Wednesday, June 30, 2004

One State, One Book

Thousands of readers across Mississippi are expected to read The Girl in Hyacinth Blue as part of the One State, One Book program, sponsored by the Mississippi Library Commission Center for the Book. The program was designed to encourage Mississippians to read and discuss the same book during 2004.

"Girl in Hyacinth Blue," the story of a fictitious painting by the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer, was chosen as a tie-in with The Glory of Baroque Dresden international exhibition in Jackson through Sept. 6.

The exhibit consists of more than 400 works from the State Art Collections in Dresden, Germany, and reflects Baroque art including paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn, Vermeer and Peter Paul Rubens.

"Girl in Hyacinth Blue" begins in modern times and traces the painting's ownership back to its creation in the 1600s.


Illustrators and Shakespeare

Link - Some of the works of Shakespeare as interpreted by various illustrators throughout the centuries.

The Walkman Turns 25

And I feel like I've grown up right along with it. Who in their mid-30s doesn't remember their first Walkman? The blissfully easy way to block out the cries, screams and rants of your parents and siblings! To hell with the ear damage...Turn the volume UP. - Link.

iPod based foreign language phrasebook

Talking Panda is a new language translation app designed for the Apple iPod. Comes with over 300 common words and phrases of whichever language you want to speak. French, Spanish, and Japanese for $10 per language. RFID News editor John Wehr, who is helping out with the project, says "The fun thing is that the idea is so straightforward it could be used (or pre-installed?) with any portable player." Flash demo here, and website here.

Monday, June 28, 2004

The solution to the Boat/RV dilemma

The Cool Amphibious Manufacturers Hydra-Terra Wind is a luxury recreational vehicle with a difference: the ability to travel in four feet of water. Its "leveling system has been calculated to make sure that it will never topple over and never sink." Standard features include leather seats and teak cabinets. Price: $850,000. Contact: www.Camillc.com. (The Robb Report Collection)

Greenwood native Sumlin receives blues award

Greenwood mayor Harry L. Smith recently presented Greenwood native and blues guitar legend Hubert Sumlin the city's first Heart of the Blues Award.

The presentation took place June 10, the first day of the 21st annual Chicago Blues Festival, and honored Sumlin for his lifetime contributions to the blues.

Sumlin, best known for his tenure playing guitar for Howlin' Wolf, has also shared the stage with such artists as Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones and Muddy Waters.

He was even listed at No. 65 in Rolling Stone's Sept. 18, 2003, special edition, "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time," which claimed his work on Wolf's classics "inspired Keith Richards and an entire generation of British bluesman."

Wesley Smith, son of Mayor Smith and membership chairman for The Blues Foundation in Memphis, came up with the idea of honoring Sumlin.

"It's overdue," Wesley Smith said. "A lot of these guys are recognized around the world, so it's important for their hometowns to embrace them."

At Smith's suggestion, and with the help of his father, the Greenwood City Council passed a resolution on June 1 that honored Sumlin with the Heart of the Blues Award.

"I think anytime we have a recognized blues star who has roots here, it's a good idea for us to honor them," Mayor Smith said.

Wesley Smith, who was already scheduled to be in Chicago for the festival, planned the presentation after learning his father also would be in Chicago that weekend for a conference.

"When that opportunity came, I suggested that it might be a good idea for the mayor of Greenwood to present Hubert with this honor," Wesley Smith said. "Hubert belongs to us. He's one of our guys."

Wesley Smith said Sumlin "smiled ear to ear" when he realized he was being recognized by the city of Greenwood.

"He seemed really touched," Wesley Smith added.

Mayor Smith said Sumlin almost got teary-eyed during the presentation.

"He was just totally surprised," Mayor Smith said.

Sumlin was born in Greenwood in 1931, and was raised in Arkansas. He moved to Chicago during his childhood, but his love of the blues he heard down South sparked a creative fire that would ultimately turn him into one of the most influential blues guitarists of all time.

"He has really signature licks that he created," Wesley Smith, also a musician, said. "His playing is really distinctive and creative. You can see how he's influenced today's music.

"The translation of that is that you can hear how many of today's musicians have stolen Hubert's licks and claimed them as their own."

Although Sumlin never reached the level of commercial fame so often associated with success in the music business, the praise he has received from other musicians is evidence of his influence.

Guitar virtuoso Jimi Hendrix was once quoted as calling Sumlin his "favorite guitarist."

Wesley Smith said his first meeting with Sumlin in 2002 revealed an artist proud of his heritage and "wistful about his hometown."

"In music circles, Hubert's a legend," Wesley Smith said. "I think it meant a lot to him to be honored by the place where he was born."

LaSalle to return to Down Home Blues Festival

After 16 years Denise LaSalle will return to the Down Home Blues Festival, Saturday, July 3 at the all new Oasis on Hwy. 45 Alt. N. in West Point.

According to event coordinator, Sylvester Harris, other performers will include upcoming local star, Brown Sugar Band and Show; hometown favorite, Jake Moore Band and Show; The Pounders Band and Show and Crossroads Band and Show. Willie Clay will make his first appearance and back by popular demand, T.K. Soul and Nathaniel Kimble will also perform. The event was a huge success last year and Harris is hoping for a larger crowd this year.

Gates will open at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 3 and showtime will begin at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the gate. For vender or more information, call 662-241-4080.

Mississippi reclaiming the blues

Jacqueline Gooch, a 12-year old Delta resident with a Janis-Joplin voice, is positioned to sign a record contract later this summer. She has received extensive attention, playing in festivals across the Delta and in several other states. She began playing the guitar at age 7 and credits lessons at the Delta Blues Museum as the beginning of her interest in the blues.


