Thoughts Gallery July 2003
July 1
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 Mike Luippold works on a surveillance camera at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, March 20, 2003. The Pentagon is developing an urban surveillance system that would use computers and thousands of cameras to track and analyze every vehicle in a city. Designed to help the military protect troops and fight in cities overseas, the software could identify vehicles by size, color, shape and license tag and could recognize faces of some drivers and passengers.
July 2
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 Mohammad Murtaza of Pearl Shoes shows the certificate issued by the Guinness Book of Records official, sitting on the world-largest sandal measuring 12.9 feet (3.93 meters) long and 4.8 feet (1.46 meters) wide outside his workshop in Lahore, Pakistan.
July 3 
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The Pentagon is seeking to develop a drone in the next two decades that could strike any spot on Earth from the continental United States within two hours. The so-called Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle, which would be designed to hit targets about 9,000 miles away, should be available by about 2025. Hypersonic means traveling at more than five times the speed of sound. A hypersonic cruise missile engine is seen during testing at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia. 
July 4 
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Spent the evening watching fireworks in Houston, along the freeway feeder roads.  It was amusing to watch 2 motorcycle police officers battle to keep vehicles from stopping on the highwayt and bridge overlooking the fireworks displays downtown.  In the end the 500+ vehicles won and managed to line both sides of the freeway and the first lane on either side.  The mosquito's were nicer sitting next to a open bayou than sitting in my back yard.  I got less bites from sitting outside for 2 hours than I get in 1 minute at my house.  Wandered around to all the local outlet stores in Houston, while Paige found herself a new bed and kitchen table.  It was interesting to see what the oldest Houston Sears outlet store looked like, and imagine why people would ever go there when it was first created in that location.
 An Indonesian man walks in front of a model of a truck that has been made from 57,000 Coca-Cola cans in Jakarta. Nineteen people built the model in nine days as part of a promotion for the soft-drink maker.
July 5
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Finally got my birthday present from my sister Jenna. A nice new showel to keep me busy tending to my new yard on the weekends
Man Entraps Neighbor's Dog with Taped Barks
A German used recorded barking to provoke a neighbor's dog to respond so he could report the animal for disturbing the peace, police said. "The man evidently didn't like the dog and wanted to make it bark more so he could report it," a police spokesman in the northern town of Harrislee said. After the man complained to police about the German shepherd, the neighbor discovered a speaker hidden in his garden hedge attached to a cable leading to the man's house. He alerted police, who found the system was rigged up to play dog barks and sounds of tongue clicks meant to attract canines. "The whole story is so ludicrous, we really can't imagine what he thought he would achieve," the spokesman said. "There's no way the man would have had his dog taken away just because it barked sometimes." 
July 6
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The drive back from Houston in the rain wasn't the most exciting event of the day.
A meerkat warms itself under the glow of a heat lamp in its enclosure at Taronga Zoo in Sydney. Weather officials say Sydney experienced its coldest maximum temperature in seven years, reaching 12 degrees Celcius (54 degrees Fahrenheit), prompting zoo keepers to activate the lamps to help warm the meerkats native to Angola, Namibia, South Africa and Southern Botswana.
July 7
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I finished making the solar privacy screens for the front of the house, and finished caulking the entire front exterior of the house today. 
A Maori wearing traditional mourning face-painting pulls a face in this combination photograph while participating in a funeral ceremony for building worker's union leader Brian Miller in Sydney. Thousands of building workers from sites in and around Sydney attended the farewell tribute to Miller, which included the performance of the 'funeral haka' by the Maori community who held the so-called 'champion of workplace safety' in great esteem.
July 8
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Saw the lastest Terminator 3 movie this evening.  The animation and effects in the movie were good.  They had a nice balance of animation and real stunts in the action scenes.  Although they didn't develop the storyline much in the very short 90 minute movie.  It seemed as if the opening scene progresses for 1/3 of the whole movie, so for it so just suddenly end with little dialogue was shocking.  I was expecting much more from a series that have previously concetrated on character and storyline development.  I would have to give it a 6.9 out of 10.
