Saturday, December 20, 2008

Oh no, it's snowing again...

It's begun - the snow - but current forecast calls for a mere 1-3" tonight, an additional inch tomorrow with possibly another inch accumulating after 6 PM tomorrow night. The big story is strong winds and plunging temperatures that have not hit - yet - but are in the forecast through noon on Monday. Great, just great. That means I get to walk to the bus stop Monday morning in -40F winds with blowing frozen snow slapping me in the face the entire 3/4 mile.
I thought I'd look for some long underwear - can't get it delivered in time for Monday morning's trek, of course, but it would be a wise wardrobe addition for January, February, March and April, which is roughly the span of winter in Wisconsin in addition to November and December. Sigh. I found these red and white striped very cute long johns - but don't dare wear them unless you weigh less than 100 pounds and are at least 5'10" tall. Obviously not made for anything remotely resembling a REAL American woman like yours truly, LOL!

Blast from the Past: Kramnik the Lucky Loser

Chess News by Jude Acers from March 27, 2000. London, England. World top five chess grandmaster V. Anand of India has shocked the chess world today by rejecting a two million dollar ($2,000,000) -16 game match with world number one rated superstar G. Kasparov. Mr. Anand reportedly demanded $300,000 from the fund being held in escrow in advance , withdrew when the cash did not arrive. Mr. Malcolm Pein (The Daily Telegraph) reports that V. Kramnik of Russia will be offered the challenger's role with launch date April 5, 2000 for all arrangements....the startling developments today complete the near miracle luck of Mr. Kramnik, now guaranteed $665,000 loser's purse and the Kasparov match in one of the apparently great rip-offs of all time --.Mr. Kramnik was badly beaten, losing two and drawing 8, winning NONE versus superstar A. Shirov for a Kasparov match two years ago...Readers will recall that Mr. Kramnik WAS PAID A REPORTED 200,000 FOR LOSING, Mr. Shirov left with huge bills, received nothing for winning when world number one Kasparov disappeared with collapse of the "guaranteed 3 million dollar" Kasparov-led match arrangements. Mr. Shirov, ALREADY deprived of one million dollars PLUS a match with Kasparov earned one thousand times over, must now only watch in agony as fate robs him of everything anew. Mr. Shirov, probably a de-facto world chess champion after defeating all of the top three available chess players in MONACO last week ( including Anand, Kramnik, Karpov etc. with a tremendous first place score: 14.5/22 in the Melody Amber half blindfold play/half rapid event, is so far quite the most unlucky chess grandmaster in history...
With the FIDE-imposed rule changes regarding the Grand Prix and the creation of a new eight-player tournament to determine a challenger to Anand for the world title, Kramnik will have yet another kick at the can without having earned it. Most everyone who has commented on the matter assumes that the Russians will come through with a bid for the event and nominate Kramnik as their man to play.
What's the old saying - the more things change, the more they stay the same...

2008 National 'A' Women's Chess Championship of India

The Indian press is giving enthusiastic coverage to the National 'A' Women's Chess Championship this year - the best yet, I'd say. Perhaps the fantastic year that Indian chess stars have had, including the successful defending of his world chess champion title by GM Vishy Anand, has fired the press up as never before, and interest is at an all-time high in chess across the country. I love seeing this kind of enthusiasm for the game I love, particularly for a chess femme event. Here is a sampling of article that cropped up in a news search a few minutes ago: Kruttika defeats Bhakti Hindu, India - 1 hour ago NEW DELHI: Kruttika Nadig took the long route to victory against former National junior champion Bhakti Kulkarni in the third round of the Parsvnath 35th ... Amrutha holds Soumya in Parsvnath National Women Chess Bombay News, India - 5 hours ago Maharashtra's Amrutha Mokal held overnight leader Soumya Swaminathan to a creditable draw on the top table in the third round of ongoing Parsvnath 35th ... Amrutha holds Soumya in Parsvnath National Women Chess SINDH TODAY, Pakistan - 6 hours ago New Delhi, Dec 20 (IANS) Maharashtra’s Amrutha Mokal held overnight leader Soumya Swaminathan to a creditable draw on the top table in the third round of ... Amrutha holds Soumya in Parsvnath National Women Chess, Thailand - 7 hours ago New Delhi, Dec 20 (IANS) Maharashtra’s Amrutha Mokal held overnight leader Soumya Swaminathan to a creditable draw on the top table in the third round of ... Tania, Amrutha held at National Women championship Indiatimes, India - 8 hours ago 20 Dec 2008, 1833 hrs IST, PTI NEW DELHI: Defending champion Tania Sachdev was once again held to a draw, while overnight leader Soumya Swaminathan also ... Soumya stuns Tania Hindu, India - 22 hours ago NEW DELHI: Soumya Swaminathan surprised defending champion Tania Sachdev with her clean calculation under time-pressure to emerge as the leader after two ... Here's the first article from The Hindu. The writer enthusiastically conveyed the excitement and tension of Round 3, which was keenly fought by all of the chess femmes. Sport - Chess Kruttika defeats Bhakti Kamesh Srinivasan (File photo: Kuttika Nadig) NEW DELHI: Kruttika Nadig took the long route to victory against former National junior champion Bhakti Kulkarni in the third round of the Parsvnath 35th National ‘A’ women’s chess championship at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture here on Saturday. With the leader Soumya Swaminathan being held to a draw by a gutsy Amrutha Mokal, the 20-year-old Kruttika had reasons to be satisfied with her position, half point behind. “It was a very funny game,” observed Kruttika. Complicated position After the Slav Defence had led to a complicated position, Kruttika conceded that she tried ‘all kinds of tricks’, to find a breakthrough. Eventually, she had two bishops against a rook, but combined her queen with the bishops to wreak havoc and swallowed the rook as well. Kruttika could have sealed the match with a bishop move on the 62nd turn, but drove the enemy king all over the board before executing the checkmate in 73 moves. “I sacrificed to gain tempo, but she made some mistakes and lost,” said Kruttika, even as she agreed that she did not play the best moves, owing to time trouble. Three-time Asian junior champion Mary Ann Gomes, grappling with a bout of cold, bolstered her sagging morale with a 37-move victory over last year’s runner-up Kiran Manisha Mohanty. “It was a very tough game. She had an attack, but once it failed, my pieces became active. I gained material advantage too. “I should not have let the match drift for so long. There should have been a better option,” said Mary. She took her tally to 1.5 points with the victory in 37 moves. Swati Ghate was also happy to get back to winning ways after an error in the second round when she had to endure the ignominy of being check-mated following a hasty king move. The 28-year-old sacrificed to gain momentum, but did not have to work hard on her strategy for long as her opponent blundered the queen and lost her way. “I could have played a better course, but there is a long way ahead,” said Swati. Time trouble Soumya played as well as she could, but found dark horse Amrutha a tough nut to crack, despite the latter facing her usual enemy, time trouble. At one stage, Soumya took so much time to plan her course, nearly 20 minutes for a move, that there was hardly any difference in the clock of the two. “She played very well. There was nothing much I could do,” said the 19-year-old Soumya who had upset defending champion Tania Sachdev in the second round. The 22-year-old Tania revealed her craft in holding WGM Eesha Karavade to a draw in 53 moves, despite being a pawn less in a knight against bishop end-game. Pon N. Krithika continued to impress with her understanding of Ruy Lopez, as she snatched half a point from WGM Nisha Mohota in a 36-move encounter. The results (third round): Soumya Swaminathan (2.5) drew with Amrutha Mokal (1.5); Eesha Karavade (1.5) drew with Tania Sachdev (1.5); Kiran Manisha Mohanty (1) lost to Mary Ann Gomes (1.5); Pon N. Krithika (1.5) drew with Nisha Mohota (1); Bhakti Kulkarni (0.5) lost to Kruttika Nadig (2); Swati Ghate (2) bt Padmini Rout (1). Fourth round pairings: Amrutha-Padmini; Kruttika-Swati; Nisha-Bhakti; Mary-Krithika; Tania-Kiran; Soumya-Eesha.