State and local officials are using education programs like the one Gooch attended to extend the state's musical tradition, and they are encouraging all residents to see the benefit of working together to reclaim the state's blues heritage.


"Memphis and Chicago regularly advertise that they are the birthplace of the blues. It is important for Mississippi to reclaim that status," said Luther Brown, director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University and member of the state Blues Commission.


The challenge is that unlike those major cities, Mississippi is a vast area filled with blues history and music in nearly every nook and cranny.


However, many of those communities have been competing against one another instead of working as a whole, said Brett Bonner, editor of Living Blues, an Oxford-based publication that has covered the national blues scene for 35 years.


The buzz of activity surrounding the blues was the focus of a recent Living Blues issues that revolved around blues sites in Mississippi.


The Blues Highway organization, an ad hoc group of people interested in state blues heritage, meet six times a year to discuss the state of the blues.


The group grew out of research the state conducted four years ago and includes business owners, organizations and professors.


What's being done?


The organization joins a number of state and local groups that recognize the need for local involvement as they attempt to attract more tourists.


In January, Gov. Haley Barbour approved a state Blues Commission to develop a marketing plan for blues sites across the state.


The commission, made up of blues experts and business owners, has not officially met but has talked of improving infrastructure and markers for historic sites as some possible goals.


The goal of all of these movements is to ensure that the blues culture and music is carried on, and education programs, such as the one run by the Howlin' Wolf Blues Society in West Point, play a major role.


Charles Regan Wilson, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, said the education programs offer children the unique opportunity of experience and art firsthand.


"We have programs in the schools and mentoring programs at community centers in the state that are having older performers teach the blues to younger ones, passing on the tradition, just as we have school programs that teach students to approach Faulkner and Welty and help them understand that being from Mississippi means we have a great cultural tradition that needs to be extended," he said.


The hope is that, by increasing education about the blues and the evolution of blues music, Mississippi children will carry on the keep the music alive.


About a dozen of the 35 children involved in the Delta Blues Museum education program recently traveled to Mount Vernon, Ill., to play in the Blues and Barbecue Festival, said Shelley Ritter, museum director.


Past students have visited the White House to perform, and local blues musicians drop in frequently to give expert tips.


"A lot of the local musicians even drop in to cherry pick, trying to recruit some of the better musicians," she said. "So, it is not unusual for the students to sit in on performances at Sarah's Kitchen and Ground Zero."


Dumb Laws

You probably have not considered doing this, but in case you have, be advised that it is illegal in Florida to have sex with a porcupine. (There apparently is no law, however, about making whoopee with an alligator.) - Link to other dumb laws.

Doing Deco, Y'All, in Jackson

Antebellum . . . Mississippi . . . Jackson. The words conjure visions: a streamlined marquee, a neon greyhound, a leopard-skin settee. Okay, so that's not what comes to mind. But this summer in the Southern capital of Jackson, the word "antebellum" evokes that other before-the-war time -- the 1920s and '30s of the art deco years. - Link

Coffee Geeks unite!

The site lists reviews for such a mindbogglingly vast array of coffee-related gadgets.

Colors in Motion

Cool site with an animated and interactive experience of color communication and symbolism.

Mt. Erebus from space

NASA's Autonomous Sciencecraft Experiment software, which controls the Earth Observing-1 spacecraft, took some amazing images of the lava lake of Antarctica's Mount Erebus volcano without any human interaction. - Link

Top-ten untranslateables

Here's a great census of the ten most untranslateable foreign and English words:
1 plenipotentiary
2 gobbledegook
3 serendipity
4 poppycock
5 googly
6 Spam
7 whimsy
8 bumf
9 chuffed
10 kitsch

Visit the blog this info came from here.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Wyatt Waters prints of fishermen on spillway dam at the Reservoir to support local charities

Wyatt Waters' Discover Jackson cover, titled Banking Hours, shows fishing enthusiasts below the spillway dam at the Ross Barnett Reservoir. Prints of the cover will be sold to raise money for metro-area non-profits.

The Clarion-Ledger commissioned the original watercolor and will offer 300 16x28-inch signed, numbered prints in acid-free, museum-quality paper. Prints, including shipping and tax, are $165 each. The prints are available for purchase at The Clarion-Ledger offices at 201 S. Congress St., Jackson; by mail at P.O. Box 40, Jackson, MS 39205-0040; or on the newspaper's Web site.

Watermelon carving

Summertime is definitely watermelon time in Mississippi. (And 4th of July is never complete without at least one ice-cold watermelon chunk.) Check out watermelon.org to learn how to carve a watermelon to look like a fish and other whimsical designs.

Dresden attendance down despite publicity

Attendance still lags for the Glory of Baroque Dresden when compared to three previous exhibits, despite media attention from across the country. The exhibit runs through Sept. 6 at the Mississippi Arts Pavilion at Lamar and Court Streets in downtown Jackson.

The exhibit opened March 1 and 80,438 tickets have been sold, which is about 40 percent of the amount sold at this time for the Majesty of Spain exhibit in 2001. Gov. Haley Barbour and his wife, Marsha, are scheduled to promote the exhibit in TV and radio spots soon.

The exhibit feature more than 400 objects that range from paintings to porcelains and reflect the Baroque art during the time of August the Strong and his son August III; electors of Saxony and kings of Poland. For more information or tickets, call (601)960-9900.

Mississippi trivia

- Last year, $300 million was spent on bird-watching tours in the state.

