Sunday, July 31, 2011

Marvel launches 'Season One' superhero graphic novels -

Marvel Comics

Fantastic Four: Season One kicks off an all-new line of original graphic novels next year from Marvel Comics.

Over the years, Tom Brevoort has talked to many fans of Marvel Comics about the classic superhero stories of the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, and while adored by many, he often hears how they're hokey, old-fashioned and irrelevant.

For those who don't want to read their granddaddy's old comics, Marvel is launching a Season One line of original graphic novels — the publisher's first — next year to honor the company's 50th anniversary. The hardcover books star a new, young generation of today's comic creators bringing a modern voice and sensibility to tales of classic Marvel heroes and teams.

"We're hoping to introduce folks who have never read any of these characters to these characters in this format, and also provide an interesting and illuminating story for people who have read a lot of Fantastic Four and Daredevil," says Brevoort, Marvel's senior vice president and executive editor.

"If you want to dip your toe in the water and find out the essence of what Marvel is all about, here is a nice place for you to start in big, sizable, meaty chunks."

The first wave of four graphic novels will include:

Fantastic Four: Season One by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Stephen King's The Stand, Glee) and David Marquez (Secret Warriors), due out in February;

X-Men: Season One by Dennis Hopeless (Legion Of Monsters) and Jamie McKelvie (Phonogram), on sale in March;

Daredevil: Season One by Antony Johnston (Daredevil) and Wellinton Alves (Nova), in April;

Spider-Man: Season One by Cullen Bunn (Fear Itself: The Deep, Sixth Gun) and Neil Edwards (Fantastic Four), arriving in May.

Brevoort says a second wave will debut soon afterward "that will get deeper into other characters, as well."

In teaming creators, Marvel looked at people such as Aguirre-Sacasa, who did a significant run on Fantastic Four a few years ago and also helped overhaul Broadway'sSpider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. "He's not someone who makes his daily bread on doing monthly comics. That gives his work a little more pop here," Brevoort says.

"We tended to gravitate toward newer, younger writers in the field. They have not been so far around the block that they're stuck down either by their own tropes or by the tropes of the medium."

Some might think this is a similar initiative as the Ultimate Universe, but the Ultimate comics that began in 2000 were overhauls of Marvel characters. Season One isn't the beginning of an entirely new universe, however.

"Everything you know about them, everything that's existed for the last 50 years still exists and is still there," Brevoort says. "These are individually new stories, even though they've got bits and pieces of old and formative origin stuff in and around them, as well."

They're not simple retellings of the origin stories, either. While you'll get a sense of that — such as the Fantastic Four shooting off into space and Peter Parker getting bit by a radioactive spider — the Season One graphic novels will focus on tales that define the characters and their relationships with each other.

"We know a lot more now obviously about what Spider-Man would grow into than anybody had any idea in 1962, and the same with Daredevil and same with the X-Men," Brevoort says. "We're able to act with a little more forethought and foreknowledge as to how these characters will grow and evolve during that period."

The Marvel books of 1961 — when the Fantastic Four first burst onto the scene thanks to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby— were the cutting edge of storytelling for the time, giving quirks and differing personalities to superheroes.

But comics are more sophisticated and cinematic in 2011, Brevoort says, and the nuance and subtlety of a more modern era will be reflected in the new line — along with certain touches of today such as cellphones.

The marketplace for the hefty graphic-novel format and increasing acceptance of it has also grown to the point where "there are plenty of more ordinary people who maybe don't feel so comfortable reading an average comic book on the train, but who don't think anything about reading something in a trade paperback or graphic-novel format. These are perfect outreaches to that kind of audience," Brevoort says.

"A contemporary will find more to their liking hopefully and more to their speed than simply going back and re-reading the early Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Although we welcome you to do that, as well."

Marvel Season One Exclusive First Look

by Brian Truitt USA Today Jul 19, 2011

Marvel launches 'Season One' superhero graphic novels -

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How will you create the universe?

How Will You Create The Universe? from Encyclopedia Pictura on Vimeo.

Monday, July 25, 2011

a u d r e y * k a w a s a k i



a u d r e y * k a w a s a k i

Mackay: Work hard to fight boredom

A preacher died and went to heaven, where he noticed that a New York cabdriver had been awarded a higher place than he.

"I don't understand," he complained to St. Peter. "I devoted my entire life to my congregation."

St. Peter explained: "Our policy here in heaven is to reward results. Now, was your congregation well-attuned to you whenever you gave a sermon?"

"Well," the minister had to admit, "some in the congregation fell asleep from time to time."

"Exactly," St. Peter said. "When people rode in this man's taxi, they not only stayed awake - they even prayed!"

Now, I'm not saying you should drive like a maniac, but there is something to living life to the fullest and not being boring.

As a public speaker, I can give this preacher some good advice: If you haven't struck oil in the first five minutes, stop . . . boring.

