Saturday, May 31, 2008

Skydivers leap from crashing plane in Spain

MADRID, Spain (AP) -- Nine skydivers leapt from a plane in eastern Spain on Friday when the aircraft lost a wing and plunged to earth, killing the pilot and one passenger, according to the country's Interior Ministry.

The News network Cadena Ser, citing local witnesses, reported that four of the parachutists were injured, two of them seriously.

A 23-year-old man suffered a back injury and a 52-year-old man was being treated for a neck injury, Cadena Ser said in its radio and Web site news reports.

Two other skydivers suffered light injuries and the remaining five were unhurt, the network said.

A spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry said the plane, which was used for skydiving practice, burned on impact, killing the pilot and a passenger.

Three of the jumpers were hospitalized, the spokeswoman told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity in keeping with ministry rules.

The plane took off from Lillo, in the province of Toledo. The cause of the crash was not immediately known, the spokeswoman said.

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High gas prices promote 'digital nomad' lifestyle

ATHENS, GREECE -- Evolutionary biology teaches us that evolution happens not by constant, steady change, but in sudden leaps and mutations. Likewise the evolution toward being able to work from anywhere. A recent tectonic shift -- in this case, high gas prices -- is making the world safer for extreme telecommuting.

A Reuters report today highlights organizations that are cutting back the number of days employees are required to physically show up at work because of soaring gas prices. Even employees who are required to be on-site in order to work, such as janitors, are being cut down to four-day workweeks to save gas. White collar workers, of course, are being allowed, encouraged or forced to stay home once a week or more often and telecommute.

One thing leads to another. High gas prices prompt employers (including the federal government) to allow employees to work from home once a week. Once that's accepted culturally, an elephant appears in the boardroom: If it's OK once a week, why isn't it OK five times a week? (This is what happened with "casual Friday" -- its once-a-week acceptance lead to the current trend of casual wear every day.) Once telecommuting is accepted, "extreme telecommuting" -- working from the Bahamas or Paris or an internet-connected shack on the Australian Outback -- becomes acceptable, too. After all, once you're out of the office and connecting to the company over the Internet, it doesn't really matter where you are, does it?

The last remaining barrier to the general acceptance of "extreme telecommuting" is purely cultural -- it's our irrational clinging to obsolete rules for how we work. As the cultural barriers fall, more of us will be freed to work from wherever we please, something which mobile technology and Internet communication already enables.

To me, that's the silver lining in high gas prices.

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50 Habits of "Naturally Thin" People

Small Changes, Big Weight Loss

This is not a diet -- or a rigorous exercise program. (Nobody can stick to those for long.) Instead, it's a simple way to make weight loss a natural part of the life you already live. And guess what? It's fun! You don't have to give up the foods you love or join a gym. It's about balancing calories in tiny ways that add up to big benefits. You just adopt some tricks naturally lean people do. Pick the ones you like, stick with them, and you'll slim down and tone up -- for good!

Credit: Ole Graf/zefa/Corbis
Credit: Ole Graf/zefa/Corbis
Morning Makeover
1. Wake-up workout When your eyes open, sit up slowly without using your hands. With legs straight out, lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your back and hamstrings. Hold; then, using your abs, lower yourself flat. Rest and repeat two more times. Strengthens core. Burns 10 calories

2. Go for the grains Not ready for Twigs & Rocks cereal? Sprinkle on a few tablespoons of wheat germ or oat bran. Work up to 3/4 cup of low-sugar whole-grain cereal with at least three grams of fiber per serving, and you'll pass on that Danish. Saves 100

3. Add some protein The more you eat earlier on, the less you eat as the day wears on, research has shown. So after your cereal, add a hard-boiled egg or a part-skim mozzarella cheese stick to keep you feeling full -- and away from that pre-lunch brownie. Saves 200 (or more)

4. Balance booster While you brush your teeth, alternate standing on one leg as you switch mouth quadrants (every 30 seconds). Balancing develops your core muscles and may even be good for your brain. Burns 10

5. Be a ballerina As your coffee drips, stand sideways, put one hand on the counter, and lift the outside leg straight out in front of you, keeping it extended. With upper body straight, hold for a few seconds and move it to the side; hold and extend it behind you. Do five to ten times on each leg. Tones outer thighs, hip flexors and quadriceps. Burns 10

6. Coffee saver Instead of pouring that 1/3 cup of half-and-half (a whopping 105 calories!) into your mug, replace it with the same amount of 2% milk. Saves 60

7. Better your bagel You can walk 10,000 steps to justify your 500-calorie bagel with cream cheese, or try this: low-fat spreadable cheese like Laughing Cow Light on an English muffin. Saves 300

Nine-to-Five Fixes

8. Tone in traffic Use the time spent bumper-to-bumper to develop your buns of steel: Squeeze your derri&egravere each time you tap the brake, holding for 10 seconds. Shoot for 10 to 15 squeezes a trip. Burns 10

9. Snack smarter Portion out the day's snacks into pint-size zip bags, or buy single-serving portions. For example, four regular Oreos have 200 calories versus the 100-calorie snack bag version. Go for the lower fat chips: a Lay's Light bag has only 75 calories, while the regular has 150. Saves 175 (over two snacks)

10. Casual day payoff You will blast more calories during the day wearing comfy clothes like jeans or khakis, sport shirts and soft-soled shoes than donning constricting suits, skirts and heels. Why? Because you walk more, a study found. Now you just have to convince the boss. Burns 25

11. You know squat! At your desk chair, pretend you're going to sit but don't -- stop and come back up without using your arms. Always start squats by lowering your hips, not bending knees forward, and keeping your weight on your heels. Repeat the motion throughout the day (even at the potty!) for 15 to 20 total. Strengthens quadriceps. Burns 15

12. Switch your soda Your body doesn't register calories from liquids the same way it does those from foods, so you won't get those "stop eating" signals to help you compensate for the overload later on. Change from two glasses of regular soda or fruit juice to diet soda or a flavored seltzer. Saves 300

13. Talk it up Every time you grab the phone, stand up and pace around. Heavy people sit on average two and a half hours more per day than thin people, according to the Mayo Clinic. Burns 50 or more

14. At lunch, pick a pita Use one mini whole-wheat pita instead of the usual two slices of white or refined wheat bread for your sandwich. Saves 70

15. Get face time We use e-mail so much we've forgotten what our co-workers look like. Pick a colleague or two who sits farthest from you and deliver 10 of those daily messages in person. And go out of your way: Hit a bathroom or a copier on another floor -- and take the stairs, of course. Burns 100

16. Firm as you file Pause from your papers with a few wall push-ups. Place hands wide at shoulder height against the wall. Take a couple of steps back so your body is at a slight angle and your weight is on your toes, and do three sets of 10 push-ups. Strengthens chest and triceps. (For more desk exercises, go to Burns 10

17. An apple (or more) a day They're packed with fiber and water, so your stomach will want less. Plus, studies out of Washington State and Brazil have shown that people who eat at least three apples or pears a day lose weight. Try two small apples and two fewer large cookies. Saves 100

18. Try a simple chair workout
Dips: If your chair has wheels, brace it against something. Facing forward, place palms on the front edge of the seat with knees bent at a right angle. Lower butt toward the floor; raise and repeat for two sets of 10. Tones triceps. Burns 10
Lifts: Seated in a chair with your back straight and your feet on the floor, squeeze knees together and gently bring them toward your chest. Do two sets of ten. Strengthens abdominals. Burns 10

Around Town

19. Carry some weight When you're grocery shopping or running errands, wear a backpack with a 5-or 10-pound bag of sugar inside to increase resistance and burn more calories. Add purchases to your load as it becomes easier. Burns 20 (for an hour of errands)

20. Tweak your treat Instead of a large caffè latte and a chocolate cream-cheese muffin, get a small nonfat latte and a small low-fat raisin or carrot muffin. Saves 340

21. Pump at the pump Instead of fuming over gas prices, think about firming your calves: With one hand on your car, stand on the balls of your feet and slowly rise up and down for as long as it takes your tank to fill -- for an SUV that might be 50 raises! Burns 10

