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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Firm hits brakes on ‘road kill' candy
Production halted as activists call animal-shaped sweets tasteless

New Jersey animal activists want this candy taken off the shelves.

The Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. - Production of roadkill-shaped candy screeched to a halt Friday, as Kraft Foods Inc. announced it would stop manufacturing the treats amid protests by animal rights activists.

"We take comments from our consumers really seriously and, in hindsight, we understand that this product could be misunderstood," said Kraft spokesman Larry Baumann.

Kraft plans to stop production of the fruity-flavored Trolli Road Kill Gummi Candyas soon as possible and then sell off remaining inventory, Baumann said.

The announcement came after the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals protested that the the candy, which is shaped like critters run over by cars — complete with tire treads — encouraged children to be cruel to animals.

"It sends the wrong message to children, that it's OK to harm animals. And that's the wrong message, especially from a so-called wholesome corporation like Kraft," said society spokesman Matthew Stanton.

The society said it was considering petition drives, boycotts and letter-writing campaigns to get the candy, in shapes of partly flattened snakes, chickens and squirrels, pulled from the market, Stanton said.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Baby stable after second head removed
10-month-old girl suffered from 'parasitic' twin birth defect

Str / Reuters
A nurse holds an Egyptian baby named Manar Maged in a hospital in the city of Banha, 25 miles north of Cairo, on Friday. Egyptian doctors said they removed the second head from the 10-month-old girl on Saturday.

CAIRO, Egypt - An Egyptian baby born with two heads was in stable condition on Sunday after doctors at a provincial hospital removed one of the heads in a 13-hour operation, the doctors said.

Nasif Hifnawy, head of pediatrics at Benha Children’s Hospital, told Reuters that 10-month-old Manar Maged could move all four limbs and showed no signs of paralysis.

“Manar is now breathing normally and has a normal heartbeat and blood pressure,” he added. The baby remains in intensive care at the hospital, 25 miles north of Cairo, and doctors expect her to stay there for at least seven days.

Manar was born with a rare condition known as craniopagus parasiticus, which occurs when an embryo begins to split into identical twins but fails to complete the process. One of the conjoined twins fails to develop fully in the womb.

As in the case of a girl who died after similar surgery in the Dominican Republic a year ago, the second twin had developed no body. The head that was removed from Manar had been capable of smiling and blinking but not independent life, doctors said.

The 13-strong surgical team separated Manar’s brain from the conjoined organ in small stages on Saturday, cutting off the blood supply to the extra head while preventing increased blood flow to Manar’s heart, which would have risked cardiac arrest.

Benha was chosen for its equipment and proximity to the girl’s family.

Last February, seven-week-old Rebeca Martinez died in the Dominican Republic after surgery to remove a second head.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Quiz: Are you too quirky to date?
By Analise Pendergast

Good for you: You’re one in a million with your individual style and unusual interests. But are you such an enigma that you come off as weird or wacky? Or are you a one-of-a-kind gem that’s poised to charm the pants off the right person with your eccentric sensibilities? Take this fun quiz to find out just where you fall on the quirky scale (and what that means for your love life).

1. Seen any good movies lately?
Yes, the latest Hollywood blockbuster. I give it four stars. (Score = 1)
Yes, an underground experimental historical re-enactment shot in handheld Super-8. (Score = 4)
No, all of the new movies are schlock. You only watch the classics. (Score = 2)
No, you don’t believe in watching movies. (Score = 3)
2. When getting dressed for a party, you’re most likely to wear:
Some fabulous get-up – maybe something in red leather, a boa, or leopard-print shoes. (Score = 4)
Something nice but not flashy – maybe one of your work outfits. (Score = 1)
Whatever you already happen to have on – maybe jeans and a T-shirt. (Score = 3)
A 1940’s vintage silk suit you got at an antique auction. (Score = 2)
3. You were late for your date because:
One of your ferrets escaped from its cage and you couldn’t get it out from under the couch. (Score = 3)
You had to stay late at the office to finish up a project for your boss. (Score = 1)
Traffic was backed up due to an accident on the highway. (Score = 2)
What time is it, anyway? You don’t wear a watch. (Score = 4)
4. You believe that dating is:
Potentially great, if you’ve met the right person. (Score = 2)
Nerve-wracking but necessary. (Score = 1)
Bogus. (Score = 4)
Something you don’t really have time for. (Score = 3)
5. Are you normal?
Yes, pretty much. (Score = 1)
Absolutely not! (Score = 4)
You can come off as normal, but you’re really quite unique inside. (Score = 2)
Can’t answer that. Who’s to say what’s normal, anyway? (Score = 3)
Your score