Cecil Beaton, British photographer and interior designer, said:

"Perhaps the world's second-worst crime is boredom. The first is being a bore."

And if you allow yourself to be bored too long, you actually become a bore. What a vicious cycle.

Boredom affects everyone.

Sadly, it's quite prominent in the workplace, especially for those who perform the same routine job day in and day out. It's the same for people who sit in silence for long periods of time.

Boredom makes it tough for people to focus. Boredom weighs you down.

Believe me, this problem affects managers in high-level jobs, as well as line workers.

For example, a special-events manager who has a reputation for being the best in the business recently told me she was bored.

"Every party looks the same to me," she said. True, I told her - they look absolutely fabulous. I advised her to take time to share the joy she brings her clients. "I guess I forgot about that part," she told me.

A customer-relations vice president encourages his staff to think in terms of how many people they helped that day, rather than how many complaints they dealt with.

He knows that employees can get discouraged and bored in that line of work, and he wants them to have every reason to love their jobs.

Folks who are chronically bored are missing out on a lot of opportunities.

Can you improve your job or job performance? Is it time to consider a different job? Or do you need to concentrate more on how your job affects others and less on the paycheck?

When you can't change your job to eliminate boredom, you have to change your state of mind.

You need a shot of stimulation. Give your brain some new challenges, even if they aren't work-related. Changing the way you spend some of your time can cause a domino effect on the rest of your time.

Try these tricks:

- Do something you want to do. Go to a movie or a sports event. Listen to your favorite music. Go out with friends. Go to the mall. Buy yourself a little gift or a surprise for someone else.

- Read something new. Pick a book by an author you've never read or an article that will stimulate your imagination.

Get some exercise. Physical activity will get your blood pumping and stimulate endorphin production, making you feel energetic and happier.

- Take a break, or even a little nap. This might be hard for a lot of people, but I find that if I close my eyes and sleep for just five to 10 minutes, I wake up feeling refreshed.

- Explore your surroundings. Stop ignoring the sights on your way to work, or at work. Pay attention to all you see. Look for something different and original.

- Rearrange your space. Sometimes shifting things around at home or at work can force you to look at your surroundings, and your life, in a new light.

- Develop a hobby. Hopefully you already have one or two, but if not, find something you enjoy.

Volunteer. Helping others is a terrific antidote to the boredom blahs. And look at all the good you are doing.

- Change your routine. Take a different route to work. Start the day with something new instead of just sitting down with your to-do list. Shake up your day, and interesting things may reveal themselves.

Mackay's Moral: You can't soar if you're a bore.

by Harvey Mackay Jul 25, 2011

Mackay: Work hard to fight boredom

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The rules of career reinvention - Fortune Management

1. Get online, for real. Reinvention these days is digital. You're not too old to learn social media, and it's not too hard. In fact, technology has become more, not less, accessible. So get going!

2. Start from scratch. In the Age of Disruption, we're all starting from scratch. Don't get hung up over it -- embrace it. (Anyhow, you don't have a choice.)

3. Learn by doing. Don't worry about being perfect before you post something or try out a new site. The beauty of the medium is that there's often no right answer -- so you won't be wrong.

4. Share the wealth. Competitive advantage used to be about keeping a juicy nugget to yourself. But today knowledge is practically a commodity. Sharing raises your personal brand and connects you to others on a higher level. (Now go post this article.)

5. Cut back fast. To change your career, you need to be financially fit. So forget about status; the neighbors will be more impressed by your reinvention than your country club.

6. Prioritize your passions. The great thing about remaking yourself is that you can jettison all those things that you hate. Plot your passions and skill sets, and see if it gets you to a new place.

Sites that spark new thinking:

1. LinkedIn. Click on the groups tab, join as many "groups you may like" as possible in your areas of interest, and check out their discussions.

2. Twitter. Follow the experts who link to info about your professional interests. It's like hiring smart people to curate the news for you -- free.

3. Meetup is about bridging the online/offline divide with groups of people who share interests, then actually get together in real life.

4. YouTube. Type in"How to [fill in the blank]," and you'll find video after video explaining it. The results can be hit or miss, but the hits are fantastic.

The rules of career reinvention - Fortune Management

Pulling off the ultimate career makeover - Fortune Management

Job security has gone the way of the three-martini lunch. You can't become bulletproof, but you can reinvent yourself. How five gutsy professionals turned job setbacks into satisfying, sustainable careers.

FORTUNE -- If you lived in Birmingham, Ala., and wanted to rent a movie on a Friday night back in 2002, the odds were pretty good you'd be paying David Kahn for the privilege. Back then, Kahn, 49, was the effervescent owner of 45 Blockbuster franchises in Alabama and Mississippi; by his estimate, his group of stores made up the seventh-largest video-rental chain in America, and were worth more than $15 million.

