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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Report: ‘Baby Jessica’ weds at 19
As an infant, she was rescued from abandoned well

A rescue worker carries 18-month-old Jessica McClure in this
Oct. 16, 1987 file photo, shortly after she was rescued from
an abandoned water well in Midland,Texas.

MIDLAND, Texas - “Baby Jessica,” whose dramatic rescue from an abandoned Texas well was televised across the country 18 years ago, got married in a private ceremony, People magazine reported on its Web site.

Crews struggled for 58 hours to rescue Jessica McClure after she fell into an 8-inch-wide pipe in October 1987.

The celebrity magazine reported that McClure, now 19, married Daniel Morales, 32, at a rural church outside Midland on Saturday. A sign on the door instructed guests not to take pictures or video, the magazine said.

The two met at a day-care center where Morales’ sister worked with McClure, according to the magazine.

The case of 18-month-old Jessica created a nationwide sensation. Emergency crews rescued her — a dramatic moment covered on live television — after digging a parallel shaft and then breaking through the wall of the well.

Monday, January 30, 2006

College Urban Legends: Lies Students Love to Tell
by Ysolt Usigan, The CollegeBound Network

One of my friends, a college junior, got a perfect 4.0 GPA last semester. How did she accomplish this while skipping classes and generally slacking off? You see, when her roommate suddenly passed away, her school raised her GPA to compensate for the stress and grief my friend must have been feeling.
Get More College Information

Research colleges and universities by state and region.The same thing happened to my cousin's boyfriend's big brother. Only, his roommate was killed in some freak accident.

I bet you've heard a similar story. So it must be a common policy among colleges to give 4.0 GPAs to bereaved roommates.

Not quite. I made the whole thing up!

Grade expectations
I'm not the only one who has concocted this GPA award tale. This college urban legend has been told on campuses time and time again. The only parts of the story that change are who it's happened to and the roommate's cause of death. But don't get any ideas, coeds: Although many schools will offer bereavement consideration, no university in the United States has a policy that awards a 4.0 GPA to a student whose roommate dies.

This is just one example of the kinds of urban legends that make their way through most college campuses. Here are some others:

Keep the lights on
I know you've heard this one before--so many times that you're not even spooked by it anymore. It goes something like this: A female college student who's been studying at the library (or hanging out with friends, whatever) returns to her dorm room late one night. She assumes her roommate is sleeping, doesn't want to wake her, so goes to bed without turning on the lights. She wakes up the following morning to discover the murdered corpse of her roomie, and a message on the mirror that reads, "Aren't you glad you didn't turn on the light?"

Creeptastic! However, this story has never been proven true, so there's no reason to be scared to live on campus. Perhaps a group of resident advisors started the rumor in order to keep their advisees from inviting strangers back to their rooms.

Outsmarted by the prof
Speaking of scare tactics, did you hear the one about the two college students who lied to get out of a test? They went skiing for the weekend and didn't study for their Monday exam. Upon their return, they told their calculus professor they got a flat tire on their way to the exam and requested a retake.

The professor adheres to their request. During the rescheduled exam, each student is placed in a separate room to take the test. The questions on the first page, worth 10 percent, were quite easy--especially after having the extra time to study. After answering, each student becomes confident about acing the exam. But when they turn to the second page, they discover that 90 percent of their grade rests on one last question: "Which tire?"

Whether the story can be verified as fact or fib, I bet some students now think twice before they come up with a lie to get an exam retake.

A Halloween massacre?
There are several versions of the Halloween massacre tale on school grounds. Typically, the urban legend has it that a psychic predicts on a TV show that a serial killer will strike on a college campus on October 31. Supposedly, the madman will kill dozens, maybe hundreds.

Some say the psychic appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, while others claim she was on the Late Show with David Letterman. Some have even theorized that the killer will wear that creepy mask from the Scream movies. Some even jazz the costume up by saying the killer will be dressed entirely as Little Bo Peep.

The story has run especially rampant at Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Wisconsin, specifically because some smart aleck has added an embellishment that the mass murderer will hit a campus that starts with the letter M or W.

But guess what? No Halloween slayings on any campus grounds have ever been reported.

Some urban legends may have been created to scare students into making better choices, while others were concocted as a result of student concerns. Of course, some tales exist merely for your amusement. No matter the origin, be skeptical. True stories come with hard evidence--not "so-and-so's best friend's sister told me so."
Tall tales heard around campus
College myths specific to individual campuses are so prevalent that some schools have devised Web sites and bulletins dispelling the urban legends that students may have heard.

For instance, at the University of Cincinnati, students were led to believe that James Gamble Nippert, a football player who died immediately after sustaining an injury in a game, is buried beneath his memorial at Nipper Stadium. They also believed stories that one of the buildings on campus has hallways and stairs leading to nowhere, the school's library was designed without taking into account the weight of all the books and is sinking as a result, and that the statue of William Howard Taft on campus was made more portly per the Taft family's request.

All such claims are false. The school has since created a Web page disproving these stories, among a few others.

Other school-specific fibs:

A tower at the University of Texas in Austin supposedly resembles an owl at night. Rumor has it that the building was designed by a graduate of Rice University in Houston, whose mascot is an owl. The truth is, the tower, as well as 18 other university buildings, were designed by the architect who created the campus' master plan in the 1930s, and he had no owl agenda whatsoever.

Supposedly, there's a magical spot on campus at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia. Legend has it that if two people kiss under a gazebo near the lake uniting the two sides of campus, they will eventually marry. The only way to break the charm (or curse, depending on your views on commitment) is to jump into the lake. Several students have kissed at the gazebo and wondered if their fates have been forever changed. Incidentally, quite a few have also jumped into the lake to save their souls from marriage.

The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and the University of Maryland in College Park have something in common. Stories suggest that if a virgin walks by a particular statue on campus, that statue will react in some way. At the University of North Carolina, they say Silent Sam, a memorial of a UNC alumnus who died fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War, will shoot his rifle. At the University of Tennessee, the statue of The Torchbearer's flame will go out. And at the University of Maryland, a statue of the school's mascot, a diamondback terrapin (a kind of turtle) named Testudo, will sprout wings and fly away. There's one more: At the University of Missouri in Columbia, the University of Michigan in Dearborn, and the University of Cincinnati, pairs of stone lions will roar when a virgin walks between them.

Scorpion Lives 15 Months in Plaster
By The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ A scorpion lived for 15 months without food or water inside the plaster mold of a dinosaur fossil, breaking free only when a scientist broke open the mold.
Don DeBlieux, a paleontologist for the Utah Geological Survey, said he was sawing open the plaster mold when the scorpion wriggled from a crack in a sandstone block.

DeBlieux is still chipping away at the 1,000-pound rock to expose the horned skull of an 80-million-year-old plant eater _ a species of dinosaur he says is new to science.

The scorpion ``must have been hanging out in a crack the day we plastered him,'' DeBlieux said Thursday.

He discovered the two-inch critter on Jan. 5 after spending two months carefully removing the plaster mold. DeBlieux said he'll spend more than 500 hours cutting the fossilized skull out of sandstone using tiny pneumatic jackhammers.

It took three and a half years to cut the sandstone block in the field, where researchers encased it with plaster. They moved it by helicopter from the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument to a laboratory in Salt Lake City.

Scorpions, which eat insects, are capable of surviving for months without feeding or moving in a sleep period known as diapause, said Richard Baumann, a Brigham Young University zoologist.

Under other circumstances, the scorpion might have met an untimely end, but DeBlieux said he wanted respected the creature's will to survive. He set the scorpion free in a field on the west side of Salt Lake City.

Monkey cops keep the peace among groups
When 'law enforcement' removed, monkey society becomes divisive

By Bjorn Carey

This adult male pigtailed macaque was photographed in Thailand.
Monkey police usually settle conflicts peacefully, but can dish out a whooping, if need be.

New research reveals that monkey cops help keep social groups in line.

Not having guns or nightsticks, they leverage their group seniority, craft intimidating reputations and count on good voter turnout.

Take the primate police out of a group, as researchers did, and the rest get more violent and aggressive. Interaction between cliques drops significantly.

"It's not just that violence goes up, but a whole range of behavior involving a whole range of individuals suddenly disappears," said David Krakauer of the Santa Fe Institute. "It's like saying you take police out of human society, and all of a sudden people stop going to the opera, or something more important."

The study, detailed in today's issue of the journal Nature, also uncovered a complex monkey "voting" system for appointing the peacekeepers.

Peacekeepers 'appointed'
Pigtailed macaque monkeys, Macaca nemestrina, don't just pull into town like Wyatt Earp or Dirty Harry and take over. They have to be "appointed" to the position.

Instead of a paper ballot, inferior monkeys bare their teeth to a more dominant member of the group.

"It's like they're saying, ‘You don't have to beat me up to establish your dominance, I'm simply telling you that you are,'" Krakauer told LiveScience.

When an individual receives these voting signals from most of the group, it shows he is well respected — or feared — and he becomes the new sheriff in town.

