Friday, December 22, 2006

Cold Weather Dating Ideas

1. Flirt with Frosty
Bundle up, grab an old scarf and a couple of carrots, and join forces to make a snowman (or, if you're feeling forward, a snow couple). Remember, it's not about the Michelangelo-level artistry of the end product; it's about the snowball fight that one of you will start in the process. Tumbling down in the snow together laughing your heads off? There's no better movie-moment flirting move this whole season.

2. Trip the lights fantastic
Hop in the car, turn up the heat and take yourselves on a tour of your community's most outrageously Christmas-lit homes. (You'll switch on the holiday spirit, and share in the delight that you're not the ones who have to take all those lights down.)

3. Throw a gingerbread house party
Find ginger-blueprints online or in any Christmas-season homemaking magazine. Bake the "walls" in advance; invite (depending on your status) single or coupled-up friends over to decorate with frosting and candies. If you're single, get other stag-comers to bring other available ginger-folks. After all, M&M'S make more than friends.

4. Get into the kitchen
Fixing your super-special individual Cornish game hens and risotto this and truffle that? -- Well, surely it's delicious. But it kind of misses the comfy, homey, wintry point ... and it's a big production that can be a bit intimidating for both chef and guest. So, instead make something easy, hearty and mellow together -- Chili? Stew? Onion soup with sexy gooey cheese? -- That'll warm both stomachs and hearts.

5. Couch-surf
Cold outside? Take your date to the beach right in your own home. Rent an assortment of fun-in-the-sun flicks -- 'Beach Blanket Bingo', 'Blue Lagoon' (or, depending on your sense of humor, 'Jaws') -- and enjoy a day at the celluloid shore ... with no sand in your suits!

6. Hit the ice
Nothing's as romantic as gliding arm in arm around a frosty rink or pond ... except maybe helping each other up when you slip. If you're really worried about your skating skills, or that bad knee, grab a sled and hit the mini-slopes.

7. Visit the tropics
Why wait 'til you're "serious" enough to travel together, or worry about getting to the airport? Instead, tour the local botanical garden's steamy south-of-the-equator or white-hot desert flora exhibits and greenhouse the winter blues away.

8. Meet for a hot drink
Martini, schmartini: Rendezvous at a bar that serves good Irish coffees, hot toddies and other wintry spirits. With any luck, you two will still be raising glasses together when margarita season rolls back around.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

You Gotta Be The Book

I was in the bookstore today and came across a book by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm called You Gotta Be The Book that's all about getting kids interested in reading. I was leafing through it and it really hooked me, so I ended up buying it. I think this is going to be a GREAT resource for me; even though it's geared for teaching adolescents, I think it'll be great for teaching kids of any age.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Most Students in Big Cities Lag Badly in Basic Science

A least half of eighth graders tested in science failed to demonstrate even a basic understanding of the subject in 9 of 10 major cities, and fourth graders, the only other group tested, fared little better.

The outcome of those tests, part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the nation’s report card, showed that student performance in urban public schools was not only poor but also far short of science scores in the nation as a whole.

Half or a little more of the eighth-grade students in Charlotte, San Diego and Boston lacked a basic grasp of science.

In six of the other cities — New York, Houston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Atlanta — the share of eighth graders without that knowledge was even higher, ranging from about three-fifths in New York to about four-fifths in Atlanta. By comparison, the corresponding share for the nation as a whole was 43 percent.

Among the 10 cities, only in Austin were the eighth graders who lacked a basic understanding in the minority, and just barely there.

“It’s a national disgrace,” said Rodger W. Bybee, director of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, which develops and evaluates science curriculums and promotes the teaching of science. “We as a nation should be able to do better than that.”

Monday, August 28, 2006

Detroit Shock: Finals Bound

An attitude adjustment made all the difference for the Detroit Shock, the newly crowned Eastern Conference champs.

Rebounding from a nine-point loss to Connecticut in Game 2 of the conference finals, the Shock were dominant from the opening tip Sunday night and routed the Sun 79-55 to earn their second trip to the WNBA Finals. They'll take on defending WNBA champion Sacramento in a best-of-five series beginning Wednesday.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Seven Unwritten Rules for Professional Women

1. Build Successful Relationships.
In a word -- network. It is crucial to understand the importance of developing and maintaining industry contacts you can rely on, whether it's for information about a specific project or the inside scoop on an open position. Attend seminars and professional meetings in your field. Besides learning some good information, these gatherings help you raise your visibility among your peers.