22. Do the pizza pat Blot your slice with a napkin to cut anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon of grease -- and calories. Saves 50-100

23. Shop till the pounds drop At the mall, try on at least ten outfits, both pants and shirts. No need to buy! Burns 60

24. Eat like a kid You don't have to give up that quick lunch if you order smaller portions: Instead of a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and large fries, opt for the cheeseburger Happy Meal. You can even play with the toy. Saves 390

25. Recharge yourself Anytime you're waiting in line, stand evenly on both feet, clasp hands behind your back and squeeze shoulder blades together to open your chest, an energizing yoga-based move that stimulates the nervous system. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds while slowly breathing in and out, taking longer on the inhale. Burns 5

On the Home Front

26. Jog for junk mail Turn clutter into a challenge: For every piece of junk mail you pull from the mailbox each day, do one lap around your house or building, or up and down a flight of stairs. Burns 35-140

27. Use better butter No, you don't have to give up the real deal -- instead of a tablespoon of stick butter, use a tablespoon of whipped and cut half the calories. Saves 30

28. Step on it Before you lug those backpacks upstairs, stop and stand on the bottom step for these calf toners. Hold the banister with one hand. Bend your right leg and place the toes of your left foot on the edge of the step. Let your heel drop down, press into the ball of your left foot and rise to your toes. Pause; repeat with each foot for 8 to 12 reps. Burns 10

29. Start with soup Order a clear soup instead of a salad soaked with two tablespoons full-fat ranch and you can save twice the calories. Plus you'll feel fuller, so you'll eat less when the entrée comes. Saves 100

30. Play footsie After dinner, while you're still sitting at the table, extend your right leg out and slowly bend it up and down, squeezing and holding in the up position for at least five seconds. Repeat on each leg five times. Sculpts quadriceps. Burns 10

31. Make perfect pasta Substitute whole-grain pasta for semolina and you'll be satisfied with a smaller portion (1.5 ounces instead of 2). Saves 50. Or use the same amount of oat-bran pasta. Saves 90

32. Climb up! Taking the stairs for a total of just two minutes, five days a week, gives you the same calorie-burning results as a 20-minute walk. Burns 100-140

33. Fill up with fruit Like pie? Here's how you can cave to the craving: Sprinkle fresh fruit -- some cut-up apple, pear or a handful of cherries -- with some Splenda or Equal, cover and nuke for a minute or so. Tastes just like pie filling. Saves 275

34. Have your cake Pick up an angel food cake for dessert. It's packed with air and has fewer than half the calories of, say, pound cake. Saves 70

35. Ease into evening Sitting with feet uncrossed, grab your wrist and raise your hands above your head to lengthen the spine. Take a deep breath in as you reach and hold the position, breathing slowly in and out for 20 seconds, taking longer on the exhale. Instant relaxation. Burns 5

36. Get your chocolate fix Instead of a candy bar, try a sugar-free, reduced-calorie Jell-O chocolate pudding snack with a squirt of nonfat whipped cream topping. Eat it with a baby spoon to savor it longer. Saves 185

37. Crunch for your clicker The average half-hour TV show has eight minutes of commercials. Make reaching for the remote control worth it: Place it out of reach on the coffee table or, if you're lying down, on the opposite arm of the couch. Every time an ad comes on and you reach for the remote, crunch until the show comes back on; you should reach 100-150 or so. Tones abs. Burns 24

38. Lift those hips Before you tuck yourself in, lie on your back on the floor with your legs up on the edge of the bed or a chair. Slowly bend your knees, lifting your hips off the floor. Hold for five seconds, relax and repeat 10 to 12 times. Firms up hamstrings and core. Burns 10

The Weekend

39. Sing a song Spend Sunday morning belting it out in the church choir. Burns 70 per service

40. Make it bacon At the diner, order three slices of crisp bacon instead of two sausage links, and pat off the extra grease. Saves 90

41. Move it, Soccer Parents! After every quarter of the game, get up from the bleachers and take a lap around the gym or field. Four or five times around a typical one is about a mile. Burns 75

42 Movie time Most people eat 45% more popcorn from large-size containers, so make sure you get only a small and skip the butter, which adds more calories than the popcorn itself. Bring your own seasoned salt or Parmesan cheese for more flavor. Saves 350

43. Orient yourself At Chinese restaurants, be sure to avoid anything named General Tso or Crispy, which means fried. Eat only the filling of the egg roll and not the shell. Saves 400-500

44. Catch this! Spend a half-hour tossing a ball or Frisbee with your kid. Burns 90

45. Cut the cheese Order your pizza with half the cheese or even cheese-less, and then sprinkle with a few tablespoons of Parmesan. Saves 100

46. Have a hot dog! Pile on the pickles, onions and sauerkraut -- these fiber-packed condiments will fill you up and prevent you from eating a second dog. Skip the cheese and chili. Saves 250

47. Think about your drink Consider beer or wine instead of a frozen drink: A glass of regular beer has 140 calories and a serving of wine has 126 calories, while a strawberry daiquiri has about 300 and a margarita 340. Saves 150-200

48. Fix your fries Rather than asking for medium fries, get an order of onion rings (8 to 9 rings). Saves 60

49. Scream for sorbet Indulge in chocolate sorbet instead of chocolate ice cream. Saves 125

50. Make whoopee Instead of a bowl of ice cream as a bedtime snack, have a robust tussle with your spouse. Burns 300

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Incredible pictures of one of Earth's last uncontacted tribes firing bows and arrows

Skin painted bright red, heads partially shaved, arrows drawn back in the longbows and aimed square at the aircraft buzzing overhead. The gesture is unmistakable: Stay Away.

Behind the two men stands another figure, possibly a woman, her stance also seemingly defiant. Her skin painted dark, nearly black.

The apparent aggression shown by these people is quite understandable. For they are members of one of Earth's last uncontacted tribes, who live in the Envira region in the thick rainforest along the Brazilian-Peruvian frontier.

Thought never to have had any contact with the outside world, everything about these people is, and hopefully will remain, a mystery.

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Enlarge Uncontacted tribe

Painted: In a thick rainforest along the Brazilian-Peruvian border, these tribespeople are thought never to have had any contact with the outside world

Their extraordinary body paint, precisely what they eat (the anthropologists saw evidence of gardens from the air), how they construct their tent-like camp, their language, how their society operates - the life of these Amerindians remains a mystery.

'We did the overflight to show their houses, to show they are there, to show they exist,' said Brazilian uncontacted tribes expert José Carlos dos Reis Meirelles Junior. 'This is very important because there are some who doubt their existence.'

Meirelles, who despite once being shot in the shoulder by an arrow fired by another tribe campaigns to protect these peoples, believes this group's numbers are increasing, and pointed out how strong and healthy the people seemed.

But other uncontacted groups in the region, whose homes have been photographed from the air, are in severe danger from illegal logging in Peru and populations are being decimated.

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Enlarge Aerial view of tribe

Mystery: The tribespeople are likely to think the plane that took this photograph is a spirit or large bird

Logging is driving uncontacted tribes over the border and could lead to conflict with the estimated five hundred uncontacted Indians already living on the Brazilian side.

'What is happening in this region [of Peru] is a monumental crime against the natural world, the tribes, the fauna and is further testimony to the complete irrationality with which we, the 'civilised' ones, treat the world,' said Meirelles.

It is extraordinary to think that, in 2008, there remain about a hundred groups of people, scattered over the Earth, who know nothing of our world and we nothing of theirs, save a handful of brief encounters.

The uncontacted tribes, which are located in the jungles of South America, New Guinea and a remote and the beautiful and remote North Sentinel island in the Indian Ocean (the inhabitants of which have also responded to attempts at contact with extreme aggression) all have one thing in common - they want to be left alone.

And for good reason. The history of contact, between indigenous tribes and the outside world, has always been an unhappy one.