Then a little company named Netflix (NFLX) came up with a new and disruptive business model for renting videos, and soon it would harness the technology behind delivering movies over the web. Kahn was about to be Blockbusted. He was in jeopardy of losing his financial security, his self-respect, his professional life. He would have to reinvent himself -- or the world would do it for him.

Feel a chill of recognition while reading this story? Thought so. In this "Age of Disruption," Kahn's story is hardly unique. If you haven't actually been Blockbusted yet, you've doubtless lost sleep over what you'll do if/when it finally happens.

We live and work in a time when technology has made it easier for new companies to be born. That's the good news. The bad news is that increase in productivity has fueled multiple rounds of job cutting. Add to that the lingering wreckage of the financial crisis and the fits-and-starts recovery, and it's clear that job change is the only constant.

Job creation is at its lowest point since 1980, while job destruction continues to rise. A full 12.6% of the workforce lost their jobs in the past recession, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Displaced Worker Survey. That's the highest rate since at least 1981.

What all these data points make crystal clear is that the very nature of jobs in America has changed. Pensions? An ancient relic. Steady progression up the corporate ladder? Yeah, right. We're living in a project-based economy, one moving from full-time employment with benefits to part-time employment with project-based assignments.

Here's proof: By the end of 2010, the number of people working part-time because they couldn't find full-time work had nearly quadrupled since the 1950s, to 2.38 million people. "It's a spot auction market," says Robert Reich, former secretary of labor under Clinton and the chancellor's professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. "What you're paid is what you're worth at that particular time."

That means you will change your professional identity frequently -- maybe even as often as you spruce up the look of your living room. The youngest baby boomers (those born from 1957 to 1964) held an average of 11 jobs from ages 18 to 44, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Denali Group, a procurement-services company, predicts that Generation Y will have 15 to 25 jobs in their lifetime. "This can be a very exciting world," Reich says. "In many ways, it's much better than the old world that was more seniority-based, where you tended to work on the same thing for many years."

Exciting if you're in your early twenties. But not so much, Reich adds, if you're an expert in your field, if college tuition is looming, if you aren't as able to relocate as you once were. There's just one way to achieve true job security: stand ready to reinvent yourself -- no matter what your age, your education, your skill set, or the color of your collar -- sometimes more than once.

But how?

To find out, we scoured the country to find people who have been disrupted but have managed to create a new career story. Those profiled here have successfully reinvented themselves -- not because they wanted to, but because they had to. They are not 25-year-old techies; they are established professionals who were happy doing what they were doing -- until they weren't doing it anymore.

The reason some people have become successful reinventors is more about attitude than experience: One thing they all have in common is that they love learning by doing. They have come to embrace the future, using new technologies, particularly social media, to help them leverage their own professional skills. And they are not victims. At a time when many people react passively to career bumps, our reinventors took control. Read on for 5 career makeover success stories

by Douglas Alden Warshaw Fortune Magazine June 21, 2011

Pulling off the ultimate career makeover - Fortune Management

Prenup agreements aren't just for the wealthy anymore

Prenup agreements aren't just for the wealthy anymore

FORTUNE -- Reality TV star Kim Kardashian isn't often held up as a model of prudent behavior. But the recent reports that she and her fiancé, NBA forward Kris Humphries, are working out a prenuptial agreement make her the celebutante face of a practical new trend. Prenups are on the rise. And they aren't just for the wealthy and famous these days.

A prenup is a legally binding contract that spells out how a couple's assets will be carved up if their marriage fails. Nearly three-quarters of attorneys surveyed in 2010 by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said they had seen a marked increase in prenups in recent years. A key reason: The financial crisis left people anxious to protect what they have. A glance at marriage statistics underscores the importance of planning ahead. Almost half of all first marriages end in divorce, and the divorce rate on subsequent unions is even higher.

Without a prenup, you're at the mercy of state law if you call it quits -- and the guidelines can be surprising. The courts consider two main types of property in a divorce: marital and separate. The marital type, which gets divvied up, generally includes all income and property acquired during the marriage by either spouse. That includes salaries and bonuses deposited in bank and brokerage accounts, real estate, business income, and benefits accrued in 401(k), IRA, and pension plans. "Clients are often appalled to learn that their retirement accounts do not belong to them alone," notes Arlene Dubin, a matrimonial attorney at Moses & Singer in New York City.

Separate property includes assets owned by each spouse prior to the marriage, as well as inheritances received during the union. You typically get to keep the original value of your separate property, but in many states you must share any appreciation with your spouse. For instance, your spouse could lay claim to part of the increased value of a house you brought into the marriage -- especially if marital income was used to pay the mortgage or make improvements. And if your business blossomed during the marriage, your spouse could be entitled to a major chunk of its new worth.