2. Exert Influence and Convert Others to Your Ideas.
Develop the confidence in yourself to get people to see and value your ideas. Knowledge is power. "Do your research," Kopelan advises. "Know what is happening in your industry." The more you know about a particular subject, the more comfortable and confident you will be discussing it and offering your opinions.

3. Take Initiative.
If you are interested in a particular high-profile client at your office, find out how you can be a part of the project team. Or learn the specifics of a particular issue so you can be your office's "resident expert."

4. Manage Difficult Conversations.
Women often tend to shy away from confrontation. But if you learn how to diffuse an awkward situation, you will appear strong and levelheaded under pressure -- two good traits for potential senior managers.

5. Promote Yourself.
Only you really know everything you have achieved. Now just make sure the right people also know what you have accomplished.

6. Know How to Ask for What You Want.
This goes along with managing difficult conversations and promoting yourself. You shouldn't feel hesitant about asking for something you need or have earned.

7. Establish Work/Life Harmony.
This challenging area often gets the misnomer "work/life balance." Sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day to balance these two important parts of your life equally. Instead, strive for a harmonious coexistence between the two.

What Kopelan found in talking to the Fortune 500 hiring managers is that these organizations want to see women advance and succeed, but until women understand the important role these unwritten rules play in business, "they're diminishing their chance at achievement," she warns.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Ex-Teacher Goes To Jail For Nude Photos

MCMINNVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A judge ignored a former teacher's sobbing pleas for mercy Friday and sentenced her to seven years in prison on charges that she sent explicit photos to a young teenager while on probation for having sex with him.
When Pamela Rogers, 29, was released after serving 198 days in jail, she was under orders not to contact the student or his family or use the Internet. But authorities say that even after appearing in court on a charge of violating her probation in April, she continued talking with the boy and sending him text messages and sexually explicit photos and video of herself.

"You have done everything except show this court that you wanted to rehabilitate yourself," Warren County Circuit Judge Bart Stanley said. He revoked Rogers' probation and ordered her to serve the rest of a seven-year prison sentence that had been largely suspended.

Officers led Rogers away after she stood before the judge handcuffed and shackled. She cried as she asked for mercy and apologized to her family, the teen's family, her relatives and friends.

"I have humiliated myself. What I did was wrong," Rogers said. "I am willing to do anything to rehabilitate myself."

Rogers, who has been in jail since April, presented evidence in a hearing Friday, including a clinical psychologist who said she was a sex addict. She apologized tearfully and was led away in handcuffs to a women's prison in Nashville.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Former 'American Idol' Contestant Indicted

A former "American Idol" contestant accused of videotaping sexual encounters with two teenage girls has been indicted on child pornography charges.

Daniel James "DJ" Boyd, 27, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to charges of production of child pornography and possession of child pornography.

A trial date was set for Sept. 18. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison.

Boyd, a contestant on the popular TV talent competition two years ago, was arrested last month in West Valley City after a 14-year-old girl contacted police. He has remained in the Salt Lake County Jail since his arrest.

The Salt Lake County district attorney's office has also charged Boyd with unlawful sexual activity with a minor and unlawful supply of alcohol to minors.

He is scheduled to appear in district court July 25 for a preliminary hearing on those charges.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Olympian Shannon Miller Divorces Husband

After a prolonged negotiation, former Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller is divorcing her husband of seven years, Boston eye surgeon Christopher B. Phillips.

Miller, 29, filed for divorce from Phillips, 33, in May 2004, but financial disputes dragged the case out more than two years. The divorce is expected to become official in September, reports the Associated Press.

The two married in a lavish ceremony that featured many of Miller's teammates from the 1996 U.S. squad that won the team gold medal in the Atlanta Games. The couple, who lived in Oklahoma City and a Houston suburb before moving to Boston, have no children.

Phillips alleges that his wife had an affair with a married male athlete and that she threatened to accuse him (Phillips) of abusing prescription drugs if he failed to meet her demands during the divorce proceedings.