- Mississippi is third nationally in casinos (we have 31).

- Last year, 33 million visitors flocked to the state spending $5.7 billion in tourist dollars.

- Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Georgia band together to promote our region internationally. Recently, the four states met with 250 tour operators in England. (The English love blues music.) In addition, Mississippi has marketing representatives in Great Britain, Germany, Canada and Switzerland.

- Antebellum homes and golf courses are both big tourist draws too.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

The best sites for whistlers...

- Whistlingiwc.com provides information about the international Whistlers Convention and offers tips for "first-time whistlers."

- This site teaches the secrets of two-handed whistling, a "fun" noise suitable for a team you hate.

- Stevethewhistler.com allows you to hear the internationally famous whistler's tunes.

- Whistlingrecords.com helps you locate those hard-to-find whistling records you've been desperately seeking. ;)

- This link takes you to an article from The Washington Post that explores "the high and low notes of the art."

- This site features James Abbott McNeill Whistler, the American artist best known for painting his mother.

For those who have everything...

The Victorinox Swissmemory is a considerable upgrade of the does-it-all Swiss Army knife. Nail file? Check. Tiny scissors? Check. Fold-out 64-megabyte USB drive? Check. (Use it store files, photos or secret plans.) Price: $69

The Tonys: Puppets Take Broadway

This year's Tony Awards made history when Phylicia Rashad became the first African-American to win a Tony for leading actress, for her portrayal of the tough matriarch in A Raisin in the Sun. Here are some of the winners:

- Best Play: I Am My Own Wife

- Best Musical: Avenue Q (a puppet show)

- Best Leading Actress in a Play: Phylicia Rashad, A Raisin in the Sun

- Best Leading Actor in a Play: Sean "Puffy" Combs (just kidding...Jefferson Mays, I Am My Own Wife

- Best Leading Actress in a Musical: Idina Menzel, Wicked

- Best Leading Actor in a Musical: Hugh Jackman, The Boy from Oz

- Best Featured Actor in a Play: Brian F. O'Byrne, Frozen

- Best Featured Actress in a Play: Audra McDonald, A Raisin in the Sun

- Best Featured Actor in a Musical: Michael Cerveris, Assassins

- Best Featured Actress in a Musical: Anika Noni Rose, Caroline, or Change

- Best Revival of a Play: Henry IV

- Best Revival of a Musical: Assassins

- Best Book of a Musical: Jff Whitty, Avenue Q

- Best Direction of a Play: Jack O'Brien, Henry IV

- Best Direction of a Musical: Joe Mantello, Assassins

Most popular baby names

The most popular names for baby boys in this country last year were, in descending order, Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Matthew and Andrew. For girls, the top names were Emily, Emma, Madison, Hannah and Olivia.

Take heart Mississippians...

Even though we often swear the humidity in the summer has to make our state the hottest in the country, a researcher recently determined that, based on average temperatures AND relative humidity, El Paso, Tex., was the sweatiest city in the U.S. (But Neil Simon didn't dub El Paso "Africa-hot" in Biloxi Blues, did he?)

Only in the South...

A Republican candidate for the South Carolina Senate wants "Confederate Southern Americans" declared a minority group entitled to the same protections as blacks and Hispanics. "Confederate Southern Americans are a separate and distinct people," said Ron Wilson. "Confederate Southern Americans are tired of being the 'whipping boy' for the rest of the country." Wilson says states have the right to secede from the union, though he does not think secession is necessary at this time.

Think your deck is cool? Let Thompson's know

To commemorate its 75th anniversary, Thompson's Co. is seeking nominations from around the country for one-of-a-kind decks that will be named to the Thompson's Co. "all-star" team of Celebrated Decks.

You'll be treated famously if yours is one of the six decks chosen as a Celebrated Deck from entries received between now and Oct. 1 (entries must be postmarked by Sept. 15). Monthly winners will be showcased on the Thompson's Water Seal Web site, providing inspiration to other homeowners. Winners will also receive $750 and a customized wood plaque.

Contest details and rules, including the address for submitting entries, can be found at the Web site now. Or call the help line at 1-800-367-6297 and a copy will be mailed to you.

Redeem coupons, don't just clip them

More than 330 billion manufacturer's coupons were distributed during 2000, reports the Promotion Marketing Association, but only 4.5 billion were redeemed. The consumers who did cash in on their coupons saved an estimated $3.6 billion.

For more savings, check online sites such as www.couponcart.com, www.coolsavings.comor www.valupage.com. To find local coupon deals and help feed the hungry, visit Cut Out Hunger. The charity organization provides online coupon organizers and links to supermarket deals in your state, with the hope that customers will use some of their savings to donate food.

Little things make a difference in fuel economy

Another site to check gas prices - gaspricewatch.com - search for price deals by using a zip code search or by specifying a street, city and state. You can sort prices by the grade of the gasoline too. You can also find information about the cheapest gas prices at www.fueleconomy.gov.

Read your car's owner's manual--your car may not require premium-grade gasoline.

Gas is gas--all companies, regardless of brand name, have to comply with the same federal regulations and use the same refineries.

Gas saving tips from the Alliance to Save Energy:
- Stop speeding. Each 5 mph over 60 is equivalent to paying an extra 10 cents per gallon for gas.
- Replace air filters regularly.
- If you're buying a new or used car, pay attention to the mileage. Check out the Department of Energy's Web siteto find the most gas-efficient vehicles.
- Keep your tires properly inflated and balanced.
- Stop pumping when you hear the click.
- Avoid aggressive driving and quick starts and stops.

