Swiss Wonder in Men’s Tennis




Having lived in Zurich for three years we are always cheering for the Swiss athletes-always loved Federer. Now I think I am going to be a huge fan of someone who has worked really hard to get where he is now-Stanislas Wawrinka.
“I’m at the top of my career,” Wawrinka said. “Already last year I had the feeling that I was playing better, but I was dealing better the pressure also. I’m more mature. I’m 28 now. I’m on the tour since the last 10 years. Now I feel that it’s my time to play my best tennis.”

Federer sent a text message to Wawrinka on Wednesday. Federer, the winner of 17 Grand Slam singles titles, was among many aware of the potential for an all-Swiss final; aware, too, of all the work Wawrinka put in, of all the doubts endured. Federer congratulated Wawrinka for his run at the tournament.

“For you, it’s normal,” Wawrinka said he responded. “For me, it’s not normal.” This was all before he defeated  Berdych  in the semi-finals.

Wawrinka said he took confidence from his match with Djokovic, who had won their previous 14 meetings. Some of those contests had taken place in Grand Slam tournaments, and some of them had gone five sets, and Djokovic had won all of them. This time, in the fifth set, Djokovic badly mis-hit shots on the last two points. It was Wawrinka who played without fear. That, he said, helped against Berdych.

For years, Wawrinka has remained Switzerland’s second-best player, because its best player is among the best of all time.

 As the first set of the men’s singles final at the Australian Open unfolded Sunday, those who assembled inside Rod Laver Arena watched in disbelief. There were two players and one was dominating and his name was not Rafael Nadal.

Not only was he playing in his first Australian Open final, but in 12 previous matches against Nadal, he had not managed to win even one of 26 combined sets.

Until Sunday. Until Wawrinka’s sublime play and Nadal’s unexpected back issues combined to make Wawrinka the surprise Australian Open champion, a player who won his first Grand Slam in his first Grand Slam final. In victory, Wawrinka became the first player to defeat the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the same Grand Slam to win it.

(excerpts from various articles in the New York Times)







While walking in heavy snow through Estabrook Woods here in Concord a few weeks ago,my dogs took off chasing something. By the the time I got over to them, they turned to look at me and my golden retriever had quite a face full of quills! My westie had been hit as well and the third dog, another golden, was slower to get there apparently-she just had a few in her face. I took them straight to the vet knowing that they had to be put under to get that many quills out….$1000.00 later they are fine, but it was quite a lesson for all of us! Here is what we found out:

The porcupine is the prickliest of rodents, though its Latin name means “quill pig.” There are about two dozen porcupine species, and all boast a coat of needle-like quills to give predators a sharp reminder that this animal is no easy meal. Some quills, like those of Africa’s crested porcupine, are nearly a foot (30 centimeters) long.

Porcupines have soft hair, but on their back, sides, and tail it is usually mixed with sharp quills. These quills typically lie flat until a porcupine is threatened, then leap to attention as a persuasive deterrent. Porcupines cannot shoot them at predators as once thought, but the quills do detach easily when touched.

Many animals come away from a porcupine encounter with quills protruding from their own snouts or bodies. Quills have sharp tips and overlapping scales or barbs that make them difficult to remove once they are stuck in another animal’s skin. Porcupines grow new quills to replace the ones they lose.

The porcupines found in North and South America are good climbers and spend much of their time in trees. Some even have prehensile (gripping) tails to aid in climbing. The North American porcupine is the only species that lives in the U.S. and Canada, and is the largest of all porcupines. A single animal may have 30,000 or more quills. North American porcupines use their large front teeth to satisfy a healthy appetite for wood. They eat natural bark and stems, and have been known to invade campgrounds and chew on canoe paddles. North American porcupines also eat fruit, leaves, and springtime buds.

-excerpts from National Geographic


Just Sit Right Back…..


Russell Johnson, the actor whose genius Professor Roy Hinkley was always one coconut away from inventing a way off “Gilligan’s Island,” has died this week of natural causes. He was 89.

Dawn Wells, who played fellow castaway Mary Ann, said her friend passed away this morning after being in hospice for a short period of time.

“Russell was 100 percent a gentleman,” she told “The Insider.” “A genuine, dear, wonderful man.”

The Professor’s backstory identifies him as a high school science teacher who was born in Cleveland. His principal expertise was as a botanist, whose purpose in joining the ill-fated voyage that stranded the castaways was to write a book to be titled Fun With Ferns. His main function on the show was to devise many ways for the castaways to live more comfortably on the island. Many of his inventions (including a method for recharging the batteries in the ubiquitous radio) utilized coconuts and bamboo, both of which were in plentiful supply. Aside from his proficiency in science, he was also adept and well-versed in law,literature, social sciences, and the arts. Besides a list of degrees from various schools he provides in one episode, little was ever learned about his past and nothing was ever learned about his family. In several episodes there are brief remarks on his past: in the pilot he is described as a research scientist and “well-known scoutmaster”; in another when a big game hunter comes to the Island and asks the Professor what sports he took, the answer is “chess club”; after kissing Ginger for a prolonged period (during filming of a silent movie) he claims to be a “scuba diver”; in another when the castaways try to recreate who killed “Randolph Blake”, the Professor threatens to “…cancel his subscription to the Science Quarterly“.

