Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Night Miscellany

Hola darlings! I did not do a FNM last week, and I'm not doing one tonight, either. I'm just not in a very light-hearted or ironic mood, both of which I need to see the news in a certain light and convey it that way to you. As you know if you read here, starting last week we had horrid weather. There are floods all over, rivers cresting their banks that never flooded before; in the past week I think we've had more than a foot of rain in Greenfield, WI where I live, and we're by no means the worst hit. There were more storms last night, horrible storms. I'm terrified of lightning, after having witnessed a telephone receiver struck out of my mom's hand when I was just a wee little lass. Wouldn't you know it, the house was constantly lit up with lightning last night during storms 1 and 2 (they came through in sequence, five altogether, from about 7:00 p.m. through about 5:00 a.m. this morning). I didn't get much sleep. I had off today - good thing. I'd have not been much good at the office! Since I got up late this morning (after 7:00 a.m.) it has not rained, and we are promised a mostly rain-free day tomorrow. I will try and get the grass cut then, but frankly, the ground is so soggy and mushy it's unpleasant to be out on the lawn! One piece of good news: Goddesschess has now lined up two of three local events for our latest project (more about this at a later time). Now we're looking for a local event in Las Vegas to be held this year. It can be a state event with local players, an international event with local players, a scholastic event, an event hosted by a club that regularly hosts tournaments. Any suggestions, please let me know by emailing me at jlnatty "at" So far, I haven't had much luck finding information about chess in Las Vegas on the internet - except for the expected "Las Vegas Open", etc.

2008 Indian Women's National "B" Chess Championship

Latest news from The Hindu Online. I now know they'll be playing 11 rounds, 10 of which have been completed! Saturday, Jun 14, 2008 Eesha in sole lead Principal Correspondent KOZHIKODE: Fourth seed Eesha Karvade regained the sole lead with eight points going into the final round of the 35th National women’s ‘B’ chess championship here on Friday. The Pune girl needs just a draw in the final round on Saturday to clinch the title. The ninth round saw the fifth seed, Aarthie Ramaswamy, going down to Padmini Rout. Padmini is among six players with 7.5 points after 10 rounds; the others are Nisha Mohota, Bhakti Kulkarni, Swati Ghate, Pon N. Krithika and Kruttika Nadig. In the final round, Pon N. Krithika takes on Eesha, Krutttika Nadig meets Nisha, Bhakti Kulkarni plays Padmini Rout and Aarthie faces Swati Ghate. Important results (10th round): Nisha Mohota 7.5 drew with Bhakti Kulkarni 7.5; Swati Ghate 7.5 bt Mary Ann Gomes 7; Eesha Karvade 8 bt Mohana Priya 6.5; Padmini Rout 7.5 bt Aarthie Ramaswamy 7; Pon N. Krithika 7.5 bt A. Niji 6.5; M.R. Sangeetha 6 lost to Kruttika Nadig 7.5; Alka Das 7 bt Nimmy A. George 6; R. Preethi 7 bt Pallabi Roy 6 Teenu Thomas 6 lost to Amruta Mokal 7; N. Raghavi 6.5 drew with Taraswini 6.5; Seetha Lakshmi 6 lost to Swati Mohota 6.5; Supriya Maji 6 drew with Baisakhi Das 6; Ch. Divyasri 6.5 bt P.K. Jayasree 5.5; Devangi Patankar 6.5 bt Shalmali Gagare 5.5; Ch. Savetha 6 drew with Anuprita Patil 6; S.V. Sathyapriya 5.5 lost to R. Bharathi 6.5 S. Aruni 5 lost to Mitali Patil 6.5; C.P. Athira 5 lost to Saimeera Ravi 6; J. Sahari 6 bt Nabeela Farheen 5; Madhuri Patil 6 bt Bhavana 5; Bindu Saritha 6 bt Sahajasri 5; K. Shruthi 5.5 drew with Shaadi Majumdar 5.5; Anjana Krishna 5.5 drew with Shikha Shah 5.5; E. Sheena 6 bt N. Akshaya 5; Aparajita 5.5 bt Pooja Kanth 4.5 Pushpalata Mangal 5 drew with Nandini 5; Sharanya 5.5 bt Supriya Joshi 4.5; S. Anushya 5 drew with Prathyusha Bodda 5; Agnihotri Ghosh 5.5 bt V. Chaithanya 4.5; Priya Sandhya 4.5 lost to G. Sandhya 5.5; A. Akshaya 5.5 bt Sitali Shetty 4.5.

From Chess King to Pauper

Story at Abdul Jabbar: Chess King to pauper Manisha Mohite Once, he was hailed as a King. Today, the frail 59-year-old can be seen fetching files or making his way across tables with a tray of water glasses in the corridors of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation. Meet Abdul Jabbar, who represented India in international chess tournaments for two consecutive years in the seventies. The Chess giant won many National Open tournaments and had beaten the then stalwarts in India including the country's first IM Manuel Aaron twice. Jabbar was also the Maharashtra State champion thrice and the first chess player to receive the "Chhatrapati Award', the highest award for excellence in sports in the State. Is this the sorry state that former sportspersons with achievements that merit applause are reduced to? Hailed as a 'King' for his power-packed performances in the royal game of Kings and Queens, Jabbar today is more a pauper. Working as a peon since 1967, he retires in the same position this year. This job has been his only means of livelihood. . . . Bogged down by backache, needing a major eye-surgery for his deteriorating vision, this ex-player, who would see way ahead of the others on the board, is forced to lead a hand-to-mouth existence after his retirement. Though coaching is one of the most lucrative options for former players, Anup Deshmukh quickly dismisses it: "He (Jabbar) has been playing and coaching a few youngsters but does not believe in charging money for his efforts". A fact which Thipsay quickly endorses. "As far as I remember, he had lot of pride and never believed in asking any favours. Perhaps, had he been living in Mumbai, he would have been a big name as chess was a well-liked and appreciated game here then." However, the chess players and the Nagpur District Chess Association (NDCA) are organising an Abdul Jabbar Benefit Maharashtra State tournament, as a benefit event. Most of the leading chess players from Maharashtra have pitched in with donations, while a few politicians and other sportspersons from Nagpur have also contributed, according to a release by the NDCA. Jabbar, who lived his life without asking for any favours either from his office or society, cannot help becoming emotional. "This benefit tournament appears like a dream." Full story.

Supporting Local Chess: Fédération québécoise des échecs

In English, that's something like "The Chess Federation of Quebec" or "The Quebec Chess Federation." Quebec - specifically, Montreal, is the second stop on the Goddesschess tour of local chess events. I complement the webmaster of the website for the Chess Federation of Canada, for having an up-to-date website! From that website we easily located the Quebec Chess Federation and also learned about the upcoming 2008 Canadian Open Chess Championship, which is being held in Montreal, Quebec this year!!! Dates for this event are July 19 - 27, 2008. Here is some information about the event: Absolutely Guaranteed prizes : 25 000$ Dates : July 19-27, 2008 Place : Cegep du Vieux-Montréal, 255 Ontario st. east, Montreal 5 sections : Open, U2400, U2000, U1700, U1400 +UR Rated CFC and FQE. Membership required : CFC and FQE (Quebec only). Information : 514-252-3034 email : Guaranteed Prizes: Open: $15,000 total; Under 2400: $2,400 total; Under 2000: $2,000 total; Under 1700: $1,380, under 1500 $150, $150 junior; Under 1400: $1,175, under 1200 $125, Cadet $100. Stay tuned for further information...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Raising Money for 2008 Chess Olympiad Teams

I came across the Canadian Chess Federation's website tonight while doing research on another topic, and saw how they are soliciting funds to send a men's and, if enough money is raised, a women's team to the upcoming 2008 Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany later this year. Please check it out. And then compare their approach to the approach of the United States Chess Federation, which I found totally underwhelming and unconvincing - I mean, why would anyone contribute money to THIS when they could be part of an exciting fund-raising event for the Canadians! Kudos to whomever put together the fund-raising portion of the website for the 2008 Olympiad - well done! I'll contribute a few dollars myself, just because it was such an excellent solicitation.