4-8 points:
You tend to follow the rules, play it safe, and do what’s expected of you. Just make sure you’re not squelching your individuality in favor of towing the line and blending in. Take a chance on letting your unique light shine through a little more, and let that prospective match see what sets you apart from the crowd.

9-12 points: You’re in touch with your quirks and you wear them well. You champion your individuality, while also being perfectly adept at walking in step with the modern world. You have no trouble attracting attention with your elegant blend of savior faire and je ne sais quois.

13-16 points: When it comes to quirkiness, you’re the gold standard. A genuine Type-Q personality, you live by your own rules, and dance to your own groove — sometimes to a fault. Don’t get so wrapped up in your own little world that you forget to keep your eye out for that simpatico nonconformist who’ll compliment your idiosyncrasies perfectly with a signature set of quirks all his own.

17-20 points: You actively cultivate quirkiness, always checking to make sure you’re NOT doing the same thing anyone else is doing. Just be sure your eccentricities are genuine and not ramped up for shock value purposes. A rare bird like you possesses enough natural magnetism to turn plenty of heads, so there’s no need to try too hard and risk coming off as a poser.

Mystery mark points to Leonardo da Vinci
Is that his fingerprint on newly restored masterpiece?

"The Adoration of the Christ Child'' dates to the end of the 15th century or the beginning of the 16th century. In the past, the painting has been attributed to Fra Bartolomeo, but restorers say that a centuries-old fingerprint found fixed in the paint could indicate that Leonardo da Vinci had a hand in creating the work.

The Associated Press

ROME - A fingerprint and stylistic touches uncovered during restoration of a disputed Renaissance masterpiece raises the possibility it may have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci, who sometimes left his mark on works as a kind of signature, restorers said Tuesday.

"The Adoration of the Christ Child" in Rome's Galleria Borghese has for decades been attributed to Fra Bartolomeo, but scholars have never been confident of authorship. Through the centuries, candidates have included Raphael, Ghirlandaio and Lorenzo di Credi.

Chief restorer Elisabetta Zatti said she found the fingerprint toward the end of the yearlong restoration that ended in November. That, along with stylistic similarities, made scholars think of Leonardo.

Matching fingerprints
Photos of the "Adoration," believed to have been painted in the late 15th century or early 16th century, will be flown March 1 to Krakow, Poland, to compare its fingerprint with the one on the Leonardo masterpiece "Lady with an Ermine."

"Once it was restored, a kind of yellowish halo could be seen in the sky in the upper left," the chief restorer Elisabetta Zatti said Tuesday, describing the fingerprint she discovered on the painting Italians call the "Tondo" — or "Round" — after its circular shape.

The restoration uncovered hitherto hidden details of the painting. They include Leonardo’s typical symbolism such as wild primrose, which represents resurrection, and the blue veronica flower, symbol of the eyes of the Virgin Mary.

Perhaps most strikingly, the restoration work revealed that the Virgin Mary had the large and somewhat masculine hands that are a hallmark of many female figures in his work.

Mark of the creator
Zatti said that if the fingerprint turns out to be Leonardo's, the painting probably could be attributed to him.

"It's difficult to imagine he would have left it on the painting of someone else," she said.

Alessandro Vezzosi, the director of a museum dedicated to Leonardo near Florence who was not involved in the restoration, said the discovery of the fingerprints was interesting, but cautioned that more research is needed to give a definite attribution.

"Fingerprints are very useful, and Leonardo's paintings and manuscripts are full of them," Vezzosi said. "If that is his fingerprint, it means at least that he has worked on that painting."

