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Mark's Notebook

The beginning of health is to know the disease.

- Spanish proverb

All Articles - January 2006

Cutter Advanced

Tuesday 31 January 2006, 5:38 pm
Keywords: Katrina Hurricane Relief
(Link to this article alone)

I found small bottles of Cutter Advanced formula at the local Walgreens. 1 oz. bottle, more suitable for packing light than the larger bottles. $1.79 per bottle, curently on sale 2 bottles for $3.00.

This is a mosquito repellent that was recommended to us as being better than DEET.

Last time, we had to go all the way to REI to get them, and they were large bottles that were hard to pack.

Holy Hip-Hop, Batman!

San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday 31 January 2006, 11:25 am
Keywords: Christian Topics , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

by Jason B. Johnson, Chronicle Staff Writer

DJ Born Again has the crowd rocking at Changed Life Church in Pittsburg on a recent Friday night, where young worshipers wear casual outfits and baggy pants in place of dress suits and skirts.

Changed Life is one of about six churches in the Bay Area -- and about 2,000 nationwide -- that lace their youth ministries with holy hip-hop to attract new, young believers.

"Youngsters have to have something done in a way they can understand," said DJ Born Again, whose real name is Ramon Jackson. "I deliver the message, but I still keep it raw."

The gospel rap movement, which features Christianity instead of profanity, dates to the early 1990s in cities like New York and Washington, D.C., but it has begun to catch on in the Bay Area only recently.

Gospel rap has drawn in young people who didn't come to church before, and some of them have also brought their parents into the church, Tindsley said.

"My dad was surprised when I started coming," said Emily Thornton, 14, of Antioch, who began attending Changed Life's hip-hop services last month with her older brother. "I think he was thinking 'why would you want to come to church when you could be at home doing something else?' "


States Consider Bans On Protests at Funerals

Washington Post

Monday 30 January 2006, 10:23 am
Keywords: Christian Topics , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

By Kari Lydersen

At least five Midwestern states are considering legislation to ban protests at funerals in response to demonstrations by the Rev. Fred Phelps and members of his Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church, who have been protesting at funerals of Iraq war casualties because they say the deaths are God's punishment for U.S. tolerance toward gays.

Though the soldiers were not gay, the protesters say the deaths, as well as Hurricane Katrina, recent mining disasters and other tragedies are God's signs of displeasure. They also protested at the memorial service for the 12 West Virginia miners who died in the Sago Mine.

Indiana State Sen. Anita Bowser said she thinks the demonstrators are hoping to provoke a physical attack so they can file a lawsuit. "These people are not gainfully employed, so they're waiting for someone to do battle with them so they can go to court and win. They want a big liability case to pursue. I don't think they actually give a diddly wink about the arguments they're making, but they're clever individuals trying to make a fast buck."

Shirley Phelps-Roper, Phelps's daughter and an attorney for the church, said if legislation passes, the group will challenge it in court. "Whatever they do would be unconstitutional," she said. "These aren't private funerals; these are patriotic pep rallies. Our goal is to call America an abomination, to help the nation connect the dots. You turn this nation over to the fags and our soldiers come home in body bags."


A Road Trip Playlist

Friday 27 January 2006, 2:56 pm
(Link to this article alone)

My 2G iPod doesn't let me see what I recently listened to, so I just looked through iTunes to see what looked familiar from our trip to Disneyland.

I just set the thing on shuffle (random) and let it play like the radio. I let it play from its entire contents, so there is really no pattern, theme, or consistent style. We do just hit FF when something comes on that is too soft or too relaxing.

I really need to put together a playlist that has all the high energy or interesting tracks.

Regarding this particular list: why so little of the Beatles? Why no Bruce Cockburn? Why so little Larry Norman? Why so little Mark Heard?

Title Artist

A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How
I Was Robert McNamara'd Into Submission)
Simon & Garfunkel
All You Zombies Hooters
And She Was Talking Heads
Baby's Got The Car Keys Trout Fishing In America
B-B-B-Burnin' Up With Love Eddie Rabbitt
Symphony 7, Movt 1 Beethoven (Vienna Phil)
Beyond The Sea Finding Nemo
Birthday Swingle Singers
Breathe Deep Lost Dogs
Bye Bye Love Simon & Garfunkel
Caledonia Dougie MacLean
Dance the Night Away Van Halen
Dangerous David Wilcox
Day Tripper Swingle Singers
Exactly Like You Nat King Cole
Heart Full Of Soul The Yardbirds
Hernando's Hideaway Martin Denny
I Don't Care Connie Kaldor
Is It True? Jacob's Trouble
Jerusalem Tomorrow David Olney
Jesus Freak DC Talk
Look All Around You John Fischer LP
Looking Through Your Eyes Leann Rimes
Love me like a man Bonnie Raitt
Love Songs Fleming & John
Lung Cancer Randy Stonehill
Mas Alla Gloria Estefan
Matthew's Blues John Fischer LP
Mission Impossible Swingle Singers
My Generation The Who
My Music Loggins & Messina
Names Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer
Oxford Girl Oysterband
Pencil Neck Geek Fred Blassie
People See Through You Bruce Cockburn
Puppet Strings Randy Stonehill
Questions 67 And 68 Chicago
Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars Andy Williams
Righteous Rocker #3 Larry Norman
Rock And Roll Waltz Kay Starr
Sabor A Mi Luis Miguel
Sing Your Praise To The Lord Amy Grant
Six Trout Fishing In America
Smut Tom Lehrer
So Long Mom (A Song For World War III) Tom Lehrer
Songs from a Secret Garden Secret Garden
Swanee George Gershwin
Sweet Song Of Salvation Larry Norman
Talk To The Animals Sammy Davis Jr
Tell The Rooster Jane Gillman
That Certain Feeling George Gershwin
The Jesus Freaks Mike Warnke
The Magician Return To Forever
The Queen Of Argyll Silly Wizard
The Rose of Tralee Phil Coulter
The Seeker The Who
The Times They Are A Changin Simon & Garfunkel
Topliner Rag Joshua Rifkin
Walking Backwards Larry Norman
Walls Of Doubt Jacob's Trouble
Whiskey & Sangria Eileen Ivers
White Trash Stomp Larry Norman
Who put the bomp Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Why Can't This Be Love Van Halen

Dumbo and the Princess

Friday 27 January 2006, 1:33 pm
(Link to this article alone)

Mary and I disappeared for a few days to visit Disneyland with my sisters and brother-in-law, Carol, Susan, and Sam. The two of us met the three of them in Anaheim.