The method for dividing marital property depends on where you're getting divorced. If it's in one of the nation's nine "community property" states -- including California, Texas, and Arizona -- it's usually split fifty-fifty. In the remaining 41 "equitable distribution" states, marital property is doled out according to what a court deems fair, taking into consideration a slew of factors, such as the length of the marriage and the existence of children.

A prenup allows you to override state laws, provided that it's properly executed. For instance, legal experts recommend that it be signed at least 30 days before the wedding, to avoid the appearance of coercion -- a key reason prenups are tossed out by courts. It's also crucial that each spouse be represented by his or her own lawyer. In the end, a prenup may not be the most romantic relationship move you'll ever make, but it could be the most valuable.

by Janice Revell Fortune Magazine June 29, 2011

Prenup agreements aren't just for the wealthy anymore

Thursday, July 21, 2011

NASA bids farewell to shuttle era with Atlantis landing - Computerworld

Space shuttle Atlantis lands at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral on Thursday morning. (Pierre Ducharme / Reuters)

Computerworld - As NASA's space shuttle Atlantis touched down for the final time early today, the 30-year space shuttle program came to a bittersweet end.

The Atlantis crew landed the shuttle at 5:57 a.m. Eastern time at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, after 200 orbits around the Earth and a final journey of 5,284,862 miles. The shuttle's last mission was focused on bringing spare parts, experiments and equipment to the International Space Station.

This was not only the last space flight for Atlantis. It also was the final space flight for NASA's entire shuttle fleet.

All of the remaining shuttles -- Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour -- are now officially retired. The shuttle Enterprise, which was first built as a test vehicle but never flown, also is considered officially retired.

The shuttles Columbia and Challenger were destroyed in tragic accidents that took the lives of two crews.

"Although we got to take the ride, we sure hope that everybody who has ever worked on, or touched, or looked at, or envied or admired a space shuttle was able to take just a little part of the journey with us," said Atlantis Commander Chris Ferguson after this morning's landing.

Altogether, the space shuttles logged about 520 million miles in space, according to NASA. The combined mileage is more than enough to reach Jupiter.

Now NASA will begin to focus on exploring space without the shuttle program.

Last year, the Obama administration told NASA to stop internal efforts to build next-generation spacecraft and instead hire commercial companies to build space taxis.

NASA engineers have been told to concentrate on developing next-generation engines for the commercially built spacecraft, along with in-space fuel depots and advanced robotics.

The administration wants NASA to focus on extending its reach to asteroids, Mars and even farther into space.

In May, NASA announced that it is working toward sending a robotic spacecraft to an asteroid by 2016 in an effort to collect more data about the origins of the universe. The $800 million initiative is designed to send a spacecraft to an asteroid, where it will collect samples of the rocky object and return the material to Earth.

by Sharon Gaudin Computerworld July 21, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ron Paul, Barney Frank team up to legalize marijuan

By Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images

Here's one of the strangest pairings of late in Congress: Reps. Ron Paul and Barney Frank are teaming up today on legislation that would legalize marijuana.

The legislation by Paul, a libertarian-thinking Texas Republican running for president, and Frank, a liberal Massachusetts Democrat, is being touted by the advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

The bill to be introduced by Frank and Paul would allow states to "legalize, regulate, tax and control marijuana without federal interference."

Last year, California voters rejected Proposition 19, which would have allowed marijuana to be sold for recreational use. Voters in Colorado and Washington state could vote on the issue this year.

The Marijuana Policy Project highlights that 46.5% of Californians voted for Proposition 19. It also cites a report released this month by the Global Commission on Drug Policy that slammed the decades-old war on drugs and called on governments to take a look at decriminalizing marijuana and other drugs.

The bill by Frank and Paul would "end state/federal conflicts over marijuana policy, re-prioritize federal resources and provide more room for states to do what is best for their own citizens," the group says.

MPP says the bill will also be sponsored Democratic Reps. John Conyers of Michigan, Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Jared Polis of Colorado and Barbara Lee of California.

by Catalina Camia USA Today Jun 23, 2011

Ron Paul, Barney Frank team up to legalize marijuana

Mackay: Be sure your perspective is perceptive

We've reached a point in our country's history where authority and power seem to be manifested by the need to shout down one's opponent. Discussion and compromise are words freely bandied about, but they've largely lost their meaning.

What is really lost is perspective.

Just as there are two (or more) sides to every story, there are plenty of different ideas on how to get things done. No one person has a corner on that market.

Consider the story of three people who looked at the Grand Canyon:

The priest said, "What a glory of God!"

The geologist said, "What a wonder of science!"

The cowboy said, "What an awful place to lose a horse!"

How we approach an issue often colors our thinking about the result we wish to achieve. What we want may not line up with the next person's desired outcome. Our motives are not wrong, just very different. We need to respect each other's views and consider that our own may not be the only one with real merit.

