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Saturday, December 31, 2005

What Happens When Father Time Melds With The New Year's Baby

100 New Things We Learned in 2005

The BBC is reporting that there are 100 things we didn't know last year. While most of the things that we are credited with knowing now like number five on their list, are just curiousities:

"'Nicole Kidman is scared of butterflies. "I jump out of planes, I could be covered in cockroaches, I do all sorts of things, but I just don't like the feel of butterflies' bodies," she says.'''

Some can give you pause to think, take number two for example:

"Mohammed is now one of the 20 most popular names for boys born in England and Wales. " Interestingly, Islam is the second largest religion in France, also.

If you are interested in seeing what made their list the article is here. One that I enjoyed was 19:

"The = sign was invented by 16th Century Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde, who was fed up with writing "is equal to" in his equations. He chose the two lines because "noe 2 thynges can be moare equalle"."'

I wonder if someone didn't know that before 2005, oh well their list is interesting.

Resolutions for 2006

Soon 2006 is going to roll around. It is my resolution to never write 2005 as a date in the new year. This is going to be difficult because at sometime or another I have always written the previous year's date. I have decided to make ten resolutions for the new year. And I am going to post them here for all to check on me.

1. I resolve to be kind to others. To treat people with respect to call them Sir and Miss even if they are younger than me. (not hard I do that already)

2. I resolve to help anyone I see in distress even if it is an inconvenience to me. And if I can assist someone who needs help, I will. (this is really easy to do, and the reward is self serving, more pleasurable than ice cream)

3. I resolve to always tell the truth as I see it. (Again this is easier than it seems. The only times I am tempted to lie is not to hurt someone elses feelings. When I am tempted I refrain from saying anything at all) The truth has served me well in life even when I had to admit that I was wrong in doing something.

4. I will volunteer time for causes to help others. (This will be more difficult for me, I will have to find a venue that helps me remain anonymous)

5. I resolve to travel more, to see new places, and revisit some old places.

6. I resolve to find value in all people, no matter what there station is in life. And try to learn from what they have to offer even if I do not agree with their ideas.

7. I resolve to help others find the value in giving, which is more rewarding than the receiving.

8. I resolve to know that there are things that I cannot understand about people. I do not understand the reason of some actions, and realize that people form their thoughts different than I do.

9. I resolve to notice things that skip my attention at times. The small details that make up the whole. I will look beyond some of the ugliness I see, and focus on the beauty that surrounds in nature.

10. I plan to be kinder to myself. To invent the better pizza, I make for myself. To indulge myself with pleasures that I have previously denied myself. And to share what I find enjoyable with others.

The hardest resolution I made was in the introduction. To break the force of habit of writing 2005, change can be hard, no matter what your resolution.

Lads and Lassies, Do ye ken the real words to Auld Lang Syne?

Every New Year's Eve, people all over the country try to sing this song and louse it up pretty badly. Most simply do not know the words, or do not know the correct pronunciation, etc

The Scottish blood in my veins will not satisifed if I don't try to help this in some fashion. I will be talking more about the author of this song, Scotland's National Poet, Robert Burns, later in January, but for are the complete words to Auld Lang Syne. Learn them and amaze your friends and family.

Yours Aye

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o'kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.


We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,
Sin' auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.


And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.



auld lang syne - times gone by
be - pay for
braes - hills
braid - broad
burn - stream
dine - dinner time
fiere - friend
fit - foot
gowans - daisies
guid-willie waught - goodwill drink
monie - many
morning sun - noon
paidl't - paddled
pint-stowp - pint tankard
pou'd - pulled
twa - two

And in a related note....Hangover cures....they aren't

Revelers toasting to the holidays can't count on drugs or herbal concoctions to cure their hangovers, British researchers report.

"No compelling evidence exists to suggest that any conventional or complementary intervention is effective for preventing or treating alcohol hangover," concludes a team led by Max Pittler, a research fellow in Complementary Medicine at Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth.

Their less-than-inspiring advice? Practice either abstinence or moderation when the glasses are being filled.

A second study may provide some help with moderation: It found that people tend to consume a smaller amount of liquor from tall, skinny glasses than from short, squat ones — even when the two receptacles are designed to hold the same amount of liquid.

Both reports appear in the Dec. 24/31 issue of the British Medical Journal.

In the first study, Pittler's team gathered data from eight trials that looked at medical treatment for preventing or treating hangovers.

The trials tested eight different agents: propranolol (an antihypertensive drug), tropisetron (a drug for nausea and vertigo), tolfenamic acid (a painkiller), fructose or glucose sugars, and the dietary supplements borage, artichoke, prickly pear.

Most of these trials found no beneficial effects for these agents on hangover, although borage, a yeast-based preparation, and tolfenamic acid did show some benefit.

Drinking may be fun for a while, but it comes with a price that may be unavoidable, one expert said.

"The supply of folklore remedies for hangover is virtually limitless," said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. "The best way to contend with hangover is not to get one, by practicing abstinence or moderation."

However, many rational approaches to avoiding or reversing hangover have simply not been formally tested, Katz said. "There is some evidence that dehydration is part of the hangover syndrome, so drinking plenty of non-alcoholic beverages, particularly water, before, during and after a holiday indulgence may help."

"In addition, spacing out alcohol consumption will allow your body's enzymes a better chance to keep up, and likely reduce toxic side effects," Katz said. "A simple strategy to accomplish both is to alternate alcoholic beverages with something like seltzer."

Another study in the same journal finds the shape of the glass helps determine the size of the drink.

A research team led by Brian Wansink, chairman of marketing and applied economics at Cornell University, and his colleagues found that people pour 20 percent to 30 percent more alcohol into short, wide glasses than they do into tall, narrow ones of the same volume.

However, they believe that tall glasses hold more, Wansink said. Even professional bartenders pour more into short, wide glasses than into highball glasses, they found.

"If a person wants to limit how much they consume, it's better if you pour into a tall, skinny glass," Wansink said. "If as a host you want to limit what people drink, you better use tall, skinny glasses. You will be less likely to pour too much," he added

For more on hangovers go to The National Library of Medicine

Good Luck Around the World


Yellow underwear, broken china, eating lasagna — all are good luck traditions to ring in the new year, but before you break plates and hit Victoria's Secret, familiarize yourself with where in the world to go to share the luck in 2006. Around the globe, people celebrate the coming of a new year with traditions specific to their country. Although the celebrations are not always held on the same day, they often include religious ceremonies, costume parties, parades, and good luck charms said to bring fortune, luck and love in the new year.

Tradition Around the World

- Venezuela:
Wear yellow underwear for good luck. Venezuelans also write wishes in a letter and burn it so they come true.

- Brazil:
Jump seven ocean waves and your wishes may come true. Citizens of Rio de Janeiro also throw flowers into the water as an offering to the Goddess of the Seas.

- Mexico:
Eat 12 grapes and make 12 wishes (one for each gong on the clock at midnight.) And if you're looking for love, Mexicans opt for red underwear.

- Ecuador:
To forget the old year, people create a dummy and stuff it with old newspapers and firecrackers. At midnight, each family lights the dummy on fire and as it goes up in smoke, the firecrackers also go off to add to the festivities.

- South America:
On New Year's Day, most people make a habit of eating black-eyed peas and turnip greens (to bring good fortune and plenty of money.)

- Lithuania:
Single women put 12 men's names on slips of paper, plus one blank slip of paper under the pillow. When they wake up the following morning, they select one of the slips of paper, which means that is the person they will marry.

- Sicily, Italy:
Eating pasta in Italy doesn't sound very unusual, but Sicilians always ring in the new year with a plate of lasagna for good luck.

- England:
The first visitor on New Year's Day will bring you luck — good or bad.

- Denmark:
Danes horde old plates to throw at friends' houses. They believe that broken china means more friends.

- France:
There's a fair amount of champagne drinking and screaming on New Year's Eve, but for many French people the new year officially begins by eating king cake, "Galette des Rois," on the holiday known as Epiphany. Epiphany, which celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings to pay homage to Baby Jesus, is honored in most parts of France on the first Sunday of January. The almond-paste round cake is cut into pieces and distributed by a child hiding under the table. Whoever finds "la fève" — the charm hidden inside — is king or queen for the day and can choose a partner.