It's DONE! (for now...)

The driveway is finished! I got back from the store at 1:40 PM and shoveled for another hour and 10 minutes and it's finished! This go-round I didn't even crack a sweat.
I stocked up on nuts for the squirrels and goodies for me and a meaty pot roast with fixings that I will make in the slow cooker Monday nigh, store overnight in the fridge (the inner crock pot removes from the heating element and has a glass dome cover) and finish up Tuesday night in anticipation of dondelion's arrival. Nothing better than having a good home-cooked meal and a tall glass of wine and warm rolls waiting for one after a long hard day of traveling. What can I say - I spoil the man rotten :)

Saturday Morning and No Heart Attack!

Hola darlings! I've survived the storm - now another one is on the way. New bulges on the arms - I tell you, I WILL have Popeye arms in another week or two if this keeps up. This new storm will be a doozy, not so much because of the amount of snow that is expected (maximum a mere 7") but because of strong winds and plunging temperatures that will push sustained windchills to 35 to 40 below zero F starting later tonight, and all day tomorrow. Blowing and drifting snow is expected to cause major travel hazards locally and white-out conditions. So, I've got a lot more to do today before the storm hits - it's already noon! I got behind the time when Isis called from Las Vegas - where more snow is forecast! We chatted for a good hour at least. I slept in today, did not get up until 7:30 AM, eek! I've been shoveling. Got out at 9 AM and put in a good hour this morning in addition to the initial 40 minutes yesterday and then an hour and 15 minutes later yesterday, moving the heaviest of the snow -- clearing out the base of the driveway where the plow piled up chunks of ice and hard snow to 4 feet deep. Here's what my driveway looks like at present:

You can now barely see the mail and newspaper boxes from the front stoop now (compare to photos taken 24 hours ago) The fresh layer of snow that accumulated over the past 24 hours is also clearly visible - ha, the weather dude said "no accumulation" expected from lake effect snow, which I ALWAYS get.

The driveway is now much narrower since the last shovel-out and is also "crooked" - lol! There are also decided curves in the cleared area although my driveway is a straight shot from the road. Well, it was hard to judge where to plunge the shovel into the snow banks to start shoveling yesterday when the snow was still blowing in my face. Once I get the rest of the bulk shoveled away (starting where the shovel is buried) closest to the house and garage door (probably another hour's worth of steady hard work), I will whittle away on the sides of the snow banks to widen out the driveway area and attempt to straighten out the curves. I don't need to do this, of course, since there is no car parked in the garage that I need to drive in and out. But it's damn good exercise, both aerobic and muscle-wise. Since I'm not walking anymore during lunch-hours I need to get in what exercise I can, when I can. I still want to get down to the weight I was in November, 2003, the last time delion and I visited Las Vegas. The scale keeps fluctuating - I either have to lose 5 lbs. or 3 lbs., depending on what time of the day it is. Can I do it? Assuming we can get out of Milwaukee on 12/24, I've only got a few more days to lose those last pounds! Eek! The left shoulder is aching again - I'm very mindful of not wanting to tear my rotator cuff, so I try to get equal time in on the right shoulder, but despite my best efforts there is just no comparison.

But first I've got to hike down to the supermarket and get a few things, some wine (for moi) and nuts (for the critters), and start stocking in food for dondelion's visit, assuming he can get here. Weather is very iffy in both Montreal and Milwaukee for his Tuesday flight, we're crossing out fingers. I won't be stirring outdoors at all tomorrow other than to shovel off the deck for the critters, the weather is supposed to be that bad. The forecasters are already warning about the mini-blizzard conditions, which is bad enough. It's the 35 to 40 below zero F temperatures that most bother me. My hands freeze up in nothing flat despite investing this season in supposedly super-duper thermal gloves. Ha! Fraud! Well - at least they have a waterproof outer coating which comes in handling when shoveling because with the winds whipping around I get lots of blowback - mostly in the face but on the hands and jacket too. Arghhh! Okay - time to get a move on. Have much cleaning and then doing Goddesschess stuff to do before I'll be back here blogging. Right now, time to put the boots back on and bundle back up and head to the Pick 'n Save. I do not look forward to battling the mad crowds there, which there are sure to be! Heave Ho, Jan. Time to brave the elements once again...

Furry Friends

The squirrels are out in force this morning - no doubt they can anticipate the new storm blowing in that may dump another 7" of snow here starting later on this afternoon, yech! Here are three different visitors all within a minute of each other: (1) on a thin branch (nice view of my neighbors' shed and backyard :)) (2) Ninja squirrel - demonstrating her stealth and wary mode (3) and (4) are the same cheeky little gal - she's covered in snow because she loves to dig deep in the snow. I missed a great shot of just her tail sticking up out of a deep hole, lol! I whistled my presence at the patio door and she came up out of the hole and made a beeline for me. She's checking me out with the camera - not sure what the heck it is, but she grabbed a nut anyway and then paused long enough at the top of the edge of the snow for me to grab the final shot. You can see the fresh snow that fell after I shoveled the deck yesterday morning and all of the critters' paw prints all over the place - as well as their pathways from the trees up to the partially excavated deck.

