LOS ANGELES — The current fourth season of “Ugly Betty” will be its last.
ABC will pull the plug on the low-rated comedy-drama after its finale, and is announcing the decision early to give producers some time to craft a suitable ending — and fans ample warning that the show’s days are numbered.
“We’ve mutually come to the difficult decision to make this Ugly Betty’s final season, and are announcing now as we want to allow the show ample time to write a satisfying conclusion,” ABC said. “We are extremely proud of this groundbreaking series, and felt it was important to give the fans a proper farewell.”
ABC last fall shifted “Betty” from Thursdays, where it struggled to provide an adequate lead-in for “Grey’s Anatomy,” to Fridays, where it performed poorly. It recently moved the show to Wednesdays after the network’s comedy block.
“Betty,” starring America Ferrera in the title role, helped re-popularize the hourlong broadcast dramedy, a format that continues to find viewers this season with Fox’s “Glee.” The show was based on a Colombian telenovela.
Wow, I guess I have sooo much to look forward to with marriage. lol
My wife sat down on the couch next to me as I was flipping channels. She asked, ‘What’s on TV?’ I said, ‘Dust.’ And that’s when the fight started …………………………………………
My wife and I were watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire while we were in bed. I turned to her and said, “Do you want to have sex?” ”No,” she answered. I then said, “Is that your final answer?” She didn’t even look at me this time, simply saying “Yes..” So I said, “Then I’d like to phone a friend.” And that’s when the fight started …. …………………………………………..
I asked my wife, “Where do you want to go for our anniversary?” It warmed my heart to see her face melt in sweet appreciation. ”Somewhere I haven’t been in a long time!” she said… So I suggested, “How about the kitchen?” And that’s when the fight started… …………………………………………
Saturday morning I got up early, quietly dressed, made my lunch, grabbed the dog, and slipped quietly into the garage… I hooked up the boat up to the truck, and proceeded to back out into a torrential downpour. The wind was blowing 50 mph, so I pulled back into the garage, turned on the radio, and discovered that the weather would be bad all day… I went back into the house, quietly undressed, and slipped back into bed. I cuddled up to my wife’s back, now with a different anticipation, and whispered, ‘The weather out there is terrible.’ My loving wife of 10 years replied, ‘Can you believe my stupid husband is out fishing in that?’ And that’s when the fight started… ……………………………………
A man and a woman were asleep like two innocent babies. Suddenly, at 3 o’clock in the morning, a loud noise came from outside.The woman, bewildered, jumped up from the bed and yelled at the man ‘Holy Crap. That must be my husband!’ So the man jumped out of the bed; scared and naked, jumped out the window. He smashed himself on the ground, ran through a thorn bush and to his car as fast as he could go. A few minutes later he returned and went up to the bedroom and screamed at the woman, ‘I AM your husband!’ The woman yelled back, ‘Yeah, then why were you running?’ And that’s when the fight started…. ……………………………………..
I tried to talk my wife into buying a case of Molson Canadian for $24.95. Instead, she bought a jar of face cream for $17.95. I told her the beer would make her look better at night than the face cream.. And that’s when the fight started…… ……………………………………..
A woman was standing nude, looking in the bedroom mirror. She was not happy with what she saw and said to her husband, ‘I feel horrible; I look old, fat and ugly. I really need you to pay me a compliment.’ The husband replies, ‘Your eyesight’s damn near perfect.’ And that’s when the fight started…. ………………………………………
I took my wife to a restaurant. The waiter, for some reason, took my order first. “I’ll have the strip steak, medium rare, please.” He said, “Aren’t you worried about the mad cow?”” Nah, she can order for herself…” And that’s when the fight started…. ……………………………………..
My wife and I were sitting at a table at my high school reunion, and I kept staring at a drunken lady swigging her drink as she sat alone at a nearby table. My wife asked, ‘Do you know her?’ ’Yes,’ I sighed, ‘She’s my old girlfriend. ‘I understand she took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear she hasn’t been sober since.’ ’My God!’ said my wife, ‘who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?’ And that’s when the fight started…. ………………………………………………………
After retiring, I went to the Social Security office to apply for my SIN. The woman behind the counter asked me for my driver’s license to verify my age… I looked in my pockets and realized I had left my wallet at home. I told the woman that I was very sorry, but I would have to go home and come back later. The woman said, ‘Unbutton your shirt.’ So I opened my shirt revealing my curly silver hair. She said, ‘That silver hair on your chest is proof enough for me’ and she processed my Social Security application. When I got home, I excitedly told my wife about my experience at the Social Security office. She said, ‘You should have dropped your pants. You might have gotten disability, too.’ And that’s when the fight started….. ………………………………….
When I got home last night, my wife demanded that I take her someplace expensive… so, I took her to a gas station. And that’s when the fight started…. …………………………………..
My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our upcoming anniversary. She said, ‘I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 150 in about 3 seconds. I bought her a bathroom scale. And that’s when the fight started…. ………………………………….
One year, a husband decided to buy his mother-in-law a cemetery plot as a Christmas gift. The next year, he didn’t buy her a gift. When she asked him why, he replied, “Well, you still haven’t used the gift I bought you last year!” And that’s when the fight started…. …………………………………
Oracle announced Wednesday it completed its acquisition of Sun Microsystems in a deal valued at more than $7 billion, a move that transforms the database and business-software giant into a hardware company as well.
Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle has acquired several large companies in its drive to out-consolidate rivals in the business computing technology market, sometimes launching hostile takeovers and sometimes prevailing over regulatory objections. This time, the difficulty was persuading European antitrust regulators who were concerned about the fate under Oracle of the open-source MySQL database software business that was part of Sun.
"My hat is off to one of the greatest capitalists I have ever met, Larry Ellison," Sun Chairman Scott McNealy said in a bittersweet memo Tuesday, bidding adieu to the company he helped found 28 years earlier. “To be honest, this is not a note this founder wants to write. Sun, in my mind, should have been the great and surviving consolidator. But I love the market economy and capitalism more than I love my company.”
By giving it a place in the server, storage, and processor domains, the Sun acquisition means Oracle is a direct competitor to more companies, a complication given that it sells its database and other software for use on servers sold by those competitors. IBM already was Oracle’s biggest foe, but others that have survived the consolidation wave include Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, and EMC.
With the addition of servers, storage, Sparc processors, the Solaris operating system, Java, and the MySQL database to Oracle’s portfolio of database, middleware, and business applications, we plan to engineer and deliver open and integrated systems—from applications to disk—where all the pieces fit and work together out of the box. Each layer of the stack will be architected to improve performance, leverage innovation and centralize management so that IT will be more predictable, more supportable, and more secure. Customers will benefit as their system performance, reliability and security goes up and their system integration and management costs go down.
Boxoffice is arguably more straightforward to report than TV ratings. You have this weekly Top 10 list of returns, you compare each movie to the other movies. TV ratings are a murky swamp where one network’s hit is another network’s flop and context is not just a factor, but often the entire story.
Yet one respect in which boxoffice reporting is pretty odd — emphasizing ticket grosses yet rarely mentioning ticket sales. That would be like always reporting how many ad dollars sold off “Lost” and not mentioning the number of viewers that actually watched the show. With everybody reporting how “Avatar” is The Biggest Movie of All Time based on grosses ($1.859 billion and counting), it’s important to remember how rising ticket prices skew the returns.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. is telling dealers to suspend sales of eight models, and halting production of those models, after a recall to correct a problem that could cause the accelerator pedal to stick.
About 2.3 million vehicles are affected by the recall, which was announced last week, Toyota (TM) said Tuesday in a statement. That’s more autos than the 1.8 million Toyota sold in all of 2009.
"Toyota has a legal obligation to stop the sale of vehicles that would be affected under the recall," a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) spokesman said.
In issuing the recall, the automaker said it had not yet found a way to fix the problem, but wanted owners to be aware of the potential issue.
While stopping sales of recalled is standard procedure, stopping production of the cars is unusual, a Toyota spokesman admitted.
But because no remedy has been found, it’s not known how long the sales suspension will last. That meant Toyota would be producing cars it couldn’t sell and that would only need to fixed later before they could be sold.
"Helping ensure the safety of our customers and restoring confidence in Toyota are very important to our company," Toyota USA group vice president Bob Carter said Tuesday. "This action is necessary until a remedy is finalized."
The situation is rare, Toyota said last week, but can occur when accelerator pedal mechanisms become worn. The problem will usually develop gradually, Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said.
The pedal may become harder to press and may become slower to return when released. In the worst cases, it may become stuck in a partially depressed position.
In that case, applying the brakes should be enough to get the car back under control, the automaker said.
Owners who are not experiencing any problems should be able to continue driving their cars, Toyota said. If they experience any sticking or hesitancy in the gas pedal, they should stop driving the car and call the nearest Toyota dealer.
A Toyota spokesman said there are no confirmed deaths traceable to the defect.
The new recall, involving sticking accelerator pedals, is separate from an ongoing recall of 4.2 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles due to the risk of pedal entrapment because of a loose floormat.
About 1.7 million Toyota Division vehicles have been affected by both recalls, meaning that the new recall affects 600,000 additional vehicles.
The automaker said that it will halt the production of vehicles at certain production facilities in Canada, Indiana, Kentucky and Texas during the week of Feb. 1 to “assess and coordinate activities.” The vehicles currently being built will not be sold until they are fixed, a Toyota spokesman said.
"Suspending sales and production is certainly good to reassure the public that they are serious about doing something, but too many jobs and lost sales are involved for this to be a PR stunt," Edmunds.com Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds said in statement. "They must really be concerned about this being something other than a rare condition. Hopefully this means the fix is very close to being ready, because suspension of production and sales is not tolerable for very long."
The recall affects Toyota’s 2009-2010 RAV4, Corolla and Matrix; 2005-2010 Avalon; certain 2007-2010 Camrys; 2010 Highlander; 2007-2010 Tundra and the 2008-2010 Sequoia.
General Motors’ Pontiac Vibe, which is essentially the same car as the Toyota Matrix, was also included in the recall. GM is not participating in the order to stop selling the cars because it has already stopped production of Pontiac vehicles as part of its wind-down of the Pontiac brand, a GM spokesman said.
Toyota owners with questions should call Toyota’s customer service line at 800-331-4331.
At 6 pm, my wife Eleanor was looking tense. “We are so late!” she said.
After a great day of skiing in the Catskills, we were driving back to New York City, for a dinner party that was called for 7 pm.
"What do you mean?" I responded, "The party doesn’t start for an hour; we’ve got plenty of time."
"Peter." She didn’t hide her annoyance. "We’re 100 miles from the city. There’s no way we can make it on time."
