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Updated: 2014-10-05T02:41:24.738-04:00

 



On Water Grand Canyon River Trips (Events Around Arizona)

2010-09-14T14:37:57.142-04:00

This is the cat's meow as far as Southwestern river trips are concerned, offering adventure, exploration, and discovery. You travel though time on this stretch of the Colorado River, back a billion or so years into prehistory. You can touch and climb rocks millions of years old and visit prehistoric Indian sites. Watch for the wildlife such as bighorn sheep, deer, birds, and reptiles, along with contrasts in vegetation, from desert cacti on precipitous canyon slopes to cottonwoods and thirsty ferns near waterfalls. Retrace the steps of explorers and challenge the rapids.Just about all the arizona vacation experts agree that the best times of year for the Grand Canyon are April, May, September and October. Be aware that on partial canyon trips, put-in or take-out will require hiking a 5,000-foot-deep trail. Sometimes arrangements can be made for mule-back transportation and there are several guided trips offering helicopter transportation. To facilitate cooperative scheduling, arrangements should be made through your outfitterOnly concessionaires licensed by the National Park Service are allowed to run trips through the canyon. A number of tour operators offer Grand Canyon trips, but these are operated through licensed arizona lodging experts.It probably pays to shop around for the trip that best suits your interests. Outfitted trips are run in paddle- or oar-powered rafts, motorized rafts, and wooden dories. Their duration ranges from day-trips to three-week expeditions.The main boat launching area for Grand Canyon river trips is at Lees Ferry, northeast of the National Park. The boat ramp there also provides access to the trophy rainbow trout fishing waters between Lees Ferry and the Glen Canyon Dam.events around arizonaFor additional information or reservations for any Grand Canyon river trips, contact the River Subdistrict Office, Grand Canyon National Park, PO Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023.Rivers & Oceans, PO Box 40321, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, Tel. 520/525-4575 520/525-4575 or 800/473-4576 800/473-4576 , is also a central reservation office for Grand Canyon river trips.For experienced river runners, it is possible to create your own private river trip through the canyon, but start planning early. There is quite a bit of Park Service bureaucracy to wade through for the appropriate permit, and the current wait for private permits is six to eight years. For information, phone the River Permits office, Tel. 520/638-7843 520/638-7843 .The following outfitters offer a variety of river running options through the Grand Canyon:O.A.R.S. Inc., Box 67, Angel's Camp, CA 95222, 209/736-4677 209/736-4677 , fax 209/736-2902, runs five- to 15-day river trips from April to October in wooden dories, oar-powered rafts, paddle-boats, or inflatable kayaks.Colorado River & Trail Expeditions, PO Box 57575, Salt Lake City, UT 84157-0575, Tel. 801/261-1789 801/261-1789 or 800/253-7328 800/253-7328 , fax 801/268-1193, offers rowing through the canyon in April or August and motorized trips of four, six, or nine days from May to September. All trips include opportunities for off-river hiking explorations.ARAs Wilderness River Adventures, PO Box 717, Page, AZ 86040, Tel. 520/645-3296 520/645-3296 or 800/992-8022 800/992-8022 , offers motorized and oar-powered trips through the canyon. Itineraries include four- or six-day trips from Lees Ferry to Phantom Ranch, five or seven days from Phantom Ranch to Bar 10 Ranch, or seven or 14 days from Lees Ferry to Bar 10 Ranch. Also available are one-day float trips from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry. Customized trips and charters are also offered.Arizona Raft Adventures, 4050 East Huntington Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, Tel. 520/526-8200 520/526-8200 or 800/786-7238 800/786-7238 , fax 520/526-8246, runs river trips with participant involvement in rowing and paddling. The trips include hiking, swimming the small rapids, helping in the kitchen, learning the natural history, or flat-out relaxing; you can do as much or as little as you want. Trips scheduled from April to October begin and end in Flagstaf[...]



Smart Investors Hire Attorneys Before Buying in Mexico

2009-08-20T13:15:57.712-04:00

Beachfront property and investment opportunities continue drawing American real estate buyers, mining companies and utility firms to Mexico.

But novices, unaware of local business practices and pitfalls, run the risk of getting caught up in a bad deal or a legal tangle.

Smart investors hire an attorney to review the soundness of a transaction before signing on the dotted line. Now, a cross-border company is helping businesses and individuals navigate their way -- legally -- through Mexican ventures.

"Nobody is looking out for the buyer (or investor) here in Mexico," said John C. Buette, END OF PAGE president of Icon Land Services Inc., which has offices in Tucson and Hermosillo. "We're trying to take care of the buyer."

Icon bills itself as an "intercontinental property acquisitions and marketing" firm that specializes in serving mining, comunications and utility companies seeking to operate in Mexico. Real estate transactions for individual homeowners and commercial clients is another specialty.

Buette, whose background is in negotiating land agreements for mining companies, manages the Tucson office. His partner, Ernesto Elias Elizondo, a bilingual Mexican attorney experienced in serving for eign clients in commercial and real estate transactions, runs the Hermosillo office.

Recently, Elias was hired by a group of Americans with vacation homes in the playa encanto real estate in las conchas rocky point to help them secure legal property rights.

Some of the homeowners "had been trying for 20 years to get land rights" only to find themselves mired in legal disputes and bureaucratic obstacles, said Al Ciasca, a Tucson resident who is the Playa Encanto Homeowners Association president. "Ernesto Elias made it possible for us to get through all the red tape."

Icon performed the tasks required for each homeowner to obtain a bank trust, the legal agreements that allows non-Mexican citizens to hold encanto beach front property in Mexico.

"I wouldn't know where to begin if I had to do this. They are qualified and geared up to provide the service," Ciasca said.

According to Buette, it's frustration with a lack of understanding of the Mexican way of doing business that leads many clients to Icon.

"There's a lot of people closing deals without doing 80 percent of what needs to be done and then they get into a mess and end up calling an attorney to say `fix this,' " he said.

Ideally, Icon hopes clients will seek their services at the outset.

Teck Resources, a U.S. subsidiary of a large Canadian mining company, has begun relying on Icon to secure the permits needed to extract precious metals and minerals from several mines in northern Mexico.

"Everything is done according to U.S. or Canadian standards as opposed to hit or miss with no follow through," said John Lunceford, regional manager for Teckin Northern Mexico. By working through Icon, Teck Resources found there was "not a lot of wasted time, effort and money."

The services offered by Icon cover a wide spectrum including setting up corporations, title searches, property appraisals, negotiating land rights, surveying property, digital mapping, aerial photography, acquiring enviromental permits and water rights.

Beyond the technological and legal services, Icon principals also help bridge the cultural gap between their clients and Mexican partners or officials.

Meetings with clients can be conducted in English or Spanish, as the client prefers, and copies of contracts and key documents translated into English are also offered.