"I've been put through the wringer over this," Phillips said. "It's been a very bitter and terrible divorce. ... She has really, really hurt me."

Miller denied the accusations, calling them "lies and innuendo surrounding an emotional divorce. … The worst thing I ever did to my ex-husband was to put unleaded gas in his car and not premium. With gas prices these days, do you blame me?" Miller wrote in an e-mailed response to questions posed by The Oklahoman newspaper.

"We all have choices to make in life. I have chosen to be happy by leaving this painful experience in the past. I hope Chris is able to move on as well," she said.

Miller said she plans to finish law school at Boston College and "continue pursuing my life's passion of working with children."

Phillips said he would like to return to Oklahoma at some point. He now works at a Boston hospital and attends law school at Suffolk University.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Wedding Can Make A Gal Crazy

There's a show on E! that I'm watching right now, called "Last Bride Standing." I've never heard of it before, so I don't know much about it, but these brides have to stand outside in a circle with one hand on the one-of-a-kind wedding dress they are trying to win. Whoever is the last one touching the dress wins it. The women are allowed 5 minute breaks, but there are hours between the breaks. Every couple hours or so, the "host" offers them special offers they can take (a cake, a 5 night stay at a castle in France), but then they are out of the contest for the dress. So far the women have been standing for 25 hours. One girl gave up and took the 5 nights at the castle, another girl was disqualified because she took her hand off the dress. All of the women look tired, one of them keeps crying, and I think she might give up now and take the cake that they're offering her instead of the dress.

It's one of those shows that you think is kinda dumb, yet you can't stop watching.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sex And The City

Vegging out watching Sex and the City.

Miranda: Women don't care. We care about nice arms, great eyes, a big dick... I've never once heard a woman say: "He had such a big full scrotum."

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Kidman, Urban Wed

It's official! Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban are officially married.

And they're a good-looking couple, to boot!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Britney To Have Baby Girl?

The word on the street is that chubby Sean Preston Federline is going to have a little sister. In Touch weekly claims that BritneySpears and Kevin Federline are expecting a girl.

Spears is already decorating a room in her Malibu mansion for the baby, though she is not due until October. A source for the magazine says that, in terms of the nursery décor, “[Britney] is going with pink.”

The new baby may not get to enjoy her Malibu nursery for long. Star magazine claims that Spears is considering leaving Los Angeles for her home state of Louisiana.

An insider told the tabloid, "Los Angeles has worn [Britney] down. She says every mistake is magnified a thousand times, and she's sick of being judged all the time."

And living in Los Angeles also makes it difficult for Spears to keep her husband in line. "It's like Kevin's head is on a swivel when a pretty girl walks by,” the source said. Federline, however, is not enthusiastic about his wife’s plan. "He told her, 'Send me a postcard,” claims the source.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Rosie O'Donnell Joins The View

Rosie O'Donnell has been named Meredith Viera's replacement on the daytime talk show "The View." Viera will leave the show to replace Katie Couric on "The Today Show." Couric is moving to the evening news on CBS.

Sunday, April 23, 2006, A Hidden Wonder

I checked out today, which is like a lesser-known version of, and was able to win the complete box set (6 seasons) of Sex And The City for $35 + $15 shipping. That is an unbelievable deal!!!!

I can't wait till it comes!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

SNL Confronts Lindsay Lohan

The cast and crew of “Saturday Night Live” are still on their mission to save Lindsay Lohan, reports Life & Style Weekly. According to the tabloid, Lohan was again confronted by her Mean Girls co-star Tina Fey about her reckless lifestyle when she hosted “SNL” last weekend.

An insider claims, “They brought up everything - nothing was off-limits. Tina told her she was wasting her gift of acting,” but Lindsay “didn’t want to hear it.” The source says that Lindsay’s partying kept her from fully interacting with the cast as she was too tired to do run-throughs the week leading up to the show. Lohan instead “just complained and lay around in her dressing room,” says the source.

“SNL” star Kenan Thompson wasn’t afraid to go on the record about his concerns for Lindsay. He told Life & Style, “You just gotta say, ‘Sometimes you shouldn’t be doing that; you gotta drop that.’”