We left 7:30 am Monday morning and arrived at the Quality Inn on Manchester Avenue in Anaheim at 1:30 pm. We entered the park around 2:30 pm. My sisters left Fresno around 11:00 am and arrived at the motel at 3:30 pm. We met up with them at Cinderella's Castle shortly after.

We listened to my iPod most of the way down and most of the way back. But I'll post our playlist separately. It will take a while to sort it out. (My 2G iPod doesn't have the capability to remember what it played and display it in iTunes.)

Mary and I bought annual passes because we plan to come back this fall for my birthday. This time was "sort of" for Mary's birthday, which is in a couple of weeks. We might even come back next January to celebrate Mary's birthday early again. If so, the pass will be well worth the money. At $229, the deluxe (i.e. "limited") pass is worthwhile if you go to both parks for four days each. We were there for three days this time, so one day later and we'll break even. The deluxe pass has "blockout" dates on summer weekends and holidays, but we like coming during the off-season during the week anyway.

The annual pass also provides a 10 percent discount in most restaurants and stores, but we remembered to use it as such only once.

The only ride "down" was the Haunted Mansion. They redorated it and some other rides for Christmas, and they haven't finish restoring it to "normalcy." Oh, in California Adventure, the Golden Zephyr rocket ride was also down. Quite a few rides were down for short periods, but we eventually caught up with them all later.

We went twice on Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, and Soarin' Over California (in California Adventure. Buzz because Mary wanted to improve her score, Roger Rabbit because the first time we went by ourselves, and the second time we wanted to take my sisters, and Soarin' because it is our favorite ride.

A few we went on that I'd never been on before: Dumbo, Peter Pan, the Circus Train, Winnie The Pooh, Monsters Inc. (a new ride this year), Tower of Terror (but we went on that one in Disney World last year), Jumpin' Jellyfish.

We also went on a few that I've not been on for a long time: Jungle Cruise (I don't remember it having Pirahna last time), Teacups.

We would normally go on all the roller coasters, but the first two days Mary's back was hurting, and the last day my back was a mess. I did take my sisters on Mullholland Madness the second day, and that might have messed up my back. So we skipped Space Mountain, the Matterhorn, and California Screamin'. We also skipped the two water rides (one in each park) because while sunny, it was not really that warm.

Monday we spent 1/2 day in DL, Tuesday we split the day between CA and DL, and Wednesday we stayed in DL until around 4 pm, because we still had a six-hour drive ahead of us. We did not visit anything else in LA or Orange County.

We stayed at the Quality Inn, a nice quiet motel with pool and pretty courtyards. Our room was only $46 for one queen non-smoking. The others stayed in a more expensive room because they needed two queen beds.

Tuesday morning we ate at IHOP. Fortunately we found a non-pancake breakfast that we could modify to be gluten-free. Did you know IHOP puts pancake batter into their omelet eggs? That makes even their omelets unsuitable for a GF diet, but they offered to make me "normal" eggs. Mary was skeptical they'd be made properly so she has something else.

Wednesday morning we ate at Mimi's Cafe. Mary thought it would be more expensive, but it was actually less expensive than IHOP and the food was better. Highly recommended. They have over 100 locations, mostly in California. I had the cajun sausage, which was pretty warm.

Tuesday evening Mary and I ate at Storyteller Cafe in the Grand Californian Hotel off Downtown Disney. We ate there when we were there three years ago, and they took very good care of us and our special dietary requirements. (Neither of us can eat gluten, and Mary can't have vinegar either.) We ended up with salmon, almost the only GF and vinegar-free option on the menu. Their mashed potatoes have sour cream with modified food starch, but they instead made us gluten-free elbow macaroni and cheddar cheese. So we ended up with salmon and mac & cheese as the starch. Weird combination, but very good. The vegetable soup also warmed us up.

Wednesday afternoon in Toon Town while looking at ingredients, an employee named Brenda told us of gluten-free burgers at Club Buzz. (This is the disco dance floor in Tomorrowland.) We couldn't believe it, but she was right. We got huge burgers with gluten-free buns, and the fries were gluten-free, too.

What else? On Monday before my sisters arrived, Rancho del Zocalo restaurant made us a gluten-free Mexican meal. I think Mary had 1/4 chicken and I had enchiladas. They made us red corn tortilla special. On Tuesday, we wore tags that said it was Mary's birthday. To help us celebrate, Mission Tortilla Factory gave us a package of fresh corn tortillas right out of the machine. Yum! And they serve margaritas in California Adventure. A double treat.

Some of the rides had captions for the deaf, which helped my sisters. Tower of Terror had captions on the TV screens for the intro. Bug's Life had "reflective captions." These are projected from the back wall, and they give you a small smoke glass screen through which you can see both the feature and the captions as in a mirror. They also had reflective captions in Golden Dreams.

We left the hotel about 5:00 pm on Wednesday, but we did not get home until 12:30 am. That's what you get for leaving during LA rush hour.

Warning on cars damaged in hurricanes

San Francisco Chronicle

Friday 27 January 2006, 10:03 am
Keywords: Katrina Hurricane Relief , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

by Steve Rubenstein, Chronicle Staff Writer

600,000 cars damaged in last year's hurricanes are now making their way onto the market.

State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi visited a San Francisco salvage yard Thursday to warn against the dangers of buying used cars damaged by the Hurricane Katrina floodwaters.

Many of the cars damaged by the Gulf Coast hurricanes last year that are turning up these days on the used-car market have been dolled up, detailed and decked out in order to fleece the car-buying public.

Flood-damaged cars can look OK, Garamendi said, but their electrical systems and safety devices can be ruined. Some hustlers move damaged cars from state to state until their title records have been "cleansed" of their salvage status, the commissioner said.

Garamendi advised people to check the vehicle identification number of any potential car purchase on www.nicb.org, the database maintained by the National Insurance Crime Bureau that tracks hurricane-damaged cars.


Doggie Howser MD

San Jose Mercury News

Thursday 26 January 2006, 2:27 pm
Keywords: News Articles , Health Topics
(Link to this article alone)

By Linda Goldston, Mercury News

Researchers in Marin County have been able to train dogs to detect lung and breast cancer in breath samples from people with 88 to 99 percent accuracy, according to a study released last week.

The studies show that cancer cells emit chemicals or molecules that are different from those in normal cells, and more research is needed to determine just what those chemicals are -- and whether they could help doctors find cancers earlier.