Should Every Day Be Dress Down #3

2009-05-28T03:49:01.772-04:00

When Paine conceived The Delahaye Group 10 years ago, she wanted to include the good features of all the places she'd worked. One of these was the dress code -- or more precisely, the lack of one. She doesn't need a dress-down Friday. At Delahaye, it's dress-down all year long.Delahaye is a reputation-measuring company. "We provide quantitative and qualitative research around corporate reputations. We measure the effects of what PR agencies do. The short version is that we're image consultants."Paine's policy, in an overnight bag: "We wear whatever we can be most productive in. For some, that's a dress or suit, and for others it might he shorts and a T-shirt."Paine expects her staffers to use their judgment, and, she says, they do. "When we know there's a client coming in, it's dress-up day." But there isn't a lot of drop-in trade at Delahaye. "We usually know when a client is coming."So far, no one has taken advantage of Paine's laissez-faire policy. She credits employees' common sense. "It's downtown Portsmouth -- nobody is going to show up in a bikini. But we're all grown-ups here. If someone was inappropriately dressed for a business meeting off-site, I might say something. But it hasn't happened."Delahaye now has 52 staffers in-house. Most opt for comfort, and outfits range from business casual to jeans and sweats. "Five or six still dress up, and they're all women. The guys are more casual," she says.Banks and other financial institutions are Delahaye's polar opposite. Maureen Donovan, human resources director for Bank of NH, Manchester, says the company has a dress code, and it's dressier than most."We still prefer the more formal business attire," Donovan says. This means skirt suits for women, or possibly an upscale pantsuit. Men must wear ties and jackets when in the public eye; in the privacy of their offices, they can ditch the jacket, but the tie stays.There is no regular "dress-down Friday." Staff members may dress in casual clothes occasionally, for special promotions or holidays. But formal is normal for the 85 employees in the bank's main Manchester office.Donovan adds, though, that even bank attire has changed with the times. "It hasn't changed dramatically, but what's acceptable has loosened up a little."For example, women don't have to wear suits all the time. What is Donovan wearing? She practices what she preaches."Today I'm in a dressy dress, with a jacket and scarf."Other companies also prefer the older formal style of dress. Steve Griffin, vice-president of Isaacson Steel in Berlin, says his company opts for traditional business attire four days a week. "The account and administrative departments meet with the public every day. It's expected."He and the other male staffers wear coats and ties; for the women, skirts are in order.But Isaacson's staff can romp through a casual day every Friday. It's corporate casual, which means no jeans. "I get to take the tie off," Griffin says. "It's not as stuffy, but it's not grubby, either.""Casual Friday" came into being in June 1995. "The president and I got tired of wearing ties. There was a `stuffiness cloud' over our heads."Isaacson's professionals try to schedule client meetings Monday through Thursday, and save Friday for a catch-up day. It's Thursday afternoon, and Griffin is wearing a white shirt, blue slacks and a blue "teardrop" tie. "There's a sport coat on my coat rack."Will "business casual" replace traditional business dress? Griffin enjoys it, but he hopes not. "The `uniform' of the '70s went too far. Everybody looked like a banker. But if you dress too casually, your mind-set will be too casual toward your work. For some reason, I have to have a coat and tie on most of the time. It's something between my ears, I guess."But PSNN's Murray believes business casual represents a "loosening up of society, of how we communicate. A shirt and tie doesn't necessarily demonstrate your expertise and abilities. But an appropriate level of dress is a reflection of the company in the eyes of the customer[...]



Should Every Day Be Dress Down #2

2009-05-28T03:45:15.383-04:00

Forbidden footwear includes sandals, flip flops, clogs, athletic shoes of any kind, work boots or hiking boots. Casual walking shoes and flat shoes/loafers are acceptable.

What is he wearing on a September Monday? "Oxford comfort shoes, navy blue slacks, a striped Oxford shirt" and no tie.

"Casual dress days" are becoming quite prevalent around the Granite State, according to a recent survey by the NH affiliate of the National Human Resources Association. Of the companies responding to the survey (mostly manufacturing/distribution firms) 83 percent have designated casual days, although only about one-third have a written policy. Just over 80 percent permitted denim jeans at work, and all permitted open-toed shoes in areas where safety is not a concern.

Business casual is also the year-round policy at Public Service of New Hampshire, according to Martin Murray, a spokesman from the Manchester headquarters. PSNH follows the dress code of its Connecticut parent company, Northeast Utilities.

PSNH formerly had a "casual Friday" and dressed up the rest of the week. One summer the company tried the casual mode day-by-day. After Labor Day, Murray says, a corporate decision was made to keep "casual" 12 months a year.

But the policy isn't as detailed as Associated Grocers'. "The employee is asked to use his/her best judgment to select appropriate attire for his or her job," Murray says. However, "it's strongly suggested that jeans, shorts, T-shirts and sneakers are not appropriate. But the onus is on the employee."

Murray cites two of those advantages. First, casual business dress is less expensive than traditional office wear. "I know I kept one dry cleaner in business by myself. Now my dry cleaning bill has gone down."

And people have told him they're more comfortable in the casual attire, and this makes it easier for them to do their jobs.

What is Murray wearing as he talks to a visitor? "I have on a golf shirt and pants -- I think they're Dockers, but I can't see the label. They're not khakis, because they're black. And my comfortable dress shoes are interesting --they're those lace-up things from Timberland. They're like a short boot."



Should Every Day Be Dress Down #1

2009-05-28T03:39:21.828-04:00

The Do's and Dont's of business fashion are changing.

Robert Molloy was very clear in the first edition of his bestseller "Dress for Success." Never wear brown. Women should wear suits, not dresses, and certainly not pants. Forget dangling earrings, colored nail polish and colored nylons. Men with an eye for the fast track should only wear blue, light gray or charcoal gray suits. No one ever heard of corporate casual.

Now the dress debate is not suit versus sports coat, but how far down is "dress down"?

When Katharine Delahaye Paine, owner of The Delahaye Group, Portsmouth, worked in California's Silicon Valley, she found "casual dress" took on a new meaning. "My ax-husband was actually asked to wear ties less often. It's much less formal than the East Coast."

But the East is catching up. When Molloy wrote his first primer in the 1970s, many professionals scrambled to acquire the "correct" office look for the upward climb. But the robot look eventually lost its charm, and now '90s companies are striving to find a middle ground between comfort and the image they hope to present.

Norm Turcotte, CEO of Associated Grocers, Manchester, chuckles a bit when asked about his company's experience with "dress down" Fridays. "The results were, by and large, pretty good ... with some notable exceptions" because some employees' definitions of dress down were "vastly different" than others.

Rather than scrap the whole dress down idea, however, an employee committee recommended a policy of "business casual" all year round --and the dress down days were dropped.

AG's 150 office workers now have a detailed five-page dress code to guide them as they shop for work attire. On the "do" list: polo shirts, Oxford shirts, sweaters/cardigans, blazers/sport coats, casual pants such as Dockers, business skirts no shorter than four inches above the knee, and tailored dress shorts for women, worn with tights or nylons. Ties are optional.

On the "don't" list: T-shirts, flannel shirts, sweatshirts and tank tops unless covered. Stirrup pants and leggings are out, and shorts for men are verboten. Denim of any sort, top or bottom, has been relegated to home and garden to Turcotte's dismay, who laments that he can't wear his favorite Ralph Lauren denim shirt to the office.

The "denim issue" apparently generated heated discussion among the committee members. But, while he wishes he could work in his favorite shirt, Turcotte says the committee pondered the wide variety of denim clothing today -- from pricey, tailored designer jeans to someone's favorite well-worn holey relics from college -- and decided to nix the whole fabric. And he agrees.



