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Sunday, March 27, 2005

Search continues for owner of missing digit
Wendy's fast-food restaurant patron found finger in bowl of chili

The Associated Press

This photo, released by the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health in San Jose, Calif., shows a portion of a human finger that a woman says she found while eating a bowl of chili at a Wendy's restaurant.

Updated: 8:30 p.m. ET March 24, 2005A woman bit into a partial finger served in a bowl of chili at a Wendy's restaurant, leading authorities to a fingerprint database Thursday to determine who lost the digit.

The incident occurred Tuesday night at a San Jose Wendy's restaurant and left the customer ill and distraught, said Joy Alexiou, a spokeswoman for the Santa Clara County Health Department.

"She was so emotionally upset once she found out what it was," Alexiou said. "She was vomiting."

Paul Sakuma / AP
A woman bit into a portion of a human finger while eating a bowl
of chili at this San Jose, Calif. Wendy's fast-food restaurant.

Employees at the Wendy's store were asked to show investigators their fingers after the Tuesday night incident. All employees’ digits were accounted for, officials said, adding that the well-cooked finger may have come from a food processing plant that supplies the company.

"All of our employees have ten digits," said Denny Lynch, a spokesman for Wendy's International Inc., based in Dublin, Ohio. He said there have been no reports to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of injuries at any supplier of chili ingredients to Wendy's.

"By law, you can't hide that sort of stuff," Lynch said. "All of our chili suppliers report no accidents."

Investigators seized the remaining chili and closed the restaurant for a few hours late Tuesday.

Health officials said the fingertip was approximately 1½ inches long. They believe it belongs to a woman because of the long, manicured nail.

Alexiou said the woman, who asked officials not to identify her, is at minimal risk of contracting illnesses from the finger.

"It's an extremely low chance because the chili was cooked at a very high temperature that would have killed anything in the finger," Alexiou said. Still, she said health officials would ask the woman’s doctor to test her blood "to make sure nothing got passed to her."

Monday, March 21, 2005

'Toon Time: Cartoons Grow Up
'Toons aren't just for kids any more; check out these series aimed at adults

By Paul Semel

While cartoons have never been just for kids, lately there's been an explosion of animated shows that are actually good for grown-ups. Whether it's because they're smarter ("Futurama"), sexier ("Drawn Together"), or downright surreal ("Aqua Teen Hunger Force"), these 'toons are geared more toward adults than adolescents. While most of us are familiar with "South Park" and "Family Guy," there are lots of other cartoons that are perfect for those above the legal drinking age as well. With that in mind, here's a primer for those hoping to enter the ever-expanding world of grown-up cartoons.

Name: "Aqua Teen Hunger Force"
What's the deal: A milk shake, large fries, and ball of ground beef team up to fight crime and each other.
Why adults will like it: Because it's easily the weirdest 'toon on TV.
Why kids shouldn't watch: Besides the obvious health risks, the surrealistic humor might confuse them.
If you like this, you'll like: The similarly surreal "Sealab 2021."
On DVD?: Volumes 1-3 are out now.
When it's on: Monday through Thursday at midnight and 3 a.m. on Cartoon Network.

Name: "Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law"
What's the deal: The former cartoon superhero is now a lawyer, though not a very good one.
Why adults will like it: Because all of Harv's clients are Hanna Barbera cartoon characters.
Why kids shouldn't watch: Because they won't understand why Scooby and Shaggy were busted for possession.
If you like this, you'll like: "Space Ghost: Coast To Coast," in which another former superhero was also given a new job: late-night talk-show host.
On DVD?: Volume 1 is out April 12.
When it's on: New episodes begin June 12 on Cartoon Network.

Name: "Drawn Together"
What's the deal: It's a "Real World"-style reality show, but with cartoon characters.
Why adults will like it: Because when a video-game hero, a fairy princess and a Japanese battle monster stop being polite, they start getting real.
Why kids shouldn't watch: Because Foxxy Love is bad, and she's drawn that way.
If you like this you'll like: "Newlyweds," which is equally silly.
On DVD?: Nope.
When it's on: Thursdays at 10 p.m. and midnight on Comedy Central.

