Saturday, May 03, 2008

History of Softball

The game of softball originated in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, 1887. A group of about twenty young men had gathered in the gymnasium of the Farragut Boat Club in order to hear the outcome of the Harvard-Yale football game. After Yale's victory was announced and bets were paid off, a man picked up a stray boxing glove and threw it at someone, who hit it with a pole.

George Hancock, usually considered the inventor of softball, shouted, "Let's play ball!" He tied the boxing glove so that it resembled a ball, chalked out a diamond on the floor (smaller dimensions than those of a baseball field in order to fit the gym) and broke off a broom handle to serve as a bat. What proceeded was an odd, smaller version of baseball. That game is now, 111 years later, known as the first softball game. Softball may have seen its death on the day of its birth if Hancock had not been so fascinated by it. In one week, he created an oversized ball and an undersized rubber-tipped bat and went back to the gym to paint permanent white foul lines on the floor. After he wrote new rules and named the sport indoor baseball, a more organized, yet still new, game was played. Its popularity was immediate.

Hancock's original game of indoor baseball quickly caught on in popularity, becoming international with the formation of a league in Toronto. That year, 1897, was also the premiere publication of the Indoor Baseball Guide. This was the first nationally distributed publication on the new game and it lasted a decade.

In the spring of 1888, Hancock's game moved outdoors. It was played on a small diamond and called indoor-outdoor. Due to the sport's mass appeal, Hancock published his first set of indoor-outdoor rules in 1889.

While Chicago was definitely softball's birthplace, the game saw some modification in Minneapolis. The year was 1895 when Lewis Rober, Sr., (a fire department officer) needed an activity to keep his men occupied and in shape during their free time. He created his game to fit the confines of a vacant lot next to the firehouse and the result was instantly appealing. Surprisingly, Rober was probably not familiar with Hancock's version of the sport because it was still concentrated in Chicago at that time. The following year, 1896, Rober was moved to a new unit with a new team to manage. In honor of this group's name, the Kittens, the game was termed Kitten League Ball in 1900. The name was later shortened to kitten ball.

In order to reach the Olympics, the women's sport of softball obviously had to grow greatly from its beginnings. The first women's softball team was formed in 1895 at Chicago's West Division High School. They did not obtain a coach for competitive play until 1899 and it was difficult to create interest among fans. However, only five years later, more attention was given to the women's game. The Spalding Indoor Baseball Guide 1904 issue fueled this attention by devoting a large section of the guide to the game of women's softball.

The Chicago National Tournament in 1933 also advanced the sport. At this competition, the male and female champions were honored equally. The International Softball World Championships in 1965 developed women's softball by making it an international game, a step towards the Pan-American Games and the Olympics. Eleven years later, women softball players were given the closest equivalent to Major League Baseball with the 1976 formation of the International Women's Professional Softball League. Player contracts ranged from $1,000 to $3,000 per year, but the league disbanded in 1980 because of financial ruin. Vicki Schneider, a St. Louis Softball Hall of Famer and former professional player, recalls this league as being the high point of her career (Schneider).

My Favourite Bare Naked Ladies Songs

Test You Snake Bite IQ

• Cut the skin were snake bit with a knife
• Squeeze some of the venom out by fingers
• Drink some olive oil (if you have it) and suck the venom by mouth
• Apply a tight tourniquet to the limb to make sure venom does not spread

Right? – Absolutely wrong!!!
Never ever do any of the things listed above! All of them are items included in most of DO NOT lists related to snake bites first aid.

Each year in the U.S., there are over 8,000 poisonous snakebites -- mostly in the summer season. Poisonous snake bites are medical emergencies, and they can be deadly if not treated quickly. Children are at higher risk for death or serious complications because of their smaller body size. However, the right anti-venom can save a person's life. Getting the person to an emergency room as quickly as possible is very important.