"We’re not late yet.” I smiled. “We’re still an hour early.”
This explains why I am always late and Eleanor is always on time. Eleanor, you see, plans for transition time.
The night before the party, she figured out that we if we needed to be there by 7, we should plan to arrive by 6:45, which meant leaving our apartment in New York City at 6:15, which meant arriving at the apartment by 5:30, in time to drop of our bags, take showers, and dress, which meant arriving in New York City at 5 to give us time to park the car, which meant leaving Windham at 2:15, in case there was traffic, which meant stopping skiing at 1:15, giving us time to pack up and clean the house, which meant starting skiing at 8am if we were going to get in any decent runs, which meant waking up at 6:30, which meant going to sleep by 10:30 so we could get our full eight hours.
"Uh oh," I had said to her the night before, as I looked at my watch. "It’s 11 pm. We’re already 30 minutes late for tomorrow night’s party."
Eleanor, of course and as usual, is right. The only way to get somewhere on time is to plan for it, taking into account each time-consuming step.
My intentions are good. I don’t like being late. Most people who are late don’t like being late. And I never plan to be late or intend to be late. I understand that it’s disrespectful and unprofessional. Not to mention uncomfortable.
Here’s my problem: I have a very high need to be efficient and productive. And transition time is neither of those things; it’s annoying.
I’d rather just be somewhere. I don’t want to waste the time getting there. So, even though I know I should leave more time, I push it, clinging to the illusion that I can get places faster than is humanly possible.
I’m not the only one. Anyone who has ever scheduled back-to-back meetings lives under the same illusion. How can we end a meeting at 2 pm and start the next one at 2 pm? Even if they’re just phone meetings, we can’t dial that fast. Or switch our mindset from one task to the other in so little time. And when you throw in a bathroom break? It’s pre-meditated lateness, and we do it all the time.
At one of my clients it’s policy not to start teaching until 10 minutes after a training program is scheduled to start. That’s institutionalized lateness.
But the joke is on us late people. Because being late causes the exact things we’re trying to avoid: inefficiency and counter productivity. Not just for the people who are waiting, but for the people who are late. Because nothing is more productive and efficient than transition time. It’s not just our time to travel. It’s our time to think. And to plan.
How many meetings have you been to in which, halfway through, you begin to wonder, now what is the point of this meeting?
How many times have you been on a phone call and found your mind wandering, or — be honest now — surfed the web, because you were bored?
How often have you thought: you know, this 60-minute meeting should have been 30 minutes?
And you’re right. The meeting probably should have been 30 minutes. Or 45 at the most. Because almost anything that could be done in 60 minutes can be done in 45. But because we haven’t thought enough about it before hand, the meeting drags on.
If we took a few minutes before the meeting to really think about it, we could drastically shorten it. So, here’s the one thing you should think about as you transition leisurely (gasp) to your next commitment:
How can I make this shorter, faster, and more productive?
Even five or 10 minutes of that kind of planning can shave 30 minutes off a task. Think about your outcome. Think about what you really need from people. And then, in a move that will make everyone else in the room overjoyed, let them know you want to make the 60 minute meeting 30 minutes and tell them how you plan to do it.
Spend your transition time plotting how to maximize your outcome. Need people’s ownership? Think about how you can involve them more openly, get their perspectives, and engage them. Going to a dinner? Ponder how you can have more fun.
Maybe you’re thinking: but I already plan. Sure you do. But there’s no better planning time than the 15 minutes before you walk into the room or get on the phone. Do you know any athlete who would rush off her cell phone and jump into the starting gate of a race? Of course not. Because athletes know that transition time is productive time.
To make this work we need to schedule it — literally put the transition time in our calendars. End meetings at least 15 minutes before the hour and schedule that time to prepare for the next one. Maybe, then, we can keep that meeting to 30 minutes and have an extra 15 minutes to go to the bathroom, answer email, or surf the web. That would be more efficient than doing those things during the meeting.
I have more to say about this — like how inefficient multi-tasking is — but I’ll have to save it for another article. It’s only 15 minutes until my next meeting so I’ve got to go. And besides, it’s 4 pm and by my calculations, I’m already running late for a 2 pm meeting tomorrow.
Understanding how credit scores are calculated can affect your financial decisions. Under the FICO scoring system, a credit score ranges from a low of 350 to a high of 850. These numbers are used to represent a person’s credit history or “credit worthiness”. In this article, let’s discuss the basic points that you should know about your credit score.
Factors that Affect Your Credit Analysis Your total credit score is based on five main factors that are included in your credit report. These are the following:
* timeliness of your payments * the amount of debt and types of your credit * your credit limit usage * length of your credit history * public records
Under the public records category of your report is where court judgments (bankruptcy, tax liens, foreclosures) and other negative remarks (if any) about your credit are written. Of course, any of these negative remarks, particularly a record of bankruptcy can dramatically pull down your credit score.
Timeliness of payment comprises about 35% of your final score. That is actually the biggest percentage among all the criteria given. Next, is the amount of your debts and the types of credit you have which makes up 30% of your score. Having several different types of credit or account under your name doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get a high rating. It would still depend on your current financial status, your debt-to-income ratio, and how well you keep up with your payments. Thus, it’s clear to see how even occasional late payments can badly hurt your credit.