Name: "Invader Zim"
What's the deal: Deemed a pain in the butt, Zim is sent to Earth to do recon for an invasion, but it's actually to get rid of him.
Why adults will like it: Because its goth visuals are matched by its equally dark humor.
Why kids shouldn't watch: Because it might give them the wrong idea about aliens.
If you like this, you'll like: "Johnny The Homicidal Maniac" and "Squee," two graphic novels by Zim creator Jhonen Vasquez.
On DVD?: Volumes 1-3 are available now; a complete series collection is out April 12.
When it's on: It's not, unfortunately.

Name: "Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex"
What's the deal: The classic cyberpunk anime movie is now an equally cool TV show.
Why adults will like it: Because they loved the classic anime movie, its sequel and the graphic novel that inspired it all.
Why kids shouldn't watch: Because while Maj. Motoko Kusanagi doesn't get au naturel like she did in the movie, her fashion sense is still closer to Pam Anderson than Velma.
If you like this, you'll like: "Wolf's Rain," another futuristic anime on Cartoon Network.
On DVD?: Volumes 1-4 are out now, as are the movies.
When it's on: Thursdays at 1 a.m. and 4 a.m., and Saturdays at midnight and 3 a.m., on Cartoon Network.

Name: "Star Wars: Clone Wars"
What's the deal: Serving as a bridge between "Star Wars: Episode II" and the upcoming "Episode III," this chronicles the galactic civil war.
Why adults will like it: Because everyone wants to know what happened during the Clone Wars.
Why kids shouldn't watch: Oh, they can watch this. "Star Wars"-loving adults will just like it too.
If you like this, you'll like: "The Clone Wars" and "Clone Wars Adventures" graphic novels, and the "Clone Wars" and "Republic Commando" video games.
On DVD?: Volume 1 is out March 22.
When it's on: Season 2 begins March 21 on Cartoon Network.

Name: "Kid Notorious"
What's the deal: Famed movie producer and party animal Robert Evans is already a character; this just made him animated.
Why adults will like it: Because Evans is a Hollywood icon who isn't afraid to bite the hands that feed him.
Why kids shouldn't watch: Because Evan's playboy lifestyle isn't rated PG. Or PG-13.
If you like this, you'll like: "The Kid Stays In The Picture," a documentary about Evans' life narrated by the man himself.
On DVD?: Nope.
When it's on: Sundays and Wednesdays at 2:30 a.m. on Comedy Central.

Name: "The Batman"
What's the deal: It's the early adventures of the caped crusader.
Why adults will like it: Because unlike the silly movies and '60s TV show, this is a dark and arty take on Batman.
Why kids shouldn't watch: Older kids can take it, but young ones might get a bit spooked by the Dark Knight.
If you like this, you'll like: "Batman: The Animated Series" and the graphic novel "Batman: Year One" by Frank Miller.
On DVD?: "The Batman: Training For Power" is out May 24.
When it's on: Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. on The WB, and 9 p.m. Saturdays on Cartoon Network starting April 2.

Name: "Futurama"
What's the deal: After being cryogenically frozen for a thousand years, former delivery boy Philip J. Fry gets a new job -- as a delivery boy.
Why adults will like it: Created by "The Simpsons" mastermind Matt Groening, it has the same smart writing.
Why kids shouldn't watch: Because of all the gratuitous alien nudity.
If you like this, you'll like: "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," which is available as a book, a BBC miniseries on DVD, a radio show on CD, and soon a movie.
On DVD?: Volumes 1-4 are out now.
When it's on: Monday-Thursday at 11:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m., and Saturdays at 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., on Cartoon Network.