Supporting Local Chess: The Southwest Chess Club, Hales Corners, WI

Hola! I'm once again dodging downpours, lightning strikes and tornado warnings. I'll stay online as long as I can. Tonight I want to blog a little about supporting local chess. Every now and then I do some searching online to see if I can find out anything about local chess clubs. Scholastic chess has an online presence in Wisconsin, but not so much local adult chess. The website for our state chess association is hit-or-miss and not up to date in many sections. Milwaukee, which used to host some premiere events back in the 1950's, has been out of the loop for years. The most recent prestigious event we hosted here was a few years ago, when the Midwest Airlines Convention Center was the site for the U.S. Scholastic Chess Championships. The thing is, I know that people get together here and play chess - everywhere. But it's all informal, and the locations are in the corners of bars, church basements and a few tables at local eateries in back rooms, out of the way and out of view. And none of these groups are formal "clubs", and no one has a website, so I can't find out about them! I was therefore highly gratified to find the website of a purely local chess club in Hales Corners, Wisconsin: The Southwest Chess Club. The club has been active for a number of years and hosts regular events. It also hosts USCF Grand Prix events - this year sponsored by World Chess Live with total prizes of $20,000! Yeah, it's website could use some work; on the other hand, it's run entirely by volunteers (hey, I know how that works, being a Goddesschess draftee myself) and some sections are very up-to-date, which is good news for me! I'll be posting more about this club and one of its upcoming events: The Hales Corners Challenge VIII, on October 4, 2008, which qualifies for 10 Grand Prix points. It's four rounds in a single day (eek!). Here's some info from the website: 4SS, G/60. 2 Sections: Open & Reserve (under 1600). Village Hall, 5635 S. New Berlin Rd., Hales Corners, WI (Milwaukee Area). EF: $35-Open, $25-Reserve, both $5 more after 10/1. Comp EF for USCF 2200+, contact TD for details. $$ Open (b/25)=1st-$325 (guaranteed), 2nd-$175 (guaranteed), A-$100, B & Below-$75; $$ Reserve b/25) =1st-$100, 2nd-$75, D-$50, E & Below-$40. Reg: 8:30-9:30, Rds: 10-1-3:30-6. Ent: Payable to SWCC, c/o Allen Becker, 6105 Thorncrest Drive, Greendale, WI 53129 ( ). Questions to TD Gary Wright 414-226-5753. Goddesschess has cooked up a little something special for this club and this event. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Stunning Horse and Chariot Burial Uncovered in Greece

Sixteen horses? Story from The Herald Sun (Australia): From correspondents in Athens June 12, 2008 04:33am ARCHAEOLOGISTS have dug up the skeletons of 16 horses and a two-wheeled chariot in a grave dating back to the Roman Empire in north-east Greece, the culture ministry announced today. Half of the horses were buried in pairs, whilst two human skeletons were also discovered in a dig near Lithohori, in the Kavala region. Near to the remains of six of the horses archaeologists found a shield, weapons and various other accessories. Ten of the horse skeletons were complete, and in addition to the horses, diggers found a grave and four tombs covered with a ceramic lid, which contained four bronze coins dating back to the fourth century AD. The chariot, dating from the first or second century AD, was "undoubtedly designed to be used in war or hunting", the ministry said. The chariot was decorated with a frieze relief in bronze, depicting three of Hercules' labours: namely, the Cerberus dog, the wild boar of Erymanthian, and the Stymphalian birds. The ministry said that in 2007 archaeologists discovered a chariot wheel placed underneath two horse skeletons in the same area. These excavations were begun to mark the beginning of work on a new motorway linking the Ionian Sea in the west with the Greek-Turkish border.

2008 Indian Women's National "B" Chess Championship

I wish these guys knew how to do a simple standings table! I don't even know how many rounds will be played. From The Hindu Online Thursday, June 12, 2008 Mohota, Gomes catch up with Eesha Karvade KOZHIKODE: Nisha Mohota and Mary Ann Gomes caught up with overnight leader Eesha Karvade after round eight of the 35th National women’s ‘B’ chess championship on Wednesday with 6.5 points each. Aarthie Ramaswamy, Swati Ghate, Kruttika Nadig, R. Preethi, Mohana Priya, Bhakti Kulkarni and Alka Das are in joint second with six apiece. Important results (eighth round): Eesha Karvade 6.5 drew with Aarthie Ramaswamy 6 Nisha Mohota 6.5 bt Nimmy George 5.5 Swati Ghate 6 drew with Kruttika Nadig 6 Pon N. Krithika 5.5 lost to Mary Ann Gomes 6.5 A. Niji 5.5 lost to R. Preethi 6 Saimeera Ravi 5 lost to Mohana Priya 6 Seetha Lakshmi 5 lost to Bhakti Kulkarni 6 Alka Das 6 bt Anuprita Patil 5 Padmini Rout 5.5 bt R. Bharathi 4.5 Amruta Mokal 5 drew with Pallabi Roy 5 Devangi Patankar 4.5 lost to Swati Mohota 5.5 Shalmali Gagare 5.5 bt P.K. Jayasree 4.5 Baisakhi Das 5.5 bt Ch. Savetha 4.5 N. Raghavi 5.5 bt Prathyusha Bodda 4.5 Ch. Divyasri 4.5 drew with Taraswini 5 C.P. Athira 4 lost to M.R. Sangeetha 5 P.V. Nanditha 4 lost to Nabeela Farheen 5 S. Harini 5 bt Sahajasri 4 Madhuri Patil 4 lost to S.V. Sathyapriya 5 Bindu Saritha 5 bt Sitali Shetty 4 K. Shruthi 5 bt Vanessa D’Souza 4 E. Sheena 4 lost to Teenu Thomas 5 Anjana Krishna 4 lost to V. Bhavana 5 Pushpalata Mangal 4.5 drew with G. Sandhya 4.5 J. Sharanya 4.5 drew with Akshaya 4.5 Supriya Maji 4.5 bt J. Janani 4.5 Aparajita Gochikar 3.5 lost to Nandini 4.5 Mahashweta Kumar 3.5 lost to Mitali Patil 4.5 Shaadi Majumdar 4 drew with Nirupama 4 S. Anushya 4.5 bt V. Chaithanya 3.5 Priya Sandhya 3.5 lost to Supriya Joshi 4.5 — Principal Correspondent

Get Over It!