Friday, December 19, 2008

King Tut's Father Identified

At least, Zahi Hawass says so :) King Tut's Father ID'd in Stone Inscription Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News Dec. 17, 2008 -- An inscribed limestone block might have solved one of history's greatest mysteries -- who fathered the boy pharaoh King Tut. "We can now say that Tutankhamun was the child of Akhenaten," Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Discovery News. The finding offers evidence against another leading theory that King Tut was sired by the minor king Smenkhkare. Hawass discovered the missing part of a broken limestone block a few months ago in a storeroom at el Ashmunein, a village on the west bank of the Nile some 150 miles south of Cairo. Once reassembled, the slab has become "an accurate piece of evidence that proves Tut lived in el Amarna with Akhenaten and he married his wife, Ankhesenamun," while living in el Amarna, Hawass said. The text also suggests that the young Tutankhamun married his father's daughter -- his half sister. "The block shows the young Tutankhamun and his wife, Ankhesenamun, seated together. The text identifies Tutankhamun as the 'king's son of his body, Tutankhaten,' and his wife as the 'king's daughter of his body, Ankhesenaten,'" Hawass said. "We know that the only king to whom the text could refer as the father of both children is Akhenaten, himself. We know from other sources that Ankhesenamun was the daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti. Now, because of this block, we can say that Tutankhamun was the child of Akhenaten as well," Hawass said. Found among other sandstone slabs in the storeroom of El Ashmunein's archaeological site, the block was used in the construction of the temple of Thoth during the reign of Ramesses II, who ruled around 1279-1213 B.C. But the block wasn't freshly cut by the workers of the temple. Instead, it was recycled and brought there from el Amarna, along with some other thousand blocks, originally used to build the Amarna temples. Now known as el Amarna, the city was once called Akhetaten after the "heretic" pharaoh Akhenaten (1353-1336 B.C.) had established the capital of his kingdom, introducing a monotheistic religion that overthrew the pantheon of the gods to worship the sun god Aton. When Akhenaten died, a state decree was issued to purposefully destroy Amarna and its building materials were distributed for use elsewhere. According to Hawass, the block comes from the temple of Aton in Amarna and the forms of the inscribed names clearly date it to the reign of Akhenaten. The best-known pharaoh of ancient Egypt, King Tut has been puzzling scientists ever since his mummy- and treasure-packed tomb was discovered in 1922 the Valley of the Kings by British archaeologist Howard Carter. Only a few facts about his life are known. While he lived in el Amarna, his name was Tutankhaton ("honoring Aton" -- the sun god). When he ascended the throne in 1333 B.C., at the age of nine, and moved to Thebes, he changed his name to Tutankamun ("honoring Amun" -- a traditional cult). As the last male in the family, his death in 1325 B.C. at age 19 ended the 18th dynasty -- probably the greatest of the Egyptian royal families -- and gave way to military rulers. Mapping out the lineage of the Egyptian pharaohs is one of Hawass's latest challenges. King Tut has been either credited to be the son of Akhenaten or the offspring of Amenhotep III, who was Akhenaten's father. Doubts also remain about King Tut's mother. Scholars have long debated whether he is the son of Kiya, Akhenaten's minor wife, or Queen Nefertiti, Akhenaten's other wife. Egyptian researchers are currently carrying out DNA testing on two mummified fetuses found in King Tut's tomb, believed to be his offspring. "If the fetus DNA matches King Tut's DNA and Ankhesenamun's DNA, then we would know that they shared the same mother," Hawass said. According to Swiss anatomist and paleopathologist Frank Ruhli, head of the Swiss Mummy Project at the University of Zurich, Hawass' finding is very important. "It supports one of my favorite theories about King Tut's parentage. DNA of proven relatives would help if it matches with the one of King Tut," Ruhli told Discovery News.

2008 National 'A' Women's Chess Championship of India

Story from The Times of India: Soumya upsets Tania to jump into sole lead 20 Dec 2008, 0055 hrs IST, TNN NEW DELHI: Soumya Swaminathan jumped into sole lead with 2 points after upsetting defending champion and top seed Tania Sachdev in the second round of the 35th National Women’s A Chess Championship on Friday. The day saw a lot of surprises as the four decisive results went in favour of underdogs. Amrutha Mokal got the better off WGM Swati Ghate in 35 moves. In another surprise result, N Krithika overcame second seed Kruttika Nadig in just 30 moves. Another WGM, Nisha Mohota also suffered a setback as she lost to Kiran Manisha Mohanty of Orissa. Padmini Rout and Eesha Karavade signed the peace treaty against Bhakti Kulkarni and Mary Ann Gomes respectively in the other matches.

Blizzard Aftermath

So, about 12:15 PM I pulled the boots back on, bundled up, and headed out to the deck to shovel. I did about half of it before running out of steam. Then I tramped lots of snow through the house to go out the front door and tackle a pathway to the road. I was outdoors altogether about 40 minutes and made some headway, as you can see from the photos (bel0w). I came in to warm up and take an hour's break. I came upstairs with the memory card and sat down at my desktop. LOL! I kid you not, while I was sitting here shortly after 1:00 PM downloading the photos this email from Travelocity appeared: Jan, you need a break. Here's the bad news: you look tired. [Gee, I wonder why>] But here's the good news: we can fix that! You might not know it, but you've still got time to book a vacation before the end of the year. Whether you want to head home over the holidays or spend them lying on a tropical beach, we've got some great deals just for you. Head over to and you'll find the following: Low fares, a variety of destinations, and thousands of customer-reviewed hotels Our convenient FareWatcher Plussm tool, which lets you watch up to 10 destinations and tells you when the fares drop Our cutting-edge ExperienceFindersm planning tool Our industry-leading Guarantee, which ensures that we'll look out for you all trip long—even before you go Plus, we'll help you out with a great holiday offer [travel coupon]. dondelion and I do have a get-away planned - to the relative warmth of sunny Las Vegas which only received 3.6" of snow on Tuesday, if he can actually get here from Montreal on the 23rd and if we can actually get out of here Christmas Eve morning! Photos: Deck - about half-shoveled, I shoveled off the part that only had a foot of snow first. The second half has about a foot and a half to two feet of snow, I think I'll wait until it melts in the spring... Front - stoop is now somewhat cleared and I have the start of a pathway not quite half-way down the drive. The goal is the mail box and paper box that you can see behind my shovel in the far distance... It's now 1:41 PM. I think I need a nap...

Blizzard Aftermath

It's officially over - for now. My area got 13" of snow. But the winds have not abated, so I'm getting a lot of blow-off from my neighbors and my drifts are getting bigger and bigger, arggghhh! Roads are being cleared - not mine yet, so I won't even bother to start shoveling the front driveway until the plows have been through again. I'll start on the deck. The bluejays showed up about 30 minutes ago, I threw some peanuts out for them and "called" them in my croaky "jay" voice and they came right away, diving for the peanuts in the snow on the deck. I am now doing research on snowblowers, I've got to get one, I just can't do another season of shoveling this kind of snow. I hate the thought of another smelly, big heavy gas-guzzling machine that I won't be able to handle. Where are the kids who go around house to house looking for shoveling work for $$$ when you need them? I've lived here nearly 20 years now and I've YET to have a kid come by and ask if I need help shoveling out! Back to consumer reviews of snowblowers.

Christmas Tree

This year's version of my Yule Tree. I know, I know, it looks fully loaded, but it doesn't have the gold beads or the burgundy crystal snowflakes this year!

View from My Desk Downstairs

Living room decorated for Christmas. This is a view from my desk.

View from My Front Window

Right after I took this shot someone dressed in black and yellow cross-country ski gear (complete with goggles) glided past the house - the flash was recharging on my camera so I could not get the shot! It's now 10:38 AM and I hear snowblowers going all over the neighborhood, but it's still snowing. I'll wait until it stops before attempting to shovel a path for myself. The small part of the deck that I shoveled out earlier this morning is covered now with at least an inch of fresh snow, so it has slowed down, no longer snowing 2" an hour.