Sure, that's easier said than done. But it can be done. And some of the most creative and powerful people in the world have offered helpful suggestions for expanding individual perspectives so we can truly work together.

For example, Thomas Watson Jr., the late chairman of IBM, shared some wisdom from his father, Thomas Watson Sr., founder of the company: "Father was fond of saying that everybody, from time to time, should take a step back and watch himself go by."

If you did that, would you like what you saw? Be honest.

Will Rogers, a uniquely American humorist known for his homespun wisdom and keen wit, summed up perspective this way: "You must never disagree with a man while you are facing him. Go around behind him and look the same way he is looking and you will see that things look different from what they do when you're facing him. Look over his shoulder and get his viewpoint, then go back and face him and you will have a different idea."

Note that both of these examples are from an era gone by, when folks seemed to be kinder and less contentious. We haven't necessarily improved our society since then - in fact, I believe that we've gotten meaner. How is that working?

Perspective is critical in competitive situations. If you can't see solutions from a competitor's point of view, you can't compete. How will you know what they are doing better than or different from you? Who are they appealing to with their approach? How are their customers responding?

I love to ask customers what their ideal product would be. What would their ideal supplier do differently? More than once I have been stunned at the simplicity of the solutions. Those questions open up new lines of communication and trust that benefit both sides. Don't just file away that information - use your new perspective to prepare for your next customer and competitor.

Have you heard about the aging racehorse who tried and tried but just couldn't run fast enough to win any races, or even finish in the money? His impatient owner told the jockey, "Either that horse wins some money in today's race or his next assignment is going to be pulling a milk wagon."

The jockey loved the horse and did everything he could to spur him on. He muttered sweet words to the horse as they went around the first turn, and on the backstretch, he shouted loud words of encouragement. But as the horse faltered in the stretch, the jockey started laying on the whip with terrible force.

At this, the horse turned his head to the jockey and said, "Hey, man, take it easy on that whip. I've got to get up and go to work in the morning."

MACKAY'S MORAL: The difference between a horse's front end and back end is a matter of perspective.

by Harvey Mackay Jul 18, 2011

Mackay: Be sure your perspective is perceptive

Medical-marijuana clubs pop up as Arizona law is debated

Medical-marijuana dispensaries can't yet operate in Arizona pending a judge's ruling on Proposition 203. But that doesn't necessarily keep cardholders from finding pot.

At least a handful of clubs that provide patients with medical marijuana have opened up in the Valley to fill that void.

Because the new state law allows most medical-marijuana cardholders to grow their own pot and share it with each other - as long as there are no dispensaries near - these clubs have developed as a go-between.

Joe Yuhas, a spokesman for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association, which led the campaign for Prop. 203, said the law was meant to create a "regulated industry" of dispensaries. Instead, Yuhas said, the pot clubs are an unintended consequence of the state and federal dispute over whether Arizona's new law conflicts with federal statutes banning marijuana.

"We're going to see more and more developments like this," Yuhas said.

The development of marijuana clubs has raised questions about their legality in two areas: the payment for the product and local zoning of the clubs.

The state Department of Health Services said it has "serious concerns about the legality of so-called cannabis clubs." Health officials have asked the Attorney General's Office to determine if the clubs are legal.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery agreed the clubs are an "untested area" but said he will prosecute anyone trying to operate outside the narrow provisions of the law.

However, club owners said they're operating legally.

Dispensaries stalled

In November, voters approved Prop. 203, which legalized medical-marijuana use for people with certain debilitating conditions. The law allowed patients - as long as they don't live within 25 miles of a dispensary - and caregivers to grow marijuana.

The state was expected to issue up to 126 dispensary permits by August.

But U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, following the lead of other federal prosecutors, warned prospective pot growers and sellers that they could be prosecuted under federal drug-trafficking laws.

In response to the warning, Gov. Jan Brewer and Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne filed a lawsuit in late May asking a federal judge to determine whether compliance with the law would leave state employees, dispensary owners and patients vulnerable to prosecution for violating federal drug statutes.

The ADHS then halted its dispensary-licensing process.

Meanwhile, the state has licensed 5,697 patients with medical-marijuana cards to grow their own.

The department also has approved 270 caregivers to grow marijuana for their patients.

Under the law, medical-marijuana patients can grow up to 12 plants of their own. Patients and caregivers can share it with other cardholders "if nothing of value is transferred in return."

Patients can pay caregivers for the costs and materials they use to grow pot but not for their work.

Inside the clubs

Caregivers can grow up to 72 plants total for themselves and five others. Some have given excess marijuana to these new clubs.

Since the clubs aren't regulated, there is no way to say for sure how many operate in the Valley.

But at least seven advertise and operate openly. Others are underground and recruit patients by word of mouth.

