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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

First model of the Titanic built from ship's original plans will set you back a cool £1.3m

The world's first model of the Titanic to be built from the ship's original plans has been revealed - but if you want to lay your hands on it it will cost you a whopping £1.3m.

The stunning 1:48 model is a precise replica of the White Star liner which famously hit an iceberg and sank in 1912, costing the lives of more than 1,500 passengers.

Made from brass, wood and fibreglass, the model took seven years to build using the original plans, drawings and measurements from the liner.

World first: The only model of the Titanic to be built from the ship's original plans


It is the first time the Titanic's plans have been released by the ship's original builders Harland and Wolff, who worked alongside modelmakers Fine Art Models on the project.

The intricate model is over 18 feet long and features a hull made of fibreglass with brass plating, held together by more than 3.3 million rivets.

Each bulkhead on the replica ship, which weighs 1,500lb, is positioned exactly where it was on the 882ft long, 46,328 ton liner, which cost £1.5 million to build 100 years ago.

The decking is all made from real wood, as is the deck furniture, which is crafted to exact proportions.

Detailed: The model took seven years to build from the Titanic's original plan


All the ship's exterior windowed rooms are made precisely to scale, including the furniture and decor inside each room.

The lighting on board the ship is so complex that it required the installation of more than eight miles of fibre optic cable.

The model is presented in a hand-carved wooden case which took two craftsmen two years to build.

The original Titanic was designed by Harland and Wolff chairman William Pirrie, head designer Thomas Andrews, and general manager Alexander Carlisle.

The plans were regularly sent to the White Star Line's managing director J. Bruce Ismay for suggestions and approval.

Construction of the Titanic, funded by the American J.P. Morgan and his International Mercantile Marine Co, began on March 31, 1909.

Two years and two months later, the hull was launched, although the outfitting of the ship wasn't completed until March 31 the following year.

After receiving the original plans for the Titanic from Belfast ship builders Harland & Wolff, Fine Art Models spent two years completing the research and design for the model.

Replica: The decking and furniture are made from real wood


In addition, they were given access to the designer's notebook detailing every change made from sister ship Olympic to Titanic, with additional drawings and measurements.

From the plans, a limited edition 1:192 model was put together first, followed by the one-off, 1:48 model.

A spokesman for Fine Art Models, based in Michigan, USA, said: "A scale model of the Titanic had never been built.

"Furthermore, the plans for Titanic had never been released to anyone.

"We proposed that we not only build a definitive model of the Titanic as a limited edition, but that we also build the 1:48 scale model of the Titanic, with the intention of building the finest and most detailed builder'model of any kind ever seen.

"When Harland & Wolff realised that not only were we serious, but that we had the ability to do everything we said we would do, they agreed to work with us hand-in-hand to accomplish this mission."

The 18ft long model of the Titanic is available to buy online for around £1.3.

The Titanic sank in the early hours of April 15, 1912, when it struck an iceberg as it made its maiden voyage from Southampton, Hants, to New York.

At the time of its launch, the supposedly 'unsinkable' ship was the largest passenger steamship in the world.

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Heavy Drinkers' Genes May Cut Cancer Risk

Could your genes actually help lower the risk of getting cancer when drinking alcohol? A new study says that this may be possible.

Drinking
Researchers say they have found a gene variant that may protect against alcohol-related cancers.
(PhotoDisc)

Researchers from Lyon, France, found that some people with certain variations in a gene involved in breaking down alcohol in the body appear to have a lower risk for developing certain alcohol-related cancers.

Paul Brennan, head of the genetic epidemiology group at the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and his colleagues studied more than 3,800 people in Europe and Latin America who had cancers of the respiratory tract and upper digestive tract. What they found is that those who had a particular variation in the genes known as ADH1B and ADH7 metabolized alcohol much faster than those without the variation -- about 100 times faster, to be exact.

The results were released Sunday in the journal Nature Genetics.

