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16 Avr 2016 

Funny Story About Painting The House And Ladders

Benjamin Harris was a maverick in the early days of journalism. He was not alone but he definitely stood out from the crowd.

When we first started to talk about it, Bob was adamant we were not spending hundreds of dollars to have it done professionally. Too bad the house was a tri-level and 2 stories and about 2200 square feet plus a huge garage and crawl space and did I mention dark brown? This was a popular color at the time in the Northwest as it was the theory that earth tones blended more to the landscape and gave a more aesthetically pleasing look but in truth, never saw the rationale for a dark brown cedar house. At any rate, the new theory Bob was proposing was that we were going to a country beige. When he first broached the subject of painting it ourselves I figured okay wed invest in a sprayer and just learn to use it. But wait Bob had another plan!

He had done research on this and decided that spraying would be too cumbersome the houses next to us were too close and he didnt want to risk the chance of spraying them or having to worry about overspray. So he informs his work force of one that we are going to be painting the house by brush the WHOLE house by brush this beige color covering brown. I was skeptical I have to admit. After watching him the first day, I knew we were into an enormous summer project. This was not going to be easily accomplished since it was taking 3 coats on EVERYTHING to cover. We painted and we painted and never seemed to be getting anywhere.

Meanwhile, jobs go on, the kids activities go on as we are smack dab in the middle of baseball and soccer goings on to the tune of 3 kids. I worked split shifts so that I could be around during the day until Bob got home late afternoon to take over. Sometimes though I worked mornings so that I could have some semblance of a normal life and be home before 11:00 p.m. On one such day, I managed to finish all my various jobs and get home by about an hour before dark on a late summer night. Bob had been off running since he had gotten home from work with this kid to that, that kid to this, etc. I figured I had about an hour before I lost the daylight and could get something accomplished on the never-ending paint story.

While Bob was busy getting kids bathed, fed, anticipating bedtime, I told him my intentions (thank goodness in retrospect) and went to dig out the tools Id need. Unfortunately, we had pretty much wiped out the bottom half of the house and now all that remained was the upper part the really, really dangerous parts and the high parts. Im not a fan of heights having taken a pretty nasty spill when I was about 8 or 9 backwards out of a tree breaking my arm. Heights really dont turn me on is all I can say! But always trying to do my very level best to do my part, I pushed my fears aside and lugged Bobs huge extension ladder over to the side of the house. I set it up as he had told me to before, making sure that the ladder was set against the house and then that the feet were solid on the ground (wish I could say the same for my own at times).

So up I went, paintbrush and paint can in hand, holding on for dear life because as soon as I leave the ground, panic sets in. I have this notion though that if I am holding onto the ladder with at least one hand, I am invincible! Nothing can touch me because after all Im holding onto something. My mind is a funny thing sometimes. This day was no different I felt cocooned in my little safe zone painting away no matter that I was 15-20 feet up in the air on a ladder.

Of course, pretty soon, working at the speed of light as I usually do, Id finished off one whole section and needed to move the ladder. Descending to me is almost as bad as ascending and the whole part in the middle pretty much sucks too so there ya go! I diligently climbed down, put everything aside and then decided I needed to move the ladder to the right but there was no house there only window. I shrugged to myself oh well it must have to work, because how else would someone be able to paint above the windows?

So I slanted the ladder against the nice big window to my office and grabbed my stuff and went back up again with some trepidation. It was starting to really get on towards dark and I didnt have too much time left so I figured Id better be quick about it. So up I went and started to paint again mind you ALWAYS having one hand firmly on the ladder for safety purposes! (God if I had a brain, I would so seriously be dangerous) Its almost dark for real now and Im thinking I need to quit, but there is just one more little spot off to my right that I should really paint while Im up there but it is just ever so slightly out of my reach. Im agile I think to myself and if I really, really stretch, I can reach over there and give it the requisite couple of slaps of paint.

Unfortunately, as I began to reach and stretch just ever so little bit more Im almost there holy crap on toast the ladder is moving!!!!! Oh my god how is this happening? I still have my hand on the ladder so Im supposed to be SAFE. But Im so not! The ladder is just ever so quickly sliding along the glass (and making this lovely high-pitched eeeking sound) and as I look down what do I see? A totally lovely HUGE set of stairs had I forgotten those were there??? What the heck is wrong with this picture? I started to scream big deal there because Bob was totally engrossed in the kids and the TV was no doubt blaring away.

