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Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Greatest Places to Experience the Simple Life

These are 10 great places:


Block Island, R.I. 
Block Island can be defined by what it lacks: There are no stoplights, no McDonald's, no Holiday Inns. Instead, the town of fewer than 1,000 year-round residents "is a landscape of freshwater ponds, rolling green hills and dramatic 250-foot bluffs," van Ogtrop says. In winter, Block Island becomes an artists' community. 800-383-2474; blockislandinfo.com






Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

Harrodsburg, Ky. 
It's not uncommon at Shaker Village to see a pair of oxen laboring in the field or a blacksmith in period clothing shoeing a horse. It's a delightful step back in time and "a testament to the simplicity of the Shaker lifestyle," van Ogtrop says. "Plank-and-stone fences lace together nearly 3,000 lush bluegrass acres where a community of Shakers once lived, worked and worshiped." 800-734-5611; shakervillageky.org











Grafton, Vt. 
The town is "a veritable showcase of historic buildings, including a well-stocked general store, a famed cheese company and a working blacksmith shop," van Ogtrop says. Down a tree-lined road and past a covered bridge is the Grafton Inn, one of the USA's older operating inns. The white-clapboard getaway invites travelers to "follow in the footsteps of Rudyard Kipling, who honeymooned here," says van Ogtrop. 802-828-3237; vermontvacation.com










Finger Lakes, N.Y. 
For an up-close and intimate shore-side getaway, van Ogtrop likes the Finger Lakes region. "Of the 11 glacial lakes clustered there, Y-shaped Keuka is said to be the prettiest, and the adjacent state park offers hiking, boating, fishing, and views of the rolling, vineyard-dotted hills," she says. 888-408-1693; FingerLakesTravelNY.com






Grand Teton National Park 

Wyoming 
Grand Teton National Park is home to glacier-chiseled peaks that rise 7,000 feet above the floor of Jackson Hole Valley. You can picnic in aspen groves, where elk graze and bald eagles soar, or check out a ranger program to learn how American Indians used porcupine quills and grizzly claws for artwork, says van Ogtrop. 307-739-3300; nps.gov/grte






The Willamette Valley 

Oregon 
Wine grapes, Oregon - Willamette Valley
Covered bridges and pastoral picnic spots abound in the heart of Oregon's agriculture country. Rural byways are dotted with picturesque barns, hazelnut orchards and vegetable gardens. Plus, van Ogtrop says, some 200 vineyards flourish in the valley. 800-547-7842: traveloregon.com







Point Reyes National Seashore 

Point Reyes Station, Calif. 
Point Reyes Station, CA
"The 30-mile stretch of rugged Marin County wilderness draws hikers, whale watchers, solitude seekers and birders," van Ogtrop says. Whale watching is prime from December to March, and elephant seals populate the beach near Chimney Rock from December through April. "Make an alfresco lunch of barbecued oysters, a local delicacy, from the Hog Island Oyster Company," van Ogtrop suggests. "And catch an unforgettable sunset in Muir Beach." 415-464-5100; nps.gov/pore



Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness 

Northern Minnesota 
The region consists of more than 1 million acres, including 1,200 miles of mapped canoe routes. You won't find any roads, and with more than 1,000 lakes, rivers and streams to explore, a paddler's sense of isolation and timelessness remains intact, van Ogtrop says. "Head to Ely to rent gear for canoe-and-camp outings, or book a trip with Williams and Hall Outfitters, who will fly you deep into the backcountry," she says. exploreminnesota.com


Seward, Alaska 
Resurrection Bay, Seward, Alaska
The town is an ideal place to sail among silver salmon, climb up rocky trails, photograph puffins and stop to smell the wildflowers. It's easy to spot humpback whales, which have been known to swim within 10 feet of the shore, van Ogtrop says. You can also arrange a wildlife-viewing cruise past the glaciers at nearby Kenai Fjords National Park, or kayak in Resurrection Bay, watching for black bears and bald eagles, she adds. 907-224-8051; seward.com

Molokai, Hawaii
Molokai, Halawa Valley, couple at waterfalls, Hawaii
The buildings on this rural island are no taller than a coconut tree. Fishing for your dinner is common. And the central town of Kaunakakai has not changed much since the early 1900s. It's "a lush, untouched oasis, devoid of even a single traffic signal," van Ogtrop says. "You'll feel light-years away from the sunburned crowds of Waikiki (not to mention home)." 800-800-6367; molokai-hawaii.com










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Tiger and Stricker Dealt Big Loss in Presidents Cup

MELBOURNE (AP) – Being with his ex-caddie was the least of Tiger Woods' worries Thursday.