- Vancouver, British Columbia:
Take a dip in the English Bay with the Polar Bear Club to wash the year's sins away.

- Japan:
On New Year's Eve, bells are rung 108 times to chase away 108 troubles. The Japanese all laugh after the gongs because it's believed that sharing a chuckle will drive away the bad spirits.

- China:
The Chinese New Year (slated for Jan. 29, 2006) is the first day of the lunar calendar, so it is also called the Lunar New Year. This holiday trumps all other holidays in China, and the festivities last 15 days. New Year Eve's dinner has lots of symbolic meaning. Eating dumplings implies wealth because they have the shape of ancient Chinese gold or silver ingots. Everyone, even kids, drinks a little liquor, which is a symbol of longevity. People also give each other red envelopes with money in it, a symbol of luck and wealth.

- United States:
Wild cheers at the stroke of midnight is believed to ward off evil spirits. Chase the bad away and ring in the new! Kissing your loved one ensures that friendly ties will grace you and the person for the next 12 months.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Ancient "Weapons Factory" Found on Connecticut Ridge

According to the National Geographic News, about 3,000 years ago, a group of hunters perched on a ridge near what is now New Haven Harbor in Connecticut and fashioned quartz into projectile points.

The points were likely intended to form the lethal end of an atlatl, or spear-thrower, dart.

If you recall, I did an article about the atlatl on Dec 15 .

A skillful stalker could wield the weapon, which predated the bow and arrow, with enough force and accuracy to send a dart into a deer, turkey, or other small prey.

Those ancient hunter-gatherers have since vanished, but the quartz artifacts survive on the ridge, known as West Rock.

Michael J. Rogers, associate professor of anthropology at Southern Connecticut State University and his student, Nancy Parsons, have found almost 5,000 stone artifacts at the site, including several unfinished points and at least one unbroken dart point.

The discovery reveals the importance of stone ridges to the hunter-gatherers of 3,000 to 4,000 years ago and adds details to the sparse knowledge of the Late Archaic period of North America.

The find also hints that dozens or hundreds of similar sites probably lie inaccessible under parking lots and buildings across the Northeast United States.

Human Hands

Rogers and his students found the site after first consulting Cosimo Sgarlata, now a graduate student at the City University of New York, who had discovered other archaeological sites in the West Rock area.

"West Rock was of central importance," Sgarlata said. "By the Late Archaic, people had become more specialized, and the population grew, so they wanted to exploit all resources of the environment."

The till topping the ridge is a jumble of clay, sand, silt, rocks, and boulders. While walking a path, Rogers and Parsons spotted a few small pieces of quartz that had been shaped by human hands—and their excavation began.

Parsons has now cataloged and recorded the location and type of every stone uncovered at the site. Since last fall, Parsons and assistants have excavated to a depth of about 1.5 feet (46 centimeters) through countless shallow scrapings.

For the rest of the article, go to The National Geographic News

Generate a Resolution For 2006

If you are planning to make some resolutions for the new year, but just can't decide what resolution you want to make. Here is a little help. Click Get Your Resolution, and one will be made for you. If you keep it that's up to you, as are all your other resolutions.

In the year 2006 I resolve to:

Invent a better pizza.

Get your resolution here

My resolution to invent a better pizza was quite appropriate. My idea of a good pizza is a 68 cent Mr P Pizza doctored with pepperoni and added cheese, and a couple slices of onion.

Gamers: Here is the Link to The Top Five Freeware Site

I am not being particularly into games, if I play a game it is usually Literati (scrabble) that can be found on Yahoo. Yahoo offers the game in many languages including German and Italian. You can find people playing there who are word buffs and some that just want to make friends.

I have run across a site that offers you links to what they have chosen as the best freeware games on the internet.

There are actually more than 5 games here, if you look through the comments readers have left their suggestions.

If games appeal to you you may want to check out this site.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


According to modern folklore, when there are two Full Moons in a month, we call the second a Blue Moon. Question: what do you call it when there are two New Moons in a month?

It's about to happen. On Dec. 31st, New Year's Eve, the moon will be new for the second time this month. (The first time was Dec. 1st.) Double new moons occur about once every 2.5 years, the same frequency as Blue Moons.

For more info on the various types of moons and a really cool picture gallery of Auroras (aka Northern Lights) visit

Some News of the Weird Newsbytes

Everything You Know About Art Is Wrong

The genesis of those dogs-playing-poker paintings is the series of nine 1903 originals by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, and in February, two of them were sold by the Doyle New York auction house for a total of $590,400.

St. Petersburg Times, March 4

The Laws of Irony Are Strictly Enforced

In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, in response to the question whether President Bush is a "uniter" or a "divider," 49 percent of Americans said uniter, and 49 percent said divider.

CNN, Jan. 19

As a registered sex offender in California, James Andrew Crawford was required to notify authorities if he adopted a new "domicile" for more than five days. He was arrested in May for noncompliance after he had been camped for two weeks in a theater line waiting for "Star Wars: Episode III" to open.

North County Times (Escondido, Calif.), May 19

Virginia capital-murder inmate Daryl Atkins, who had previously registered an IQ lower than the minimum-70 needed for execution, scored a 76, and a jury then sent him to death row. Legal experts attributed the improvement in IQ to the intellectual stimulation Atkins received from discussing his case with lawyers.

ABC News-AP, Aug. 14

New World Order

The communist government of China presented its quinquennial Vanguard (or Model) Worker award (in the past, given to loyal factory workers, dedicated public-outhouse stewards and the like) to Yao Ming, the Houston Rockets' basketball player who earns about $15 million a year playing and endorsing products -- about 15,000 times what the average urban Chinese worker makes.

Washington Post, April 29

Tackling the Hard Issues

Oklahoma state Sen. Frank Shurden proposed legislation to revive the "sport" of cockfighting, which the state outlawed in 2002, but to make it more rooster-friendly, he suggested the birds wear tiny boxing gloves instead of razor cleats and wear fencing-type electronic vests to record hits.

Chicago Tribune-AP, Jan. 28

Don't Know Much About History

The Kansas City Star, reporting on a Missouri legislative debate on the Confederate flag, quoted Rep. Jim Avery that the 1803 Louisiana Purchase involved a battle with France, instead of a land sale: "Well, we fought over it. We fought over it, right? ... You don't think there were any lives lost in that? It was a friendly thing?" (And Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick told a middle-school class that the U.S. Congress is different from the Texas legislature, in that in Washington there are "454" members on the House side and "60" in the Senate.)

Kansas City Star, May 9
Austin American-Statesman, April 16

The Jeb Bush Administration Is Also Skeptical of the Geneva Conventions

Laura and Edmund Gerstein, keen to save their beloved grapefruit tree from Florida's citrus canker eradication program, claimed immunity for the tree under the 1949 Geneva Conventions (the paragraph on protecting crops needed for civilians' survival during wartime, in that, said Edmund, "As I understand it, (the U.S.) is in a state of war"). Responded a state Department of Agriculture spokesman, "That tree will be coming down."

South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 5

Bringing New Meaning to Ticket-Scalping

Reba Schappell, of Reading, Pa., a professional country music singer who is also a conjoined-at-the-head twin with sister Lori, told a BBC radio audience, "When I am singing, Lori is like any other fan, except she's up on the stage with me (covered by a blanket to reduce the distraction)." Said Lori: "I do not ask for anything from Reba. I don't get in to her concerts free just because she's a conjoined twin. I have to pay, just like every other fan ...."