How this happened I have no clue but we had metal framed windows and just my luck, as I hung there in the air (I never let go of the ladder though or the paintbrush or paint can), I heard more scraping somehow the metal on the ladder caught on the metal window frame just barely. Although of course the more I leaned to the right, the more it was wobbling. It was like I was watching a slow motion movie of what could happen and my mind is racing a 100 miles per hour on how to right this sinking ship or leaning ladder.

Not unfamiliar with getting myself in these precarious situations I had to think fast and luckily I was able to still put two coherent thoughts together. I quickly jerked to the left and the ladder now moved with me albeit if I wasnt careful, I was going off the opposite side of the window so here I was dancing on the ladder trying to just keep it in the center (and I might add not go over backwards as I danced on it) and obtain SOME modicum of purchase so I could scurry if not throw myself down off the ladder.

About this time though of course up rides my knight in shining armor a little late, but thank GOD he thought of me! He came out the back door casually to tell me that it was getting dark and shouldnt I come in soon when he spies me up there dancing and sliding back and forth across the face of the window on the second story of our house still grasping the paintbrush and paint can as if they were my parachute to freedom. I hear running and then bellowing What the HELL are you doing now? Are you INSANE putting that ladder on the WINDOW?.yada yada yada is all I can say. In this particular moment, does it make any sense to anyone that the guy is yelling at me? Did he think I possibly could have done this on purpose as in I had nothing BETTER to do with my time let alone my life?

Sigh some people oh well at least I got rescued before I went back and forth about a billion more times and managed to fall in a tangle on the stairs. I would have held onto the paintbrush and the paint though no worries! God forbid I should make a mess while I died or broke myself into 15,000 pieces!

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16 Avr 2016 

The Benefits of Playing Sports in College

Benjamin Harris was a maverick in the early days of journalism. He was not alone but he definitely stood out from the crowd.

by Alana Patrick

St. Olaf College

Step into any college athletic center and you're likely to encounter a sweaty smorgasbord of activities: teams of varsity athletes train along the sidelines of intramural dodgeball games, and the screech of a student referee whistle is heard just as often as the bellow of an official-looking coach.

Somewhere amidst all the sticky bustle lies the beauty of college sports: the fact that different levels of competition (varsity, club, and intramural) allow anyone to compete. But while some of these levels require certain skill and commitment, all produce similar benefits for the student participating. So, if you're considering joining a sport, or even if you're already involved, read on. The benefits of playing sports in college stretch far beyond the confines of an athletic center.

College sports allow you to...

Team sports especially are a great way to meet new people -- what better way to make friends than by being part of a group working together toward a common goal? In particular, being a part of a varsity team has a way of producing close camaraderie among teammates. Between spending so much time together, sharing a passion for the sport you play, and riding the emotional roller coaster that is wins and losses, you are likely to form deeper friendships with your teammates than with anyone else at college. On the other hand, club and intramural teams have certain benefits that many varsity teams don't: notably, the setting is more casual, and teams are often co-ed.

Bored of the treadmill? Lacking the motivation to go to the gym at all? Playing a sport is an easy cure for the workout blues. By focusing on the competition at hand, instead of the tortuous "calories burned" meter on that stair-stepper, you are able to stay healthy and have fun doing it! Who knew?

3. Discover and deepen passions

Ever had the urge to pick up bocce ball? Ever wondered what bocce ball even is? The breadth of intramural sports allows you to find and develop new interests that you might not discover elsewhere. Meanwhile, the depth of the varsity sports encourages you to hone and perfect the skills you already possess.

While joining the sand volleyball team won't magically give you an A in Chemistry, playing a sport does help reduce stress, research suggests. Sometimes all it takes is getting active to get rid of that writer's block or re-energize yourself for a night of note-taking. Additionally, playing a sport teaches valuable time management skills that allow you to make the most of those blocks set aside for strictly studying.

Potential employers recognize the lessons that sports teach: in particular, time management, a competitive mindset, and the ability to communicate within a team. Want the next leg up? Become a captain. The leadership experience will look great on a resume.

Ultimately, playing sports is about having fun. Join a sport that interests you; join because you want to. The benefits will surely follow.

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16 Avr 2016 

Armada - The cars of "Mad Max: Fury Road" - Pictures

Benjamin Harris was a maverick in the early days of journalism. He was not alone but he definitely stood out from the crowd.