How Lenders View Credit Scores Different companies and lenders have varying standards of what a good credit score is. There may be a difference of 5 to 10 points for each lending company’s standard of poor, fair, good and excellent credit. Thus, bear in mind that a single late payment can also make a difference in the score you’re aiming. To be sure that you’ll be in good standing, it’s best to achieve a score that is higher than the boundary or limit.
Typically, a score of 700 or 750 and above is considered as excellent. Banks and lending companies strive to acquire customers with an excellent rating. Having an outstanding credit score gives you the power- as a borrower, to demand for lower interest rates and better deals. If you’re enjoying a credit score this high, use it to your advantage. Always negotiate before signing up with any lender.
A score of 650-700 is still considered as a good rating by many lenders. You should have not problem getting approved although not all lenders may give in to your demands for a lower rate. Consequently, 500-640 is a fair or an acceptable score. However, some lenders may charge higher rates and fees for such customers.
Obviously, having a score of 500 and below would automatically make you a high-risk borrower. Most lenders reject customers with very low credit scores although you can find sub-prime lenders who offer approval in exchange for higher interest. Also, you may find that your contract would have more restrictions than the terms offered for people with outstanding credit.
Congressional experts pegged the 2010 U.S. budget deficit at $1.35 trillion, a slight improvement from the $1.38 trillion estimate in August, but the overall picture of the government’s finances remains bleak, according to the annual report released Tuesday.
The Congressional Budget Office said the government will run an aggregate deficit of almost $6 trillion during the next decade, a level that many economists worry is unsustainable in the long run, and could lead to a currency shock, inflation, crippling interest rates or other economic maladies.
The CBO estimate is almost certainly an understatement of the long-term problem. President Barack Obama and many lawmakers in both parties plan to extend many of the Bush-era tax cuts that are set to expire at year end. Officials also want to continue providing relief to taxpayers from the alternative-minimum tax, another break that’s costly to the government’s finances. Those tax policies—if enacted later this year—would add several trillion more to the deficits that aren’t counted under CBO’s system.
The CBO also is assuming that annual spending rises with inflation, while Congress in recent years—even before the recent recession—has been boosting spending at higher rates.
"Under current law, the federal fiscal outlook beyond this year is daunting," CBO Director Doug Elmendorf said on his blog Tuesday morning. "Projected deficits average about $600 billion per year over the 2011–2020 period….Those accumulating deficits will push federal debt held by the public to significantly higher levels.
"At the end of 2009, debt held by the public was $5.8 trillion, or 53% of GDP; by the end of 2020, debt is projected to climb to $15 trillion, or 67% of GDP. With such a large increase in debt, plus an expected increase in interest rates as the economic recovery strengthens, interest payments on the debt are poised to skyrocket."
The CBO also predicts that economic growth in the next few years will be muted in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008.
To dramatize its concern over the deficit, the Obama administration is proposing a three-year freeze on some types of domestic spending. But the effort won’t have much impact on the short-term deficit. The freeze, which is expected to be included in Wednesday’s State of the Union address and the president’s Feb. 1 budget proposal, would affect about 17% of the federal budget that covers non-security-related discretionary spending.
House Republicans scoffed at the policy move.
"This must be the political season that David Axelrod suggested," House Republican aide Brian Patrick wrote in a blast email to reporters, "since just 41 days ago, the President himself signed an omnibus bill with a 12% spending increase into law. …If the President has had a change of heart since signing the omnibus just 41 days ago, perhaps he’d consider rescinding the 12% increase that he supported, as well as ruling out more wasteful stimulus spending."
The administration also has been considering ways to develop a broadly bipartisan deficit-reduction plan—for example, through a commission that would develop plans over the next year for long-term spending cuts and revenue increases. The Senate was expected to vote on Tuesday on a relatively powerful version of the commission, one with the ability to place its plans directly before Congress for an up-or-down vote.
But passage was doubtful. Congressional leaders and rank-and-file members alike are concerned that a deficit-reduction commission would rob them of much of their authority over spending and taxes.
That could lead the administration to create a weaker version of the commission—one that could have difficulty securing a congressional vote for its recommendations. That would leave the U.S. government’s finances adrift for another year, without a solution to the long-term deficit problem.
After a real adventure? What about paddling across a lake speckled with icebergs like a giant gin and tonic? It’s one of many showstoppers on the 11-day raft down the Tatshenshini River through the Yukon and Alaska, past the highest peaks in North America, dramatic valleys and huge glaciers. You’ll see bear, moose, eagles and photogenic camping locations before reaching the Pacific at Dry Bay.
Details Nahanni River Adventures (001 867 668 3180, nahanni.com) raft the Tatshenshini for £3,390pp, including guides, food, equipment and transfers.
Fly to Whitehorse with Air Canada (0871 2201111, aircanada.com) for £781pp return.
2 Long drive
Savannah Way is a road trip par excellence, following 3,700km (2,300 miles) of road and dirt tracks across Australia from Cairns to Broome via three time zones, four World Heritage Sites and 14 national parks. Allow at least a fortnight, staying at Outback inns, campsites and cattle stations as Queensland’s hills morph into red earth and the surreal rock formations of the Kimberley region and, ultimately, Broome’s white beaches.
Details Fly to Cairns via Sydney, and return from Perth with Qantas (08457 747767, qantas.com.au) from £685. Details of route, accommodation, and attractions: savannahway.com.au. Hire 4x4s from Britz (00800 200 80801, britz.com.au) for the May to October drive.