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How Doctors Learn From Patients

teach-your-doctorI need to learn a new technique for inserting a large intravenous line. As a resident, I learned how to place these lines (used for medications and dialysis) in the groin or neck by locating the arterial pulse with my fingers, looking at the anatomical landmarks nearby, and then calculating in my mind where the vein ought to be. After a while I could reliably get a needle into the vein by “feel.”

Since then, a bedside ultrasound device has become part of the procedure, allowing you to actually “see” the vein you are aiming for—a pretty amazing difference from the way I learned. I’m told it’s awkward the first few times you try it, since you have to juggle the ultrasound and the needle while keeping everything sterile. So I asked my colleagues to teach me.

There’s an old saying in medicine about this kind of learning on the job: See one, do one, teach one. I’ll watch someone use the ultrasound. When I understand how it works, I’ll try it myself with some help. Then, before I know it, I’ll be teaching someone else how to use it. I believe this training system works pretty well for everyone involved (patients included). Like the Nike slogan goes, you have to “do it,” preferably right after you “see it,” to really get it, and then teaching it is the test to show you actually understand what the heck you just did.

But it does sound pretty scary from the patient perspective: You mean that someone is going to do something for the first time on me?

I have to admit there are situations in which I myself would prefer not to be on the receiving end of a “first time” doctor, and I am grateful to the patients who bravely held out their arms during my medical training and let me learn how to draw blood, for instance, showing me where previous attempts had succeeded. I also remember feeling “jinxed” by patients who, upon seeing me, ran through the litany of previous trainee failures and kept up a steady stream of withering comments on my technique, making me feel as if any attempt would be hopeless.

My favorite memory, though, is of one leathery old man I took care of at the VA hospital who really understood what a teaching hospital is all about. I tried to draw blood three times in one of his arms and failed. Three was my self-imposed limit. I apologized and turned to find a supervising resident. “Wait a second,” the patient said sharply. Expecting to be chastised, I turned around, shoulders drooping. “I got another arm right here, and you ain’t tried it yet! How are you ever gonna learn?”

That old man was pleased as punch when, on the fourth try, I managed to draw blood. But it is the rare individual who can, in their own time of illness, find the energy (and bravery) to be a teacher as well as a patient.

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Drug taken to stop smoking is linked to traffic mishaps


Cory, Watson, Crowder, & DeGaris
A SUDDEN TURN: Daniel Williams was driving his pickup on a country road in Louisiana when, according to his passenger, his eyes rolled back in his head and he swerved left — into a bayou. His doctor later made the connection to Chantix, which Williams had just begun taking.
Daniel Williams hoped Chantix would help him quit smoking and become healthier. Instead, he believes, it nearly killed him.

WASHINGTON -- Daniel Williams decided he'd listen to his girlfriend and his 8-year-old son and finally quit smoking, with the help of a new prescription drug called Chantix.

He started taking the medication, and a couple of nights later, as he was driving his pickup truck on a country road in Louisiana, Williams suddenly swerved left.

His girlfriend, Melinda Lofton, who was with him, later told him that his eyes had rolled back in his head and that it had seemed as if he was frozen at the wheel, accelerating.

Moments later, they were in a bayou, struggling to escape the murky water, Williams said.

"Since I was a kid, never had anything like this ever happened before," he said.

"It never happened before, and it hasn't happened since. And all the tests I've taken say I have nothing wrong with me at all."

The nonprofit Institute for Safe Medication Practices last week linked Chantix to more than two dozen highway accidents reported to the Food and Drug Administration, saying the mishaps may have resulted from such drug side effects as seizures.

The FDA had earlier issued a warning about suicidal thoughts and suicides among patients taking Chantix and is now evaluating whether it needs to expand and strengthen that precaution.

Pfizer, the drug's manufacturer, said that as early as May of last year, it had added a warning to the prescribing literature for Chantix that patients should exercise caution when driving or operating machinery until they know how the medication affects them.

But such admonitions apparently didn't get much notice from busy doctors. Even some government transportation agencies missed them.

The Federal Aviation Administration continued, until last week, to list the drug as approved for pilots. The federal truck safety agency was also unaware of the risk.

