Aimee Valle
Saturday, July 01, 2006
  News...Just the Good Stuff

What is the world coming to? Now kids have to be tricked into lifting weights inside their toys to try to counter the effect of unhealthy, humongous portions of food that their parents won't stop feeding them. it would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

Weighted Toys May Help Kids Get Fit During Playtime

By Charnicia E. Huggins

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -
Adding weights to children's toys may help them improve their fitness during playtime, the results of a small study suggest.

"This study provides one intervention to the current trend of declining fitness in America's youth," Dr. John C. Ozmun, of Indiana State University and his co-authors write.

This will not be "the answer to childhood obesity, but it could be a small part of the puzzle, making a positive contribution," Ozmun told Reuters Health.

Various reports have pointed to the benefits of physical activity in helping children maintain healthy body composition and improve cardiovascular and skeletal systems, heart rate, blood pressure and levels of the "good" HDL cholesterol. Studies have also shown that physical activity declines as children grow older.

Ozmun and his colleagues investigated whether children's physical activity can be increased by subtly changing the task requirements of certain activities already common to them - i.e. by adding weights to toys used either during play or while learning.

Their study included five boys and five girls, who were an average of 7.5 years old, who were randomly assigned to carry either large, cardboard toy blocks that weighed less than a quarter of a pound (0.10 kilograms) or blocks that weighed about 3.4 pounds (1.55 kilograms).

The weighted toys had small steel blocks glued inside the larger blocks. The children picked up the blocks, one at a time, and carried them with two hands over approximately 26 feet. Days later, the children were assigned to the opposite type of toy block and repeated the activity.

Overall, after an average of 10 minutes of carrying weighted blocks, the children experienced significantly greater increases in heart rate, oxygen uptake and energy expenditure than they did after carrying the lighter blocks, study findings indicate.

"Handling heavier objects, either through play or instruction, may provide opportunities to increase workload intensity in a benign manner allowing for subsequent improvements in children's physical fitness," Ozmun's group concludes.

The toys may also be useful in a therapeutic setting, particularly among children with cerebral palsy or Down's syndrome who show deficits in strength, according to Ozmun.

Two issues that need to be explored are the design and safety of weighted toys and whether children would be interested in playing with them, the researcher noted.

At this point, Ozmun does not recommend that parents add weights to their children's toys, expressing his safety concerns. What they can do, he said, is think about their child's play environment and create a "mindset of play that's more physically active."

The findings were presented, in part, during the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health in April. Additional results were later presented at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.

I'm looking forward to seeing photos of this once it's completed. It's the kind of thing that I thought could only actually exist in a dream. However, it could wind up being cheesy. We'll see as construction progresses.

"Chocolate Factory" Theme Park to Open in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -Amsterdam will get a theme park dedicated to chocolate and inspired by Roald Dahl's children's book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," city officials and entrepreneurs said Thursday.

Just like Dahl's fictional "Chocolate Factory" owned by Willy Wonka, the main part of the "sweets park" will be located underground, in a disused railway tunnel which was handed over by the city of Amsterdam in a ceremony Thursday.

The attraction, which is expected to open to the public in two to three years, will feature a glass elevator and a chocolate fountain, similar to the book. It will also produce small amounts of chocolate.

"Ten years ago I made a radio play of the 'Chocolate Factory' and ever since I've been fascinated by it," said audio books publisher Maurits Rubinstein who started the project.

The city of Amsterdam and Dutch construction company BAM are supporting the plan, which will cost 20 million euros, partly raised with bonds that parents and grandparents can buy for their children and grandchildren.

Amsterdam is the world's biggest cocoa port, processing around 30 percent of the world's cocoa beans from countries like Ghana and Ecuador. It supplies the key ingredient, cocoa paste, to major chocolate manufacturers throughout Europe.

Amsterdam is also the place where Coenraad Johannes van Houten invented the hydraulic cocoa press in the 1820s, enabling the production of eating chocolate alongside the already available drinking and cooking varieties. He also came up with the process known as "dutching" to create a mildly flavored cocoa powder that mixes more easily with water.

An impression of how the Chocolate Factory will look can be found by clicking on Impressie on

Wednesday, June 28, 2006
wis·dom (wzdm) n.
1. The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight.
2. Common sense; good judgment: "It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things"Henry David Thoreau.

Confucius said,
"Advocate loyalty and trustworthiness. Have no friends who are not your equals. Do not hesitate to correct faults."

I love good quotes. The kind that one can really relate to. The quote I selected is one that really speaks volumes about the way that I have felt recently.