3 Safari less travelled
The Road to Zanzibar trip adds a fresh twist to the surf-safari combo with visits to community projects and East African mountains. Dragoman’s converted truck travels from Kenya to northern Tanzania before travellers head off for two days’ camping and sightseeing in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. This is followed by low-level hiking at Kilimanjaro and visits to an educational project and orphanage. After staying in the Usambara mountains, you end on the Tanzanian coast with three nights on the powder sands of Zanzibar.
Details Dragoman (01728 861133, dragoman.com) offers the 13-night trip for £680 (plus £500pp kitty for activities, food and accommodation). Fly into Nairobi and return from Dar es Salaam for £560pp with STA (0871 230 0040, statravel.co.uk).
4 Sandy way
Explore Morocco beyond its riads and souks with a five-day desert tour embracing history, nomads and camels. Experience the High Atlas mountains and palmeries of the Draa Valley on the old transSahara route. The desert starts at M’hamid with the dunes of the Erg Chigaga sand sea for a one-day — which can be extended to two — camel-trek, camping under the stars. There is off-road driving via Lake Iriqui’s salt flats to the oasis of Foum Zguid, before returning to Marrakesh.
Details Authentic Morocco (0117 373 9145, authentic-morocco.com) offers the Erg Chigaga tour for £432pp (two people) with half-board accommodation, guides and camel trek. Fly to Marrakesh from £64pp return with easyJet (easyjet.com).
5 Boar and lodging
Wine, food and historic towns are French holiday staples, but for a real taste of Gallic life join a boar hunt in the Languedoc. Les Jardins de Saint Benoît, a new holiday village, allows you to help local hunters as they pursue the speedy beasts. Expect a hearty hike, ruddy-cheeked hunters and, if you bag a boar, serious celebrations.
Details Les Jardins de Saint Benoît (0871 2187066, garrigaeresorts.com) offers hunting from August to February for £225pp for three days (licence required; contact the hotel), and self-catering one-bed houses from £153 a night.
The Mekong trip from Houayxai in Thailand to Luang Prabang in Laos is like no other. After days in the fecund splatter of mountains on the Thai-Burma border with elephant camps and hill tribes, you gently decompress on the river journey, stopping at weaving villages and a serene river lodge. Just as the Apocalypse Now fantasies kick in, you reach Luang Prabang for a shot of French colonial architecture, saffron-robed monks and luxury kip.
Details Audley Travel (01993 838 125, audleytravel.com) offers a ten-day itinerary for £2,280pp with two nights in the Golden Triangle, Mekong cruise, three nights at Amantaka in Luang and two in Bangkok, and flights, B&B accommodation, excursions and transfers.
7 Four-act drama
For a far-from-average adventure try Central America’s awesome foursome. The adrenalin starts in Guatemala, staying in a colonial townhouse in Antigua, with a hike on the 2,552m Pacaya volcano – the perfect cone has erupted frequently since 1965 — before mountain biking in the Antigua Valley. A bit of horse-riding and it’s on to a beachfront hotel in El Salvador for surfing on El Sunzal’s acclaimed waves.
Details The Last Frontiers (01296 653000, lastfrontiers.com) 12-day trip is £2,335pp including flights, B&B accommodation, transfers and activities above.
8 Europe’s Himalayas
Fancy a Tibetan trek without the long-haul flight? A self-guided hike through the Abruzzo region of Italy could be the solution. It has vino rosso rather than yak’s butter tea, but the long flat valleys sandwiched by grey mountains are dubbed “Little Tibet” and have even stood in for the Himalayas in movies. From Barisciano the route climbs past medieval villages and castles, reaching the plateau of Campo Imperatore, with superb views of the Gran Sasso peaks. After stays in comfortable huts on this seven-day trip, you hike up Corno Grande, the highest Apennine mountain.
Details World Walks (01242 254353, worldwalks.com) offers six nights’ half board in hotels, B&Bs and mountain huts, luggage transfer, and hiking itinerary for £575pp in June, July, September and October. BA (0844 493 0787, ba.com) flies to Rome from £130pp return.
9 On a roll
Vodkatrain sounds like a boozy, riotous trip — it might well be — but it’s more concerned with subverting the norms of group rail travel. The St Petersburg-toBeijing route on the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian railways eschews tour leaders and tight schedules for “honchos” at the main stops — including Moscow, Irkutsk and Ulaanbaatar — who impart local knowledge about food, sights, entertainment and prices. There are nights at Lake Baikal and a Mongolian ger camp.
Details Vodkatrain (020 8877 7650, vodkatrain.com) offers the 21-day trip for £1,910 including honcho support, four-berth train ticket, accommodation at stops, transfers. Fly to St Petersburg, return from Beijing through STA from £396.
10 High luxury
Grizzled beards and explorers’ cohones aren’t mandatory for crossing the Andes. Explora has given the epic trip a luxury twist, starting in its chic base in St Pedro de Atacama, where you acclimatise with cycling, horse rides and hikes among salt lakes, volcanoes and geysers. Tackle the high Andean spine by driving, walking and camping at 11,500ft before descending to the dramatic rocks and cacti of the Salta Province in Argentina.
DetailsCazenove+loyd (020-7384 2332, cazloyd.com) offers the ten-day Andes crossing with four nights at Explora en Atacama, one camping, two at an Argentine finca and nights in Santiago and Buenos Aires from £6,500pp, including full-board accommodation, transfers and flights.