In general, the larger and more senior monkeys are voted into the policing role.

But having a gang to back you up counts for something, too. A single Schwarzenegger-like monkey may not receive as many "votes" from the group as a smaller individual with several brothers.

On the job
Once elected, police monkeys earn certain rights and responsibilities, one of which is to peacefully settles conflicts. They usually do this by stepping between combatants or chasing bad monkeys away. Very rarely do they need to dish out a whooping, but their actions are always respected by the group.

When Krakauer and his colleagues removed the police force — which in this case consisted of three males, but can also include females — they saw a drastic change in a once peaceful, interactive society.

The creatures split into cliques, mostly based on tight family relationships or friendships, and then interacted about as well as high school jocks and band geeks.

"The policers are indirectly providing the security needed for complex forms of social interaction to take place," Krakauer said. "The monkeys are afraid of approaching each other if the policers are not there to resolve a potential conflict."

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Friendship Breakups
By Sara Eckel

We all understand the joys of great women friends. They counsel us through our darkest moments, applaud us during our greatest triumphs, and provide lots of light and laughter during the times between. In fact, friends are so beneficial, they actually make us healthier. Marla Paul, author of The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You're Not a Kid Anymore (Rodale, 2004), says that women with strong networks of friends have bolder immune systems, get fewer colds, and are less likely to get cancer. "You really need pals. The rewards are both physical and emotional," she says.

But what happens when a friendship isn't so rewarding? When instead of leaving you excited and energized, your bud makes you feel anxious and drained? Should you call it quits?

When we're kids, the more friends we had the better. After all, there can never be enough birthday parties when you're 7. Even in our 20s, a huge gaggle of gal pals can make life fun and exciting.

But as we grow older, our needs often change. "A lot of women juggle work, family, caring for elderly parents, and then try to squeeze in a visit to the gym. They can't afford to have as many friends, and feel very stressed and guilty when they don't have time to nurture the women in their life," says Paul, who also writes a column on women's friendship for the Chicago Tribune.

So how do you know how many friends are right for you? "There isn't a magic number," says Paul. "People have different social appetites. Some people are happy with one or two close friends and some like a whole flock."

Worth Keeping

But there are some signals that you have too many social contacts. If your social calendar is so jam-packed that you barely see your close friends and family, you might want to consider pruning your list. If meeting an acquaintance for a glass of wine feels like an obligation then you're probably overextending yourself.

Of course, not all friendships end because we're too busy. Sometimes it's a natural extension of other changes in our lives. The new mom and single woman can't bridge their now very different lifestyles. The former officemates discover that their only commonality was their shared outrage at their boss' buffoonery. "Our lives are so much less stable than they used to be," says Paul. "We have babies at wildly different ages. We move around a lot more. We get divorced. All these things shake up a friendship, and often fracture them."

Many women report ending friendships due to a profound disappointment -- their pal disappeared during a time of crisis or became jealous and resentful during a time of celebration. These rifts occur for men as well as women, says Judith Sills, PhD, a psychologist and author of The Comfort Trap (Viking, 2004). "I do know men who will say there is a problem between us, let's talk about it, but women are usually more comfortable with that," she says.

How do you decide if a friendship is worth saving? Sills says you need to ask yourself how you feel when you're around your pal. "When you find yourself in chronic pain from the friendship -- if there's an ongoing feeling of being used, pressured, or just bad about yourself. Or, if there is an absence of pleasure, where you think 'I'm just going through the motions here. We haven't had a good time in years,'" she says.

Break Up or Fade Out

Okay, so you've decided to call it quits. Should you announce this formally or just let it fade out?

Most women opt for the latter. "There are some instances where someone had been so hurt that they e-mailed a letter explaining why the friendship was ending, but usually it's like a slow drift. You don't put in the time, don't return the phone call, etc.," says Paul.

That's not always so bad, since it keeps the door open. "Unlike romantic relationships or jobs, friends are elastic -- what doesn't work now might work somewhere down the line," says Sills.

While allowing a friendship to peter out might be easier, there's actually a lot to be gained from addressing the issue head-on. Paul recalls one new mom who told her clueless single pal that she was ending the friendship because she wasn't respecting the profound changes in her life. "But once the single friend understood what was happening, she made some adjustments in her behavior," says Paul.

By talking about the problem, you also may be able to redefine the friendship in a way that suits your changing lives. Says Paul, "There's something very precious about someone who knew you in kindergarten. Even if you don't have a lot in common anymore, you can still see her once a year. It doesn't have to be all or nothing."

Teen Mood Swings
Jan Faull, M. Ed, answers a parent's question about a teen son's extreme mood swings.

By Jan Faull, M. Ed.

Q. My son is like Jekyll and Hyde. One minute he is hugging me goodbye before school. The next minute he is saying hurtful things -- for example, about his dad's forgetfulness or my weight or his sister's singing. When I try to talk to him about it, he always says the same thing. "I was just joking." Is this critical behavior normal for a 14-year-old? And how should I address the hurtful "joking"?

Unfortunately for parents of young teens their behavior is characteristic of what you describe as the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality. As you depict your teen, other parents would do the same. One minute a teen is kind and loving to family members, the next, critical and hurtful. One day controlled and thoughtful, the next ranting and raving because someone drank one of their colas. They're on an emotional roller coaster, in the morning a teen might be ecstatic and gleeful, after school sad, angry, annoyed or fiercely disappointed for not being included to hang out at the mall on Saturday with a group of friends. Typically, then, they retreat to their bedrooms, turn introspective analyzing themselves and others and this includes parents and siblings.

With respect to your son's inclination to poke fun at you, his father and sister, explain to him once that he might be having fun as he jokes about his Dad's forgetfulness, your weight or his sister's singing, but the three of you are not enjoying his mean-spirited teasing. He needs to hear from you that a joke is only a joke if both people are enjoying it.

You only explain the situation once because he's smart enough to understand what you're saying but his teenage mentality prevents him from voicing understanding, agreeing with you or apologizing. Just explain why he's not funny, that's what he's doing is hurtful and don't bring it up again.

Now that he's heard the truth of the situation from you, realize that it probably won't be enough to change his behavior. You, Dad and Sister need to take one step more. When he starts into a critical joking repartee, his victim needs to say, "That's hurtful. You're not funny. I'm leaving the room," and then do so. The other option is for each of you to completely ignore this hurtful joking. When you ignore him, do so by not looking at him when he starts up, look the other way, keep busy with what you're doing. In time this annoying critical habit it will drop out of sight.

Lastly, understand that teens are typically critical of parents. Teenagers' developmental task is to define who they are separate from their parents. To determine their own uniqueness, they go about analyzing how they differ from you. It's not always fun being the parent of a teen, particularly when it requires being attacked on a personal level. When it gets to be too much, take a few deep breaths and do some loving self-talk, "I'm fine, this difficult period will pass."

How to Help Your Teen Find His Bliss
Jan Faull, MEd, on how parents can help teens get excited about -- and take charge of -- their futures.

By Jan Faull, MEd

Q. My teenage son seems to be completely unmotivated and uninterested in his future. What can I do?

A. Teens go through a period of redefinition. They leave their childhood self behind and individuate, which is nothing more than developing a new young adult identity separate from their parents. Your teen may very well be developing a plan for his future, but he may just not be sharing it with you. It may be a tough time for you, but even tougher for him.

Steps for Parents

Back him up.
The most you can do right now is exude confidence that your son has everything he needs to succeed in life, if not in school, and that you believe in him. Right now he's in a crisis period, or possibly a period of rest where he's waiting to figure out a direction, a plan, or a place to focus on for his future.

You can also communicate to him that you will support him with any positive avenue he pursues. If he makes a stab at a plan, don't criticize, judge, or evaluate it. He's doing enough of that himself. He just needs you to show interest.

Encourage passions. Every child has an affinity for something. If a child can pursue that affinity, he'll be eager to seek it out. Consider these kids:
One child loved sports, basketball in particular, but wasn't tall enough to play beyond junior high school. After many attempts at different career courses, he ended up being a sports editor at a major newspaper.
A girl with a flair for organizing parties and high school events found her niche in event organization at a convention center.
Another young man who as a child loved ancient ruins now studies archeology.
Just listen. Whatever you do, don't bug your child with questions about his future. He's young and still in high school. Many kids take a variety of routes before settling into a career plan. He may start at one place and end up at a far different one.

One young man tried his hand at comedy with some success. He actually performed at a few clubs in New York City on amateur nights. His routine was well received. Despite his affinity and talent for comedy, his parents told him that such a career would not be acceptable. His parents saw him as a diplomat, not as a comedian. He ended up flunking out of college and moving far away, out of communication with his parents. They do not know where he is or what he's doing today. This is situation you don't want to repeat.

The fact that your son is in a moratorium right now doesn't mean he'll always be there, unless he's depressed or has determined that what he'd really love doing is not worthy. If he's willing, encourage him to seek career counseling. He only needs an acceptable place to land after high school. He does not need his future perfectly mapped out.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Coroner Theorizes on Chris Penn's Death
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Investigators suspect actor Chris Penn's death was the result of natural causes or an accident because he had a prior illness and had taken drugs in the past, a coroner's spokesman said Thursday.