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Enlarge Aerial view of uncontacted tribe

Human nature: One man points at the plane. Others ready their weapons

In our overcrowded world their very future hangs in the balance. Almost all of these tribes are threatened by powerful outsiders who want their land. These outsiders - loggers, miners, cattle ranchers - are often willing to kill the tribespeople to get what they want.

Even where there is no violence, the tribes can be wiped out by diseases like the common cold to which they have no resistance.

According to Miriam Ross of Survival International, which campaigns to protect the world's remaining indigenous peoples, 'These tribes represent the incredible diversity of humankind. Unless we want to condemn yet more of the earth's peoples to extinction, we must respect their choice. Any contact they have with outsiders must happen in their own time and on their own terms.'

As to who these people are, how they live their lives, what language they speak - we know nothing. 'Normally you can tell who tribes are by their language, how they wear their hair, how they adorn their bodies and so on, but in this case the photos don't allow us to get close enough to see,' says Ms Ross.

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Enlarge Uncontacted tribe

Hidden homes: The tribe's tent-shaped dwellings deep in the rainforest

When anthropologists first overflew the area, they saw women and children in the open and no one appeared to be painted. It was only when the plane returned a few hours later that they saw these individuals covered head-to-toe in red. 'Tribes in the Amazon paint themselves for all kinds of different reasons - one of which includes when they feel threatened or are aggressive,' Ms Ross says.

'And they are almost certain to feel threatened by or aggressive towards a plane, which was where the photos were taken from. They are almost certain not to understand what the plane is - perhaps a spirit or a large bird.

'The jungle is fundamental to their lives and survival. It's their home, their source of food, the source of their culture etc. Without it, they could not exist as a people.'

Contact is usually a disaster for these remote tribespeople, who live a life probably unchanged for more than 10,000 years. Even if the loggers do not shoot them (which they often do) or force them off their land, diseases against which these isolated humans have no resistance typically wipe out half an uncontacted tribe's numbers in a year or two.

Enlarge Tribe and huts

Stay away: The anthropologists saw evidence of gardens, but exactly what they eat, how they build their huts and why they paint their bodies remains unknown

Ms Ross added: 'These pictures are further evidence that uncontacted tribes really do exist. The world needs to wake up to this, and ensure that their territory is protected in accordance with international law. Otherwise, they will soon be made extinct.'

For more information on Survival International, see

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Brain-Eating Amoeba Strikes in Summer

Six young men died last year after swimming in lakes or pools infested with a brain-eating amoeba, the CDC reports.

The bad blobs -- known as Naegleria fowleri or N. fowleri -- thrive in warm, fresh water all over the world. But the key word here is warm. The amoeba loves heat. In the U.S., it inhabits the relatively hot waters of lakes, hot springs, and poorly maintained pools in Southern or Southwestern states.

All six of the 2007 cases were in Florida, Texas, and Arizona (the victims' names and swimming sites come from local media reports):

  • May/June 2007: Angel Arroyo Vasquez, age 14, of Orlando, Fla., was swimming in an apartment swimming pool.
  • July 2007: Will Sellars, age 11, of Orlando, Fla., was swimming and wakeboarding in Lake Conway.
  • August 2007: Richard Almeida, age 10, of Kissimmee, Fla., was swimming and wakeboarding at Orlando Watersports Complex.
  • August 2007: John "Jack" Herrera, age 12, participated in water activities during summer camp at Lake LBJ in Texas.
  • August 2007: Colby Sawyer, age 22, ruptured his eardrum while wakeboarding at Lake LBJ in Texas.
  • September 2007: Aaron Evans, age 14, was swimming at Lake Havasu in northeastern Arizona.

Why the deadly amoeba struck these six and not the thousands of other people exposed in the same places at the same times is a mystery, says CDC epidemiologist Jonathan Yoder.

"Humans are the accidental host -- we are not part of this amoeba's life cycle," Yoder tells WebMD. "But when it finds a nice warm environment like your nose, it looks for a food source."

How Brain-Eating Amoebas Attack

That food source is the human brain. The CDC doesn't like to call N. fowleri "the brain-eating amoeba," but that's what it does.

"It actually is using the brain for food," Yoder says. "So it is a very tragic situation for the person unfortunate enough to have that happen."

After the amoeba enters the nose, it finds its way to the olfactory nerve. N. fowleri appears to be attracted to nerve cells, so it follows the nerve into the brain. That's when bad things happen.

The amoeba has mouth-shaped structures on its surface called food cups. It's perfectly capable of chewing up brain and blood cells with these food cups, but the blob finds it more efficient to secrete enzymes and proteins that dissolve brain cells so it can suck up the debris with its food cup.

Obviously, this causes a lot of damage. And it happens fast: Victims usually die seven to 10 days after infection, although symptoms may not appear for up to 14 days.

Initial symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and stiff neck. Later symptoms include confusion, inability to pay attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations. Death follows the first symptoms by three to seven days.

The disease is technically called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM.

"We want to make sure people understand this is a tragic event," Yoder says. "When it happens to a person, particularly if it is a child, we don't want to minimize the tragedy."

At least eight people have survived PAM. All were treated with powerful drugs soon after infection. Unfortunately, most victims aren't treated in time. There are rapid tests for N. fowleri infection, but because the infection is so rare, doctors usually don't suspect a brain-eating amoeba until it's too late.

Brain-Eating Amoeba Not on the Rise

Last summer's six cases were a lot compared to most years. But the CDC says there's no evidence that the brain-eating amoeba is on the rise. There were eight cases in 1980, seven cases in 2002, and six cases in 1978, 1986, and in 1995. Since 1937, there have been only 121 known cases.

So far, there haven't been any cases in 2008. But the CDC warns people either to avoid swimming in warm, fresh water or to wear nose plugs if they do. N. fowleri does not live in salt water or in properly maintained swimming pools, although it has been found in domestic water supplies.

"People should assume there is a risk of swimming in warm, fresh water," Yoder says. "And we think that things people do to minimize entry of water into the nose might provide some reduction of risk, such as using a nose clip. We can't say there is scientific evidence this works, but that is a commonsense approach."

The CDC also suggests that people avoid digging or stirring up sediment while playing or working in warm waters. The CDC further suggests that people avoid thermally polluted water, such as the water near power plants, although Yoder says the CDC has not yet looked at how much thermal pollution affects amoeba populations in public waters.

States where N. fowleri has caused disease include Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

Infections have been seen around the world, including 16 cases traced to the same swimming pool in the Czech Republic.

There's no question of eradicating the blob. N. fowleri turns into its cyst form when conditions aren't right -- and can survive for years in the soil.

The CDC reports details of the six 2007 cases, and analyzes PAM trends, in the May 30 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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Knowing What To Do Versus Doing It – How To Handle The Information Explosion

Hi! Seems it's your first visit on Freelance Folder. Welcome! You may want to grab our RSS feed or you can also subscribe and receive updates in your e-mail. So you'd always be up to date! Thanks for visiting!

Information ExplosionAs a freelancer, most of the time I’m surrounded with far more information than I can ever absorb, let alone use.

Not only does every newspaper, magazine, and television shows offer up their particular flavor of advice on how best to succeed – now there is also advice from the Internet to deal with. On the Internet new advice can appear practically every minute.

Much of the advice being offered is sound, too. It’s good advice, if only one had the time to put it all into practice. (Yes, I’m aware that there’s a lot of bad advice out there too. Discerning good advice from bad advice is the topic of a whole other blog post… )

What’s a freelancer to do?

You want your business to be successful. You want to work efficiently. You want to offer the best to your clients. But, there’s no way that you can absorb, let alone follow, all of the various pieces of advice that are currently available.

In fact, it’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by the information explosion that surrounds today’s freelancer.

You don’t have to let the information explosion leave you with a defeated feeling. There are ways to manage information to your advantage.

Here are four tips to help you not only absorb at least some of the information being provided, but also to put it into use:


As a freelancer, you probably already have good prioritization skills that help you effectively prioritize your work projects. You can use those same skills with new information that you receive. When you receive new information ask these key questions (and others) to determine how useful that information is to your business:

  • What does my business stand to gain from using this information?
  • Will applying this information help me to save time?
  • Can this information help me to earn more?
  • Does this information increase my quality of life?