Decoding tire lingo

All tires are different but they are rated on a common scale, so you can do some comparison shopping. Aside from size, one of the most essential codings is the speed rating, contained in the basic description code of the tire. For example, in P275/45R18 95V, the last letter is the speed rating, "V," which means the tire is good for up to 149 mph. You'll also notice a treadwear rating--a long-life, all-season tire would have a treadwear rating of 450 and 170 would be at the low end would only last about a year. To see a chart with all of the decoding explained, click here.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Edy's ice cream honors Elvis with two new products

Edy's Grand Ice Cream is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Elvis Presley's first record in style with two new collector's edition flavors. All Shook Up is rich chocolate ice cream swirled in marshmallow, caramel and chocolate-coated peanuts. Love Me Tender offers a blend of vanilla ice cream with thick chunks of brownies. Both flavors will be available this summer.

Mynelle Gardens renovation underway

Renovations have begun on the Westbrook House in Mynelle Gardens with hopes of making the Jackson park a larger tourist attraction.

The city will spend $311,000 to improve the interior of the historic house located at 4736 Clinton Blvd. Eventually, supporters hope wedding receptions, meetings and horticulture shows could be held inside the house.

Built in 1921, the Westbrook House has been closed to the public for more than a decade. The gardens are named after Mynelle Westbrook Haywood, who was an expert in flower arranging and gardening and lived in the home.

The city bought the house for $150,000 in 1973. Mynelle sold the property to preserve the gardens and house. The property was last occupied in the 1960s. About 6,000 people visit the park each year but have not been able to tour the house.

The house was designed by Noah Webster Overstreet and is considered a landmark. It was listed as one of the state's most endangered historic sites by the Mississippi Heritage Trust in 2000. The improvements will make the building eligible for listing on the National Registry of Historic Places, a designation which opens the door to federal grant monies.

The Mynelle Gardens Botanical Society begins a campaign this summer to raise $300,000 to complete renovations of the house. Tax-deductible gifts may be sent to P.O. Box 12308, Jackson, MS 39236.

New Orleans Zoo gorilla getting video sex education

A gorilla sex video is getting regular play at the New Orleans Zoo. Casey, 21, came to New Orleans two years ago on permanent loan from the Como Zoo in St. Paul, Minn. The hope was that he might impregnate one or all of the Audobon Zoo's three female land gorillas. But he's not cooperating.

The zoo curator, Dan Maloney, said how animals choose each other is still poorly understood but they are hoping Casey gets the hang of it. He sees part of the problem as Casey coming from an all-bachelor group.

To give him some sex education, Maloney got a tape of copulating gorillas from a camera used to monitor another zoo's gorilla area. It's played in the indoor cage where Casey spends his nights. He's watching it but has not seemed very interested yet.

Chinese veterinarians used a similar strategy to teach a panda born in captivity in the United States what she might expect from suitors. The Beijing Post reported recently that Hua Mei, whose name means "China-America," is pregnant by natural means and is due in September.

New Orleans sees no boom in quickie marriages

The quickie wedding business has been slow so far in New Orleans. For a year now, the state has let out-of-state couples get married in New Orleans without the 72-hour wait required for locals.

In Las Vegas, people only have to sign a statement. In New Orleans, they have to prove it with divorce decrees or death certificates. In 2003, Las Vegas issued 119,124 marriage licenses, mostly to nonresidents. In the same year, New Orleans issued 5,227 licenses.

Memphis' David Lusk Gallery brings Summer Art Salon to Jackson

Beginning on June 23, the David Lusk Gallerywill host the Jackson Summer Art Salon, an exhibition of fine art by Robert Rector, the Mississippi-born abstract painter, and by several other notable Southern artists. Seated in a temporary space at Treetops II Shopping Center off Lakeland Drive in Flowood (106 Tops Street), the show runs through June 30 from 11 a.m. till 5 p.m. (but it is closed on Sunday).

Rector was born and raised in Pascagoula and currently lives in Slaughter, La. He divides his time between his studio there and one outside Winter Park, Colo. Rector's son and grandson both live in Jackson and his work hangs in several local collections including Bank One, Entergy and the AmSouth Plaza lobby. Outside of the state, his work hangs at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City, Compaq Computers in Tokyo, Continental Airline's World Traveler's Lounge in London's Heathrow Airport, at Credit Suisse in both New York and Chicago, IBM in Austin and Pfizer in Memphis.

In addition to Rector's work, the Jackson Summer Art Salon features watercolors by Ocean Springs' Walter Anderson; paintings and drawings from the mid-twentieth century by Carroll Cloar of Arkansas, paintings by the duo known as Twin, cast glass and steel sculpture by Memphis' Brian Russell, landscape paintings by John Torina (also from Memphis), paintings by New Jersey-born Pam Wagner, sculpture by Greely Myatt of Aberdeen and work by Lea Barton of Flora, known for her text- and photo-based collages.

For more information, contact Emmie King at 601-316-9115.

Coast cost of living measured

In a new report issued by the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association (ACCRA), the overall cost of living in the Biloxi-Gulfport metropolitan statistica area (MSA) was measured at 5.2% below the national average for the first quarter of 2004, according to the Harrison County Development Commission (HCDC).

The region scored high marks for its housing affordability, which was measured at 18.2% below the national average. In addition, health care, transportation and utitility costs were also measured below the national average. The cost of living index for the same period in 2003 was 96.3, or 3.7% below the national average.