The 40-year-old actor was found dead in his Santa Monica condominium on Tuesday.

Penn had suffered from an illness and used multiple drugs in the past, said David Smith, a Los Angeles County coroner's spokesman. He declined to release details of the illness or say if the drugs were prescribed.

Medical examiners performed an autopsy Wednesday but won't know what caused Penn's death until toxicology tests are completed in about six weeks.

Penn was the younger brother of Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn and musician Michael Penn. He appeared in numerous films, including "Reservoir Dogs," "Starsky & Hutch," "Rush Hour" and "Corky Romano."

A woman’s hunch exposes child abuse
Chance encounter at a convenience store results in two arrests

ATLANTA - It was a gut feeling Tracie Dean couldn't shake. At a rural Alabama convenience store 11 days ago, Dean had a chance encounter with a seemingly troubled little girl.

“I bet you that no one has ever spoken that kindly to that little girl, because she just ate it up,” Dean says. “And I think she just really decided I'm going home with her.”

Dean says the girl tried to follow her out of the store, but then an older man stepped up. Dean felt uneasy enough to scribble down the license plate as the two pulled away.

“My suspicion was that she didn't belong with that man,” Dean says.

So, Dean called 911. Police told her everything checked out — it was the girl's grandfather. So she returned home to Atlanta, but for some reason, she couldn't let it go.

“Every morning I woke up and thought about it. Every night I went to bed and thought about it,” she recalls. “And I just told my sister, ‘When my heart says to let this go, I'll let it go.’”

For a week she checked missing-kids Web sites, called several law enforcement agencies and even contacted the television show “America's Most Wanted.” She says no one took her seriously.

Obsessed, she drove for hours back to that convenience store to look at surveillance tape — and there they were, the man and the child, on another trip to the same store. Just then, an officer came in the store, took the tape and used it to find the man.

It turns out there was a reason for suspicion.

“Mr. Wiley initially and still is wanted in California for arson,” says Tracy Hawsey, the sheriff of Conecuh County, Ala.

John Wiley and his 40-year-old wife, Glenna Faye Cavender, were arrested and charged with multiple sex crimes against the 3-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy found in a trailer.

“A 3-year-old girl to have this done to her is unthinkable, and we're not going to tolerate it,” says Tommy Chapman, the district attorney for Conecuh County.

Tracie Dean's not a mother, but says she has the instincts of one.

“I just followed my heart,” she says. “That's the bottom line.”

And her hunch saved two children.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Top 10 Reasons They Don't Like You at Work
By Kate Lorenz, Editor

When you walk into the breakroom, do the lively conversations stop? Do the groups quickly disband as everyone scrambles to head back to their offices? Do you think to yourself, "Was everybody's break really over or were they just trying to avoid me?"

If any of the following situations describe you, these might be the reason you feel left out:

1. "The sky isn't really blue -- it's actually cyan"
Do you incessantly spout unnecessary or obscure information that would make Cliff Clavin from the TV show "Cheers" jealous? Lose the "know-it-all" attitude or you'll make a career of lunching alone.

2. Chains of Love
Are you never around because you're always out on a "smoking break?" Limit your puffs to standard break times.

3. Workaholic Wannabe
Do you mosey in late, take extra long lunches, and don't really start to roll-up your sleeves and dig into some serious work until about 2 p.m.? Then, do you make sure everyone sees you working past 5 p.m.? Well you're not impressing anyone; rather you're annoying those who already have put in a full day before you even get warmed up.

4. People Magazine Office Edition
You're very good at filing away information about everyone in the office! If you want to keep friends, learn to keep a secret.

5. Devil's Advocate
Do you feel compelled to take the other side of every argument just to make a point? Well stop it! Nothing is more exhausting for your co-workers than knowing you're always ready to challenge them no matter what they say.

6. Yadda-yadda-yadda
Do you barge into cube after cube forcing one-way conversations on your innocent victims? If the only response you receive is, "Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh," then they're not interested in your blather. Now get back to work!

7. You gotta see the ba-a-aby!
Related to the yadda-yadda-yadda talker is the baby babbler who incessantly gushes about her children. Only family and close friends should be privy to details about every syllable uttered, step taken or diaper dirtied. It's wonderful that you love your baby, but just don't make it your only topic of conversation.

8. Mr. Un-Clean
Leaving dishes in the sink, old food in the fridge, food splattered inside the microwave and crumbs on the break table is a sure-fire way to annoy fellow workers. Clean up your act.

9. What's that on your nose?
Do you constantly follow your boss around, laugh at all her jokes and drop her name in countless conversations? If so, then you are a suck-up. Working in an office does require a certain amount of "schmoozing" the boss, but you don't have to tie yourself up in a pretzel to impress her while alienating everyone else in the office.

10. Big Mouth
Are your phone conversations loud enough to be from the speakerphone even though they're not? Dial down the volume to keep the peace.

If you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios, be warned: It's time to change your ways. Of course you can never please everyone, but healthy work relationships are necessary to properly perform your duties and for future advancement in the company. So get rid of some of your annoying habits and you're sure to gain some new friends.

Should You Be a Teacher?
By Kate Lorenz,

Had it with corporate America? Don't know what to do with your job expertise? Consider teaching!

Teaching is not reserved solely for those who have a degree in education. In recent years, many states have developed alternative certification programs that allow participants to earn while they learn.

Emily Feistritzer, president of the National Center for Alternative Certification, says that while alternative certification program requirements vary, all require at least a bachelor's degree and a certain amount of work experience.

"Most programs take one to two years, though a few take less than a year. In about one-quarter of the programs, participants will have earned a master's degree upon completion. Feistritzer also notes that nearly 40 percent of the certification programs don't require that you take any college-based education classes. Many provide an on-site mentor to show new teachers the ropes.

But is alternative certification the best route to follow if you want to change your career to teaching? According to Feistritzer, it is. She says that now about one-third of all new teachers in the United States enter the education field through alternative certification programs.

"People who follow alternative certification routes are almost guaranteed a job," Feistritzer says. She notes that generally alternative certification programs offer on-the-job training that allows candidates to work full time with salary and benefits while they obtain their certification.

Consider Jim, who had a background in the automotive field and was head of procurement for a major car rental company. He took advantage of his company's tuition reimbursement program to take evening classes toward his master's degree. When his company changed ownership, Jim used his interest in cars and recent post-grad classes to land a dream job teaching high school auto mechanics. Jim received a provisional certificate based on his years of experience and has since completed his master's degree. Next year, he'll be a tenured faculty member!

Most of the positions that accept alternative certificates are in middle school and high school -- the levels where there is the greatest demand for teachers. According to the National Center for Alternative Certification's Web site,, the biggest states also have the biggest demand for teachers.

California, New Jersey and Texas have been developing and aggressively utilizing alternative routes for licensing teachers since the mid-1980s. Approximately 18 percent of new hires in California enter teaching through the state's alternative methods. In Texas, 24 percent of its new hires come through the state's 52 alternate programs, and in New Jersey, 24 percent of new teachers enter the profession through the state's alternative route.

To find out which states offer alternative certification programs and details about each program, visit You can search by state, subject area and grade level to find out what and where programs are available.

There are several factors to consider before you leap from the corporate world to the classroom:

Besides cultural differences, salary is often the biggest consideration. Don't expect to earn the same amount that you're making in management at a Fortune 500 company. While salaries vary by district and geography, Feistritzer says a person can expect to start at a first-year teacher's salary of $35,000 to $45,000 per year, plus additional compensation for your experience and education level. But with teaching, there's a real perk -- a 9.5-month work year and a 7.5 hour day. "Having summers off and more time in the evenings for family, can be a real positive. The equivalent per-hour rate is a lot closer than most people think," Feistritzer adds.

If you're not quite sure you're ready to totally immerse yourself in teaching, consider substitute teaching or teaching part-time to test the waters. Many colleges hire business experts who have non-teaching degrees as adjunct faculty in their specialties.

Teaching at the university level can also offer the flexibility of a well-paying part-time job. Lois, a mother of three who worked as a records management supervisor for a major hospital, decided that her full-time job was too much with three little ones at home. She learned about an opportunity to teach hospital records management at a major university. She now works three days a week as an assistant administrative professor.

Cause of Actor Chris Penn's Death Unknown
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- The cause of actor Chris Penn's death remained undetermined despite an autopsy performed Wednesday just hours before the premiere of his latest film at the Sundance Film Festival.

Toxicology tests were ordered on the actor, who was found dead in his Santa Monica condominium Tuesday.

"It's just normal procedure for someone who's 40 and has not seen their doctor," said Los Angeles County coroner's spokeswoman Brenda Shafer.

In a coincidence, Penn's latest film, "The Darwin Awards," premiered later in the day at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

"He gave an incredible performance in the film," writer-director Finn Taylor said before the screening. "I think he is going to be remembered for years to come and we will miss him."