Mentorship Approach

Under this approach, a freelancer picks one, or several, leading information providers (perhaps focusing on leading bloggers for their field) and concentrates on following mostly the advice of their virtual mentors. (A drawback can be that your mentor’s situation may be quite different from your own. What works for them may not work for you.)

Research Approach

You are probably already familiar with this approach and don’t realize it. Users of this approach don’t let the available information dictate what they do. Rather, they use the information as a research tool. An example of using this approach would be when you want to join an affiliate program. You use the search engine and magazines to research your options. You find as much information about your topic as you can possibly find. Then, you base your decision and actions on the results of your research.

Piece By Piece

Many successful people use an approach of learning something small, but useful every day. Over time, the sum of the effort adds up and the results can be as great as if they had made a more major effort. This can also be one of the less stressful approaches to information management. Once you have absorbed something useful for the day, you can relax and focus on other things.

Whether you use one of these methods of information, or a combination of all of them, there is no need to feel overwhelmed or defeated by today’s information explosion.

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Cops Are Out For Blood-Can You Refuse?

You are out partying it up with your buddies one weekend.. You have a few beers, which turns into a few too many. In the true tradition of an obnoxious drunk you tell all your friend you are fine, head to your car, stop to puke in an alley and you are on your way. You are pulled over. You are asked to peform a field sobriety test. You pull out every piece of law you have ever heard in bars, nightclubs and your last stay in the drunk tank.

“I don’t have to take the field sobriety test ”

Well you are right, at least in Texas you have to right to refuse do the field sobriety test, blow into any probably cause breath analyzer, or say anything at all. While there are possible consequences for your refusal ,you can basically stand mute(if you are able to stand). The police officer then says “fine we are going to draw blood”. Your response is “please see previous refusals”

Police officer goes back to his car for a bit, and comes back with this piece of paper. You manage to slur out the party line again…. “please see previous refusals”

The officer, responds, “you can take your previous refusals and stick them in your beer can. I have a search warrant to draw your blood.”

Hmmm……. the jail house lawyers in the drunk tank didn’t tell you about that one…..

Your response? Drop your pants and bend over(figuratively) for the needle! Danger Will Robinson!

Do you have the right to refuse a blood test at a DWI stop? Not if the cop has a properly obtained warrant to draw your blood which he went back to his car and obtained from an on-call magistrate. In fact, even if the warrant was improperly obtained, the cop is taking that blood and you can argue about whether the warrant was properly obtained in a suppression hearing or on appeal after your conviction. Welcome to the “no refusal” policy being instituted by an ever increasing number of law enforcement agencies. .

The Dallas police and departments all over the country are instituting these “no refusal” policies with increasing frequency at DWI stops. It started with holidays only, went to every weekend and when budgeted and staffed for, will be the modus operandi every day of the week. This means you can forget everything you have ever been told about your right to refuse various tests when you are pulled over. You can throw whatever your state’s drunken driven statutes say about right to refuse out the window.

Local police departments through the use of search warrants and “on call” magistrates have in effect been able to write their own legislation without the help of the legislature that says you can not refuse. In order to get a better feel for the effect of this statute, I decided to talk to people in the trenches.

Richard Warfield, a very respected local Dallas Attorney specializing in DWI had this to say:

“The law in Texas regarding DWI’s(Driving While Intoxicated) requires that if a peace officer has “probable cause”(i.e.,he smells alcohol) to believe the driver of a motor vehicle may be intoxicated, the officer can demand the suspect give a specimen of his breath or blood to determine the level of the intoxicant, whether it be alcohol or drugs.

However, the Texas Legislature enacted a Statute under the Transportation Code(Sec.724.012) which states if a suspect refuses to give a specimen “none shall be taken.” This is out of respect for the rights of the accused and the inherent dignity of the individual. In other words, to forcibly extract breath or blood from a suspect is considered so invasive as to offend our sensibilities as a proud and free people.The argument can be made that if one is suspected of a serious felony such as murder, if the state seeks and obtains a search warrant, such a specimen would be taken.

A DWI is, much to the chagrin of Mothers Against Drunk Driving(MADD), still a Class B Misdemeanor. This all changed when the highest criminal court in Texas ruled in Beeman v. State that if an officer obtains a search warrant for ones’ blood, the warrant trumps the wishes of the Texas Legislature and we no longer have the right to refuse. I can’t help but think this is another example of the will of the people being overridden by an activist judiciary. By the way, this opinion was written by Judge Micheal Keasler, a Republican on an ALL Republican high court.

What this means to us is that if a local police or sheriffs’ department wants to set up a procedure whereby they have access to a local judge 24 hours a day, they can get the warrant EVERY SINGLE TIME!

The Dallas Police Dept. came up with this procedure this past weekend so they could have it in place just in time for our National Holidays of Memorial Day and Independence Day. Think about that. On those days on which we celebrate the memories of those brave souls, those patriots, who gave their lives so that we could become and remain free, our own govt. can now forcibly extract by needles our body fluids if any police officer says he smells alcohol on our breath and saw us drive.

This is a bit like the “Broken Windows” crime theory in reverse. When our “little” dignities and freedoms are abridged, and the people put up with it, the next thing you know our Govt. spies on us without warrants, we operate secret prisons, torture suspects, kidnap and even invade foreign countries not a threat to us. In other words our way of life, our democratic republic is under assault at all levels, on small scales and large. If we wish to override the Beeman decision, citizens should contact their State Rep. and express their outrage as only the Legislature can remedy this.”

That is the opinion of one Dallas DWI attorney.

Then of course there is Jacqueline Saburido. You can read her story here. Her photo graces this blog. I wonder what she would say. She is one of many dead and alive who probably wished there was a “no refusal” policy that deterred just one person from drinking and driving. That one person that disfigured them or wiped out their family.

There is part of me that says so what. If you don’t want to have your blood drawn, don’t drink and drive. It does not get any simpler than that. There is part of me that says there are to many graves and Jaqueline Saburidos out there. This is a good thing.

Then there is that part of me that has concern about this evolving into a “kangaroo procedure” where magistrates do not even listen to the facts. They simply fax the warrant over. Who knows, maybe the magistrate is taking a dump when the call comes in and his wife listens to the cop and faxes the warrant over. You get the point.

When the process becomes a complete rubber stamp farce, the joke is really on the Constitution as our rights our stripped away piece by piece.

Is it a trade off? Is the Constitution supposed to be a trade off? If we say we are trading the pain and suffering of future Jacqueline Saburidos and the future graves of unsuspecting families on their way home from church with a reduction in civil liberties does that make the trade off acceptable?

I use the picture and story of Jacqueline to make a point. We should never forget that when you lift the curtain on all the theories, constitutional arguments, lawyers, drunks, etc, there are real people. Should this change our opinion?

So what do you think? Should police have the right to draw blood at a DWI stop involving no injuries, no accident, nothing but your smelly breath? Is this a violation of our constitutional rights? Do we even care if lives are saved?

Police Arrest 76 In First Use Of “No Refusal”

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Norway's Think to Produce,

DETROIT – Norway's Think Global AS, with backing from U.S. venture capital investors, plans to produce and sell a small all-electric car in the U.S. that could go as far as 110 miles when fully charged – fresh evidence that the race to woo American consumers with electric cars is heating up and drawing interest from the same investors that helped build Silicon Valley.
Norway's Think Global plans to launch an electric car, called the Think City, in the U.S. in 2009.

The Oslo-based electric carmaker, which recently set up a U.S. office in Menlo Park, Calif., is trying to determine what geographical areas to focus its sales activities on, with an aim to launch the car – the Think City – in 2009. Think, a Ford Motor Co. unit until the U.S. auto maker sold it to a Norwegian company in 2003, is also searching for a site in the U.S. and Mexico to assemble the car.