Woods and Steve Stricker, unbeatable two years ago in the Presidents Cup, didn't make a birdie, didn't win a hole and tied the record for the biggest loss in the history of the event.
Tiger Woods and teammate Steve Stricker matched the record for worst
loss in Presidents Cup history, falling to Adam Scott and K.J. Choi on Thursday.

Adam Scott and K.J. Choi were relentless at Royal Melbourne, keeping the ball in play and making enough birdies as Woods and Stricker self-destructed. The International side won, 7 and 6. They were the last of six foursomes (alternate-shot) matches in the opening session, yet the rout was so great they were the second match to finish.

The only other match that went 12 holes since the Presidents Cup began in 1994 was when David Frost beat Kenny Perry by the same score in singles in 1996.

Despite the record-tying setback, the Americans lead the event 4-2 heading to Day 2, which begins at 5:35 p.m. ET Thursday (Friday morning in Melbourne). That's two hours earlier than scheduled due to a threat of rain.

Two of the six matches went the distance. Geoff Ogilvy and Masters champion Charl Schwartzel lost a late 2-up lead and had to settle for a halve against Bill Haas and Nick Watney. Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar rallied from 3 down with six holes to play and were headed to the 18th as they tried to scratch out a halve against Jason Day and Aaron Baddeley.

The Americans won the other three matches in a rout, led by the opening match of Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson. They were 7 under through 16 holes in a 4-and-2 win over Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa.
Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, together for the first time since Brookline in the 1999 Ryder Cup, won 4 and 3 over Retief Goosen and Robert Allenby. Hunter Mahan and David Toms drilled the Korean duo of Y.E. Yang and K.T. Kim, 6 and 5.

"The only hole that they won, we three-putted," Toms said. "So for the most part, we kept the pressure on, hitting fairways, hitting greens, made a few putts. Just a good day overall."

Woods and Steve Williams exchanged a firm, businesslike handshake on the opening hole and otherwise kept their distance. That was about all the drama in what might be the final chapter of this bitter split between player and caddie.

Williams now works for Scott, and just like so many other team competitions, he had the best horse. Scott was crisp off the tee and into the firm greens. He rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt to win the 11th hole, then hit an approach into 8 feet as Choi made the birdie to close out the match.

It was the worst margin of defeat for Woods in any form of match play since he turned pro.
"Unfortunately, they got off to a quick start and we just couldn't keep up," Woods said. "We kept falling to the wrong side of these slopes. The golf course is so difficult, it's hard to make up shots."
Scott and Choi never came close to a bogey and were 4 under through 12 holes. Woods and Stricker were 3 over.

"It seemed like we were just a little bit off," Stricker said after his first competition since Sept. 25 at the Tour Championship. "It seemed like I put him in the rough by a foot or so. If you're in the rough here, trying to hit to some of these greens is pretty difficult."

Scott called it a "very pleasing victory," more to do with being home in Australia than anything to do with his caddie.

Williams first showed the animosity in the split when he said after Scott won the Bridgestone Invitational that it was the "best win of my life." Then came that night in Shanghai two weeks ago at a caddies' award party, when Williams made a racial comment about Woods while getting roasted for that TV interview at the Bridgestone.

The handshake on the first tee was symbolic — it was strictly business out there.
Williams was on the second tee when Choi was hitting in alternate shot. Not long after Woods arrived to watch his partner, Williams walked up the fairway to join Scott about 40 yards away.

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 10:17 PM
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6 Dead after Storms, Possible Tornadoes hit Southeast

Officials said Thursday that an adult and a child were killed in central North Carolina during Wednesday's storms.

A home remains damaged Thursday after a storm system hit near Rock Hill, S.C.
Suspected tornadoes were reported Wednesday in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina. Dozens of homes and buildings were damaged, and thousands of people were without power as trees and power lines were downed.

In South Carolina, three people were killed and five injured when a likely tornado swept through a rural community near Rock Hill, about 20 miles south of Charlotte, N.C. In north Georgia, a man was killed when a tree fell on his sport utility vehicle.


Diane Pierce surveys damage to her property after strong winds from a suspected tornado passed
through the Lafayette Woods subdivision Wednesday, in Houma, La.
(See Video) ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) – At least six people have been killed by a storm system that spawned several possible tornadoes as it moved across the Southeast.