BBC News, Sept. 21

Reader Advisory: Not to Be Read by the Squeamish

Among the most frightening occasions celebrated in 2005: The world's first "international festival of mimes," in Shfaram, Israel; the convention of Clowns of America in Grand Rapids, Mich., with 300 in attendance; and two attempts, in Kimberly, British Columbia, and St. John's, Newfoundland, at shattering the world record for the number of people simultaneously playing accordions for a half-hour (644 in Kimberly, eclipsed by 989 in St. John's). (Yedioth Aharonoth, Tel Aviv), April 11
Grand Rapids Press, April 22
Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Aug. 11
Canadian Press, Aug. 6

The Cop Wanted Credit for Two Collars

Transsexual prostitute Monica Renee Champion, 37, was picked up by police in Richmond, Va., after arrest warrants for indecent exposure had been issued against her in the city's South Side, as a male, and in the North Side, as a female.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Aug. 27

Adventures of the Too-Easily-Dissatisfied

Dallas artist James Sooy, weary of his eyeglasses slipping, had a bar inserted through the bridge of his nose and his spectacles affixed to it. Sooy seemed to believe there was money to be made with the idea, but an optometrist pointed out the difficulty in adjusting prescriptions "if you have a hole in your face."

Houston Chronicle, Feb. 23

The Oregon board that enforces teachers' standards and practices put Central Linn High School coach, teacher and dean of students Scott Reed on two years' probation after he admitted licking blood from the wounds of at least three students, though, after a hearing, the board was still unclear on his motive.

Associated Press, Aug. 4

If you are still a glutton for more punishment, you can find it here

Lynchburg Mayor Hutcherson Indicted: A Kettle of Fish

The Daily Press is reporting:

Today Mayor Hutcherson went to court in Roanoke and appeared before Judge Turk, in what appears to be a case that will challenge you to suspend your imagination.

There is little that is not being challenged. Even the place where the trial will be held is still up for debate. Can a jury be seated in Lynchburg? The Federal prosecutors are contending it will be difficult. The defense is saying they are sure he could get a fair trial anywhere.

First lets say the Mayor has said he is entirely innocent of the seven count indictment, which includes charges of sifting from a charity for his own benefit, and taking from two on Social Security Disability for his own purposes. He denies these charges. It is our hope that if he is innocent he totally redeems his name. If not, he should be held accountable. We do not need a Mayor or a Reverend in our city who has made such a legal and moral breach of trust to the people he serves. There is a greater reckoning he has to deal with, his conscience and his God.

It is one thing to be declared not guilty in a court of law. Perhaps, you can escape the consequences if you fall into the shadow the doubt. But morally can you find the self justification that even if you clear your name legally, did you do it morally?

The challenges go farther on just what will be the venue of the court. Lynchburg or elsewhere, the Mayor is certain to face the charges. Each side has asked for the attorneys be removed from the case. The defense has even asked the charges be dropped.

This from the Daily Press:

"Judge James Turk scheduled a Feb. 1 hearing on motions, which include a move to disqualify attorneys on both sides. Defense attorney John Fishwick also filed a motion this week to dismiss the case, or at least the charge of obstruction of justice, because of "prosecutorial misconduct" and irregularities in the yearlong grand jury proceedings."

How things will proceed from here is up to speculation. We are, however, wanting to hear if Mayor Hutcherson clears his name when he has his day in court.

To read all our posts on Carl Hutcherson go here.

Google Labs is Getting Silly

The Official Google Blog is reporting:
I generally keep up with Google to see what they are coming up with next. Its almost a daily event that Google just comes out with something new. They are unrestrained by the normal conventions of a normal work week. Twenty percent of an employees time can be spent on anything they choose.

Now, a 1/4 ton of silly putty has arrived at the Google Complex. Will this lead to some super secret application that we have all been waiting for? Only a short period of time will tell.

Wanted Ad: Results in 50 Felons Off the Street

News Channel 3 in the Hampton Roads is reporting:

"Hampton Police took out the add, listing the names of fugitives wanted for committing felonies ranging from shoplifting to murder. They tried to serve nearly 600 warrants. By the end of just one day, they had arrested at least 50 fugitives."

We have reported in the past how child support abusers have been exposed on a full page ad in the Hampton Roads. That effort quickly spread to other localities, such as Richmond and Roanoke. We are still expecting that one day soon The News and Daily Advance will be posting a full page ad for abusers in our locality.

Now, Hampton Roads is again making headlines for a full page ad on rounding up felons. The results have been effective in getting loose felons off the street. A public service to all of us. Would it not be great if local newspapers offered this service to the police and social services for free? Full page ads are not cheap, and there is news value in the ads. At least offering a very reduced rate would seem appropriate. Perhaps, The News and Advance could take the lead in offering this to Social Services and the Police.

They would have to weight the idea on a balance of public service verses ad revenue. But they would gain more respect if they did this as a public service, and it would increase their circulation.

In any case, Channel 3 in the Hampton Roads is also reporting:

"When you put the intensity into it like we've done tonight, and like Newport News did in the past, where you bring in a lot of officers from different areas to do nothing but go out and look for these folks, you're going to have success," Lt. Gillis said.

"And we've had good success today, and I think other cities will take note of that and probably put together similar programs."

Ya Know...There Are Just Some Things City Police Don't Have to Deal With...

In a previous post by DL Ennis, I mentioned that years ago, while working as a Police Officer at the Wintergreen Ski Resort in Nelson County VA, I often had to respond to "bear in the dumpster" calls. Like I said in my comment, we would just pull up and burp the siren and the bears would usually run away, no harm no foul. a story from the Chanute Tribune, in Chanute, Kansas, the local constabulary apparently have more experience in this area. Read the story and then pay close attention to the very last line (no peeking).

A family's pet bear may have outworn its welcome in Neosho County after repeatedly escaping from its cage and attacking a sheriff's deputy's patrol car last week.

Sheriff Jim Keath said Deputy Matt Bogle responded to a call the evening of Dec. 19 about a bear damaging property.

After making his report, Bogle went next door to where the bear lives and saw that it was loose and not in its cage. He ran back to his patrol car, where the bear followed and climbed up on the driver's side. After the bear grabbed the driver's side mirror, Bogle rolled down the window and began hitting the bear's nose with a flashlight.

The bear let go and a member of the family that owns the bear was called to come lock up the bear. Neosho County ordinances require bears be kept in their kennels.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Getting the Most from Your Batteries

With the holiday season going strong and lots of gifts requiring some sort of power, I found this to be great advice from PC Magazine online site:

Batteries. Most every gadget is powered by one, if not several, of them. You probably don't pay them much attention, except when they need to be recharged or replaced—which is less frequently than ever thanks to improvements in efficiency. But to get the most out of your batteries, it's important to know about the different battery types and their characteristics, and about proper charging and storage procedures.

True or false: If you run a rechargeable battery down only halfway before recharging, sooner or later the battery remembers, and you get only half as much battery life. Mostly false nowadays, say most battery experts, with some caveats. Such a memory effect did affect older nickel cadmium (NiCd) batteries. But with nickel metal hydride (NiMH) and lithium ion batteries, it's not an issue, or not one that is going to halve battery life.

Some practices will lop off running time. One is leaving a battery always plugged in to a charger. Here's a hypothetical example: If a set of new, fully charged batteries is capable of taking 100 flash pictures in a digital camera, a year from now the constantly charging battery set might be capable of taking perhaps 95 pictures. In comparison, a well-treated one-year-old battery might be capable of taking 98 pictures on a full charge, a couple less than in its prime. No matter how well you treat the rechargeable battery, though, it's unlikely to last more than five years, and will probably give you really good service only for the first three.

Powering Laptops

As the power needs of notebook computers are greater than those of most portable devices, and notebook portability goes hand-in-hand with battery life, it's important to understand the power capacity of notebook batteries. Notebook battery packs indicate power in amp-hours (Ah) or milliamp-hours (mAh), but you can't make apples-to-apples comparisons among notebooks because they can operate at different voltages, typically 7.2, 10.8, or 14.4 volts (multiples of 3.6 volts). What matters is their total energy, expressed in watt-hours (Wh, the amp-hour rating times the voltage). A mainstream notebook battery pack might provide 4.4 Ah (4,400 mAh) at 10.8 volts, or about 47.5 Wh. A notebook battery providing 4.0 Ah at 14.8 volts would produce 59 Wh. The latter battery actually provides about one-third more power, even though its amp-hour rating is 10 percent less. Ultraportables might provide batteries with only 20 Wh of performance, while multimedia notebooks might approach triple digits (though they'll often rate only around 50 Wh because users aren't expected to run these machines away from AC power for long.)