Left Brain, Right Brain. Game Review

2009-05-28T04:24:47.900-04:00

(image) A better title, "Left Handed, Right Handed", this unusual title asks you to compare the fine motor abilities of your left and right hands, by doing identical tasks with both, and then comparing the scores. To put it another way, it measures your ambidexterity. To play the game, you turn the Nintendo DS on its side, book style, to test your ambidexterity -- in other words, the fine motor skills that you have in your right hand vs. your left hand. Note that this isn't a game per se. Like Brain Age, it is more of a collection of fine motor drills -- some fun and some more like work.

There are 15 mini-games that start with asking you to touch a moving box, first with one hand, and then the other (you turn the DS 180 degrees). After you do the same task with both hands, the computer tells you your percent correct on both sides of your body.

The idea is that you can work to exercise your least dominant hand in order to become stronger. Other activities ask you to connect dots, flick moving asteroids from hitting the Earth, play a game of whack-a-mole, and move a dot through a maze. This latter activity replays your prior performance, and challenges to you beat yourself. Or, you can race against another player using the DS wireless play mode. So does it work? If nothing else, it is an interesting example of creative design, measurement and assessment, using the DS pen based interface. Note that reading is required. Records for up to four people can be saved on the cartridge. Created by Japan Art Media for Majesco.

Link to buy Left Brain, Right Brain Game



Math Challenge

2009-05-28T04:57:08.873-04:00

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more online math games for kids



LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga Game Review

2009-05-28T04:35:50.163-04:00

(image) Now available on a variety of platforms, the game console version of LEGO Star Wars offers one of the finest two-player experiences to date. Don't be fooled by the E 10+ rating -- even children as young as five can play the game -- although it helps if they're paired with an older brother, sister or parent. It features a unique interaction style called “drop in, drop out cooperative mode.”

This edition contains content from 160 LEGO Star Wars characters, with content from all the movies. There's a variety of problem solving opportunities in the 36 unlockable levels. Unlike most games where players compete, this game goes out of the way to create a cooperative problem solving setting. Because each Star Wars character has different abilities, working together is mandatory to getting through the game to solve the puzzles and unlock all 160 characters. It’s like you and a friend exploring a dark cave, but your friend has the only flashlight. Discussion is mandatory.

So what if your friend has to go? The computer’s AI sniffs that nothing is happening with the other controller, and takes over in autopilot mode, so it is possible to continue to play by yourself. At any time, a new player can pick up the controller, and join the game.

This game was developed by Giant Software/Traveller’s Tales (both of the UK), and is distributed in the US by LucasArts. The DS version has a different design. Created for LucasArts by the UK-based Traveller’s Tales.

Link to buy LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga Game



Portable, Remote Technology Aids Escape from Arizona's Summer Heat

2009-05-13T14:14:38.737-04:00

As reported vacation rentals in Arizona, portable computers, high-speed modems and fax machines make it possible for Valley residents to get out of the sweltering heat and telecommute from their second homes or arizona vacation rentals in the cool pines of Flagstaff, Greer or Pinetop.

It's amazing how much work you can get done without all the interruptions, said Tom Lewis, president of T.W. Lewis Co. Lewis often runs his Tempe home-building business from the den of his Forest Highlands home eight miles southwest of Flagstaff.

"I'm not a modem cowboy," he said, "and I basically come here to relax and get away from work. But I always take a laptop with me and plan on doing some work," he said.

He's not alone. The Forest Highlands community and country club is a haven for Phoenix business people during the summer, and many of them are working in between rounds of golf and hikes in the woods.

Tom Smyth regularly telecommutes from his Forest Highlands home with his office at Scottsdale's Independent Newspapers Inc.

"I see more Phoenix people that I know at Forest Highlands than I do in Phoenix," Lewis added.

R.L. Brown runs his Phoenix-area real estate consulting business from his home in Munds Park, 20 miles south of Flagstaff.

Brown and his wife, Joann, have never regretted moving their business permanently to the pines in 1991. While they work regular hours inside their 3,800-square-foot home, they often take a break at lunch and go for a hike or, in the winter, a cross-country ski trek.

At first they worried they might lose touch with the Phoenix market and their customer base. But that wasn't the case.

"We never lost a customer," R.L. Brown said.

A Phoenix phone line lets customers reach the business with a local call, and a computer network allows the Browns' computers in Munds Park to communicate with those at employees' homes in the Valley.

Brown also spends about two days a week in the Phoenix area, flying into Deer Valley in the morning and back to Munds Park at night.

For heat-weary Phoenicians who aren't into telecommuting, there are hundreds of summer jobs available in the north country. Hotels and restaurants generally hire extra help in the spring.

The Little America Hotel, which employs about 300 people, usually adds employees in the spring when it gears up for its busy season, which can run through October. The hotel doesn't lay off people during the slow season. Instead it doesn't replace, untilspring, those employees who leave during the winter, especially when it starts to snow.

The U.S. Forest Service also hires summer help. Darla Flores, the Forest Service's personnel management specialist in Flagstaff, said the agency typically has about 250 seasonal openings for firefighters, tourist information workers and maintenance personnel.

The positions are in Tonto, Prescott, Coconino and Kaibab national forests and usually last four to five months. Pay ranges from $7.35 to $9.02 per hour. The agency typically advertises the openings in mid-December and can receive more than 2,000 applications.

arizona vacation homes



9 Great Family Getaways

2007-07-27T09:53:25.087-04:00

IRELAND WITH THE KIDS, GALWAY, IRELANDBike along Connemara's white-sand beaches, tour the ruins of a 17th-century fort, and see a falconry demonstration. There's also storytelling and dance performances for the kids, whiskey tasting and golfing for the adults, and sing-a-longs for all in the pubs. July 30-Aug. 4; $5,996; includes all meals, lodging, equipment and admission to events. Minimum age: 8. butterfield.comISLAND-HOPPING ON THE VINEYARD AND NANTUCKETCycle on car-free bike paths, pedal past rolling farmland and build sand castles at Katama Beach. Highlights include a sunset cruise on Nantucket Harbor and visits to the Black Dog Bakery. July 22-26; $1,980; includes meals, lodging at historic inns and bike rental. Minimum age: 6. bikeriderstours.comLOIRE VALLEY WITH THE KIDS, MONTBAZON, FRANCEAfter a day of cycling through forests, orchards and sunflower fields, retreat to a chateau. Kids can try ropes courses, horseback riding and fencing, and adults can enjoy a wine tasting and a sumptuous dinner. July 29-Aug. 4; $5,495; includes lodging, concierge services, most meals, all wine and bike rental. Minimum age: 5. butterfield.comMONTANA'S BIG SKY, YELLOWSTONE AND PARADISE VALLEY FAMILY ADVENTURECycle past dude ranches, ride a gondola and take a dip in natural hot springs. Pizza parties for kids, candlelight dinners for adults. Aug. 12-17; $2,198/$1,758 (under 15); includes all meals, lodging, bike equipment, and all taxes. Minimum age: 7. austin-lehman.comNETHERLANDS BIKE AND BOAT HOLIDAY GOLDEN CIRCLECycle past windmills, tulip fields and beaches, then board a houseboat, which takes you to the start of the next day's journey while you sleep. Aug. 18-Sept. 1; $867; includes meals, bike rental and lodging. All ages. cycletours.comPRINCE EDWARD ISLAND MULTISPORT, CHARLOTTETOWNPedal past lighthouses, visit a colony of seals or go to an old-fashioned amusement park. Aug. 5-10; $2,798-$3,098; includes all meals, lodging, bike equipment and trail-a-bikes. Minimum age: 3 to attend, 6 to ride own bike. backroads.comREDWOODS NATIONAL PARK FAMILY BIKE TRIPVisit Northern California's most remote beaches, bike along the Coastal Trail--closed to cars--and see the Redwood Forest's 350-foot trees. Tours from mid-June to mid-Aug.; $975/$875 (under 14); includes meals, excursions and camp gear. Extra: Bike equipment and sleeping-bag rental. All ages. westernspirit.comSAN JUAN ISLANDS FAMILY CAMPING, SEATTLE, WABetween ferry rides, crafts and visits to a whale museum, bike on nearly traffic-free roads. Aug. 5-9; $1,358, with kid discounts available; includes meals and camping equipment. Extra: Bike rental. All ages; minimum age for kayaking: 6. bicycleadventures.comWHITE RIM TEENAGER TRIP, MOAB, UTCanyonlands National Park offers some of the best mountain biking in the United States. This trip is timed for spring break, and is structured so you and your teen can enjoy biking down switchbacks together or with your individual peer groups. April 2008; $865/$764 (under 14); includes all meals, excursions and camp equipment. Extra: Bike equipment and sleeping-bag rental. westernspirit.comBy Jennifer Mack[...]