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Calling All Astronauts: NASA Has a Job Opening For You


Astronauts! They’re just like us. Well, at least while they’re job hunting.

The International Space Station could be your new office.
The National Aeronautics & Space Administration has an opening for an astronaut based in the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. They’ve also gone the contemporary route for job recruitment by posting the position on the job website USAJobs. Folded in with ads for positions such as IT specialist and medical technologist, the open call posting is seeking candidates who have a “sense of daring” and a “probing mind” for a position that, unsurprisingly, could require “[f]requent travel.” Of course, there are more concrete requirements as well, including U.S. citizenship, a bachelor’s degree in engineering, science or math and at least three years worth of relevant professional experience.

Does this describe your skill set? Are you looking for work? Well, you could be one of the lucky applicants who are thoroughly vetted and selected to join the next class of astronauts expected to work on the International Space Station and, perhaps, beyond. The selection process is apparently quite stringent as NASA’s last recruitment round drew thousands of applications for only nine spots. Clearly, competition will be stiff.

“If you’re selected and you make it through that process, the experience is well worth the wait, I think,” Janet Kavandi, director of flight crew operations at Johnson Space Center told MSNBC. “Anyone who’s been to space can say that it was definitely worth all the hard work to get there.” NewsFeed, thwarted not by disinterest but by our useless liberal arts and humanities degrees, is already jealous of the future space jet-setters.

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Google Music Store Launched with Free Track Sharing, Exclusive Content

Google Music

Google Music is now open to everyone in the U.S. It’s a free service that you can use to store up to 20,000 of your songs on Google’s servers and stream those songs to compatible devices.

Songs can now be purchased directly from the Android Market as well. Google will make recommendations to you based on your music collection you’ve uploaded, all songs have 90-second previews, and purchased songs are automatically added to your online collection and downloaded to the device you use to purchase the songs. Google will offer one free song each day, and there will be a weekly “spotlight” artist with backstories, bios, photos and videos.

Google+ integration is onboard, and purchased tracks you recommend and share will be able to be played by your friends in their entirety—no 90-second preview. It’s not unlimited, however: shared songs can be played once for free. Still—not too shabby.

As for the major labels, Universal, EMI and Sony Music are on board, but Warner Music Group hasn’t joined. There are also smaller, independent groups totaling “over 1,000 prominent independent labels” and more than 13 million tracks said Google. “Of course, we anticipate adding new partners if they wish to come on board,” said a Google spokesperson.

The service features some exclusive content from a handful of popular bands. Unreleased tracks and live albums from the Rolling Stones, Coldplay, Busta Rhymes, Shakira, Pearl Jam, and Dave Matthews Band are available now for free.
Purchased tracks are saved online to your Google Music account and can then be downloaded to your computer or played back directly from your web browser or Android phone. Purchased tracks that you share with friends can be played back in their entirety one time for free.
Google Music also has a new feature for independent artists called Artist Hub. Artists can build their own artist pages, upload their music, and sell their songs by setting their own prices. Google takes a 30% cut of every sale, and there’s a one-time $25 setup fee for each artist page. Furthermore, songs can be linked to and sold directly from artists’ YouTube pages.


And T-Mobile customers will get a few Google Music extras, such as additional free tracks made available each week and the ability to bill purchased songs directly to users’ wireless accounts.

Google Music is available today, with music for purchase from the web-based Android Market—the music store will become available on Android phones and tablets “over the next few days,” according to Google’s official blog post.

Google, google music, Google Music Store, music, Apps & Software, Apps & Web, Companies



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Monday, November 14, 2011

The Best Trucks on the Road

These 8 pickups each have one characteristic that sets them head and shoulders above the competition.

Americans love their trucks, and each truck buyer has a different reason for needing one. Drivers might need a truck to tow a boat, camper or snowmobile, or as an everyday workhorse on the job site, or simply for the occasional trip to the garbage dump. Traits valued in a pickup may include power, towing capacity, off-road capability or passenger space. Here we bring you the best, most capable pickups in eight categories.

