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Sunday, November 28, 2004
A more efficient way to produce useable hydrogen has been demonstrated by researchers. It uses very high-temperature electrolysis to separate hydrogen from water, so that hydrogen may be used for energy production.
Electrolysis is one method by which laboratories and factories produce hydrogen. An electrical current is passed through water, breaking it down into hydrogen and oxygen gas, which are then collected above the water reservoir.
Researchers in Salt Lake City, Utah, at Ceramtech Incorporated, in collaboration with workers at The Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory report that when water is superheated to 800 degrees Celsius, far less electricity is required to produce the same volume of hydrogen. The researchers envision that future nuclear fission plants could be used both to heat the water as part of their cooling system, and generate the needed electricity.
Concerns have been raised regarding the safety of such arrangements, however. Jeremy Desterhoft, an independent consultant on nuclear energy safety, warns the “elevated levels of radiation required to sufficiently lower the atomic separation point is beyond the current capabilities of any recent cooler.” He does not believe that economically viable cooling technology will be available for at least four to six more years.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
|This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.|
Monday saw the latest edition of the vetted version of Wikipedia, which is aimed at educational use, go quietly online. The extensively revised version covers over five thousand topics, targeting the eight to seventeen years age group. Partnerships with the Shuttleworth Foundation and the Hole in the Wall project will see it distributed in South Africa and India as well as copies being available globally via the offices of SOS Children UK’s umbrella organisation, SOS Kinderdorf worldwide.
First launched in 2006 as a 4,000 article edition, the extract of Wikipedia has employed hi-tech distribution methods, as well as offering a website version which has steadily climbed up in ranking to above other reviewed Wikipedia rivals and copies; the 2007 version was available on the BitTorrent peer to peer network to keep distribution costs down and was equivalent to a fifteen-volume printed encyclopedia. Monday’s release is compared to a twenty-volume print edition.
|Our goal is to make Wikipedia accessible to as many people as possible around the world, and SOS Children is a great partner that helps us make that happen.|
Key to the process for selecting articles is the English National Curriculum and similar educational standards around the world. The initial vision was to bring this wealth of knowledge to schools where access to the Internet was poor or unavailable, but copies of Wikipedia for Schools can be found on many first world school intranets and web servers. Among the compelling reasons to adopt the project are the vetting and additional study materials which overcome the oft-publicised concerns many educators have with the million article plus Wikipedia that anyone can edit.
In today’s press release announcing the launch, Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner expressed delight at seeing the project bring out a new version, “Our goal is to make Wikipedia accessible to as many people as possible around the world, and SOS Children is a great partner that helps us make that happen. Wikipedia is released under a free content license so that individuals and institutions can easily adapt, reuse and customize its content: we encourage others, like SOS Children, to do exactly that.”
Running 192 schools in the developing world, SOS Children sees Wikipedia for Schools as a key piece in fulfilling the educational aspect of their mission. SOS Children’s Chairwoman, Mary Cockcroft gave us an introduction and, a Wikipedia administrator himself, the charity’s CEO Andrew Cates spoke to Wikinews at length about the project.
You are part of SOS-Kinderdorf International, can you explain a little about how this works in terms of distributing funds raised in the UK and involving UK citizens in work outside the country?
Mary Cockcroft: SOS Children[‘s Villages] is a “club” of member charities in 130 countries helping orphans and vulnerable children. The club elects SOS-Kinderdorf International as secretary. SOS is a large organisation whose members in aggregate turned over $1bn in 2007, and whose projects include owning and running 192 schools and family-based care for 70,000 children. However much of these funds are raised locally, with for example the member charities in each of India, Pakistan and South Africa raise considerably more funds in their own country than SOS UK does from the UK. Nonetheless SOS Children UK principally raises funds to finance projects in the developing world, and has only financially small projects in the UK (such as the Schools Wikipedia, which is very low cost because of extensive use of volunteers). This year we expect about 80% of our UK income will leave the UK for overseas SOS associations, and some of the remaining 20% will pay for project oversight. We do not spend money in the UK on Direct Mail or TV advertising. Our UK office is involved in overseeing projects we finance and a small number of high-skilled volunteers from the UK help overseas. However around 98% of SOS staff worldwide are local nationals, as are most volunteers.