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Charges dropped in teacher sex scandal

State prosecutors decided Tuesday to drop charges against a former Tampa teacher accused of having sex with a 14-year-old middle school student.

The decision means Debra Lafave won’t go to trial and the victim won’t have to testify.

Prosecutors announced the decision hours after a judge rejected a plea deal that would have meant no prison time for Lafave. “Quite frankly, if the allegations against the defendant are true, the agreed-upon sentence shocks the conscience of this court,” said Marion County Circuit Judge Hale Stancil.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lady Vols' Parker dunks twice in easy win

Candace Parker of Tennessee slam dunked her way into NCAA history with a feat that even fans of underdog Army had to appreciate.

The 6-foot-4 Parker became the first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game Sunday, jamming one-handed on a breakaway just 6:12 into the second-seeded Lady Vols' 102-54 victory against a Black Knights team that was making its NCAA tournament debut.

Then, for good measure, Parker ensured her place in history by becoming the first to do it twice in a college game with another one-hander on the baseline. She finished with 26 points, five rebounds and seven assists.

The first came when Parker took an outlet pass from Sidney Spencer, causing the large contingent of Lady Vols fans to begin buzzing at the possibility that after dunking several times in pregame warmups, Parker would try it on the fast break.

She did, beating Army's Margaree King down the floor, elevating and throwing it down with her right hand as the fans at Constant Convocation Center erupted.

It was the second college dunk attempt for Parker, who missed against Auburn on Feb. 23. She became the fourth woman in college history to dunk in a game, joining Georgeann Wells of West Virginia (twice in 1984), Charlotte Smith of North Carolina (1994) and Michelle Snow of Tennessee, who did it three times in the 2000-01 season.

The play gave the Lady Vols a 15-14 lead against the pesky 15th-seeded Black Knights, who were adopted by most of the fans at Tennessee rival Old Dominion's home arena, and it spelled the beginning of the end of Army's whirlwind NCAA tournament experience.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Eye Color

Your Eyes Should Be Hazel

Your eyes reflect: Intellect and sensuality

What's hidden behind your eyes: Subtle manipulation

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Love: 10 crazy scientific facts

By Laura Schaefer

1. It’s like looking in a mirror! It turns out we all have a little something in common with Narcissus—the mythical fellow who fell in love with his own reflection. Scientists at the University of Liverpool recently concluded that our brains favor people with familiar faces. The research team asked over 200 participants to view a number of digitally altered human faces. They found that subjects preferred the features they found the most familiar—whether that means his or her own visage or that of a family member. This may explain that common phenomenon of couples looking like they could be siblings.

2. Manner, schmanners: Go ahead and stare. Another new study says that when a woman walks into a room, she is considered more attractive if she turns her eyes directly toward a certain man. Men would rate the same woman as less desirable if she doesn’t make strong eye contact. In this study, conducted at Dartmouth University, lead researcher Malia Mason had male participants sit and view a series of faces of fashion models, digitally enhanced to either be gazing toward or away from the participant. The study authors asked the viewer to rate the likeability of each model and found that those who turned away were seen as less agreeable. The study’s researchers went on to suggest that a woman’s gaze can be a powerful arousal cue and that our impressions are largely formed by nonverbal communications such as eye contact. So start locking eyes, ladies!

3. You’ll know it when you see it. A recent study at the University of Pennsylvania reveals that regardless of what people say they are looking for in a dating situation, they don’t need a lot of time with or information about a person to tell if they’re interested. Single people’s behavior suggests that individuals know “it” (a person who appeals to them) when they see it—almost instantly. Lead researcher Robert Kurzban and his colleagues studied data from 10,000+ daters. They found that men and women assessed potential compatibility within moments of meeting, using primarily visual cues such as age, height, and attractiveness. Says Kurzban, “Somewhat surprisingly, factors that you might think would be really important to people — like religion, education, and income — played very little roles in their choices.”