Prevention Hints
• All snakes will bite when threatened or surprised, but most will usually avoid an encounter if possible and only bite as a last resort.
• Snakes found in and near water are frequently mistaken as being poisonous. Most species of snake are harmless and many bites will not be life-threatening, but unless you are absolutely sure that you know the species, treat it seriously.
• Keep your hands and feet away from areas where you cannot see, like between rocks or in tall grass where rattlesnakes like to rest.
• Even though most snakes are not poisonous, avoid picking up or playing with any snake unless you have been properly trained.
• Many serious snake bites occur when someone deliberately provokes a snake.
• When hiking in an area known to have snakes, wear long pants and boots if possible.
• Avoid areas where snakes may be hiding such as under rocks and logs.
• Tap ahead of you with a walking stick before entering an area with an obscured view of your feet. Snakes will attempt to avoid you if given adequate warning.
• If you are a frequent hiker, consider purchasing a snakebite kit. But do NOT use older snakebite kits, such as those containing razor blades and suction bulbs.

• DO NOT allow the victim to become over-exerted. If necessary, carry the victim to safety.
• DO NOT apply a tourniquet.
• DO NOT apply cold compresses to a snake bite.
• DO NOT cut into a snake bite with a knife or razor.
• DO NOT try to suction the venom by mouth.
• DO NOT give the victim stimulants or pain medications unless instructed by a doctor.
• DO NOT give the victim anything by mouth.
• DO NOT raise the site of the bite above the level of the victim's heart.

First Aid
1. Keep the person calm, reassuring them that bites can be effectively treated in an emergency room. Restrict movement, and keep the affected area below heart level to reduce the flow of venom.
2. If you have a pump suction device (such as that made by Sawyer), follow the manufacturer's directions.
3. Remove any rings, jewelry or constricting items because the affected area may swell and constricting items will cause tissue death.
4. Create a loose splint to help restrict movement of the area. Keep the bitten area still. You can immobilize the area with an improvised splint made from a board, magazines, or other stiff material tied to the limb. Don't tie it too tight---you don't want to reduce blood flow.
5. If the area of the bite begins to swell and change color, the snake was probably poisonous.
6. Keep the area of the snake bite lower than the heart.
7. If the snake is an elapid species (coral snakes and cobras), wrap the extremity with an elastic pressure bandage. Start from the point closest to the heart and wrap towards the fingers or toes.
8. Monitor the person's vital signs -- temperature, pulse, rate of breathing, and blood pressure -- if possible.
9. If there are signs of shock (such as paleness), lay the person flat, raise the feet about a foot, and cover the person with a blanket.
10. Get medical help immediately.
11. Bring in the dead snake only if this can be done safely. Do not waste time hunting for the snake, and do not risk another bite if it is not easy to kill the snake. Be careful of the head when transporting it -- a snake can actually bite for up to an hour after it is dead (from a reflex).

• Bloody wound discharge
• Blurred vision
• Burning
• Convulsions
• Diarrhea
• Dizziness
• Excessive sweating
• Fainting
• Fang marks in the skin
• Fever
• Increased thirst
• Local tissue death
• Loss of muscle coordination
• Nausea and vomiting
• Numbness and tingling
• Rapid pulse
• Severe pain
• Skin discoloration
• Swelling at the site of the bite
• Weakness

Cut a Snakebite to Suck out the Venom: False

Cutting into a snakebite and attempting to suck out the venom, have largely fallen out of favor.
According to the American Red Cross, these steps should be taken:
- Wash the bite with soap and water.
- Immobilize the bitten area and keep it lower than the heart.
- Get medical help.


Molasses is made from sugar cane, sugar beet, and citrus. It is most commonly made from sugar cane.

There are three major types of sugar cane molasses: unsulphured, sulphured and blackstrap. There are also three major grades of cane molasses: first molasses, second molasses, and blackstrap molasses.

When sugar cane is harvested, the leaves are stripped, the juice extracted by crushing or mashing, and then boiled and processed to extract the sugar. The results of the first boiling and processing is first molasses – this has the highest sugar content. The results of the second boiling is second molasses. Second molasses is darker in colour and has a slightly bitter taste. Black strap molasses is from the third boiling.