Name: "Duckman"
What's the deal: Though the office door says he's a private investigator, Duckman's actually a sexist, sex-obsessed, alcoholic dick (as in "detective," of course).
Why adults will like it: Because Duckman is like an alcoholic Hugh Hefner.
Why kids shouldn't watch: Because Duckman is like an alcoholic Hugh Hefner.
If you like this, you'll like: Bender on "Futurama," who's like a robotic Duckman.
On DVD?: Nope.
When it's on: Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays at 3:30 a.m. on Comedy Central.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Guys reveal: The worst turn-down I ever got was...
By Caitlin Ascolese

Rejection is never fun, is it? Comfort yourself with A) the harshly worded "thanks but no thanks" that some poor guys got, below, as gathered in a survey, and B) the knowledge that some of the women who dole out these turn-downs are, well, a little bit nuts. We asked Lillian Glass, Ph.D., communications expert and author of I Know What You're Thinking, to assess these women's excuses. And for once, guys, it might really be them and not you!

"I was told that I'm too neat. Neat?!" —Gary, 56, Toronto, ON

Dr. Glass:
"She probably has sloppy tendencies, and she's worried that he'll judge her."

"She told me it wasn't a good idea because she was anemic and was having her period." —Joe, 54, Justin, TX

Dr. Glass:
"Oh, God! I'm embarrassed just hearing that. That's too much information. She doesn't censor herself, so she could be a true embarrassment in front of other people."

"She didn't think her father and I would get along." —Curtis, 43, Jacksonville, FL

Dr. Glass:
"Daddy's girl! The rejection was a blessing in disguise. There would be too many family issues that would intrude on a relationship."

"One woman told me I was too intelligent for her. Sure." —Ray, 37, Raleigh, NC

Dr. Glass:
"Kissing only takes up half a percentage of the date time-wise, so you have to talk, and she seems either insecure or hostile. But let's note that no opinion is formed in a vacuum, and he probably said something that made her feel insecure about herself and brought out the worst in her."

"A woman told me she was probably going to be too tired the night I asked her out…but she told me this two days ahead of time." —Kevin, 41, Dallas, TX

Dr. Glass:
"Barring any medical difficulties, because a lot of people do have health issues, this is passive-aggressive and, really, pretty hostile."

"A girl I liked said she wouldn't date people born the same month she was." —Greg, 22, Wilmington, DE

Dr. Glass:
"If she was being truthful and is such a strong believer in astrology, it'd be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the relationship wouldn't work. So why even bother?"

"A girl said that her car broke down and gave me a big, long story about what was wrong. Only problem? I have a car and could have driven her. Plus, I'm a mechanic." —Wally, 20, Chicago, IL

Dr. Glass:
"Simply put, she may well be a liar and her car may not have been broken. When you talk too much—when you give too many details, too much information—you're lying."

"She told me she had to go buy the donuts for her Singles with STDs group. Point taken." —Greg, 32, San Diego, CA

Dr. Glass:
"That's evil! I mean, come on—she really wanted to keep him away. She's got a great sense of humor, but she's on a power trip and uses it as a weapon. The hair-washing excuse is like using a fly-swatter on a guy; this is like using an Uzi."

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Ten surprises of new fatherhood
By Armin A. Brott

At some point not long after the baby is born, just about every new father gets hit with a sharp jolt of reality: He's a dad -- with new responsibilities, new pressures, and new expectations to live up to.

This seemingly basic epiphany comes early for some of us, before we leave the hospital. For others, reality may not set in for a few days. Sooner or later, though, we all come to realize that our lives have changed forever. Sometimes the changes are subtle, sometimes not so subtle. But they're almost always surprising.

1. Confusion
Conflicting emotions set the first few months of fatherhood apart from the next few years. On the one hand is the sense of virility, power, and pride at having created a new life. On the other are the feelings of helplessness when you can't satisfy (or sometimes even understand) your baby's needs.

2. A new and different kind of love
There's no comparing the all-consuming love you have for your child with your love for any other person. Maurice Sendak captured the feeling in a scene from "Where the Wild Things Are" in which the monsters plead with Max not to leave them: "Please don't go," they say. "We'll eat you up we love you so."

3. Ambivalence
One day you look at your baby and realize that the intense passion you felt just the day before has been replaced by a numb, hollow feeling. Do you know this child? Do you care? You'll feel like bagging this whole dad thing and starting a new life somewhere else. Chances are the very next thing you'll feel is incredible guilt. After all, if you aren't head over heels in love with your child 100 percent of the time, you're not a good father, right? Wrong. Ambivalence is a normal part of being a dad, and you're going to have the same feeling dozens of times over the next 50 years. So get used to it.