IM Irina Krush wrote a second open letter posted at the United States Chess Federation's Chess Life Online. She raised no new points, just the same old complaints - she didn't win the title, therefore she was cheated. She seemed especially miffed that she could not draw Anna Zatonskih, the 2008 U.S. Women's Chess Championship, into a pissing and moaning match. Personally, I'm very glad Zatonskih chose not to respond to Krush's baseless allegations and bad sportsmanship. Get over it. You are an adult, not a baby. Stop acting like a spoiled brat who didn't get her way.

2008 Sri Lanka National Championships

Report from Sri Lanka Daily News Thursday June 12, 2008 The top five players in the Sri Lanka Men's and Women's championships will represent the country at the Dresden Chess Olympiad. Here are the top five women: Vineetha Wijesuriya Lihini Walallawita Anjana Perera Dilini Umesha Supeshala Thilakawardena Unfortunately, a full player list was not given, or final standings. Congratulations to the winnrs!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Central Park Blessings of Marriages

This sounds like a lot of fun! Blessing of the Brides and Grooms This Saturday in Central Park, June 14 From Join us for our annual Wedding Goddess Blessing of the Brides and Grooms in Central Park on June 14, 2008, at 4 PM. This is the only event of its kind for engaged couples in New York City. Brides and their grooms, of all faiths and backgrounds, join us each year in one of the most sacred parts of Central Park. The blessing is in a place blessed by the hundreds of weddings that are held their each year. Space is limited so you must RSVP to let us know you want to attend, and for location information. The Blessing of the Brides and Grooms is a ceremony before your ceremony, to help you feel more relaxed, centered and confident …show you how to visualize your wedding going your way … and empower you to be present and there for one another on your big day! It is a blessing meant to help give your marriage the best possible start. The Blessing of the Brides and Grooms is offered by husband and wife officiants, Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway and Rev. Vic Fuhrman. Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway is a leading interfaith and non-denominational wedding officiant. She creates unique ceremonies for couples of all backgrounds and faiths, and is also widely recognized as a bridal stress expert. She is editor of and author of Wedding Goddess and Your Perfect Wedding Vows. Rev. Victor Fuhrman is an ordained Interfaith Minister. He was officiant for “The Knot Presents My Celebrity Wedding” in 2007. He has been a Reiki Master Teacher since 1996 and heals with both his touch and his voice. He’s a meditation expert for and co- author of Pet Prayers and Blessings. [Oh, well, that makes him a real expert on marriage, then...] Our wish for all brides and grooms is that your journey to the altar be blessed! And that their marriages have the best start ever. This blessing is our gift to you each year! PLEASE RSVP to Rev. Laurie Sue ASAP!
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So, who is this unnamed "Wedding Goddess?" It's none other than the Goddess Aphrodite-Mari, from which the Latin word maritare (union under the auspices of the Goddes Aphrodite-Mari occurred).

Chess Life June 2008 Edition

This month's edition of Chess Life is wrapped in a ballot for USCF delegates who will represent each state in 2009 and 2010. I don't recognize the names of the four people running for delegates in my state (the 2 top vote getters will become our delegates). Trying to find information on these people is even worse than searching for a needle in a haystack - but then, I do that for a living. There was an interesting "letter to the editor" this month: Women in chess It is with great disdain I read the sidebar, "What is the USCL" (April Chess Life, page 30). I cannot begin to express the insulting, offensive, feelings overwhelming me after reading that if teams have a female member they are granted "extra" points. Regardless of the amount awarded it's not right. If a woman is a good enough player to make the rating to join the team she should be considered for her ability and not her gender. Personally, I am about to embark on entering my first nationals chess tournament this summer. And though I cannot beat every male member of the USCF, I can hold my own over a chesboard. Somewhere in last month's edition, your magazine mentioned trying to invite women to become interested in chess; articles like this are not going to help your cause. - Betty L. Cooper Elma, Washington Here is the response, which Chess Life asked IM Greg Shahade (commissioner of the USCL) and the article's author, to provide: The reason that female players get extra points on teams is to encourage teams to use females on their roster. It's clear that the image of chess gains whenever more women are involved, especially given the 90%+ ratio of men to women. We understand quite clearly that a woman who is rated 2200 is as strong as a man who is rated 2200. The only purpose of this rule is to ensure as much female participation as possible. While these bonus points are a relatively small amount, they definitely encourage teams to go out of their way to put females on their roster. In fact many of the top female players in the national have been involved in the USCL. Because of the flexibility these bonus points give to some teams, it also means they are involved in the matches more than they would be allowed to, if they didn't receive this small bonus. All of this is good for the league, as fans really enjoy watching women play. Despite these bonuses, the league is still overwhelmingly male. Liz Vicary, who has written several pieces for Chess Life and Chess Life Online, was also asked for her thoughts: I always find it hard to explain to people, especially non-chessplayers, why women have separate events or are treated differently in the chess world. Theoretically, it would be fantastic if this wan't necessary. However, the reality is that very few women play and organizers help the game greatly when they encourage underrepresented groups to participate more. To reupdiate a possible solution just because it suggests the problem exists doesn't help anyone. What exactly should be done about the lack of women depends on which specific goals you want ot achieve, but offering teams incentives for fielding women seems like it has been very effective. New York had three women on its team last year Baltimore as [Katerine] Rohonyan, Miami had [Yulia] Cardona, and last year's big winner, Dallas, played Bayaaa Zorigt frequently. I don't think there's any need to be offended by someone who's honestly and effectively trying to be part of the solution. My take: I agree. I agree. I agree.

Hiding in Plain Sight: Human Figure in Stone Age Ax

This is a great story! From The Local (Sweden), in English:

Stone Age axe holds hidden human figure
Published: 10 Jun 08 17:37 CETOnline:

An artifact from the Stone Age has been hiding in the plain sight of museum visitors and researches in western Sweden.

But no one noticed until archaeologist Bengt Nordqvist suddenly discovered the form of a human body on a stone axe.

“The axe has been in the museum’s collection for more than 100 years. Anyone could have found the image,” said Nordqvist, who had a hard time containing his excitement.

The stone axe was found in connection with the building of a road near Stala in the municipality of Orsut in Bohuslän region of western Sweden in 1875.

The ancient tool is a prized archaeological in and of itself, and has been seen by a considerable of visitors to the Gothenburg City Museum and the Stone Age Museum in Orust.

The axe is about 9,000 years old and in the shape of a cross.But it is the inscribed image of a headless human figure which has turned the axe into a sensation.

Similar artifacts found earlier haven’t been so old.

“It is seldom we come so close to figurative shapes of Stone Age people. OF we have a single national treasure in the country from this period, it is this object,” said Nordqvist, who is an expert on the Stone Age from the Swedish National Heritage Board.

The figure’s missing head could be explained by wear, but the image could also be a symbolic picture of a shaman or medicine man in a trance during which his mind in another place, according to Nordqvist.

The axe and other artifacts are included in an exhibit “Orust’s hidden treasures (Orust glömda skatter) which opens at the Stone Age Museum in Orust next week.