((WN)) How much work does the UK charity actually carry out within the home country? Are there failings within the government system for orphans and other needy children that you feel obliged to remedy?
MC: We are deeply unhappy about the situation of children in out-of-home care in the UK. However our care model of 168 hour-a-week resident mothers does not fit with the UK philosophy for children without parental care. Internationally SOS always has a policy of sharing best practice and we are working to improve understanding of our way of working, which appears to us to have far better outcomes than the existing one in the UK. Ultimately though the legal responsibility for these children lies with government and we cannot remedy anything without their invitation.
((WN)) Who first came up with the idea of doing a vetted Wikipedia extract? What was the impetus? Was it more for the developing world than first world?
Andrew Cates: I honestly cannot remember who first suggested it, but it came from somewhere in the Wikipedia community rather than from the charity. The original product was very much pitched at the developing world where the Internet is only available if at all over an expensive phone line. I worked in West Africa 1993-1996 and I know well at how thirsty for knowledge people are and how ingenious they will be in overcoming technical obstacles if the need for infrastructure is removed.
((WN)) In reading past year’s announcements there’s some pride in the project being picked up and used in the first world, was this expected or a pleasant surprise?
AC: It was a pleasant surprise. I don’t think we had realised what the barriers schools faced in using the main Wikipedia were. It isn’t just pupils posting material about teachers or meeting strangers: the “Random Article” button on every page could potentially deliver an article on hardcore porn. We had already started when discussion broke on banning Wikipedia from classrooms and I am sure we benefited from it.
((WN)) Can you give an outline of the selection and vetting process? Is it primarily Wikipedians working on this, or are people from the educational establishment brought in?
AC: It was a long and painful process, even with a really good database system. Articles were taken into the proposal funnel from three main sources: direct proposals for inclusion from Wikipedians, lists which came from the Release Version team and proposals drawn up from working through National Curriculum subjects by SOS volunteers. In a few cases where we felt articles were missing we asked the community to write them (e.g. Portal:Early Modern Britain, which is a curriculum subject, was kindly written just for us): These “proposals” were then looked at by mainly SOS volunteers (some onwiki, some offline). Our offices are in the middle of Cambridge and we get high quality volunteers, who skim read each article and then compared two versions from the article history by credible WP editors a significant period apart (this picks up most graffiti vandalism which runs at about 3% of articles). Once they had identified a “best” version they marked any sections or text strings for deletion (sections which were just a list of links to other articles not included, empty sections, sex scandals etc). A substantial sample of each volunteers work was then doubled checked for quality by one of two office staff (of whom I was one). We then have a script which does some automated removals and clean ups. Once we had a selection we posted it to relevant wikiprojects and a few “experts” and got any extra steers.
((WN)) Will you be making use of BitTorrent for distribution again this year? Was it a success in 2007?
AC: BitTorrent was a bit disappointing in that it got us the only substantial criticisms we received online. A lot of people find it too much effort to use. However for the period we offered a straight http: download we had huge problems with spiders eating vast bandwidth (the file is 3.5G: a few thousand rogue spider downloads and it starts to hurt). As per last year therefore our main two channels will be free download by BitTorrent and mailing the DVDs free all over the world. At a pinch we will (as before) put straight copies up for individuals who cannot get it any other way, and we have some copies on memory sticks for on distributors.
((WN)) Is it your opinion that the UK Government should be encouraging the adoption of projects like this as mainstream educational resources?
AC: Clearly yes. We have had a very enthusiastic reaction from schools and the teaching community. We think every school should have an intranet copy. We expect the Government to catch on in a few years. That is not to say that Wikipedia is as good as resources developed by teachers for teachers such as lesson plans etc. but it is a fantastic resource.
((WN)) You’re a Wikipedia administrator, all too often a thankless task. What prompted you to get involved in the first place? What are the most notable highs and lows of your involvement with the project?