Unsulphured molasses is the finest quality first molasses and is made from the juice of sun-ripened cane and the juice is clarified and concentrated. Sulphured molasses is made from green sugar cane that has not matured long enough and is treated with sulphur fumes during the sugar extracting process.

There are a number of different types and sources of molasses and some have already had the maximum amount of sugar removed and will therefore not be sweet. There are two main types of organic molasses: HTM (High Test Mollases) and Black Strap Molasses.

HTM is a sweet syrup with a high brix content of 80-84 percent. [Brix is a term originally used for pure sucrose solutions to indicate the percentage of sucrose in the solution on a weight basis. Molasses contains, glucose, fructose, raffinose and numerous non-sugar organic materials, as well as sucrose. Therefore the Brix value for molasses will often differ dramatically from actual sugar or total solid content. It really represents specific gravity.] The high-test molasses is a heavy, partially inverted cane syrup (no sugar removed), however molasses is a term generally used to designate material from which sugar has been removed.

Organic Blackstrap molasses has a rich, full bodied flavour that adds natural colour to food. It is the end product, or by-product, of the production of sugar and contains vitamins, minerals and trace elements naturally found in the sugar cane plant and is a good source of iron, vitamin B6, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Because it is an end-product all the ingredients, residues, and toxins in the plant can be concentrated in the molasses. For this reason it is important to purchase organic molasses.

For use as a sweetener, HTM molasses is recommended - blackstrap has a bitter taste.

Molasses is an excellent chelating agent. An object with iron rust placed for two weeks in a mixture of one part molasses to nine parts water will lose its rust due to the chelating action of the molasses.


Empacho (or tripida) literally means an impacted stomach or surfeit. While all ages may be prone to empacho, it is much more common in young children. The etiology is felt to be adherence of soft food and difficult-to-digest substances (such as popcorn or chewing gum) to the stomach wall. Symptoms are anorexia, stomach ache, vomiting, pain with diarrhea, and generalized abdominal fullness. The diagnosis is made by the healer noting symptoms and checking for direct (but not rebound) abdominal tenderness, feeling knots in the calves, and/or rolling a fresh chicken egg over the abdomen. Empacho is confirmed if the egg appears to stick to a particular area. Remedies include rubbing the stomach or back, popping of the skin, and purgative teas of wormwood (estafiate) or camomile (manzanilla). Lead (azarcón) or mercury (greta) powders are still occasionally given.
Administration of these heavy metals can cause severe illness and death, but occasionally are still used despite a widely disseminated public information program.

Don't expect antivenin for exotic snakebites: B.C. health officials

A Surrey man who nearly lost his finger after a bite from his pet cobra is now home recovering, but B.C. health officials are warning the province has no supply of antivenin for exotic snakebites.

Jason Hansen, shown in hospital last week, said his finger turned black after being bitten and his whole arm swelled to nearly three times its size.
Jason Hansen, 36, was bitten by Eve, his pet albino cobra, on Dec. 6, and he is still suffering from the effects.

He has massive scarring on his arm and may still lose his finger, which is badly damaged. The bite was dry and no venom was released, but the neurotoxins in the snake's saliva caused serious tissue damage, he said.

"It just looks like a finger with no skin," he told CBC News on Friday.

Experts say the case should be a warning to people who collect exotic and dangerous pets that life-saving antivenin is difficult to get and not always effective.

Debra Kent, the supervisor of the B.C. Poison Control Centre, told CBC News that even if a hospital does have antivenin, doctors won't necessarily administer it to patients, because it is only effective in limited situations.

In Hansen's case, antivenin was eventually obtained from Alberta, but never administered, because his respiratory system wasn't failing, said Kent.