4. Depression
Though most people think postpartum blues are a women's thing, plenty of guys get depressed after their babies are born. Unlike our partner's, our blues aren't hormonally based, but may have more to do with returning to reality. When you were an expectant and brand-new dad, people paid more attention to you and probably cut you a little slack. But after a few weeks you're back to the grind at work, plus you've got to deal with the bills, the sleep interruptions, and the extra laundry at home. That's enough to depress anyone.

5. Fear
The first few months of fatherhood are fraught with fears: that you won't be able to live up to your expectations of what it means to be a father, that you might not be able to protect your child or your family from harm, that you won't be able to adequately provide for your family, that you don't know what to do with your child, that you'll be too much -- or not enough -- like your own father, that you've made a horrible mistake. These fears and many others are a normal part of making the transition from man and husband to father.

6. Relationship with your partner
Before you became parents, you and your partner spent a lot of time together, nurturing each other and making your relationship stronger. But once a baby shows up, everything changes: Now the focus of just about everything you do is your baby. You barely have time to sleep, let alone do the things that brought you and your partner together in the first place. If at all possible, try to carve out some time, even if it's only a few minutes a day, to spend talking with your partner -- about something other than the baby.

7. Interacting with your baby
For the first six to eight weeks of life, your baby probably won't give you much feedback about how you're doing as a father: few smiles, no laughs, not much response at all. In fact, just about all he'll do is cry. It's easy to take his "opinions" a little too seriously, to interpret his lack of enthusiasm as some kind of referendum on your fitness as a dad. Don't. If you back off, your baby will too. So hang in there a little longer -- it'll be worth the wait.

8. Topics of conversation
If someone had told you a year ago that you'd willingly participate in long discussions with your friends about projectile vomiting, leaky breasts, episiotomies, and the color and consistency of the contents of a diaper, you'd have laughed yourself silly. But you're doing it, right? And you're loving it.

9. The logistics of parenting
Before you became a parent, getting ready to leave the house meant grabbing your wallet and car keys and making sure the oven was off. Now going on a trip to the grocery store with your baby in tow takes as much planning as an expedition to Mount Everest. And just when you think you've got everything under control, your baby fills her diaper as you're walking out the door.

10. Lessons in love
While you're learning to understand your baby's cues and meet his needs, he is gaining the physical coordination to express his love for you in the most amazing ways. The first time he coos at you or hugs you or falls asleep on your chest absentmindedly stroking your shoulder, you'll discover the true meaning of life.

Strange but fun dates
By Caitlin Ascolese

Weird Date Idea #1: Renaissance Fair
Why your date might freak: The question is, why a date wouldn't freak. "Having been raised by two Shakespeare professors, I screamed in horror when my boyfriend showed up with two tickets," admits Amy Kaye of Morristown, NJ. "'Only nerds do that!' I pleaded. But he said it would be fun and he'd heard good things about all the roast turkey drumsticks and the beer. I dug up a poufy shirt and joined him."

Why it'll end up fun: So it's not cool. Who cares? Seeing people dressed in armor, bustiers, and jester's suits will get you two laughing more than any swanky martini bar. "We weren't even laughing at the jugglers and people talking in fake English accents, we were genuinely having fun," Amy says. "We did have a great moment when, halfway through the day, my boyfriend kind of stared at the people around us in their leather armor and XL-sized bustiers. 'Wait a minute,' he said. 'Aren't these the people I make fun of?' I laughed and told him, 'Yep—and now we're them!'"

Weird Date Idea #2: Ethiopian Restaurant
Why your date might freak: Anyone who's seen the movie Along Came Polly has been duly warned: This cuisine—piles of spicy fare that you eat without silverware—is hardly for the faint of heart. "When I got my order I discovered that I really, truly hate Ethiopian food," says Matt Christensen of Queens, NY. "I stuffed myself on the spongy bread while she enjoyed her dinner."