"That is a problem," said Janet Woodcock, head of the FDA's drug evaluation center, adding that her office needs to find ways to communicate safety information more effectively.

The military, which bans Chantix for flight and missile crews, is considering whether other precautions are needed, Pentagon officials said.

Woodcock said the FDA believes the medication should remain on the market as an option for smokers trying to quit.

Approved two years ago, it differs from other smoking-cessation drugs by acting directly at sites in the brain affected by nicotine, blocking the pleasure that comes from smoking as well as the cravings.

But Williams, 28, said he was surprised that a drug he had hoped would help turn him into a healthier person instead, he believes, caused an accident in which he could have been seriously hurt, even killed.

Lofton is still struggling with a neck injury she suffered.

Williams, a telephone service technician, lives near Rayville, La., between Shreveport and the Mississippi River.

He said he went to see his doctor last year for help quitting his nearly two-pack-a-day habit. He'd started smoking in high school and had failed in previous attempts to quit.

But he knew people who recommended Chantix.

"They were talking about how good it was supposed to be, and it seemed like the right thing to do since I was trying to quit," Williams said.

The crash occurred July 15, two days after he started taking Chantix.

He said the last thing he remembers is heading home after checking on the house of a friend who was out of town.

"I woke up in the bayou, with water coming into the truck," he said. "I didn't know where I was."

Lofton had gotten out first and was on the bank, calling to him. He followed the sound of her voice and paddled to safety.

Williams said he had no history of seizures and does not drink alcohol.

His doctor, who has treated Williams from childhood, made the connection to Chantix.

Williams said he was considering suing Pfizer. His lawyer, Kristian Rasmussen of Birmingham, Ala., said he was aware of at least one other Chantix accident, involving a deliveryman who fell out of a moving truck.

The FDA has received more than 3,000 reports of serious problems involving Chantix, but Pfizer said that had to be put into context, since more than 5 million people in the U.S. had taken the medication.

The company said that no direct cause and effect had been proved between the drug and the problems.

The FDA is most concerned about reports of mental health problems, including more than 400 cases involving Chantix users who reported suicidal thoughts and more than 30 who killed themselves.

Yet many patients report success with the medication.

Kathy MacInnis, 44, of Kingston, Mass., said she had been smoking for more than 30 years and quit on New Year's Day.

"Without Chantix, I had never been able to quit," she said. "It just put me in a calm place."

She was smoking close to two packs a day when her 12-year-old daughter confronted her.

"She came home from school and said her health teacher asked her if her parents smoked, because she could smell it on her," MacInnis said. "That was my turning point."

MacInnis videotaped her story for Pfizer but she said the company did not pay her other than covering the costs of traveling to New York for an interview session.

She reported no unpleasant side effects while taking the medication, only vivid dreams that some call "Chantix dreams."

"The first few days, I kind of felt funny," said MacInnis. "You kind of feel high."

ricardo.alonso-zaldivar @latimes.com

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Crazy Diseases

Find out about these crazy diseases
If mainstream media has made one thing clear, it’s that we the people crave the bizarre. And sometimes, the bizarre is beyond what anyone could have imagined. Such is the case with certain rare and crazy diseases -- disorders that seem to defy reality. Unfortunately for the many sufferers out there, some diseases, however crazy they may be, are very real -- and equally as frightening. Here are just a few crazy diseases to whet your appetite for the bizarre.

Polyglandular Addison’s disease

Type of Disease: Hormonal disorder
Crazy Because: Can cause instantaneous death from sudden emotional distress
Cure: None, but manageable by medication

In February 2008, media reports swirled around the story of Jennifer Lloyd, a 10-year-old from Prestwich, who is one of only six known sufferers in the U.K. of polyglandular Addison’s disease. Addison’s disease is a hormonal disorder named after Dr. Thomas Addison who first described the disease in 1855. The polyglandular form is much rarer than the ordinary disorder, leaving affected patients literally unable to produce adrenaline in response to stress. Adrenaline, or epinephrine, is the “fight or flight” hormone that prepares the body for action. Without adrenaline, the body’s organs cannot respond to stress and instead go into shock and shut down, leaving those affected critically ill. Patients such as Jennifer require constant attention and steroidal medication just to live out their daily lives: "Something as simple as walking the dog can be a worry,” Jennifer’s mother told the BBC. In Jennifer’s case, even watching a movie, playing sports or dancing requires strict supervision in case she becomes overly excited. Despite the mundane outlook for Jennifer and other patients with this crazy disease, most can lead normal lives with the help of medication.