Most Powerful Heavy-Duty Pickup

Ford F-Series Super Duty


Over the past few years, there has been an arms race in the heavy-duty pickup market. Power and torque numbers for diesel engines have grown significantly. Chevrolet and its GMC truck brand have reached 397 horsepower and 765 lb-ft of torque with their 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine. Dodge Ram's 6.7-liter Cummins V8 turbodiesel has 350 horsepower and up to 800 lb-ft of torque. But the winner is Ford. The Power Stroke 6.7-liter V8 turbodiesel in the 2012 Ford F-Series Super Duty wrings out some nice round numbers: 400 horses and 800 stump-pulling lb-ft of torque. As we'll soon see, though, more power doesn't necessarily mean more hauling capacity.

Best Heavy-Duty Hauler
Chevrolet Silverado / GMC Sierra 3500HD

The 2012 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy-duty pickups may trail their Ford counterparts by 35 lb-ft of torque, but thanks to a beefy ladder frame, they boast the highest towing and payload capacities on the market. General Motors' heavy-duty duo can each tow up to 18,000 pounds on a conventional trailer hitch or 23,000 pounds using a bed-mounted fifth wheel. Payload capacity tops out at 7,215 pounds. The closest competitor is the Ford F-Series Super Duty, which is within 500 pounds for towing and 105 pounds for payload capacity. To aid towing, the GM heavy-duty pickups also offer an integrated trailer brake, an exhaust brake, dual rear wheels and 4-wheel drive.

Best Light Truck
Ford F-150 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6

In most barroom bull sessions, admitting that you have a V6 engine in your full-size truck is like saying you wear a skirt. But not when you're talking about Ford's EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6. It can outperform most V8s, churning out 365 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, while delivering 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway. That's less horsepower than the GM 6.2-liter V8, the Ram 5.7-liter Hemi V8 and Ford's own 6.2-liter V8, but the torque numbers are similar and fuel economy is roughly 3 mpg better. Better yet, the EcoBoost is more responsive on the street, delivering quicker acceleration than any other light-truck engine.

Best Off-Roader
Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

With the SVT Raptor, Ford has put the full extent of its off-road engineering knowledge into a single vehicle. This is more than just a standard pickup with a lift kit. It is a fully realized off-roader in the vein of the pre-runner trucks used to scout courses before off-road races. Ford engineers widened the F-150 by 7 inches, which helped them increase suspension travel. That travel, 11.2 inches up front and 13.4 inches in the rear, lets the Raptor clear extreme obstacles while maintaining traction. Fox Racing shocks handle hard off-road impacts, and the stability control system is tuned for off-road demands.

Most Interior Room
Ram 3500 Mega Cab

Towing the horse trailer to a show or the race car to the track can be family activities that require seating for five or six and a certain level of comfort. That's why buyers opt for crew cab trucks with full-size rear seats more than any other configuration. Ram goes one step further by offering the Mega Cab, which has a limousinelike 45.3 inches of rear legroom. By comparison, the Ram 1500 Crew Cab has 40.3 inches of legroom. In addition, the Mega Cab's rear seats recline, they can double as storage bins, and there is still 12.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats — about as much as a typical sedan's trunk.

Most Luxurious
Ford F-150 Lariat Limited

The full-size half-ton pickup market has only six models, but the trim and body style choices are limited only by your pocketbook. Domestic automakers have embraced this diversity with several high-end trims, and none more so than Ford. With its heated and cooled leather bucket seats, rearview camera, remote starting and Sony audio system, the $45,565 Ford F-150 King Ranch (for a 4WD SuperCrew short bed) is plenty luxurious. But Ford has three models above that, including the $50,970 Lariat Limited. The Lariat Limited features amenities such as power retractable running boards, sunroof, navigation system, high-definition radio and 22-inch wheels. Is there anything else you could possibly want?

Best Bargain for Contractors
Ram 1500 Tradesman

Contractors depend on their trucks to make a living; they don't buy them to sit in the lap of luxury. They want trucks with all the capability and none of the pretense. No carpet. No power windows. No remote keyless entry. Just a long bed, a powerful engine and maybe a radio. Most of all, they want an affordable price. The best deal for these folks is the Ram 1500 Tradesman, which starts at $22,340 for a 2-wheel-drive model with the 6-foot-4-inch bed and the powerful Hemi V8 engine. Get the long bed and the price increases by $305.

Most Fuel-Efficient Full-Size Truck
Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid / GMC Sierra Hybrid
The two-mode hybrid system in the GM full-size pickups increases fuel economy by 23.5 percent. The electric motor is paired with a 6.0-liter V8 engine, producing 332 horsepower and 367 lb-ft of torque while delivering fuel-economy ratings of 20 mpg city/23 mpg highway. Those numbers are better than the ratings for any full-size V6 competitor. In fact, the closest a V6 engine gets is the Ford F-150's 3.7-liter V6, which is rated at 17/23. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the GM hybrid pickups will cost a typical driver $2,506 a year in gasoline expenses, about $500 to $700 less than comparable V8 engines.