Stonehenge Cursus Predates Stone Circle

I had no idea what this "cursus" was until I read the article. In all the things I've read over the years about Stonehenge, not once do I recall reading about the "cursus." Interesting - From Science Daily 'Cursus' Is Older Than Stonehenge: Archeologists Step Closer To Solving Ancient Monument Riddle ScienceDaily (Jun. 10, 2008) — A team led by University of Manchester archaeologist Professor Julian Thomas has dated the Greater Stonehenge Cursus at about 3,500 years BC – 500 years older than the circle itself. They were able to pinpoint its age after discovering an antler pick used to dig the Cursus – the most significant find since it was discovered in 1723 by antiquarian William Stukeley. When the pick was carbon dated the results pointed to an age which was much older than previously thought – between 3600 and 3300 BC – and has caused a sensation among archeologists. The dig took place last summer in a collaborative project run by five British universities and funded by the Arts and Histories Research Council and the National Geographic Society. Professor Thomas said: “The Stonehenge Cursus is a 100 metre wide mile long area which runs about 500 metres north of Stonehenge. “We don’t know what it was used for – but we do know it encloses a pathway which has been made inaccessible. “And that suggests it was either a sanctified area or for some reason was cursed.” Professor Thomas believes that the Cursus was part of complex of monuments, within which Stonehenge was later constructed. Other elements include the ‘Lesser Stonehenge Cursus’ and a series of long barrows - all built within a mile of Henge. He added: “Our colleagues led by a team from Sheffield University have also dated some of the cremated human remains from Stonehenge itself. “That’s caused another sensational discovery and proves that burial cremation had been taking place at Stonehenge as early as 2900 BC – soon after the monument was first built. “But what is still so intriguing about the Cursus is that it’s about 500 years older than Henge – that strongly suggests there was a link and was very possibly a precursor. “We hope more discoveries lie in store when we work on the Eastern end of the Cursus this summer. “It will be a big step forward in our understanding of this enigmatic monument.”

2008 Las Vegas Open

Here are the top 10 (all guys). Newly-minted IM Ray Robson finished above GM Hikaru Nakamura in the Open (100 players)! Full standings. 1 GM Kamsky, Gata NY 2782 5.0 W 77 W 28 W 12 W 14 D 2 D6 2 GM Fressinet, Laurent FRA 2706 5.0 W 27 W 73 W 4 D 11 D 1 W13 3 GM Petrosian, Tigran L ARM 2666 5.0 W 56 W 29 D 17 W 19 D 11 W16 4 GM Kolev, Atanas BGR 2620 5.0 W 43 W 21 L 2 W 34 W 17 W19 5 IM Finegold, Ben MI 2594 5.0 W 87 W 74 L 19 W 46 W 27 W11 6 IM Friedel, Josh NH 2504 5.0 W 50 W 76 D 10 W 35 W 24 D1 7 GM Erenburg, Sergey ISR 2613 4.5 W 59 D 32 D 35 W 45 D 9 W28 8 GM Khachiyan, Melikset CA 2566 4.5 W 39 D 86 D 44 W 76 D 22 W29 9 IM Robson, Ray FL 2433 4.5 W 52 W 36 D 24 D 13 D 7 W30 10 10 GM Nakamura, Hikaru NY 2747 4.0 W 57 W 22 D 6 D 17 L 16 W37 Chess femme final standings: 45 WIM Tuvshintugs, Batchimeg CA 2290 3.0 72 WCM Hurtado, Daniela D MEX 1479 2.5 L 36 W100 L 57 L 50 D 89 W95 81 WIM Haring, Ruth Inez CA 2018 2.0 L 31 L 58 D 90 L 70 W 96 D78

The Lake That Disappeared!

While in China the authorities are struggling to drain quake-created lakes behind rockfalls and mudslides, in Wisconsin Lake Delton, a man-made lake, washed through a narrow band of land separating it from the Wisconsin River and drained itself of 90% of its water, taking several houses with it and damaging others! Story from

Swollen by rain, Lake Delton nearly empties, wrecking homes, damaging tourism hopes
Posted: June 9, 2008

Lake Delton - It was Tom and Tina Pekar's dream home - set on a little bay notched in the northeast corner of Lake Delton, just a couple of hundred yards from the Wisconsin River.

They moved there from Cudahy three years ago after retiring - Tom taught math, Tina worked as a recruiter for Midwest Airlines - and it sat on a beautiful spot.

On Monday, the house was a wreck, ripped from its site and tipped at a crazy angle where rain-swollen Lake Delton burst open, washing away three homes, shearing another in two and turning the once-sparkling body of water into a vast mud flat.

"It's unbelievable," Tom Pekar said, struggling for words Monday evening as he prepared to return once more to what had been his home. "I never in my wildest dreams thought that was going to happen. Never."

Who would have guessed it?

On Sunday, man-made Lake Delton covered 267 acres and held more than 600 million gallons of water.

On Monday, it was all but drained within two hours after the shore gave way, less than a quarter-mile from the dam that controls the lake. The breach created a ferocious current as the water tumbled into the Wisconsin River 40 feet below. The failure destroyed homes and dealt a blow to an important piece of the Wisconsin Dells-area tourism industry just as the high season was about to open.

"We have nothing but mud in front of us now," said Tom Diehl, operator of the Tommy Bartlett Show, which features acrobatic water skiing on the lake. "No water. Just mud."

Owners of the dozen or so resorts that ring the lake, offering hundreds of rooms to visitors, were wondering what would become of their summer seasons.

"I called all my guests who were booked for the month of June, and I canceled out," said Linda Allessi, owner of the Sandrift Resort.

"Can you imagine families showing up here, coming down to the beach and wondering where the lake is?"

'Lake Delton's not there'
Among the larger properties affected is Wilderness on the Lake, a shoreline complex of 108 upscale resort condo units featuring lake views.

"The property's still fine," spokeswoman Heidi Fendos said, "but Lake Delton's not there."

Wilderness on the Lake is a relatively small part of the larger Wilderness Territory resort, the great majority of which sits apart from Lake Delton.

That's true for the Dells tourism sector generally. By far the largest part of Dells attractions, which line Highway 12 and downtown Wisconsin Dells, are unaffected. The same can be said for the area's many water parks and the natural rock formations along the Wisconsin River that first drew tourists to the Dells.

But for those on Lake Delton, it's another story.

"It's going to be a devastating impact on all the resorts (on) Lake Delton," said Diehl, who has long been a leader in the state tourism industry.

"It's going to be a devastating impact on the boat-rental operations. . . . It's going to be devastating for the Tommy Bartlett Show. It's pretty hard to put a water ski show on when there's no water on the lake."

Gov. Jim Doyle, speaking near where the homes were washed away, said he would work to make sure affected residents get help needed from private insurers and state and federal government.

"We'll do everything we can," Doyle promised.

Meanwhile, Diehl, who is also a trustee on the Lake Delton Village Board, said village engineers were already studying how best to repair the gash in the lake.

"We're going to try to get that breach repaired as soon as possible and try to get water back in the lake," Diehl said.

Just how that might be accomplished - or when - is another question, and Diehl acknowledged Monday evening that he didn't have the answers.

"The breach is mammoth. It's probably 400 feet across. A lot of it is going to depend on what the DNR is going to require," he said, referring to the Department of Natural Resources.

Rain weakened sand
Although sandstone - the stone that forms the famed dells of the Wisconsin River - rings most of Lake Delton, it is absent at the spot where the shore gave way, Diehl said.