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy

Type of Disease: Nerve disorder
Crazy Because: Causes searing pain as if on fire
Cure: Complex; disease may spontaneously resolve, but treatment usually only lessens symptoms

Imagine being tormented every waking moment of every day by searing pain in your limbs. Your arms feel like they are on fire, they are swollen, hot to the touch, and you sweat excessively. These are just a few of the symptoms of reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), a poorly understood disorder defined by pain in the limbs that is way out of proportion from what is expected following a particular injury or harmful event, such as surgery or stroke. The disease is believed to be caused by an abnormal chain reaction of the sympathetic nervous system, the body system that regulates blood flow and other aspects of the skin. Experts liken the pain response to that of an engine revving out of control.

While the disease may spontaneously disappear on its own, many patients undergo intensive treatments for years just to lessen the pain. And for some patients, the pain can become so profound that they must undergo the most extreme and expensive of therapies -- being placed under a Ketamine coma -- to essentially reset the pain connections of the body. In 2003, under the guidance of German colleagues of renowned RSD specialist Dr. Robert Schwartzman, 14-year-old Lindsay Wurtenberg of the U.S. underwent Ketamine coma-therapy and successfully recovered from a particularly debilitating case of RSD that developed following a harmless spider bite. “I don’t think there is a worse pain problem,” said Dr. Schwartzman of Lindsay’s condition. He was probably right.

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TRANSPORTATION TUESDAY: VW’s 235mpg car

With oil prices at $135 dollars per barrel, the pressure is on for car makers to innovate and create more fuel efficient vehicles. Volkswagen seems to be taking this task seriously with the 1L, a prototype that is capable of traveling for 235mpg using 1 gallon of gasoline, or 100km on 1L of gas. Adding to the excitement of this breakthrough is recent news that VW plans to get this concept out to market in 2010!


The 1L is a lightweight two person vehicle made out of a magnesium frame covered by an unpainted carbon fiber skin. Every component of the vehicle is intended to reduce the vehicles weight. Aluminum brakes, carbon fiber wheels, titanium hubs, and ceramic bearings all contribute to the vehicle’s light weight of a mere 290 kg. To reduce the weight even further, and to increase the aerodynamics of the vehicle, there are no rear view mirrors. Instead, the car is equipped with cameras that display visual information to the driver via the internal LCD screen.

The car is extremely fuel efficient, each gallon of fuel will take you over 235 miles. The fuel tank holds just 1.7 gallons, making the entire travel distance capability about 400 miles per tank. It’s top speed is 120 km/h (75mph), which although isn’t too fast is a welcome trade off for the huge savings in gas consumption.

The VW 1L will be available in 2010, in limited numbers.

+ VW boss confirms 1-Liter car for 2010

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Chinese Truck Crash Testing


Ten Weird Outfits for Babies

Babies are precious, treasured angels that should be treated with the utmost care, love, and respect. Sometimes I see a child with a scull and crossbones t-shirt, crocs, or pink stiletto high heels and I wonder—what in the world were mom and pop smoking? Whether it’s for Halloween, your neighborhood street party, or Thanksgiving dinner, these parents have taken it too far.

Hamburger Baby
I like my baby medium rare with a side of onion rings and American cheese, please.

Photo source: CyberSalt

Lobster Baby
First you boil the cute crustacean, then season, garnish with fresh lemons, and serve.



Photo source: Ke Cute, Martha Stewart

Baby Mop
Make him work for his mashed up green peas. Take that Swiffer Wet Jet!

Photo source: DavenGrace

Whoopee Cushion Baby
What’s that smell? It’s not your bean burrito, it’s baby! (Great for practical jokes, but use with caution.)