4. Listen up. The next time you call up a potential love match, pay special attention to how they sound. Researchers at the University of Albany had 149 men and women rate the attractiveness of a series of recorded voices on a scale from 1 to 10. The researchers also gathered information about the sexual histories of the people whose voices they recorded. They found that the voices found to be the most appealing belonged to people who had sex at an earlier age, had more sexual partners, and were more prone to infidelity than those rated as having less appealing voices. So know that what’s a seductive voice to you may be linked to a person with a bit of a past…

5. I couldn’t help it baby, it’s in my genes. There may be a genetic component to infidelity, says a professor at the Twin Research Unit at St. Thomas’ Hospital, London. This is based on the fact that if one twin exhibits infidelity, the other twin strays 55% of the time. In the general population, the number is 23%. The tendency to remain faithful is a component of personality, the scientist elaborates, which is governed both by a number of genes and societal factors.

6. It’s official. Love makes us crazy. For one, it causes serotonin levels in the brain to drop, which may lead people to obsess about their lover. (The levels of serotonin, a chemical produced by the body, are also low in people who have obsessive-compulsive disorder.) Next, it ramps up production of the stress hormone cortisol, leading to slightly higher blood pressure and possible loss of sleep. Finally, a scientist at the University of London has found that when people look at their new loves, the neural circuits that are usually in charge of social judgment are suppressed. All in all, love kind of leaves you obsessive, stressed, and blind. And we love it.

7. Why broken hearts hurt... A recent UCLA study suggests the psychological hurt of a break-up is just as real as a physical injury. Two areas of the brain that respond to physical pain also become activated when a person is dealing with social pain, such as being dumped. The study’s authors used an MRI to monitor brain activity in participants while they played a game simulating social rejection. The researchers believe that the pain of being rejected may have evolved as a motivating force that led humans to seek out social interaction, which is crucial for the survival of most mammals.

8. Blushing is best. If we take our cue from apes, rosy cheeks are crucial in the dating game, says a new study. Scientists at Stirling University in Great Britain have found that primates prefer mates with red faces. A rosy glow might also act as a similar cue in humans, say the British researchers, sending a message of good health. They speculate that it could explain why women use blusher.

9. Kiss this way. Did you know there is a “right” way to kiss? People are more likely to tilt their heads to the right when kissing instead of left, says a report published recently in the journal Nature. A scientist from Ruhr University in Germany analyzed 124 pairs of smoochers and found that 65 percent go toward the right.

10. Meet for drinks before dinner. Researchers at NYU and Stanford have discovered that hungry men prefer heavier women. By staking out a dining hall, scientists had hundreds of students fill out questionnaires about their preferences in a mate. Men who filled out the questionnaire just before they entered the hall described their ideal woman as an average of three or four pounds heavier than men interviewed after they ate. Incidentally, researchers did not find the same change in women’s preferences, so guys: Go ahead and schedule that drinks date for before or after dinnertime.

Monday, March 06, 2006

10 Ways To Wow A Woman

By Phineas Mollod and Jason Tesauro

Try these creative gestures, all guaranteed to impress the lady in your life and win her affections.

In the recent past, men were considered ill-mannered but handsome beasts, and since little was expected from them, an out-of-the-blue bouquet would send a lady into convulsions of delight. Nowadays, it takes a lot more than a wrapped notion to wow a woman. Etiquette, style, general knowledge, compliments, cleanliness, and a decent music collection are individually endearing, but to truly bowl a lady over requires something special. Why not astound yours with one (or more) of these 10 big, thoughtful, exciting ideas:

1. Surprise, surprise. Men are spontaneous, but advance planning is often a weakness. Pull off a surprise party with a full cast or plan a cozy weekend getaway (reservations made, bags packed, time off secretly arranged with her boss), and she’ll be in awe of your efforts. A man, a plan, a B & B…arrivederci.

2. Plucking heart strings. When the ordinary is tinged with personal touches, the results will make her blush. If you have perfect recall of the relationship’s mini-highlights (what she was wearing when you met and so forth), give voice to those memories, especially in front of her friends, and you will cause a jolly uproar. Similarly, a hardcover always makes a fine gift, but when you’ve tracked down a first edition of her favorite children’s book that she mentioned last week, so very much the better. Who knew a dusty old Babar book could earn you major points?