Jan-Olaf Willums, Think Global chief executive officer, said Think plans to sell the City, to be priced less than $25,000, in densely populated cities because of the car's limited range. The car is just hitting the market in Norway, Sweden and Denmark where a typical user drives the vehicle for a relatively short commuting distance and plugs it into an electric outlet in his garage to charge it overnight.

"What we have is a city car so we would focus on big cities," Mr. Willums said, noting that Think may focus on markets on the West Coast such as San Francisco and Seattle. "But we think there's an opportunity for us also on the East Coast, or any city in the U.S. that wants to encourage use of pollution free electric cars. We don't care if it is in Texas, we will be there."

Mr. Willums declined to estimate U.S. demand for the City car, but Ray Lane, managing partner of venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins, Caufield and Byers, which has invested in Think, believes Think could eventually sell as many as 30,000 to 50,000 City cars a year in the U.S. once production ramps up and a sales network for the model is fully established. In Norway, Think is rushing to boost production to 10,000 a year this year to meet demand in Europe.

According to a Think spokeswoman in Oslo, Think Global has raised about $95 million from an array of investors in Europe and the U.S., including GE Energy Financial Services and RockPort Capital Partners. In addition, the company also received backing, which Mr. Willums described as "substantial," from Kleiner and RockPort to set up Think's North American unit.

Mr. Willums said Think's North American executives, among other tasks, are currently looking for a site to produce the City. "Because of the dollar's extreme weakness, it doesn't make sense to ship cars across the Atlantic." The Norwegian executive said Think would like to see which state and city could provide the "best deal," referring to investment incentives such as tax breaks.

In addition to the City, Think plans to add to its product lineup in late 2010 in Europe a second all-electric vehicle: the Think Ox, a five-seat car-SUV crossover. Using currently available battery technology, the car has a driving range of about 150 miles when the vehicle is fully charged. A U.S. launch is expected to follow shortly after, Mr. Willums said.

Kleiner, one of the key investors for Think, is perhaps Silicon Valley's best-known venture-capital firm and a backer of household tech names such as Netscape Communications, Inc. and Google Inc. Kleiner and other venture-capital investors who helped build Silicon Valley are now clamoring to back the race to develop and market an electric car in the U.S., investing in little-known upstart companies such as Aptera Motors Inc. and Phoenix Motorcars Inc., both southern California companies. Tesla Motors Inc., the high-profile company that is close to shipping a $98,000 electric sports car, has raised $105 million from investors, including VantagePoint Venture Partners, Technology Partners, and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

Think's planned entry into the U.S. market follows decisions by General Motors Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. and others to market electric cars with a small gasoline engine they describe as a driving "range extender." Those small combustion engines work as generators to feed electricity to the car's batteries when they run out.

Other companies, most notably Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., plan to go a different direction. The two Japanese auto makers believe battery technology has not advanced far enough to make electric cars practical and are focusing their efforts on making gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, more fuel-efficient and affordable. Toyota has said it plans to test the feasibility of an electric car with a range extender, however.

The Think City, when it hits the market in the U.S., will be equipped with three optional, high-powered batteries. U.S. consumers will be able to choose from what Think describes as a "sodium battery" system with active materials composed of sodium, nickel and iron, as well as from two types of lithium-ion batteries from two U.S. companies: A123 Systems of Watertown, Mass., and Enerdel. Enerdel is the joint-venture battery company owned 80.5% by Ener1 inc. and 19.5% by auto-component supplier Delphi Corp.

Write to Norihiko Shirouzu at

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Drowsy driving is equal to drunk driving

Around Memorial Day, the chances are good that either you or somebody that you are sharing the road with today has been out and about, spending the day with family or just enjoying their time off. There have surely been many hours spent behind the wheel for drivers across the country. Hopefully, drunk driving is kept to a minimum. But, there is another possible problem-driver on the road: the drowsy driver. It's likely that most of us have had that feeling behind the wheel, where we struggle to keep our eyes open. A new study from the National Road Safety Foundation, which is a non-profit group that produces driver aids, suggests that those drowsy drivers are equally as dangerous as drunk drivers. According to its research, a third of drivers polled admit to falling asleep behind the wheel in the last year alone. Suggestions for combating drowsiness behind the wheel include the obvious: pulling over, drinking a coffee or two and waiting about half an hour for the caffeine to hit your bloodstream. Consider this a friendly reminder to be safe out there.

[Source: National Road Safety Foundation]

Press Release:

Drowsy Driving as Dangerous as Drunk Driving

More than a third of drivers have dozed at wheel; National Road Safety Foundation offers tips to stay awake on the road

As people jam the roads and highways over the Memorial Day weekend, which marks the start of the peak summer driving season, there's greater risk of being -- or running into -- a drowsy driver, says the National Road Safety Foundation, Inc., a non-profit group that provides free driver safety films and programs including its newest, called "Recognizing the Drowsy Driver."

"A day in the sun can make you tired," says Adele Kristiansson, director of marketing and legislative affairs at the National Road Safety Foundation.

"Drowsiness is a condition most drivers fail to recognize, and it can be as dangerous as drinking and driving," she adds. "Studies show 60 percent of us have driven while feeling fatigued, and more than a third admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year. Drowsiness is a factor in a substantial number of traffic crashes."

Experts list several signs that should warn a driver to stop and rest:

-- Difficulty focusing, with frequent blinking
-- Daydreaming or not remembering the last few miles driven
-- Head nodding
-- Repeated yawning or rubbing eyes
-- Drifting out of your lane, tailgating or hitting shoulder
rumble strips

If you experience any of these warning signs, pull over at the next exit or a safe rest area and take a break or a 20-minute nap. Have a cup or two of coffee or caffeinated snacks and allow 30 minutes for the caffeine to enter your bloodstream. Don't drink alcohol or take medication.

Sleep-induced crashes are often very serious, since the driver does not take evasive or corrective action as he loses control of the vehicle.

Over the past 40 years, the National Road Safety Foundation has produced films and teaching materials that have been used to train millions of young drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving, speeding and aggressive driving. The Foundation's newest program, "Recognizing the Drowsy Driver," is available free by calling 1-800-SAFEPATH or visit for a free download of it and other driver safety programs.

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The Car of the Future: It Talks, It Thinks, and It Can Drive Itself

Monday morning, August 17, 2020, and you're off to work. You hop into the driver's seat, which, like the cabin temperature, is adjusted precisely to your liking. Even though your daughter used it to go to a friend's house last night, the car knows it's you driving now. So the satellite radio has switched from R&B (your daughter's favorite) to your preferred all-news station. The car's electric motor runs on hydrogen, and has already been topped off, automatically, from an appliance in your garage. So far, so good.

You glide onto the freeway ramp and decide to get a jump on the workweek. Setting the automatic pilot, you call up the office e-mail through the on-board computer. Guided by advanced cruise control, GPS, and sensors embedded in the roadway, the car stays in its lane, maintains a safe distance from other vehicles, and alerts you to your exit. Once in the parking lot, you check the fuel gauge and figure you've got more than enough juice to make it home. So you plug into the city's power grid to feed it electricity generated by your car -- for which you'll get an energy credit later on.

Sounds great, doesn't it? What this cheery vision of a morning commute hides is a growing sense of urgency on the part of the world's automakers. The current model for making and selling cars in the United States -- big vehicles with big fuel tanks and sky-high costs -- has almost driven the auto industry off the road. No one's predicting that gasoline prices will come down dramatically anytime soon, if ever. The pollution and energy consumption, plus the traffic, created by so many cars will simply force the industry to change.

The questions are what, and how soon. Experts generally agree that we're on the verge of an era of new fuels. "We have to find alternatives," says Larry Burns, vice president of Research and Development and Strategic Planning for General Motors Corp., and one of the industry's most optimistic visionaries. "By 2020, we're expecting 1.1 billion cars and trucks on the planet, compared to 750 million today. Imagine 125 freeway lanes running side by side, bumper to bumper, going all the way around the world."