6 ways to tone up, trim down, and get some Me Time, too.

2007-07-27T10:34:20.390-04:00

We've rounded up and tested out six sensational get-moving destinations--some far-flung, some close to home--to help you get a jump-start on fitness. So whether you're on a budget or set for a splurge, turn the page and get ready to have a great time getting fit.

Get a boot-camp boost

Splurge: If you want a fitness jump-start that burns a ton of calories, there's nothing better than a boot camp. Put some exotic spice into your basic training at Amansala Eco Chic Resort's Bikini Boot Camp in Tulum, Mexico (a 2-hour drive south of Cancun). Your daily power walk won't be around the block--it'll be through the Yucatan jungle. In the morning, your body-sculpting class will be on the beach. In the afternoon, you'll bike to a freshwater swimming hole. And your cross-training will be flamenco and salsa dance lessons. A week in a beachfront cabana won't hurt either. Six-night boot camp ($1,842 per person, double occupancy) includes accommodations, meals, fitness classes, kayaking, two bike excursions, and three spa services.

On a budget: Get the boot camp experience closer to home with classes at a local gym. National-chain clubs Equinox Fitness and 24-Hour Fitness, for example, have several cool camps to choose from. Get all wet at Equinox's Aqua Boot Camp and bikini ready in its Boot Camp Intervals class.

Stretch out

Splurge: At the Aspen Club and Spa in Aspen, Colorado, your own wellness guru will create a 1- to 3-day getaway that includes a daily dose of two private yoga or Pilates sessions, lunch at the spa, and an 80-minute spa treatment. Offered year-round, the $450-per-day rate doesn't include lodging, but the spa is a short walk from several downtown Aspen hotels.

On a budget: Many yoga centers offer free or reduced-price, first-time classes, and many Pilates instructors will give you an introductory session gratis. To find yoga classes close to home. For local Pilates classes, see www.gympost.com.

Take a hike

Splurge: Put hiking center-stage at Jimmy LeSage's New Life Hiking Spa. Take a low-key ramble along country roads or a climb up one of Vermont's highest peaks in the Green Mountains. To fill out your day, try a before-breakfast stretch class, an afternoon core-training or yoga class, and an evening massage or facial. New Life's 2- to 4-day Mini Vacation ($229 per person per night, double occupancy) in the charming Inn of the Six Mountains in Killington includes all meals and fitness activities, plus one massage or facial per 3-night stay.

On a budget: Keep your trek local by using www.trails.com. Take advantage of its free 14-day trial to find reviews of more than 30,000 trails nationwide, along with all the information you'll need to get out there (including maps and campground sites, if you're planning an overnight). Start at the site's "Top 100 Trails" for inspiration, and you'll be lacing up your lightweight hikers in no time.

By Tracey Minkin



A trip to Antarctica reveals some completely new life under the ice

2007-07-27T09:56:47.489-04:00

The icebreaker Polarstern arrived in Antarctica last December packed with 52 scientists and a remotely operated submersible called Cherokee. The mission: to survey the ocean life under the former Larsen B ice shelf, the 720-billion-ton mass of ice that disintegrated in 2002. After 17 dives as deep as 2,800 feet by Cherokee, the scientists had observed approximately 1,000 marine species, many of them recent arrivals to the newly uncovered ecosystem and some completely new to science. "The only species that were able to make a living under that much ice were those typically found in the deep sea," says Terry Collins of the Census of Antarctic Marine Life. "They're still there, but you can see the signs of colonizing species as well." The trip was the first of 14 Antarctic voyages aiming to document how climate change is affecting the poles.

By Kalee Thompson



Got big travel plans? Here's how to stay in shape and feel great over the long haul.

2007-07-27T11:02:06.256-04:00

One of the best things about a vacation in a far off locale is that it whisks you away and lets you forget the daily grind. For a few blissful days, you don't have to think about wake-up times, workout schedules and what to eat or drink… or do you?Turns out that break from routine is the very thing that can leave you with postholiday regrets. Recuperating from travel fatigue and getting enough exercise often takes a backseat to fun--after all, who wants to be at the gym doing crunches or lifting weights when you can be sitting in the sun lifting Mojitos? Add a few rich restaurant dinners and the gotta-get-energized jetlag munchies to lack of exercise, and you could end up wishing you'd never left when you trade in that elastic-waist grass skirt for fitted pants once again.The solution? A few easy, preventive measures that can help you feel fit and well rested both during and after your grand getaway.TO STAY IN SHAPEMAKE YOUR HEART GO PITTER-PATDoing some cardio exercises every third day burns a few of those cocktail-hour calories and keeps stamina at pre-vacation levels. "You can retain a relatively high level of both aerobic power and strength with just two exercise sessions per week," says William J. Stone, EdD, professor in the department of exercise and wellness at Arizona State University. Shorten the workout time if you want--for example, if you normally jog for 45 minutes, you can scale back to 30 minutes--but don't slack off on the intensity. Another good way to get your heart pumping is to integrate aerobic exercise into your vacation fun. Rent a bike for one or two afternoons and pedal as you sightsee. Try swimming a few laps each time you cool off in the pool, or turn your saunter down the sand into a 10-minute jog. Bring along a jump rope and do three to four two-minute sets, advises Los Angeles-based personal trainer Alison Copeland. "You can jump anywhere, and it's an amazing way to get your heart rate up in a short time," she says. "Plus, I don't know anyone who can't find room in a suitcase for a jump rope."GIVE YOUR MUSCLES A LITTLE LIFTGot a weight-training program going at the gym? Practice it once a week while you're away. "Strength gains, in the form of stronger muscles, last a bit longer than cardio fitness, but you can lose an appreciable amount in eight to ten weeks," explains John J. Duncan, PhD, CEO and founder of Texas-based Via Scan, a preventive wellness and heart-health center.If you have a personal trainer, ask him or her to design a travel fitness program using rubber tubing. These giant, stretchy bands are inexpensive, weigh just a few ounces, fold up like belts, are available in a variety of resistances and can be found in the fitness section of most sporting good stores. (Note: if you don't have a trainer-designed regimen to take along, the tubing comes with exercise examples that are safe for most workouts.) Tubing also gives you the freedom to work out in your pj's in your hotel room instead of having to put on fitness gear and go to a gym. Another option is a set of Aqua Bells, collapsible plastic dumbbells and ankle weights that offer up to 15 lbs. of resistance when filled with water (dumbbell and ankle weight set, $80; aquabells.com). Or just grab a couple of full one-liter water bottles and use them---one liter of water weighs 2.2 lbs.DON'T FALL OFF THE WAGONEven if you end up taking a break from exercise during your time away, try to avoid letting your vacation be an excuse to allow your regular fitness routine to slip. Return to your schedule the first week you get back so you won't lose strength or endurance. "Ten percent of your cardiovascular stamina is lost after two weeks of not exercising, and after four to eight weeks, you're starting over," expl[...]