The cast of the movie — a twisted comedy about accidental death — also includes Winona Ryder, Joseph Fiennes, David Arquette and Juliette Lewis.

Ryder talked about Penn during a question-and-answer session with the Sundance audience after the film's premiere.

"I really hope people go back and watch his movies, because he was such a fantastic actor, and he is going to be so missed," Ryder said. "Not just Sean Penn's little brother, you know? He was Chris Penn."

Penn was the younger brother of Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn and musician Michael Penn. He appeared in numerous films, including "Reservoir Dogs," "Starsky & Hutch," "Rush Hour" and "Corky Romano."

"Corky" star Chris Kattan described Penn's death as "a huge shock."

"He was an amazing actor and a great comedian," Kattan said. "He was such a sweet soul and so funny. He had a really great innocence in his eyes. Of course he'll be terribly missed."

9 ways to look rich but live cheap
Rise above your measly income and worn-out shoes. You can live the Simply Fabulous lifestyle and enjoy cushy perks even without being adopted by the Rockefellers.

By MP Dunleavey

Want to look as if you’re living a wealthier lifestyle than you actually are? Me too! In fact, I come from a long line of frugal women who obeyed the motto: “Live well, look rich and never let the world know how little you're really paid.” An excellent philosophy, which can be summed up as “Live cheap, look rich.”

Sure, I daydream about having millions to throw around -- and so do you. (Americans spend about $25 billion each year on lottery tickets in fruitless pursuit of this dream.) But people who have mastered the Live Cheap, Look Rich way of life know that it’s not about having more money, it’s about getting more out of life for the money you have.

And looking (and feeling) well-heeled while you do it. “Just because you don’t have a fat wallet doesn't mean you have to go without life’s pleasures,” says Shel Horowitz, author of “The Penny-Pinching Hedonist” and founder of the Web site. Here is a quick boot camp on how to cultivate a more affluent way of life without actually spending a lot of money on it.

The art of affluence
One thing masters of the Live Cheap, Look Rich lifestyle will tell you is that wealth is just as much about your mindset as it is about your bank account. So learning to live a richer life may require you to start by thinking differently.

Buy classics. At first this sounds like an expensive move; classics always cost more. But for certain purchases, spending more may be a better investment in the long run. Take cashmere. It’s ridiculously expensive. And yet I rely on my small hoard of cashmere sweaters because they not only look smashing, but they will last long after that GAP wool-blend sweater falls apart. Same with cars. “I decided to buy a five-year-old BMW this year,” says Sandy deNicolais, former fashion and beauty editor of Women’s Day. “The payments for a brand-new Honda were the same. But in five years, that Honda won’t be worth as much as my BMW. The BMW will last longer, it’s higher quality, it’s got more style.”

Travel creatively. As I learned at my upscale women’s liberal arts college, wealthy people are always just coming back from somewhere fabulous and far away. And you can too, with a little ingenuity. By logging onto Luxury Link, a luxury travel auction site, one friend of mine bought a five-night stay at swanky Little Dix Bay in the British Virgin Islands for about $900. No, that didn’t include airfare, but she and her partner didn’t spend any more than they would have on a dull stateside getaway. If you can travel at the last-minute, remaindered airline seats are sold for cheap on the Smarter Living Web site. Or you can consider the many options that let you stay somewhere princely for nothing -- international hosting or home-swapping services. Some of these networks charge a fee to join, but it’s usually reasonable. Horowitz says that he and his wife and daughter stayed for 12 nights in Wales last year and paid a total of $50 for lodging, thanks to the generosity of a SERVAS host.

Vicarious wealth by volunteering. Major charities always need volunteers, and they often hold a yearly bash where you can meet and mingle with the rich and famous. Or you can volunteer at a local theater or arts organization and gain access to pricey cultural events without paying a dime. Black-tie events are not only for those who can afford the $500 door ticket. It’s for those who hold the doors, too. Horowitz ushers at a local music venue, and in the last few years has attended concerts by Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Chuck Berry. “Those tickets would have cost me $500 to $600 out of pocket.”

Giving the appearance of wealth. It’s far easier to acquire the kind of manners and good breeding that come along with a wealthy upbringing than it is to go back and change the way you were raised. Some pointers from Jill Spiegel, author of “Flirting for Success: The Art of Building Rapport.”
Always be well-groomed. Pay attention to your hair, nails and shoes.
Be gracious. To everyone. Speak calmly and kindly, says Spiegel, the great-great granddaughter of catalog merchant Joseph Spiegel. “Rich people are too well-bred to be rude.”
Don’t discuss money. People with money don’t need to mention what things cost, nor do they appear to care.
Purge the poverty from your life. Hard-core Feng Shui believers will tell you that a plant in a certain place and a mirror in another will bring you lifelong prosperity. (I know because I have “The Feng Shui of Wealth" at home.) All I know is that cleaning out the clutter in your life, moving the furniture so that it feels more harmonious, not only feels good, it forces you to admit that the end table is broken and the lamp shade needs replacing and yes, it’s time to buy a new refrigerator. In other words, pay attention to all the ways that poverty has crept into your home -- and make a point of fixing or upgrading each one. Living a life of affluence doesn’t mean buying hand-burnished leather couches from Uzbekistan. It means taking the stains out of your carpet, oiling the squeaky door. Living in comfort, ease and beauty. That may not cost much more than elbow grease.

Never pay retail. Given how many discount stores and Web sites there are, it’s ridiculous to pay full price for anything. You can dress like Vogue editor Anna Wintour for a fraction of what she pays, just by shopping at Target, which features super-cheap but trendy duds by high fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi.

Other ways to enrich your wardrobe: shop at consignment (aka “secondhand”) stores, but only in tony areas. Christine Sparta, a free-lance writer in New Jersey, bought a Christian Dior suit at just such a place for $58. No, I didn’t forget a zero.

Learn to work the Web. “If I see a pair of designer shoes at Bloomingdales,” says deNicolais, “I know I can find the same exact pair for $50 or $60 less at” I like to go straight to the “clearance” section of my favorite retailers online -- from L.L. Bean to Victoria’s Secret to Crate & Barrel. I’ve gotten amazing deals.

And learn to time your purchases. National retail chains like Banana Republic, Ann Taylor and others have a merchandise cycle of about 6 to 8 weeks. After about four weeks of being out on the floor, the chain then rotates full-price items to discounted tables. Keep your eye on the cycle at your favorite stores so that you’re always buying at a discount.

Learn to hobnob. Be part of the society set without a trust fund. Look up charitable events in your area. (Usually they're listed in the local paper, and charities often post their calendars online.) And go schmooze -- I mean, hobnob. Want to attend a benefit for the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation, featuring performances by Liza Minelli and the New York Pops at schmancy Carnegie Hall? Tickets start at $15.

Make a bid for luxury items. Even upscale auction houses like Christie’s or Sotheby’s may offer good deals on unique items for your home, and most are free and open to the public for previewing merchandise. You’ll want to skip the Italian Renaissance footstools. But sometimes a group of worthwhile items from an estate sale will be sold as a lot, with bids starting as low as $700, says Michel Witmer, an art historian and lecturer in New York. “Auction houses are a treasure trove.” Of course, most treasure requires some digging, and arcade sales -- lower-priced auctions at big houses -- are a great place to start if you want furnishings with the air of old money.

Get married, but don’t have kids. According to Andrew Oswald, an economist at the University of Warwick in England and something of an expert on the intersection of money and happiness, getting married adds a happiness factor that’s equivalent to having $100,000 added to your household income. This is not true of having children, Oswald says. His surveys have found that adding kids to your life (or not having them at all) didn’t seem to change people’s happiness one way or the other. Which is good. Kids are expensive, and since most rich people just send theirs away to boarding school anyway, you could argue that the best thing for your Live Cheap, Look Rich lifestyle is not to have the little darlings in the first place.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Actor Chris Penn found dead
No signs of foul play, police say

Wednesday, January 25, 2006; Posted: 10:47 a.m. EST (15:47 GMT)

Martin Sheen and Chris Penn's mother Eileen Ryan leave the home where Penn (right) was found Tuesday.

Penn's body was discovered in bed inside the condominium on Ocean Avenue, said Capt. Ed Winter of the county coroner's office. He said the actor's housekeeper called authorities.

There were no obvious signs of foul play, Lt. Frank Fabrega said. Autopsy results were pending. Police said Penn was 40 years old, though several celebrity Web sites list his age as 43.

"The Penn family would appreciate the media's respect of their privacy during this difficult time," Mara Buxbaum, Sean Penn's publicist, said in a statement.

Chris Penn's credits included "Rumble Fish," "All the Right Moves," "Footloose," "Rush Hour," "Corky Romano" and "Starsky & Hutch." He also played Nice Guy Eddie Cabot in the 1992 Quentin Tarantino crime drama "Reservoir Dogs."

Although he was not as well known as his brother Sean, 45, critics said he often was underrated.