A few hot jobs

The Mississippi Employment Security Commission (MESC) recently updated its list of the top 20 fastest-growing jobs projected from 2000 to 2010. Construction laborer employment is expected to grow 26 percent, from 6,320 to 8,000. The average wage is around $20,000 per year. Electricians earn more, an average of $34,810, and the jobs growth for electricians is expected to increase 28 percent from 5,910 to 7,540.

Two other construction-related jobs on the list of top fastest growing professions include welders, with employment expected to increase from 7,580 to 9,640, an increase of 27 percent. Welders earn an average of $30,000 per year. Sheet metal workers earn about $26,710 per year, and are expected to see jobs increase from 2,280 to 2,950 by 2010.

The highest demand for new jobs is expected to be registered nurses with employment from 2000 of 23,150 expected to grow 31 percent to 30,430 by 2010. RNs currently earn an average of $44,000 per year. Licensed practical nurses, who earn an average of $25,280 per year, are expected to grow from 8,900 to 11,420, an increase of 27 percent.

Demand for physicians and surgeons is expected to grow by nearly a third, from 3,390 today to 4,320 in 2010. No average wage was available from MESC because this category represents multiple occupations. Other health-related professions expected to grow include dental assistants, expected to increase 47 percent from 2,130 to 3,130 and medical records and health information technicians, which are expected to see growth of fifty percent from 1,750 to 2,620.

Medical assistants, with an average wage of about $20,000, are expected to see a 62 percent growth in demand, from 1,950 to 3,160. Pharmacists are expected to increase from 2,090 to 2,680, an increase of 28 percent for the profession that has an annual average wage of $66,000.

The state will also need more secondary school teachers by the end of the decade, with employment expected to increase 26 percent from 10,300 to 12,990. The average wage for secondary teachers is $33,150. Preschool teachers, with an average wage of $19,740, are expected to increase by 22 percent.

The number of gaming dealers, who earn approximately $15,530 per year, is projected to go up from 6,780 to 8,880, an increase of 29 percent.

Growth in law enforcement is also expected with correctional officers and jailers (average salary $22,470) expected to increase 34 percent from 5,710 to 7,680, and police and sheriff's patrol officer (average salary $26,480) expected to go from 6,170 to 7,640, an increase of 24 percent.

The state is also expected to employ more lawyers, who earn an average of $73,310 per year. The number of attorneys in the state is expected to increase 23 percent from 5,180 to 6,380.

The person with the biggest percentage expected growth rate is computer support technicians. That category is expected to increase from 1,840 to 3,450, an increase of 87 percent. The average wage is $29,380.

The occupational projections are compiled from an annual survey of about 4,000 employers in the state. National and state industry trends were used to come up with the salary estimates.

Mississippi's unemployment trending below national average

For the past six months Mississippi's unemployment rate has been lower than the national average, following a trend showing the South is leading the country in job creation. The April unemployment rate in Mississippi was 4.6%, compared to the national rate of 5.4% and Mississippi's rate a year ago was 6.3%.

According to the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA), new facilities and expansions of existing business from January through May of 2004 in Mississippi are expected to create 4,627 new jobs. MDA said there has been 73 new facilities announced, which are expected to create an estimated 1,917 new jobs and bring in an estimated capital investment of approximately $544.16 million.

The largest new facilities unveiled were Textron Fastening Systems in Greenville (500 jobs), Faurecia in Cleveland (250 jobs), D&G Foods in Gallman (200 jobs) and Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse in Starkville (175 jobs). The largest expansions were ATK Southern Composites Center in Iuka (300 jobs), M-TEK Mississippi Inc. in Gluckstadt (153 jobs), Cingular Wireless Customer Service Center in Ocean Springs (150 jobs) and Pioneer Aerospace Corporation in Columbus (110 jobs).

Southern States Environmental Conference & Exhibition

The Southern States Environmental Conference and Exhibition will be held Sept. 20-22, 2004, at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum & Convention Center in Biloxi. The conference will educate participants about the latest news and technology promoting environmental protection, regulations and assistance. The conference is geared towards small business owners, industry leaders and governmental agencies faced with environmental challenges. For more information or to register, contact Tamra Swann at 662-325-5552 or tswann@ce.msstate.edu.

Mississippi's Girlchoir sings in eight languages to prepare for festival

The Mississippi Girlchoir, composed of 27 young women, are Hawaii-bound for the Pacific Rim Children's Chorus Festival in Oahu. And they're learning songs in Hawaiian, Korean, Taiwanese, Samoan, Japanese, Filipino, Tearawan (New Zealand) and Tahitian for the trip.

The choir auditioned and was accepted for the July 6-14 festival. There, three mornings on the village grounds of the Polynesian Cultural Center will introduce the young singers to ethnic dances, Polynesian musical and dance instruments, the language and chants. They will sing in two major mass choir concerts in Honolulu, and also perform their own concert repertoire. They'll rehearse under the director of Indianapolis Children's Choir conductor Henry Leck, a prolific choral music composer/arranger.

Mississippi Girlchoir is an audition-only choir. Try-outs for the 2004-2005 season will be held through the end of September for the beginner and middle choirs. The older choir will probably be filled mid-July. Tuition costs are: $200 a semester ($400 a year) for the Bel Canto; $300 a year for Jibilate and $250 a year for Apprentice, with a $50 registration fee for each. To make an appointment for an audition or more information, call 601-362-9337 or 601-981-9863.

'Livable City' recognition comes with a price tag

National recognition recently bestowed on Jackson cost taxpayers thousands of dollars. But Mayor Johnson, however, says the price is well worth it.