Photo source: Buy Costumes

Car Freshener Baby
Beware, he may be too heavy to hang from the rear-view mirror and the odors emitted may not be quite so lemony-fresh.

Photo source: Buy Costumes
Wonder Bread Baby
Makes great French toast, peanut butter and jelly sammies, and comes pre-sliced.

Photo source: Buy Costumes

Roast Turkey Baby
An interesting alternative to traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Who needs Jenny-O’s freezer turkeys when you can baste little Owen and garnish him with fresh garlic?

Photo source: Martha Stewart

Wig-Wearing Baby
From Donald Trump to Bob Marley, start covering your wee one’s premature balding before he’s weaned from the teat.

Photo source: Baby Toupee

Poop-Head Baby
Poop belongs in the toilet, not on your baby’s head.

Photo source: Silly Jokes

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New Bond novel launched in style


Advertisement

New bond novel carried down the Thames on a speed boat by model Tuuli Shipster

By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

A new James Bond novel, published to mark the centenary of 007 creator Ian Fleming's birth, has been launched onboard HMS Exeter in central London.

Seven copies of Devil May Care, written by Sebastian Faulks, were brought along the River Thames on a Royal Navy sea boat escorted by two Lynx helicopters.

They were then signed by the author in the presence of Fleming's nieces, Lucy Fleming and Kate Grimond.

Out on Wednesday, the book takes 007 to London, Paris and the Middle East.

Plot details have been kept a closely-guarded secret, though it is known the story is set in 1967 during the Cold War.

Speaking to the BBC News website, Lucy Fleming revealed Bond's love interest was named Poppy.

'Pleasure'

She also said the villain, named Gormah, was "a bit like Blofeld or Dr No - really sinister".

Faulks, who was chosen to write the novel at the request of Fleming's family, added it was a "pleasure to be aboard the ship Bond himself sailed on".

Bond served as an intelligence officer on the HMS Exeter, finally holding the rank of commander.

Faulks, best known for his war novels Birdsong, The Girl at the Lion D'Or and Charlotte Gray, took six weeks to write the book, delivering it to publisher Penguin over a year ago.

Lucy Fleming and Sebastian Faulks
Faulks (r) thanked the Flemings for their "tremendous enthusiasm"
Alex Clarke, Penguin's editorial director joked he had been plying the author with Vodka Martinis - 007's signature drink - in the hope he would write a follow-up.

But Faulks, one of several authors to write Bond novels since Fleming's death in 1964, told reporters he had no plans to pen another.

"One tribute, one centenary, one book," he laughed as he sipped champagne with Tuuli Shipster, the model featured on his novel's book jacket.

'Celebration'

Lucy Fleming - heard on Saturday in a BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Dr No - said her uncle would be "terribly amused that somebody like Sebastian is keeping his legacy going".

"We wanted it to be a celebration of Ian's writing, so to get somebody of his calibre says a lot about Ian and James Bond."

Her husband, actor Simon Williams, agreed it was "a wonderful birthday present" for Fleming on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Sebastian Faulks (l) with model Tuuli Shipster
Shipster (r) is pictured on the Devil May Care book jacket
The Bond books and the long-running movie franchise they spawned have often been attacked for their misogyny, violence and perceived cultural snobbery.

But Kate Grimond - the daughter of actress Celia Johnson - said any criticism was outweighed by the enjoyment readers have derived from her uncle's fiction.

"You can criticise Bond in all manner of ways," she told the BBC News website aboard HMS Exeter.

"But what you can't take away from him is he's given people an enormous amount of pleasure through the books and the films."

Fleming wrote 14 James Bond books in all, beginning with Casino Royale in 1953.

The last, Octopussy and The Living Daylights, was published posthumously in 1966.

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For famed artist Botero, there's joy in giving


RONNA GRADUS / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
Fernando Botero's sculptures are on exhibit at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden through May 31.

dchang@MiamiHerald.com

Colombian artist Fernando Botero is renowned for rendering rotund figures in his paintings and monumental bronze sculptures. He is lesser known as a guardian of the aged and the hungry, and a benefactor to museums in Colombia, Venezuela and the United States.