Giant lilies on display at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, west London. The gardens were awarded World Heritage Status by the World Heritage Centre on Friday in recognition of its international importance as a unique cultual landscape. Other sites that hold World Heritage Status include the Taj Mahal in India, the Great Wall of China and Stonehenge in Britain.
July 9
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Saw the Fast & the Furious 2 movie last night.  Excellent storyline, well developed plot, though it had nothing to do with the previous movie other than it revolved around fast cars and had a previous actor in it.  Overall though I would have to say I enjoyed this movie more that T3 so I would give it a 8.5 out of 10. 
An infant born with four legs, three hands, three kidneys and an abnormal liver to a rural Zambian woman two weeks ago, is pictured in Lusaka. Doctors at Zambia's main Lusaka University Teaching Hospital said the babies deformities were caused by incomplete growth of another fetus and multiplication of cells. They said the baby, whose is yet to be named, would be operated upon and is likely to lead a normal life.
July 10
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A photo of an ant walking among computer chips. Razor blades and medicines packaged with pinpoint-sized computer chips and tiny antennae that eventually could send retailers and manufacturers a wealth of information about the products  and those who buy them, will start appearing in grocery stores and pharmacies this year. Within two decades, the minuscule transmitters are expected to replace the familiar product bar codes now found on most products.
July 11
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Schlosky's give's me free internet access so I don't see this service taking off in popularity any time soon.  Who wants to browse the internet and come out smelling like a greasy french fry 2 hours later. 
Julie Ask, a senior analyst for Jupiter Research of San Francisco, connects her laptop to a wireless internet connection while being supervised by Ronald McDonald Tuesday, July 8, 2003, at a McDonald's restaurant in the financial district of San Francisco. Selected McDonalds' restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area will offer high speed wireless internet connectivity for $4.95 per 2 hour usage.
July 12
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I pity the parents who are raising their kid so unhealthily, at this rate he'll be lucky to live to 40.
 Young wrestler Dzhambulat Khotokhov, a 4-year-old Russian weighing 56 kilograms (123 pounds) with a height of 118 centimeters (3 feet 11 inches) flexes his muscles before wrestling against Georgy Bibilauri, a Georgian, who turned 5, 120 centimeters (4 feet) tall and weighs 51 kilograms (112 pounds), in Tbilisi. Wrestlers Georgy Bibilauri and Dzhambulat Khotokhov had both hoped for victory, but they settled for ice cream instead. After the boys tied on the mat, theywent off to celebrate Bibilauri's birthday with ice cream and chocolate.
July 13
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Too many cheeseburgers and soda for this kid.  Even under the guise of wanting to be a wrestler, I think this is extremely unhealthy for a child to have this much weight to early in his life.
July 14
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As if clothing advertisements haven't become hideous enough, they are now venturing to hiring people to walk around with tv's on their heads. 
Japanese advertisement company employees wear 'TV helmets' to display commercials, as they walk through a street in downtown Tokyo. Japanese brewing company Suntory launched the helmet TV project to promote their products.
July 15
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 A military police officer holds a target as his colleagues practice firing their unloaded pistols at it during a training session outside their barracks in Beijing. The People's Armed Police are a specially trained paramilitary force under the Defense Ministry tasked with maintaining public order, guarding foreign embassies and helping with disaster relief.
July 16
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 A male government soldier stands guard at the Irongate checkpoint as the U.S. military assessment team are refused passage to enter a refugee camp, in Liberian capital Monrovia. Many government soldiers wear wigs and female clothes believing it will protect them in battle. The military assessment team turned back after being refused entry.
July 17
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 A prototype mobile phone that also works as a TV set for digital TV broadcasts shows a TV image on the air during a demonstration at the Tokyo headquarters of NEC Corporation. NEC hopes to launch commercial models by 2005.