Jason Hansen's five-year-old pet cobra, Eve, bit him on his finger last week.
Many B.C. hospitals carry antivenin for bites from rattlesnakes, a species native to parts of B.C.'s Southern Interior, but they don't stock antivenin for non-native species such as cobras, said Kent.

"The two closest places to us that carry exotic snake antivenin are the Woodland Zoo in Seattle and Reptile World in Drumheller, Alta.," said Kent.

Michael Teller, the manager at the Woodland Zoo, told CBC News on Friday they have antivenin for all their poisonous snakes and they do get calls for incidents like Hansen's occasionally.

If the bite is verified, and if the situation is life-threatening, they will ship antivenin, but Teller said exotic snake antivenin is rare and expensive, meaning if they hand out their vials, they put themselves at risk.

"We don't have any in case anyone at our institution gets bitten, so then we have to be really cautious," Teller told CBC News on Friday.

Cobra bites are rare, Kent said, but the latest incident has been a wakeup call for local health officials.

"We don't really know how many private collections there are in B.C. [of poisonous exotic snakes]," she said.

Hansen said there are a lot more than people think, and for that reason exotic snake antivenin should be readily available.

"If it's Drumheller, Alta., that we have to get this stuff from, then maybe we should have some locally here as well."

Special Thanks to CBC

A Web Site to Laugh at

The Christian Science Monitor

How to Make Healthy Dog Food with Natural Dog Food Ingredients

Feed Raw Food: Dog Food as Nature Intended

Start with meat. Most dogs want meat protein.
Choose fresh meat for your dog. It’s best to buy from a butcher or meat processor. These meats will be fresher, can be bought in bulk for better pricing, and you can have the butcher cut up or grind the meat for you if necessary.
Use lean beef, stewing meats, beef heart, beef liver, boneless steak or roast. Boneless stewing lamb, the shank, leg of lamb or butt can also be used. Boneless, skinless chicken breast, fillet or thigh can also make great healthy dog food for your pet.
Select vegetables to add. The best vegetables for your dog include squash, pumpkin, cucumber, zucchini, carrots, parsnips, beets, yams, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. These vegetables will provide necessary nutrients. Again, select produce that is as fresh as possible.
Avoid such vegetables as beans, peas, spinach, beet greens, chard, onions, garlic, tomato, potato, or bell peppers. These vegetables will either cause digestive problems or may even lead to damage of the red book cells.
Determine how much to feed your pet per day. To determine how much to feed an adult dog, take his body weight and multiply it by 0.4. The resulting number is the total number of ounces your dog should be eating in a day -- either in one big meal or divided into a morning and dinner meal.
Chop the meat and vegetables into chunks small enough for your pet to eat easily. Serve it raw.

Feed Cooked Natural Dog Food
Cook the food. Though it is not necessary to cook the meat and vegetables before serving them to your dog, some pet owners prefer to do so, particularly with poultry.
Cook meat only slightly, so that it is still juicy and tender. This will allow for maximum nutritional value as heat can kill many of the nutrients.
Lightly steam vegetables before adding them to the cooked natural dog food. Be sure to only add the recommended vegetables listed above.
Stir the meal and test different areas to make sure there are no hot spots before you give it to your dog. Always allow the cooked food to cool before serving.

Dog Food Recipe: Sauteed Liver
Heat 1 teaspoon of corn oil in a pan.
Add ¼ pound of beef liver and fry on both sides until only lightly cooked but still very moist inside.
Add ½ cup of water to the pan drippings to create tasty gravy for your natural dog food.
Cut the liver into small chunks and allow it to cool before serving it to your pet.