Questions to be answered are: "What is it dogs are smelling, and can chemical analysis match the dogs in terms of specificity and sensitivity?" said Michael McCulloch, research director for the private, non-profit Pine Street Foundation in San Anselmo. "Then the pathway will likely lead to an `electronic nose.' "

The study, which will be published in the March issue of the medical journal Integrative Cancer Therapies, is the first to test whether dogs can detect cancer by sniffing samples of exhaled breath collected in tubes.


Pine Street Foundation:

Cancer-detection studies with dogs at Florida State University:

When is my credit card bill due?

Washington Post

Thursday 26 January 2006, 2:03 pm
Keywords: News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

by Don Oldenburg, Consumer Columnist

After the wildly popular column about a Verizon double-billing glitch, among the dozens of phone-bill-focused folks who wrote in was Elliot Greene of Silver Spring, who offered this alert to readers when paying their phone bills: "Several times Verizon has charged me a late fee when the due date for my bill fell on a Sunday and my payment was received on Monday," he says.

Basic business standard is to accept as "on time" payments received the next business day following a weekend due date. Of course, lots of screwy things have been occurring with late fees and not just in the telephone industry (watch your credit cards!).

Greene says when he called to complain, Verizon "promptly agreed to refund the charge." But he doesn't like the implication that Verizon waits for the customer to correct the problem "and Verizon gets to pocket the fees if the customer doesn't do so." Moral: Pay bills on time -- and check 'em even when you do.


Swelling Textbook Costs

Washington Post

Thursday 26 January 2006, 1:33 pm
Keywords: News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

By Susan Kinzie, Washington Post Staff Writer

Textbook prices have been rising at double the rate of inflation for the past two decades, according to a Government Accountability Office study.

Students at four-year schools spent, on average, about $900 for books and supplies in 2003-04, more than a quarter of the cost of tuition and fees. At community colleges, the GAO study found, the books amounted to almost three-quarters of the cost.

Because many undergraduates get federal financial aid, the overall cost of college is a concern to Congress, which sought the study.

Textbook prices almost tripled from 1986 to 2004, the GAO report found. And publishers revise texts more quickly than they used to, limiting the used-book market.

Students have plenty of conspiracy theories for the rising prices: Greedy publishers who change the cover just to charge more. Self-absorbed professors who assign their own masterpieces or forget to list the books till it's too late to find a used copy. Overpriced stores.

"Where college stores come into play, a lot of students automatically perceive a rip-off," Libertowski said. But stores' profit margin is far lower for textbooks, she said, than for all those sweatshirts and mugs, and it has been steady for years.

A few schools have even tried renting out books for the semester. Bills in Congress would provide grants to some schools to launch rental plans and make as much as $1,000 of textbook costs tax deductible.


Guinness ice cream

Boston Globe

Thursday 19 January 2006, 12:02 pm
Keywords: Humor , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

A recipe for Guinness ice cream ...

But it has gluten in it ... doesn't it ???


Chuck Brodsky to play Espresso Garden

Thursday 19 January 2006, 12:58 am
(Link to this article alone)

Next Wednesday, Chuck Brodsky, whose Web site asks people to be on the lookout for musical instruments stolen from his North Carolina house, plays Espresso Garden at 7:30 p.m. for $15. Brodsky used to live in the area. His songs about baseball, "The Baseball Ballads," have enabled him to perform at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., three times.




Right to a Christian Scotland

The Scotsman - Opinion

Wednesday 18 January 2006, 12:29 am
Keywords: Christian Topics , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

By Helen Martin

What's wrong with Scotland being a Christian country and why shouldn't we say it is?

India is a Hindu country. Pakistan is a Muslim country. Italy is a Catholic country. There! Lock me up for being politically incorrect and throw away the key.

BMI is the only British airline to fly to Saudi Arabia. When BMI's female cabin crew disembark and spend stopover time in Saudi, they have been told to wear long robes and headscarves. The company says it is an obligation to respect the customs of the host country.

We put no such obligation on visitors from Saudi or anywhere else. Perhaps we should. Perhaps it is the fact that we don't impose our customs which leads them to believe we have no customs worth saving.

Or perhaps, as Cardinal Keith O'Brien suggests, we should begin by simply reminding ourselves and others that this is a Christian country with perfectly valid and respectable Christian values which are every bit as treasured as those of other cultures and faiths.


First lady says abstinence is a choice

Washington Times

Wednesday 18 January 2006, 12:24 am
Keywords: Christian Topics , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

By Bill Sammon

First lady Laura Bush yesterday said she was "irritated" by outside criticism of her husband's anti-AIDS programs in Africa as being focused too heavily on abstinence and not enough on condoms.

"I'm always a little bit irritated when I hear the criticism of abstinence, because abstinence is absolutely 100 percent effective in eradicating a sexually transmitted disease," Mrs. Bush said.

"In a country or a part of the world where one in three people have a sexually transmitted deadly disease, you have to talk about abstinence, you really have to," she said. "In many countries where girls feel obligated to comply with the wishes of men, girls need to know that abstinence is a choice."


Go to jail or go to church

Cincinnati Enquirer

Wednesday 18 January 2006, 12:21 am
Keywords: Humor , Christian Topics , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

By Dan Horn, Enquirer staff writer

A judge gave Brett Haines a choice Friday: Go to jail or go to church.

The Anderson Township man, convicted of disorderly conduct, immediately chose six weeks of Sunday worship over 30 days in the Hamilton County Justice Center. But there's a catch.

Haines, who was accused of using racial slurs and threatening a black cab driver, must attend services at a predominantly black church. "If you want to get out of jail, you're going to have to raise your black consciousness," the judge said.

Mallory said he was concerned about maintaining a separation between church and state, so he asked Haines whether the option would offend his beliefs. Haines said he was not a church-goer, but would like to give it a try.

The cab driver said he hoped the sentence would work, but he would have preferred Haines serve his 30 days. "Church don't change everybody," he said.


Microsoft to stop developing media software for Macs

San Jose Mercury News, AP

Tuesday 17 January 2006, 11:11 pm
Keywords: Computer Topics , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

by Allison Linn, Associated Press

Microsoft Corp. will stop developing a version of its Windows Media Player for Apple Computer Inc.'s Macs, and will instead offer free technology that lets people play Windows Media files using Apple's own software.