Instead, he said, the soil there is "100% sand" from the lake to the river a couple of hundred yards to the northeast. The heavy rains of the weekend turned the sand into a soggy mass that finally gave way about 10 a.m. Monday.

"What was mind-boggling was how quick it happened," said, Bob Wrzesinski, 74, who lives near where the lake washed out. "It makes Niagara Falls look like a backyard pond."

Wrzesinski was exaggerating, but this isn't the first time the geography of the Dells region has been reshaped dramatically over a short period.

Some 15,000 years ago, University of Wisconsin-Madison geography professor Jim Knox said, the Dells themselves were formed when an ice dam failed on glacial Lake Wisconsin, draining the huge lake in about a week and sending an incredible torrent of water surging down the course of the Wisconsin River.

"It's just like pulling the plug on the bathtub," Knox said of the deluge that cut the deep, curving gorges in the sandstone and created the Dells.

But those hit hardest on Monday, people such as the Pekars and their neighbors, Don and Darlene Kubenik, whose vacation home was sliced in two, weren't thinking about geologic history.

"We can't even rebuild because all of the land is gone," Darlene Kubenik, of West Allis, said as she stared at a kitchen wall that still held a framed but crooked picture.

The Kubeniks and the Pekars said they were unable to purchase flood insurance.

"We were told by the city that it wasn't needed because the lake is dam-controlled," Tina Pekar said. The dam held firm.

A 14-foot seawall that rose 3 feet above the water line "was supposed to protect us," Tom Pekar said. He said he and his wife followed DNR recommendations in siting their home.

For many years during their working lives, the couple vacationed in the Dells.

"We just loved it," Tom Pekar said, "and when my wife found a lot that we could afford, we built. Sold everything and built. It was a beautiful spot. . . . It was just a wonderful spot to sit and relax."

Don Walker, Meg Jones, Mark Johnson, Lee Bergquist, Erin Richards and Paul Gores of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Government by Spiritism and Astrology

These guys should talk to Nancy Reagan, I'm sure she could them some recommendations as to the best astrologists, etc. From The Nation/Opinion CHANG NOI Thai Politics are still in the grip of the spirits and the stars Published on June 9, 2008 Astrologers compete to predict the timing of the next coup. The ex-premier tours 99 temples to improve his fortune. Generals gather in Chiang Mai to channel the spirit of a Himalayan rishi. Ritualists vandalise an ancient monument. Thai politics have long been subject to the stars and the spirits. Still, the desecration of Phanom Rung was startling. This is a major historical sight of stunning grandeur. The damage was spread throughout the complex, and involved many different types of images. The intention seemed highly aggressive. Of course, the desecration might have nothing to do with the current political situation. But the knee-jerk reaction was to make that association. Some soldiers had used the site for a politically inspired rite a few months earlier. As the monument is of Khmer origin, the trail quickly led to Newin Chidchob - Thaksin Shinawatra's lieutenant for politics and magic. Access to mysterious forces is a form of power. In the past, kings tried to monopolise this important asset. But now, access has become more open and democratic. Politicians now compete to use them. Astrologists claim that the movement of the planets determine events, especially great events. To understand these movements and be able to predict the future offers advantage over rivals. In the past, Thai kings imported an astrological system from Sri Lanka, and hired Indian Brahmans expert in its use. They used their advice to find the propitious times for wars and other great events. The exclusiveness and exoticness of this astrological service was an important part of royal power. The government's astrological department still existed until less than a century ago. Astrologers still provide services to the palace and the state. Today access to this knowledge is not so exclusive. Astrologers write newspaper columns and offer fee-based consultancies. Politicians compete to find those with the greatest expertise. Hon Warin rose to prominence because he specialised in politics, and made a few good predictions. If the military had succeeded in their plan to form a governing party last year, he was set to become a member. Theoretically, astrology offers nothing more than prediction. It is passive. But people who want to know about the future also want to influence it. For this reason, astrologers have often tended to offer a portfolio of services beyond prediction. The court Brahmans were happy to conduct all sorts of ceremonies. Now politicians seek experts who can mobilise the gods and spirits in their favour. Although Thailand has long been technically Buddhist, in practice a vast panoply of gods and spirits comes into play. Much of India's prodigal assembly of gods and goddesses has been imported, redefined a bit, and rearranged somewhat. On top, there's a deep and ancient belief that the spirits of some people linger in the world and can influence events. Great figures from the past and prominent ancestors can be very powerful. So too can anyone who has had the misfortune to die a violent and untimely death. Old royal and state ceremonies called upon all these for assistance. Some old legal processes began by invoking all the gods and spirits to ensure a fair and just outcome. The list, including Hindu gods, saint-figures from early Buddhist history, semi-mythical kings, and sundry ancestors took almost twenty minutes to read. Again, in the modern era, access is no longer so exclusive. Anybody can find a monk willing to call on all the gods and spirits for luck. But politicians want the best and most efficient service. Thaksin likes quantity, especially magical quantity. A few years ago he organised synchronised chanting in 108 temples all over the country. Recently he has toured around 99. Other people put their faith in quality, hoping for access to a single god or spirit with exceptional influence. Spirit mediums have boomed over the last twenty years. Many of them claim access to major historical figures, including the first and fifth kings of the Chakri dynasty. Hon Warin has established the reputation of an obscure Himalayan rishi. Besides the stars and the spirits, there are the more mysterious forces of saiyasat or supernaturalism. Again there is probably an Indian origin. Three thousand years ago, Indian sages compiled a manual of methods to protect oneself against all kind of dangers, especially illness, wild animals, and the malice of one's fellow man. The name of this collection still survives in the Thai word arthan. The scope and methods of Thai supernaturalism today are still very close to this old manual. Mantras, talismanic protective devices, and magical diagrams are used to ward off danger and bring good fortune. Nowadays, the old wide range of talismans has been replaced by the convenient amulet. It is much easier to buy an amulet over the Internet rather than searching in the forest for scraps of ivory lodged in trees by charging elephants. Old royal governments had a department to distribute protective devices to troops. The use of these supernatural devices is also now democratised. Chanting formulas, blessing amulets, and perform arthan ceremonies for a new house, business, or political party is probably the major activity of the monkhood. The police hand out yantra cloths to officers sent to the South. Most politicians have many amulets. But again too there's competition for quality. Thaksin seems impressed by the Khmer reputation for special expertise. In saiyasat, there is a clear distinction between defence and attack. Using these methods for protection is widely accepted and practised. Using them to harm someone else is not. That distinction was written into the old laws, in force until a century ago. That is why the Phanom Rung incident is significant. Not only did it damage a historical treasure, but it seemed to indicate a shift from defence to attack. To counter this, someone found a suspiciously sleek rishi wearing what looked like a fake Louis Vuitton version of a tiger-skin toga. Wish him luck.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Female Burial and Dogs-Head Earrings Discovered

This is a very interesting burial, dating to about 300 BCE. This woman must have been of very high status - buried with four golden wreaths (!!!!) plus dog-head, gem-encrusted earrings!!!! (Unfortunately, no photos of the earrings, I would love to see what they look like). The dog-head earrings provide a possible clue; maybe she was a priestess of the Great Goddess in her aspect of Hecate, whose totemic companions were dogs (guardians of the gates to the after-world and, in some religions, accompanied the souls of the deceased into the after-world). Story from Published: 11:25 EST, June 07, 2008 Ancient Greek grave found during subway work Photos: In this undated handout photo provided by the Greek Culture Ministry on Friday, June 6, 2008, a 2,300-year-old gold wreath is seen beside two ancient clay pots in a newly-discovered grave in Thessaloniki, northern Greece. The grave, found during work for a new subway, contained four gold wreaths, earrings, as well as clay and copper vases. (AP Photo/Greek Culture Ministry) The 2,300-year old grave contained a female skeleton, accompanied by four gold wreaths and gold earrings in the shape of dogs' heads set with semiprecious stones. A Culture Ministry statement said Friday that the grave goods included a bronze mirror, a bronze vase and six clay pots. The woman had been buried in a wooden coffin, traces of which survived. The ministry said part of the grave had been destroyed by a modern sewage pipe. The Thessaloniki subway is scheduled for completion in 2012. ©2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Oy! A Scary Day!