Despite some recent glimmers of hope, Bill Gates believes it could take several more years for the economy to fully rebound from the great recession, which many economists say began in earnest in late 2008 with the collapse of Lehman Bros and other investment houses.
"When you have a financial crisis like that, it’s years of digging out," the Microsoft chairman said Monday during an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America.
"The budget’s very, very out of balance," Gates warned.
"And even as the economy comes back, without changes in tax and entitlement policies, it won’t get back into balance. And at some point, financial markets will look at that and it will cause problems," Gates added.
Gates’ comments come three days before Microsoft is slated to announce earnings for its fiscal second quarter. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect the company to post earnings per share of 59 cents, on revenue of $17.79 billion.
In 2008, Microsoft posted second quarter earnings of 47 cents on $16.63 billion in revenue.
The interview coincided with the publication of Gates’ annual letter from his charitable organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In the letter, Gates said he talked to co-trustee Warren Buffett “more than ever” during the past year to gain a better understanding of the financial meltdown.
"Although the acute financial crisis is over, the economy is still weak, and the world will spend a lot of years undoing the damage, which includes lingering unemployment and huge government deficits and debts at record levels," Gates wrote.
Still, there are indications that some markets are stabilizing and are in line for growth.
Research firm Forrester is calling for tech spending in the U.S. to grow 6.6% this year, to $568 billion, after being down 8.2% in 2009. Worldwide spending will jump 8.1% to more than $1.6 trillion, following a decline of 8.9% last year, according to Forrester.
Spending by international visitors to the United States remains in a slump that, when it began in late 2008, marked the first contraction in such spending after more than 60 consecutive months of positive growth, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Twenty-five bodies have been recovered. The Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed in the Mediterranean Sea soon after takeoff from Beirut during a storm. Sabotage is unlikely, the nation’s president says.
Reporting from Beirut - Rescue workers have recovered the bodies of 25 of 90 people aboard an Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea early this morning amid a fierce storm, the Lebanese transportation minister said.
The Addis Ababa-bound Boeing 737-800, carrying eight crew members and 82 passengers including the American-born wife of the French ambassador to Lebanon, crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff from Beirut during harsh weather. No survivors have been found during an ongoing search-and-rescue operation. Lebanese and Ethiopian officials discounted the possibility of terrorism or sabotage in the downing of the plane.
"As of now, an act of sabotage is unlikely," Lebanese President Michel Suleiman told reporters. "The investigation will uncover the cause."
A spokesman for the Addis Ababa government said the airline had received no prior threats.
The crew of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 lost contact with Lebanese air traffic control shortly after it took off during a thunderstorm at 2:35 a.m. local time, officials said.
"The control tower was assisting the pilot of the plane on takeoff and suddenly lost contact for no known reason," Lebanese Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi told reporters.
According to a statement issued by the Lebanese army, eyewitnesses saw the Boeing 737-800 catch fire before plunging into the sea five miles off the coastal town of Nehmeh.
Lebanese naval and air force units along with ships attached to the longstanding U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon continue relief and rescue operations, the army said.
Marla Sanchez Pietton, wife of the recently appointed French ambassador to Lebanon, was a native of the United States, friends said. According to the airline, the passengers included 51 Lebanese, 23 Ethiopians, two Britons and individual citizens of France, Canada, Syria, Iraq, Russia, Turkey and Syria.
The airline said investigators have already been sent to the scene in search of the flight data recorders. Images broadcast on local television showed ships and a helicopter at sea, presumably near the crash site.
Agence France-Presse reported that weeping families of the passengers could be seen arriving at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport to await news.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who toured the crash site by helicopter, declared a day of mourning in honor of those who perished in the crash.
"This is a tragedy for Lebanon, and we are working to find the missing passengers," he told reporters. "There are many theories, but the truth will be revealed by that black box."
Last week the blogosphere went temporarily insane over a simple GUID that displays a list of Control Panel shortcuts. It’s not even close to deserving the “God mode” label, but I’m still hearing about it. As I noted in response, that’s only one of 39 GUID shortcuts available in Windows 7. But even those are esoteric and mostly of interest to programmers and geeks.
But there’s another, much larger class of well-hidden Windows shortcuts that are useful to everyone, not just techies. I dug through my notes for Windows 7 Inside Out and found a treasure trove of information about these shortcuts. They wound up on the cutting-room floor for that first edition, but are scheduled to be in the expanded second edition in a year or so.
The shortcuts I’m referring to involve the shell command, which is curiously undocumented in the Windows 7 Help files or on Microsoft’s web site. The idea is to give Windows programs and users access to common locations using the Windows shell, Windows Explorer. The syntax is simple—you type shell, followed by a colon and the name of the shell folder location. That list of folder locations is hard to memorize, with lots of inconsistencies especially in regard to spacing. For example, the shell shortcut for the shared Downloads folder is shell:CommonDownloads, whereas the equivalent shortcut to the shared Documents folder is shell:Common Documents. And the command will not tolerate typos. If you add a space in the former or leave out the space in the latter, the shortcuts won’t work. The good news is that these commands are not case-sensitive, so you can ignore the sometimes odd capitalization.
Despite the syntactic challenges, these shortcuts are very useful for some tasks. They’re especially good for fast typists who don’t want to move their hands from the keyboard to do a bunch of mouse movements. If that’s you, tap the Windows key to open the Start menu with the insertion point already positioned in the Search box. Then type shell: followed by the location.