3. Paging Dr. Love. Attraction and a naughty imagination are never amiss, but a bedside manner is more than just kisses between the sheets. Amaze your gal by playing doctor and nurse when the flu hits. Hang around to fetch tissues, ginger ale and soup, and don’t turn squeamish during the sneezing and sniffling phase. She will not soon forget the damp washcloths for the forehead, trips to the pharmacy, or just being there after the contagious period, to watch a Hugh Grant comedy and play unlimited rounds of Yahtzee. (And let’s face it, a Hugh Grant movie IS ALWAYS a romantic comedy, right?)

4. Supersize it. A dozen tulips are nice, but what about ten dozen? A weekend getaway is lovely, but what about being whisked to Paris? Going overboard, when used quite rarely, will leave your honey utterly gob-smacked, as the British would say. For Casanovas without credit cards, get creative without the cash flow: Take scissors to construction paper for a thousand cutout hearts, gather up roadside wildflowers and strew the petals about her bed, or deliver a love note a day for one week to profess your smitten-ness.

5. Kidding around. The ultimate masterstroke in this arena of wow-ing a woman is demonstrating a knack with kids…she’ll go gaga when you goo-goo. While waiting for your Pad Thai to arrive while out for dinner, chat up the moppet at the next table; remark, “Cute baby” when strolling past the strollers at your local park with your date, and so on. This super-husbandly trait always brings down the house.

6. Knight in shining Amex. A magnanimous showing of sacrifice and support wows her and confirms your commitment to a budding relationship. Even when unsexy, mundane crises are afoot, reach in with a helping hand. For instance, a well-off chap might wordlessly supply a loan to pay off a costly brake job that threatens his lady’s commute and checkbook. The penniless can help a damsel in distress, too. When she has night school, offer to walk her pup without complaint. Taking on her temporary troubles as your own impresses mightily.

7. Ode to joy. A syrupy note on Valentine’s Day is standard, but it’s the unexpected declarations of love (no, not during the second date) that astound. During a teary moment at the next wedding ceremony you two attend, punctuate the moment with your own poetic whisper in her ear. Likewise, sweet nothings on the dance floor will make her weak in the knees. Gushing love letters or IM’d e-ffections (for no particular reason) showcase your inner romantic. You’ll know you’ve done right when she proudly recites excerpts to her sis and best girlfriend. Confessing your true feelings can make quite the indelible impression.

8. Slick moves. Hidden talents like diving-board flips, limbo flexibility, crossword-puzzle expertise, card tricks, nimble guitar-playing and athletic prowess will elicit the “I had no idea!” awestruck grin. Besides those skills touted on your professional résumé, work on a few moves that draw comparisons to 007 or the Fonz.

9. Meet the parents: Be the rare bird that charms the pants off her usually hyper-critical, nitpicking parents. Can you ace the battery of trials and the impossible scrutiny of her closest friends to earn a resounding wow? Like passing the Mensa test, your relationship IQ must include the forethought to win over her inner circle. Brush up on their likes, dislikes, favorite wines (come bearing a bottle), and most recent travel adventures before sitting down with them, and you’ll have plenty of conversational fodder.

10. Love me tenderized. How well done is your medium-rare? Preparing an extravagant multi-course meal (not ordering out pre-made gourmet and slyly transferring it into shiny serving bowls) replete with all the trappings is a wow-able moment. And, yes, you can do it: Following a recipe taps every man’s inner do-it-yourself expertise. Allow her to sit back and breathe in the romance and gourmet ambiance: laser-printed menu, chilled Champagne, fresh table linens, slender candles, snazzy presentation, followed by after-dinner liqueurs, first-rate wooing, and fiery seduction. Honorable mention for those who actually get a smooch while sporting a “Kiss the Chef” apron.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

School board OKs teacher's return as a woman

EAGLESWOOD TOWNSHIP, N.J. - A New Jersey school board will allow Lily McBeth to return to the school where she taught for five years as a man.

To students at Eagleswood Elementary School, she used to be Mr. McBeth. The retired sales executive was married for 33 years and had three children before having sex-change surgery last year. She re-applied for her job as a substitute teacher under her new name.

Some parents object to McBeth's return to the school. One father predicts it will be "chaos" when the students learn of her gender-changing surgery. But a school board attorney says she is a good teacher who's gotten favorable reviews in the past.