My goddess! As if the first round of storms passing through this morning between 9 and noon weren't bad enough, now I'm underneath a super-cell at 8:30 p.m. The rain has nowhere to go, the ground is totally saturated and I've got ponds in my backyard. Fortunately, my power has stayed on and - so far - the basement has remained miraculously dry! I believe Greenfield, where I live, has received something like 9 plus inches over the last 2 days, and it's forecasted to rain through Wednesday. Right now I'm getting hammered again - lots of thunder and lightning and I should shut down -- but you know what, after dodging tornado warnings in the basement yesterday and cleaning up from the tree fire today (more about that below), I'm feeling pretty damn jaded at the moment, so screw it! If Lighting Wants To Strike This Computer, Go Right Ahead - And I'll Send Persephone After You, Bugger! Aside from very worrisome reports of 200 year old trees along Lake Drive being torn out of the ground by their roots earlier today (when the first micro-burst winds came through) and Lake Drive being closed down (that's the high rent district - I live very far far away from there...) miraculously once again we had no deaths, no injuries reported (knock on wood). It just so happens that I have an 80 foot tall Chinese Elm tree hovering over my house in the back yard. Let me tell you, this tree survived the wicked 100 mile per hour downburst straight-line winds in storms at the end of May, 1998 and the end of May, 1999. So this is nothing new - except the tree is much taller now, and regularly sheds branches during rain and shine at the slightest provocation. Which leads me to today's tree incident - the tree fire! EEK! Sometime during the fury of this morning's storm blowing over the house on its eastward trek toward Lake Michigan, a large branch broke off of the giant Chinese Elm and crashed down on the wires leading from the power pole at the north end of my lot. It's rather close to the house - about 18 feet maybe from my kitchen window. Power lines run across the yard to the next power pole on the other side of my neighbor's yard to the south. I've gotten so used to them, I hardly even see them there anymore, but there are 7 separate wires, some as thick as my wrist, running from that north pole across the yard south to the next pole over. They run in a hierarchy from really thin (at the far top, I can hardly make it out) to the three middle "wires" which are thick, and the bottom three "wires" which are VERY thick bundles of who knows what, one of which was somehow mysteriously cut, I noticed it a few weeks ago when I got home from work one night. The end of it is now dangling against the pole at the end of my yard. Calling the electric company is useless. They say it's not their wire. So who's fricking wire is it? They don't come with labels, you know! Okay - back to the tree fire! The first tree fire I've ever had. About 20 minutes after the first storm of the day passed through this morning, I opened up the patio door and stepped out to see what the latest damage was. Yep, the nature-formed swimming pool in the northeast corner of the yard was back and yep, lots of downed twigs and smaller branches from my mini-forest, but overall things looked okay. I threw some peanuts out for the squirrels and an extra ration of seeds and nuts for the birds, cuz their regular feeding spot was under about a foot of water. So, as I turn about to go back into the house, I notice sparks and "arcing" from the power pole, near its top. Seems a branch from the Chinese Elm had crashed down onto the second tier of wires, and it was on fire, and sparks, lots of smoke and etc. were issuing forth from whatever the hell is up there - all kinds of electric contraptions and connections, I have no idea what they are. I nearly have a heart attack seeing this, and then I pull myself together, run into the house and pull out the phone book to look up the emergency number for the electric company. I find it, and with trembling fingers punch it in - to get one of those DAMN electronic voice things. Goddess, I hate those those electronic voice things. So, I have to select an option - after first listening to a recording about the horrid weather we've been having lately (yeah, like I didn't know) and how many downed wires there are, and how our local electric company wants to serve us, but it will be at least a day before anyone will answer the telephone blah blah blah. After that ends, I have to listen to a list of options and choose one. None of the options fits my situation: I do not have a downed wire, I do not have a power outage, I am not reporting someone else's power outage. What I have is a tree branch on fire on top of a wire that has not fallen (yet). So, which option do I choose? Finally, I get to the bottom of the list and get to "other". So I hit "other" and have to speak clearly and loudly into the phone which is, supposedly (somehow) translating my English language into something that the telephone understands (probably a call center in Myanmar). By this point my heart is beating about 200 a minute and I'm hyperventilating and scared to death the whole damn thing is going to fall into my house and set me on fire! EEK! The telephone says "your call will be answered in the order in which it was received. At this time, we estimate that you call will be answered in five minutes." I hang up the fricking phone and dial 911. The very first time in my life I ever dialed 911. My 911 operator (Chuck), was so nice. We evidently have this new-fangled system so he knew instantly my address and after I'd said (as calmly as I could, with panic tears now gushing from my eyes) that I had a power situation with a tree branch on fire on top of a power wire just outside my house, Chuck had a fire truck to my house in less than 7 minutes. The fire guys calmed me down and sat on my chairs on the deck until the electric company came much later. I invited them to come through the house (the shortest path from front yard to back yard), but they said they had muddy boots (fire guys with manners) and so I led them through the rain to the side gate and tried to get it open against an uber-growth of day lilies that cover half the walkway and block the path. After struggling for a little, the fire guys climb over the fence. LOL! I run back up the walk to the front porch, into the house and to the patio door at the dinette in the back of the house. The fire guys call for the back-up right away, since they were not equipped to deal with this particular type of fire (which by that point was smoking and arcing/sparking but no longer with flames, thank Goddess, because of all the wet) and I heard the dispatcher say over one of their walkie-talkies that the electric company would be here in 30 minutes. Thirty minutes stretched into 90 minutes, but eventually a guy showed up with these long thingies to cut down branches and the fire guys left. Nice guys, thank you Greenfield fire guys. I thought, I must be dreaming, cuz how is this electric company guy with the cut down thingies going to get that branch off of the wire (I'd say it was about 25 feet overhead, maybe even higher), put out the smoke and sizzling noise (that was scary, let me tell you, that sizzling, "z z z z z z z z" noise!) and do whatever else needed to be done? He walks past the deck and I step out and he says "Nice morning, heh?" LOL! I say "Yah, watch out for the tree on fire." He says (just like the fire guys earlier), "Please go about your daily business, ma'am." So I go back into the house. So, there I am, faking washing dishes at the sink which has a double window above it overlooking the backyard, and I'm watching the electric company guy do his thing with the cutting thingies. I then started cleaning the kitchen, just for an excuse to stay near the window - I didn't want to look like I was spying, after all... I wash the rust off the bottom of the fridge, I scrub the floor - by hand - I start washing the cabinets dors. Somewhere when I was away from the window for a microsecond (probably scrubbing a corner of the floor under the kitchen cabinets), he brings down the offending burnt branch with the cutting thingies (somewhere along the line he produced TWO cutting thingies). All I know is, the next time I looked out the window, the cutting thingies are telescoped back down into 10 foot poles with saws on the end, and he's climbing over the fence to go back to his truck. The fire was out - but he didn't climb up the pole to check the electric thing up there that was causing the arcing/sparking and set the tree on fire. But - as no more fires have show up, he must have known what he was doing. I was left to clean-up all of the cut-down branches and the burnt-up branches from the tree fire. I've got a pile of cut-off branches about a foot high - and that does not include the really big branch that caused all of the problemes in the first place. That branch is upside down below the retaining wall the shelters part of the giant Chinese Elm, up against the fence. It's bigger than I am. It should be an interesting exercise trying to get that out to the curb by Tuesday when the yard waste disposal people can haul it away - if I can somehow first manage to get it cut into four foot lengths. Right now, it's inaccessible unless I rent a pair of hip waders, as the low ground below the retaining wall is under water at the moment, and may be for the entire summer... How does one man manage to maneuver two cutting thingies at the same time? Those thingies must weigh a lot - and the size of the tree limb - it's taller than I am - how did he get it down all by himself without bringing down the wires too? Okay, so now more tornadoes are passing overhead, it's pouring rain outside AGAIN, I can see just fine in the dark because the lightning is keeping me company as I type and is lighting up the house just fine. Well, that's one way to save on my utility bills... There's flooding all over the place. I saw earlier today through the frantic activity around the house that my immediate neighbor to the south must have a flooded basement... Oy, on the news just now (updating at 10:38 p.m.) that the Governor has declared 29 counties in the state, including my county, as a disaster area. Yeah, it's a disaster all right. Please Goddess, keep my sump pump running and no more rain! Except it's supposed to rain all night, and one more severe storm center is forming to the southwest of us, headed our way. Will I get any sleep tonight?