I’ve broken the full list of 94 shortcuts into four groups, each with its own page. If you want to dive right in, here are the links to click. But I suggest you keep reading for some examples of shortcuts that I find worth memorizing.
Note that many, but not all, of these shortcuts work with Windows Vista, and a smaller subset work with Windows XP. For this post I assume you’re using Windows 7.
The following list includes my favorite Windows shell shortcuts, those that I use regularly:
shell:Profile This opens your user profile folder (on a default installation, you’ll find this at c:\users\username). You can get the same results by clicking your account name at the top of the Start menu’s right column. This location is also accessible via the environment variable %userprofile%.
shell:Personal Typing this command takes you straight to the Documents folder in your user profile. You can reach the same destination by clicking the Documents shortcut on the Start menu’s right column.
shell:SendTo This one solves a real usability problem for Windows users who are used to running with hidden files visible. If you look in your user profile folder, you’ll see a normally hidden SendTo shortcut. But clicking that shortcut displays this error message:
That’s because this shortcut is actually a junction, created for backwards compatibility. The real SendTo folder is several subfolders deep in your profile’s hidden AppData folder. After you use the shell command to open this file, you can add shortcuts that appear on the Send To menu when you right-click a file or folder. Add a shortcut to your favorite text or hex editor and you can view any file by sending it to that shortcut with a right-click.
shell:Public Use this command to open the default collection of shared folders on your machine. If you use Homegroups, these folders act as dropboxes for shared libraries on your system, and this is an easy way to see (and search) their contents in one window.
shell:Common Startup and shell:Startup Which shortcuts are loaded automatically when you start Windows? Program installers often create a shortcut that run automatically at startup. Some even offer the choice of running for just your account or for all users. You’ll find these shortcuts in two separate Startup folders, one buried deep in the hidden AppData folder of your user profile, the other in the hidden ProgramData folder, which is in the root of your system drive.
shell:ConnectionsFolder This might not be the most elegant way to get to the Network Connections folder, but it’s definitely faster than the official path. Without this trick, you have to stumble to the Network and Sharing Center, then click Change Adapter Settings in the navigation pane.
shell:Programs and shell:Common Programs These two folders (from your personal profile and the ProgramData folder, respectively) combine to create the All Programs list on your Start Menu. The mouse-driven alternative is to click the Start menu, right-click All Programs, and choose Open (for your profile) or Open All Users (for the much more densely populated list available to any user account).
shell:AppData and shell:Local AppData These shortcuts open the Roaming Application Data and Local Application Data folders, respectively. In everyday use, you don’t need (or event want) access to these folders, but knowing their whereabouts is handy when you want to work directly with saved settings for a program. You’ll find Firefox and Thunderbird user profiles here, and most e-mail programs (including Outlook and Windows Live Mail) store the files containing saved messages and contacts here as well.
shell:Cookies and shell:cache These shortcuts are, without question, the fastest way to see information saved by Internet Explorer. The first shortcut lets you inspect and manage saved cookies; the second opens the Temporary Internet Files folder. The alternative involves much spelunking through the Internet Options dialog box and is not recommended for long-term sanity.
Want to see the entire list? Click that link on the right.
Votes are in - "Women's Empowerment" is the Junior League's new focus. Great seeing all the wonderful women of the Junior League of Seattle tonight. Tomorrow is Dine and Donate at Tutta Bella - 20% of their sales will go to the Jr League's community projects. See you all there!
Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) — U.K. stocks advanced for a second day as Burberry Group Plc, Britain’s largest luxury retailer, reported sales that topped estimates and Cadbury Plc agreed to be bought by Kraft Foods Inc.
Burberry jumped 7.3 percent to the highest level in more than two years. Cadbury climbed 3.4 percent as the British confectioner agreed to an improved 11.9 billion-pound ($19.7 billion) offer from Kraft. Severn Trent Plc led utilities higher after saying it can meet spending requirements set by the industry regulator.
The benchmark FTSE 100 Index advanced 30.27, or 0.6 percent, to 5,524.66 at 3:59 p.m. in London, rebounding from an earlier decline of as much as 1.2 percent. The FTSE All-Share Index gained 0.5 percent, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index retreated 0.2 percent.
The FTSE 100 soared 22 percent last year, its biggest annual advance since 1997, as central banks cut interest rates to record lows and governments worldwide committed about $12 trillion to revive the economy. The gauge has climbed 2.1 percent so far this year.
Burberry rallied 7.3 percent to 643 pence, the highest intraday level since October 2007. The retailer reported a 15 percent jump in third-quarter sales to 380 million pounds ($624 million), beating the average analyst estimate of 340 million pounds in a Bloomberg survey.
The company also said full-year pretax profit will be “towards the top end” of analysts’ forecasts. Third-quarter Sales at stores open at least a year climbed 10 percent.
Cadbury surged 3.4 percent to 835 pence after the board agreed to Kraft’s offer, ending more than four months of resistance. Cadbury investors will get 840 pence a share, including 500 pence in cash and the rest in stock, Kraft said. Cadbury will also pay its holders an additional 10 pence dividend once the offer is unconditional.
Severn Trent gained 3.1 percent to 1,123 pence, the most since November, after the U.K.’s second-largest water company said it can meet tariff and spending requirements set by Ofwat.