Botero's philanthropy, in fact, was often low-profile -- until spring 2000, when the artist donated his personal collection of paintings and sculptures valued as high as $200 million to museums in his hometown of Medellín and the Colombian capital, Bogotá.

In March, the breadth of Botero's beneficence was detailed by the artist's son, Miami resident Juan Carlos Botero, in an address at the PODER Magazine Philanthropy Forum.

From his first donation of 16 oil paintings to the Medellín's Museum of Antioquia in 1976, to his gift of sculptures to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1985, to his funding of kitchens to feed the hungry and nursing homes to care for the aged, Botero has cut a philanthropic legacy to rival his status as Latin America's best-known living artist.

Speaking in Spanish by phone from his home on the Greek island of Evia, Botero -- whose monumental sculptures are on display at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden through Saturday -- shared his thoughts on philanthropy, art, and the way he wants to be remembered.

Q.

Why do you give?

A. My pleasure, I've found, is to help as much as I can . . . especially my country.

It was not my idea to publicize these things, but I realized that if you don't publicize this, then you don't give somebody the idea to do the same. By participating in the PODER forum, Juan Carlos planted the idea in people's minds to help others. . . . I've been involved for a number of years.

The first thing I did [philanthropically] was because my little son died and I wanted to do something to honor his memory.

When Pedrito died [in 1974], I donated 10 or 12 paintings, and I created a room in the museum in Medellín. And that was very rewarding. Many people now remember Pedrito because they saw this room. That was the beginning of my interest in helping and doing things.

I felt very good to see that people were enjoying this, were remembering Pedrito, and I realized that I got a lot of pleasure by giving, more than receiving.

As a matter of fact, I feel kind of uncomfortable when somebody gives me something. I don't need anything. But when I give, it's pure giving and that gives me pleasure.

Q.The world knows your art. But few know about your philanthropy. Which is more important to you?

A. The truth is that my time is 99 percent dedicated to my work. And I should say that these other things that I do, I do with a minimum of time on my part. That's to say, for example, I created a retirement home [in Colombia], very big, for 300 people. What I did was I told my brother, 'You look for the place.' . . . He put himself in charge of looking for all this. I gave the money to buy the site, construct the building. Then he found a religious order that took charge of all that is in this retirement home.

Time is what I don't have a lot to give. I'm terribly busy, and my time is very precious to me. I don't even have a secretary or even an assistant. . . . I know how to do [philanthropy] without it taking a lot of my time.

For example, somebody told me that there's an institution in Colombia called Nutril that feeds poor children. I saw in the newspaper that some children had died of hunger in Chocó, the poorest part of Colombia. I got in touch with Nutril. These people need only money. I told them, `There's a grave need in Chocó. Open some restaurants for children, and obviously, I'll pay for everything.'

Since they're very good people and were enthused by the idea, then I, with a single telephone call, did something that can help a lot of people. There are 200 children who now eat every day, twice a day. All I had to do was tell the bank to send so much money to Nutril, and they send me a report card of what it costs and pictures of the children.

My work takes so much time, and I'm 76 years old. I can't dedicate myself to anything else. So these things that I do I think look like they take an enormous effort, but they don't.

I gave away my art collection. I paid a company to pick up the pieces in France, Switzerland, New York and send them to Colombia. First I spoke with the Banco de la República . . . to give them my ideas of how I wanted the museum to be, to be restored like a contemporary art museum.

Then I sent all the works. . . . If you look at the result, it's so enormous that one would imagine you spent two or three years on that. But in reality, it was just making a decision.

One day, I was in Mexico and I thought, `Why don't I give this collection to Colombia? There is no great museum there where people can go see the masterworks.'

I spoke to a friend, asked her how I could do this in reality. She said she would speak to a friend who is president of the bank and tell them [my] idea. The bank president got in touch with him, and they toured buildings in Bogotá until we found a building that was palatial. I accepted. We spoke to architects. It's tremendously satisfying, but it's all about making the decision. Don't spend all day thinking about it. Just do it.