"Just as talented as Sean -- just a lot less cocky," Slate magazine critic Cintra Wilson wrote of him last year. He "makes you seamlessly believe in characters so much you barely even notice them."

Penn's late father, Leo Penn, directed television shows. His mother, Eileen Ryan, is an actress whose credits include "I Am Sam," "Magnolia" and "Parenthood." His brother is musician Michael Penn.

Chris Penn's latest film, "The Darwin Awards," was scheduled to premiere Wednesday at the Sundance Film Festival. The film also stars Joseph Fiennes, Winona Ryder and David Arquette.

Disney buying Pixar for $7.4 billion
Deal puts Steve Jobs in powerful role as entertainment goes digital

LOS ANGELES - The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday it is buying longtime partner Pixar Animation Studios Inc. for $7.4 billion in stock in a deal that could restore Disney’s clout in animation while vaulting Pixar CEO Steve Jobs into a powerful role at the media conglomerate.

Disney’s purchase of the maker of the blockbuster films “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo” would make Jobs Disney’s largest shareholder. Jobs, who owns more than half of Pixar’s shares and also heads Apple Computer Inc., will become a Disney director.

“With this transaction, we welcome and embrace Pixar’s unique culture, which for two decades, has fostered some of the most innovative and successful films in history,” Disney Chief Executive Robert A. Iger said in a statement.

Disney has co-financed and distributed Pixar’s animated films for the past 12 years, splitting the profits. That deal expires in June after Pixar delivers “Cars,” and it had once appeared the companies would not renew it amid friction between Jobs and former Disney CEO Michael Eisner.

But the talks revived under Iger, who became Disney CEO last October. Disney, the theme park owner that also owns the ABC and ESPN TV networks, and Pixar had discussed a new relationship for months.

Pixar Executive Vice President John Lasseter will become chief creative officer of the animation studios and principal creative adviser at Walt Disney Imagineering, which designs and builds the company’s theme parks.

Lasseter began his career as a Disney animator and is the creative force behind Pixar’s films. He will report directly to Iger.

Pixar President Ed Catmull will serve as president of the combined Pixar and Disney animation studios, reporting to Iger and Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios.

The two companies will remain separate, with Pixar keeping its brand name and headquarters in Emeryville, near San Francisco. Maintaining Pixar’s unique creative character was a priority in the talks, executives said.
Pixar movies

Title Year Worldwide box office gross
Toy Story 1995 $362 million
A Bug's Life 1998 $363 million
Toy Story 2 1999 $485 million
Monsters, Inc. 2001 $525 million
Finding Nemo 2003 $865 million
The Incredibles 2004 $631 million
Cars 2006 N/A

Source: BoxOfficeMojo
“Most of the time that Bob and I have spent talking about this hasn’t been about economics, it’s been about preserving the Pixar culture because we all know that that’s the thing that is going to determine the success here in the long run,” Jobs said on a conference call with analysts.

Under the deal, Burbank-based Disney said it will issue 2.3 shares for each share of Pixar stock. At Tuesday’s closing price of $25.99 for Disney, Pixar shareholders would get stock worth $59.78, a 4 percent premium over Pixar’s closing price of $57.57. The deal was announced after the markets closed for the day. Pixar gained 2.5 percent to $59 in after-hours trading, while Disney fell 14 cents.

Disney said the deal would lower earnings over the next two years, but that the deal would add to earnings by 2008.

“It’s something Disney had to do,” said Harold Vogel, a media analyst with Vogel Capital Management in New York. “It’s good for both companies.”

Deal gets Roy E. Disney's blessing
The deal received the blessing of Roy E. Disney, nephew of company founder Walt Disney and a former board member who once also oversaw animation at the company.

Roy Disney and former board member Stanley Gold led a shareholder revolt against the company in part over what they saw as a deterioration of the relationship between Pixar and Disney under the reign of Eisner.

“Animation has always been the heart and soul of the Walt Disney Company and it is wonderful to see Bob Iger and the company embrace that heritage by bringing the outstanding animation talent of the Pixar team back into the fold,” Roy Disney said in a statement.

With Pixar, Disney gains a company that has produced a long-running string of animated blockbusters. Iger wants to strengthen Disney’s animated features, the hallmark of the company since its founding and a steady source of characters for Disney’s theme parks and other units.

Pixar has served as Disney’s de facto animation unit for a decade. Two Pixar movies, “Finding Nemo” and “The Incredibles,” have won Academy Awards for best animated feature film.

Pixar films also have been a financial windfall for Disney, which receives 60 percent of the profits.

By contrast, Disney’s own animation unit has struggled, producing some modest successes, such as 2002’s “Lilo & Stitch,” and many flops, including “Treasure Planet” and “Home on the Range.”

Its first fully computer-animated effort, “Chicken Little,” grossed more than $100 million domestically since its release last year and will likely be profitable. But that figure falls well short of the more than $200 million domestic gross of 2004’s “The Incredibles.”

Pixar also benefits from the deal by cashing in at the top of its game, before it produces the inevitable box office disappointment, Vogel said.

“Eventually, we know that after six huge hits, there would be a film that would come along that would be less good than what they had,” Vogel said. “This was a good time to broaden the horizon and the canvas. I think Steve Jobs is very smart about knowing when to hold them and when to fold.”

With Jobs, Disney also tightens its link with Apple Computer, the innovative technology company behind music and video iPods.

Jobs could help Iger push his plans to marry films, TV shows, video games and other content to computers, iPods, handheld game consoles and even cell phones.

Disney and Pixar had been discussing an extension of their distribution deal since early 2003. Last year, analysts said striking that agreement was Iger’s top priority.

The talks stalled in 2004 after Pixar demanded that it own 100 percent of all future films and pay Disney a straight distribution fee, similar to the deal “Star Wars” creator George Lucas had with Twentieth Century Fox.

Pixar also wanted ownership of all the films already produced as well as two that were remaining under the existing agreement at the time.

Disney-Pixar: It's a wrap
Deal brings entertainment industry closer to its digital future

By Ronald Grover

The merger of high tech and entertainment seems to have arrived. Walt Disney Co. has agreed to acquire Steve Jobs' Pixar Animation Studios in an all-stock transaction worth $7.4 billion expected to be completed by this summer, the companies said Tuesday. Jobs, who is also chief executive of Apple Computer, will become Disney's largest shareholder and take a seat on the Disney board.

The transaction could transform Disney, whose own animated films have been less than spectacular in recent years, into the animation dynasty it was during the early 1990s, when it turned out such hits as Beauty and the Beast and Lion King. But just as important, the acquisition will usher in a new era in which Disney, with Jobs and Disney CEO Bob Iger allied, could rewrite the rules of how entertainment is distributed digitally via new consumer technologies.

The terms include giving Jobs an estimated 7% stake in Disney and letting Pixar's top creative executive, John Lasseter, have a key role in advising Disney in creative matters. It's expected that Pixar, which made such animated blockbusters for Disney as Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., and The Incredibles, would continue to work from its Northern California headquarters.

More cordial now
The deal had been widely expected, but formal announcement was held up so that Jobs and Pixar top officials could personally tell Pixar executives.

The agreement ends a long and initially stormy negotiating process between the two companies (see BW Online, 1/20/06, "Will Steve Jobs Be Disney's Big Cheese?"). The companies' existing agreement, in which Disney and Pixar share the cost of making the films while Disney releases them, was scheduled to end this summer when Pixar delivers the final film, Cars, under that agreement. Since then, Jobs has been talking to other studios about doing a distribution deal, but he has kept open the lines of communication with Disney executives. Relations between the two companies improved last year, when Disney CEO Michael D. Eisner, with whom Jobs often sparred, resigned.

Jobs's relationship with Eisner's successor, Bob Iger, is much more cordial, and Iger nurtured their ties by making Disney TV shows like Desperate Housewives and Lost available for the video iPod that Apple began selling last year. Moreover, Iger and Jobs get along well on a personal level, as do Jobs with Disney studio chief Dick Cook, the initial architect for the Disney side.

Forward thinker
Whether or how quickly Jobs can push Disney further into digital distribution for films is unclear. But analysts have long predicted that Apple will eventually introduce living room gear to make that more feasible. Many Apple rumor sites have suggested that Jobs & Co. are working on a version of the Mac Mini that would be designed to connect to the TV and could be operated via Apple's Front Row software and Apple Remote, which are already available on the iMac desktop PC. Such a machine would let customers who download movies via Apple's iTunes Music Store watch them on their TVs.

Iger, who's an early adopter for many new technologies, is considered among the most forward-thinking of media executives and is likely to welcome accelerated delivery of entertainment over the Web and through wireless means, if safeguards could be worked out to secure the content.

Grumpy Guys
Irritable Male Syndrome: What is it and is it real?

By Sara Peyton

What Is It and Is It Real?

Does this sound familiar?

"Sometimes I think my husband was born grumpy, but he's become so much worse in the last few years," says Susan, 48, about her handsome, hardworking husband, a software engineer. "One thing he does is buy junk he will never use -- vintage electronic equipment, mostly," says this Petaluma, California, teacher and busy mother of two.