Microsoft said it would continue to offer the current version but won't make any more improvements to it. The software maker has signed a deal with Nevada City, Calif.-based Telestream Inc. to offer a free plug-in that will let people play Windows Media video and audio files using Apple's QuickTime player.

Because Microsoft's media player for Macs has not been updated for quite some time, Harader said the quality of some Windows Media files could be better if people used the plug-in and QuickTime.


The plug-in is already posted on the Microsoft web site:


Out Of Order

Tuesday 17 January 2006, 10:43 pm
(Link to this article alone)

Example number 1 - the Milpitas Post Office.

Today, I went to the Milpitas Post Office to mail my quarterly tax payment. There were several cars waiting in line to turn left into the driveway, and several cars waiting to turn right into the driveway. Every time a car came out, another went in. Why would the post office be so busy today? I had to park on the street in front of the next building.

Inside, I found that the line was long. Also, there were lines for both vending machines. Everyone in line for the vending machines had a dollar bill in his or her hand. That is, they wanted to buy 2 cent stamps! But not only were there no 2 cent stamps in the machine, but both machines were out of order! Each person in line dutifully studied all the contents of the machine, discovered the "out of order" sign, got in line for the other machine, and left the next person in line to go through the same exercise.

No wonder the line was so long and the parking lot was full! Everyone wanted to buy 2 cent stamps and no one could get them in the machines. The line was full of people who might have been in the post office for only 2 minutes otherwise.

The Milpitas is normally my favorite post office because the lines go quickly; the employees are friendly and competent.

Example number 2 - Taco Bell on Blossom Hill Road.

Mary and I went to Taco Bell while running errands on the way to church tonight. The soda machine was out of both ice and cherry Pepsi. There were no napkins. Mary to wait for them to pull napkins for us ... while our tacos were getting cold.

Call me a Whiner ... except that these were not unoccupied businesses. There were lots of employees on hand at both who could have fixed things. I am going to file complaints at both web sites and see what kind of response I get.

Eager Few Try to Reclaim Destroyed Parish

New York Times

Tuesday 17 January 2006, 4:41 pm
Keywords: Katrina Hurricane Relief , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

by Susan Saulny

The Robinsons are living where few people even dare to drive, here in the midst of a vast stretch of desolation on the banks of the Mississippi River east of New Orleans in St. Bernard Parish. In all of southeast Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina was the most vicious and thorough in its destruction here, and some streets remain impassable nearly five months later, blocked by houses that the storm surge lifted, twisted and deposited as wrecks. One home in Chalmette had water over its roof for 15 days and was coated in crude oil from a nearby refinery spill.

Now, the Robinson family members have come back to their front yard to live in a government-issued trailer, determined to make a home again on what seems like the edge of civilization.

Except for her cellphone and weekly church services, Ms. Robinson has little connection to other people apart from her family in the trailer. It is a 45-minute drive to the Wal-Mart in Gretna, the best option for groceries. There is no mail service, shopping mall or movie theater. And there is just enough electricity to light her trailer and part of the street.

Officials estimate that 8,000 people like Ms. Robinson have begin to repopulate St. Bernard Parish, which used to have close to 70,000 residents. The repopulation is mostly an independent movement, with residents saying they have received little guidance or help from the local government as they clean, gut and rebuild on their own.

What is left of the local government is doing what it can; most streets have been cleared of debris and fallen wires, and the major intersections have working traffic signals.


Two Million Displaced By Storms

Washington Post

Friday 13 January 2006, 10:47 pm
Keywords: Katrina Hurricane Relief , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency yesterday increased its count of people displaced from the Gulf Coast by hurricanes Katrina and Rita by nearly a third, to about 2 million people. A FEMA spokeswoman attributed the sharp rise to a reporting error.

Shortly before Christmas, FEMA discovered that it had not counted families receiving rental assistance under a traditional disaster aid program.

According to a news release, FEMA is paying rental assistance to 685,635 families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the Aug. 29 and Sept. 24 storms, an increase of 167,000, or 32 percent, over a month ago. FEMA officials generally estimate three people per household as a rule of thumb.

The estimate of 2 million displaced dwarfs the number of people forced from their homes by past U.S. natural disasters, such as hurricanes Andrew, Charley, Ivan or Hugo, as well as the Dust Bowl migration.


300 million, plus or minus

New York Times

Friday 13 January 2006, 10:33 pm
Keywords: News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

If the experts are right, some time this month, a couple will conceive a baby who, when born in October, will become the 300 millionth American.

As of yesterday, the Census Bureau officially pegged the resident population of the United States at closing in on 297,900,000. The bureau estimates that with a baby being born every 8 seconds, someone dying every 12 seconds and the nation gaining an immigrant every 31 seconds on average, the population is growing by one person every 14 seconds.

At that rate, the total is expected to top 300 million late this year. But with those projections adjusted monthly and the number of births typically peaking during the summer, the benchmark is likely to be reached about nine months from now.

Demographers know that the United States, which ranks third in population behind China and India, is still gaining people while many other industrialized nations are not. The United States' population is growing by just under 1 percent annually, the equivalent of the entire population of Chicago (2.8 million).

Given the demographic changes recorded in the 20th century, the 300 millionth American, born in the same year the first baby boomers turn 60, will be a very different person from the paradigm in 1915, when the nation's estimated population passed 100 million, or even in 1967, when it topped 200 million.


MSN Maps

Thursday 12 January 2006, 3:43 pm
(Link to this article alone)

MSN Local Live Maps (http://local.live.com/) may "blow Google out of the water," but they don't run on Apple's Safari browser. Why would that be?

I've tested on the following other browsers where the page does not work properly:

  • IE 5.2.3 Mac (!!!)
  • OmniWeb 5.12 Mac

and the following pages that work properly:

  • Firefox 1.5 Mac (works but generates 17 Javascript errors)
  • Opera 8.5 Mac (works no matter how I have the browser identify)
  • Camino 0.85 Mac
  • Mozilla 1.7.8 Mac
  • Netscape 7.2 Mac

A cursory examination shows that the page uses JScript instead of JavaScript. That's to be expected, I guess. There is also a line of code that checks whether the browser is IE. But it doesn't appear to lock out other browsers. I had Opera identify as Opera, as Mozilla, and as IE, and it worked no matter which identity I chose.

I'd like to add these maps to the arsenal at www.mixed-up.com/maps.

FWIW, the maps are only so-so, but the aerial views are wonderful!