July 18
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Nothing like getting a $300 water bill to get you thinking about how important is that green grass in the front yard or about the nice advantages of a water well.
 Mimi, a four-month old domestic cat, stands on watermelons at his owner's fruit stand, in China's financial hub of Shanghai. Pet ownership, once banned and labelled as too bourgeois for the common man during the Cultural Revolution, is once again gaining popularity as the population becomes more affluent thanks to more than a decade of growth and liberalization.
July 19
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Today was caulking day, after getting a large electric and water bill the efforts to seal the house and finish the deferred maintainence on the house continue.  It seems that the heater is original to the house 1971, and the a/c is from 1988.  Those things combined don't lead to a very cost effective energy efficient house.
Peru Doctor Performs Brain Surgery with Store Drill
LIMA, Peru - Lacking the proper instruments, a Peruvian doctor at a state hospital in the Andean highlands used a drill and pliers to perform brain surgery on a man who had been injured in a fight, the doctor said. "We have no (neurosurgical) instruments at the hospital. ... He was dying, so I had no choice but to run to a hardware store to buy a drill and use the pliers that I fix my car with, of course after sterilizing them," Cesar Venero said. The patient, Centeno Quispe, 47, had arrived at the hospital in Andahuaylas, 240 miles southeast of Lima, after being hit in the head with a metal object in a street fight, Venero said. "I drilled holes in his skull in a circle, leaving spaces of 5 millimeters, took out the bone with the pliers and removed the clots that were putting pressure on his brain," he said. Andahuaylas is one of the poorest regions of Peru, a country in which more than half its 27 million people live below the poverty line. Venero, who earns $430 a month, said he had used tools from a hardware store on five previous occasions but for less serious operations. Quispe was making a good recovery in a hospital in Peru's capital, Lima. 
July 20
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Spent the day enjoying some sun and enjoying a brief swim to escape the summer heat.
Round of 'Firewater' Leaves Drinkers with Burns
VIENNA - A round of "schnapps" on the house landed an Austrian waiter and his customers in hospital after he served them dishwasher fluid that left them with internal burns. After knocking back the shots in a bar in the southern town of Klagenfurt, the four drinkers were seized by coughing fits and their eyes turned watery and red, the police said in a press release. They complained to the waiter, who then downed a glass himself and also began coughing. The five were rushed to hospital where they were treated for burns to the mouth and gullet. Police said a bartender had refilled the schnapps bottle with washing detergent. 
July 21
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At long last after not having any interns for almost 6 weeks I was able to hire 2 new interns to help keep the paperwork flow and chaos under control at work.
 Binoculars, bolt cutters and a two-way radio are displayed on a table next to New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey, center, as he announces during a news conference at a freight rail yard in Jersey City, N.J, the arrests of a group of alleged train robbers, who dubbed themselves, the 'Conrail Boyz.' Harvey said the group stole more than 17,000 electronic game consoles valued at more than $5 million, designer clothing, cigarettes and cash, as well as other items, by breaking into freight trains in northern New Jersey freight yards. 
July 22
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Far-Flung Bathtub Toys Due in New England
BOSTON - Being thrown from a container ship, drifting for more than a decade, bobbing through three oceans it's enough to turn a rubber duckie white. A floating flock of the bathtub toys along with beavers, turtles and frogs is believed to be washing ashore somewhere along the New England coast, bleached and battered from a trans-Arctic journey. Oceanographers say the trip has taught them valuable lessons about the ocean's currents. The toys have been adrift since 29,000 of them fell from a storm-tossed container ship en route from China to Seattle more than 11 years ago.