Why it'll end up fun: You may go home hungry, but being adventurous is a helluva lot more memorable than grabbing your usual chow. "It was a relief to realize that my girlfriend didn't care whether I liked the same food as her, she was happy that I was there, trying something new," says Matt.

Weird Date #3: Tango Lessons
Why your date might freak: Dancing is many a guy's nightmare: "I haven't danced in public since I appeared in the musical Annie in grade school," recalls David Garfield of Rockville, MD. "So when my girlfriend asked me to take tango lessons as a birthday gift to her, I very reluctantly agreed."

Why it'll end up fun: Let's face it: Dancing, even badly, with someone you care about is an incredibly intimate experience. And trust us, you won't be the only one there with two left feet. "We showed up at the studio and I was expecting to feel like a total schlub, but it wound up to be a small group of beginners," says David. "Besides the low-key company, I found myself really getting into the music and remembering how fun it was back when I did think I had rhythm! I never made it onto a dance floor outside of that room, but it felt great to listen to cool music and know that I could dance... if I ever wanted to."

Weird Date #4: Performance Art
Why your date might freak: You never know what strange, bizarre spectacle you'll be subjected to or, for that matter, whether you'll be asked to participate. "My girlfriend and I were asked to squeeze ourselves into gigantic inflatable sumo wrestler bodysuits, which were then puffed up with air so we were like marshmallows," says Michael Truman of Seattle, WA. "Then they put us in a room to wrestle."

Why it'll end up fun: Granted, a lot of performance art may not make sense (people sitting on ice cubes, anyone?)…but you don't have to get it to have a great time and one way memorable date. "It was hilarious and surreal," says Michael. "And somehow, apparently, art."

Weird Date #5: Shooting Range
Why your date might freak: Suggest to a date that you'd like to fire a few rounds, and yes, it can set off their "psycho" alarm. "I was always deathly afraid of guns," says Michelle Fleece of Philadelphia, PA. And she is not alone.

Why it'll end up fun: Get past wondering whether your date digs violence in an unhealthy way, see this pursuit as a skill test aimed against paper targets, and you'll get quite the adrenaline boost. "Since I lived in a high-crime part of the city, I figured I could at least make myself less scared of them," says Michelle. "And when I did it, I felt quite powerful. We got to keep our shot-up targets to remember our somewhat strange, but ultimately very fun date. It felt good to take on the challenge of something I felt was forbidden and enjoy it."

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Which Movie Boss Do You Have?
By Laura Morsch

We go see movies to be entertained and get a temporary break from reality. Sometimes, though, the characters and situations on screen seem eerily familiar.

Maybe this is because we feel Oscar-worthy ourselves sometimes. According to a recent survey, 26 percent of workers feel like they are "acting" at work. No wonder "Office Space" and "Weekend at Bernie's" became cult classics.

Office Drama
Sometimes the 9-to-5 grind can seem pretty dramatic. A study of 1,333 workers found that almost 36 percent say if their workplace were a movie, it would be a drama – full of ups, downs and intricate storylines.

Interestingly, women find their workplaces more dramatic than men do – 43 percent of women characterized their jobs this way, compared with just 28 percent of men!

Some workers are able to find the lighter side of the workday. Twenty-seven percent of workers say their office's movie would be a comedy, and 19 percent categorized theirs as a heart-pumping action/adventure flick.

A less fortunate 7 percent say their job is like a horror movie, and about 6 percent called theirs a mystery. (The case of the missing stapler, perhaps?)