A Day At Mac Expo

Wednesday 11 January 2006, 1:01 am
Keywords: Computer Topics
(Link to this article alone)

I stayed up last night to read the three latest issues of MacWorld magazine, see what I might be missing in the world of Mac, and to determine what I might need to seek out at the show. Consequently, my day started a little late. First, I headed to MacRumours.com, where I found live coverage of the keynote speech in progress. The technology they used to update just one line of the page every minute was pretty cool.

Eventally I dragged myself out the door, to Starbucks, to the gas station, and then 50 miles up the peninsula to San Francisco. The garage at Fifth and Mission was full, and I was directed to The Ellis-O'Farrell Garage, on the other side of Market Street. About the same walking distance to Moscone, but it took extra time to get there, and getting out afterward was a PITA.

Registration was pretty simple compared to previous years. I already had a badge that I'd ordered online (for free!) So I just had to bring it to a booth where they swiped it and put it in a holder.

LiveWorship (www.liveworship.com) is a replacement for PowerPoint for use in church services. It displays song lyrics, Bible passages, or anything else you might want to project. When projecting song lyrics, PowerPoint has the problem that the user never knows exactly where in the presentation he is. So if the verses of the song are sung out of order, it's hard to go back and forth to the correct slide. LiveWorship displays all the slides on one monitor, and the actual selected slide on a second monitor that is also connected to the projector. The slides come with "templates" (background images or even video). The program runs on both Mac and Windows. I'm going to get my church to try it out.

Berklee College of Music (www.berklee.edu/) has an extension program where you can study music online. They also had a catalog of books published by their press. Near their booth, I found stacks of free magazines, Mix, Remix, and Electronic Musician. I picked up the magazines and the brochures. Will take a look at them later.

Crumpler (www.crumplerusa.com) has colorful camera and laptop bags, but they are way too expensive for me.

I had a long talk with the people at Red Rock Software (www.redrocksw.com) about their program DeltaGraph. It is available for Mac and Windows, but not for Unix. I was inquiring how I might use it on the web site for displaying various kinds of data. It turns out I'd have to write a script to download the data from the site, feed it into DeltaGraph and write the output to a picture file, then upload the picture file back to the web site. This would involve a strange combination of shell scripts, AppleScript, and perhaps Automator (should I ever upgrade to Tiger). Sounds like fun. Worth $200 just for some fun?

I'll have to take another look at Fetch, from Fetch Softworks (www.fetchsoftworks.com). I used to use it many years ago on System 7. But not so much recently for one reason or another. Maybe it used to be free, and now it costs money? But I've not been all that happy with the alternatives I've tried: CyberDuck, Captain FTP, RBrowser, and Yummy FTP. Anarchie was always my favorite in the old days, but it has evolved into a mondo expensive tool for sysadmins.

I grabbed a card for TypeIt4Me (www.typeit4me.com), a program that expands your abbreviations. Useful if you type a lot, which I do. This is the kind of program that always intrigues me, but once I buy them I never use them as much as I expected to. Will take another look at this one.

Delicious Monster (www.delicious-monster.com) is a program that allows you to catalog your books, CDs, videos, and games. I really need it, especially for books. But it requires an iSight or some other firewire camera. I have a Logitech Quick Cam, a USB device. When I tried running the program a year ago, it actually crashed my Mac when I tried to access that camera. It takes a heck of a lot to completely crash Mac OS X! I told them of my experience and they asked me to try it again. The program has had several upgrades this year and whatever problem I had then, should be gone now. I could just buy an iSight camera at a show special price of $139, but that's not much of a discount, and anyway, it is really worth that much to catalog my books?

Guitar Center had the latest version of Peak LE 5 from Bias (www.bias-inc.com/) selling for $79. In past years I've been able to buy it for only $49. Bias has also increased the upgrade prices on their web site. Since this is the program I use a lot but also hate, maybe it's time to think about switching to one of its competitors, like Sound Studio or Amadeus.

Roxio (www.roxio.com) had a show special of $99 for Toast 7 with Jam 6. Maybe I'll switch to using that instead of Peak. I've been using Toast 5 Titanium for years, and I've felt no need to upgrade, but this upgrade pricing is hard to resist.

Unitek was selling Retrospect Desktop 6.1 from Dantz (www.dantz.com) for $97, but it's hard to justify paying anything at all for software that gets such poor reviews. I used to love Retrospect on System 7, but now the personal versions get no respect. When I do backups at all, I used Backup Toolkit which I think has evolved into Prosoft. But mostly I just drag a bunch of files from one disk to another.

The MacAlly booth (www.macally.com) had something called the Ice Station that lets you orient your PowerBook vertically. This raises the height of the screen and gives space to put a keyboard in front. I've been looking for something like this for a while.

The folks at the MacAlly booth also showed me something called the NDAS External Enclosure. It is a 3.5" hard drive enclosure that has USB 2.0 and network connections. I guess NDAS stands for "Network Direct Attached Storage" and you can find out more about it on the Ximeta web page (www.ximeta.com). According to the MacAlly people, the advantage of NDAS over NAS is that the drive doesn't actually have an IP address or appear on the network, but you must install a driver on each PC or Mac that will have access to the drive. I'm trying to find an NAS drive that I can use to backup my Mac and Mary's PC, but the NAS units I've seen have one or both of two problems: (1) the disk must be formatted with a proprietary format, (2) the drive is compatible with only PC (usually) or Mac (rarely), but not both. This particular unit is $99 but you must supply your own drive. The drive can be formatted for either Mac or PC. They suggested I format it for PC first and then Mac, but that didn't make any sense to me. I would want to use the Mac to format two different partitions. They also suggested I just format for PC and the Mac would be able to read and write to it. Hmmm...

Rain Design (www.raindesigninc.com) had some interesting computer tables called the iGo, but the keyboard trays aren't large enough for my ergonomic setup, and the $333 price tag is more than I pay for a more-capable Anthro Cart.

Garage Sale (www.iwascoding.com) is a program that helps you post and manage eBay auctions. I've bought lots of stuff on eBay but never bought any. Now I find that I need to sell some items from my dad's estate. So maybe now is the time to start selling on eBay. Not having tried to use eBay's tools, I don't know whether something like Garage Sale is really necessary. But I suspect it is. Again, will take another look at it.

Ok. I bought something! thINK4inc.com sells ink cartridges for my Canon i560 printer for $4 each. I bought three black and three of each color last year, and I just popped the last one into the printer last night. So I bought enough to last another year. It costs more than refilling the cartidges from a bottle, but it's a lot less bother. And they tossed in a sampler pack of all their photo papers.