The shares have risen 11 percent since the regulator set new targets for investment and tariffs on Nov. 26. The regulator reduced average price caps for Severn Trent by 0.6 percent over the five years to mid-2015 and kept a July proposal to lower the average cost of capital to 4.5 percent from 5.1 percent.
SABMiller Plc led declining shares, falling 2.3 percent to 1,779 pence. The world’s second-biggest brewer reported beer volumes, stripping out acquisitions and disposals, were unchanged in the third quarter. That missed the median analyst estimate for a 1 percent increase in a Bloomberg News survey.
Barclays Plc retreated 1.3 percent to 313.5 pence after Credit Suisse Group AG said Britain’s second-biggest bank may need to raise more capital.
The lender may need to raise 17 billion pounds ($28 billion) to meet new capital requirements over the next three years, according to London-based analyst Jonathan Pierce.
“Our numbers suggest a potential sizeable capital deficit,” Pierce wrote in a report today, keeping his “outperform” rating on the stock and cutting his share-price estimate by 13 percent to 350 pence.
BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - British flags fluttered outside chocolate-maker Cadbury’s sprawling Bournville site Tuesday as employees lamented the news that a beloved national brand was falling into American hands.
"Hang your heads in shame," read one banner, capturing a feeling at the company’s home in Birmingham in central England that patriotic pride as well as future prospects for employees were at stake in the takeover by U.S. giant Kraft.
"It is history, and what is England without its history?" asked Janet Wright, a 59-year-old machine operator, who started work at the Cadbury factory at the age of 15.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he wanted to protect British investment and jobs at Cadbury, illustrating the political sensitivity of the deal in an election year.
Cadbury has been in Bournville since 1879 and the sense of community remains strong there, compounding the fears and disappointment felt by the workforce.
The site, which employs about 2,500, consists of a mix of sturdy 19th-century brick buildings in the style of the 1930s and square blocks reminiscent of the 1960s, stretching as far as the eye can see and reflecting the company’s long history.
"It’s not just about jobs, it’s also about being British. It’s the end of a great British company," said one woman, 51, who did not wish to give her name but said she had worked at the factory for 31 years and had met her husband there.
Felicity Loudon, a member of the fourth generation of Cadbury’s founding family, said the deal was a tragedy.
"I think my grandfather and great grandfather and great, great grandfather would all be turning in their graves. I think the idea that Cadbury could be anything but British would be just a horror story to them," she told Reuters.
The company’s Quaker-inspired tradition of caring for staff, established by its founders, is still in evidence despite the family retreating from the day-to-day running of the business.
The site has a dentist, chiropodist, swimming pool and pensioners’ club, and a clocktower stands over a war memorial decorated with poppies paying tribute to dozens of Cadbury workers who died in the two World Wars.
Some workers live in company houses at discounted rents, and when the supermarket chain Tesco opened a store at the site it was barred for a time from selling alcohol.
Myriam Jordan, 82, who worked for Cadbury for 15 years, as did her father-in-law for 46 years, still receives a free Cadbury parcel at Christmas and a free trip every year.
"It adds a bitter taste having an American company buy Cadbury’s," she said, returning from the pensioners’ club.
The uncertainty over job security has angered the workers.
"Everybody I have spoken to, from the lollipop lady to the people in the school playground, said they would stop buying chocolate bars if Cadbury is taken over by the American company," said a 54-year-old woman who had worked at the firm for more than 20 years and did not wish to give her name.
But some felt the great Quaker traditions had disappeared over the years, with diminishing pension and pay packages.
"They set up a great legacy but all that has gone," said Pete, 48, who declined to give his second name. He had worked in production for 17 years. However, even he was despondent about the likely takeover.
Conan O’Brien is nearing a deal to split with NBC’s Tonight Show for a $40 million payout, according to The Wall Street Journal. The deal would end the ugly dustup that has ensued since the network announced plans to move Jay Leno back into the 11:35 p.m. timeslot after his prime-time berth tanked in the ratings. O’Brien’s deal would reportedly bar him from (further) disparaging the network, but would allow him to land somewhere else in less than a year — instead of making him sit out the remaining two-plus years on his contract.
The Rules of Life#13 - No Fear, No Surprise, No Hesitation, No Doubt
Where does this come from? It’s from a seventeen century samurai warrior. This was his four point key to successful living and swordsmanship.
There should be nothing in this life that you are afraid of. If there is, you might need to do some work on overcoming that fear. Whatever your fear, face it head on and defeat it.
Life seems to be full of them, doesn’t it? You’re going along just fine and suddenly something just rears up ahead of you. But if you look carefully, there were clues all along the way that it was going to happen. So why does life seem to surprise us then? Because we are asleep half the time. Wake up and nothing can sneak up on you
Weigh up the odds and then just get on with it. If you hang back the opportunity will have passed. If you spend too long thinking, you’ll never make a move. Once we have looked at the options, we make a choice, a decision and then go for it. That’s the secret. No hesitation means not waiting around for other people to help out or make up our minds for us. No hesitation means if there is a certain inevitability about a situation, then just throw yourself in heard first and enjoy the ride. If there is nothing to be done, then waiting doesn’t help.
Once you have made your mind up about something, don’t go over it again and again. Stop thinking and enjoy – relax and let go. Stop worrying. Tomorrow will come along as certainly as I can. There is no doubt about life. Have no doubt it was the right thing to do and no doubt that you will succeed. Get on with it and trust your judgment completely