The Professor was portrayed as the most neutral and level-headed character. He usually displayed more patience with Gilligan than the other castaways, and was often called upon to settle disputes. As a result, he often served as the leader of the castaways whom the others respected because of his great store of knowledge, although the castaways rarely mentioned this. For unexplained reasons—possibly for research purposes in writing his book (although titled Fun with Ferns, ferns may not have been its sole topic)—the Professor brought a large number of books on diverse subjects  on a three hour pleasure-cruise in Hawaii. On many occasions, he conveniently pulls out a book which has exactly the facts needed to fix or explain a particular problem they are having. In several episodes electric power for phonographs or washing machines is generated by employing someone (usually Gilligan) to manually pedal, or turn, a pulley, which the Professor has engineered.

A running joke about the Professor was his ability to build anything from coconuts and bamboo, yet he was somehow unable to create a raft or other means to leave the island. This was parodied in the sitcom Roseanne, when one of the characters playing The Professor stated after they crashed, “This hole on the boat defies all of my advanced knowledge. To fix it would be impossible…now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go create explosive fillings out of sand.”  Also, in “Weird Al” Yankovic‘s song “Isle Thing” (a parody of Tone Lōc‘s “Wild Thing“), he sings: “She said ‘That guy’s a genius’/I shook my head and laughed/’If he’s so fly/then tell me why/he couldn’t build a lousy raft?'”

In an interview with Larry KingBob Denver explained that the Professor simply “had no talent for boat-building.” This is the logical answer, since the island was stated to be 1000 miles from civilization, and an inexpert repair would be risky on such a long journey. Furthermore, in an early episode, “Goodbye Island”, he attempts to do so with a native tree syrup, which proves a disastrous failure that results in the boat being completely destroyed. (Also, earlier in the series, Gilligan and Skipper built a raft in order to sail for help, however it was revealed that the island was near a shark-filled area that made such a journey too dangerous for anything other than an actual boat or rubber raft.)

(excerpts from NY Daily News and Wikipedia)

The Great Molasses Flood 0f 1919


January 15th was the 95th anniversary of the Great Molasses Flood in Boston’s North End. The United States Industrial Alcohol Company constructed a faulty 50 foot high steel tank in 1918 on Commercial Street near where the bocce courts are located today at Langone Park. Despite many warnings that the tank was faulty, the molasses company ignored the welfare of the North End’s Italian immigrant population. Twenty one people were killed and another 150 injured when the tank ruptured and exploded on January 15, 1919.

A huge wave of the syrupy brown liquid moved down Commercial Street at a speed of 35 mph over two blocks destroying all in its path. In today’s dollars, the property damage is estimated at over $100 million. Purity Distilling Company built the tank, 50 feet high and 90 feet wide, in the densely populated neighborhood of mostly Italian immigrants at the time.

The disaster brought nationwide attention to the lack of industrial safety standards. Complaints of cracks and leaks in the tank were literally covered with brown paint by the company that initially said anarchists blew up the tank. Later, a lengthy class action lawsuit brought forward damaging evidence resulting in a settlement of $600,000 (~$11 million in today’s dollars). Although Purity used the molasses for industrial alcohol, some hypothesize that the tank was overfilled because of the the prohibition threat for possible use later to distill rum. Neighborhood folklore has it that you can smell the ill-sweet remains in the summer’s hottest weather. (Sources: WikipediaMass MomentsWired)

Leave Anna alone!!!

downton abby
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary, and Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates Photograph: Nick Briggs/PBS
I was upset after last night’s episode-it left me chilled! Here is something I found I thought was interesting and funny.

Spoiler alert: This blog is for people watching Downton Abbey season four. Don’t read on if you haven’t seen episode two.

Our enjoyment of Downton Abbey aspires to lightheartedness, but there was nothing lighthearted about the way the new episode ended. What befalls Anna is more brutal, as presented, than anything the series has yet seen, and that includes literal trench warfare.

Did they have to? Isn’t there something cheap about taking a two-dimensional character of methodical virtue – Anna is so saintly she can be boring – and then, in one violent scene, leveling her? And intercutting the attack with an opera performance, in another lazy recycling of The Godfather?

Bother. Maybe this was supposed to provide the jolt that season four was widely thought to be looking for, the hard twist that would return the Abbey to its edgy early days, back when Lady Mary and Mr Barrow were fornicating (in parallel, not ensemble) and Lady Edith was such a ghastly little snitch. After 27 episodes, it’s understandable that creator Julian Fellowes and company are seeking new vigor. But this?