Owners of the 2811 Club in Phoenix have heavily promoted their club. Founder Al Sobol said hundreds of people have visited.

Tucked away in a shopping center off Bell Road, members of the 2811 Club lounge on plush-leather couches and gather around small coffee tables to read about strains of marijuana. Smoking is not allowed in the club.

In a back room, an instructor demonstrates how to make Italian salad dressing with pot. And, at a glass display counter, a volunteer hands out 3-gram samples of marijuana to cardholders.

The club scans the cards and verifies the patients' identity with a thumb-print machine. An armed security guard stands by.

Sobol said that most members are older than 50 and that only a few are in their 20s. Members can consult with volunteers to find the best sample for insomnia or chronic pain.

Mike Miller said he spends his days at the 2811 Club so he can be around people who understand his health problems.

Miller, a diabetic, had to have a leg amputated five years ago after a wound in his foot never healed. He said he has been on painkillers and other medications since then. Miller said he hardly left his house until he got his medical-marijuana card and found the 2811 Club.

"I'm hoping that the only time I would ever need a pain pill again is aspirin," Miller said.

Donating for pot

There is no set payment arrangement for the various clubs.

The 2811 Club charges members an initial application fee of $25 and a $75 entry fee each visit to attend classes and get a free sample.

The club offers marijuana through the Arizona Compassion Association, a co-op of patients and legal caregivers that has a display in the club. Sobol said the 2811 Club makes donations to the growers to help with expenses of growing marijuana.

Sobol said as long as patients aren't directly paying for pot, the 2811 Club and the Arizona Compassion Association aren't acting as dispensaries.

"We don't sell marijuana here," Sobol said, adding that clubs that do sell are "absolutely wrong" in their interpretation of Prop. 203.

Yoki A Má, another club in Mesa, has a similar payment arrangement, charging a $65 visit fee and giving members an eighth of an ounce of pot.

Club President Craig Scherf also said he is confident that his club is operating within the confines of the law.

But state and local authorities have not yet determined whether this arrangement constitutes transferring something of value.

Montgomery, the county attorney, said he hasn't received any cases about medical-marijuana clubs, but he wouldn't be surprised to get some soon. He said he can't determine whether they're all illegal because each case is unique.

"It sounds to me like someone is asking for something of value in order to participate," Montgomery said. "The closer you get to asking someone to provide money to receive marijuana sounds like a salient violation of the statute."

Ryan Hurley, an attorney who represents potential dispensary owners for Rose Law Group, said he would advise the potential medical-marijuana dispensary owners he represents against opening clubs.

"At best, it's a stretch under the law," Hurley said. "I think it's very, very risky."

Local zoning

Aside from the legality of payment issues, there are also some questions about where medical-marijuana clubs can operate.

Because clubs aren't dispensaries, zoning regulations don't apply to them.

Ken Strobeck, executive director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, worked with localities earlier this year to set up dispensary-zoning laws. Strobeck said he hasn't heard of anyone trying to zone a medical-marijuana club.

Scherf said he is trying to open a second Yoki A Má club in Tempe.

Tempe Planning Manager Lisa Collins said she isn't sure how local law enforcement would react to a medical-marijuana club, but the club would not need special approval to open.

She said a club might need a sales-tax license to operate as a retail business, but it wouldn't need one if it was only providing a service for a fee.

A club would need to get construction plans approved, but it probably wouldn't need to disclose the nature of its business, she said.

Because clubs aren't regulated like dispensaries, they're easier to open and run.

Sobol said he initially meant for the 2811 Club to someday become a dispensary, but he has changed his mind, in part, because there are no zoning laws about clubs.

Still, Scherf said clubs are setting up far from residential areas, schools, churches and parks to avoid trouble. His club in Mesa is surrounded by industrial businesses.

Enforcing the laws

Because there's so much ambiguity, Phoenix police said it's still too premature to determine whether the clubs are operating legally.

Sgt. Steve Martos, a police spokesman, said his agency hasn't made any arrests relating to medical-marijuana clubs.

"We are looking into whether or not they are covered by the new law," Martos said.

Gilbert police have arrested several cardholders for possession but said those arrests involved other crimes.

Robbie Sherwood, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for Arizona, recently reiterated his agency's stance on medical marijuana: Nobody is safe from prosecution.

by Emily Holden The Arizona Republic Jul. 18, 2011 12:00 AM

Medical-marijuana clubs pop up as Arizona law is debated

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Darth Vader Hot Air Balloon

Darth Vader - Full of Hot Air

photo by Tharrin

Darth Vader Balloon

photo by MartyCTX

The Darth Vader Balloon is an 86 foot tall hot air balloon replica of Darth Vader’s helmet. Belgian balloonists Benoit and Michel Lambert commissioned specialty manufacturer Cameron Balloons to build the Darth Vader Balloon in 2007 (of course, only after receiving the official Lucasfilm OK). The Lamberts now pilot the balloon in appearances all over the world. It will be featured at the Great Reno Balloon Race, September 9-11, 2011.

by Edw Lynch Laughing Squid July 14, 2011

Darth Vader Hot Air Balloon

Is my idea awesome?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Baby Boomers don't feel old, survey says

WASHINGTON - Baby Boomers say that wrinkles aren't so bad and that they're not that worried about dying. Just don't call them "old."