"We currently have five guitar amplifiers and several speaker cabinets the size of refrigerators and who knows what else crammed into the garage. It's so messy you can hardly move around, but if I ask him to organize it, he says things like, "Well, I don't have any place to put stuff!" He claims that no one gives him any room. Somehow, the whole garage doesn't count."

Perhaps Susan's husband needs more space. But he also may be suffering from irritable male syndrome (IMS). "The primary symptom of IMS is you've done nothing wrong. Any problem is your wife's fault," says Jed Diamond, 60, a psychotherapist and director of the northern California health program MenAlive (

Diamond knows firsthand what he's talking about. After he entered his 50s, his ever-increasing criticism of his wife, Carlin, threatened the stability of their marriage and led him to research his irrational mood swings. And in his book, Male Menopause -- the surprise 1997 best-seller translated in 17 languages -- Diamond contended that declining testosterone levels accounted for much of midlife male cantankerousness.

At the same time, Diamond suspected more than hormonal fluctuations were fueling his touchiness. "Many women don't recognize that pain and sadness often are expressed in men as anger and irritation," says Diamond.

So for a deeper understanding of men's mental health, he posted a detailed questionnaire that ran on the Men's Health magazine Web site. More than 9,000 men, ages 10 to 70, responded and a pattern of sudden irritability, anger, and blame emerged.

In Diamond's new book, The Irritable Male Syndrome: Four Key Causes of Depression and Aggression (Rodale, 2004), he pinpoints the physical changes and external stresses that can cause 30 percent of men of all ages to turn prickly with IMS. Key triggers are not only hormonal fluctuations and biochemical changes, but new stresses including midlife changes, and job shifts -- from losing jobs that have become obsolete or layoffs to competition with women at the workplace -- all adding up to a loss of traditional male roles and identity.

Laura Havstad, a Sebastopol, California, clinical psychologist, agrees that Diamond is on to something. "For anyone who is struggling in relationship to a spouse or partner who seems to be doing fine, it is important to figure out how to get up for a more satisfying run at life. And as far as I can tell, even though the advantage has shifted some away from men, plenty of women still struggle with this, too."

Does He Have IMS?
According to Diamond, if the man you love and care for the most isn't interested in sex and is prone to illogical mood swings and blaming behavior and getting increasingly cantankerous with age, you may be living with an IMS male, someone like Tim.

Tim, 43, a burly hockey coach from eastern Pennsylvania and father of two, monthly has struggled with regular bouts of depression which contributed to the demise of his 17-year marriage. He tried various therapies, but nothing helped. "I've always said I felt like a woman with PMS. But I don't like being crabby and I don't want to lose my wonderful new girlfriend. Still about once a month, I totally withdrew, drank too much beer, and stare at the TV with a stone face. I didn't feel like talking."

Tim's work suffered, too. "As a coach you have to be upbeat and positive. But when I was down and the kids weren't paying attention, I'd get edgy. The parents would say I wasn't acting like myself."

To learn more about his inexplicable mood swings, Tim turned to online research. That's how he discovered Diamond's Web site and started reading about IMS. "Man, the symptoms sounded just like me. I sent my girlfriend Jed's articles and she agreed."

Based on his own experience, Diamond offers these four "red alerts" or warning signs of impending IMS damage to the relationship, from the least to the most destructive.
1. Criticism: "In my mind, my wife appeared determined to bug me," says Diamond. "I didn't see myself as criticizing her, but simply pointing out a problem she was causing me. For example, she'd take longer than I expected to leave a party and that really annoyed me, even though logically I knew it takes her longer to say goodbye."

2. Contempt: "My wife and I didn't get into this too much, but in my practice I see a lot of men who call their wives stupid or say they can never do anything right." Says Tim, "I love my car and usually keep it immaculate, but when I'm in an IMS mode, I let it get dirty and think about selling it.

3. Defensiveness: Like Susan's husband, Diamond found himself on the defensive. "If my wife pointed out I spilled some soup on the counter, I wouldn't thank her for pointing it out. Instead I'd say something like, 'you are always nagging at me.'"

4. Stonewalling: And like Tim, Diamond held back his emotions and sat around looking mad but denying he was. "The reason men hold back their emotions isn't because they are unemotional. Instead they fear becoming overwhelmed and breaking down," Diamond says.
If you think you are living with an IMS male, don't despair. "Let him know you love him but you aren't giving up on your own happiness," counsels Diamond, whose own wife urged him to seek help. "Tell him things need to change and you want him to join with you in making a life that works for both of you.

Battling IMS
A combination of therapy, antidepressants, a men's group, regular exercise, and a healthy diet helped Diamond heal from IMS, restoring his cheerfulness and saving his marriage, he says. In his book, which Diamond suspects will be read by more women than men, he urges men to seek professional help for depression, along with offering some practical lifestyle tips to help heal from or prevent IMS.

Eat Right
A balanced diet of lean meat, leafy green vegetables, and carbohydrates promotes production of the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin. Say no to licorice; it zaps testosterone. After reading about IMS, Tim immediately gave up drinking beer, because alcohol raises estrogen levels.

Not only does regular exercise promote well-being, but even an extra 10 pounds overweight can raise estrogen levels and make a man grumpy.

Heal Unresolved Issues to Foster Optimism
Joining a men's group or seeking therapy is often the best way to heal past hurts from the past, including childhood experiences of abuse and abandonment, says Diamond.

Pass On What You've Learned to Others
"Many of my clients get enormous satisfaction out of volunteering in programs dealing with at-risk young males," says Diamond. "Knowing you can help others usually translates into feeling better about oneself."

Tim says going through the divorce and losing his identity as a husband triggered his IMS and made it worse. "Not knowing what was ahead and not understanding who I'm supposed to be as a man had a big impact on my well-being," he says. But learning to open up and discuss his feelings with his girlfriend eased his fears. "I was so worried I would lose her but now we make little jokes about my IMS. I believe there are a lot of men out there that just won't admit they're moody and unhappy."

And Susan? After checking out Diamond's Web site, she's thinking more about slipping her husband Diamond's book rather than cleaning out the garage. "I've often wondered why we've been led to believe that women are the only ones who have hormone troubles in later life! The idea that my husband may be on the same chemical roller coaster I'm riding helps me stop taking some of the things he says and does so personally and to think about ways we can tackle our midlife transitions together."

Relationship Q&A: He Never Calls When He's Running Late

Q: This is going to sound trivial, but it causes so much tension in my house. Here's the dilemma: My husband is always late for dinner and he never calls to let me know! He says he's going to be home around 7 p.m., but inevitably he marches in around 8 or even 9. If a hot dinner isn't waiting for him, he gets upset. But when I get mad at him, he says, "What's the big deal?" Doesn't he see how inconsiderate he is? I'm tired and hungry -- the kids are too -- and I'd like clean up, get out of the kitchen, and get on with my evening. He thinks I'm being petty and unreasonable. Is there a solution?

New York City-based therapist Bonnie Eaker-Weil, Ph.D., author of Make Up Don't Break Up: Finding and Keeping Love for Singles and Couples (Adams Publishing), answers:

A: I think many women can relate to your frustration. What's more, seemingly small irritations have a way of festering, and can loom large in a marriage. It's always good to clear up disagreements or misinterpretations as quickly as possible.

That means you need to try to understand your spouses' frustration, too: He may be caught in an important meeting, working on a tight deadline or worried about his job performance -- and he may innocently forget to call. "Why is she being so unreasonable?" he may well be thinking. "Doesn't she know I'm working?" Checking in with you, just as he had to check in with his mother when he was young, no doubt triggers resentment. He needs to understand that you're not asking him to call because you're checking up on him, but simply because you want some acknowledgement of the time and effort you spend getting the meal ready. He may honestly be oblivious to how long it takes and how much a simple phone call means to you. But I doubt that he's doing this on purpose, so try hard not to take it personally.

Instead let him know, in a non-accusatory way, how you feel. Then, put some boundaries in place that you can live with. Acknowledge that you understand his time constraints. Then tell him that from now on, if you don't hear from him by say, 7:15, you'll assume he's working late and you and the kids will proceed with dinner. You'll keep a plate in the fridge that he can reheat when he gets home. This way, you'll be able to get on with your evening.

Relationship Q&A: He's Not Interested in Sex

Q. We've been married for four years and only make love once every two months. Every night, my husband says he's tired or it's been a rough day -- but I know what kind of day he had because we work together. I know he's interested in other women -- he gets excited when he spots someone appealing on the street. Every night he does a solo with himself when he thinks I'm asleep. But for me, he's always too tired. What can I do to get him interested?

Sallie Foley, MSW, co-author of Sex Matters for Women: A Complete Guide to Taking Care of Your Sexual Self (Guilford Press), answers:

A. Your concern is important. Let's begin with your question, "What can I do to get him interested?" Even though it might seem that your job is to get him to look your way, stop for a moment and take stock of how you are feeling about yourself. When was the last time you pampered yourself, got together with a good friend, or did something that you truly enjoy? Making sure that you aren't putting yourself down is a great place to start.