Beware of starter batteries. To shave costs and weight, especially on ultraportables, you may be offered a four-cell battery pack, when the standard is six cells and extended-life batteries would have eight or nine cells. For longer run time with a mainstream laptop, consider a battery that swaps in to the optical drive bay. Usually it's half to two-thirds as powerful as the main battery, and it will often drain before the main battery. If you always leave the bay battery in, after a year of hard use it might be down to half its life, while the main battery will have been called to active duty only a couple times a month on long flights.

Maximizing Battery Life

If you buy a pack of round-cell NiMH rechargeables, you'll want get an appropriate charger. Higher-capacity batteries call for higher-capacity chargers, unless you don't mind waiting a bit longer. More important, NiMH batteries are sensitive to overcharging and require closer monitoring by the charger; plug NiMH batteries into a charger designed for NiCds and you may overcharge and damage them. Chargers for NiMH and lithium ion batteries monitor battery voltage and temperature to sense when the batteries are charged; they then shut down or provide only a trickle charge.

Rapid chargers that recharge a four-pack of NiMH batteries in as little as 15 minutes have some drawbacks. First, when the green "charged" light glows, the batteries are really at about 80 percent capacity, and you'll need another one to two hours to reach full charge. Second, battery makers say rapid chargers are tougher on the internal workings of batteries and may reduce their lifetime. But as Anthony Mazzola of Energizer notes, "You should use the battery rather than other way around." Big deal if your $20 pack of NiMH batteries that theoretically lasts 500 full-charge cycles is good for only 400; it's more important to have the batteries available when you need them.

Once the batteries are fully charged, take them out and set them aside. They won't lose that much of a charge unless you don't use them for a month or two. You can store NiMH and lithium ion batteries without charging them, but remember to put them back in the charger the night before you need them. Cheap chargers may have a timer that shuts off after several hours, which may not accurately gauge the charging process; better ones monitor the battery temperature and voltage, so there's less downside to leaving the battery in the charger.

Batteries should be stored at room temperature. There is no need to keep them refrigerated, and it's even worse to put them in a garage or shed, where they'll be subject to temperature fluctuations. One exception to the benign neglect rule: Lead-acid batteries should be stored fully charged and be protected from freezing, which is more likely to occur if they're not charged; the battery's electrolyte (or liquid) if discharged could freeze in subzero weather and crack the case or its internal plates. For most users, lead-acid means only car and UPS (uninterruptible power supply) batteries. If you've got a car stored for the winter, keep a trickle charger attached

How Long Will They Last?

As a rule of thumb, a NiMH or lithium ion rechargeable battery is good for about 500 cycles, meaning a full or -nearly full discharge and then a full charge. A half-discharge followed by a recharge counts as about half a cycle. In other words, if you plug and unplug, or dock and undock, your notebook 500 times in six months, the battery isn't going to need replacement.

The highest-power NiMH batteries (2,500 to 2,600 mAh) may last for fewer total cycles than less powerful batteries (2,000 mAh). Some NiCd batteries may be good for 1,000 cycles. The cycle life of a lead-acid battery depends on how often it's allowed to run down. It does not take kindly to full discharges.

Once they're charged, NiMH and lithium ion batteries don't lose too much of their power sitting in a desk drawer. Single-use batteries, especially lithium, are essentially unaffected by sitting for several years.

Some notebook makers, among them Lenovo, recommend a quarterly conditioning, or full discharge, followed by a full recharge. This overcomes any residual memory effect if there is one, and also gets the notebook's power management in sync with the battery. Some notebooks have a conditioning utility that does that automatically (while you're plugged in to AC power, so the whole thing happens overnight). If not, go into your notebook's power management (on most: Start | Control Panel | Performance and Maintenance | Power Options | Properties). Under the Power Schemes tab, choose Always On; under Alarms, disable any suspend or hibernate actions invoked by the low-battery alarm and critical-battery alarm. Let the battery run down for two to four hours, then recharge.

If your batteries are suffering from neglect, a couple of charge-discharge cycles may restore them partially

Best Practices

For longest life, charge your round-cell batteries on a standard (not rapid) charger and take them out once they're charged. The highest-performance batteries produce more energy per charge but may last fewer cycles. Run your laptop on AC power when possible to avoid using up the finite number of cycles.

Rechargeable batteries are likely to stop working well after three to five years. Recycle spent lithium ion batteries because their innards can be reused, and recycle NiCd and lead-acid batteries because of their toxicity. To find a recycling center, see Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation .

For more great tips like this go to PC Magazine

A Question of Responsibility

A Chinese photographer took a series of photographs of an unfortunate bike accident. This picture is the first of a series the rest can be seen on Ananova.

The photographer is being criticized for knowing about the pot hole hidden by water on the street. Apparently, he set up his camera waiting for an accident to occur. To see the arguments on both sides of the issue go to Ananova.

Smile You Are on a Camera.

Perhaps we all should remember that wherever you go and what ever you do chances are you are on film. If you go into any store, or visit government offices such as the DMV chances are a camera has caught your presence. Most of us have learned to live with the fact, that we are almost constantly under surveillance. Cameras have convicted people committing crimes, and in other cases have proved that someone did not commit a crime.

There is a case I am familiar with when a convenience store clerk was accused of taking a wallet left by a customer on the counter. When the customer came back to the store, he was sure and belligerent that the clerk had lifted his wallet. The clerk insisted otherwise, and his final argument was supported with a review of the security camera, which showed another customer reaching and grabbing the wallet.

For the innocent cameras can serve you well. If you ever need to justify your whereabouts chances are a camera may prove to be your best alibi. For the guilty cameras may just seal your fate.

Earth Cam has announced the 25 best web cams in the world for 2005. You can see these unique and unusual cams here.

Merry Christmas and Sorry About the New Year.

To many in Virginia the cost of Christmas is going to get higher. Thousands of Virginians who bought and paid for Christmas on plastic are going to find a present in their credit card statement.

WVTR News is reporting:

Citibank, MBNA, and Bank of America and more credit card issuers are going to be doubling the minimum payment in January.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Journey to the Center of the Earth

A Hollywood-like proposal to explore the center of the Earth calls for exploding a crack in the planet's surface and dropping a probe in behind tons of molten iron, which would sink and forge a path to the core.

The plan is not ready for primetime, its creator told, but neither is it pie-in-the-sky.

Exploring Earth's belly is ambitious in a scientific sense and could yield valuable data. The solid inner core rotates faster than the outer core, which is fluid and is responsible for Earth's magnetic field. But scientists don't know exactly why all this is so, nor do they know the exact composition or temperature of the core.

If further research showed the core mission could actually work, it would be comparable in dollar terms with many space projects, says David Stevenson, a Caltech planetary scientist who has worked on several missions for NASA. Stevenson explains his idea in an article titled "A Modest Proposal" for the May 15 issue of the journal Nature.

Splitting Earth

Stevenson figures that a nuclear device would likely be the best way to blast the necessary gap, as long and deep as several football fields and about 1 foot wide (30 centimeters). The event would be commensurate with an Earthquake measuring 7 on the Richter Scale.

At least 100,000 tons of hot iron would be poured instantly into the crack, along with a well-protected probe the size of a grapefruit.

"Once you set that condition up, the crack is self-perpetuating," Stevenson explains. The weight of the iron, which is much denser than Earth's outer regions, would open a gap all the way to the outer portion planet's core, about 1,860 miles (3,000 kilometers) below. The probe would fall at about 10 mph (16 kilometers per hour) as the crack closes up behind it.

The weeks-long mission would seek to measure the temperature, electrical conductivity and chemical composition of the core. Stevenson said the amount of iron needed is equal to what's produced on Earth in a week or less.

"We've spent more than $10 billion in unmanned missions to the planets," Stevenson said. "But we've only been down about 10 kilometers [6.2 miles] into our own planet."