The inhospitable side of the galaxy?

2007-07-27T11:05:48.596-04:00

The solar system's periodic visits to the northern side of the Milky Way expose life on Earth to extra cosmic rays that have caused catastrophic mass extinctions, two astrophysicists propose.Biodiversity has had well-known ups and downs over the eons, with major extinctions followed by rebounds. In a 2005 study, Robert Rohde and Richard Muller of Lawrence Berkeley (Calif.) National Laboratory found that these swings were surprisingly regular, most of them taking place at intervals of about 62 million years. The researchers reached their conclusion after examining one of the most comprehensive long-term biodiversity surveys, a compilation of fossil data that charted the number of marine-life genera over the past 500 million years.The extraordinary dinosaur kill 65 million years ago doesn't fit in the cyclic pattern, and experts widely blame it on the impact of a large asteroid.To explain the cyclic pattern of mass extinctions, Rohde and Muller considered a phenomenon that has just about the right periodicity. As the solar system orbits around the galaxy, it swings from one side to the other of the galactic plane every 63 million years. Gravity from the rest of the galaxy's mass pulls the solar system back each time.Perhaps when the sun is at the maximum distance from the galactic plane, Earth's biodiversity is at greatest risk, Rohde and Muller speculated. But that would put mass extinctions every 31.5 million years, not every 63 million. It wasn't clear why one side of the galaxy's plane would be more dangerous to life than the other.Mikhail Medvedev and his colleagues of the University of Kansas in Lawrence now propose an explanation that rests on variations in the number of high-energy particles, known as cosmic rays, that strike Earth from space. They argue that because the galaxy is moving toward a large cluster of galaxies in the direction of the Virgo constellation, cosmic rays would be more abundant on the galaxy's north side-according to the view from Earth.A particle flow similar to the solar wind emanates from the Milky Way as a whole, and as the galaxy moves, that wind runs into the tenuous medium that pervades intergalactic space. The collision creates a shock wave. The Kansas team calculates that when electrically charged particles rebound within the shock wave, they gain enough energy to turn into cosmic rays.When a cosmic ray hits the upper layers of the atmosphere, it triggers a shower of millions of energetic electrons and other particles, some of which can penetrate to land and into the oceans. The particles have a variety of effects. For example, they may alter cloud coverage or damage DNA, with potentially fatal consequences for entire species."Drops in biodiversity correspond to peaks in cosmic rays," Medvedev says. However, he and his colleagues stress that they haven't identified the mechanism linking cosmic rays and extinctions."I was stunned when I learned that [Medvedev's team] had succeeded where we had failed" at explaining the 62-million-year cycle, Muller says.Charles Dermer, an astrophysicist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., says that the new explanation is "very tantalizing" but that it rests on Rohde and Muller's biodiversity cycles, which are not firmly established.Medvedev and his colleagues say that the cosmic ray bombardments would also increase gamma rays from the north side of the galaxy, a prediction that new gamma-ray observatories may test in the next few years.The researchers presented their work this week, in Jacksonville, Fla., at a meeting of the American Physical Society. The report is also due to appear in Astrophysical Journal.By Davide Castelvecchi[...]



Gassing Up With Hydrogen

2007-07-27T11:14:35.356-04:00

Researchers are working on ways for fuel-cell vehicles to hold the hydrogen gas they need for long-distance travelOn a late summer day in Paris in 1783, Jacques Charles did something astonishing. He soared 3,000 feet above the ground in a balloon of rubber-coated silk bags filled with lighter-than-air hydrogen gas. Terrified peasants destroyed the balloon soon after it returned to earth, but Charles had launched a quest that researchers two centuries later are still pursuing: to harness the power of hydrogen, the lightest element in the universe, for transportation.Burned or used in fuel cells, hydrogen is an appealing option for powering future automotive vehicles for several reasons. Domestic industries can make it from a range of chemical feedstocks and energy sources (for instance, from renewable, nuclear and fossil-fuel sources), and the nontoxic gas could serve as a virtually pollution-free energy carrier for machines of many kinds. When it burns, it releases no carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas. And if hydrogen is fed into a fuel-cell stack--a battery-like device that generates electricity from hydrogen and oxygen--it can propel an electric car or truck with only water and heat as by-products [see "On the Road to Fuel-Cell Cars," by Steven Ashley; Scientific American, March 2005]. Fuel-cell-powered vehicles could offer more than twice the efficiency of today's autos. Hydrogen could therefore help ease pressing environmental and societal problems, including air pollution and its health hazards, global climate change and dependence on foreign oil imports.Yet barriers to gassing up cars with hydrogen are significant. Kilogram for kilogram, hydrogen contains three times the energy of gasoline, but today it is impossible to store hydrogen gas as compactly and simply as the conventional liquid fuel. One of the most challenging technical issues is how to efficiently and safely store enough hydrogen onboard to provide the driving range and performance that motorists demand. Researchers must find the "Goldilocks" storage solutions that are "just right." Storage devices should hold sufficient hydrogen to support today's minimum acceptable travel range--300 miles--on a tank of fuel in a volume of space that does not compromise passenger or luggage room. They should release it at the required flow rates for acceleration on the highway and operate at practical temperatures. They should be refilled or recharged in a few minutes and come with a competitive price tag. Current hydrogen storage technologies fall far short of these goals.Researchers worldwide in the auto industry, government and academia are expending considerable effort to overcome these limitations. The International Energy Agency's Hydrogen Implementing Agreement, signed in 1977, is now the largest international group focusing on hydrogen storage, with more than 35 researchers from 13 countries. The International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy, formed in 2003, now includes 17 governments committed to advancing hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies. And in 2005 the U.S. Department of Energy set up a National Hydrogen Storage Project with three Centers of Excellence and many industry, university and federal laboratory efforts in both basic and applied research. Last year alone this project provided more than $30 million to fund about 80 research projects.Infrastructural HurdlesOne obstacle to the wide adoption of hydrogen fuel-cell cars and trucks is the sheer size of the problem. U.S. vehicles alone consume 383 million gallons of gasoline a day (about 140 billion gallons annually), which accounts for about two thirds of the total national oil consumption. More than half of that [...]



Mother of All Paradoxes

2007-07-27T10:25:48.321-04:00

The notorious mother paradox (sometimes formulated using other familial relationships) arises when people or objects can travel backward in time and alter the past. A simplified version involves billiard balls. A billiard ball passes through a wormhole time machine. When it emerges, it hits its earlier self, thereby preventing it from ever entering the wormhole.

Resolution of the paradox proceeds from a simple realization: the billiard ball cannot do something that is inconsistent with logic or with the laws of physics. It cannot pass through the wormhole in such a way that will prevent it from passing through the wormhole. But nothing stops it from passing through the wormhole in an infinity of other ways.