In April, Jackson was named one of the most livable U.S. cities by the Washington D.C.-based Partners for Livable Communities and paid $10,000 to be included on the organization's Web site.

Awards that require such payments have caused a stir in some newspapers around the country. Critics say payments attached to the awards diminish the significance. City leaders defend the awards as worth their weight in publicity.

Jackson's payment was a requirement to be listed on the Partners for Livable Communities' Web site. Projects planned throughout town and special events are outlined on the site until a new crop of livable cities is named in four years.

Winning cities were listed in USA Today and awards were given at the National Press Club in Washington, he said. The fee was not a condition of receiving the award, Robert H. McNulty, president and CEO of Partners for Livable Communities, said in a statement on the Web site. The money funds the maintenance of the Web page, and it was the first time the organization had a fee.

2003 nation's most stolen cars

2003 nation's most stolen cars

1. 1995 Saturn SL
2. 1998 Acura Integra
3. 1994 Saturn SL
4. 1999 Acura Integra
5. 1995 Acura Integra
6. 1997 Acura Intergra
7. 1996 Acura Integra
8. 1994 Acura Integra
9. 2002 Mitsubishi Montero
10. 2000 Honda Civic
11. 1991 Acura Legend
12. 1999 Honda Civic
13. 1994 Honda Civic
14. 1994 Honda Accord
15. 1996 Honda Accord
16. 1991 Toyota Camry
17. 1995 Honda Accord
18. 1993 Honda Civic
19. 1996 Chevrolet Tahoe
20. 2001 Mitsubishi Montero
21. 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe
22. 1995 Honda Civic
23. 1990 Toyota Camry
24. 1989 Toyota Camry
25. 1993 Honda Accord

Oldest chicken makes magic for Alabama act

Keith Barton, a magician in Hueytown, Ala. with Mississippi ties, received national attention after Matilda, a 14-year-old chicken featured in his magic act, was officially named the "World's Oldest Living Chicken" by Guinness World Records.

Barton was born at Keesler Air Force Base, grew up in Gulfport and graduated from Harrison Central. His father, James Barton of Orange Grove, still lives in South Mississippi.

During the "Mort the Mystifying" magic show, Matilda's role is to appear in a pan that contained only an egg yolk and some hot sauce moments earlier. Barton's wife, Donna, is also in the act as the magician's assistant.

Matilda has practically doubled the lifespan of a normal chicken, which is 7 or 8 years. Matilda has never laid eggs and is very pampered, and Donna Barton said she believes both contribute to Matilda's long life.

The Bartons began performing their magic show in 1989 for children at libraries and churches. In July 1991, Matilda made her magic show debut.

Barton is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians, International Brotherhood Of Magicians and Ring 35 (Judge Arnold Drennen Ring) of Birmingham.
He has extensive training in magic, including completion of the home-study course offered by Chavez College Of Magic in Los Angeles. He also spent a year mastering the Chinese Linking Rings, which are one of his signature routines.

Jeff Davis' will heading to Jackson

The last will of Jefferson Davis has found a resting place after years of questions about the appropriate place for it. The state Department of Archives and History in Jackson will be the home of the three-page handwritten will that has been in the possession of the Harrison County Chancery Court for more than 100 years.

Beauvoir, the Biloxi beachfront home and library of the only president of the Confederacy, has wanted the document for a display for several years. Beauvoir may still get the chance to display the will temporarily. The department's recommendation is to loan the document to Beauvoir for a short period of time in the summer or fall.

A legal provision allows the state to loan documents to Beauvoir. But the board of trustees for the department has ultimate say on whether the will can be loaned.

One final push for phone cards for Mississippi troops

Leadership Mississippi is holding one final push to purchase 1,000 additional cards for those Mississippians in the National Guard or U.S. Army Reserve still serving in Iraq and Kuwait. The campaign, so far, has distributed 5,747 cards -- 1,554 to Mississippi members of the U.S. Army Reserve and 4,193 to members of the Mississippi National Guard. The objective is to make this last purchase of cards by July 15. Click here for the donation form.

Troop rally on Capitol steps set for July 24

The south steps of the state Capitol will be the site for a rally to support American troops serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The event is scheduled for 1 p.m. July 24. The goal is to draw 1,000 to 1,200 people, she said. For more information, call Janet Spain at (662) 453-7819.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Red Cross seeking WWII volunteers to build exhibit

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Red Cross chapter is looking for its World War II volunteers to build an exhibit.

"We're looking for American Red Cross volunteers who served overseas or here at home during World War II or family members of World War II Red Cross veterans who can share with us," said Mississippi Coast Red Cross chapter executive Oscar Barnes.

"We'd like to build a World War II exhibit here at the local chapter, sharing experiences and memorabilia."

The Red Cross Visitor's Center in Washington is home to a virtual museum that profiles Red Cross staff and volunteers who helped during the war.

To share your World War II Red Cross experiences, call Oscar Barnes at 228-896-4511.

To see the virtual museum at the Visitor's Center, click here.

Sports Illustrated's 50th anniversary profile looks at Gulfport fishing rodeo

Gulfport and South Mississippi have reeled in some impressive publicity this week, thanks to Sports Illustrated, which hits newsstands today. The magazine highlights Mississippi in a six-page feature as the 49th state to be profiled in its 50th anniversary state-by-state coverage series.

As part of the profile, the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo in Gulfport is featured on in-state covers as a sporting event unique to the state. Also, Mississippi native and Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Ford is a guest essayist.

In addition, there is the popular poll measuring the state's favorite teams, from college and the NFL to the NBA and NHL. Former Ole Miss football coach and current Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville is listed as "the enemy of the state" while LSU is the state's most hated opponent.