Most of the universe is above us and empty, Stevenson notes, yet "the part below is crammed with interesting stuff and is also mostly unknown."

The rest of the story is here

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Holiday Consolidation??...

That's the Spirit!

According to the Denver Post, jurors at a criminal trial in Denver, Colo., were repulsed by the crime -- a man had molested his 10-year-old stepdaughter -- but were even more distressed that the trial concluded just before Christmas. Jury forewoman Jennifer Volk had noticed how hard it was for the little girl to testify, and thought "it was heartbreaking to think [she] wouldn't have a Christmas." So after finding the unidentified man guilty on enough charges to send him to prison for eight years to life, she asked the judge if she could buy gifts for the girl and her family. He said yes. Volk raised $500 from co-workers "to provide the family with a little holiday happiness." The detective in the case said he has never seen anything like it. "This family was traumatized," said Detective Ken Klaus. "And they went and did something about it."

Get the full story here

More Coal Recipients from Down Under

The Brisbane Courier is reporting that Lucella Bridget Gorman, 38, of Banyo, Queensland, Australia, was arrested for stealing fruit, chocolate, Barbie dolls, toys, batteries, electronics, beauty products and earrings. After her arrest, police took her mug shot with a digital camera; when the booking officer turned his back for a moment, she swiped the camera, too, which was then recovered from her bag. She pleaded guilty to several theft charges. Her motive? "I didn't have enough money for Christmas and I thought that would be an easy way of getting things" for her gift recipients, she told the court.

Ummmm...yeah..alrighty then.

Someone's getting coal in their stocking...

The New Zealand Herald is reporting:

A gang of men dressed up as Santa Claus went on a rampage in Auckland, New Zealand, police say. The 40-50 St. Nicks were celebrating "Santarchy" and roamed the streets, where they threw beer bottles at cars and people, vandalized Christmas trees, shoplifted from stores, and were generally naughty, not nice. Their point? Contrary to press reports it was not to protest the commercialization of Christmas, said Auckland's Santarchy organizer, Alex Dyer. "It's not against anyone," he insisted. "We're just dressing up as Santa and getting drunk. We just like booze."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Pagan Origins of The Yuletide Season

Ever wonder why we choose to put a tree, of all things, in our living room at this time of year? Or, where Santa Claus came from? These, like many other Yule traditions, seem to have been with us all of our lives. Yule symbols and themes have long been a part of our pagan past which stretches far behind us, our parents, or even our great grandparents. These traditions and others were carried over to America by the immigrants and settlers of the New World. Christmas (also known as Yuleday) is a good example of a purely Pagan festival, adopted by the Christian religion for its own purposes. History shows us that long before the fourth century, when many Christians began to observe Christmas on the 25th of December, the Pagans celebrated the birth of the son of the Babylonian Queen of Heaven, and it may be fairly presumed that, in order to conciliate the heathen, and to swell the numbers of the nominal adherents of Christianity, the same festival was adopted by the Roman church; giving it only the name of Christ.

Yuletide (Norse) last from December 20th through December 31st. It begins on Mother night and ends twelve days later on Yule Night; hence the "Twelve Days of Christmas" tradition. the Norse word for Yule means "wheel"; to us, Yule represents the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Thus the Eve is known as Mother Night as she gives birth to the new Sun. In ancient Chaldee, Yule meant "infant" or "little child", hence again the image of a new born baby.
The concept of the Old Father Time and the Baby New Year have these same Pagan overtones as well. Each are different views of the old being replaced by the new, the ever recurring cycle of life.
In Rome, at the winter solstice, there was a great festival called the feast of Saturn, or Saturnalia. This was a period of great revelry, merriment, and drunkenness. Slave and master were equal for the entirety of the festival; in fact, one slave was chosen to the temporary master, wearing the royal purple and being called the Lord of Misrule. Even today, one of the major parts of Yule is the feast which accompanies it. All celebrants, no matter what their name for the season, feel its joy and festivity. For awhile, at least, we are friendly to everyone. All are equal.
Many of our Yule customs actually originated in ancient Babylon. Did you know that the Yule candles actually stem from the rites observed in those times?

They were lighted on the eve of the festival of the Babylonian God, in his honor. It was one of the distinguishing peculiarities of his worship to have lighted wax candles on his altars.
The first Christmas trees are often thought to have firs, although this tradition was also followed by the early Egyptians who used palm trees (symbols of victory). Its green presence in winter reminds us of rebirth, the continuation of life's cycle. Some early legends depict the tree as a symbol of the new born God, Baal-berith (Lord of the Tree). His appearance or rebirth at Yule shows his victory over death. In early Rome, the 25th day of December was observed as the birthday of the unconquered Sun, the day when the victorious god reappeared on Earth in the form of a tree.
Santa Claus is another immigrant whose image is almost universally recognized, but did you know his origins?

In the seventeenth century, Santa (known then as St Nicholas) came to America with the Dutch.
Actually the image
we have as Santa comes from the poem "A Visit from St Nicholas", written in 1822 by New York clergyman Dr Clement C. Moore. Inspired by the earlier writings of Washington Irving, where the first mention of Santa's sleigh and reindeer would appear, the poem has amused us to this day with it's image of a bewiskered jolly fat man. In case you don't recognize the poem, It is also referred to as " The Night Before Christmas", and in case you didn't know, Dr Moore later wrote seventeen couplets to his know famous poem.

Actually, there may be some very distinct Pagan connections behind jolly ole Santa. Nik was a name for Woden, who rode a white horse though the sky. In early folklore, Santa also rode a white horse though the sky. Woden is very much a Holly King figure, as is Santa Claus. Some have said he is a confusion between Saturn, who is stern and solemn, and Bacchus, who is anything but. Thus we get the jolly fat man with rosy cheeks, who brings toys for the children, but only to the good ones.

Yule is the celebration of the return of the Sun. It is the time of the winter solstice, when the sun's rays must travel the farthest to touch the Earth in the Northern Hemisphere, and the nights are at their longest. After the moment of the solstice, the days begin to grow in strength again, and the tide in the struggle between light and dark begins to turn. To Wiccans and Pagans of most traditions, the Sun represents the male aspect of Deity, the God, and his death and rebirth on the Winter Solstice is viewed as the death of the old solar year and the birth of the new. This eternal struggle is symbolized in some traditions by the struggle between the Oak King (God of the Waxing Year or the Divine Child) and the Holly King (God of the Waning year or the Dark Lord); at Yule, the Oak King vanquishes the Holly King. At Litha, or summer solstice (when the days begin to grow shorter, the Holly King is victorious over the Oak King. The names by which the God was known have varied from culture to culture, thus to the Norse and Anglo-Saxons he was Balder, to the Celts, Bel, etc. Despite different names, his attributes generally remained the same making him easy to recognize.

Another tradition followed at Yule is wassailing. The most common use of the term "wassail" is in describing a festive drink, of which there are various recipes made from ale of cider to be found. It was also the custom to carry the brew about the neighborhood in a wooden bowl (Wassail bowl), leading a procession from door to door singing and spreading the feeling of benevolence and good cheer. The common spelling and meaning of the term is derived from a mongrelization of the Anglo-Saxon Waes(thu)hal which means "be thou healthy or hale" when used as a toast or greeting. From the American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, it is shown to have stemmed from both the terms Kailo, meaning "whole or of good omen", and Wes (wesan or waes) meaning "to be". In old English Hal means "hale or whole". The Old English word Halig means "holy" and is derived from the same roots. Thus, it is most appropriate to celebrate our holiday of Yule with a refreshment whose very name validates the essential gifts of the season.
Another form of wassailing is seen in the British Isles. There, besides the drink being observed, the locals also "wassail" the trees. A hymn is usually sung to the tree wishing it good health and long life. A blessing is also bestowed upon it to be fruitful and then guns are fired or some other loud noise is made in order to drive off any woeful spirits. Toasts to the tree are then drunk from the wassail bowl. When all have finished their toasts, the remainder of the holy liquid is poured around the trunk while bread or cakes from he wassail celebrations are placed upon its branches.