Random Quote

"It's amazing how quickly you recover from misery
when someone offers you ice cream."
Neil Simon, Brighton Beach Memoirs

If I Had A Million Dollars Lyrics

If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
I'd buy you a house
(I would buy you a house)
If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
I'd buy you furniture for your house
(Maybe a nice chesterfield or an ottoman)
And if I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I'd buy you a K-Car
(A nice Reliant automobile)
If I had a million dollars I'd buy your love

If I had a million dollars
I'd build a tree fort in our yard
If I had million dollars
You could help, it wouldn't be that hard
If I had million dollars
Maybe we could put like a little tiny fridge in there somewhere
You know, we could just go up there and hang out
Like open the fridge and stuff
There would already be laid out foods for us
Like little pre-wrapped sausages and things

They have pre-wrapped sausages but they don't have pre-wrapped bacon
Well, can you blame 'em
Uh, yeah

If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I'd buy you a fur coat
(But not a real fur coat that's cruel)
And if I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I'd buy you an exotic pet
(Yep, like a llama or an emu)
And if I had a million dollars
(If I had a a million dollars)
Well, I'd buy you John Merrick's remains
(Ooh, all them crazy elephant bones)
And If I had a million dollars I'd buy your love

If I had a million dollars
We wouldn't have to walk to the store
If I had a million dollars
Now, we'd take a limousine 'cause it costs more
If I had a million dollars
We wouldn't have to eat Kraft Dinner
But we would eat Kraft Dinner
Of course we would, we’d just eat more
And buy really expensive ketchups with it
That’s right, all the fanciest ke... dijon ketchups!
Mmmmmm, Mmmm-Hmmm

If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I'd buy you a green dress
(But not a real green dress, that's cruel)
And if I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I'd buy you some art
(A Picasso or a Garfunkel)
If I had a million dollars
(If I had a million dollars)
Well, I'd buy you a monkey
(Haven't you always wanted a monkey)

If I had a million dollars
I’d buy your love

If I had a million dollars, If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars, If I had a million dollars
If I had a million dollars
I'd be rich

Mythology Profile: The Cenobite

Origin: The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

They offer experiences which are far beyond that which this world can provide. Cenobites can bring about "...conditions of the nerve endings the like of which [one's] imagination, however fevered, could not hope to evoke." They were once human, and in their desire to experience more than the reality they knew they chose to open the box, eager for the journey to hell. Scars cover every inch of their flesh which is "...cosmetically punctured and sliced and infibulated, then dusted down with ash." They smell of vanilla and are invisible and inaudible to people who have not solved the Box.

They must be summoned by a device such as Lemarchand's Box to cross the Schism into this world. They cannot reseal the Schism until they take someone back with them (only blood and flesh can bring humans across it). Other ways to summon the Cenobites can be found " the vaults of the Vatican, hidden in code in a theological work unread since the Reformation." or " the form of an origami exercise, [that] was reported to have been in the possession of the Marquis de Sade, who used it, while imprisoned in the Bastille, to barter with a guard for paper on which to write The 120 Days of Sodom."

Mythology Profile: Peg Powler

Origin: England

A hag with sharp green teeth and long green hair that is said to inhabit the river Tees. She waits in the water for the approach of unwary humans, especially naughty children, and she grabs the ankles of those who unknowingly wander too close to the water's edge. Some acconts show her dragging her victim to an underwater lair, where she devours them. Others simply show her pulling her victims underwater to drown them. Obviously, swimming or wading in this river is strongly discouraged.

Warnings that Peg Powler may be nearby include the presence of green foam or froth on the river (known as Peg Powler's Suds) and/or the presence of green surface scum (known as Peg Powler's Cream) on slower sections of the river. The alder tree was considered as a charm that held evil faeries at bay, as in this Mother Goose ryme which shows a fear of water faeries like Peg Powler:

"Mother, may I go out to swim?"
"Yes, my darling daughter.
Hang your clothes on an alder limb
And don't go near the water."
Bean-Fionn is a general name for all types of drowning faeries. Peg Powler is also known as Jenny Greenteeth, a similar green hag who is known to haunt stagnant pools of water in Lancashire. Another green hag, Nellie Longarms, is thought to inhabit Derbyshire, Cheshire, Lancashire, Stropshire and Yorkshire. Interestingly, a German version of the Bean-Fionn, called the Weisse Frau, was said to love children and protect them. She was also said to help travelers, but she angered easily, especially if you were to abuse a child.