A Wormhole Time Machine in Three Not So Easy Steps

2007-07-27T10:25:42.542-04:00

1. Find or build a wormhole -- a tunnel connecting two different locations in space. Large wormholes might exist naturally in deep space, a relic of the big, bang. Otherwise we would have to make do with subatomic wormholes, either natural ones (which are thought to be winking in and out of existence all around us) or artificial ones (produced by particle accelerators, as imagined here). These smaller wormholes would have to be enlarged to a useful size, perhaps using energy fields like those that caused space to inflate shortly after the big bang.

2. Stabilize the wormhole. An infusion of negative energy, produced by quantum means such as the so-called Casimir effect, would allow a signal or object to pass safely through the wormhole. Negative energy counteracts the tendency of the wormhole to pinch off into a point of infinite or near-infinite density. In other words, it prevents the wormhole from becoming a black hole.

3. Tow the wormhole. A spaceship, presumably of highly advanced technology, would separate the mouths of the wormhole. One mouth might be positioned near the surface of a neutron star, an extremely dense star with a strong gravitational field. The intense gravity causes time to pass more slowly. Because time passes more quickly at the other wormhole mouth, the two mouths become separated not only in space but also in time.



How To Build A Time Machine

2007-07-27T10:21:46.347-04:00

Time travel has been a popular science-fiction theme since H. G. Wells wrote his celebrated novel The Time Machine in 1895. But can it really be done? Is it possible to build a machine that would transport a human being into the past or future?For decades, time travel lay beyond the fringe of respectable science. In recent years, however, the topic has become something of a cottage industry among theoretical physicists. The motivation has been partly recreational--time travel is fun to think about. But this research has a serious side, too. Understanding the relation between cause and effect is a key part of attempts to construct a unified theory of physics. If unrestricted time travel were possible, even in principle, the nature of such a unified theory could be drastically affected.Our best understanding of time comes from Einstein's theories of relativity. Prior to these theories, time was widely regarded as absolute and universal, the same for everyone no matter what their physical circumstances were. In his special theory of relativity, Einstein proposed that the measured interval between two events depends on how the observer is moving. Crucially, two observers who move differently will experience different durations between the same two events.The effect is often described using the "twin paradox." Suppose that Sally and Sam are twins. Sally boards a rocket ship and travels at high speed to a nearby star, turns around and flies back to Earth, while Sam stays at home. For Sally the duration of the journey might be, say, one year, but when she returns and steps out of the spaceship, she finds that 10 years have elapsed on Earth. Her brother is now nine years older than she is. Sally and Sam are no longer the same age, despite the fact that they were born on the same day. This example illustrates a limited type of time travel. In effect, Sally has leaped nine years into Earth's future.Jet LagTHE EFFECT, KNOWN AS time dilation, occurs whenever two observers move relative to each other. In daily life we don't notice weird time warps, because the effect becomes dramatic only when the motion occurs at close to the speed of light. Even at aircraft speeds, the time dilation in a typical journey amounts to just a few nanoseconds--hardly an adventure of Wellsian proportions. Nevertheless, atomic clocks are accurate enough to record the shift and confirm that time really is stretched by motion. So travel into the future is a proved fact, even if it has so far been in rather unexciting amounts.To observe really dramatic time warps, one has to look beyond the realm of ordinary experience. Subatomic particles can be propelled at nearly the speed of light in large accelerator machines. Some of these particles, such as muons, have a built-in clock because they decay with a definite half-life; in accordance with Einstein's theory, fast-moving muons inside accelerators are observed to decay in slow motion. Some cosmic rays also experience spectacular time warps. These particles move so close to the speed of light that, from their point of view, they cross the galaxy in minutes, even though in Earth's frame of reference they seem to take tens of thousands of years. If time dilation did not occur, those particles would never make it here.Speed is one way to jump ahead in time. Gravity is another. In his general theory of relativity, Einstein predicted that gravity slows time. Clocks run a bit faster in the attic than in the basement, which is closer to the center of Earth and therefore deeper down in a gravitational field. Similarly, clocks run faster in space than on the ground[...]



50, 100, 150 Years Ago

2007-07-27T10:16:56.325-04:00

JANUARY 1957BOREDOM --"In this age of semi-automation, when not only military personnel but also many industrial workers have little to do but keep a constant watch on instruments, the problem of human behavior in monotonous situations is becoming acute. In 1951 McGill University psychologist Donald O. Hebb obtained a grant from the Defense Research Board of Canada to make a systematic study. Prolonged exposure to a monotonous environment has definitely deleterious effects. The individual's thinking is impaired; he shows childish emotional responses; his visual perception becomes disturbed; he suffers from hallucinations; his brain-wave pattern changes."ANXIETY --"In the past year and a half prescription sales of the tranquilizing drug meprobamate, better known as Miltown and Equanil, have jumped to the rate of $32.5 million a year. More than a billion tablets have been sold, and the monthly production of 50 tons falls far short of the demand. Some California druggists herald each new shipment with colored window streamers reading, 'Yes, we have Miltown today!'"JANUARY 1907AUTO CHIC --"The improved appearance of this year's cars is largely aided by the considerable increase in the wheel base which, in the case of some of the heavier machines, is now as great as 123 inches. Furthermore, the use of six-cylinder motors has brought with it a considerable increase in the length of the bonnet, and this also adds to the generally rakish and smart appearance of the up-to-date machine. By a judicious attention to these principles, the builders of even the low-powered and low-priced machines have succeeded in giving to their output a style which was altogether lacking in the earlier models."FLYING FOR SPORT AND WAR --"With mechanical aeroplane flight an accomplished fact, we may now look for a diversion of interest from the dirigible balloon to the aeroplane proper. Its field of usefulness will be found chiefly in military service, where it will be invaluable for reconnoitering purposes and for the conveyance of swift dispatches. In all probability its chief development ultimately will be in the field of sport, where it should enjoy a popularity equal to that of the automobile."TEA MONEY --"The queerest use to which brick-tea (tea leaves compressed into a block) has ever been put in the Orient is in the capacity of money. It is still in circulation as a medium of exchange in the far-inland Chinese towns and central Asian marts and bazaars. Between the Mongolian town of Urga and the Siberian town of Kiakta, there is as much as half a million taels (say $600,000) of this money in circulation. At the latter place it ceases to be used as currency, and enters into the regular brick-tea trade of Siberia and Russia, where it is largely used in the Russian army, by surveying engineers, touring theatrical companies, and tourists in general."JANUARY 1857REALITY THEATER --"A severe test of the strength of the suspension bridge at Niagara Falls was afforded by the gale on the evening of the 13th of last month, when the toll gatherers deserted their posts at either end, and crowds assembled to see it fall, but it stood like a rock."DR. LIVINGSTONE'S TALES --"The celebrated traveler Dr. Livingstone has been lecturing since his return to England. During his unprecedented march, alone among savages, to whom a white face was a miracle, Dr. Livingstone was compelled to struggle through indescribable hardships--he conquered the hostility of the natives by his intimate knowledge of their character and the Bechuana tongue. He waded rivers and slept in the sponge and oo[...]