Blizzard! Views from the Front Porch

Photos from my front door, taken about 10:00 AM. You can barely make out the tracks I made earlier in the morning going to the road to fetch the paper, about 8:30 AM.

Intrepid Squirrels During Milwaukee Blizzard

Another camoflauged squirrel - he's hanging upside down on the right side of the trunk, just above the middle of the frame. It's not clear but he's eating one of the hazelnuts I tossed around the base of the tree. The picture looks greyed out - that's the heavy snow falling/blowing.

Intrepid Squirrels During Milwaukee Blizzard

One of my squirrels had fetched a nut from the base of the Chinese Elm and climbed up to a safe limb to enjoy the start of his breakfast. You can't tell from the photo, but it's snowing hard and blowing. This little guy is protected from the wind out of the northeast by the tree trunk.

Intrepid Squirrels During Milwaukee Blizzard

He's well camoflauged, but he's there - one of the squirrels that had gathered around the base of the big Chinese Elm out back, on the tree trunk on the left near the top of the frame. The snow in that part of my backyard isn't as deep as on the deck (see prior post photos) - you can see tracks from the honeysuckle bush in the background leading to the tree, and nearly filled-in tracks in really deep snow from the top of the retaining wall headed toward the deck!


Right on time, the snow started around midnight. "Officially" we have about 9 inches at the moment, with more at the lakefront and downtown because of strong northeast winds off the lake. It's supposed to mostly taper off by noon, but there could be lake effect snow (I'm within five miles of downtown so I get it) until 3 PM. Winds are gusting up to 35 mph but are to "calm" to 20 mph as the front moves to the east. I'm taking a few pictures, figuring they're the best way to convey what I'm dealing with here at the moment. I didn't sleep well last night, I finally gave it up at 5:15 and went downstairs to look out the front door. At the time, there was a large drift where the driveway curves to head toward the road from my front porch, but the porch itself had only about 5 inches of snow; later, about 8:30 AM when I ventured out to get see if Sue, my intrepid newspaper deliverer, had made it through, I had to shove the storm door hard to open it through more than a foot of snow that had piled up since 5:15 AM. I had my tall boots on (they come up to my knees), and they weren't tall enough to keep the snow out. I managed to get to the mailbox and paper box at the road. Am totally plowed in, and the plow has only been through once. The road is already covered again with snow, so he'll be through again. There is probably a 18 to 24" of snow in my driveway, drifts are higher. (Photo: This is as much of my deck out back that I managed to shovel. Tell me, do you think this is a "mere" 8" of snow??? That little speck in the middle of the shoveled area is a hazelnut that fell out of my pocket as I was shoveling. You can see some of the tracks of the squirrels who had ventured from the big tree, looking for food). I dialed the office employee hotline after I put coffee on at 5:15 AM to hear the official announcement - our Milwaukee and Waukesha offices are closed today. Milwaukee County government offices are closed; Milwaukee City government offices are closed; all schools are closed. Last I heard, buses were still running, but many are getting stuck in high drifts. Plows and salters have been out all night but they cannot keep up with the snow that continues to fall, let alone the blowing and drifting. Entrance and exit ramps to the expressways are clogged shut. White-out conditions exist in many open areas. (You can hardly see him, but if you look to the left of the big tree below the top of the retaining wall, you can see what looks like a grey lump. It's a squirrel emerging from deep snow, where he had been digging for something to eat). I had my coffee, turned off the lights and settled down in my recliner with a toasty down throw. When I awoke from my doze about 8:20 AM I checked the patio to see - to my absolute astonishment - squirrel tracks in the deep snow! So, after I fetched my newspaper I attempted to shovel the deck. I didn't get very far. There were several squirrels gathered at the base of the big Chinese Elm, the base of which is sheltered by an old railroad tie retaining wall so the snow wasn't too deep there, so I threw several hand-fulls of hazelnuts there for them, and watched them scampering up and down the tree, fetching and eating the nuts. The older squirrel who has that "dropsy" disease was there - it is amazing to me he is still alive; it's been a tough winter, colder and more snow than normal, although this is the second year in a row we've had these bad snows. It was months ago I pointed out this squirrel to dondelion because he kept falling over whenever he stopped moving. Presently, the forecast for tomorrow is another 6 inches of snow starting tomorrow night into Sunday, and more on Tuesday. Three guesses what I'll be doing all weekend...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday is Ladies' Chess Night!

Story from The Brooklyn Paper December 18, 2008 Pawns in the game of love By Sarah Portlock Ladies night: Christian Whitted of the New York Chess and Game Shop in Park Slope offers free chess for people without Y chromosomes on Thursdays. So if you’re name is Bobbie Fischer, this place is for you. Finally, a place where you can check out potential mates while also check-mating them. In the great Reese’s tradition of putting together two seemingly mismatched things, a new chess and gaming emporium on Flatbush Avenue has turned Thursdays into Ladies’ Night, where everyone from Bobby Fischer brainiacs to Bobbie Fischer rook-ies can get free chess games all night long. The fun is at the new New York Chess and Game Shop, at 192 Flatbush Ave., near Dean Street. Owner and chess master Christian Whitted, who teaches at York College in Queens, said women always ask him where they can play outside of class. So he built out the space for them, and for budding neighborhood chess fans alike. “We want to create a hub in the community,” Whitted said. “This is like theater of the mind — we will entertain you as well as keep you informed.” The spot opened earlier this fall, and boasts 25 tables on two floors where gamers can play chess, checkers, backgammon, Scrabble, Monopoly or cards. There’s also a coffee counter in the corner, and boards and other chess memorabilia for sale. And you can have all that gaming for cheap — customers rent the tables for $3 per person per hour, or challenge the resident masters. Those games are $3 for a three-minute game, $5 for a five-minute game, or $7 for a 10-minute or untimed game. But how far will that $5 get you? Not that far. “I can beat an average player in 30 seconds,” Whitted said, confidently. The shop makes it money on its semi-private tutoring sessions, which are $90 for five 90-minute classes, and comes with a free chess set. The most fun is, of course, on Thursdays. “Ladies’ Day is always good,” Whitted added. New York Chess and Game Shop [192 Flatbush Ave., near Dean Street in Prospect Heights, (718) 398-3727]. Hours: Daily, 11 am–11 pm. For info, visit ©2008 The Brooklyn Paper

2008 National 'A' Women's Chess Championship of India

From Tania off to a flier in National Women's 'A' chess Published: December 18,2008 New Delhi, Defending champion Tania Sachdev of Air India got off to a flying start defeating Amrutha Mokal of Maharashtra in the first round of the Parsvnath 35th National Women schess championship here today. Second seed Kruttika Nadig and fourth seed Soumya Swaminathan also scored fine victories over Kiran Manisha Mohanty and Asian Junior champion Mary Ann Gomes respectively. Third seed Eesha Karavade was lucky to escape with a draw against Nisha Mohota in the opener. In the other games of the day, Swati Ghate played imaginatively to beat Bhakti Kulkarni while youngest participant and under-14 girls world champion Padmini Rout played out a draw with Pon N Krithika. The 12-player, 11-round event saw some fascinating games in the first round and Tania was quite impressive in her mauling of Amrutha who was outplayed after a bad opening. Playing the white side of Queen Indian defense, International Master Tania controlled the game early. Amrutha fell under time pressure and gave up in just 28 moves. Playing with black pieces, Soumya Swaminathan accounted for in-form Mary in a Sicilian Najdorf game. Launching a side variation in English attack, Soumya benefited from a strategic error in the middle game from Mary and won after 33 moves. Mohanty tried a recently popular variation in the Sicilian Najdorf against Kruttika Nadig but her plans were foiled by the latter in a fine display of counter attacking chess. Kruttika won in 37 moves. Round One Results: Tania Sachdev beat Amrutha Mokal; Bhakti Kulkarni lst to Swati Ghate; Soumya Swaminatha beat Mary Ann Gomes; Kiran Manisha Mohanty lost to Kruttika Nadig; Pon N Krithika drew with Padmini Rout; Eesha Karavade drew with Nisha Mohota.