High Art Maintenance
An art dealer gives advice for protecting your Picasso.
By Stephen F. Milioti

Let’s say you’ve just bought a luxury car. Chances are you’re so enamored of your new roadster that you go to Herculean lengths to keep it protected, clean, and in tip-top condition.

Because you appreciate the finer things in life, you're not just serious about your car—you've also got some pretty impressive stuff hanging on your walls. You have a high-flying arm when it comes to auctions and, correspondingly, you've developed quite an art collection. You admire it daily, just as much as you do your car. But though you dote on your beloved wheels, you don't have the faintest idea how to take care of your Monet.

This is where Scott Broadfoot comes in. As an international art dealer, and owner of Broadfoot & Broadfoot—a fine art gallery in bucolic Boonton, N.J. (811 Main St.; 973-331-0077)—he works with a huge range of art, from sculpture to works on paper, and advises clients on how to look after the stuff they drop all those bucks on.

"Some people are ignorant when it comes to taking care of their art," says Broadfoot. "And that's a shame, because, frankly, it's not that hard." For oil- and acrylic-based works on canvas, cleaning is discouraged. "Less is best when it comes to cleaning," explains Broadfoot. "Paintings aren't furniture, so don't put polish on them, and never ever spray anything on them. If you must clean them, go with warm water, on a damp cloth or toothbrush, depending on the smoothness or crevice-laden nature of the texture. You can add extremely mild soap, if they're really dirty."

The bottom line: Skip the elbow grease and be gentle, with works on paper as well as with paintings. And sculptural or decorative art—such as works made from copper—should remain untouched. You don't need to commit to more than a basic dusting every now and then. Marble, stone, and other metals can simply be wiped off.

But while fine art is generally low-maintenance, there are some other rules for care besides cleaning. You wouldn’t want to subject your luxury car to the harsh elements day and night and leave it sitting out in the driveway; so you put it in the garage. Same with your art. In any area exposed to harsh elements, you need to take some measures to protect your paintings. For instance, in the kitchen, where the pasta can fly, it’s essential to put any art behind glass, Broadfoot says.

Most important of all, whether you put your art in the kitchen or in the master bedroom, keep it out of direct sunlight. "Direct sunlight, for any length of time, damages art," says Broadfoot. And if you're collecting something from a certain big artist's blue period, shelter it more carefully than any other artwork. "Blue pigment fades especially fast in the sun," he says.

To further prevent fading, make sure framing is archival quality, and that any works on paper allowed to hang in the sun are on acid-free paper. If the paper isn't acid free and it's subjected to too much direct sunlight, it'll eventually develop burn marks, at which point, when it comes to value retention, says Broadfoot, "you might as well just take a knife and slash it."

Finally, don't ever use those little sticky-back adhesive picture hooks to hang your fine art, even if the piece doesn't weigh much. Don't hang your painting on a nail, either. Take the time to hang art on real picture hooks. Sounds elemental, but it's a formula not everyone follows. "I had clients once who thought they could hang a 100-pound painting on a nail," says Broadfoot. "I mean, how crazy is that? That's not an art collector; that's the type of person who buys a painting just because it matches the sofa."

Friday, February 11, 2005

Six Signs That You Should Run – Not Walk – from Your New Job
Kate Lorenz, CareerBuilder Editor

So you've finally landed a new job and you're thrilled to be in the working world again. Hopefully, your new position will be one that provides you with support, great opportunities and plenty of recognition for your successes. Unfortunately, a company that seems like Cinderella during the interview process can end up looking more like an ugly stepsister once you actually join the team. Here are six real-life, sure-fire signs that it's time to run away and never look back!

1. You ask your new boss for supplies and she hands you a No. 2 pencil and legal pad -- and nothing else. While not all companies can afford to outfit employees with late-model laptops, cell phones, pagers and company credit cards, it is important that you are given the tools that you need in order to do your job. If you aren't, or if the company questions you every time you ask for a new pen, it could be an indication of financial stress.

2. You were shown to a cubicle your first day of work, given a company manual and haven't been spoken to since. Even if you have years of experience, you should always be given some kind of orientation or training during your first days on a new job. The companies that are known as the best places to work all have substantial training programs and processes in place to make sure new employees feel comfortable and supported right from the start. Be wary if you feel like you have been left to go it alone.