Nux's souped-up Chevrolet 5-door coupe is a hotrodder's dream, a super-turbocharged, nitrous-boosted chariot made from a polished steel chassis, powered by a coiled V8 engine, with canted wheels and swooping, wing-like exhaust pipes.

"Forty-five years post the apocalypse, the vehicles most likely to survive and have some chance of functioning would be those without microprocessors, computer chips, or the crumple technology that you have in today's cars," said director George Miller.

Instead, the "Mad Max" fleet was built on old-school muscle cars and rat rods -- less aerodynamic but with stiffer bodies.

"Using vehicles from the '80s right back to the '40s gives them a certain style as well," Miller added.

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16 Avr 2016 

Why the United States Has Never Had a Woman President

It has been six months since I came to the United States (US). Ever since, I have found quite a lot to admire in this country of Uncle Sam. People from various ethnicity and cultures blend in here, the 'world's largest melting pot,' adding a rich cultural diversity to the United States of America.

I admire the way US government has taken various measures to protect the rights of their people. From my personal experience, when I went for my visa interview at the Consulate of United States, Mumbai (India), the officer gave me a sheet where toll-free numbers of various women's rights commission and emergency help lines were given and she briefed me that if I will ever come across any violence or my security issues, I should immediately contact those concerns. I was overwhelmed by their gesture sincw I hadn't even stepped in US and they were concerned about my safety in their country.

There are countless things which has fascinated me about this country but the most surprising, thus far, was when I saw females driving heavy commercial vehicles on an Interstate. I never saw anything like this in my own country, India, before. I thought if a women can drive heavy commercial vehicles on an Interstate, then she can do anything in her life. But, suddenly a thought struck me. I have seen American women creating names in almost every sphere of life but then why has the United States never had a woman president?

A country where almost 51 percent of the population is female and with the presence of world's best universities like Harvard, Yale and Stanford, why there has never been a woman occupant in the Oval Office? Why has the world's greatest country, having the world's oldest democracy, never had a women holding the coveted position whereas various other countries like England, Germany, France, Ireland, Turkey, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Israel had already embraced women leaders as Prime Ministers or Presidents. Even back home in India, we had Indira Gandhi as our first woman Prime Minister & Pratibha Patil as our first woman President.

I wanted to find an answer. After watching the documentary America: The Story of Us, produced by Nutopia, I came across various facts related to American history. Benjamin Harris was a maverick in the early days of journalism. He was not alone but he definitely stood out from the crowd.Democracy in the United States of America was adopted in 1788 when American constitution provided the world's first formal blueprint for a modern democracy. So it is almost 227 years of democracy and United States has never had a woman president. Surprising! I checked the eligibility criteria required for becoming the president of United States of America and came to know that an individual should be a citizen of United States by birth, should be above 35 years old and should be a resident of the United States for a period of no less than 14 years. There is no gender discrimination between men & women for becoming the president as per the American Constitution.

I also came to know about the fact that women were not allowed to vote in every state until 1920, when there had already been nearly 30 presidents. It is really very difficult to win an election when one particular gender is not enfranchised to vote. Since then, it has been a long way for women to reach the hallowed White House.

The first woman who stood for Presidential elections was Victoria Woodhull in 1872 from Equal Rights Party, followed by Belva Ann Lockwood in 1884 from National Equal Rights Party and many more afterwards. But no single woman has been able to make it to the White House.

While doing my research, I came across an article titled 'Women For President' by Erika Falk where she has analyzed the gender bias which media has demonstrated in covering women candidates since the first woman ran for America's highest office in 1872. She has examined the campaigns of nine women who ran for president through 2008: Victoria Woodhull, Belva Lockwood, Margaret Chase Smith, Shirley Chisholm, Patricia Schroeder, Lenora Fulani, Elizabeth Dole, Carol Moseley Braun, and Hillary Clinton, Erika found little progress in the fair treatment of women candidates. She says "the press portrays female candidates as unviable, unnatural, and incompetent, and often ignores or belittles women instead of reporting their ideas and intent. This thorough comparison of men's and women's campaigns reveals a worrisome trend of sexism in press coverage, a trend that still persists today."

It seems media was and is more interested in their physical appearances or their Fashion statement and gives them celebrity status rather than highlighting their credentials.