Being your own best girlfriend includes not taking all the blame on yourself. You know that a good relationship isn't going to be based on just "seeing each other at the business." You want more love in your life together. The next step is to begin talking to each other, working together on your relationship. Couples go through times of ups and downs in sexual passion. When a couple hits a lull, they need to sit down and talk honestly about what they think is missing. Do you need more touching and cuddling? Has sex gotten too routine? Are there problems outside the bedroom that are getting in the way of you being close? This kind of honest communication takes more than one discussion, so be persistent. The only real route to intimacy is through honesty with each other.

Next step? When the two of you identify what isn't working, make a plan and begin, step by step, to tackle the issues. Make sure to be positive with each other -- about a five-to-one ratio of praise to criticism is a good mix. Finally, as sex therapists, we often recommend that people masturbate in order to understand how their bodies work. If he's "going solo" when he thinks you're asleep, be honest and tell him you're not sleeping. Ask him to tell you and show you how he likes to be touched. Let him know you're comfortable with teaching him more about your body too. Since the two of you work together, remember, "all work and no play makes Jack and Jill feel dull."

Relationship Q&A: He's in Love With a Male Coworker

Three weeks ago, my husband announced that he was gay and in love with a male coworker. He wants a divorce as soon as possible, though he wants us to remain friends. We have been married for four years and have one child. He says he feels guilt and shame for what he has done. I feel so helpless. Is there any hope for our marriage at all?

A. I can understand how devastated you must be. Your husband's sudden announcement is a breach of the trust that is an essential part of the foundation of your relationship. Your sense of shock and helplessness is compounded by the fact that your husband claims to be in love with another man. It's one thing to feel you have to compete with another woman; competing with a man is another case entirely.

At this point, my honest answer to your question is yes, and, no. I'm not being coy. While you no doubt feel that you are all alone, in recent years I have seen a number of couples struggling with the same issue. Of course, every case is different, but I am always concerned when someone out of blue determines that they want to leave any marriage as precipitously as you say your husband has -- no matter what the reason.

First, you must both get tested for AIDS. Second, seek counseling together. There are many issues you need to sort out and no matter what happens, you, your husband and your child, will need the understanding and support that a trained therapist can provide. You will need to discuss, for example, whether your husband is bisexual, or truly homosexual. It's possible that he doesn't know for sure, either. He will need to be honest with you about his sexual history -- whether and when he had other affairs with men or with women, for example. Because of the stigma that still surrounds homosexuality, your husband may have entered into marriage with you in an honest effort to go the route that our culture dictates, though at great personal cost. If he has had other relationships with men, I'm afraid it is likely that this aspect of his sexuality is an integral part of who he is -- and he cannot will it away no matter how hard he tries.

However, there are also times when a person is depressed or wrestling with seemingly insurmountable problems, and feels the need to seek action and excitement in something new. Such people may surf the Internet and have an affair. Or they may feel compelled to act out latent fantasies as a way to escape the real world. Remember, no relationship comes with a guarantee -- but at this point, you still don't have enough information. Try to slow down, keep the lines of communication open between the two of you, and use your head as well as your heart to decide what you need to do for your own emotional and physical safety and the well-being of your child.

Relationship Q&A: Post-9/11 Stress

Since the World Trade Center disaster my husband and I have been bickering constantly. Things have been rocky since our youngest child was born last year, but now we argue about everything! I want to talk about what's happened, but my husband, never much of a communicator, clams up. The only time we talk is when he barks an order at me or criticizes something I've done. When I tell him I refuse to be spoken to that way, he says I'm oversensitive. How can I break this cycle?

A. Many couples, especially those who were already experiencing some marital difficulties, have been reporting increased tension in the wake of the terrorist actions. Even if you didn't know anyone who was directly affected by the attacks in New York and Washington, DC, you are vulnerable. Our universal psychological cushion -- the belief that there is goodness and order to our world -- was torn apart that day and each of us is, and will continue to be, affected by it in ways large and small that are still not clear. We now know that we have to be ready and vigilant for the unexpected. The range of responses to that realization is vast, and all, in a sense, are normal and appropriate. Initial shock and anger at what happened may give way to sadness, frustration, and tension. These are all common reactions to stress.

You may take comfort in talking about how you feel. In fact, some people feel the need to talk again and again about what happened to strangers or people they hardly know; they may also have a greater than usual need to be with others. This emotional sharing helps you assuage your grief and make sense of your world. On the other hand, it sounds as if your husband is keeping his distance and holding onto his feelings -- something he tends to do in other cases. Or like many others, he may be feeling emotionally numb, as if he doesn't care about anything anymore. While it is important that you both respect your individual responses to what has happened, at the same time, recognize that you are both anxious, angry, and unsettled by rational or even irrational fears. You may be more critical of each other, quick to find fault or blame.

Your husband may not even be aware that the tragedy is affecting him in this way. I suggest that you try to help him turn toward, rather than away from you at this time. Instead of storming out of the room when you feel criticized, try to be even more patient than you have been. Gently point out to your husband that his tone of voice or choice of words has hurt you. Remind him of your love and concern. However, make your point when he's ready to listen -- not the minute he walks in the door after work, when he's rushing to the office, or right before he's falls asleep. Suggest a walk and reach for his hand. Rather than assigning blame, acknowledge his feelings, too, and turn the discussion toward working as a team in order to find a solution. Let him know you appreciate his input. By demonstrating respect for his insights and showing faith in your relationship, you encourage him to do the same for you. By all means, consult a professional counselor or your clergyman for help during these difficult times.

Sexual passages from the 20s to the 50s
What every woman should know about her sex drive--in all the stages of her life.

The 20s: Sex and the single girl
Not long ago, my friend Jean and I were talking, when the conversation turned to sex. She had just finished reading a book in which one of the characters was an adolescent girl in hormonal overdrive. "I used to feel that way, too, and, wow, have things changed," said Jean, a 37-year-old mother of two in Connecticut. "I thought women were supposed to reach their sexual peak in their mid-thirties. What happened?"

In an age that celebrates women who enjoy a very healthy libido (consider the popularity of the HBO series Sex and the City), the ups and downs of female desire still remain something of a mystery. But that's changing. With pharmaceutical companies in hot pursuit of a pill that could do for women's sexual fulfillment what Viagra has done for men's, experts are busy investigating what's responsible for female passion.

Researchers are finding that the sex experts Masters and Johnson were wrong when they claimed that female and male desire were alike. New studies suggest that women need to be aroused physically or psychologically to get in the mood for sex. Unlike men, who can get aroused by the sight of a buxom babe in a beer commercial, women rely on different--and subtler--cues. A woman may be responsive to intimate conversation--or a caring gesture by her husband.

Of course, you can't have a healthy sexual appetite without the hormones estrogen and testosterone. Genetics may also play a role. "The characteristics of sex drive appear to be innate early on," says Steven Petak, M.D., J.D., an endocrinologist in Houston. "But psychological factors are probably more important [than genetics]."

That helps explain why women's libidos vary. This diversity is evident not only among women, but within individuals. Like my friend Jean, you may have a strong sex drive during one stage of your life only to have your interest flag during another. Here, experts explain the hormonal, psychological and social factors that affect a woman's libido from her 20s through her 50s.

By the time women enter their 20s, the majority have regular menstrual periods--and a sex drive that ebbs and flows with their cycle. "Around ovulation"--not coincidentally, the time of peak fertility--"women have more interest in sex and are better able to have an orgasm than women who are just about to get their period," says Anita H. Clayton, M.D., associate professor and vice chair of the department of psychiatric medicine at the University of Virginia Health System, in Charlottesville.

Finding their way
Contrary to popular belief, the 20s are not necessarily a time of sexual voraciousness. Many young women are grappling with identity and body-image problems at the same time that they're trying to establish themselves professionally and find a mate. According to the National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS), conducted at the University of Chicago, unmarried women are nearly twice as likely as married women to have anxiety about their sexual performance and have difficulty climaxing. "A woman's sexual interest is greatest when she's in a stable relationship," says Sheryl Kingsberg, Ph.D., assistant professor of reproductive biology and psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland.

Use it or lose it
If a woman in her 20s doesn't have frequent sex, her desire may wane, according to Clayton. Studies have shown that women who engage in sexual activity less than once a week are more likely to have irregular menstrual cycles and ovulation problems than those who do so weekly.

The fear of disease
Two thirds of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur in people 25 and younger, and women are more likely to be infected than men, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Those who have contracted an STD may experience shame and be less interested in sex. And women who want to protect themselves must negotiate condom use with their partner, which may dampen desire.

Birth control and the blues
The most popular form of contraception for twentysomething women is the birth control pill. But because it suppresses testosterone production, some women find that the Pill actually undercuts desire. Others, however, find the Pill's convenience--and its reassuringly high success rate--helps promote passion. Another factor influencing sex drive: Up to 20 percent of women in their 20s struggle with clinical depression, a condition that diminishes desire. While antidepressants may boost a woman's mood, some may lower her libido.