The generation that once powered a youth movement isn't ready to symbolize the aging of America, even as its first members are becoming eligible for Medicare. A new poll says three-quarters of all Boomers still consider themselves middle-age or younger, and that includes most of the Boomers ages 57 to 65.

Younger adults call 60 the start of old age, but Baby Boomers are pushing that number back, according to the Associated Press- poll. The median age they cite is 70. And a quarter of Boomers insist you're not old until you're 80.

"In my 20s, I would have thought the 60s were bad, but they're not so bad at all," said Lynn Brown, 64, a retired legal assistant and grandmother of 11 living in Apache Junction.

The 77 million Boomers are celebrating their 47th through 65th birthdays this year.

Overall, they're upbeat about their futures. Americans born in the population explosion after World War II are more likely to be excited about the positive aspects of aging, such as retirement, than worried about the negatives, like declining health. A third of those polled feel confident about growing older, almost twice as many as find it frustrating or sad.

Sixteen percent report they're happy about aging, about equal to the number who say they're afraid. Most expect to live longer than their parents.

"I still think I've got years to go to do things," said Robert Bechtel, 64, of Virginia Beach, Va. He retired last year after nearly four decades as a retail manager. Now, Bechtel has less stress and more time to do what he pleases, including designing a bunk bed for his grandchildren, remodeling a bathroom and teaching Sunday school.

A strong majority of Baby Boomers are enthusiastic about some perks of aging: watching their children or grandchildren grow up, doing more with friends and family, and getting time for favorite activities. About half say they're highly excited about retirement. Boomers most frequently say the wisdom accumulated over their lives is the best thing about aging.

"The older you get, the smarter you get," said Glenn Farrand, 62, of Ankeny, Iowa. But, he added, "the physical part of it is the pits."

Baby Boomers most often brought up failing health or fading physical abilities when asked to name the worst thing about getting older.

Among their top worries: physical ailments that would take away their independence (deeply worrisome to 45 percent), losing their memory (44 percent), and being unable to pay medical bills (43 percent). Many also fret about running out of money (41 percent).

Only 18 percent say they worry about dying. An additional 22 percent are "moderately" concerned about it. More than two-thirds expect to live to at least age 76; one in six expects to make it into the 90s.

About half predict a better quality of life for themselves than their parents experienced as they aged.

"My own parents, by the time they were 65 to 70, were very, very inactive and very much old in their minds," Brown said. "(So, they) sat around the house and didn't go anywhere."

"I have no intentions of sitting around the house," said Brown, whose hobbies include motorcycle rides with her husband. "I'm enjoying being a senior citizen more than my parents did."

But a minority of Boomers, about a fourth, worry things will be harder for them than for the previous generation.

"I think we'll have less," said Vicki Mooney, 62, of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., who fears older people will be pinched by cuts to Social Security and Medicare and rising health-care costs. "The main difference in the quality of life is wondering if we will have a safety net."

Boomers with higher incomes generally are more optimistic about aging than their poorer peers. Women tend to feel sunnier than men; college graduates are more positive than those without a degree.

A third of Baby Boomers say their health has declined in the past five years. That group is more likely to express fear or frustration about aging. Still, most Boomers rate themselves in good or even excellent health overall, with fewer than one in 10 doing poorly.

Looking older is seriously bugging just 12 percent of Boomers. The vast majority say they wouldn't get plastic surgery. That includes Johanna Taisey, 61, of Chandler, who said aging is "no problem at all; it's just nature."

One in 5 would consider cosmetic surgery.

The AP-LifeGoesStrong .com poll was conducted from June 3 to 12 by Knowledge Networks of Menlo Park, Calif., and involved online interviews with 1,416 adults, including 1,078 Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964. The margin of sampling error for results from the full sample was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

For the Boomers, it was plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

by Connie Cass and Stacy A. Anderson Associated Press Jul. 14, 2011 12:00 AM

Baby Boomers don't feel old, survey says

Benson Cartoons - Political Cartoons

July 12, 2011

Benson Cartoons - Political Cartoons

Scottsdale woman discovers how fine she can really feel

Two years ago, no one looking at Diane Watson would have harrumphed, "She needs to get in shape."

Today, though, the difference is noticeable.

The change began when Watson signed up for a dance-exercise class led by Tiffani Bachus, a fitness consultant and registered dietitian. The new student realized quickly how disconnected she felt from her body.