Another reason has been that most of the earlier elected Presidents came from the various high level offices like Vice-Presidents, Governors, Senators and Generals. Most of these positions were closed for women during the US history for a long time. Serving these positions adds a lot of value to the political mainstream profile of any Presidential candidate. In the past few years, the participation of women has increased. Though if we considered the figures, women today hold only 18.5 percent of congressional seats, and they comprise 20 percent of the U.S. senators. They hold only 24.2 percent of state legislature seats. Only 10 percent of the governors are women and only 12 percent of the mayors of the hundred largest American cities are women (Source : Center for American Progress).

So still a long way to go...!

I also came across an article by Ann-Marie Slaughter on "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" where she has mentioned the prevalence of gender bias in the American elite and some of its root causes. She has described how difficult it is for a modern woman to juggle between work and family. Being President demands high level of work commitment and be on one's toes throughout their tenure. For a woman having kids at times, it really becomes very difficult to maintain the work-life balance. It is hard to believe that the United States ranks 75th (Source: PewResearch) in the world in terms of women in national legislatures behind countries such as Rwanda, Cuba, Sweden and South Africa.

However since Hillary Clinton's 2008 Presidential campaign, there has been some progress for women in the US to celebrate. America witnessed the historic battle between a woman and an African American man. It was Hillary verses Obama. Hillary Clinton came second in the Democratic Party primaries, winning 1,726 Delegate votes and more primaries than any other woman in history. She won 21 states, more than 18 million votes and the race between Clinton and Obama was among the closest in history with her winning 48.03% of the popular vote to his 47.43% between caucus and primary states (Source: Wikipedia). If United States hadn't elected their first African American president, then probably they might already have had their first woman president.

As the United States election campaign starts pacing, there is serendipity that this country could elect its first woman leader. If Hillary Clinton or Carly Fiorina win 2016 elections, they would end almost 227 years old legacy of men in the position and United States of America would join the league with other nations who have had embraced the women leadership.


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16 Avr 2016 

A round-the-world tour of the best car museums

Benjamin Harris was a maverick in the early days of journalism. He was not alone but he definitely stood out from the crowd.

2. Louwman Museum, The Hague, Netherlands Delightfully quirky, the Louwman is one of the oldest private collections of automobiles in the world, though its current quarters designed by American architect Michael Graves in 2010 is anything but stodgy. Be sure to see James Bond's Aston Martin and Elvis' Cadillac.

3. Museo Storico Alfa Romeo, Arese, Italy The famed Italian marque has experienced a renaissance thanks to its long-awaited reintroduction to the U.S. market, and the newly renovated museum pays tribute to its rich heritage with six floors of stunning automotive art. Alfa has long been overshadowed by Ferrari and Maserati, but anyone who visits the museum will come away suitably impressed.

4. Museo Pininfarina, Cambiano, Italy The firm that has designed some of the sexiest cars on the planet treated itself to a new exhibition space for its 85th anniversary last year. They've now gone beyond cars to creating everything from apartment buildings to private jets.

5. Porsche Museum, Stuttgart, Germany Porsche spent $106 million (100 million euro) to open this architectural tour de force in 2009, setting a new world standard for top luxury car brands and how to show off prestige, power and racing prowess, including 17 wins at Le Mans. Some of the most beautiful cars on Earth can be found inside its walls.

6. Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart, Germany The company that invented the horseless carriage is currently celebrating its museum's 10th anniversary with several showcases devoted to manufacturer's most recognized creations. Over 160 vehicles are on display in 178,000-sq.-ft. of exhibition space.

7. Museo Enzo Ferrari, Modena, Italy In 2012, the Ferrari founder's birthplace was transformed into an exhibition space honoring the creation of the most lusted-after cars in the world. Under its distinctive yellow roof is a rotating display of Ferrari road and race cars alongside rare memorabilia and many of Signor Ferrari's prized possessions.

8. BMW Museum, Munich, Germany In 2008 the Bavarian marque opened its museum on its imposing new BMW Welt campus in Munich. Aside from cars it contains engines, airplanes, motorcycles and other artifacts from a century of engineering excellence.

9. Mullin Automotive Museum, Oxnard, California Cars from the Art Deco era are the personal passion of businessman and philanthropist Peter W. Mullin, whose private museum contains some of the world's most precious vehicles. This includes a 1936 Bugatti Type 57C Atlantic valued at $40 million. It's open to the public just two days each month.

10. Museo Lamborghini, Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy Quite small compared to the other museums on this list, Lamborghini's shrine to avant-garde automotive design is nonetheless a must-see for anyone whose ever been infatuated with its otherworldly sports cars. The intimacy of the setting gives it a more personal feel.

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