Quoted from MSN

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Best Wonders of Nature in the World

These are 7 wonders of nature in the World.


Halong Bay, Vietnam

The best way to experience impossibly scenic Halong Bay is by boat. Hop on a junk and poke around the 2,000 rocky monoliths emerging dramatically from the water. Some of the limestone karsts are hollowed out and feature caves and grottoes perfect for exploring. The bay, whose name translates as "descending dragon," was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, honoring its unique geologic and aesthetic value.




Amazon Rainforest, South America

The Amazon rainforest spans the borders of nine South American countries, with the largest portion in Brazil. The Amazon River, the main artery of the rainforest, has more than 1,000 known tributaries, and 17 of those are at least 1,000 miles long. The rainforest has the highest biodiversity on Earth, sustaining life for thousands of plants, bird, fish, mammal and insect species.





Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls, on the border of Argentina and Brazil: This semicircular splendor consists of 275 waterfalls on the Iguazu River, surrounded by subtropical rain forest and sporting trails, catwalks and boat rides for visitors. Most of the falls are about 210 feet high, though some are up to 269 feet high, and they extend nearly two miles wide.






Jeju Island, South Korea

Honeymooners flock to this island off the coast of South Korea for the white-sand beaches, palm trees, beautiful sunsets and emerald waters. Two favorite beaches are Hyeopjae and Geumneung, and those looking for more adventure can hike up Mount Halle, the highest point in South Korea, at 6,400 feet. Need more adventure? Poke around inside the Manjanggul lava tube, part of which is open to the public. The busiest months on Jeju Island are July and August, but accommodations are plentiful.












Komodo Island, Indonesia

This island in Indonesia has great scuba diving, but that fact is usually overshadowed by its main attraction: the Komodo dragon. This reptile, technically a monitor lizard, is the largest in the world and can grow up to 150 pounds and 10 feet long. The dragon is protected within the Komodo National Park, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. However, the dragon population is limited to five small islands and only around 3,000 are left in the wild. Poaching and encroaching human activity have put the species on the “vulnerable” to extinction list by the United Nations’ International Union for the Conservation of Nature.


Puerto Princesa Underground River, Philippines

Nearly five miles long and emptying into the South China Sea, this underground river is one of the main attractions in the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park. The river, on the Philippine island of Palawan, can be toured by paddleboat with the park service and winds among stalactites, stalagmites and other fantastical formations. After the tours, visitors head back into the sun on Palawan’s many white-sand beaches.





Table Mountain, South Africa


The distinctive flat top of Table Mountain overlooks Cape Town, South Africa. It is just over 3,500 feet high and spans two miles from side to side. Many travelers take the cable car to the top for the fabulous views; others opt for a more adventurous route and hike up the steep sides.





Quoted from MSN


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Up to 650,000 visitors a year watch the Penguin Parade

What's a trip to Australia without an encounter with its unique animals? If you're in Melbourne and have a hankering to get up close and personal with native wildlife — as well as enjoy some fabulous coastal views — make the two-hour drive southeast of the city to Phillip Island.
The Penguin Parade, Destination Phillip Island
Begin your visit at the free-range Phillip Island Wildlife Park, situated at the heart of the island — and have your camera ready. Kangaroos, emus, koalas, cassowaries, echidnas and dozens of other indigenous species roam this 24-hectare facility, presenting photo ops galore.

Fifteen minutes away, on Summerland Beach in Phillip Island Nature Park, lies Penguin Parade, the main tourist draw. There, the aptly named Little Penguins (at around 30 cm tall, they are the world's smallest) emerge from the sea shortly after dusk each day and waddle their way to sand-dune burrows to the delight of onlookers. The species is found on the coast of New Zealand and southern Australia but gathers in its largest numbers on Phillip Island.

Viewing is controlled. Ticketing options allow you to watch from tiered seats or book a private beach with your own park ranger, who will tell you everything you need to know about the penguins. Want to do it in style? Then see the parade from a VIP "skybox" with canap├ęs and drinks. Visit penguins.org.au.

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 12:56 PM
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Cartoons of the Week

November 5 - November 11









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Published by Gusti Putra at: 12:37 PM
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