3. Every time you tell someone about your new job with the company they raise their eyebrows and say "Really? Wow... good luck with that." A company's reputation isn't always completely accurate, but it does usually stem from legitimate information. Good companies to work for are typically well-known and well-respected in their communities. In fact, you should ask others in your industry and the local business community what their thoughts are about the company when you are doing your initial research. If everyone you ask has a negative tale about your new employer, chances are their impressions have some validity.

4. After two weeks on the job, you are already halfway to becoming the employee with the most seniority. One of the biggest issues for human resources professionals today is employee retention. You will notice that most of the country's top companies have employees who have been around for years. Lengthy employee tenure is often a sign that the company is doing something right. "I joined a firm in St. Louis and learned that the company had seven other employees come and go in the past year," says Sarah, a public relations executive. "What's worse is that it was only a five-person operation. That should have been the first sign that the company was not a great place to work."

5. You answer the phone while the company's secretary is away from her desk and find that the voice at the other end is a collection agency calling for the third time that week. While this sounds unbelievable, this actually happened to one worker, who said other employees at the company were eventually instructed to not answer the phones. "It became a joke with all of us," she commented. "We used to run out and cash our checks as soon as we got paid and were always afraid that they were going to bounce!" If you see any signs that your company is in real financial or legal trouble, get your résumé back out on the market.

6. You notice that every day for the last five days, at least one person has run crying from your boss's office. While not everyone's boss is a bundle of joy, you should expect to be treated with respect in the workplace. If you see signs that the executives running your company make all of the other employees shake with fear, burst into tears or work on edge all the time, look for a greener pasture. There are companies out there that find success without putting employees through the ringer.

You will not know everything about your new company until you put in your time, but if you get a bad feeling right away, there is probably a good reason for it. Trust your instincts when you start a new job, and know what qualities you want to see when you walk into the office. Doing so can keep you from being stuck in a dead-end situation that leaves you frustrated and unfulfilled.

Teens' online lingo leaves parents baffled
Shorthand text messages can hide inappropriate behavior

By Bob Sullivan
Technology correspondent

She did everything right. Her 14-year-old daughter's computer was in the living room. She even peeked over her shoulder once in a while during the girl's avid instant message chats to make sure nothing unusual was going on.

But the girl fell into a steamy Internet love affair with a 35-year-old man anyway. The mother was horrified and confused: How could this happen?

The family computer contained little evidence of the affair -- until the mother brought it to a police officer who spoke the right language. Instant message shorthand was to blame, he told her. Her daughter and the 35-year-old were so proficient at that cryptic language often spoken by cell phone text message users (r u there?) that they were having the affair right under the mother's nose.

"Mom is very responsible," said Susan Shankle, a South Carolina-based therapist who counseled the family, which requested anonymity. "She just didn't know the language."

After observing the case, Shankle and colleague Barbara Melton decided to set up training seminars for other therapists dealing with similar problems.

"Parents need to know what all those little alphabets mean. We've always said put the computer where you can see it, but that's not enough. You need to go over there and ask them what that stuff is. Even therapists were shocked at some of it."

Online personas can seem exciting
During the first few workshops, Shankle said, many therapists were familiar with very common shorthand terms like BRB (be right back). But others produced shock.

"'How about nifoc,' I asked, 'what does that mean?' No one knew. So I told them it means 'naked in front of computer.' You should have seen their reaction," she said.

Often, the child isn't really naked in front of the computer, Melton said -- the children just like the idea of "titillating" other online users, and are fully capable of doing it within view of parents, she said.

"Kids can teach each other how to cover their tracks," she said.

Melton has a whole string of horror stories. In one case, a 12-year-old girl created three distinct online personas for instant message communication -- all much older, and sexually active. One persona was a 26-year-old woman with dominatrix tendencies, who worked as a real estate agent. The charade went on for three years, and didn't break down until one of the girl's suitors showed up at her house.

"She would talk about whips and chains and leather, but none of it was true. She was a virgin," Melton said. "She really was excited about getting other people worked up."