Time has changed some of our traditions, and hidden others through the passage of time, yet they are there should you look. To express the holiday with wild abandon, great feasts and rejoicing has always been a Pagan tradition as well. It was noted in 230 AD, "how much more faithful are the heathens to their religion, who take special care to adopt no solemnity from the Christians".
So as the Wheel turns toward Imbolc, know that this is a time of the year to be joyful and express your feelings through kind actions and/or the exchange of gifts. Whether it be the rites of Saturnalia, Feasts, the Yule Sabbat, Hanukkah or Christmas that you honor, each of us are following the traditions and customs
of our Pagan past.

Peace and Light on this Solstice Day


Wassail, What is it and where can I get some?

"Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wand'ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year."

So what exactly is this "Wassail" stuff? Pronounced "wah-sul", it is a spiced punch drunk at Twelfth Night and Christmas/Yule celebrations. Wassail is most commonly recognized as an obscure reference in various traditional Christmas carols (like the one above). The term derived from the Old English wes hál, meaning "be in good health," and was originally used as a toast, the appropriate response being "drink-hail!"

While the beverage typically served as "wassail" at modern holiday feasts with a medieval theme most closely resembles mulled cider, historical wassail was completely different, more likely to be mulled beer. Sugar, ale, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon would be placed in a bowl, heated, and topped with slices of toast as sops.

How to make Wassail :

1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 (6 oz) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed and undiluted
1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon
2 qts apple juice or cider
1 qt cranapple juice
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

1 (46 oz) can pineapple juice
2/3 cup firmly packed brown
1 (12 oz) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed and undiluted
1/2 cup sugar

Tie cloves and cinnamon in a cheesecloth bag. Place spice bag and remaining ingredients in a large kettle; stir well.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer
uncovered for 15 minutes.
Remove the spice bag.
Rum or brandy may be added
if desired.
(Yield: 1.5 gallons )

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Judge rules against Pa. biology curriculum

The Boston Globe is reporting:

"Intelligent design" cannot be mentioned in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district, a federal judge said Tuesday, ruling in one of the biggest courtroom clashes on evolution since the 1925 Scopes trial.

Dover Area School Board members violated the Constitution when they ordered that its biology curriculum include the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III said. Several members repeatedly lied to cover their motives, he said.

The ruling will not likely be appealed by the slate of new board members, who in the November election ousted the group that installed intelligent design, the new board president said Tuesday.

The school board policy, adopted in October 2004, was believed to have been the first of its kind in the nation.

"The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy," Jones wrote, calling the board's decision "breathtaking inanity."

"The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources," he wrote.

The board's attorneys had said members were seeking to improve science education by exposing students to alternatives to Charles Darwin's theory that evolution develops through natural selection. Intelligent-design proponents argue that the theory cannot fully explain the existence of complex life forms.

The plaintiffs challenging the policy argued that intelligent design amounts to a secular repackaging of biblical creationism, which the courts have already ruled cannot be taught in public schools.

The judge agreed.

"We find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom," he wrote in his 139-page opinion.

The rest of the article can be found here:

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Truly Politically Correct Holiday Wish

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice to not practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country, nor is it the only "AMERICA" in the western hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, or sexual preference of the wishes.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable in toto with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wishers.

Disclaimer: No trees were harmed in the sending of this message.
However, a significant number of electrons were temporarily inconvenienced.

Defamation Leads to Inflamed Murder of Wikipedia Founder

The Examiner is reporting:

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has been murdered. We have reported on how Wikipedia is a good source of information, but does have flaws. Interestingly what was widely reported, a defamation of John Seigenthaler (DL's report), is now possibly being considered as the motive of the murder.

The Examiner says:

"'At 18:54 EST on December 12, John Seigenthaler's wife, who was infuriated at Wikipedia regarding the recent scandal regarding his role in the Kennedy Assassination, came into the house, where Jim was having dinner. Wearing a mask, he [sic] shot him three times in the head and ran," reported the online reference source."

If this is the case, it speaks to all about the dangers of defamation.

To see all our posts on Wikipedia go here.

And be aware all you read on the internet you should approach with skepticism, Wales was really not shot.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Santa Caption Contest

This photo is from the Smithsonian collection and can only be used for non-commercial use.

Santa must have lost his reindeer in this picture. If you would like to try you hand at a caption for this image please leave it in the comments. Winners will be provided a link to their site, and of course credit. Merry Christmas

Caption Contest Winners for December Fun

This is an old picture found on the Smithsonian data base. There is no record of who took this picture, when the picture was taken, or for that matter where.

We have two winners in the Caption Contest December Fun.

Barb said...
Okay-On the count of three everyone goose the person in front of you, dig in and hang on for DEAR LIFE.

the bluestbutterfly said...
We now commence this meeting of the Sound of Music Chimney Sweep Association.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Flu Beginning to Spread Across the United States

The flu has been showing signs of spreading in the United States now. There is a neat little program that you can download for free that can keep you up to date with the flu spreading in your area. If you do not want to download the program they also offer email alerts and a search by zip code.

You can find the free download here.

Many Still Without Power In the Lynchburg Area

American Electric and Power is reporting that 2,000 people are still without power in Lynchburg Virginia. In the surrounding areas over 6,000 are without power. This is part of what they are reporting today:

"Appalachian´s local resources are being supported with additional Appalachian crews and staff from locations including Huntington, W.Va., and Kingsport, Tn. In addition, extra contract crews and tree crews were sent into the harder hit areas. Nearly 800 company and contract personnel are working on the restoration effort.Within the first 24 hours after the storm, Appalachian had restored service to approximately 30,000 customers of the 38,000 who lost power Thursday night. Most customers should have electric service restored by midnight Saturday, however, many outages affecting smaller numbers of customers will likely extend into Sunday."

Friday, December 16, 2005

Why Deborah Mitchell Believes In Santa and I Do Too

A couple of days ago I told you about a new website called Happy News. Well today there is a wonderful article written by a Happy News Citizen Journalist. It points out the role Santa plays and how he is important to all of us. Take a minute and give it a read.

Less of MOM

Well, my journey continues with my Early New Year's Resolution still in great shape. I lost 4.5 more pounds this week for a grand total of 14.5 in three weeks... yahoo! I survived outings, a stressful day and being busy this week and managed to stay on track. Keep up the good thoughts! I appreciate them!

Mona Lisa was Happy!

vert.mona.lisa.jpg According to computer software designed to determine a persons emotions, Mona Lisa was 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful, and 2 percent angry. So now we know just what is behind that smile! What amazes me is that I have seen the Mona Lisa in person. This image is known round the world. The painting itself is relatively small. Just goes to show, size doesn't matter!

For more information how how her emotions were determined, read the article on CNN.

Lynchburg Mayor Carl Hutcherson: Won't Resign

WAVY News is reporting:

In a news conference held today at 1 pm, Mayor Carl Hutcherson said he won't step down from office. His decision was made even though he faces a seven count indictment in Federal Court.

Later this month, Carl Hutcherson is scheduled to appear in court in Lynchburg. Correction he will be appearing in Roanoke.

To read all our posts on Carl Hutcherson go here.

DNA Held Suspect in Virginia: Starts a Larger Review

DNA evidence used in criminal convictions is currently under review by the State of Virginia. A recent sampling of results from past DNA evidence in cases has resulted in the conviction of two individuals who were innocent. This has prompted Governor Warner to order the review of many cases going as far back as 1973. The full news release from Governor Warner's office is below:

Governor Warner Announces Two Men Exonerated with Assistance of DNA Testing Not Available at Trial

— Results of Random Sample Review of Old Serology Files Prompt Full-Scale Review —

RICHMOND - Governor Mark R. Warner today announced that DNA testing has provided evidence to help exonerate two men, both of whom had served time for sexual assault, but had already been released from prison.

The cases have been investigated by the Commonwealth’s Attorneys in Norfolk and Alexandria. As a result of their investigations, the Commonwealth’s Attorneys have requested that the Governor issue absolute pardons. Both exonerated men have requested that their names not be released at this time. The Governor has asked that their petitions go through the normal review, but in an expedited manner.