I promised to take a look at ReadIris Pro 11 OCR software from IRIS. I have a 100-page book scanned into PDF as pictures. I'd like to convert it to text. Is it worth $99 to do this? And will it work? I've never used any OCR software that actually worked. If I found one, I might be scanning square dance fliers "right and left."

Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) (www.dlo.com) has leather iPod cases that look as good in person as they did in the magazine photos. But they weren't selling at the show. A look at their web site shows that they are available for 4G-5G and Nano, but maybe not for other models. I expect that my 2G model is too thick for even their largest case.

I found one neat book each at the O'Reilly and Peachpit booths. Well, actually I found lots of books at each booth and the Wiley booth as well, but I found these two books that just tugged at me. Bulletproof Web Design by Dan Cederholm shows how to avoid mistakes that prevent your web page from reaching the widest possible audience (that is, the widest possible range of browsers). Designing Interfaces by Jennifer Tidwell covers some areas that seem similar to the Information Visualization I studied in school a few years ago: affordances, visual hierarchy, navigational distance, and the use of color. The book vendors at Expo usually offer a discount of 20-25 percent, but even that is more expensive than just buying them on Amazon (and opting for free shipping). I have a couple of gift certificates for Borders and Amazon that should just about cover it.

Anthro (www.anthro.com) has a 30 percent discount on just about everything, if you call them on the phone and ask for the show special. I'm interested in the Anthro Cart, and I have some specific needs. For years I've used a pretty big 4x4 foot corner unit with separately-adjustable CRT and keyboard shelves. It's pretty cool. But last year I donated my 21-inch CRT to the church and got this wonderful 19-inch Acer LCD. So I don't need nearly as much space as I did before. I figure I can get the keyboard and screen into a 30x24 inch space, have a cozier setup, and free up some space in my office (probably for another bookshelf).

Matias (www.matias.ca) has a need little product called the Half Keyboard. I don't really want to type on half a keyboard, but what I really do want is to have a portable ergonomic setup. I use a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard at home, but typing on the PowerBook keyboard while traveling is painful to my wrists. The Half Keyboard might work if either (1) I could obtain the other half keyboard also, but it's not available; or (2) I could just use the Half Keyboard with my left hand and the regular PowerBook keyboard with my right hand. I might be able to find a comfortable separate wrist position. What I can't figure out is why Matias charges $99 for a Half Keyboard and $49 for a full keyboard. I think someone there flunked math.

Anybody know anything about the Virtual Training Company (www.vtc.com)? They have lots of CD-ROM based instruction, even on technical topics like DHTML, Java, Javascript, C#, SQL, Perl, Unix shell, and XML. Are these things really worth $99 a pop? (Or two for $99, show special.) I don't know. I dno't know how I would figure it out except to buy a couple.

Ok, I spent some more money. Other World Computing (www.otherworldcomputing.com) had a couple really great products that I could not resist. A new battery for my iPod 2G was only $10 on a closeout. The iPod, which I bought on eBay last year, until now played for only a couple hours or less even on a full charge. I know this because I fall asleep to it, and awake a couple hours later to find it dead. The new battery, from Newer Technology (www.newertech.com), is supposed to last 20 hours. I'll be happy if it gets only half that. The battery came with small tools and instructions, and the recommended video on their web site really did help. For $45, I also got 512 megs of RAM for my PowerMac G4. I'm so happy with the PowerMac, that after three years I'm still nowhere near tempted to replace it. It is the Dual 867 MHz model. It runs rings around my 867 MHz Powerbook. Maybe I should have bought RAM for the PB instead? This latest addition brings me up to 1.75 GB in the PMac. And of course it installed easily and works well so far.

I spent a long time at the Oak Tree Software booth. They make Accordance Bible Software (www.accordancebible.com). I've always found this software too expensive, but we discussed different ways I might be able to reduce the price for me by buying only certain sets of modules. The standard Library CD comes with four different packages that can be unlocked at different price levels. There is also a Bible CD that has various Bibles that can be unlocked individually. And there is a Scholar CD that has other references like Kittel, NIBC, and K&D. But I need such an eclectic set (KJV, NASB, NIV, Hebrew, Greek NA, Greek TR) that I'd need to purchase a module here and a module there, which gets expensive quickly. Don't know if we can come to an agreeable solution, but I'll take a look at it.

After visiting the Oak Tree booth, I was running out of time. Only a few minutes until they turn out the lights. I ran to the Sonnet booth (www.sonnettech.com) but it turns out they don't have any upgrades available for my PowerMac. Ok, I'm happy with the PowerMac, but if I could spend a couple hundred bucks for a speed bump it would be worthwhile. I thought I saw one somewhere but I guess it wasn't Sonnet. They do have SATA cards. Can I boot my PMG4 from a SATA drive?

Finally, one more purchase. I saw this in the magazines last night and it was too funny to pass up. Comic Life Deluxe Edition from Freeverse Software (www.freeverse.com) lets you make a comic book out of your photographs. You can add speech balloons, captions and special effects lettering. I took lots of pics of the kids at Christmas, and this will be a fun way to present them. The program gets from MacWorld and from MacHome.

Now it's very late, and I still need to figure out what I'm going to buy when I go back tomorrow. Maybe I'll study tomorrow and go back to the show on Thursday.

Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For

San Jose Mercury News

Tuesday 10 January 2006, 10:13 pm
Keywords: News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

Nine Bay Area companies made the cut. These six spotlighted:

1. Genentech
25. Cisco Systems
27. Network Appliance
43. Intuit
73. Yahoo
97. Intel

Google was not eligible because it has not been around long enough.

On the list in the past but not this year: Xilinx, Adobe, HP.


A Tail Of Revenge

San Francisco Chronicle, AP News

Monday 9 January 2006, 5:54 pm
Keywords: Humor , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

FORT SUMNER, N.M. -- A mouse got back at a homeowner who tried to dispose of it in a pile of burning leaves. The blazing creature ran back to the man's house and set it on fire.

Luciano Mares, 81, of Fort Sumner said he caught the mouse inside his house and wanted to get rid of it.

"I had some leaves burning outside, so I threw it in the fire, and the mouse was on fire and ran back at the house," Mares said from a motel room Saturday.

Village Fire Chief Juan Chavez said the burning mouse ran to just beneath a window, and the flames spread up from there and throughout the house.

No was hurt inside, but the home and everything in it was destroyed.