Watson, 45, wasn't overweight. She was reasonably fit for a non-exerciser. But she had little energy.

"I had always been in sort of OK shape," she says. "I just didn't know what good shape I could be in. The class kind of woke me up."

Bachus became Watson's trainer, suggesting that she keep a food journal, shopping with her for groceries, surveying her kitchen and phasing in a balanced fitness routine. An early eye-opener: Watson had 15 boxes of cereal in her kitchen cupboards.

"I was totally the empty-calories girl," the Scottsdale woman says. "I could have four bowls of cereal and not be satisfied."

To start, Bachus introduced Watson to strength training, important for increasing energy and for building muscles in the abdomen and the rest of the body's core. Muscle strength in the trunk also increases stability.

Then the trainer added step aerobics and other cardiovascular exercises, along with yoga classes to calm the mind and further strengthen the body. The combination provided balance to Watson's overall workout routine and made her more aware of her body's signals.

More important, the regimen reduced the likelihood that Watson would develop health problems ranging from osteoarthritis to depression.

Watson never weighed herself, never talked about her diet. But over time, she lost about 15 pounds and a dress size. Her body is leaner and more compact, and her energy doesn't flag. She no longer reaches for chocolate in the afternoon to get a quick but short-lived boost.

"This is not just about looking good or fitting into a certain size," she says. "It's a lifestyle choice. You make it a priority, and you become addicted to feeling good."

by Connie Midey The Arizona Republic Jul. 11, 2011 12:00 AM

Scottsdale woman discovers how fine she can really feel

Deal makers channel their inner child

We were treated pretty well back when we were in diapers. We made our wishes known, and the world as we knew it listened. When we wanted to be fed, we were fed. When we were feeling a little damp, we vocalized our concern and wham, it was all taken care of. Ah, the good old days.

The lessons from those early days can serve us well as adults, says Herb Cohen, the "Grand Master of Negotiation." His book "You Can Negotiate Anything" (Bantam, 1982) was on the New York Times best-seller list for nearly a year and is considered one of the greatest negotiation books of all time. I recently talked to my good friend Herb, and I'm passing along some of his negotiating tips that really make sense.

Herb said: "If you think about it, who in this society are among the most successful negotiators? In other words, who are people who seem to get what they want? I would answer: children. Children are little people in a big person's world. They are people without formal authority or power, yet they seem to get what they want."

What is it that these little people do so well? Herb listed four examples:

- Number one, they aim high. They understand that if you expect more, you get more. Herb says, "Raise your sights."

- Second, children recognize that "no" is an opening bargaining position. A lot of people think "no" is final. No. When people hear an idea for the first time, they react negatively. Recognize that.

- Children are in the habit of forming coalitions. Very few of us are solitary decision makers. Herb said: "Whom do kids form coalitions with? Their grandparents. In other words, they make a request of their mother. Mother says no. They make the same request to their father. Father says no. They appeal to their next level, to their grandparents, which is easy because they have a common enemy, the parents."

Herb says kids are good negotiators because they are naive. They say things like, "I don't know. I don't understand. Help me." And that works.

In fact, a lot of executives think it's their job in a negotiation to tell the other side how brilliant they are and what their background is. Not a winning strategy. If you're brilliant or intelligent, let the other side discover it. Don't help them. In other words, you don't even want to look too good in a negotiation.

- Kids tend to be tenacious and persistent. They wear you down. So be persistent, repeat your point over and over again. Wear the other side down.

Herb's wisdom resonates with anyone who has ever dealt with a youngster. It seems to me these strategies are not mean or threatening. They aren't sneaky or deceitful. You can look across the bargaining table and know that you are being up-front, direct and determined. Your motives are honest, your position is clear and your desired outcome is unmistakable.

Now, keep in mind I'm not suggesting that you act childish. Just reprogram your thinking to a childlike view. Clear out the clutter and ask for what you want. No, ask for more than you want. Then be prepared to accept less than you ask for. That makes the other side feel like they have gotten a real concession from you. So stunningly simple, yet blindingly brilliant.

You'll learn a lot from your kids, but few lessons will be more useful in your business life than learning how to effectively negotiate.

But remember: No whining!

Mackay's Moral: Think like an adult, but negotiate like a child.

by Harvey Mackay Jul 10, 2011

Deal makers channel their inner child

Friday, July 8, 2011

Physics of desert dust walls, history of the haboob | ASU News

ASU weather expert Randy Cerveny talks about the history and effects of haboobs.

The dust wall that hit Phoenix on July 5, was more than a mile high and some 50 miles wide. Before it was over, Sky Harbor International Airport was closed down, driving was hazardous and severe storm warnings were out for much of Central and Western Arizona.

It was the largest dust storm in the area in several decades.

Physics of desert dust walls, history of the haboob | ASU News

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