The 30s: Married with children
By the time women have hit their 30s, most have acquired some level of self-understanding. They're also likely to have established a stable relationship. Having a husband can be an aphrodisiac for women; the libido flourishes in the security of a committed relationship. But the stresses of child rearing and a career can diminish desire.

Practice makes perfect. Women get better at achieving orgasm in their 30s, which may stimulate desire--hence the popular notion that women reach their sexual peak in their 30s. "During the first few years of marriage, before children, women have, on average, the fewest sexual complaints of their lives," says Louann Brizendine, M.D., co-director of the program in sexual health at the University of California, San Francisco. That testosterone levels begin to decline at around 35 is not necessarily meaningful.

The power of pregnancy
For many women, the 30s are the reproductive years. During the second trimester of pregnancy, when you are no longer struggling with nausea but are not yet so big that sex feels like an elaborate game of Twister, many women find they have a surge in desire. This can be attributed, in part, to a sense of connection to your partner, but hormones also play a role. During pregnancy, there is a thousandfold increase in progesterone and a hundredfold increase in estrogen, which causes the vaginal lips to engorge and become more lubricated. The pressure of the growing baby on the genitals may also be a turn-on. In their book, For Women Only: A Revolutionary Guide to Overcoming Sexual Dysfunction and Reclaiming Your Sex Life (Henry Holt, 2001), sex therapist Laura Berman and her sister, Jennifer Berman, M.D., a urologist, say that during the second trimester, "Some women feel they are constantly in a state of mild sexual arousal." Being pregnant with a boy can further heighten desire; during the second trimester, the male fetus starts producing testosterone, which may boost Mom's libido.

Post-baby burnout
Many women find that after the baby comes, sex has all the appeal of a root canal. This falloff in desire can be attributed, in part, to exhaustion, but hormones are also implicated. Testosterone levels drop by about half after childbirth, though they quickly return to normal. "It's common for couples to have only one or two sexual encounters up to four months after the baby is born," says Brizendine. For Margo, a 33-year-old mother of one, those few encounters were memorable if only because of the pain, a problem that affects 70 percent of women in the first six months postpartum. "We kept trying, but it took a few months--and a bottle of Astroglide," she recalls.

Nursing mothers may be particularly uninterested in sex. Breastfeeding causes the release of the hormone prolactin, which can suppress ovulation and estrogen production, as well as testosterone. "Nursing mothers are experiencing the equivalent of menopause," says Mary Lake Polan, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of the department of gynecology and obstetrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, in Palo Alto, California.

But you don't have to be nursing to find your interest in sex waning. The Berman sisters observe that about 60 percent of the women in their practice have low levels of testosterone--a key to desire--after the birth of their second or third child. While the reason is unclear, Jennifer Berman believes this may be due to decreased production of testosterone by the ovaries or an acquired enzyme deficiency that hinders testosterone production.

Stressed to the max
Even if your hormone levels are normal, the advent of parenthood can throw a bucket of ice water on desire. Between the demands of work, young children and housekeeping, women in their 30s are under tremendous pressure. Often, they're angry at their husbands, who don't seem to take on an equal share of the new demands. "Women hit their stress peak in their thirties," says Peter Kanaris, Ph.D., a psychologist and sex therapist in Smithtown, New York. "And stress is a killer of desire."

The (mostly) fabulous 40s
Hormone levels are starting to decline, but midlife can be a time of sexual reawakening. Many women find that they're less burdened by the stressors -- children, financial uncertainty -- that can undermine desire in the 30s.

The new sexual peak?
According to the NHSLS, the prevalence of sexual problems in women tends to decrease with advancing age. Like women in their 30s, fortysomethings are at ease with their sexual selves, but now they have the time and energy to enjoy this aspect of their life. Even if you experience a decline in interest, you may find that you can achieve new heights of sexual satisfaction. "Women [at this age] know what they want sexually and are not afraid to ask for it," says Sheryl Kingsberg. (The sad irony is that, with the passage of time, sexual problems become more prevalent in men; see "The Keys to His Desire,")

Hormones gone haywire
This is also the decade when women enter perimenopause, the period preceding menopause, when production of estrogen and testosterone begins dropping off. Perimenopause typically kicks in at age 46. About half of all women over 45 experience some symptoms, including irregular periods, lower libido and vaginal dryness. But a decline in sex drive doesn't mean sex can't be great. "You might not have the spontaneous interest, but your ability to achieve orgasm doesn't change in your forties," says Kingsberg.

The Pill for perimenopause
Many perimenopausal women are prescribed birth control pills to help stabilize hormonal fluctuations and ease symptoms. Of course, the Pill also protects against unwanted pregnancy, which can occur during this transition. Although the Pill may interfere with desire, it may also help a perimenopausal woman feel like herself again--and perhaps more in the mood for sex.

Thyroid trouble
Disorders of the thyroid gland, which produces hormones that stimulate body functions, are common in women over 40. By age 40, 1 in 15 women have thyroid problems; by age 50, 1 in 10 women do. Hypothyroidism, in which the gland secretes too little hormones, is a major cause of low libido. Women with the condition also experience fatigue, weight gain and depression. Fortunately, treatment with synthetic thyroid hormone helps relieve symptoms.

The 50s: A new beginning
Although the 50s heralds menopause--and a dramatic change in sexual desire--many women discover that this decade offers some libido-boosting benefits.

Good-bye hormones
When women enter menopause, typically at age 51, about 40 percent begin to experience an even more significant drop-off in sexual interest or report some kind of dysfunction, says Mary Lake Polan. Small wonder: With menopause, there's a dramatic decrease in the ovaries' production of estrogen, the hormone that helps lubricate the vagina and increases blood flow to the genitals. Testosterone also declines.

The bright side of menopause
Many women are thrilled to put the hassles of menstruation and contraception behind them. And even though you can't count on your hormones to rev up your libido, you don't have to kiss your sex life good-bye. New medications, including Viagra, are currently being tested.

Getting a handle on HRT
Many postmenopausal women take hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which usually involves a combination of estrogen and a synthetic version of progesterone. While HRT is effective in treating symptoms of menopause, such as vaginal dryness and hot flashes, it can lower testosterone levels, dampening libido, according to Laura and Jennifer Berman. As a result, some physicians are starting to prescribe testosterone in addition to HRT.

Decoding Guy-Speak
Ever feel like you need a translator when talking to a guy? Now you've got one. Read on for common guy statements -- and their real meanings.
By Sara Eckel

Hidden Meaning

Technically, you and your man both speak English. And certain phrases -- "Would you pass the salt?" "Do you know where the remote is?" -- can pass between you without ambiguity. But let's face it, the language of love can sometimes get confusing. We've compiled a list of some of men's most cryptic statements, as well as questions that will help you uncover the real deal.

What He Says: "My home phone isn't working, so call me on my cell." What He Could Mean: "I don't want you calling my house." What You Should Ask: "Are you already in a relationship with someone else?"

What He Says: "You have to be able to ride out these little corrections." What He Could Mean: "I lost everything in the stock market." What You Should Ask: "Do you consider yourself a gambler by nature?"

What He Says: "My marriage is essentially over." What He Could Mean: "I want to have an affair." What You Should Ask: "Does your wife know this?" "Have you taken formal steps toward divorce?"

What He Says: "Women are too picky." What He Could Mean: "Women don't like me." What You Should Ask: "Why didn't your last relationships work out?"

What He Says: "I'll have to check my schedule for next Saturday." What He Could Mean: "I'm waiting to see if a better offer comes along." What You Should Ask: "Would you rather wait and get together when you're not so busy?"

More Guy-Speak

What He Says: "I'm afraid of commitment." What He Could Mean: "I'd like to continue sleeping with you, but not if it means I have to stop seeing other women." What You Should Ask: "Do you want to try and overcome this fear?"

What He Says: "So it's me. I'm calling you." What He Could Mean: "I don't particularly want to talk, but I want to get credit for calling." What You Should Ask: "Would you rather talk another time?" or "I get the feeling that you're calling because you think that you should and not because you want to, is that true?"

What He Says: "So my parents are having this barbecue, and I was wondering if you'd like to come." What He Could Mean: "I'm madly in love with you." What You Should Ask: "Have you told your parents about us?"

What He Says: "That guy is a big phony." What He Could Mean: "I'm totally jealous that you were talking to that tall, handsome man at the party." What You Should Ask: "Were you upset that I talked to him for so long?"

What He Says: "It's not you, it's me." What He Could Mean: "It's you." What You Should Ask: "Have we been moving too fast?" or "Have you met someone else?"

What He Says: "I'd like to cook you dinner at my place." What He Could Mean: "I'd like to dazzle you with what a caring, nurturing renaissance man I am, so that you'll have sex with me." What You Should Ask: "How important is emotional involvement to you prior to being sexual?"