AC: Funnily the thing I have found most amazing about Wikipedia is not widely discussed, which is the effect of Wikipedia policies on new editors. I have seen countless extreme POV new editors, who come in and try to get their opinions included slowly learn not only that there are other opinions to consider but that elements of their own opinion which are not well founded. Watching someone arrive often (on pages on religions for example) full of condemnation for others, gradually become understanding and diplomatic is one of the biggest buzzes there is. The downside though is where correcting things which are wrong is too painfully slow because you need to find sources. I was a post-doc at Cambridge University in combustion and I know the article on Bunsen burners has several really significant errors concerning the flame structure and flow structure. But sadly I cannot correct it because I am still looking around for a reliable source.
((WN)) Do you believe schools should encourage students to get involved contributing to the editable version of Wikipedia? Does SOS Children encourage those who are multilingual to work on non-English versions?
AC: I think older students have a lot to learn from becoming involved in editing Wikipedia.
((WN)) To close, is there anything you’d like to add to encourage use of Wikipedia for Schools, or to persuade educators to gain a better understanding of Wikipedia?
AC: I would encourage people to feed back to the project online or via the charity. The Wikipedia community set out to help educate the world and are broadly incredibly well motivated to help. As soon as we understand what can be done to improve things people are already on the task.
((WN)) Thank you for your time.
Business Acquisition: Your Essential Checklist
There are many advantages to acquiring an existing business; not least the potential to save a lot of time and effort. Many view it as a short-cut into business, as someone else has already done the hard work of launching a new enterprise, but it is important when considering business acquisition not to fall into the trap of seeing it as an easy option.
1.Ask the professionals.
Even before deciding on a possible business to purchase it is essential to find an appropriate accountant to advise you of the various issues involved, some accountants specialise in business acquisition and will have a wealth of experience to offer. If you are looking to buy a business to expand your existing operations, it is essential that you discuss things with your own accountant as they ve have a good take on things.
2.The costly option?
The biggest disadvantage of buying an existing company will be cost; you are of course buying the work spent establishing the firm along with the concept, customer base, brand and goodwill associated with the name. It is often the stress and effort spent by the business s original founders that causes them to be over-optimistic about the market value of their business. Take professional advice to check that you are paying a fair price, as sentiment should not come into the calculation of value.
3.What price good will?
If your budget does stretch to the greater initial outlay involved, it is important to consider the flip-side of a business having a trading history: for instance, if the business does have a loyal customer base they may associate any goodwill with the previous owners and leave when you take over. An established brand is fine, but what sort of reputation does it have? A negative image associated with a particular name could end-up costing more time to fix than starting a completely new venture.
4.The value of cynicism.
It is probably a good idea to ask why a business is for sale: hidden debts or underlying problems may have given the owners a need to offload and this will not necessarily be reflected in the cost as sentimentality creeps in even for owners of failing businesses.
5.Worth further investigation.
Check any profit trends and projections to confirm that the business is moving in the right direction; there should be forecasts available. Look at the operations of the business, including sales, costs and assets. Get an accountant to perform due diligence to thoroughly vet the financial health of your potential purchase.
Unlike a brand new venture, which can grow from your own vision, a going concern already has many people s lives caught up in it; even setting the original founders aside, and ignoring the faithful customers, you will often still have others, not least any existing staff to whom you bare not only a moral responsibility, but also a statutory obligation with regard to their employment. Check out all laws and regulations such as TUPE before making any decisions.
So, far from the short-cut many imagine it to be, business acquisition is not for the faint hearted. It requires a very particular type of businessperson to make it work, because although there is often less personal stress involved in buying an established business, there is also less flexibly and so it is important to be very honest with yourself about whether you are happy to adapt and work within someone else s existing framework.
To find out how we can help your small business to grow visit
Accountants in Leeds
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
An English lawyer has pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. He faked a legal judgment and sent it to a father who was pleading in Taunton family court to be able to remain involved in his child’s upbringing. The lawyer, London barrister Bruce Hyman, now awaits his sentence. The judge indicated that he could receive a prison sentence. Bruce Hyman is well-known in media circles, having produced The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on BBC Radio. He also produced a series with Clive Anderson, at Above the Title Productions, called Unreliable Evidence.