Irene Kharisma Sukandar Earns WGM Title

This is great news for Ms. Sukandar and Indonesian chess - but this is hardly the pinnacle of this chessplayer's career and the "WGM" title is NOT the world's highest chess title. I believe she has a lot farther and higher to go yet. She's only 16! Indonesia gets first woman grand master of chess Thursday December 18, 2008 JAKARTA (Xinhua): Indonesian chess player Irene Kharisma Sukandar finally reached the top of career as the first Woman Grand Master (WGM) and Woman International Masters (WIM) after earning her third norm, the coveted WCM title, the Jakarta Post reported on Thursday. "Of course, I'm happy (to be named Indonesian's first WGM) and very grateful to God Almighty," said Irene, adding that she hoped that her achievement will encourage other Indonesian women. She received a certificate of her debut highest achievement in Singapore last week, while at the same time competing in the Singapore Open chess tournament. Irene, 16 years old, earned norm during last month's Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany, and was presented with her new ranking by ASEAN Chess Confederation president Ignatious Leong. Irene is the first woman in Indonesian history to attain the chess world's highest title. Several Indonesian men have already attained the title of grand master.

Mummy Murder Mystery

The headline from The Sunday Mercury goes one better: "Museum Mummy Murder Mystery" - presented for your entertainment: Dec 15 2008 By Ben Goldby IT is the murder mystery which has spanned thousands of years. Archaeologists have long questioned how an unidentified man entombed in a 1,700-year-old mummy at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery met his death. Now they hope the macabre case may finally be solved with the help from medical experts from the Midlands. The elaborately-bandaged Greco-Roman mummy, with gilt terracotta studs, was donated to the museum in the 1920s by Albert Phillips, a Birmingham bedstead maker who often travelled to the Middle East. Results from previous X-rays revealed an unidentified metal object lodged in the back of the mummy’s neck, which some archaeologists believe may be an arrow head – meaning he could have been murdered. On Friday the mummy was sent to Stafford Hospital to undergo a full CT scan which will provide 3D images which may finally help establish a definitive cause of death. The mummy is believed to contain the remains of a male in his mid-30s, but his identity is another unsolved mystery. An amateur archaeologist came up with the scan plan after attending an event at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery earlier this year. Robert Loynes – an Egyptology enthusiast and former orthopaedic consultant – recommended the unusual experiment when he discovered that the earlier X-ray had spotted the mysterious metal object. He suggested that the mummy be sent to Stafford Hospital, which houses highly sophisticated CT scanning equipment that may help to establish what happened to the man beneath the bandages. Two other mummies from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s collections, called Padimut and Namenkhetamun, and two mummified heads were also CT scanned at the hospital on Friday. As well as providing 3D images, the X-rays could offer information on how old the people were when they died, their gender, what they may have looked like, their skeletal structure, their teeth and other fascinating facts about their lives. The scans, which have been partly funded by an anonymous sponsor, may also reveal jewellery and other trinkets that could be concealed within the mummies’ wrappings. Stafford Hospital’s strict infection control procedures were strictly observed throughout the procedures, with the mummies kept inside sterile body bags to prevent dust escaping from the ancient remains. Results from the imaging will now be analysed by a crack team of forensic Egyptologists from Birmingham Museum, but it could still be several weeks before the mystery is finally solved. For further information on the mummies, or any of the other exhibitions at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, visit

Let It NOT Snow, PLEASE!

What's going on with the weather? Despite the weather guys saying over and over again that this winter will NOT be the same as last winter, Wisconsin is suffering a basic repeat of last year's near record-setting snowfall and, in addition, we've had well below normal bone-chilling temperatures and windchills that have, I believe, set my teeth permanently on edge. Tonight, right around midnight according to the latest forecasts, a massive and fierce thundersnow storm is supposed to start, dumping 2" of snow or more an hour. Gee, rush hour tomorrow morning is going to be a whole lot of fun - NOT! I got finished with the shoveling in the driveway just in time for the new round of snow. Only this snow is supposed to be wet and heavy. Oh great. We may also get snow on Saturday, and more on Sunday, and some more on Tuesday, when dondelion's flight is due in. Oy! I'm keeping my fingers crossed he gets here more or less on time and in one piece, and that we get out of here on time with no travel problems on Christmas Eve. Las Vegas is calling, despite the snow... Yes, even Las Vegas got 3.6" of snow - their first measureable snow since 1979! Unbelievable! This photo is from The New York Times earlier today. Oh crap, I see they changed the photo. I KNEW I should have saved that earlier photograph. Well, here's the story.

Southwest Chess Club of Hales Corners

Hola! SWCC has a new website address: I'll add it to the links if it's not already there (duh, don't remember right at the moment!) An announcement will soon be made regarding the new location for the club.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt

Is this computer-generated image most representative of what Cleopatra actually may have looked like? I think she looks a little too sub-Saharan African, and not enough like her Greek forebears who established the Ptolemaic line and intermarried with native Egyptians and the sons and daughters of many kingdoms around the ancient Middle East and Mediterranean. Did Egyptian queens wear corn-rows in the first century BCE? Hmmmm, I don't think so. I know - she looks somewhat like Tyra Banks! Sorry Liz, but THIS is the real face of Cleopatra By Fiona Macrae Last updated at 11:34 AM on 16th December 2008 From Elizabeth Taylor to Sophia Loren, there have been many faces of Cleopatra. But this might be the most realistic of them all. Egyptologist Sally Ann Ashton believes the compute regenerated 3D image is the best likeness of the legendary beauty famed for her ability to beguile. Pieced together from images on ancient artefacts, including a ring dating from Cleopatra's reign 2,000 years ago, it is the culmination of more than a year of painstaking research. The result is a beautiful young woman of mixed ethnicity - very different to the porcelain-skinned Westernised version portrayed by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1961 movie Cleopatra. Dr Ashton, of Cambridge University, said the images, to be broadcast as part of a Five documentary on Cleopatra, reflect the monarch's Greek heritage as well as her Egyptian upbringing. 'She probably wasn't just completely European. You've got to remember that her family had actually lived in Egypt for 300 years by the time she came to power.' The picture of the queen contrasts with several other less flattering portrayals. For instance, a silver coin which went on show at Newcastle University's Sefton Museum last year showed her as having a shallow forehead, pointed chin, thin lips and hooked nose. Her lover, the Roman general Mark Antony, fared little better. The reverse side shows him to have bulging eyes and a thick neck. The queen's appearance has long been the subject of debate among academics. While Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra made reference to her youthful looks and 'infinite-variety', many believe she was short and frumpy with bad teeth. A statue of Cleopatra exhibited at the British Museum in 2001 portrayed her as plain, no more than 5ft tall and rather plump. Born in Alexandra in 69BC, into a Macedonian Greek dynasty which had ruled Egypt for three centuries, Cleopatra acceded to the throne at 17. Three years later she seduced Julius Caesar, bearing him a son, Caesarion. After Caesar was assassinated she courted Mark Antony before committing suicide on his death. Legend has it that she put an asp, a venomous serpent, to her breast.