The tales were no doubt created to scare young children away from the precarious banks of rivers and streams. Some variations of the story even make sure to specify that the children who were attacked were explicitly disobeying their parents' wishes.

Mario Andretti quote

If everything is under control
you are not going fast enough.

In 1904

The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub and only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone. A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.

There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California, which was only the 21st most populous state in the Union. The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was 30!

The average unskilled worker made between $200 and $450 per year. A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home. Most U.S. physicians had no college degree. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard."

Sugar cost four cents a pound, eggs were fourteen cents a dozen and coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at neighborhood drugstores. According to one pharmacist, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health." (Shocking!)

Eighteen percent of households in the U.S. had at least one full-time servant or domestic.

There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.

The first powered airplane flight took place the previous December and lasted only 3.5 seconds!

Kopi Luwak

Coffee grows in dozens of countries around the world. Some varieties have earned a special reputation, often based on a combination of rarity, unusual circumstances and particularly good flavor. These coffees, from Jamaican Blue Mountain to Kona to Tanzanian Peaberry, command a premium price. But perhaps no coffee in the world is in such short supply, has such unique flavors and an, um, interesting background as Kopi Luwak. And no coffee even comes close in price: Kopi Luwak sells for $75 per quarter pound. Granted, that's substantially less than marijuana, but it's still unimaginably high for coffee.

Kopi (the Indonesian word for coffee) Luwak comes from the islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi (formerly Celebes), which are part of the Indonesian Archepelago's 13,677 islands (only 6,000 of which are inhabited). But it's not strictly the exotic location that makes these beans worth their weight in silver. It's how they're "processed."

On these Indonesian islands, there's a small marsupial called the paradoxurus, a tree-dwelling animal that is part of the sibet family. Long regarded by the natives as pests, they climb among the coffee trees eating only the ripest, reddest coffee cherries. Who knows who first thought of it, or how or why, but what these animals eat they must also digest and eventually excrete. Some brazen or desparate -- or simply lazy -- local gathered the beans, which come through the digestion process fairly intact, still wrapped in layers of the cherries' mucilage. The enzymes in the animals' stomachs, though, appear to add something unique to the coffee's flavor through fermentation.

Curiously, Kopi Luwak isn't the only "specialty" food that begins this way. Argan is an acacia-like tree that grows in Morocco and Mexico which, through its olive-like fruit, yields argan oil. In Morocco, the Berbers encourage goats to climb the trees to eat the fruit. They later gather the goats' excrement and remove the pits, which they grind for oil to be used in massage, in cooking and as an aphrodisiac.

What started as, presumably, a way for the natives to get coffee without climbing the trees has since evolved into the world's priciest specialty coffee. Japan buys the bulk of Kopi Luwak, but M.P. Mountanos (800-229-1611), the first in the United States to bring in this exotic bean, recently imported 110 pounds after a seven year search for a reliable and stable supplier. "It's the rarest beverage in the world," Mark Mountanos says, estimating a total annual crop of less than 500 pounds.

Richard Karno, former owner of The Novel Cafe in Santa Monica, California, got a flyer from Mountanos about Kopi Luwak and "thought it was a joke." But Karno was intrigued, found it it was for real, and ordered a pound for a tasting. Karno sent out releases to the local press inviting them to a cupping. When no one responded, he roasted it and held a cupping for himself and his employees. Karno is very enthusiastic, a convert to Kopi Luwak. "It's the best coffee I've ever tasted. It's really good, heavy with a caramel taste, heavy body. It smells musty and jungle-like green, but it roasts up real nice. The LA Times didn't come to our cupping, but ran a bit in their food section, which hit the AP Wire service." And Karno and the folks at M.P. Mountanos have been inundated with calls ever since.