The father, a former City financier, had attended a series of court hearings in order to make suitable arrangements to see his child following an acrimonious divorce. Shortly before one of these hearings he received an email, ostensibly from a self-help group to which he belonged, which had attached a Court of Appeal case that appeared favourable to an application he had made for the judge to stand down from the case. The father, who was representing himself, duly showed the case to the judge. At this point, Bruce Hyman, the lawyer representing the former wife, claimed to the judge that the case was a forgery, which indeed it turned out to be.
After confirming that the self-help group had not sent him the email, the father then embarked on some detective work his own. The fraudulent email was traced via its header to a dial-up internet connection and a phone number belonging to a shop in London. The shop was able to recover CCTV footage which showed a man sending the email from an Apple laptop. The man turned out to be Bruce Hyman.
Sentencing of Hyman is due in Bristol Crown Court on the 19th of September.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
The interview below was conducted by Pingswept over the phone with Emily Levan on April 21, 2005. Levan lives in Wiscasset, Maine, with her husband and daughter, and she ran in the Boston Marathon women’s race on April 18, 2005.
To summarize for our readers, you recently came in 12th in the Boston Marathon, right?
That is correct.
You were the first American finisher.
There was also a Russian woman who lives in the US who finished ahead of you.
You know, I believe it is, I’m not actually positive, but I think you’re right. There’s often a lot of foreign runners that live and train in different parts of the US for a variety of reasons. Some live in Colorado and might train at high altitude, or they might have coaches in the US.
OK, but as far as you know, for straight up Americans, people who were born here, who have lived here for long periods of time and are not going anywhere special to train, you were the first finisher.
That is correct.
So congratulations, that’s very impressive. In the rest of your life, my understanding is that you are going to nursing school.
I am. I’m at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. and I have been going to nursing school for a couple years now. I’m just going part time right now because of the baby and other things going on in my world.
Your baby is currently one and a half?
She’s fifteen months.
Fifteen months, so one and one quarter. 1.25, sure.
Hopefully I’ll finish up nursing school in December. That is the tentative plan.
So you’re almost done.
I just have a couple classes left.I’ll take one class this summer and two classes in the fall.
You ran the Boston Marathon originally two years ago?
Actually, I ran it for the first time in 99. I’ve run it four times.I did run it two years ago as well.
You ran it two years ago, and you also came in twelfth then, if not the top American finisher then. You were the fourth?
I think third or fourth. I can’t remember exactly.
How long were you actually training for this marathon in particular?
I’d say about 4 months. I typically try to train about four months for each race. It depends a little bit on what kind of shape I’m in leading up to the training. Four months is usually the time frame I shoot for.
And how many miles a week were you doing–I assume you peaked somewhere right before the marathon.
At the peak, I have a month or six week period where I’ve built up to my peak training, and I was probably doing between 90 to 100 miles a week.
Was there a lot of variation in your day to day mileage, or was it pretty much you’re doing 1/7th of that mileage every day?
There’s definitely variation, probably more so in the type of workout that i did each day. For example two days a week I would do a speed workout, so I might be doing mile repeats, which just means that I do a mile in a specific time, and then I might jog for a couple minutes and then another one and another one. I’d do a series of eight mile repeats on that specific workout day. My other speed workout would be a marathon pace run, so I might run 8 or 10 miles at my marathon pace. If my marathon pace is 6 minute miles, I’d do a two mile jog warm up, and then I might do 8 or 10 miles at a six minute pace, and then a two mile cool down.
So you maybe end up running 14?
Sometimes what I would do on those speed workout days– on those days I might end up with about 14 miles. On some other days, I might run twice during the course of the day. Say in the morning, I might run eight miles, and then in the afternoon I might do six or eight more miles.
Those days tend to be a little bit more mellow. More of kind of a maintenance run, a little bit of a recovery day. I try to have a recovery day after every hard workout.
Do you think that all of your training could fit into four hours a day? Do you think that’s true?
You mean the workouts for a specific day? Probably even less than that. Depending on the day a little bit, probably between 2 or 3 hours. Usually on Sunday I would go out and do a long run, and that would be a 20 or 22 mile run, all in one fell swoop and that usually takes two and a half hours.