I'm Sure There is a Logical Explanation...

for the Swiss watch discovered in a 400-year old Chinese tomb... Not sure if I believe this story. It showed up at Daily Grail on December 16th but I could not find a date on it at Ananova. Swiss watch found in 400-year-old tomb Archeologists in China are baffled after finding a tiny Swiss watch in a 400-year-old tomb. The watch ring was discovered as archeologists were making a documentary with two journalists from Shangsi town. "When we tried to remove the soil wrapped around the coffin, a piece of rock suddenly dropped off and hit the ground with a metallic sound,? said Jiang Yanyu, former curator of the Guangxi Autonomous Region Museum. "We picked up the object, and found it was a ring. After removing the covering soil and examining it further, we were shocked to see it was a watch." The time was stopped at 10:06am, and on the back was engraved the word "Swiss", reports the People's Daily. Local experts say they are confused as they believe the tomb had been undisturbed since it was created during the Ming dynasty 400 years ago. They have suspended the dig and are waiting for experts to arrive from Beijing and help them unravel the mystery.

Exciting Discovery in Peru

Peru seems to be constantly in the archaeological news - I can see why some alternative history buffs think Peru may have where it all started... Archeologists in Peru unearth ancient Wari city Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:25pm GMT By Dana Ford LIMA (Reuters) - Researchers digging at the Cerro Patapo archaeological site in northern Peru have discovered the ruins of an entire city, which may provide the "missing link" between two ancient cultures, investigators said on Tuesday. Scientists say the find, located 14 miles (22 km) from the Pacific coast city of Chiclayo, likely dates to the Wari culture, which existed in what is now Peru between about 600 AD and 1100 AD. If initial assumptions prove correct, the discovery would connect the ancient Wari civilization to the Moche culture, which flourished from about 100 AD to 600 AD. Researchers say the buried city includes ceramics, bits of clothing and the well-preserved remains of a young woman. The sprawling site, which stretches over 3 miles (5 km), also shows evidence of human sacrifice, with special spots designated for the purpose and a heap of bones at the bottom of a nearby cliff. "It provides the missing link because it explains how the Wari people allowed for the continuation of culture after the Moche," Cesar Soriano, chief archaeologist on the project, told Reuters. He said the discovery provides the first evidence of Wari culture, which expanded from the country's south, at the northern site. The Wari people made their capital near modern-day Ayacucho, in the Andes, but travelled widely and are known for their extensive network of roads. Earlier this year, archeologists at the Huaca Pucllana ruins in Lima, located some 500 miles (800 km) south of Chiclayo, discovered a mummy that is also thought to be Wari. Peru is a country rich in archaeological treasures. It has hundreds of sites that date back thousands of years and span dozens of cultures, including the Incan empire that was in power when Spanish explorers arrived in the early 1500s. (Editing by Terry Wade and Eric Walsh)

Ancient Statues May Hold Clues to Meroitic Script

Great news for those of us interested in ancient languages and linguistics: Sudan statue find gives clues to ancient language Tue 16 Dec 2008, 15:11 GMT By Andrew Heavens KHARTOUM, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Archaeologists said on Tuesday they had discovered three ancient statues in Sudan with inscriptions that could bring them closer to deciphering one of Africa's oldest languages. The stone rams, representing the god Amun, were carved during the Meroe empire, a period of kingly rule that lasted from about 300 BC to AD 450 and left hundreds of remains along the River Nile north of Khartoum. Vincent Rondot, director of the dig carried out by the French Section of Sudan's Directorate of Antiquities, said each statue displayed an inscription written in Meroitic script, the oldest written language in sub-Saharan Africa. "It is one of the last antique languages that we still don't understand ... we can read it. We have no problem pronouncing the letters. But we can't understand it, apart from a few long words and the names of people," he told reporters in Khartoum. Sudan has more pyramids than neighbouring Egypt [this may be true, but they are not giant pyramids like those at Giza and Saqqara], but few people visit its remote sites, and repeated internal conflicts have made excavation difficult. Rondot said the dig at el-Hassa, the site of a Meroitic town, had uncovered the first complete version of a royal dedication, previously found only on fragments of carvings from the same period. He said experts were still trying to work out the meaning of the words by comparing them with broken remnants of similar royal dedications in the same script. "It's an important discovery ... quite an achievement," Rondot said. The statues were found three weeks ago under a sand dune at the site of a temple to the god Amun, an all-powerful deity represented by the ram in Sudan. The site is close to Sudan's Meroe pyramids, a cluster of more than 50 granite tombs 200 kms (120 miles) north of the capital that are one of the main attractions for Sudan's few tourists. Rondot said the dig, funded by the French foreign ministry, would also provide vital information on the reign of a little-known king, Amanakhareqerem, mentioned in the inscriptions on the rams. "Before we started the dig we only had four documents in his name ... We don't even know where he was buried," he said. "We are beginning to understand the importance of that king." (Editing by Katie Nguyen and Tim Pearce) © Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved.

Ancient Sanctuary Discovered - and Robbed

The people who steal antiquities out of their context, forever depriving the rest of the world of the knowledge that the may have conveyed, are akin to the Wall Street big wigs and their ilk who, in their greed and arrogance, have destroyed the lives of countless millions of average Americans. They should be taken out, lined up against a wall, and shot - summarily. Farmer digs up ancient sanctuary in Italy 12/17/2008 10:47 PM ROME – A farmer working his land south of Rome dug up hundreds of artifacts from a 2,600-year-old sanctuary, but ran afoul of police when he tried to sell the ancient hoard, officials said Wednesday. After spotting fragments of pottery in soil dug up by the farmer, authorities searched his home last month and seized more than 500 artifacts, including perfume vials, cups and miniature vases used as votive objects. The art squad of the Carabinieri paramilitary police said the farmer was placed under investigation for allegedly trafficking in antiquities. Ancient artifacts found in Italy are considered state property, and finds must be reported to authorities. Archaeologists said they will continue to excavate the sanctuary, which dates back to the 7th-6th century B.C. and is located outside the town of Aprilia, near a small lake some 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Rome. The find could expand knowledge about the area's history in pre-Roman times, when it was inhabited by Latin-speaking people under the influence of the Etruscan civilization that dominated central Italy, experts said. The pottery, some of which was imported from Greece, was offered to a deity probably connected to the lake, said Stefano De Caro, director of archaeology at the Italian Culture Ministry. "These were poor people, they gave thanks for a good harvest or they prayed that there wouldn't be a drought," De Caro said. "At the time there were no aqueducts, so the lake meant life." He speculated the treasure of tiny, delicate ceramics could have been worth hundreds of thousands of euros (dollars) on the illegal antiquities market. At the news conference in Rome, the Carabinieri also presented artifacts recovered in two more operations conducted last month. During checks on an antiques shop in downtown Rome, officers found two medieval statues that had been stolen in 2007 from a home in the Italian capital, said Gen. Giovanni Nistri, the head of the art squad. Separately, experts trawling internet sites that sell antiquities came upon a man offering a mosaic from a Roman catacomb for €55,000 ($75,000) and claiming it had been donated to his family by the Vatican.After verifying the claim was false, the Carabinieri seized the 3rd-4th century A.D. mosaic from the man's home along with a jug, cups and other ancient pottery and placed him under investigation. - AP