       From a point in the Pacific Ocean near where the 45th parallel meets the international date line, they floated along the Alaska coast, reaching the Bering Strait by 1995 and Iceland five years later. By 2001 they had floated to the area in the north Atlantic where the Titanic sank. "Some kept going, some turned and headed to Europe," says Curtis Ebbesmeyer of Seattle, a retired oceanographer who's been tracking the toys' progress. "By now, hundreds should be dispersed along the New England coast." Ebbesmeyer has been able to track the toys with the help of duckies that washed ashore along the way. He said they have been a useful tool in teaching oceanography, and have shed light on the way surface currents behave.
       They are also a sobering reminder that about 10,000 containers fall off cargo ships each year, creating all manner of flotsam and jetsam. "When trash goes into the ocean, it doesn't disappear," Ebbesmeyer said. "It just goes somewhere else." Fred Felleman, of the environmental group Ocean Advocates, said container ships carry 95 percent of the world's goods and are stacked higher and wider than ever before, raising the odds of spillage. "Some 30 percent have hazardous materials in them. They're not just spilling Nikes," he said. 
July 23
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Doug returned from his 2 week hiatus to Rockport, so I turn over the keys to the office, to return to a slightly less hectic workload for a few days until he takes off for Cape Cod for another 2 weeks vacation.
This undated photo shows Cambodia's first car, the two-seater convertable 'Angkor-2003', produced for US $900 a unit, in a Phnom Penh garage.
July  24
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Rent-A-Cow Plan Opens for Cheese Lovers
ZURICH - Lovers of Swiss cheese can now lease their own cow on an Alpine pasture to provide the personal touch that store-bought products just can't offer. "We have around 25 interested parties," primarily city slickers from the Zurich area, said Helga Wyler, who runs a 50-head farm with her husband Paul in the Brienz area of the Bernese Oberland. Attracted by an offer on the Internet, customers pay a fee of 380 Swiss francs ($275) per summer plus 40 Swiss cents for each liter of milk their beast produces. Farmhands do the rest, but customers still have to work at least one day in the meadow to earn their cheese in the autumn. Each cow supplies enough milk to make 150-250 pounds) of cheese. Swiss farmers often rent cows to restaurants with a yen for customized cheese, but private leasing clients are rare. 
July 25
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Man Sentenced for Internet Kidney Sale
BERLIN - A man who tried to sell one of his kidneys on the Internet was given a four-month suspended jail sentence and fined 2,000 euros ($2,300), authorities said on Tuesday. A spokesman for the court in the western town of Kassel said the 48 year-old Austrian mechanic was accused of violating laws on illegal organ trading for offering his kidney as a "blood purification organ" online at a starting price of 66,500 euros. He was hoping to use the proceeds to ease his girlfriend's financial worries, said court spokesman Theodor Weber. "Apparently the firm she worked for was in trouble and he wanted to help them out," he said. A journalist later spotted the advert, and posed as a potential buyer before exposing the unusual money-spinning ruse. The man made a full confession in court and said he was pleased he still had both kidneys.
"He said he was glad because he'd been having a problem with one of them for a while," said Weber. 
July 26
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Biblical Verses Removed from Grand Canyon
PHOENIX (Reuters) - After more than three decades at the Grand Canyon, three bronze plaques inscribed with biblical passages have been removed by U.S. park officials over concern that the religious messages violate the U.S. Constitution, officials said. Officials said they had no choice but to remove the plaques from three popular spots at the majestic canyon's busy South Rim after an inquiry was made by the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "They are religious plaques on federal buildings and that's not allowed based on the law," said Maureen Oltrogge, a Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman.
       The plaques are inscribed with passages from the Book of Psalms, specifically, by chapter and verse 68:4, 66:4 and 104.24. The last verse, in the King James Version of the Bible, reads: "O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches." The plaques will be returned this week to their owners, the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary in Phoenix, Oltrogge said. The signs were taken out last week. A statement from the religious group expressed sadness at the decision on the plaques, which they said were created to honor God for the crimson-hued showpiece in northern Arizona that attracts nearly 5 million visitors a year. "We hope and pray that a suitable alternative location will be found for the plaques, so that they will continue to be an asset to the park and a blessing for future visitors," the statement said.