Magic Amulet, hey?

GM Alex Shabalov says he wore it and it helped him win? Oh my. Well - we know what this is about, don't we - pendants cost between $100 and $1,000. Yeah, they're magic all right. The cha ching kind of magic! THE POWER OF Wearers say the pendant gets their energy on the right frequency Amy Moon, Chronicle Staff Writer Sunday, June 8, 2008 Jimmy Page, one of rock's all-time guitar heroes, is featured on the cover of this month's Rolling Stone sporting his from way back. Lindsay Lohan was photographed wearing hers after she checked out of rehab. And more than 300 golfers in the PGA wear theirs; 120 championships on the links have been won with them, and many on the tour say it's all because of the Q-link. Bruce Fleisher, 2001 U.S. Senior Open Champ said, "The week after I put it on, I won the Senior Open. Was it luck? Absolutely. Destiny? You better believe it." There's more. "It was amazing. In the space of a few weeks, the guy pitching the opener of the World Series, Josh Beckett, flying out of his shirt was the Q-Link and then Alex Shabalov, the U.S. chess champ, was wearing it," said Richard Gray, president and CEO of Clarus Transphase Scientific Inc., maker of Q-Link. "In a chess blog, he said he put it on and it helped him to win the tournament." Is this just the latest cool object of the hour or is there something to this supposed magical amulet that celebrities and sports figures alike - supposedly Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker and Anthony Hopkins are on the list - have gone gonzo for? The Q-link is a pendant that, adherents claim, increases energy, improves focus and concentration, reduces stress, enhances stamina and endurance, and protects against electromagnetic radiation from cell phones, power lines and computers. A random pick from the alphabet led to the Q. Only later did the founders attach meaning to it. "We started to think about the Q-Link as being the 'Quantum Link,' " said Gray over the phone from his Larkspur company. "Quantum means an 'indivisible unit of energy,' something that supports the notion of the whole or holistic body." What started as a funky pendant sold by alternative practitioners at trade shows has evolved into pieces designed by well-known artists in a range of precious metals. So what about its supposed powers? According to Gray, everyone has an energetic field - known as a biofield - a term coined by the National Institutes of Health in 1994. "If you put the physical body into states of stress, the biofield goes out of balance," he said. "What the Q-link does is resonate sets of natural frequencies with the biofield, returning it to balance." He gives an example: If you hit a tuning fork and hold it near another, the other will start to ring with the same note. It's the same principle with the Q-Link and your biofield. Gray said that the Q-link is powered by a proprietary system he called Sympathetic Resonance Technology, a process of infusing materials with frequency-specific patterns of energy. Bay Area inventor and musician Robert Williams claims to have created the technology. He had been studying subtle energy since 1979 and in 1991 co-founded Clarus, a company committed to improving and enhancing quality of life by working with energy fields. William Tiller, former chair of material science and engineering at Stanford University, was the senior scientist at Clarus for three years until he retired in 1994. According to Gray, inside the Q-Link is crystalline matter imbued with frequencies that exist outside of the electromagnetic spectrum. This realm of subtle energies is a new area of science and controversial because there is no way to prove the energies exist. "It's really no different than a yoga teacher talking about balance," said Gray. "What's so interesting is if you look back over the last 20 years at anyone who ever talked about chakras, meridians, 1,000 years ago it was the basis of science." Although there has been some independent research on the supposed effects of the Q-Link that are listed on the Clarus Web site, the scientific evidence is scant. Gray said the company hopes to do more research. "We cannot make any health claims, nor do we," said Gray, "we'd be shut down in a second. The Q-Link operates by interacting with energy systems of the body, not directly on the body. All we're doing is providing a clearer pathway between the body's energy system and physical body itself." Golf pro Fleisher got his Q-Link in the late '90s when the company gave the objects to select players on the PGA. "They show you numbers, your body makeup. I don't understand the molecules, the yin-yang," said Fleisher from his cell phone. "I don't understand any of that, but whatever it does, it mellows you out. It holds you in a neutral pattern of well-being. I don't really know how to explain it." The company is glad for all the attention it's received thanks to celebrities who use Q-Link. "We've never paid anybody to wear the product," said Gray. "We're happy to have people wearing our products - we're never quite sure if they're doing it because it's the latest thing." It doesn't hurt that two years ago, typeface king Neville Brody designed a Q-link. "He was fascinated by the technology and he's a visionary," said Gray, "He offered to help us out. We don't tend to be able to afford design fees that Neville charges. "It's like the old saying, it's all about the company you keep." But Gray also believes the interest is more than superficial. "People are understanding that if we look after the energetic, holistic body, that is the way to a more sustainable health," he said, "That's why we're seeing this resurgence - in yoga, meditation - it's all linked to the idea that the energy body performs an important function in every day life. " He added, "The wellness market is changing. When I first started 10 years ago, it was enormously disparate - mostly services - alternative health practitioners, yoga studios. Now what's changing is there's a lot more consideration of products. Clarus is a big part of that. Wellness is here to stay. It's not a fad." Pendants cost between $100 and $1,000 depending on whether you want acrylic or platinum. New to the mix is a bracelet. Tom Williams, PR/branding director of Buffalo Communications, which is helping to get the new product into the golf marketplace, says, "It helps that the bracelet looks good. It's not just performance and wellness product, it's a lifestyle product. For those who want to look good, it works as a fashion and lifestyle accessory."