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Indian Women's National A Chess Championship: Sachdev Favorite to Defend Title

Tania Sachdev starts hot favourite at Parsvnath chess 16 Dec 2008, 2019 hrs IST, PTI Photo: Tania Sachdev with trophy from 2007 National 'A' Women's Chess Championship) NEW DELHI: Defending champion Tania Sachdev will start as the hot favourite at the Parsvnath National Women's 'A' chess championship beginning at Rusian Center for Science and Culture on Wednesday. Looking for a hat-trick, the Asian women's champion and International Master Tania will face stiff challenge in the championship from the likes of Asian Junior girls' champion Mary Ann Gomes, Swati Ghate and Kruttika Nadig besides Nisha Mohota and Kiran Manisha Mohanty. The 11-round Swiss event will have 12-players in all and the championship will be played under FIDE's round-robin league system. The drawing of lots will decide who will meet whom and when but each player will have her task cut out to make it to the Indian team for the next one year. Tania has won the previous two editions at Chennai and then at Pune last year. The Delhi player, fresh from her good performance in the Chess Olympiad and an open tournament in Croatia from where she is adding important rating points to her present ELO, is not looking to make it three in a row at home.

2009 Sioux Falls, SD Grand Prix Tournaments

Announcement was published at Monthly chess tournaments to be held December 16, 2008 The Sioux Empire Chess Foundation is holding the Sioux Falls Scholastic League 2009 Grand Prix. Tournaments will be held monthly in various locations throughout the Sioux Falls area. Players compete in one section: K-5, with class prizes available for K-3. Games are time controlled and rated by the United States Chess Federation. Official USCF game timers are used. All players get to play five games. Scorekeeping is not required but strongly encouraged, official score sheets are provided. The first event is 12:30 to 7 p.m. Jan. 11at John Harris Elementary. All players must have current United States Chess Federation Membership. Visit online at to join for $17 (one year) or pay $20 at site. Entry Fee: $10 if sent in 2008, $15 thereafter. Mail registrations to Alex Yermolinsky, 6300 W Cheyenne Drive, Sioux Falls, SD 57106. Include your name, grade in school, your USCF ranking and if just joining your date of birth. No registrations accepted after 12:45 PM on the day of the tournament.

2009 Kasparov Foundation All-Girls Chess Championships

Announcement from the USCF website: 2009 All-Girls National Chess Championships By Richard Krueger December 16, 2008 Kasparov Chess Foundation Presents 2009 All-Girls National Chess Championships University of Texas at Dallas Established Academic Distinction Scholarship Valued at $80,000. US Women's Champion, WGM Anna Zatonskih, to Make Special Appearance. Dallas, TX, Dec. 16, 2008 -- Kasparov Chess Foundation announced the Sixth Annual National All-Girls Chess Championships, to be in Dallas, TX, at the Hyatt Regency Dallas at Reunion Blvd., April 24 - 26, 2008. The non-profit chess educational organization, founded by world chess champion Garry Kasparov, is hosting this year’s tournament in association with the Dallas Chess Club (DCC), University of Texas at Dallas, and the United States Chess Federation (USCF). This year, as in previous years, the tournament welcomes girls from public, private and home-schools. Teams will compete within the following age categories: 8 years old and younger; 10 years old and younger; 12 years old and younger; 14 years old and younger; 16 years old and younger; 18 years old and younger. As a special award, The University of Texas at Dallas,, has established an Academic Distinction Scholarship for the winner of the 18 years old and younger section. The scholarship is valued at $80,000 for an out-of-state student. More information on the scholarship can be found at "This is the second consecutive year that we’re supporting the Kasparov Chess Foundation’s All Girls Nationals with a full scholarship," explained Dr. J. Michael Coleman, Dean of Undergraduate Education, University of Texas at Dallas. "Recruiting top women chess players is very supportive of university goals for innovative, transdisciplinary research and education in emerging areas of technology, science, math and engineering," he added. All events will be hosted at the Hyatt Regency Dallas at Reunion Blvd.; 300 Reunion Blvd., Dallas, TX 75207; Phone: (800) 233-1234. See full announcement.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New FIDE Titles Awarded to Chess Femmes

During the last FIDE General Assembly held in Dresden during the 2008 Olympiad, the following chess femmes have been awarded titles: GM: Hou Yifan CHN Nana Dzagnidze GEO Monika Socko POL WGM: Zhang Xiaowen CHN Lara Stock CRO Yaniet Marrero Lozez CUB Soumya Swaminathan IND Iulia-Ionela Ionica ROU Mihaela Sandu ROU IM: Olga Zimina ITA Mariya Muzychuk UKR WIM: Svetland Jordanova BUL Adriana Nikolova BUL Elitsa Raeva BUL Xu Tong CHN Sona Pertlova CZE Mathilde Congiu FRA Mariam Danielia GEO Sarah Hoolt GER Zsofia Domany HUN Simona Limontaite LTU Karina Vazirova RUS Zuzana Borosova SVK Kubra Ozturk TUR Alisa Melekhina USA Iryna Zenyuk USA IM Conditional on Rating: Katerina Nemcova CZE Congratulations to all of the chess femmes for this accomplishment! Nine of the top 10 rated chess femmes in the world on the October, 2008 FIDE Women's ratings list are now GMs. IM Elina Danielian representing Armenia at 2513, holds down the #10 spot.