The leading candidate to replace good old smelly gasoline is hydrogen, the most plentiful and available element on the planet. No one geographical region has a monopoly on it -- so there's little chance of a production cartel, like OPEC. And in theory at least, hydrogen will deliver superior fuel efficiency with no air pollution. Already, the major automakers are working on hydrogen-fed fuel cells. Demonstration hydrogen-powered vehicles are on the roads, and Burns predicts real consumers will be behind the wheels by 2010.

Others, however, believe hydrogen cars are much further in the future, maybe even a half-century away. For starters, the fuel cells made with today's technology are hugely expensive. Science knows how to make them -- just not how to make them cheaply. Add to that the lack of a hydrogen-fueling infrastructure, and technical difficulties of storing and handling hydrogen, and you're looking at years of work ahead.

"Fundamentally, we see no game-changing technology available by 2020," says Bob Rivard, vice president of Advanced Technology and Product Marketing for automotive supplier Robert Bosch Corp. "We'll see evolutionary steps, not a paradigm shift." Among the stages he envisions are cleaner, more fuel-efficient gasoline-powered vehicles, along with alternative fuels and new propulsion systems. Gasoline-electric hybrids, like the Toyota Prius, Ford Escape, and Honda Civic and Insight, will be more common. "As much as we'd like to be getting around in flying saucers, the reality is that by 2020 we'll still be driving vehicles that use fossil fuels," says Mary Ann Wright, Ford Motor Co.'s director of Sustainable Mobility Technologies and Hybrid Vehicle Programs. "But I do think there will come a point in time when every vehicle will have some kind of hybrid technology."

Within the next decade, expect to see more clean diesel-powered engines, like those available from Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz. These vehicles are up to 40 percent more fuel-efficient than gasoline cars, and produce about 15 percent less carbon dioxide. The downside of diesel? Oxides of nitrogen -- known as NOx -- are potent irritants. Other new gasoline replacements to watch for: biofuel and biodiesel, and natural gas.

If there's disagreement over just what will power the car of the future, there's no debate about how cool the actual vehicles will be -- very, very cool. Electronic functions, driver preferences, wireless connectivity -- it's all in the pipeline, coming at us fast. Picture this: It's 2020 and you're driving home from work on the freeway. But there are no road signs anywhere, not for stores, gas stations, restaurants or even the local exits and interchanges. There's no need for them -- your car's computer keeps you oriented and on track. (It also knows the speed limit, so you'll have no excuses with the local cop.) Can't recall if you need milk for breakfast? Your car's computer contacts your home inventory system to check. Sure enough, you need milk -- and OJ too. The interactive systems take over. Your car spots a convenience store at the next exit and zaps your grocery list ahead. When you arrive, everything is bagged and ready for pickup.

"By 2020, it will no longer be a big deal to have Internet connectivity almost anywhere, anytime," says K. Venkatesh Prasad, technical leader in Ford's Infotronics Technologies Department. He notes that the youngest of the year 2020's new generation of car buyers is about three years old right now. "That means everyone coming into the auto market will have known nothing but the Internet, and he or she will take it for granted," he says. Far-fetched? Prasad thinks no more so than what was once another radical idea -- distributing money from machines called ATMs.

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With underinflated tires eating up gas, where is the TWEEL?

Gas prices don’t seem to be going down anytime soon and ways to save are becoming the topic of discussion at the water cooler and blogs everywhere. WChecking for low tire pressurehen reading about hypermiling and other extreme methods, tire pressure always seems to make it in the mix. Tire pressure is consistently one of the most ignored maintenance routines driver’s pay attention to.

In fact, in a feature story over at MSNBC that you can read here, shows the implications and seriousness of ignoring tire pressure. The Rubber Manufacturers Association completed a major survey detailing just how bad driver’s ignore tire pressure. According to the survey, more driver’s wash their car, three out of four, than correctly check their tire pressure, one in five. Only 20 percent of driver’s on the road even know how to check their tire pressure correctly if they wanted to!

The chances of having low tire pressure is 33.3% or 1 in 3 cars on the road. This leads to over 30,000 injuries and nearly 700 fatalities every year. These statistics are provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). While accidents and injuries are the long lasting effects of low tire pressure, daily effects can be seen in your gas bill. The U.S. Department of Energy says that American’s waste 3.56 million gallons of gas or $14.2 million in gas a day at $4 a gallon due to tire pressure. For every penny increase in the gas price, an additional $35,600 is lost in low tire pressure gas loss in America.

If history continues to repeat itself aMichelin Tweel showing flexs it often proves to do, drivers on the road are not going to become better educated or more diligent in checking and adjusting their tire pressure. An interesting innovation by the tire company Michelin, could possibly solve this problem for every driver on the road if fully implemented. It is said this new innovation for tires has been in development since 1995 and was slated to land on pavement in a mass roll-out by 2010.

Michelin’s innovative invention was the airless tire that combined the tire and wheel bringing about the name, TWEEL. TWEEL stems from the combination of the words (Tire/WhEEL) to make a catchy product name that is already being prototyped on all types of vehicles, wheelchairs, Segways and other small transportation units.

To understand what exactly the TWEEL is, Michelin explains it well on their website, “Michelin TWEEL is a single non-pneumatic solution insteaTWEEL Centaur Bike Hybridd of the traditional tire and wheel combination, made up of a rubber tread bonded to the hub by flexible spokes. The flexible spokes are fused with a deformable wheel that absorbs shocks and rebounds with unimaginable ease. Without the air needed in conventional tires, Michelin TWEEL still delivers pneumatic-like load-carrying capacity, ride comfort and resistance to road hazards.”

In 2006 Michelin won the Gold Medal for Innovation from The Intermat innovation commission in Paris. There were five criteria for Michelin to win the gold medal, they were: 1. Technical Design and technologies: improvement in productivity, ease of maintenance. 2. Economy: lower purchase price and maintenance costs 3. Quality of work carried out. 4. Ease of use, ergonomics, comfort, safety and improvement in working conditions. 5. Environmental friendliness. Meeting all these criteria with high marks the new innovative Michelin TWEEL easily took the gold medal award. TIME Magazine also selected Michelin’s new non-pneumatic innovation as “One of the Most amazing Inventions of 2005.” In addition the TWEEL was featured in Popular Science’s “Best of What’s New” honor in TWEEL Heavy Equipment Demothe Automotive Technology category.

With a sleek and well thought out technology like the TWEEL, it could not only revolutionize the transportation industry, but could be another weapon in consumers’ arsenal to save on their gas bill. Eliminating the need to monitor tire pressure while producing superior shock absorbing and road hazard invincibility, the TWEEL is set to make roads safer and more environmentally friendly. Other uses that are already beyond just testing can be found in heavy equipment and many military uses. If the time table stays in line with stated remarks from Michelin, these new integrated tire and wheel hybrids will be on cars and rolling down our roads by mid 2010. You can watch live demonstrations of the TWEEL and it’s various uses in this video presentation here.

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Save Gas Without Losing Your Shirt: 3 Gas Saving Devices with High Scam Potential

Fuel saving scams, er, devices, have been around for a long time, and now that fuel prices are soaring again, we decided it would be a good time to take a look at a few of the most popular and interesting ones out there.

Since the start of the Iraq War in 2003, oil prices have jumped from $28 per barrel to over $130, with most of that rise occurring in the last year. This fact is made even more stark considering that for all of the last century prior to the current meteoric rise, crude oil prices have averaged about $20 per barrel (adjusted for inflation).

Economists and pundits continue to tussle over who or what is to blame for this, and I could hypothesize about how we’re all being taken to the cleaners by corporate greed, but that’d be a waste of energy, no? The important issue is that fuel costs have gone past the “arm-and-a-leg” stage and are now approaching “firstborn son.”

So, while I’d love to say that hydrocarbon fuel prices don’t matter because we’ve entered the hybrid-biofuel- electric-fuel-cell-hydrogen society, the reality is that I need a fix for my old jalopy quick… and what better place to start than a perusal of some of the spectacular deals to be had on the internet?