Happier holidays -- in 5 easy steps

2007-07-27T10:00:08.657-04:00

Ditch those obligatory get-togethers for new traditions with folks who really matter.Last year, my girlfriend Betsy and I decided to set the holiday craziness aside and spend an impromptu few hours celebrating Christmas Eve together. No big dinner, no fancy gifts, no huge crowd--just us, our kids, and our husbands, enjoying store-bought hors d'oeuvres, desserts, and eggnog, swapping traditions, and rediscovering why we adore one another. It was a celebration full of sweet memories we won't soon forget.If only all holiday connections were as low-key and hassle-free. Unfortunately, with all the party-hopping and the pressure to cook, decorate, and find the perfect gift, celebrations can end up feeling more like The Nightmare Before Christmas than It's a Wonderful Life. In fact, the National Mental Health Institute says that worrying, partying, stressing, and clinging to unrealistic expectations--all in an overcommercialized atmosphere--can lead to a case of the holiday blues, a condition that can cause insomnia, headaches, fatigue, and even depression."People focus on the holidays by saying, 'Can I just get through it?' instead of recognizing this as a time to connect with family, reflect on the previous year, and look forward to the New Year," says life coach Valorie Burton, author of Listen to Your Life.It doesn't have to be that way, though. Get more out of this holiday season by saying no to irrelevant obligations and finding more meaningful ways to connect with those most important to you. Here are a few tips to get you started.1 Instead of assembling and wrapping gifts into the wee hours to keep the kids from hearing your tools and the distinct sound of tape ripping …Take an afternoon off from work and invite a few buddies over for a gift-wrapping party, while the kids are at school. "Put on your holiday music, have cake and tea, talk and laugh--and connect," Burton suggests.2 Instead of packing the whole family into the minivan and driving 6 hours across four states to see your parents (or worse, spending thousands of dollars in airfare) …Send Mom and Dad tickets so they can visit you during the holidays. "It'll cost you a few hundred bucks. But it's an awfully wonderful trade, compared with what it would take for you to get there and the disruption it would cause," says Jeff Davidson, author of Breathing Space: Living and Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-Up Society. "The gesture alone speaks volumes."3 Instead of attending multiple Hanukkah or Kwanzaa parties to celebrate these weeklong holidays …Host a small gathering of friends on one of the days, and enjoy the others with just your immediate family. You can even make your party more special by inviting people whose religions and traditions differ from your own. Cecelia Cancellaro and Eric Zinner, of Maplewood, New Jersey, let their 7- and 4-year-old daughters invite friends over to play dreidels, eat latkes, and participate in lighting the menorah as part of their annual Hanukkah party. It gives her daughters a sense of pride when they share their tradition with friends, Cancellaro says. "It helps all the children feel more connected to one anther."4 Instead of schlepping the kids to the mall to wait (and wait) in an excruciatingly long line to get pricey-but-not-so-great holiday portraits …Whip out your home video camera and have your children sing, dance, and share their New Year's resolutions. Then when the holidays arrive, pop some popcorn, pour the eggnog, dim the lights, and sit everyone down to enjoy your own musical. The kids will[...]



Outbound

2006-12-09T15:34:02.142-04:00

Bone weary in the wee hours, rolling west out of Colorado. I make it only as far as Green River before pulling off for a nap at the back of an abandoned gas station, easing past a sad toss of weeds and cracked concrete and rusted barrels. The rest of the night plays out to the whine of big trucks on Interstate 70: some running for Denver, others west to 1-15 and then on to California. Every so often one slows and exits, rumbles past me here on the outskirts — pausing barely long enough for a tank of fuel, maybe a microwaved burn to at the Gas-N-Go on West Main. Nearly everyone, it seems, is just passing through.Listening to the engines in the darkness, I'm reminded of the story of an anthropologist from Boston sent west to California in the 1920s, assigned the job of chronicling the language of the Pit River Indians, even then on the verge of extinction. At one point the young researcher asks the elders their word for newcomersrecent arrivals, European descendents like himself. The men get nervous, refuse to answer. Finally, after much cajoling, they give in. The word is inalladui, one old man explains. Tramp. We can't understand how your people travel through without ever stopping long enough to learn something of the land; without ever binding a place to your heart. We think a part of you must be dead inside.I'm up again at dawn, glad to trade the four-lane for Highway 95 — a sweet, lonely path along the San Rafael Swell. Beyond the road, the land is dappled with locoweed and purple vetch, dropseed and cheatgrass and fescue, here and there the occasional huddle of juniper or cottonwood. This was Jane's country. A wind-shorn mix of rock and wind and sky that changed her utterly, turning her at 18 from a Midwest farmer's daughter into an outdoor educator. An Outward Bound instructor. A national park ranger. "You know if something ever happens to me," she said shortly before she died, relighting a conversation we'd had years before, "I want my ashes scattered in my favorite places." Five days later she was gone, lost in a canoeing accident on the Kopka River, in the dark woods of northern Ontario.And so I travel. Journeying across the West with a small brown pottery jar of her ashes, ultimately bound for six perfect pieces of wilderness: Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains, where 25 years ago I stood beside her in a field of camas lilies, me in my gray suit, she in her wedding dress; a certain little cabin in the pine-covered foothills of Wyoming's Absaroka Range; the heartbreakingly beautiful northern range of Yellowstone, where onspring days she knelt beside 12-year-old kids, hearing them catch their breath at the sight of wolves; a couple of alpine gardens near home, deep in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana. And today, Capitol Reef National Park, in southern Utah.These were the essential landscapes of our lives. And though for me right now the joy is nearly gone from them, choked by this jagged pill of grief, Jane's last wish means I cannot stay away. Later in the afternoon on the eastern edge of Capitol Reef, with the sun lighting clusters of rabbitbrush and Apache plume, I grab my pack and walk with tears streaming down my face toward the great maze of the Waterpocket Fold. Barren capes of slick rock. Slot canyons. A lone raven, his voice full of gravel. At one point a slight breeze from the east begins to rise, and that's when I open the lid and release her, watching puffs of ash drift into the upturned fringes of the fold. Even these scant vestiges of her are not long for this worl[...]



Travel Trick

2006-11-08T04:11:28.630-04:00

Renewing your passport is an expensive pain, in part because you have to find a place that can take the very specific type of unflattering photos the U.S. government requires. Now you can make them yourself with epassportphoto.com. Snap a headshot against a white wall with your digital camera, upload the photo, and the site will resize and crop it to passport specifications. Print six photos Oh a 4×6 sheet, or order a set from an online photo service.