McBeth calls the school board's decision "magnificent" and "democracy in action."

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Is The Best Bathroom In Michigan?

All Seasons Bistro, in East Lansing, Michigan, has been named for having one of the top five bathrooms in the country. The restroom was cited for its streak-free mirrors, old-world floor tiles and fresh paint job. "This is one of a few public restrooms I would allow myself, my wife and children to use and not worry about it," the nominator said.

To vote for this bathroom, go to

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

20 States Ask for Flexibility in School Law

By Diana Jean Schemo, New York Times

The federal Education Department has agreed to review requests from 20 states to alter significantly the way they measure student progress under the No Child Left Behind Act. The move comes as the number of schools across the country deemed substandard under that law grows by the thousands.

The requests, which Education Secretary Margaret Spellings invited states to submit last November as part of a pilot project, would allow states to judge schools by tracking the progress of individual students over time.

Currently, schools must show improvement in successive grades of students, with more of this year's fifth graders, for example, proficient at reading and math compared with last year's fifth graders.

States have long sought such a change, contending that it is fairer to measure the improvement in individual students than in different groups of students.

The states that have applied to make the changes for the current school year are Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.

Six more — Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Dakota — have asked to apply changes next year.

Only 10 states will be permitted to make the changes in assessing this year's test results. The plans must still be reviewed by a government-appointed panel and receive approval from federal officials, expected by May, to move forward.

The department's willingness to consider the requests is the most recent in a series of steps Ms. Spellings has offered, amid growing legal and political challenges to the law, to give states more flexibility in complying with it.

Under the outlines they submitted, many states are also suggesting that they be permitted to count students as proficient in reading or math even if they are not, so long as they are on track to reach proficiency within two, three or four years, depending on the proposal.

These states, along with some education advocates, contend that schools whose students are struggling should receive credit for improving their achievement, even if they have not reached proficiency, because it is unrealistic to expect them to do so in a single year.

In the 2004-05 school year, the share of high-poverty schools that failed to make enough yearly progress under the law jumped by 50 percent, to 9,000 from 6,000 the year before. There are 50,000 high-poverty schools in the United States, for whom failing to make enough progress sets off a cascade of extra attention, as well as eventual punishments, including the possible closure of the school.

In inviting the proposals, however, Ms. Spellings said the department would not compromise on certain "core principles" of the law, including the requirements that all students reach proficiency in reading and math by 2014, and that schools break down student performance by race, ethnicity, income, disability and gender.

Ross Wiener, policy director at the Education Trust, a nonprofit group in Washington that helped write No Child Left Behind, said that after years of criticism of the law the proposals that states submitted were their first opportunity to say how they would measure adequate yearly progress, the linchpin of the law.

"It really brings into relief, this question, this issue that has been simmering" around the law, Mr. Wiener said. "How much growth is ambitious enough that you're being fair to kids versus what's fair to schools and school systems?"

Lou Fabrizio, accountability services director at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, said his state's proposal would offer a second and third chance to schools that initially failed to meet federal guidelines.

If the rate of progress students were making showed they would reach proficiency within four years, they would be counted as already being proficient, for purposes of judging school performance.

Under North Carolina's proposal, Dr. Fabrizio said, the number of schools deemed failing to make adequate annual progress last year would have dropped by 13 percent, to 810 schools from 932.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Women's Hockey Team Gets Bronze

The women's ice hockey team did pretty well in Torino--bronze medal! Sweden picked up the silver, and Canada got the gold.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Titanic Is Most Successful Romance Movie

Titanic is the highest grossing romance movie of all time, newly released figures reveal.

The 1997 film won eleven Oscars and took a staggering $813 million (GBP450 million) at the box office - almost double its nearest contender, Disney animation The Lion King, which earned $476 million (264 million).

The top ten, as compiled by, is as follows:

1: Titanic - $813 million (GBP450 million)
2: The Lion King - $476 million (264 million)
3: Aladdin - $325 million (GBP180 million)
4: Ghost - $315 million (GBP175 million)
5: Dances With Wolves - $270 million (GBP150 million)
6: Armageddon - $267 million (GBP148 million)
7: Pretty Woman - $262.5 million (GBP145.5 million)
8: Jerry Maguire - $216 million (GBP120 million)
9: Terms of Endearment - $214 million (GBP118 million)
10: What Women Want - $210.5 million (GBP117 million)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Wildcats Retire Jersey For First Female Hoopster

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Arizona will retire the jersey of the late Shawntinice "Polkey" Polk in a ceremony following Saturday's Pac-10 basketball game here against Stanford.