Requiem for Pin-Up Queen Bettie Page

She was a goddess in her time, the Queen of Pin-Ups. (Photo: From New York Times article - WWII cheesecake photo) Bettie Page, Queen of Pinups, Dies at 85
By ROBERT D. McFADDEN Published: December 11, 2008
Bettie Page, a legendary pinup girl whose photographs in the nude, in bondage and in naughty-but-nice poses appeared in men’s magazines and private stashes across America in the 1950s and set the stage for the sexual revolution of the rebellious ’60s, died Thursday in Los Angeles. She was 85. Her death was reported by her agent, Mark Roesler, on Ms. Page’s Web site, Ms. Page, whose popularity underwent a cult-like revival in the last 20 years, had been hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia and was about to be released Dec. 2 when she suffered a heart attack, said Mr. Roesler, of CMG Worldwide. She was transferred in a coma to Kindred Hospital, where she died. In her trademark raven bangs, spike heels and killer curves, Ms. Page was the most famous pinup girl of the post-World War II era, a centerfold on a million locker doors and garage walls. She was also a major influence in the fashion industry and a target of Senator Estes Kefauver’s anti-pornography investigators. But in 1957, at the height of her fame, she disappeared, and for three decades her private life — two failed marriages, a fight against poverty and mental illness, resurrection as a born-again Christian, years of seclusion in Southern California — was a mystery to all but a few close friends. Then in the late 1980s and early ’90s, she was rediscovered and a Bettie Page renaissance began. David Stevens, creator of the comic-book and later movie character the Rocketeer, immortalized her as the Rocketeer’s girlfriend. Fashion designers revived her look. Uma Thurman, in bangs, reincarnated Bettie in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” and Demi Moore, Madonna and others appeared in Page-like photos. There were Bettie Page playing cards, lunch boxes, action figures, T-shirts and beach towels. Her saucy images went up in nightclubs. Bettie Page fan clubs sprang up. Look-alike contests, featuring leather-and-lace and kitten-with-a-whip Betties, were organized. Hundreds of Web sites appeared, including her own, which had 588 million hits in five years, CMG Worldwide said in 2006. Biographies were published, including her authorized version, “Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend,” (General Publishing Group) which appeared in 1996. It was written by Karen Essex and James L. Swanson. A movie, “The Notorious Bettie Page,” starring Gretchen Mol as Bettie and directed by Mary Harron for Picturehouse and HBO Films, was released in 2006, adapted from “The Real Bettie Page,” by Richard Foster. Bettie May Page was born in Jackson, Tenn., the eldest girl of Roy and Edna Page’s six children. The father, an auto mechanic, molested all three of his daughters, Ms. Page said years later, and was divorced by his wife when Bettie was 10. She and some of her siblings were placed for a time in an orphanage. She attended high school in Nashville, and was almost a straight-A student, graduating second in her class. She graduated from Peabody College, a part of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, but a teaching career was brief. “I couldn’t control my students, especially the boys,” she said. She tried secretarial work, married Billy Neal in 1943 and moved to San Francisco, where she modeled fur coats for a few years. She divorced Mr. Neal in 1947, moved to New York and enrolled in acting classes. She had a few stage and television appearances, but it was a chance meeting that changed her life. On the beach at Coney Island in 1950, she met Jerry Tibbs, a police officer and photographer, who assembled her first pinup portfolio. By 1951, the brother-sister photographers Irving and Paula Klaw, who ran a mail-order business in cheesecake, were promoting the Bettie Page image with spike heels and whips, while Bunny Yeager’s pictures featured her in jungle shots, with and without leopards skins. Her pictures were ogled in Wink, Eyeful, Titter, Beauty Parade and other magazines, and in leather-fetish 8- and 16-millimeter films. Her first name was often misspelled. Her big break was the Playboy centerfold in January 1955, when she winked in a Santa Claus cap as she put a bulb on a Christmas tree. Money and offers rolled in, but as she recalled years later, she was becoming depressed. In 1955, she received a summons from a Senate committee headed by Senator Kefauver, a Tennessee Democrat, that was investigating pornography. She was never compelled to testify, but the uproar and other pressures drove her to quit modeling two years later. She moved to Florida. Subsequent marriages to Armond Walterson and Harry Lear ended in divorce, and there were no children. She moved to California in 1978. For years Ms. Page lived on Social Security benefits. After a nervous breakdown, she was arrested for an attack on a landlady, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a California mental institution. She emerged years later as a born-again Christian, immersing herself in Bible studies and serving as an adviser to the Billy Graham Crusade. In recent years, she had lived in Southern California on the proceeds of her revival. Occasionally, she gave interviews in her gentle Southern drawl, but largely stayed out of the public eye — and steadfastly refused to be photographed. “I want to be remembered as I was when I was young and in my golden times,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 2006. “I want to be remembered as a woman who changed people’s perspectives concerning nudity in its natural form.”

Greek Copper Hoard Discovered

Okay - I don't get it - were the weapons made out of copper (see first sentence of article) - or out of bronze (see title of article)? It makes a big difference as far as historicity is concerned! Prehistoric bronze hoard found off Greek beach Thu Dec 11, 7:46 am ET ATHENS, Greece – Authorities say a hoard of 4,500-year-old copper weapons recovered off a northern beach is the largest of its kind ever found in Greece. A Culture Ministry statement says the discovery includes at least 110 ax and hammer heads, but several more should be extracted from compacted masses of corroded metal. The ministry says they were probably buried at a time of unrest or war. The hoard would have represented a fortune at the time. Thursday's statement says there were no traces of a shipwreck. The site was probably a coastal area flooded by rising sea levels. The tools were discovered near the village of Mesi, 500 miles (800 kilometers) northeast of Athens. Archaeologists recovered it from a depth of 3 1/2 yards (meters).

Shopping, Shopping, SHOPPING!

Hola! I've passed 1,900 posts, yippee yay! Today was our investment club meeting and gift exchange. We has a lovely breakfast - the restaurant was busier than we've seen it the past three months - and we had to wait nearly 30 minutes for a table for five. Wow! It was worth the wait, though, because the food is always good at Meyer's. Our portfolio is in sad condition, we only have two stocks in the black, but we're looking to make another buy next month. Get 'em while they're on sale. We're not panicking and we're not selling. Every company/ETF we own is solid and will turn around when the economy turns around. People need water - people need oil, and machines, and food, and medicine. That's what we're invested in. In a holiday mood, and with sales at the shops presenting some irresistible bargains, I visited the Mall after our meeting ended and spent a few pleasant hours shopping for incredibly discounted Christmas ornaments - I bought more than I planned and when I got home I spent another pleasant few hours rearranging my Christmas tree to find spots just so for the new purchases! Also found some incredible bargains in clothes and bought a new outfit for Las Vegas, and a few little gifts for Isis and Michelle :) The weather - oy! It was WARM today (in the 40's) and the rain didn't come, and didn't come, and didn't come... I thought perhaps we might be lucky and not get any rain at all, sparing us black ice and ice-rink style sidewalks tomorrow for the commute to work. Alas, it was not to be. When I poked my nose out the patio door to throw out some cut up raw carrots for the possum shortly after 6 PM it was raining. The rain was blowing at a 45 degree slant, the wind is still gusting up to 40 MPH from the south but that will change later on as the temperatures plunge. Sigh. I sure hope our trees and wires and electric towers don't get coated with ice like what happened out east a few days ago. Yikes! I bought more Brazil nuts and hazel nuts and peanuts for my fat, sassy squirrels. They were out on the deck entertaining the ladies of the investment club earlier today. The blue jays visited too, dive-bombing for peanuts, and everyone oohed and aahed over the pair of cardinals who dropped by. I've the best fed menagerie in town.
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