Popular Science



Shoot More Ducks

2006-11-08T04:08:06.550-04:00

Ten fun tips to improve your waterfowl seasonThe basics of duck hunting are the same no matter where you are: decoys, calls, shotguns and shells, blinds, bracing weather and, most important, ducks to work. But over the years you come across a few useful tricks. Here are some of mine.1. THE EASY-MONEY SHOTWhen I was a boy my father would take me with him to a railroad Sack that ran alongside a local lake. Ducks would trade back and forth between the lake and another marsh a mile or so away. When the ducks left the lake, they flew over a steep hill and then the railroad bed, which was even higher.Many of the ducks were well within range when they crossed the railroad track, which made for some excellent pass shooting. I hunted with my first shotgun, a single-shot 16-gauge Winchester Model 37, and my father quickly taught me how to hit the high overhead shot, coming or going. "Start behind the duck and swing through. When the bird is blotted out by your barrel, pull the trigger and keep on swinging," he told me. It was solid advice, and 40-some-odd years later, the high overhead shot is the only one I'd ever bet money on making.2. AN ICE-FREE HOLEOn late-season hunts it's often necessary to knock a hole in the ice for decoys. Always try to break the ice in large slabs and then slide them under the secure ice on the edges of the hole. If you simply break the ice into small chunks and throw the decoys out into the mix, ducks will be reluctant to decoy. I've found that if I can't break the ice into slabs, I'm better off just setting my decoys on the ice. Like some scotch drinkers, ducks don't like ice cubes.3. JUST A COUPLE OF BLOBSEntire books have been written about the subject of how to set out decoys. Most have pretty drawings, too. I've tried some of them and they do work, but none better than my old "twin-blob spread." Just toss a blob of decoys to the left and a blob to the fight, leaving a sweet spot in the middle. Sounds too easy, fight? Well, sometimes the simplest solution is the best one.4. DUCKS OUT OF RANGEMany hunters insist upon putting most of their decoys well within range and then putting one or two decoys almost out of range. Such "marker" decoys are intended to serve as a range reference for hunters when ducks come in. What the way-out decoys often do instead is entice ducks to land not only short of the main spread, but short of the markers as well. If you need a range indicator, use a stick or pole stuck in the mud instead of decoys.5. SWITCH-HITTERSWhen my father was in his 40s, he went partially blind in his fight eye and was forced to train himself to shoot lefthanded. Because of that experience, as soon as I became somewhat adept at shooting from my natural side--the fight side--my father insisted that I learn to shoot left-handed as well. At the time I thought it was totally unnecessary, but evening after evening I would stand in the middle of the living room floor, an empty shotgun in my hands, snapping the stock to my left shoulder as Pa tossed my mother's couch pillows across the room. I've got to admit, Pa was fight. Being able to shoot from either side paid off in the duck blind on those hard over-the-right-shoulder screamers that most right-handers, including this one, find nearly impossible. Practicing left-handed won't cost you anything, so give it a try.6. DON'T OVERCHOKEI grew up hunting ducks in an era when duck hunters, almost to a man, favored 12-gauge pumps and semi-autos with 30- or 32-inch barr[...]



Laying Claim to a Little Paradise

2006-10-24T22:52:05.076-04:00

David Gilmour made Wakaya a posh resort. Now Fijians want it back.Foreigners have always found it hard to resist the siren song of the Fijian isles. And the locals have always found it just as tough to repel them. Take the island of Wakaya, a 2,200-acre emerald of lush jungle greens and chalk-white beaches that rises from the Koro Sea's shark-rife waters about an hour's flight from Suva, the Fijian capital. It is today wreathed in those same lagoony hues of aqua and turquoise that Captain Bligh, cut loose from the mutinous Bounty in 1789, skimmed when seeking refuge in Wakaya's bay. For Bligh, it was not to be. When native warriors aimed their canoes at his small open boat, the captain surmised their intentions -- as he later wrote in his diary, "not necessarily of the most friendly variety" -- and retreated. Now, David Gilmour, the Canadian financier who has owned Wakaya since 1972, has his own troubles with locals: a group of Fijians who argue the island was fraudulently sold two centuries ago, and are laying claim to it.Times have changed since the Fijian islanders ate their interlopers. Rather than warriors, Gilmour, who has converted Wakaya into a luxurious five-star refuge for the extraordinarily rich, may soon be confronted by lawyers. And he is not alone. Mel Gibson recently bought yet another disputed island and is contending with similar claims. But Gilmour is not known to shrink from a fight, especially one with so much at stake.Now in his mid-70s, Gilmour was the long-time partner of Peter Munk, with whom he founded such ventures as Barrick Gold, the mining powerhouse, and real estate giant TrizecHahn. Still, wealth has not always sheltered foreigners in Fiji. A coup attempt in 2000 spread from Suva into the archipelago's far-flung resorts -- including the seizure by insurgents of Laucala Island, then owned by the family of U.S. publishing magnate Malcolm Forbes. And when another group of insurgents raided Turtle Island, they held its American owner and a number of guests hostage for some two months.Even so, Fiji has remained a mostly tranquil island paradise since it first began to boom as a tourist destination in the 1960s. And few resorts can rival the Wakaya Club's guest list of starlets and millionaires. It is where Conrad Black and Barbara Amiel honeymooned, and where Keith Richards suffered his concussive fall from a tree last spring. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher have holidayed there -- as have Michelle Pfeiffer, Jim Carrey, Céline Dion, Rupert Murdoch and Renée Zellweger. When Nicole Kidman departed Wakaya with old friend Russell Crowe in 2001, she is reported to have just missed her ex-husband, Tom Cruise, who flew in on the island's own private airline just days later.Indeed, the island, which accepts just 24 guests at a time -- each of whom enjoys a 12-to-one staff-to-guest ratio -- is perhaps the most exclusive holiday destination in the world. As the resort's slogan says, this sprawling, thatch-roofed Xanadu is where "people who have it all go to get away from it all." Eight well-appointed, 1,650-sq.-foot cottages sit against the sea or the island's idyllic gardens, and set guests back up to $7,600 a night. A ninth cottage -- the Governor's Bure -- boasts 2,400 sq. feet and is staffed with butler, laundry service, chef and chauffeur. Alcohol is unlimited. The food is largely Wakaya-grown, cultivated from island corners teeming with wild boars and deer.For Gilmour, the resort i[...]



Lassie, Come To Houston

2006-10-22T09:38:09.081-04:00

The pet-friendly city makes it easy for road warriors to take along their pooch

ARE YOU FEELING guilty about leaving Fido or Fluffy at the kennel while you're away on business? If you're headed to Houston, maybe you should take them along. The American Automobile Assn. rates it the most pet-friendly city in America, at least if you go by the number of AAA-approved hotels that accept four-legged guests.

At the 314-room Hotel Derek in the city's tony Galleria area shopping district, dogs and cats get their own beds, water and food bowls, and a gift bag of toys. Pet sitting is available, and room service will deliver cooked-to-order bow-wow and meow chow. "We realize your dog or cat is part of your family," said assistant front office manager George Trevino, who was recently dispatched to get a carpeted kitty condo for Cher's cat, Mr. Big.

The Four Seasons, Westin, and St. Regis hotels confer posh pet privileges in keeping with their nationwide policies. Smaller lodging facilities, such as the 14-room Lovett Inn in the museum district, also allow pets but don't serve them treats on silver platters.

During your free time you can take your buddy for a romp in one of several canine parks, including the 15-acre Millie Bush Bark Park, named for former President George Bush's late spaniel. It has walking trails, swimming ponds, and paw-operated drinking fountains. Hungry? Stop at one of three Barnaby's Cafes, known for their multi-ethnic menu, decadent layer cakes, and dogs lying under patio tables at their owners' feet.

DOGGIE SHOW
YOU CAN'T TAKE a dog to Houston's Museum of Fine Arts, but you can see its new exhibit, Best in Show: The Dog in Art from the Renaissance to Today, which opens Oct. 1 and runs through Jan. 1, 2007 (mfah.org). It features 75 pooch paintings, photographs, and sculptures starting in the 16th century. Among the pieces is Two Dogs in a Landscape by Jacopo Bassano. Cat lovers shouldn't feel left out. The Cat's Meow, a show of 25 feline-related works, is on display until Jan. 21, 2007.

By: Murphy, Kate, Business Week, 10/9/2006