Polk, who wore No. 00, complained that she wasn't feeling well when she arrived at McKale Center on the morning of Sept. 26, 2005.

She collapsed in front of the team trainer and was taken to nearby University Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

The two-time all-conference center would have been a senior this season.

A pulmonary blood clot caused the death, according to the Pima County medical examiner's office.

Polk, 22, is the Wildcats' career leader in blocked shots (222) and double-doubles (44) and is the program's No. 4 all-time scorer with 1,467 points.

Polk is the first woman's basketball player to have her jersey retired at the school.

Arizona men's players who have had their jerseys retired are Mike Bibby (10), Sean Elliott (32), Jason Gardner (22) and Steve Kerr (25).

Sunday, February 12, 2006

American Hedrick Wins Gold

Last night, I watched American Chad Hedrick win the 5000 meter men's speed skating event. He did a great job. Way to go, Chad and the USA!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Congratulations Kelly Clarkson

I was so happy (and surprised) that Kelly Clarkson won two Grammy's last night!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sandra Oh

Grey's Anatomy actress Sandra Oh was so funny last night during her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes.
"I feel like someone set me on fire... I don't remember any of your names!"

Monday, January 16, 2006

Dating: Positive Thinking

Very interesting article in the most recent issue of Newsweek magazine about a woman who decided to accept every single date proposal, regardless of how she thought the date would go or what she thought of the person. She ended up going on 150 dates, including a homeless man, several non-English speakers, 10 taxi drivers, two lesbians and a mime.

She ended up meeting a divorced playwright 25 years older than her with two children, and they married in 2003.

She wrote a memoir of the experience, "The Year of Yes," which is now in bookstores.

Friday, January 06, 2006

How to raise a child who loves to write

Writing comes naturally to children -- they love marking things up and expressing themselves. Here are seven ways to help your preschooler hang on to her love of writing :

Keep the pressure off

To raise a writer, give your child every opportunity to put pen to paper, chalk to sidewalk, paint to easel, and marker to poster board, but make sure it's all in fun. Your preschooler is just beginning to understand how words are used to convey thoughts, and is still developing the fine motor skills needed to form letters. Your goal, at this stage, is to encourage her so she'll realize that writing is an activity with its own unique rewards.

Experiment with writing tools

Let her try all different types of writing implements -- crayons, chalk, pens, pencils, paints. Keep in mind that she may have an easier time using "fat" crayons or pens than skinny pencils. Even dough and modeling clay are writing tools -- you can roll them out and form rope letters (this helps develop her motor skills as well). Keep these supplies in a drawer she can reach easily.

Experiment with surfaces

For starters, white paper is a must. Big pads of newsprint are inexpensive, and children love having a big surface to fill in. But don't forget about chalkboards, sidewalks, and dry erase boards. If you're concerned about the mess, set up a kid-size table outside or in a section of your kitchen or playroom where the splatter won't matter. And buy water-soluble markers and erasable pens for easy cleanup.

Model good writing habits

Let your child see you writing on a daily basis: making to-do lists, writing e-mails or letters, keeping your own journal. Young children are copycats: If you love to write, chances are your child will learn to share your enthusiasm.

Use the computer

Log on and let your child compose words on the computer (depending on her age and dexterity you may have to help her). Feel free to let her click the keyboard even if she's too young to spell actual words. While she's not actually crafting letters with her own hands when she types, she's still practicing writing. She's learning that letters combine into words and phrases that convey thoughts.

Be enthusiastic

Show an interest in what your child writes or draws, even if it just looks like scribbling to you. Be specific: Saying "You're really learning how to write your name" is much more meaningful to your child than "You are such a good writer!" And remember to compliment her on the process of writing as well as the result. That is, say things like, "You really take your time when you write," or "I can see how much care you took with this word."

Play games that promote good writing