Every star needs a supporting actor – in this case, your boss. Of all the movie bosses out there, these 10 reminded workers most of their own head honchos:

1. Andrew Shepherd, "The American President."
Friendly, popular but can sometimes make things difficult.

2. Obi-Wan Kenobi, "Star Wars."
Wise, loyal and always there for guidance.

3. Bill Lumbergh, "Office Space."
Evil boss who loves tormenting employees and making them work weekends.

4. Coach Norman Dale, "Hoosiers."
Uses brash, unconventional tactics to motivate to success.

5. Franklin Hart, "9 to 5."
"Sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot."

6. Katherine Parker, "Working Girl."
Back-stabbing boss who steals your ideas and passes them off as her own.

7. Bernie Lomax, "Weekend at Bernie's."
A crook who's out to get rid of you.

8. Dr. Evil, "Austin Powers"
Has two obsessions: himself and total world domination.

9. Cruella De Vil, "101 Dalmatians"
Rich, powerful and so mean she'd kill puppies.

10. Gordon Gekko, "Wall Street"
Unfriendly workaholic who expects the same from you.

If you have a boss like these last few, you're not alone. Thirty-seven percent of workers plan to award themselves a new job before the 2006 Oscars!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Teasing and Bullying: No Laughing Matter
What you must know -- even if you don't think it affects your child.

By Diana Townsend-Butterworth

Take our pop quiz. Bullying can:

a. Include name-calling and spreading rumors, in addition to physical violence
b. Have long-lasting repercussions not only for victims, but also for bullies and even innocent bystanders
c. Begin as early as preschool
d. Be expressed differently by boys and girls
e. Cause victims to fear school or refuse to attend

The answer? You guessed it -- all of the above. Bullying can take many forms, but all of them can have consequences for your child's physical and mental health, as well as her success at school.

What Bullying Is
Unfortunately, teasing is often part of growing up -- almost every child experiences it. But it isn't always as innocuous as it seems. Words can cause pain. Teasing becomes bullying when it is repetitive or when there is a conscious intent to hurt another child, says Merle Froschl, Co-Director of Educational Equity Concepts, a non-profit organization that addresses issues of teasing and bullying. Bullying includes a range of behaviors, all of which result in an imbalance of power among children. It can be:

• Verbal: making threats, name-calling

• Psychological: excluding children, spreading rumors

• Physical: hitting, pushing, taking a child's possessions

Gender makes a difference: With girls, bullying is often subtle and indirect, says Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls. Instead of snatching a toy from another child, a young girl might say, "Give me that toy or I won't be your friend anymore." Older girls can be mean without saying a word: by telling other girls not to be friends with a particular girl, giving her the silent treatment, rolling their eyes in class, or making rude noises. Sometimes, says Simmons, girls make a hurtful remark and then pretend they didn't mean it by saying "just kidding."

Boys, on the other hand, tend to be more physical, says James Silvia, a teacher at St. Bernard's School in New York City who has taught children from fourth through seventh grades for 38 years. "Boys push each other or take someone's sneaker and put it in the garbage, but they don't hold grudges. One boy can do something really mean to another boy and then later the same day they will be pals again."

How Bullying Starts
Bullying behavior is prevalent throughout the world and it cuts across socio-economic, racial/ethnic and cultural lines. Researchers estimate that 20 to 30 percent of school-age children are involved in bullying incidents, as either perpetrators or victims. Bullying can begin as early as preschool and intensify during transitional stages, such as starting school in first grade or going into middle school, says Sharon Lynn Kagan, Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Children learn bullying behavior from older children, from adults, and from television, says Kagan. Sometimes unconsciously, parents may repeat things their own parents said to them: "Why are you always late? Why do you always lose everything? Why can't you act your age?" If children experience put-downs or physical punishment at home or in school, and if they see emotional and psychological abuse go unchallenged, they believe this behavior is acceptable. Bullies like to feel powerful and in control. They are insensitive to the feelings of others and defiant toward adults.

Victims are often shy and tend to be physically weaker than their peers. They may also have low self-esteem and poor social skills, which makes it hard for them to stand up for themselves. Bullies consider these children safe targets because they usually don't retaliate.

Effects of Bullying
If your child is the victim of a bully, he may suffer physically and emotionally, and his schoolwork will likely show it. Victims of bullying often have trouble concentrating, says Simmons. Grades drop because, instead of listening to the teacher, kids are wondering what they did wrong and whether anyone will sit with them at lunch. If bullying persists, they may be afraid to go to school. Problems with low self-esteem and depression, Simmons finds, can last into adulthood and interfere with personal and professional lives.