It begins with a fleet of cars arriving for a house party meant to capture the estate’s old glory. In attendance are a duchess, a couple lords, Lady Edith’s publisher boyfriend and a chap from the club nobody really knows but who seems nice enough. He’s not, but the real snake of the bunch is one Mr Green, valet to Anthony Foyle. Bates, in his hard-won wisdom, distrusts Green from the start.

The star attraction of the party is Dame Nellie Melba, the famed Australian soprano. In the episode’s most entertaining moment, Lord Grantham and Carson get into trouble with Lady Cora for arranging to serve the singer dinner in her room, instead of seating her with the party. “Am I the only member of this family who lives in the 20th century?” asks Cora. At which Robert expertly passes the buck, telling Carson curtly: “I blame you.”

Braithwaite makes her move on Tom, who’s feeling vulnerable; Sir John Bullock charms Lady Rose, who seems receptive; Lady Mary and Cousin Isobel begin to get past their grief; Michael Gregson finally gets on Lord Grantham’s good side; and Mrs Patmore has a near-heart-attack, which allows Alfred a chance to prove himself in the kitchen.

It’s a perfectly fine Downton outing, until the end, when we get made-for-TV Francis Ford Coppola. Did it have to go down like this?

Here’s a brainstorm: seven Downton Abbey plot twists we would rather have seen than the rape of St Anna, in no particular order:

1) Lady Mary admits she never really loved Matthew. How could a woman so rigid fall in love with a man so floppy? It’s a question the audience has had to mentally run past ever since that night at the village fair. “Sometimes I don’t know who I’m most in mourning for – Matthew, or the person I used to be when I was with him,” Mary says in the latest episode. It’s a small hop from there to, “Settled it: although he did have great hair, I now realize that I was more in love with myself, the whole entire time. Also, he was a terrible driver.”

2) Lady Cora has an affair. Lord Grantham is entertainingly clueless. This would require a lot of bemused frowning from Hugh Bonneville, which seems doable. The tryst probably happens with one of Lady Mary’s suitors. The brown-haired one. Cora doesn’t need an excuse. She’s beautiful, bored, and hasn’t been herself since the tragic death of her youngest daughter. Lady Mary is first to figure it out. “Mumma,” she says, smiling sweetly. “You look refreshed today.”

3) Ivy starts getting ideas in her head after Lady Rose whimsically gives her a tube of lipstick. Made up properly, isn’t she, Ivy, every bit as pretty as Rose – as Lady Mary, even, if only she had the advantage of all that finery? Daisy tells her she’s crazy but, determined to improve her lot, Ivy decides to put herself forward as a replacement for Nanny West. “You, a nanny?” says Thomas. “And I’m the Earl of Sandwich.”

4) Baby Sibby says her first word, and it’s “orange.”

5) Lord Grantham decides to take up golf, a sport that has caught fire in England after a long gestation in the north. “I can’t escape the sense,” he tells Bates, who is, with not inconsiderable difficulty, acting as caddy, “that I could be so much better, if only I had the time to play.” The dowager countess, of course, is scandalized. “In my day,” she says, “if someone handed you a stick and a ball, you put them away in a closet and kept them there.” Then she arches an eyebrow, purses her lips and looks at something off yonder, and wins an Emmy (offscreen).

6) Lady Mary finally hits on a scheme for saving the estate, inspired by the release of the Rolleston Committee report endorsing prescription heroin for Britain. Mary’s ingenious plan: grow drugs. She converts her share of the tenant plots to poppies. Lord Grantham thinks it’s a bad idea – “Downton is not some sordid stop on the Silk Road” – but Branson is all for it. He gets a Tommy gun and an armored Packard.

7) Isis the dog has a litter of puppies. Puppies. Everybody likes puppies.

-taken from The Guardian

I also loved this:

When Lady Mary tries to get out of dancing with Anthony Foyle:

LM: “I thought I’d keep Granny company.”

DC: “Don’t use me as an excuse. If you don’t want to dance, tell him.”


Great Advice!

I don’t usually blog/copy things like this but this one really touched me and seemed like great,sound advice from someone who has lived long enough to really understand life and all it has to offer-good and bad. Especially for a new year, it is good food for thought.
Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio .

“To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I’ve ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it.

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don’t worry, God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

19.. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need

42. The best is yet to come…

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”

My Talking Pet

My Talking Pet, A Photo App That Lets Your Pets Do The Talking

by  at 1:35 pm on November 7, 2013
My Talking Pet

My Talking Pet, an app by WOBA Media for both iPhone and iPads, allows your pets do the talking through photos.

Take a photo or choose from your photo gallery, then speak into the microphone to see your pet realistically speak back to you! Share it as a video on Facebook, or email it as a special greeting to your friends and family. Change the voice from big dog to little cat or anything in between…

This is absolutely addicting and so much fun to do!        Check it out!