The profile contains tons of facts, figures and photographs highlighting the most memorable moments and personalities that have been a part of the state's sports landscape.

The "50 Years, 50 States, 50 Sports" is part of the magazine's 50th anniversary celebration. It began in July 2003 and continues through July 2004.

SI's actual 50th anniversary date is Aug. 16.

Photographer's Rights

Your rights and remedies when stopped or confronted for photography - Link

Paper foldable eMac

Here's a printable cut-and-fold paper model of an eMac to go with all your other paper computers - Link

iTunes purchases - Wed., June 23

Pete Yorn - Strange Condition
Ozomatli - Who Discovered America?
The Raveonettes - Go Girl Go
My Morning Jacket - Golden
The Killers - Somebody Told Me
Snow Patrol - Spitting Games
Buster Poindexter - Downtown Dream
Moby - Natural Blues
Phil Roy - Hope in a Hopeless World
Aerosmith - Shame, Shame, Shame
Shivaree - Goodnight Moon
Katie Melua - Learnin' the Blues
The Asylum Street Spankers - Blade of Grass
Norah Jones - Creepin' In

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

New Orleans' Saints new line-up

Revampes Saints praise new defense - Link

Mississippi berries burst into Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart shoppers in Mississippi won't have to ask where the blueberries come from this year. For the first time, the blueberries on sale at as many as 142 Wal-Mart Supercenters across the South are coming exclusively from Mississippi growers. And a lot of those berries are coming from South Mississippi farms.

The stickers on each blueberry basket in Wal-Mart's produce section proudly proclaims, "Make Mine Mississippi," the slogan of the state agriculture department.

State Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell kicked off Wal-Mart's two-week promotion of the arrangement in Madison on Monday. The crop has a statewide economic impact of $20 million, Spell said.

Blueberries can reach 90 degrees under the southern sun. They must be cooled quickly at a processing plant before hitting store shelves.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Book site with reviews and extensive excerpts from a good selection of books...

BookBrowse.com has an online database with a substantial excerpt from each book they review. Not all books are on here, but they do have quite a few. And I enjoyed being able to read actual excerpts in addition to reviews. They also include the book jacket synopsis and an author biography.

Operation Paperback - Support the troops with books

Operation Paperback is a grassroots organization that has sent more than 150,000 books to troops overseas. Their Web site walks volunteers through everything from choosing books to printing labels to sending shipments where they are needed most.

Artist donating talents to hospitals, public spaces and non-profits

Guy Cobb, a self-taught painter who spent much of his youth living in the Jackson area but now resides in Memphis, is donating small collections of his artwork to state hospitals, public spaces and non-profit organizations. Each painting donated is three feet by three feet and will be permanently displayed at the hospital, or you may view the collection online at www.guycobb.com.
For more information concerning his donated collections, click here. (Licensed images of his paintings are also available for fund-raising for free.)

One final push to buy phone cards for Mississippi troops

Leadership Mississippi is holding one final push to purchase 1,000 additional cards for those Mississippians in the National Guard or U.S. Army Reserve still serving in Iraq and Kuwait. The campaign, so far, has distributed 5,747 cards -- 1,554 to Mississippi members of the U.S. Army Reserve and 4,193 to members of the Mississippi National Guard. The objective is to make this last purchase of cards by July 15. Click here for the donation form.

Hattiesburg concert celebrates Independence Day

The Mississippi Holiday Spectacular, a pops-style concert and fireworks show celebrating America's independence, will be held at 8 p.m. July 2 at Pride Field on the Hattiesburg campus of the University of Southern Mississippi (my alma mater). The theme is "All-American Jazz." The guest artists are Chris Cortez, a jazz guitarist and singer who plays mostly in the New Orleans area; Sethe Tucker, an up-and-coming jazz vocalist from Atlanta will do a tribute to Billy Holiday; and Dean Bellais, a well-known Hattiesburg singer.

The Mississippi Holiday Spectacular Orchestra is made up of students from USM, some faculty and musicians from Jackson, Natchez and Mobile. The finale will be traditional - the '1812 Overture' with cannons from Camp Shelby and fireworks.

Young musicians sought for blues group's talent show

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues Commission is looking for young people who play musical instruments. Students from seventh grade through college are invited to enter the commission's talent show Aug. 21 and 22, according to President Addie Brent.

Winners will perform at the MGCBC's 14th annual Blues & Heritage Festival on Sept. 11 at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Pascagoula.

The talent contest will be at the Families First Resource Center on Jefferson Street in Moss Point. Contest entrants will be split into a category for grades 7-11 and another for 12th through college. Auditions will begin at 9 a.m. Aug. 21 and at 3 p.m. Aug. 22. One winner will be chosen in each age group. The contest is open to individuals only, no bands.

The Blues Commission encourages young people to participate in music and to carry on the tradition and heritage of the blues. Applications may be picked up beginning July 12 at the Families First Resource Center in Moss Point or at WJZD in Gulfport. No applications will be accepted after Aug. 18.

Eight gospel acts and eight blues acts will perform under a covered pavilion at the festival. Willis Clayton will be the headliner and radio owner and personality Rip Daniels will be honored for his contributions to the festival.

The JCCAC Families First Resource Center and WJZD 94.5 are sponsoring the talent competition along with the Blues Commission. Call 228-497-5493 for more information.

Great place to find new releases for the week...

I've been a member of Netflix for years and love it. But it was hard to find one spot to list all the new releases for the week. Enter OnVideo.org. Click on the calendar and you can find all of the new releases and newly released movies on DVD.