Recently my husband and I have had to question what makes a "good friend", who is a "good person", and other difficult questions about the character of human animals.

Obviously, the answer is subjective. The answer is going to be different based on each individual's values and beliefs. The answer is clearly up to everyone to decide for themselves. But, if we choose unwisely then we can't make excuses, because ultimately it was our choice.

What makes someone a bad friend for me does not make them a bad person or a bad friend for someone else. Don't feel bad if you have to cut a friend loose because they just don't mesh with your beliefs. We all deserve it.

~~~~~~~~~~Awkward Transition~~~~~~~~~~

Well now this is really something. A whole blog dedicated to cats that resemble Adolf Hitler. I wish I had this much creativity. And holy crap, this cat really is der führer reborn.
Führer des Grossdeutschen Reichs
Sunday, June 25, 2006
  Land of Enchantment
That's the New Mexico state slogan. I always get a kick out of those things. Apparently West Virginia is "Almost Heaven". Not quite, but almost.

Today on what I'm calling "Alfred's World Tour 2006" I took him to the airport so that he could fly to Socorro, New Mexico.

The trouble is, there is absolutely nothing to see or do in New Mexico and he got there a whole day early for his training. I told him to get some pictures of the sky at night, because I've heard the stars and moon look bigger out there.

I have to remember to let him know that San Miguel Mission is right up the street from where he's staying so that he can photograph that. Unfortunately, it's not very imprssive if you've ever seen a Taco Bell.
He's really interested in seeing the Very Large Array or VLA. It comprises 27 radio telescopes in a “Y” pattern spread across the plains of San Agustin 50 miles west of Socorro. The VLA has been used by more astronomers and has been mentioned in more scientific papers than any other radio telescope in the world.

He was also thinking of driving up to Roswell just to photograph the sign.

Not too far from Socorro is the place where they detonated the first atomic bomb, codenamed "the gadget".

For the most part, it seems the desert is deserted. I'm not too sorry I had to miss this trip, of course I would have liked to have gone just to be with him.

He already called to tell me that the Rio Grande is actually more of a Rio Pequeño. That's pretty disappointing news.

He also told me that he already saw the remains of Jumbo. Who is Jumbo, you ask? Here is his story:

Jumbo was the code name for the 214-ton Thermos shaped steel and concrete container designed to hold the plutonium core of the Trinity device (or "gadget") in case of a nuclear misfire. Built by the Babcock and Wilcox Company of Barberton, Ohio, Jumbo was 28 feet long, 12 feet, 8 inches in diameter, and with steel walls up to 16 inches thick.

The idea of using some kind of container for the Trinity device was based on the fact that plutonium was extremely expensive and very difficult to produce. So, much thought went into a way of containing the 15 lb. plutonium core of the bomb, in case the 5,300 lbs. of conventional high explosives surrounding the core exploded without setting off a nuclear blast, and in the process scattering the costly plutonium (about 250 million dollars worth) across the dessert. After extensive research and testing of other potential containment ideas, the concept of Jumbo was decided on in the late summer of 1944.

However, by the spring of 1945, after Jumbo had already been built and transported (with great difficulty) to the Trinity Site by the Eichleay Corporation of Pittsburgh, it was decided not to explode the Trinity device inside of Jumbo after all. There were several reasons for this new decision: first, plutonium had become more readily (relatively) available; second, the Project scientists decided that the Trinity device would probably work as planned; and last, the scientists realized that if Jumbo were used it would adversely affect the test results, and add 214 tons of highly radioactive material to the atmosphere.

Not knowing what else to do with the massive 12 million dollar Jumbo, it was decided to suspend it from a steel tower 800 yards from Ground Zero to see how it would withstand the Trinity test. Jumbo survived the approximately 20 kiloton Trinity blast undamaged, but its supporting 70-foot tall steel tower was flattened.

Two years later, in an attempt to destroy the unused Jumbo before it and its 12 million dollar cost came to the attention of a congressional investigating committee, Manhattan Project Director General Groves ordered two junior officers from the Special Weapons Division at Sandia Army Base in Albuquerque to test Jumbo. The Army officers placed eight 500-pound conventional bombs in the bottom of Jumbo. Since the bombs were on the bottom of Jumbo, and not the center (the correct position), the resultant explosion blew both ends off Jumbo. Unable to totally destroy Jumbo, the Army then buried it in the desert near Trinity Site. It was not until the early 1970s that the impressive remains of Jumbo, still weighing over 180 tons, were moved to their present location.

So in this land of enchantment lies the remains of the destroyer of worlds. This seems fitting and ironically, utterly American.
It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine

My Photo
Location: United States

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

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