Q.Why give away your most precious possessions, like your art collection?

A. You can't keep everything for yourself. If you're fortunate enough to make a lot of money, you need to share with others who aren't as lucky. It's OK to help people who have nothing. There are people who with nothing are happy. . . . I see people with grave problems and all they need is $10,000 to take care of it. I give them the $10,000 and their problems are gone. It's fantastic.

When someone has the good luck of making money and they can help people solve problems that seem like mountains with a small effort, that's marvelous.

I feel a great pleasure doing that. . . . With such little effort, you can do a lot. Obviously, the truth is, generosity is when someone gives what they most want. . . . My collection was something I cared about a lot. But at the same time, I feel great pleasure knowing that all these people can see these paintings, and at the same time help my country.

I used to wake up every morning and see a Monet by my bed. That gave me great pleasure. But now it is seen by so many people, so many poor people, 1,000 of them a day. It's one pleasure for another.

Q.What keeps you painting every day?

A. Painting is a habit, a passion. I've been a professional artist since I was 17 years old. I've made my life as a painter. I do it first and foremost for pleasure. When I started painting, part of my interest was to make a living as an artist because I had to pay the rent. I didn't come from a family with money.

First you make your living, but now that I don't need it, it's the passion that drives me. Since I see it from the point of view of admiration that I have for the great masters and the history of art, it's something that doesn't have an end to what you can learn about art. Every day, you can learn a little. And that desire to learn more keeps you involved with painting. It's a curiosity to see what you can accomplish.

When I go to the studio in the mornings, I don't know what I'm going to do. I have an idea. But doing it, seeing it in front of me, I see something that I didn't see before. That curiosity to see what you can create is wonderful.

Q.How do you want to be remembered?

A. Obviously, I want people to remember me as a painter and sculptor. Of course, I want my works to endure, that they be appreciated tomorrow and beyond. That's a desire for every artist. And well, yes, that's a natural desire.

Q.Do you want to be remembered as a philanthropist?

A. No, not really as a philanthropist. My interest most of all is in my work.

I should say I'm publicizing this because if you don't tell the story, nobody will tell it. Otherwise, it's easy to be generous. People think being generous is difficult. But it's not. It's about making decisions and making a phone call. You can do so much just by making a decision and picking up the phone. Two phone calls can accomplish a lot of good if I really want to help.

Philanthropy is part of my life today, but my interest is that my works as a painter and sculptor endure beyond my lifetime.

Q.Where did you learn the tradition of giving? Isn't philanthropy uncommon in Latin America?

A. It doesn't exist. Very few people give in Latin America. The country is there to help the person but not for the person to help their country. . . . I don't know if I learned it.

I've lived outside Colombia for 50 years. . . . So I have an idea of life that's a bit different than the person who has lived there all his life.

People want to see their dreams realized. They want to see their country have things, and to help its poorest people.

Throughout all the United States, where there is a lot of philanthropy, I guess I learned it here. I don't know. There's no tax deduction. I don't do it for that. I do it because it gives me pleasure. You just tell them what to do. That's an idea of power. I imagine that politicians have it.

Another part of the pleasure of giving is that you can execute your desires. That's important. It's power in a certain way.

Q.Where do you live now?

A. I just bought a new house here in Greece, on the island of Evia It's a house in front of the ocean.

I miss Colombia a lot. I left because of my work. I went to the United States and Europe. . . . The foundries where I make my sculptures are in Italy. I need those things for my work. I go to Colombia and stay eight to 10 days.

My problem is that for a famous person like myself, it's dangerous to go there. For a tourist, there's no problem. But if you're famous, you're a target, an attractive target for kidnapping.

I had a house in Colombia. About 12 years ago, eight men came at 6 a.m. looking for me. I wasn't there that day. They stole everything, 22 paintings; they killed the dogs. I never returned to that house.

So, I go to Colombia with precautions now. I enter and leave without making too much noise.

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