Blogging with the boss's blessing

BusinessWeek, Monday, 06/28/04 - Employee blogs are multiplying, and a growing number of companies approve. Publisher Ziff Davis has set up internal blogs that proved helpful to teams by cutting down on e-mail.

Common errors in English

Common errors in English...Great site for wordsmiths!

Neshoba County Fair, July 23-30, 2004

Known as "Mississippi's Giant House Party," the Neshoba County Fair, to be held July 23-20 in Philadelphia, will feature important political speeches from statewide and local candidates under the pavilion. For more information, including history, schedules and maps, click here.

Harry Potter, Master Butcher's Singing Club and Streetcar Named Desire

While watching Harry Potter at the movie for Father's Day, for some reason it hit me why I was so intrigued by a scene in the book I'm reading, The Master Butcher's Singing Club (very good, so far). A young woman finds her lover in the park with another man--she's shocked and relieved, because now she understands why he acts more like a brother than a lover. It hit me right in the middle of Harry Potter that the set-up is very similar to Blanche discovering the sexuality of her husband in Streetcar Named Desire--the beginning of the end for poor Blanche. It got me to wondering how many other stories had similar situations...if you know of any let me know. I would be interested in investigating the thread.

Harry Potter was good (a B or B-, I would say) but a bit long, especially when viewing with a four-year-old. I found myself groaning when they had to go back in time though, because I knew I would too. I don't know if it's because I just saw Mystic River at home or not, but it seemed like both hinged on the idea that changing one small thing in your life could make huge changes in other ways. In Mystic River, the philosophical ones are always wondering "What would have happened in my life if I got in that car?" And Harry Potter's life changed for the better when they went back in time and saved the bird (whose name sounds like Hypocrite but I have no idea how to spell!). What a difference 5 minutes can make, I guess!

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Cool site for summer driving season coming up

Visit GasBuddy.com and find the lowest gas prices in Jackson--just enter your zip code. But be sure and return the favor and enter the latest gas prices as you see them!

Happy Father's Day to all...

Happy Father's Day to all of you dads out there. All of the gifts that dads bring to their children are overlooked too often, so enjoy your day. I visited my Dad in Waveland a little early and made him his favorite bread pudding with whiskey sauce so Quentin and I could spend Father's Day with his father. We're off to Father's Day lunch and to check out the new Harry Potter movie (which will hopefully be much better than Garfield was!).

Wit and wisdom from my father...

* It's better to be pissed off than pissed on.
* Life's not fair...get over it.
* I don't care who's right or who's wrong. She's my wife and I have to live with her long after you are gone.
* Your ass is grass and I'm a lawnmower.(reserved for special occasions, of course)
* Some friends come, some friends go
* You can buy them books and send them to school but that doesn't mean that they will be successful.
* Life's too short for cheap whiskey.
* Cheap isn't always the best deal.
* If you fall, get up, dust yourself off and try again.
* No one ever learned to ride a bike in a day (and Rome wasn't built in a day either).
* Buying a tutu doesn't make you a ballerina. But who the hell wants to be a ballerina anyway?
* No matter where you may wander (and you need to wander a lot to find this out), there's no place like home.
* If you don't have anything else to talk about, there's always the weather and the job. Always.
* Just showing up is 90 percent of success.
* Growing old is hell. Until you get old, then it sure as hell beats the alternative.
* Hot, humid summers beats shoveling your way out of winter any day.
* He's your brother and you need to watch out for him--even if he doesn't want you to.
* There's no explaining the human heart--it wants what it wants.
* Take care of the things that mean a lot to you.
* Failure in business does not equate to personal failure. You just got to find the right gig.
* We're all still trying to figure out what we want to be when we grow up. Just keep looking...


And, in honor of my father, here is the recipe of the bread pudding I always make for him, one of his favorites:

Bread pudding with Whiskey Sauce

1 qt. half and half
2 cups sugar
1 large loaf Frech bread
3 eggs
2 tbsp vanilla
1 c. raisins
1 stick butter

Tear bread into bits and place in greaded 13x9 pan. In separate container, mix milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and raisins. Pour over bread and mash bread down till soaked. Top with one stick of butter cut into slices. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Whiskey Sauce

1/2 cup butter
1 small can evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 jigger bourbon

Combine butter, milk, sugar and egg yolk in top of double boiler. Cook, stirring over simmering water till thickened. Stir in bourbon. Serve warm on bread pudding or plain cake. (Or, if you're like my family, just eat it straight out of the bowl with a spoon!)



Saturday, June 19, 2004

My first blog

This is my first blog. One minute I'm reading an ad about blogs in Time magazine, the next minute I'm an official blogger! Welcome me to the Wide Wild Web. I looked at quite a few blogs before deciding to be a blogger myself, so I didn't take the step lightly.

What struck me most about this medium is people tend to be too specialized for my taste. As I was mowing the yard today (and watching the neighbor's yard boy do theirs), it struck me just how damn specialized everything is now. We can't even mow our own yards anymore, much less clean our own houses or cook our own damn dinners. Thus, my title, Everything And/But Nothing. (Which originally started out as Everything and Nothing, which was taken, and then EverythingNothing, which was taken. Which also got me wondering if this wasn't like the old days on the Web. People were buying all the best blog names and trying to sell them later.)

To make a long blog entry (is that the correct term?) short, my blog will be about everything and/but (sometimes, probably, honestly) nothing...what I'm reading, listening to, doing, dreading, avoiding by blogging, etc. Wish me luck!