Mountanos says, "It's the most complex coffee I've ever tasted," attributing the unusual flavors to the natural fermentation the coffee beans undergo in the paradoxurus' digestive system. The stomach acids and enzymes are very different from fermenting beans in water. Mountanos says, "It has a little of everything pleasurable in all coffees: earthy, musty tone, the heaviest bodied I've ever tasted. It's almost syrupy, and the aroma is very unique." While it won't be turning up in every neighborhood cafe any day soon, Mountanos reports that Starbucks bought it for cuppings within the company.

In fact, most of Mountanos' customers have bought it for special cuppings. The Coffee Critic in San Mateo, California, though, occasionally sells Kopi Luwak to the public for $5 a cup. Owner Linda Nederman says she keeps the price low to allow people to experience the coffee. Nederman says that most of her people who try it are longtime customers, and they're "game to try something different and unusual. I've never had anybody complain, they all seem to feel it's worth the price." Nederman drinks it herself every time they brew it. "I've never tasted anything like it. It's an unbelieveable taste in your mouth: richness, body, earthiness, smooth." She also carries Jamaica Blue Mountain, Burundi Superior AA and Brazil FZA "Natural Dry," so her customers are used to fine and exotic coffees. Still, she reports, many are afraid to try Kopi Luwak.

Michael Beech, founding partner in Raven's Brew Coffee: or email:, a roaster, wholesaler and mail order (800-91-RAVEN) merchant in Ketchikan, Alaska, used to sell roasted-to-order Kopi Luwak by the quarter pound ($75, including a free t-shirt depicting the coffee-making process) but no longer does: . "It's excellent coffee. But I always caution customers that you can't get $75 worth of quality in any coffee, there's no such thing. You're paying for the experience of quaffing the world's rarest and most expensive coffee. The palate would recognize it as Sumatran or Indonesian right away. It has earthy tones of natural processed Sumatra Mandheling. It has low acidity with a syrupy body. There's something else there, a nuance in the flavor profile that I can't describe, and when I've challanged others, no one else can either. It's almost alien, a tiny little flavor note, highly exotic." The last bag he sold was to John Cleese of Monty Python and Fierce Creatures fame.

But not everyone is seduced by this exotic coffee's charms. "Kopi Luwak is, in my opinion, indistinguishable from many an average robusta, especially if you cup them next to each other," says Tim Castle, coffee expert and author of The Perfect Cup, referring to the lower grade of commercially available coffees. "Kopi Luwak's processing is unusual and attracts attention. In that sense, it is an interesting coffee."

Gem Cuts

BAGUETTE A gemstone cut in the shape of a long, narrow rectangle. Literally, French for "rod."
BRILLIANT The basic brilliant cut stone is round or oval with many facets of different shapes and sizes. The cut increases the brilliance of the stone by minimizing the amount of light that escapes at the bottom of the stone.
CABOCHON A stone with the upper side polished to a smooth, rounded domed surface with no facets. The back of the stone is flat and unpolished, originally so that the stone’s structure and size was recognizable. Usually it is cut from an opaque or translucent stone. Stones with special optical effects are also cut “en cabochon” (e.g. opal or tiger’s eye). Usually a cabochon is round or oval.
CUSHION A stone cut with a square or rectangular shape, but having rounded corners.
EMERALD The style of cutting a large transparent gemstone in a square or rectangular shape with diagonal cut corners. The sides are step cut—there are sloping parallel facets that increase in size as they approach the widest part of the stone and decrease as they reach the bottom.
FANCY An unusual shape, not able to be categorized under any other description!
HEART-SHAPED Faceted like a brilliant cut stone, but in the form of a heart.
MARQUISE A modification of brilliant cut. The shape is elliptical and pointed at both ends (boat-shaped).
PEAR-SHAPED Shaped like a drop of water—pointed at one end and round at the other.
RADIANT A rectangular stone that is flat on top and brilliant cut underneath.
ROUND See brilliant cut.
SQUARE The top is square with one step-cut facet on each side. A.k.a. Princess cut, quadrillion.
TRILLION A triangle cut that is flat on top and brilliant cut underneath.