Instant messaging is as common as e-mail among youthful Internet users -- and teens are almost twice as likely to use it as adults, according to Teenage Life Online. Jupiter Research reported in 2003 that 70 percent of teenagers said instant messaging was their favorite online activity. And three years ago, the Pew Internet Project reported quite a disparity among parents and their children over Internet use. While 61 percent of parents said they issued rules about Net use, only 37 percent of teen-agers said they were subjected to Net time restrictions.

Understanding how technologies like instant messaging work, and understanding how kids are using them, makes parents' jobs even more complicated, said longtime child safety advocate Parry Aftab, who now runs

"None of the parents understand what their kids are saying. Even I don't," she said. "And the smart ones are even writing around the monitoring software. Parents who are so into this that they are actually using monitoring software, it's not doing any good. There are parents who are actually seeing what their kids are typing, but if you don't understand what they are saying, what good is that?"

Aftab's volunteers have created a shorthand translator that parents can download at

A language of their own
Dr. Bob Price, a school technology coordinator in Haworth, N.J., also trains parents how to deal with computers at home. He says instant message language isn't really anything new: kids have always had a language of their own, designed to keep out adults.

"Children have always had little clubs and codes and been passing notes in class," he said. "But now you have students not really hanging out like they used to hang out. Now they spend hours sending messages back and forth."

He recommends products like I.M. Control, which sets time limits on use, allowing parents to schedule the times kids can use instant message software.

But parents should even go a step further, Price said. They should sign up for their own instant message accounts -- even if it feels goofy. That's the only way for them to really see how easy it is to open four or five accounts with different identities, for example.

"Parents need to ... set aside time to get involved with it themselves," he said. "Sign up an account, know how it works. Do something with it so they can understand the culture better."

Still, technology won't really solve the problem, Aftab said. Parents need to be aware that their children may be using a language designed for evasion -- and learn to ask questions, even if they seem invasive.

"What you need to do is recognize that if you understand everything else they're saying, and suddenly they say something that doesn't make sense to you, they are saying something they don't want you to see. So you need to sit down and ask them what it is," she said. "And ultimately, know that all the filters in the world aren't really going to protect them. What you have to do is teach them well and trust the filter between their ears."

tips Internet safety: What parents need to know

Keeping children safe online means teaching them to be smart, responsible users of the Internet. Click on an age group to see tips from's Parry Aftab.
• For all ages
• Under 8 years old
• Age 8 to 10

• Age 10 to 12
• Age 13 – 15
• Age 16 and over
Teach your children to:

• Think before they click: With whom are they chatting or e-mailing, what are they saying and how are they saying it? Will the person on the other end know they are joking?
• Walk away from the computer and “Take 5” before responding to something that upsets them online
• Avoid spreading rumors, assisting in cyberbullying or sharing private communications online.
• Follow the golden rule of cyberspace: Don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t do in real life!
• Follow responsible safety practices yourself:

• Install spyware and adware blocking software on your computer
• Make sure you have a working firewall
• Install anti-virus software and update it regularly
• Take advantage of spam-blocking tools offered by your Internet provider or e-mail software

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Know the Lingo

It may seem undecipherable, but there is reason behind the rambling you might see in an instant message conversation. Here's a sample of the shorthand used by chatters.

Shorthand - Meaning
A/S/L - Age/Sex/Location
AWGTHTGTTA - Are We Going To Have To Go Through This Again
BOHICA - Bend Over Here It Comes Again
CRTLA - Can't Remember the Three-Letter Acronym
CTC - Choking The Chicken
ESO - Equipment Smarter than Operator
GLYASDI - God Loves You And So Do I
GYPO - Get Your Pants Off
NIFOC - Nude (naked) In Front Of The Computer
NYCFS - New York City Finger Salute
OLL - On-Line Love
POS - Parent Over Shoulder
QT - Cutie
RTBS - Reason To Be Single
RUMORF - Are You Male Or Female
SOHF - Sense Of Humor Failure
SSEWBA - Someday Soon, Everything Will Be Acronyms
TDTM - Talk Dirty To Me

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