State of the Pews

Newsweek Commentary

Thursday 5 January 2006, 2:45 pm
Keywords: Christian Topics , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

by Rabbi Marc Gellman

The Barna Group (barna.org), a consulting and religious research firm in Ventura, Calif., discovered these trends in their research into particularly Christian religious life in America in the past year:

1. Pathetic prayer. Churches are more concerned with programming than with prayer. Most church attendees say that they do not experience the presence of God in the service and fewer than one out of 10 spent any time worshipping God outside of their church service.

2. The continuing demise of the black church. Using the measures of church attendance, Bible knowledge, the priority of faith in a person's life, and the reliance on the religious community for support and relationships, Barna concludes that things are not looking good for black churches. Barna surprisingly concludes that the main reason for this decline is the increasing wealth of the black community.

3. The energizing of the evangelicals. Although only 7 percent of adults are evangelicals, their voice is the loudest and their energy, charity, Bible study, and prayer life is the greatest. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it was the evangelical volunteers who came in the greatest numbers and stayed for the longest time.

4. Biblical illiteracy. The Barna Group has discovered that most Christians (and I would add most Jews) are in increasing numbers biblically illiterate. Churches have demoted and de-emphasized Bible study. The Sunday-TV preachers I regularly monitor for good jokes use biblical verses as mere decorations for their psycho-babble sermons, not the driving reason for their sermons. Most of the baby rabbis I mentor still preach sermons (if they preach at all) that sound more like Dr. Phil than Rabbi Phil.

5. Revolutionaries. Barna labels as “Christian revolutionaries” the more than 20 million people who are pursuing their Christian faith outside the box. They meet in homes or at work. These revolutionaries, as Barna labels them, are really passionate Christians who have no patience for the moribund bureaucracy of organized church life.


After the tsunami

Daily Telegraph

Thursday 5 January 2006, 2:09 pm
Keywords: Katrina Hurricane Relief , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

By Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor

Asked once how she could possibly help all the poor of the world, Mother Teresa answered simply: "One by one." Since arriving in Sri Lanka, it has been clear to me that the tsunami devastated people one by one, and only one by one can they rebuild their lives. But in that lies the glory, too, of the post-tsunami human drama.

The pace of reconstruction seems at first sight painfully slow. Most survivors remain in temporary homes: some 90,000 houses in Sri Lanka are needed, but only 10 per cent have been built. Visit the devastated villages to hear people's stories, and it becomes clear why. Reconstruction is not, primarily, a question of bricks and mortar but of communities making choices; and sometimes those choices are not easy.

Some people have expected too much, too soon: it is normal, after a major disaster, for the rebuilding to become most intense in the second or third year, not the first. The amount of building required in Sri Lanka is six times what it would be normally, and there is an obvious skills shortage. There is, above all, the challenge of land ownership, which has become a complex issue in the tsunami-affected areas.


After Storm, Relief Groups Consider More Work in U.S.

New York Times

Thursday 5 January 2006, 2:02 pm
Keywords: Katrina Hurricane Relief , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

By Stephanie Strom

The chaotic response to Hurricane Katrina by government agencies and the Red Cross, the sole private organization charged by law with providing relief in national emergencies, has led organizations like Oxfam to wonder whether they have a role in disaster response here.

Now, as Congress considers whether it should broaden the mandate for disaster response beyond the Red Cross, Oxfam and other international humanitarian agencies may find themselves called upon to take on new responsibilities in the United States.

Nonprofit groups responding to a crisis abroad try to work collaboratively and with grass-roots nonprofit organizations that they have nurtured as part of their efforts to build civil society and eradicate poverty.

Oxfam's foray into domestic disaster relief began with the local groups, like the Southern Mutual Help Association Inc., that it had been working with for several years to tackle poverty and promote economic development and with new groups its workers on the ground identified.

"I had never heard of them before," said Sarah Walker, executive director of Visions of Hope, a tiny nonprofit that provides a variety of housing support to low-income residents of Biloxi, Miss. "But they were here right away and wanting to know if we'd be willing to work with them and naturally, we said yes."

Oxfam made a $30,000 grant to Visions, which used the money to buy vouchers that families could use at the Home Depot, Lowe's and other retailers for brooms, mops, flashlights and other equipment to clear out their homes. For Visions, with an annual budget of about $125,000, the grant made a huge difference.


What did I tell you!

Thursday 5 January 2006, 1:50 pm
Keywords: Humor , Christian Topics
(Link to this article alone)

In the Goncourt journals, Flaubert is reported as telling the tale of a man taken fishing by an atheist friend. The atheist casts the net and draws up a stone on which is carved: "I do not exist. Signed: God." And the atheist exclaims: "What did I tell you!"

Indiana lawmakers pray illegally

Indianapolis Star, Washington Post

Thursday 5 January 2006, 1:18 pm
Keywords: Christian Topics , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

A judge's ruling barred the Indiana House of Representatives from invoking the name of Jesus or any other specific deity in official prayers.

That didn't prevent the lawmakers for holding their own prayer, nor did it keep about 30 people from gathering in the Statehouse rotunda this morning to pray.

In fact, the ruling motivated them. Sitting in blue chairs in the marble rotunda, people began the prayer session at 10 a.m. by chanting "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."


House Speaker Brian C. Bosma on Tuesday left open the possibility that today's opening-day invocation for the 2006 General Assembly might not comply with recent court orders barring references specific to Christianity.

In a Nov. 30 decision, U.S. District Judge David Hamilton found that the House violated the U.S. Constitution's clause prohibiting a government-established religion when at least 29 invocations last year were offered in the name of Jesus, the Savior or the Son.


The Indiana General Assembly will begin its 2006 session this week. Speaking from a federal bench, Judge David Hamilton ruled recently on a lawsuit brought by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union that any prayers offered at the Indiana House of Representatives must be nonsectarian and respectful of the diversity of religion of our state. Prayers should not seek to proselytize nor exclude members of other faiths. House Speaker Brian Bosma is challenging that ruling, suggesting that restricting clergy from praying in the name of Jesus Christ is an intrusion on their constitutional rights of freedom of speech and religion.


A federal court judge on Wednesday denied a request to amend his ruling banning sectarian prayer in the Indiana House of Representatives, clearing the way for an appeal to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

U.S. District Judge David Hamilton rejected arguments by House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, that Hamilton's ruling was too vague to enforce.