First up: FuelMAX

FuelMax ThumbBetter living through magnets, grandad always said. FuelMAX is a magnetic device that you attach to your car’s fuel line to “fracture gasoline hydrocarbon chains through magnetic resonance.” According to the company this could increase your mileage by 27% along with a whole host of other interesting side effects.

Unfortunately, you can’t buy FuelMAX anymore (in the US that is - in Latvia it’s still alive and well). Apparently, it was so popular and worked so well that the US Federal Trade Commission told FuelMAX’s parent company, International Research and Development, to take it off the US market and give people their money back.

Damn big brother, always destroying the hopes and dreams of fledgling corporations. Not to worry though, there are a myriad of other companies out there that sell essentially the same thing and who the Feds have left alone up to this point. Some even go so far as to not only put magnets on the fuel line, but also on the coolant and air intake (Video).

My Take: Magnet fuel savers work so well that the US government is involved in a conspiracy to systematically remove them from existence.

Next up: Cyclone Fuel Saver

Cyclone ProductWhen I was younger we used to watch hours of late night infomercials for fun. You know, the kind where they cover a car in a special wax made of what looks like cosmic fairy dust, and then they shoot a laser at it to show those microscopic fairies in action deflecting the laser from your beautiful car?

In retrospect, watching infomercials for fun was kind of lame, but if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have fond memories of products like the Cyclone Fuel Saver. This baby purports to create “a swirling air motion, allowing the air to move faster and more efficiently by continuously whirling air around corners and bends.” Which does what exactly? Apparently the swirling effect helps “atomise the air/fuel mixture in the combustion chamber” which results in a “more complete and efficient burning of the fuel.”

Wow. That sounds totally rad. And I bet it works too. If for some reason you can’t get your hands on one, not to worry, there are lots of other air intake modifications to be had. For instance, the Turbonator comes with “FlowTru™” technology which allows for the maximum amount of air to get to your engine. Also, if you’re inclined to dig around on such things, the Turbonator will make you instantly more popular with women as evidenced in this photo.

My Take: The Cyclone Fuel Saver must not work that well because the Feds haven’t shut it down yet and its been around for at least 10 years.

Last, but for sure not least: Water4Gas

Water4Gas ProductAlthough instantly less cool than other fuel savers because it’s not technically a product and more of a description, Water4Gas has been getting a lot of the limelight recently… as it should. I mean, this company website has it all: vibrant color schemes, third-grade HTML proficiency, a video featuring Jimmy Carter, endless scrolling possibilities, and a money back guarantee from some guy named Ozzie Freedom. Ozzie Friggin Freedom. With a name like that he must be on the up-and-up.

Plus, Water4Gas has been tested on like 30 continents, or something, further proving its reliability. For only $97 you can get access to some online manuals that describe how you can spend a minimum of another $100 to modify your car to inject “hydrogen-on-demand” into your engine. Sounds like a winner to me. Mr. Freedom even has his own fan club that provides an unbiased and totally trustworthy review of the Water4Gas system.

Actually, of the three fuel saving systems included in this article, the Water4Gas type seems to have a very loyal following. Known alternatively as “waterhybrids” or “HHO systems,” some of them have been tested by seemingly reputable news organizations with actual positive results. However, based on the fact that advertisements on the Hydro4000 website make it look like the news station and Hydro4000 are in on some kind of scheme together, my trust in the news story is quite low. Plus, at $1,200 you’d have to have a major stash of money set aside for delusions of grandeur to actually buy one of these things.

My Take: The Water4Gas website is so bad that it must be a good product.

All joking aside, the sane part of my mind screams to me that these waterhybrid claims are so far gone that the products can’t be for real. Yet, as much as it pains me, I’ve got to say the jury’s still out on this one. Anybody have any personal experience they care to share? Any idea of how much energy is required to split water into its component parts and the ensuing energy balance (or imbalance) that would be present in a waterhybrid?

A recent post on Gas 2.0 details a system similar to waterhybrids that appears to have the backing of a university. That post generated some good cautionary comments regarding free energy, conservation of energy, and overall energy efficiency of a whole system such as an entire automobile. Any further thoughts on this topic?

Reality Check

Listen folks, if the claims make it seem like a product will do ridiculous things, then its probably a ridiculous product. Most experts say that fuel saving devices are largely scams and that, in lieu of expensive things like buying a more fuel efficient vehicle or completely changing your car’s aerodynamics, the only true way to increase your fuel mileage cheaply is the good old standby of changing your habits to up your car’s efficiency. In fact, in a post on Gas 2.0, Benjamin Jones points us to “100+ EcoDriving Tips to get Better Mileage in Your Car” and has done its own field testing of many of these recommendations. Check them out and save your money.

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'Harry Potter' prequel to be auctioned off

J.K. Rowling and husband, Neil Murray

Series author J.K. Rowling (right) and her husband Neil Murray arrives for the World Premiere in London of the second Harry Potter film, "Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets." (AP Photo/Max Nash / November 3, 2002)

An 800-word Harry Potter prequel is one of 13 card-sized works to be sold at a charity auction in the British capital.

Waterstone's Booksellers Ltd. says the cream-colored A5 papers -- each slightly bigger than a postcard -- were distributed to 13 authors and illustrators, including the boy wizard's creator J.K. Rowling, Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing, novelist Margaret Atwood and playwright Tom Stoppard.

Rowling used both sides of her card to hand-write a prequel to her seven-book Harry Potter saga, while Lessing penned a story about the power of reading. Stoppard wrote a short mystery and Atwood was due to fill out her card remotely using a robotic arm controlled by computer linkup.

Other cards were completed by children's author Michael Rosen, illustrator Axel Scheffler, graphic novelist Neil Gaiman, Lisa Appignanesi, Richard Ford, Lauren Child, Irvine Welsh, Sebastian Faulks and Nick Hornby, who plastered his card with a collage.

The cards will go on sale at the "What's Your Story?" auction at Waterstone's flagship store in central London on June 10. The proceeds are to go to English PEN, the writers' association, and the British charity Dyslexia Action. Copies of the cards will be collated into a book to be made available at the bookstore and online in August.

Organizers refused to comment on the content of Rowling's Harry Potter prequel, but Hogwarts fans hoping for another book to add to their collection may be disappointed by her signoff.

"From the prequel I am not working on -- but that was fun!" Rowling wrote.

Rowling has previously said she had no plans to write another Potter novel, but in December she sold a handwritten, leather-bound book of fairy tales she described as drawing on the series' themes, for nearly $4 million at auction. The money went to The Children's Voice, a charity Rowling co-founded in 2005.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cancer survivors 'left in limbo'

Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy can have long-term health effects

Many long-term survivors of cancer are not getting the help they need to cope with the after-effects of the disease, experts warn.

More than 60% of adults with cancer can expect to live five years or more, according to an article in the European Journal of Cancer.

Yet they are left "in limbo" to deal with ongoing symptoms from their disease or harsh cancer treatments.

The government said it was working to improve services for cancer survivors.

Professor Marie Fallon, an expert in palliative medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said the number of people living with the effects of cancer was rising as more and more people were surviving the condition.

There is an enormous population of long-term survivors of cancer, many of whom are living with a range of symptoms
Professor Marie Fallon

She added that cancer survivors would suffer ongoing symptoms but often be confused about whether they were treatment-related or whether they were a sign the cancer had come back.

"Traditionally, palliative care has been aimed at one end of the spectrum where it is used to help patients near the end of their lives," she said.

"However, there is an enormous population of long-term survivors of cancer, many of whom are living with a range of symptoms."

"These patients exist in a limbo.

"They fall between two stools - they have finished being treated by oncologists, but are not receiving the care and support from palliative care teams that patients at the end of life receive."

She added the ongoing problems, which included pain, swelling and depression could result in poor quality of life.

Better provision

Better integration was needed between oncology services and palliative care to prevent people falling through the gap, she said.

And there needs to be a clear agreement of where patients can access help and who should be responsible, she added.