So that explains how you’re able to do this, as well as go to nursing school, as well as have an extremely young child. I assume you talk to your friends occasionally.
I try to at least– have some sort of social life. This is not a job, so it’s not something that I do 8 hours a day. It’s something that I fit in with all the other obligations, things that I like to do too. I like to be able to pursue other interests as well.
You live on a road with no one else near by. Do you pretty much just run from your house every day?
The winter is harder because with the baby, I often end up running with a treadmill down in the basement. Brad, my husband, has pretty long hours at the farm, and especially in the winter months, it’s hard to find daylight when he’s able to watch Maddy, so I ended up running a lot on the treadmill this winter, as opposed to last summer, I would take her with me. I have one of those baby joggers, and that was great. I could just leave right from the house, and I could take her. She would be pretty happy to go eight or ten miles with me. Typically what I do when I go outside, I just go right from the house. The roads are so pretty around here. We’re pretty secluded, so I don’t have to worry too much about crazy drivers.
Do you ever try to go find big hills to run up and down?
I do. In the past, I have done a hill workout as a part of my training, usually early on in the training during the first six weeks or 2 months of the training I do a hill workout and I would find some place close by that I could find a warm up jog and run to and then do a hill workout. If I couldn’t find one within a couple miles, I would drive to it. It’s a little bit harder now with Maddy because I don’t have as much leeway and freedom with when I go running and where I go running. I’m a little more limited.
You’d have to load up the cart, er, the carriage into the car.
I’ve done that sometimes. Sometimes it’s easier to go straight from home.Running with the jogger up hills is not an easy thing to do.
When you’re in the race, you feel like, “Hey, I’m not even pushing a kid anymore.” Heartbreak Hill without the kid is substantially easier, I suppose.
Do you know most of the elite runners in the race? You know who they are, but are you friends with them, or not really?
It’s funny–I know who people are, but I don’t run that many races to really get to know that many of the runners. If you’re a professional runner, and that’s your job, a lot of those people travel in the same circles. They run the same races and they have the same schedules in terms of when they compete. I pick out a couple of races each year to focus on and because of that, I don’t get to know as many of the runners. As time goes on, you do get a little bit you do get a little more familiar with people.
During the race, do you talk to the other runners, or do you just run along and think things like, “I wish I were at the end right now”?
I think that really depends I find that if I’m feeling good and the run is going well, then it’s easier for me to talk to people, just because you’re feeling strong, and you’re not focusing so much on “I’m not doing so great.” I might talk to some folks along the way. Sometimes if someone passes me, I’ll encourage them and say “Good job, go get them,” and just stuff like that. I certainly find I’m not carrying on lengthy conversations with people because you’re expending energy that should be focused on the race itself. I enjoy getting to know folks along the way and knowing what pace they’re hoping to run.
In races other than the Boston Marathon do you find that you have good competition? I don’t really know what the running scene in Wiscasset, Maine, is like at all, but I imagine that being the fastest female marathon runner in the United States, you might not find a whole lot of competition. You say that you encourage people when they pass you, but having read some of the other interviews with you on the web, it doesn’t seem like people pass you very often.
It definitely depends on the race. Like I said before, I don’t run that many races. At this point, what I’m trying to do is to find races that are competitive so I can be pushed by competition. For example, when I ran the Maine Marathon last fall, there wasn’t a whole lot of competition. That just gets hard. I ran alone for most of the race. Running 26 miles at a fast pace all by yourself without anyone around you to help push you and motivate you, can be pretty hard. Because of that, as I’ve been looking toward the future and thinking about which races I want to do, I’ve been targeting races that will have a little more competition. That’s why Boston was one that I wanted to shoot for and I’m thinking about in the fall going to Chicago because they’ve got a pretty competitive marathon. It’s also a pretty flat course, so people tend to run pretty fast times there.
Most people run a couple of minutes faster in Chicago, right?
Yeah, exactly. And I’ve heard good things about the race too, so I’m looking forward to that.
Have you thought about running internationally?