Local Chess News: Waukesha, Wisconsin

Young chess players are not rook-ies Game of wits popular with local children, parents By KATHERINE MICHALETS - GM Today Staff June 7, 2008 WAUKESHA - Before the chess tournament pitting children against adults began Wednesday night, Roshan Wijetunge, 10, was not practicing his moves on a chess board, but playing with the other youngest members of the Waukesha Chess Club in the parking lot of the Eagles Club. “It’s fun and it’s challenging playing in long games,” said Wijetunge, of Wauwatosa. “When you’re playing different kids, you can make different friends.” Jim Nickell, president of the Waukesha Chess Club, said he is happy for the “influx” of children in the club. “We’re glad to see these youngsters because this is the future of the club,” he said as he processed paperwork for Wednesday’s tournament, which will last several weeks. “It helps us and it helps them.” Wijetunge learned how to play chess three years ago from his parents, and he said the game has helped him in school. “I connect more things in school to chess, like math,” Wijetunge said. The full story is available at The Freeman online, but I don't have a subscription (not free).

Susan Polgar On Chess

From Polgar: Whether live or Internet, everyone can improve their chess Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Sunday, June 08, 2008Story last updated at 6/8/2008 - 1:37 am Here are some of the most interesting questions of the week: Q: What do you suggest for a beginner to improve and become a better player? A: One of the first things I suggest you do is study middlegame tactics and endgame techniques. There are many tactical puzzle books that you can learn from. For the beginning level, I would recommend "World Champion's Guide to Chess." For the intermediate level, "Chess Tactics for Champions" would be more suitable. My recommendation is to start with 5-10 puzzles daily. As you get better and more efficient, you can increase to maybe 15-20 puzzles a day. These puzzles can be checkmate in 1 or 2 or tactics that involve pins, forks, discovered attacks, etc. If you have time, the more puzzles you solve, the better you will become. You should also work with basic endgames. This should help you tremendously. Good luck. Q: Do you recommend chess players play on the Internet? Does it help or hurt your chess? A: This is a very common question that has been asked many times. There are pros and cons in Internet chess. The Internet is a great blessing for many young players, players who do not live near a big city or players who do not have much time to play over the board due to various circumstances. Many top young players became very good partly because they had a chance to play hundreds of games against top-level competition daily. The same goes with the older players. They have a chance to practice new opening lines, learn new things, gain self confidence daily at their convenience and improve rapidly. That is very important. Some chess clubs are open only one day a week. Internet chess is 24/7. You can play against people around the world. That is quite exciting. These are some of the good things. However, with every benefit there's a flip side. Internet chess takes away the personal touch, the personal face-to-face interaction. Some people prefer to play over the board. In my opinion, if you use internet chess properly, you can benefit a great deal. However, you have to weigh the pros and cons of Internet chess and come to your own conclusion. Different servers offer different kinds of play. Sample them and choose what is best for you. Q: Will computers rule chess in the future? A: In my opinion, the answer is not a matter of if but a matter of when. Right now, the computer is already so much better than human in blitz chess and fast-time controls. It is like trying to outdo a calculator. But computers still need to improve in the area of positional chess and complex endgames. When those areas are perfected, there will no longer be any competition anymore. I don't think we should worry so much about that now. Even with the best computers in the world, it won't take anything away from chess. It will only enhance the game. If you are worried about that, you can always try random chess. Keep those questions coming by sending me an e-mail at a You can also find a lot of information on the SPICE Web site or my daily chess blog

Albinos Hunted in Africa

From The New York Times

Albinos, Long Shunned, Face Threat in Tanzania
Published: June 8, 2008
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — Samuel Mluge steps outside his office and scans the sidewalk. His pale blue eyes dart back and forth, back and forth, trying to focus.

The sun used to be his main enemy, but now he has others.
Mr. Mluge is an albino, and in Tanzania now there is a price for his pinkish skin.

“I feel like I am being hunted,” he said.

Discrimination against albinos is a serious problem throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but recently in Tanzania it has taken a wicked twist: at least 19 albinos, including children, have been killed and mutilated in the past year, victims of what Tanzanian officials say is a growing criminal trade in albino body parts.

Many people in Tanzania — and across Africa, for that matter — believe albinos have magical powers. They stand out, often the lone white face in a black crowd, a result of a genetic condition that impairs normal skin pigmentation and strikes about 1 in 3,000 people here. Tanzanian officials say witch doctors are now marketing albino skin, bones and hair as ingredients in potions that are promised to make people rich.

As the threats have increased, the Tanzanian government has mobilized to protect its albino population, an already beleaguered group whose members are often shunned as outcasts and die of skin cancer before they reach 30.
Police officers are drawing up lists of albinos in every corner of the country to better look after them. Officers are escorting albino children to school. Tanzania’s president even sponsored an albino woman for a seat in Parliament to show that “we are with them in this,” said Salvator Rweyemamu, a Tanzanian government spokesman.

Mr. Rweyemamu said the rash of killings was anathema to what Tanzania had been striving toward; after years of failed socialist economic policies, the country is finally getting development, investment and change.

“This is serious because it continues some of the perceptions of Africa we’re trying to run away from,” he said.

But the killings go on. They have even spread to neighboring Kenya, where an albino woman was hacked to death in late May, with her eyes, tongue and breasts gouged out. Advocates for albinos have also said that witch doctors are selling albino skin in Congo.

The young are often the targets. In early May, Vumilia Makoye, 17, was eating dinner with her family in their hut in western Tanzania when two men showed up with long knives.

Vumilia was like many other Africans with albinism. She had dropped out of school because of severe near-sightedness, a common problem for albinos, whose eyes develop abnormally and who often have to hold things like books or cellphones two inches away to see them. She could not find a job because no one would hire her. She sold peanuts in the market, making $2 a week while her delicate skin was seared by the sun.

When Vumilia’s mother, Jeme, saw the men with knives, she tried to barricade the door of their hut. But the men overpowered her and burst in.

“They cut my daughter quickly,” she said, making hacking motions with her hands.

The men sawed off Vumilia’s legs above the knee and ran away with the stumps. Vumilia died.

Yusuph Malogo, who lives nearby, fears he may be next. He is also an albino and works by himself on a rice farm. He now carries a loud, silver whistle to blow for help.

“I’m on the run,” he said.

He is 26, but his skin is thick and leathery from sun damage, making him look 20 years older.

Many albinos in Tanzania are turning to the Tanzanian Albino Society for help. But the nonprofit advocacy group operates on less than $15,000 a year. That’s not enough for the sunscreen, hats and protective clothing that could save lives.

Mr. Mluge, 49, is the society’s general secretary. He grew up with children pelting him with chalk in class. He said he had learned to live with being constantly teased, pinched and laughed at.

“But we have never feared like we do today,” he said.

Al-Shaymaa J. Kwegyir, Tanzania’s new albino member of Parliament, said, “People think we’re lucky. That’s why they’re killing us. But we’re not lucky.”
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