Professor Alexander Eggermont, president of the European Cancer Organisation, said: "To be cured from cancer, but living with symptoms that are related to often complex multi-disciplinary treatments involving surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy is already difficult enough.

"To reintegrate into society, resuming work full or part-time adds to the complexities and socio-psychological pressure that an ever-increasing number of former-patients have to deal with.

"We better start tackling these issues now as they will only increase in number and magnitude."

A Department of Health spokesperson said deaths from cancer in people under 75 fell by 17% between 1995 and 2006.

"The Cancer Reform Strategy published in December 2007, recognised that the services and support available to those living with and beyond cancer needs to be improved and announced the establishment of a new National Cancer Survivorship Initiative to deliver this."

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Drinking water can be harmful to smallest babies

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Babies younger than six months old should never be given water to drink, physicians at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore remind parents. Consuming too much water can put babies at risk of a potentially life-threatening condition known as water intoxication.

"Even when they're very tiny, they have an intact thirst reflex or a drive to drink," Dr. Jennifer Anders, a pediatric emergency physician at the center, told Reuters Health. "When they have that thirst and they want to drink, the fluid they need to drink more of is their breast milk or formula."

Because babies' kidneys aren't yet mature, giving them too much water causes their bodies to release sodium along with excess water, Anders said. Losing sodium can affect brain activity, so early symptoms of water intoxication can include irritability, drowsiness and other mental changes. Other symptoms include low body temperature (generally 97 degrees or less), puffiness or swelling in the face, and seizures.

"It's a sneaky kind of a condition," Anders said. Early symptoms are subtle, so seizures may be the first symptom a parent notices. But if a child gets prompt medical attention, the seizures will probably not have lasting consequences, she added.

Water as a beverage should be completely off limits to babies six months old and younger, Anders and her colleagues say. Parents should also avoid using over-diluted formula, or pediatric drinks containing electrolytes.

Anders said it may be appropriate in some cases to give older infants a small amount of water; for example to help with constipation or in very hot weather, but parents should always check with their pediatrician before doing so, and should only give the baby an ounce or two of water at a time.

If a parent thinks their child may have water intoxication, or if an infant has a seizure, they should seek medical attention immediately, she advised.

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3 Surprising Ways to Keep Your Teeth Healthy

Your toothbrush isn't the only weapon capable of protecting your teeth -- your diet helps too!

In addition to brushing and flossing, a healthful diet (with natural or added fluoride) protects teeth from decay and keeps the gums healthy. Read on to discover how to keep your smile safe and strong.

Tooth decay (cavities and dental caries) and gum disease are caused by colonies of bacteria that constantly coat the teeth with a sticky film called plaque. If plaque is not brushed away, these bacteria break down the sugars and starches in foods to produce acids that wear away the tooth enamel. The plaque also hardens into tartar, which can lead to gum inflammation, or gingivitis.

A well-balanced diet provides the minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients essential for healthy teeth and gums. Fluoride, occurring naturally in foods and water, or added to the water supply, can be a powerful tool in fighting decay. It can reduce the rate of cavities by as much as 60 percent.

Dental Health Guidelines
Start right by eating right during pregnancy. Make sure that your children's teeth get off to a good start by eating sensibly during pregnancy. Particularly important is calcium, which helps to form strong teeth and bones, and vitamin D, which the body needs to absorb calcium.

You need lots of calcium for healthy teeth and gums. Low-fat dairy products, fortified soy and rice beverages, canned salmon or sardines (with bones), almonds, and dark green leafy vegetables are excellent sources of calcium.

You need vitamin D to help absorb the calcium. Vitamin D is obtained from fluid milk, fortified soy and rice beverages, margarine, fatty fish such as salmon, and moderate exposure to the sun.

Fluoride is key. To a large extent, cavities can be prevented by giving children fluoride in the first few years of life. Fluoride is supplied through fluoridated water (not all municipalities fluoridate their water supply, however), beverages made with fluoridated water, tea, and some fish, as well as many brands of toothpaste and some mouthwash. Fluoride supplements are available for children who don't have access to fluoridated drinking water. It is wise to check to see if the water supply in your area is fluoridated. Excess consumption of fluoride can cause mottling of the teeth.

Also needed are phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin A, and beta carotene. In addition to calcium and fluoride, minerals needed for the formation of tooth enamel include phosphorus (richly supplied in meat, fish, and eggs) and magnesium (found in whole grains, spinach, and bananas). Vitamin A also helps build strong bones and teeth. Good sources of beta carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A, include orange-colored fruits and vegetables and the dark green leafy vegetables.

Children are particularly vulnerable to tooth decay; parents should:
  • Provide a good diet throughout childhood

  • Brush children's teeth until they're mature enough to do a thorough job by themselves (usually by 6 or 7 years old)

  • Supervise twice-daily brushing and flossing thereafter

  • Never put babies or toddlers to bed accompanied by a bottle of milk (which contains the natural sugar lactose), juice, or other sweet drink

  • Never dip pacifiers in honey or syrup

1. The sugar factor. Sucrose, most familiar to us as granulated sugar, is the leading cause of tooth decay, but it is far from the only culprit. Although sugary foods, including cookies, candies, and sodas, are major offenders, starchy foods (such as breads and cereals) also play an important part in tooth decay. When starches mix with amylase, an enzyme in saliva, the result is an acid bath that erodes the enamel and makes teeth more susceptible to decay. If starchy foods linger in the mouth, the acid bath is prolonged, and the potential for damage is all the greater.

Be careful when eating dried fruits. Dried fruits can have an adverse effect on teeth, because they are high in sugar and cling to the teeth. Even unsweetened fruit juices can contribute to tooth decay -- they are acidic and contain relatively high levels of simple sugars.

Fresh fruits, especially apples, are better choices. Fresh fruit, although both sweet and acidic, is much less likely to cause a problem, because chewing stimulates the saliva flow. Saliva decreases mouth acidity and washes away food particles. Apples, for example, have been called nature's toothbrush because they stimulate the gums, increase saliva flow and reduce the build-up of cavity-causing bacteria. A chronically dry mouth also contributes to decay. Saliva flow slows during sleep; going to bed without brushing the teeth is especially harmful. Certain drugs, including those used for high blood pressure, also cut down saliva flow.

2. Gum disease. More teeth are lost through gum disease than through tooth decay. Gum disease is likely to strike anyone who neglects oral hygiene or eats a poor diet. Particularly at risk are people with alcoholism, malnutrition, or AIDS/HIV infection or who are being treated with steroid drugs or certain cancer chemotherapies. Regular brushing and flossing help to prevent puffy, sore, and inflamed gums.

Gingivitis, a very common condition that causes the gums to redden, swell, and bleed, is typically caused by the gradual buildup of plaque. Treatment requires good dental hygiene and removal of plaque by a dentist or dental hygienist. Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis -- an advanced infection of the gums that causes teeth to loosen and fall out. There may even be more serious consequences of gum disease. Studies have shown a link between poor oral health and heart disease. Bleeding gums apparently provide an entry port for bacteria or viruses that can cause heart problems. Women with tooth or gum problems are also more likely to give birth to premature babies.

Bleeding gums may also be a sign that your intake of vitamin C is deficient. Be sure that your diet includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables every day; munching on hard, fibrous foods, such as a celery stick or carrot, stimulates the gums.

3. Helpful foods. You can protect your teeth by concluding meals with foods that do not promote cavities and may even prevent them. For instance, aged cheeses help prevent cavities if consumed at the end of a meal. Chewing sugarless gum stimulates the flow of saliva, which decreases acid and flushes out food particles. Rinsing your mouth and brushing your teeth after eating are important strategies to prevent cavities. Here are some tips:

Consume Plenty Of
  • Calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables for vitamins A and C, and for chewing in order to promote healthy gums.
  • Tea, which is a good source of fluoride.
  • Dried fruits and other sticky foods that lodge between the teeth.
  • Sweet drinks and snacks.
  • Steady sipping of acidic drinks for prolonged periods.
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