The two exonerations came out of 31 cases that underwent DNA testing as a result of the random sample review ordered by Governor Warner in September 2004. The DNA testing in the Alexandria case eliminated the person convicted and further resulted in a “cold hit” to the Commonwealth’s DNA data bank. The Department of Forensic Science has recommended, and the Governor has concurred, that the remainder of the old serology case files be reviewed, and DNA testing done where appropriate.

“The powerful crime-fighting tool of DNA has helped add certainty to our justice system for many years now,” said Governor Warner. “I believe a look back at these retained case files is the only morally acceptable course, and what truth they can bring only bolsters confidence in our system. Our Department of Forensic Science has taken an impartial, scientific, and unrelenting approach to this review, and I commend their effort.”

Several former serologists saved biological evidence (swabs/cuttings) from their testing in their case files between 1973 and 1988, prior to the advent of DNA testing. The lab implemented a policy requiring the return of all such evidence to the submitting law enforcement agencies in 1989 in order to meet national accreditation standards. The Department of Forensic Science has stored 660 boxes containing an estimated 165,000 case files from that time period. The samples retained by the Department of Forensic Science constitute a finite universe of cases where the evidence remnants are retained by the state have a documented chain of custody.

On September 30, 2004, Governor Warner directed DFS to review 10% of the case files from 1973-1988 where forensic serological examinations, but no DNA analysis, had previously been conducted on evidence associated (primarily) with sexual assault cases (which were most likely to yield a conclusion based on new DNA evidence alone), in which the named suspect was eventually charged and convicted of the crime. The purpose of this review was to locate evidential swabs and cuttings previously retained in the files that met all the criteria for DNA testing as outlined by the Governor. The Governor also specified that the DNA analysis of the samples from the files would be conducted by a private laboratory (Bode Technology Group, Inc. in Springfield, Virginia) in order to ensure that DFS’s work on pending criminal cases was not slowed.

This review by DFS resulted in 284 samples in 31 cases that met the Governor’s criteria. Of those, the DNA testing in two cases led to exclusions of previously convicted people.

"Any math we do to try to calculate the possible impact of this new full-scale review is simply guesswork," said Paul Ferrara, Director of the Virginia Department of Forensic Science. "That being said, as many as 300 or more cases may meet the testing criteria. One could apply the same ratio of exonerations - two out of 31 - but again, that is unlikely to be statistically valid.”

As appropriate, cases selected for DNA testing will be developed in batches of 10 to15, sent to the private lab for expedited handling, and then reviewed by DFS staff immediately upon return. In this manner, DFS anticipates that the first results of the review project would become available for distribution in about four months after initiation, rather than have cases held up for months while others work their way through the process.

The process the Governor has ordered is in addition to the legal remedy the Code of Virginia has provided since May 2001 to allow convicted felons to petition a court for post-conviction DNA testing of retained biological evidence. Such requests from case files retained by Mary Jane Burton, a former serologist at DFS, led to the recent exonerations of defendants Marvin Anderson, Arthur Whitfield, and Julius Ruffin, with the assistance of DNA testing of original evidence that had only undergone conventional serological testing at the time of their trials. Those three exonerations led to Governor Warner’s September 2004 decision to initiate the review of 10% of the files retained at DFS.

Ice Storm Leaves Many In Lynchburg Area Without Power

American Electric and Power is reporting:

Appalachian Power- Dec 15 Virginia Ice Storm Update: 7:00 AM, 12/16/2005Throughout the daylight hours on December 15 a band of sleet, snow and freezing rain moved through Appalachian Power´s Virginia service territory. As the storm progressed toward the northeast it coated the area with ice. Falling trees, tree limbs and power lines interrupt electric service to customers.At 4 p.m., Thursday approximately 17,000 customers were without power, predominantly in the company´s Campbell, Patrick, Henry and Carroll county service areas. By 11 p.m. the weather-related outages had increased to nearly 38,000. At 6 a.m. Friday, the number of customer outages was cut to approximately 26,000 in Virginia.

Appalachian´s local resources are being supported with additional Appalachian crews and staff from locations including Huntington, W.Va., and Kingsport, Tn. In addition, extra contract crews and tree crews were sent into the harder hit areas. Nearly 500 personnel are working on the restoration effort. New outages are still being reported. Preliminary estimates are that power will be restored to customers affected by the storm by midnight Friday, although most will have power earlier.

Never touch a downed utility wire, no matter how harmless it looks. It can be difficult to distinguish between a power line and a cable or telephone line. All downed lines should be considered energized and dangerous. And don’t touch anything in contact with the line, such as trees, fences or puddles of water, since they can conduct electricity. Keep children and pets away from this potential hazard. Call AEPAEP OhioAEP TexasAppalachian PowerIndiana Michigan PowerKentucky PowerPSOSWEPCOAEP Texas to report any downed lines or equipment.

Appalachian cannot connect power to any home or business where there is damage to the service entrance. The service entrance is the area located 1) at the meter, 2) between the meter and the home’s electrical panel, or 3) the location where AEP cable connects to the home/business owner’s cable.

Customers need to have a qualified electrician repair this damage before power can be restored to the home or business. Customers are reminded that during storm restoration situations, AEP tree crews clear rights of way of trees and move on to the next location. AEP does not return to remove the cut trees. Property owners are responsible for brush removal.
m restoration situations,

Virginia Customer ServicePhone: 800-956-4237

Turtle Gets Braces

Hermie, the turtle, a resident of New York State Zoo was having trouble eating. It was determined that his lower jaw was growing downward.

Dr. Peter M. Virga, a Watertown dentist, and Jeffrey G. Baier, a veternarian performed the operation that should help fix the turtles jaw.

Story from Happy News

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Watertown Daily Times, Niko J. Kallianiotis.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Weekend Happenings December 16-18

Friday, December 16, 2005

Seniors Christmas party, dance

A seniors Christmas Party and Dance will be held at the Bedford Moose Lodge on Friday, December 16 from 2-4 pm. The party and dance is for senior adults, ages 50 and up. The event will include fellowship, refreshments and music. Cost $3 per person or $5 per couple. Keith Campbell with the WBLT Radio Station will be there to provide dance tunes and Christmas favorites. The event is sponsored by Bedford City and County Parks and Recreation Departments. Call 586-7682 to pre-register.

Bedtime Story

On Dec. 16 at 7 p.m., go to the Forest Library in your P.J.'s for their Bedtime Story Theater. Children ages 3-12, and their grown-ups, are invited to an interactive story time featuring SheriLyn's Creative Characters. Cookies and milk are served after the program. Registration is required and seating is limited. Register at the Forest Library or call 434-525-1817. This program is a presentation of the Friends of the Forest Library.

"All On a Christmas Day" (musical comedy)

Venue: Rivermont Avenue Baptist Church
City: Lynchburg
Date(s): 12/16/2005 - 12/18/2005
Time: 7:00 PM
Cost: Free (It says it is free, but further down in the announcement, it talks about tickets, you should call to find out what's what if you are interested.)
1301 Rivermont Avenue, Lynchburg, on the corner of Rivermont and Bedford Avenues.
This holiday season the Music and Arts Department of Rivermont Avenue Baptist Church proudly presents “All on a Christmas Day.” This full stage, Broadway style musical comedy is a journey of faith that will stir your heart. “All on a Christmas Day” is a tapestry of an average man’s life. Follow Rufus Miller, who sees himself as an average Joe, in an average world, who wants to be something more than… well, average. Follow Rufus through years of floundering, blundering and failing, until he finally gets out of God’s way and discovers the important things that God has in store for him. There is a little bit of Rufus in every one, so join the journey in exploring the funny moments in an average man’s life. Opening night will be Friday, December 16th, 2005 at 7pm. Additional performances will be on Saturday, December 17th and Sunday, December 18th both at 7pm. All performances will take place at Rivermont Avenue Baptist Church, 1301 Rivermont Avenue at the corner of Rivermont and Bedford Avenues. Performances are free and open to the public. Tickets are available at Tom Jones Drug, Mustard Seed Christian Bookstore and Café, New Life Christian Stores, Basket Case, and Little Dickens/Given’s Books. Or contact the church office at 434-845-6023 for tickets or more information.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Southside Trail and Driving Club will sponsor a dance on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 7:30 p.m. Music will be provided by "The Blue Country Band." Cost will be $3 for singles and $5 for couples. For further information, call Barbara Ashwell at 540-721-5222.