Not at this point, no. It’s hard to find the time to travel to races, and It gets expensive too. A lot of my family members say, “Wouldn’t it be great to do the London Marathon or the Paris Marathon,” because they like coming to watch. At this point, I think I’m going to stick closer to home. I’ve got a few races, like I was mentioning Chicago, here in the States that I’d really like to do. Maybe once I’ve done those, I might think about something else, it really just depends. A lot of it’s a time issue, because I have other things that I’m pursuing and it gets hard to spend too much time traveling off doing different races.
Do you know Alan Culpepper?
Oh, yeah, yeah.
You at least know of him, right?
Have you ever been in any races against him?
This was the first race that I had run in that he ran in. He was the fourth overall male finisher. That’s a really good showing for an American male. I’ve read a lot about him in different running magazines and just heard a lot about him through running circles.But this was the first time that I’ve actually seen him run. It was neat because in this particular race, they start the women’s elite group about 25 minutes ahead of the rest of the start.
29 minutes actually, I believe.
That’s right, 29 minutes. So, I didn’t see a male runner until pretty close to the end, so it was really neat to see–I think I saw the top five male finishers because they passed me in the last couple miles. It was really interesting–there’s all these cars and press and motorcycles, policemen, so I could tell when the first male was coming up behind me because there was a lot more going on on the course. Alan Culpepper was one of the ones that passed me in the last mile or two. It was pretty neat to see him finishing strong.
You might not be able to beat him in a race but do you think you could maybe, I don’t know, beat him in a fist fight? He’s pretty skinny, right? He only weighs 130 pounds.
I don’t know. I don’t know. I wouldn’t make any bets on it at this point.
OK. Have you thought about doing things longer than a marathon? Like a 50 K or a 100 K?
At this point, I haven’t because I’ve gotten into the marathon, and I’ve really been enjoying that so far. I feel like I still have some room to improve and grow in the marathon, but I think at some point I’d really like to do one of those ultra-type races. For the next several years, I’ll stick towards the marathon distances. Once that competitive part of my life is over, I might move on to something different.
Based on your age, are you likely to peak around now, or you maybe have a few years to go before your legs start to fall off?
Before I can’t walk anymore? I don’t know. It’s really interesting because for marathoning you’ve got a longer life span than in a lot of competitive sports. The fifth place female finisher in Boston this year was over forty. You can still be competitive into your forties. I’m not sure if I’ll keep doing it that long– at least another 3 years or so. One thing in the back of my mind looking at is the Olympic Trials for 2008. I’m looking at that time frame right now. If I want to keep running competitively after that, then I’ll assess things from there.
That sounds good. When you came in as the first American finisher, did you get any certificates or cash or a medal or anything like that?
Yeah, actually, I won $2100.
Oh, great– two thousand bucks!
Which is pretty nice.
That’s a lot of baby clothes.
I know– or a lot of shoes. The shoe expense is pretty expensive, and I’ve been trying to find a shoe company that might give me some shoes.
I would think–couldn’t you just call up New Balance and say, “Hey, look, I’m pretty good, why don’t you give me some shoes?”
Well, this past November, after I ran New York– I usually wear Asics or New Balance– I wrote to both of those companies. I sent them a little running resume. I said I’d be interested in pursuing some sort of sponsorship opportunity, and they both wrote back and said, “Sorry, we don’t have any space or funds available at this time.” I was a little disappointed by that, because I was hoping to at least get someone to help me out with my shoes.
Yeah, at least some sneakers.
But in addition at Boston, they do have these crystal vases that they give out for the top 15 finishers, so I got a little piece of hardware there too.
So you get to put flowers in that.
I had some flowers in it; they’ve wilted so I decided to compost them.
Oh, that’s good.
Yeah, send them back to the earth, you know.
Has anyone else tried to interview you? Local paparazzi following you?
I hide in my car for most of the day. I did some local interviews–with the local NBC affiliate, and I’m going to do an interview tomorrow with the ABC affiliate in Portland, and some affiliated newspaper interviews as well.
You’re officially famous, then.
I don’t know. I guess. It’s been pretty busy.
Has anyone asked you for an autograph yet?
No. No autograph seekers yet, no.
Maybe in the Yellowfront Grocery in Wiscasset? “Hey, I know you!”
“I saw you on TV!” No, not yet.