Bullies are affected, too, even into adulthood; they may have difficulty forming positive relationships. They are more apt to use tobacco and alcohol, and to be abusive spouses. Some studies have even found a correlation with later criminal activities.

Teasing and bullying create a classroom atmosphere that affects children's ability to learn and teachers' abilities to teach, says Merle Froschl. Even kids who aren't directly involved can be distressed. "Children who see bullying can be as traumatized as the victims because they fear becoming victims themselves. And they feel guilty for not doing something to help," according to James Garbarino, professor of human development at Cornell University, and author of Lost Boys and Words Can Hurt Forever.

Warning Signs
If you're concerned that your child is being teased or bullied, look for these signs of stress:

Increased passivity or withdrawal
Frequent crying
Recurrent complaints of physical symptoms such as stomach- or headaches with no apparent cause
Unexplained bruises
Sudden drop in grades, or other learning problems
Not wanting to go to school
Significant changes in social life -- suddenly no one is calling or extending invitations
Sudden change in the way your child talks -- calling herself a loser, or a former friend a jerk

How to Help
First, give your child space to talk.
If she recounts incidences of teasing or bullying, be empathetic. Gene Gardino, director of counseling services and life skills at The Chapin School in New York City, suggests saying, "I'm so sorry. That must be really painful." Then place the ball gently back in your child's court, asking, "What do you think might help? What works with your friends?" If your child has trouble verbalizing her feelings, Froschl suggests reading a story about children being teased or bullied. You can also use puppets, dolls or stuffed animals to encourage a young child to act out problems.

Once you've opened the door, help your child begin to problem-solve. Role-play situations and teach your child ways to respond effectively (see below), advises Vicki DeLuca, mother of three and a graduate student at Fairfield University doing research on bullying.

You might also need to help your child find a way to move on, says Gardino, by encouraging her to reach out and make new friends. She might join teams and school clubs to widen her circle.

At home and on the playground:
Adults need to intervene to help children resolve bullying issues, but calling another parent directly can be tricky unless he or she is a close friend. It is easy to find yourself in a "he said/she said" argument. Try to find a intermediary: Even if the bullying occurs outside of school, a teacher, counselor, coach or after-school program director may be able to help mediate a productive discussion.

If you do find yourself talking directly to the other parent, try to do it in person rather than over the phone. Don't begin with an angry recounting of the other child's offenses. Set the stage for a collaborative approach by suggesting going to the playground, or walking the children to school together, to observe interactions and jointly express disapproval for any unacceptable behavior. In general, promote acceptable behavior with these strategies:

Model the behavior you expect from your child. Avoid making jokes that stereotype or ridicule people.

Make sure playdates and after-school activities are supervised. Most bullying happens when adults aren't around.

Intervene immediately when you see inappropriate behavior. If adults are aware of bullying and don't say or do anything, children may see this as an endorsement of the behavior.

Teach your child to be assertive and to make eye contact. Arm him with "I" messages: "When you push me, I feel annoyed. Please stop."

At school
Many schools (sometimes as part of a statewide effort) have programs especially designed to raise awareness of bullying behavior and to help parents and teachers deal effectively with it. Check with your local school district to see if it has such a program.

Even if it doesn't, a close partnership between parents and teachers is an effective frontline defense against bullying. When Silvia sees a child bullying other children, he makes it clear that the behavior is unacceptable and brings the parents and the child (usually the bully, but occasionally others who are affected as well) in for a talk. Gardino finds that schools and parents can work effectively behind the scenes to help a child meet and make new friends via study groups or science-lab partnerships. If you are concerned about your child:

Share with the teacher what your child has told you; describe any teasing or bullying you may have witnessed.

Ask the teacher if she sees similar behavior at school and enlist her help in finding ways to solve the problem.

If she hasn't seen any instances of teasing, ask that she keep an eye out for the behavior you described.

If the teacher says your child is being teased, find out whether there are any things he may be doing in class to attract teasing. Ask how he responds to the teasing and discuss helping him develop a more effective response.

After the initial conversation, be sure to make a follow-up appointment to discuss how things are going.