Little Town Players Annual Christmas Show

LTP will hold its annual children's Christmas show on December 17 and 18 at 2 pm each day at the Elks Home Theater. This year, 39 Bedford area children are involved in Sam Haven's play, "In the Nick of Time Christmas Show." There is no charge for admission and reservations are not being taken. Donations are accepted and refreshments will be for sale during the intermission. For more information, contact Mickey VanDerwerker at 540-586-6149

Goodwill Industries no longer Accepting Computers

From this week's Bedford Bulletin (12/14/05)

Citing security and environmental concersn, Goodwill Industries of the Valleys is no longer able to accept computer and computer related hardware at its stores and Attended Donation centers. The change went into effect Dec. 1.

"Donors who leave computers for Goodwill to sell in our retail stores may be leaving some sensitive and personal information on hard drives," says Bruce Phipps, Goodwill Industires of the Valleys President and CEO. "We are not equipped to clean the hard drives and we do not want to run the risk of compromising the security of people who support Goodwill through their contributions to us."

Computer related hardware that is no longer accepted by Goodwill includes the CPU, monitor, mouse, printer, keyboard, external drives and any other computer related hardware.

Goodwill accepts gently used clothing and household items fo rsale in its retail sales.

Issues with people of different beliefs — and those with none at all — are showing up more in the workplace

Several months ago I wrote an article about Pagans/Wiccans and the problems they sometimes run into because of their beliefs. Here, John Yantis of the East Valley Tribune is reporting something very similar, but it is not just about Pagans:

Faith is not being left at the office door. More and more, religion is entering the workplace, creating a burgeoning area of employment law, experts say. Religious discrimination lawsuits are up significantly as workers and employers squabble over holidays, dress codes, Bible studies and religious symbols. "In many workplaces, there are many religious wars occurring as we speak," said Joe Clees, a Phoenix human resources attorney who has dealt with civil rights issues for two decades. "I think we all sort of thought over the years religion would sort of diminish in importance in working life," he said. "In fact, it seems to more and more important, and regulators are increasingly paying attention to religious issues."

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed 1,388 religion-based charges against employers in the United States in 1992, said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney in Phoenix district office. In 2004, the latest numbers available, there were 2,466 charges, a nearly 78 percent increase over the past 12 years. "We’ve had many religious accommodation cases for every different kind of religion you can imagine, LDS, non-LDS, Christian, Jewish. We have a case we’re litigating right now that has to do with somebody who is a pagan. People’s religious beliefs run the gamut, and it seems we all could do with a bit more . . . acceptance and tolerance about other people’s religious belief practices," O’Neill said.

There are several factors for the increase of religion at work, said Clees, managing shareholder of the Phoenix office of Ogletree Deakins. Generally, employees tend to be a little more fervent with stronger beliefs in their rights in the workplace, he said. "We’re seeing the rise of a lot of religions that include active proselytizing at work," he said. "Most of the wars that are going on in the world now are religious-related. So religion and religious passion tend to be high at all levels of public life and that naturally does then spill over to the workplace. A lot of religions preach that it should be adhered to both at work and at home." At the same time, nonreligious people are increasingly adamant, Clees said. Atheists are regularly challenging crosses and Christmas trees, and civil liberties groups continue to aggressively try to stop the display of religious information and displays, at least in the public sector, he said.

Also, there are more employers who adhere to Christian and other religious tenets, and they sometimes seek to apply those to others within the workplace as well, Clees said.

"People are more willing to challenge than they used to be," he said.

The rest of the story is here:

Ancient weapons produced in Montana man's workshop

HARRISBURG, Pa. - An ancient weapon that was apparently used as early as prehistoric times to slay woolly mammoths may soon be added to the arsenals of Pennsylvania hunters. The state Game Commission is drafting proposed regulations to allow hunters to use the atlatl, a small wooden device that propels a 6-foot dart as fast as 80 mph. The commission could vote in January and make a final decision in April, officials said. It's not yet clear which animals would be hunted, but the proposal has the support of people who want to kill deer with the handmade weapon of Stone Age design.

"For me, it would be a thrill to have a deer get up close enough and to throw my dart and hit the deer, bag it like my ancestors did," said Jack Rowe, 45, a veteran hunter and atlatl enthusiast from Sayre.

In Alabama, one of a handful of states that allows atlatls for hunting or fishing, few hunters use them during deer season, said Allan Andress, chief fish and game enforcement officer for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Even spear hunters - Alabama game law also allows spears - outnumber those using atlatls.

"As you might imagine, it's not something that most people have the skill or the patience for," Andress said.

Pennsylvania Atlatl Association president Gary L. Fogelman, who got the atlatl bug about 20 years ago, said he doubts large numbers of deer will ever be killed with the weapon.

"You've got to know what you're doing, you've got to be good with all the outdoor skills in order to be able to score with this thing," said Fogelman, who publishes Indian Artifact Magazine.

To use an atlatl - the name is derived from an Aztec word for "throwing board" - hunters hook arrowlike hunting darts into the end of the weapon, which is generally a wooden piece about 2 feet long. The leverage of the atlatl allows them to throw the 5- to 8-foot darts much farther than they could throw a spear.

The rest of the story is here.

Another really cool site about atlatls is here.

Toy Swap

One inventive mom came up with a way to get rid of excess, unwanted toys in her home, get new toys for her son and make some money while doing it. Check out Toy Swap website and sign's free and fun!

For more information about how she got started read this article from CNN.

Lynchburg Mayor Carl Hutcherson: Conundrum

The Lynchburg Mayor Carl Hutcherson is facing a seven count indictment, Charges include the misuse of charity funds, and disability funds of people in his charge, and lying to a federal investigators.

Most have taken the position, they will support the mayor and give him the opportunity to defend himself. He does after all claim these charges are without basis. And he does have the right to be considered innocent until proved guilty in a court of law.

The Grand Jury contemplated the charges for over a year, before they were unsealed. We are certain they used due diligence before these charges were leveled at our Mayor. How the case will unfold is still yet in the telling. We know the charges, but not the base of evidence.

Mayor Carl Hutcherson has stated he will clear his name. He has stepped down from his ministry, but hopes to return one day. He has not stepped down from his position of Mayor. There is a growing voice that he should step down and relinquish his duties in city council.

From the left the Lynchburg News and Advance has posted its opinion that for the reputation of our city he should do the honorable thing and resign. From the right, the Lynchburg Area Blog is saying the same.

Channel 13 News which tends to be more even handed has not offered its opinion, but is reporting the pros and cons and how the community is responding. Some in favor of Carl Hutcherson staying on, some against.

The city council itself has appeared pretty much mute on the subject. Its much like a stunned silence. And they are letting Carl Hutcherson room to make that personal decision. The Mayor says he is ready to do the city's business.

Before the case is even going to trial there is a lot of squabbling. The US Attorney John Brownlee wants to remove the defense attorney, and the defense attorney, John Fishwick, wants to have Brownlee and all his minions removed. If anything this is going to hard and bitter case.

Although unrelated the Mayor's son is also charged with drug dealing offences. This should not reflect on the Mayor and all sides appear to be leaving this issue alone, at least for now.

What we have here is a mess, most of the community that cares are still in shock. Unfortunately, many in the community just don't care about the Mayor or city government. They have their own lives to live and less than 15 percent even vote in the local elections held in May.

The Mayor has a true decision to make. It should be based on his conscience, he claims innocence. If he is guilty of using the funds of others for his personal gain, there is only one course he can take that will give him any semblance of respect. If by some chance the charges are false, ones that took a grand jury over a year of investigation to consider, we hope indeed that he does clear his name, both legally and morally.

To read all our posts on Carl Hutcherson go here.