That’s surely coming. The Chewonki Foundation, which is where you live, recently had Eaton Farm donated to it.
And they’re planning on making a 12 mile long trail that runs from approximately your house to Wiscasset.
Oh, you know more about this than I do, that’s great.
I don’t know if it’s going to start right at your front door; you might have to cut through the woods a little bit.
That’s OK, I can do that.
Have you run on trails at all, or is it just, “I want to run on the pavement because I don’t want to twist an ankle”?
I’m not a big trail runner. Maybe it’s because I’m not used to running on trails. Now it would be much more difficult, because I have the baby with me. The baby jogger has some nice wheels on it, but I don’t know if it could handle trail running.
It’s a nice change of pace every once in a while. I don’t worry too much about twisting an ankle–you just have to be careful. I figure I can walk out my door and step in a pothole and twist my ankle, so I don’t worry too much about that. That goes along with being alive in our world. We’ll see. I’m going to have to look into that 12 mile trail.
Because 12 miles, you do that there and back, you’ve got a marathon on your hands.
There you go.
What’s your next target? Can you walk right now?
If I train well, I’m usually not sore. Especially on the long runs, my body gets used to running for that length of time and sure, I’m running faster during the marathon than I do on my long runs, but I think my body tends to adjust to the rigors. It’s usually a good sign if a few days afterwards I don’t have any major soreness. I certainly feel like I’ve done something significant.
Yeah, I can imagine feeling too.
No major aches or pains.
That’s great. What’s your next race? Do you have one targeted? Is it Chicago?
Yeah, I think the next marathon will be Chicago in the fall. there’s a 10 K race, the Beach to Beacon, you may have heard of it.
Well, I think that’s all my questions.
Nice, well, thanks for calling. I appreciate it.
Sure, well, thanks for running so fast.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, Florida said a change in direction of Tropical Storm Edouard took the storm east of Galveston, Texas and away from a direct path across Houston.
The storm never reached hurricane status as its maximum sustained winds were clocked at 65mph. Sustained winds of 74mph are considered to be hurricane strength.
Tourist Beth Bronson, visiting Galveston from Allen, Texas near Dallas was hoping to ride the storm out.
“We spend money to come here with our families. It’s an inexpensive place to stay,” Bronson, 49, told TIME Magazine. “If they were to say evacuate, then yeah we would do it. But otherwise no.”
Earlier today, tropical storm warnings and hurricane watches were issued for places including Grand Isle, Louisiana and as far west as Sargent, Texas. However, tropical storm warnings and hurricane watches were allowed to be discontinued by the NHC for all areas south of Sargent earlier Tuesday.
Texas Governor, Rick Perry, issued a disaster declaration today for 17 counties in Texas, allowing the state to activate 1,200 Texas National Guard troops, six UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and numerous other emergency organizations. In Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal declared a statewide emergency declaration. There up to 3,000 residents in low-lying coastal areas were told to evacuate. Also, in the western part of the state, people living in mobile homes or FEMA trailers along the coast were advised to leave.
Tropical Storm Edouard, the fifth tropical storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season, also forced gas and oil companies in the Gulf of Mexico to close up and evacuate workers. According to the U.S. Minerals Management Service, over 20 of the 717 production platforms and 6 of 125 rigs were shut down.
The two major airports in Houston, Texas, William P. Hobby Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport, were delayed Tuesday morning between 30 minutes to 5 hours.
No deaths or major damage have been reported. The storm is expected to become a tropical depression by Wednesday.
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Sunday, July 22, 2007
Virginia – Joshua Brady, a former Sprint Nextel customer, has had his cellular phone account shut off, but not because he wasn’t paying the phone bill, or even because he was late on payments, but because a customer service representative who assisted him, began to call him outside of her job, and make death threats to him in September of 2006. She was never fired for her actions, Brady says.
Brady has agreed to be interviewed by Wikinews to tell his story. All information and claims have been logged with Brady’s attorney and federal authorities.
The representative from Sprint Nextel, who for safety reasons is only being identified as Jessica, was working at the company’s call center in Ontario, Canada where Brady’s call to customer service was directed. According to Brady, Jessica then began to call him outside of her job duties at the call center after their first contact.