"If the speaker or those offering prayers seek to evade the injunction through indirect but well understood expressions of specifically Christian beliefs, the audience, the public, and the court will be able to see what is happening. In that unlikely event, the court will be able to take appropriate measures to enforce" the injunction.


In a spirited duel over prayer, members of the Indiana state House are at odds with a federal judge who ruled that the daily invocation appeals too often to Jesus Christ and a Christian god.

The "systematically sectarian" prayers, U.S. District Judge David F. Hamilton concluded, are barred by the Constitution, which forbids the government to show preference for any religious denomination. He ordered the House to avoid mentioning Christ in the formal benedictions.

A number of politicians have vowed to defy Hamilton, whom they accuse of undermining a 188-year Indiana tradition and interfering in legislative branch affairs.


You don't get arrested unless you break the law

Christianity Today

Thursday 5 January 2006, 11:56 am
Keywords: Christian Topics , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

by Sheryl Henderson Blunt

Evangelist Luis Palau says he did not mean to "create problems" for Chinese house church members when he urged them to officially register their churches in order to "receive greater freedom and blessings from the government."

"Rev. Palau is either unaware of the problems that registration can cause, or perhaps he is aware that if he makes remarks too critical of China's government, it could severely restrict his ministry there," said Paul Marshall, senior fellow at Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom. "Registration can require revealing all the church's members to the government and exposing all of the church's activities. If the government then wants to crack down, it has all the information it needs."

At a November press conference in Beijing, Palau said, "You don't get arrested unless you break the law." Palau has since said he regrets making the remarks. More recently he conceded, "It's not my role as an evangelist to suggest that churches in China should register."


Big Government Fix-It Plan for New Orleans

New York Times

Thursday 5 January 2006, 11:11 am
Keywords: Katrina Hurricane Relief , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

By Adam Nossiter

Representative Richard H. Baker is the champion of a housing recovery plan that would make the federal government the biggest landowner in New Orleans. Mr. Baker's proposed Louisiana Recovery Corporation would spend as much as $80 billion to pay off lenders, restore public works, buy huge ruined chunks of the city, clean them up and then sell them back to developers.

Property owners would not have to sell, but those who did would have an option to buy property back from the corporation. The federal corporation would have nothing to do with the redevelopment of the land; those plans would be drawn up by local authorities and developers.

A sobering early flyover of the ruined neighborhoods in New Orleans convinced him that ordinary solutions would not work. Here was a problem way beyond the capacity of private enterprise.

Desperate for a big-scale fix to the region's huge real estate problem, Louisiana officials and business leaders of all stripes have embraced the plan, calling its passage crucial.


Walking The Bible Again

Wednesday 4 January 2006, 9:12 pm
Keywords: Christian Topics
(Link to this article alone)

"Walking the Bible" played tonight on PBS. The next two installments play next Wednesday, January 11, and the following Wednesday, January 18. In our area, that would be on KQED (Channel 9) at 8:00 pm.

The show was pretty good. I thought it was interesting how he argued with his guide about going up Mount Ararat. Not that I particularly believe all the stories about Jimmy Carter having seen Noah's Ark up there and all that.

The PBS site has a link to your nearest station with their schedule.


There is a transcript of Ray Suarez interviewing Bruce Felier about his book. The interview took place in 2001.


Here is another more recent interview of Mr. Felier by Tavis Smiley.


You can search the PBS web site to find more such stuff.

Walking The Bible

Wednesday 4 January 2006, 3:09 am
Keywords: Christian Topics
(Link to this article alone)

Bruce Feiler, author of the book "Walking the Bible", hosts three-part documentary on PBS. The first installment of the "Walking the Bible" documentary airs tonight at 8 pm on PBS.


The book "Walking the Bible" on Amazon

Bitter Cold, Snow Blocking Relief Supplies in Kashmir

Washington Post

Tuesday 3 January 2006, 7:50 pm
Keywords: Katrina Hurricane Relief , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

By Zarar Khan, Associated Press

Shivering with cold and beating the snow off their fragile tents with sticks, earthquake survivors struggled Monday to keep their children warm as the bitter winter hit Kashmir, grounding helicopter aid flights and blocking roads for the second straight day.

Dozens of tents, including ones housing a school and a mosque, collapsed under the weight of 10 inches of snow that blanketed the village of Mira Tanolian, about four miles south of Muzaffarabad. The settlement lies amid the ruins of houses destroyed by the Oct. 8 temblor that killed at least 73,000 people and left 3.5 million homeless.

The Pakistan meteorological office forecast continued rain and snow for the next two days and low temperatures of 21 degrees Fahrenheit in the plains and 7 degrees Fahrenheit above 5,000 feet. According to the meteorological office, Kashmir and northwestern Pakistan have had at least two feet of snow since Saturday evening.

For the second straight day, helicopters from the United Nations, foreign militaries and Pakistan's army were not able to deliver winterized tents, clothes, food and other provisions in the quake zone because of poor visibility, said Maj. Farooq Nasir, an army spokesman. They were trying to move supplies by truck, but mudslides and snow have also made some roads impassable, he said.

"It's what we have been fearing all along," Larry Hollingworth, the U.N. deputy humanitarian coordinator said by phone from Battagram. "The winter is now with us."


Help comes on little cat feet

Associated Press

Tuesday 3 January 2006, 6:58 pm
Keywords: Humor , News Articles
(Link to this article alone)

Associated Press

Police say that a cat dialed 911 to help his fallen owner.

Police aren't sure how else to explain it. But when an officer walked into an apartment Thursday night to answer a 911 call, an orange-and-tan striped cat was lying by a telephone on the living room floor. The cat's owner, Gary Rosheisen, was on the ground near his bed having fallen out of his wheelchair.

Rosheisen said his cat, Tommy, must have hit the right buttons to call 911.

Rosheisen said he couldn't get up because of pain from osteoporosis and ministrokes that disrupt his balance. He also wasn't wearing his medical-alert necklace and couldn't reach a cord above his pillow that alerts paramedics that he needs help.

Daugherty said police received a 911 call from Rosheisen's apartment, but there was no one on the phone. Police called back to make sure everything was OK, and when no one answered, they decided to check things out. That's when Daugherty found Tommy next to the phone.

Rosheisen got the cat three years ago to help lower his blood pressure. He tried to train him to call 911, unsure if the training ever stuck.

The phone in the living room is always on the floor, and there are 12 small buttons -- including a speed dial for 911 right above the button for the speaker phone.

"He's my hero," Rosheisen said.

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