ran out in 1987 before the PC revolution made the mouse indispensible. 

With a 40 year anniversary planned for later in the year, Mr Dooley said Gartner's prediction for the mouse was too gloomy given that the developing world has still to get online. 
The Wii has changed ideas about how we interact with computers

"The mouse will be even more popular than it is today as a result," he suggested. 

"Bringing technology, education and information to these parts of the world will be done by accessing web browsers and doing that in the ways that we are familiar with today and that is using a mouse. 

"There are around one billion people online but the world's population is over five billion," he said. 


So just how ready are people to wave their hands in the air or make faces at devices with embedded video readers? 

Gartner's Mr Prentice says millions are already doing it thanks to machines like Nintendo's Wii and smartphones like the iPhone. 

"With the Wii you point and shake and it vibrates back at you so you have a two-way relationship there. 

"The new generation of smart phones like the iPhone all now have tilting mechanisms or you can shake the device to do one or more things. 

"Even the multi-touch interface is so much more powerful and flexible than in the past allowing you to zoom in, scroll quickly or contract images." 

For those who lament the demise of such tried and tested pieces of hardware, Mr Prentice did concede that the keyboard was here to stay for the foreseeable future. 

"For all its faults, the keyboard will remain the primary text input device," he said. "Nothing is easily going to replace it. But the idea of a keyboard with a mouse as a control interface is the paradigm that I am talking about breaking down."