Brady called the center around 6:00 p.m. (eastern time) on a Saturday and attempted to receive help on a billing question and to find a way to stop prank calls. Brady requested a “soc code”, a code placed into the phone, that would allow for the number that was pranking him to be blocked. Unfortunately, Jessica did not know what that was, but tried unsuccessfully to find it. According to Brady, the only thing she could find was “the ANI feature call centers have.”
Brady then described to Jessica the billing issue he was having. He was being charged “for text messages I was not making”, even though he had unlimited text messaging with his billing plan. Meanwhile, Jessica called for a supervisor to help locate the code. As this customer service request over the phone was taking quite a bit of time, the two of them then started to discuss what two people would normally discuss if just chatting; sports, the weather, movies and music and if Virginia was a nice place to go on vacation. The supervisor then came by Jessica’s station with no luck on finding a code.
Later that night, around 10:30 p.m., Brady received a call. He answered it and much to his surprise, it was Jessica. He answered the phone with the usual “hello” and the voice on the other end answered with “hello Josh.” Brady was “surprised” that she had not said “hello Mr. Brady.”
“I then asked who it was, and she said Jessica. She told me about her day, and hoped that I did not mind her calling.” Then according to Brady, she started to describe how much she hated working in a call center, and how the job “pays the bills”, and asked if she could “come visit me sometime”. Brady said that he “immediately started to record” the call. Brady also stated that Jessica was not aware she was being recorded, and that further conversations were recorded without her knowing.
The call lasted about 15 minutes, but Brady said she “spoke so fast and moved along through things” that he “didn’t have a chance to talk if I wanted to. It [the call] ended with me interrupting her and telling her I had to go to dinner with a friend.”
Brady immediately called customer care back and reported Jessica’s actions to a supervisor (Jason), and the Floor Manager (Also named Jessica) at the Coos Bay call center, which is where his call happened to be directed. The advice he received was to “play along” and continue to report her actions until they could locate someone “better equipped” to handle the situation.
Jessica then began to call “about every other day or so” which turned out to be almost 30 calls, according to Brady who reported each call she made to Sprint Nextel.
Sprint Nextel then told Jessica to cease and desist all contact with Brady, but that didn’t stop Jessica from contacting him. She somehow found out the screen-name of his AOL Instant Messenger account, and left messages threatening to kill him. Brady logged the messages and faxed them to Sprint, who about a week later sent Brady a letter, saying that his accounts have been terminated.
“The purpose of this letter is to inform our that our office has received a complaint regarding your recent questionable interactions with our customer care group. Recent interactions with our company have prompted us to formally contact you. Sprint Nextel terms and conditions state that “termination of services. consistent with this agreement…”, said the letter from Sprint Nextel.
Brady states that Jessica is still employed with Sprint Nextel, despite the fact that all instant messages left by Jessica were forwarded to Sprint Nextel.
As recently as July 10, 2007, as many as 1,000 accounts were terminated by Sprint Nextel because customers were complaining too much and asking too many questions about billing.
“While we have worked to resolve your issues and questions to the best of our ability, the number of inquiries you have made to us during this time had led us to determine that we are unable to meet your current wireless needs,” said one letter to a sprint customer as recent as June 29, 2007. The letter states that the service will be terminated just one day after the letter was written despite saying they “understand switching to a new carrier causes an inconvenience.”
Two weeks ago, Sprint addressed the media about the mass-cancellations. “These accounts have been researched very carefully,” Sprint spokeswoman Roni Singleton said. “We feel strongly that the decisions we made, we stand by them. These decisions weren’t made lightly.”
“If the average person is calling less than once per month and these people are calling 40 or 50 times more, that takes away from customer service,” Singleton said. “Our priority is to improve the customer experience.”
Wikinews sent e-mails to Sprint Nextel on July 20 regarding the Brady incident; to date no response has been received.
Update: On July 23, 2007, Wikinews received an email response from a Sprint representative, going to some length to explain the termination of the customers who were calling up to hundreds of times a month. No information was given on the Brady case covered in this article; “customer privacy considerations” were cited as the reason and “no comment” was Sprint’s reply.