If the problem persists, or the teacher ignores your concerns, and your child starts to withdraw or not want to go to school, consider the possibility of "therapeutic intervention." Ask to meet with the school counselor or psychologist, or request a referral to the appropriate school professional.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Judge gives homework lawsuit a big fat 'F'
How much, when work is due left up to school board

MILWAUKEE - A judge threw out a high school student's lawsuit against mandatory summer homework, saying he and his father should have done a little more studying themselves before bringing the case.

Students in the Whitnall High School math course — honors pre-calculus — were supposed to do three assignments by certain dates over the summer. Peer Larson, 17, and his father, Bruce, had filed suit in Circuit Court, arguing that homework should not be required after the 180-day academic year is over.

The Larsons argued it was difficult for the boy to do the assignments because he had a summer job as a camp counselor. They also said students should be able to enjoy their summers free of homework.

But it's up to school boards to decide such things, Judge Richard J. Sankovitz ruled Tuesday.

"Had the Larsons done a bit more homework," he wrote, they would had learned that "the people of our state granted to the Legislature ... the power to establish school boards."

Bruce Larson said he had not immediately decided whether to appeal. He said the judge ignored a key issue — whether it was reasonable for a school to spring "three lengthy assignments" on students just before summer vacation began.

Dog subpoenaed as witness in murder case
Suspect wrote his pooch a letter from prison, prosecutors say

The Associated Press

BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Prosecutors hoping for a witness in a murder case to roll over were barking up the wrong tree.

They sent out a batch of subpoenas for anyone who had contact with Albert K. Smith while he was jailed awaiting his murder trial. One of those subpoenas went out to 5-year-old Murphy Smith — Smith's dog, it turned out.

The defendant had written his dog a letter from his cell, and that is how the shih tzu’s name got on the witness list.

Prosecutors realized the mistake on Tuesday after the defendant's brother brought in Murphy to answer the subpoena and a deputy would not let them into the courthouse because no dogs were allowed.

Prosecutor Robin Green said she apologized to the brother for any inconvenience, and added: "The dog was friendly enough and probably would have been a very cooperative witness."

Albert Smith is accused of shooting to death his ex-wife's boyfriend.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Surfers Ride Giant Board Into Record Books

CANBERRA, Australia - More than 40 surfers cruised into the record books Saturday when they successfully rode a giant surfboard off an Australian beach, breaking the previous world record set by an English team of 14 people in 2003.

More than 5,000 people gathered Saturday to watch riders conquer the 40-foot-long, 10-foot-wide board, newspapers reported. The board, created by board shaper Nev Hyman, arrived by semitrailer. More than 20 people carried it to the surf.

The riders at the Queensland state tourist city, Gold Coast, where the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro surf competitions were held, included pro surfers Chris Ward of California and Australian champion Danny Wills.

Newspaper reports of how many riders took part ranged from 44 to 47.

Hyman said the four-minute ride to shore was worth the monthlong effort to build the board.

"It was the best four minutes of my surfing life. It went in strong and straight," Hyman told Queensland's The Sunday Mail newspaper.

The board that set the 2003 record was 36 feet long.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Cat survives 10-mile trip on top of car
Motorist alerts owner of 'Cuddle Bug's' precarious position

The Associated Press

INKOM, Idaho - Torri Hutchinson's cat might just have one less life to live. Hutchison was driving along Interstate 15 one day recently when a motorist kept trying to get her attention and pointing to the roof of her car.

She said she was wary of the man, but wondered if perhaps her ski rack might have come loose.

She pulled over to the side, but kept her doors locked and the motor running.

The man pulled up behind her. Hutchinson rolled down her window to hear the man frantically shouting, "Your cat! Your cat!"

He reached for the roof of her car and handed the shocked Hutchinson her orange tabby.

She had driven about 10 miles with the cat on top of the car, and didn't even notice the feline when she stopped for gas.

Hutchinson said Cuddle Bug, or C.B. for short, had climbed into the back of her car as she was getting ready to leave. She put him out, but he must have jumped on the roof while she wasn't looking, she said.