Lego History

We grew up with the familiar blocks that gave our imagination room to soar; building towers and castles and wagons with little people. Generation after generation have been entranced by this easy yet intricate toy that lets children and adults both create anything and everything. But with over 200 millions sets being sold a year in over 100 countries, the question remains - where did Lego actually come from?

Our story begins in 1932 where Ole Kirk Christiansen, master carpenter and joiner, establishes a small business in the village of Billund in Denmark. His company manufactures stepladders, ironing boards... and wooden toys.

In 1934 the company adopts the name LEGO for their products, formed from the Danish words "LEg GOdt" or "play well". Later on it's realized that in Latin the word means "I study" or "I put together"; an ironic coincidence that follows the toy through the decades.

The small firm of only a dozen employees continues to turn out the popular toy - but in 1942 a tragedy strikes - the entire LEGO factory burns to the ground. Unwilling to give in, the factory is rebuilt and the assembly line restarts soon thereafter.

Not too long after that in 1947 the LEGO company is the first in Denmark to buy a plastic injection-moulding machine for making toys, running ahead of the competition and setting itself up as an enterprise dedicated to the toy business.

At this point there are no LEGO bricks as we know them today - the factory produced approximately 200 different varieties of plastic and wooden toys - but the predecessor of the familiar brick was created under the name of Automatic Binding Bricks; available only in Denmark at this time.

In 1950 Godtfred Kirk Christiansen - son of the original founder of LEGO, Ole Kirk Christiansen - is appointed Junior Vice President. He has worked with the company from the beginning, leaping into the factory at the tender age of 12 and quickly learning the business from the ground floor up.

By 1951 plastic toys account for half of the company's orders, signaling the subtle shift from the familiar wooden toys to the new and more popular plastic. Because of this the Automatic Binding Bricks are renamed "LEGO Mursten" or "LEGO Bricks" - the familiar term we all know them by today. Eventually the "LEGO System of Play" is released, 28 sets and 8 vehicles with extra parts available. It signaled a revolution in the toy world; allowing the owner to expand and create without a strict set of guidelines to follow.

After a few years the actual stud and tube coupling system the toy uses is patented; this new advancement making the models more stable and safer. More and more variations of bricks are released, letting youngsters build more and more creative interpretations of their imaginations.

In 1958 Ole Kirk Christiansen dies and Godtfred Kirk Christiansen becomes head of the company. Later on in 1950 the original wooden toy warehouse is destroyed in a horrible fire with the resulting decision to discontinue all wooden toy production and to focus only on the plastic creations that are quickly becoming more and more popular around the world. LEGO remains a family business to the present, with grandson Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen currently at the helm.

As the years go on more and more developments add to the versatility and strength of the LEGO block. Cellulose acetate is replaced by acrylonitrile butadeine stryrene in 1963 - making the new bricks brighter with better color quality and stronger for a longer life in toy boxes everywhere. Millions of LEGOs are being produced now, with trains and wheels jumping into the market and into toy stores everywhere.

In 1967 LEGO released the DUPLO brand - a larger version of the familiar block but for children under five years old. In 1969 it is released internationally and takes off like a rocket as parents everywhere take advantage of the opportunity to let their children play with the safe and creative toys. In the next twenty years LEGO will move into the realm of robotic models and small, movable people to classic car designs aimed at the adult modeler.

Suddenly LEGO sets are everywhere, from Star Wars to workable robots to Ninjas and Western themes; one generation passing to another the variety and imagination of this popular toy. Entire theme parks exhibit vast recreations to the public, while computer programs exist to play with your own set of virtual LEGOs and create in cyberspace.

From the first generation of plastic bricks to the current virtual world and the rapid advancements of the LEGO creators the world has been enthralled with this simple but enchanting toy - the next decade will only bring more and more models and more and more children running for their toy boxes to create their own world with LEGO.

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