       Oltrogge said the signs had drawn scattered comment over the years, but that officials decided to review the issue after a February letter from the ACLU. The U.S. Interior Department determined the plaques were inappropriate because of the First Amendment precepts on the separation of church and state. The plaques were put into place by the parks concessionaire for the religious group 33 years ago, set into place at Hermit's Rest, Lookout Studio and Desert View Watchtower scenic overlooks. The group's founder came up with the idea. 
July 27
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 Five-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong of Austin, Texas, his wife Kristin, his son Luke and his twin daughters Isabella Rose and Grace Elizabeth signal five, after the 20th and final stage of the 2003 Tour de France in Paris.
July 28
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Yoshimi Ogawa, president of Index Corp., shows off her company's surprise hit 'Bowlingual,' with her pet dog Meru at her office Friday. Bowlingual, a gadget that the company developed with toy-maker Takara Co., deciphers the barks, growls and eomotions of a dog.
July 29
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Sporting a Hanshin Tigers happi coat and bat, lingerie maker Triumph International Ltd model Tomomi Kudo shows off the Hanshin Tigers Bra, made in honor of the current Central League-leading western Japanese baseball team hoping to capture its first pennant in 18 years. Developed with passionate female Tigers' fans in mind, the bra has the Tigers mascot Truckee as its main design motif, and comes with shorts and a detachable 'tiger's tail,' and will go on sale in a 500 set limited-edition from August 15 for 10,000 yen (about $85).
July 30
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Prisoner Wants Sex Change at Taxpayers' Expense
ALBANY, N.Y. - A convicted murderer wants the state of New York to pay $500,000 for his sex change and a key ruling in his case has moved him closer to his dream of serving the rest of his sentence in a women's jail. Mark Brooks, 34, who calls himself Jessica Lewis, and claims to be "a girl inside," sued New York almost three years ago for treatment for his Gender Identity Disorder but has not received medical treatment. In a 19-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn said Brooks should be allowed to talk to doctors about requests for hormone therapy, breast implants, and "genital reassignment." Kahn said "deliberate indifference to serious medical attention" may be a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. He questioned the "puzzling distinction" officials make between hormone treatment before and after imprisonment. Department of Correctional Services policies limit hormone therapy to prisoners who are already receiving it before they enter the penal system. "Surely inmates with diabetes, schizophrenia or any other serious medical need are not denied treatment simply because their conditions were not diagnosed before incarceration," the judge wrote. 
       Brooks, who wants to be transferred to a woman's prison, is serving 50 years to life in the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate New York for the 1989 murder of Hofstra University student Dean Lockshiss. 
The state Attorney General's office is reviewing the case before an appeal is filed. DOCS officials said they have not seen the judge's ruling yet and have no comment. Putnam County District Attorney Kevin Wright, who prosecuted the case against Brooks, told the New York Post that it was "appalling" that the victim's mother, a taxpayer, may be paying for the sex change of her son's killer. 

Japanese cat meows at American cat as they are held with the mock-up 'Meowlingual' device, which is can translate various meows into over 200 human words. Toymaker Takara Co, which last year developed a hit 'Bowlingual' communication gadget for dogs, is planning to start sales of the 'Meowlingual' in November for 8,800 yen ($75). 
July 31
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Groups Fight Over Fate of 174 Feral Chihuahuas
LOS ANGELES - The case of 174 feral Chihuahuas on death row in a Los Angeles animal shelter has pitted animal rescue groups against each other in a debate over whether the purse-sized dogs are too vicious to adopt. The plight of the tiny dogs has prompted a war of words between rival Chihuahua rescue groups, a candlelight vigil, and an outpouring of offers of new homes and money. Some experts have also warned that the adorable lap dogs, made wild by years of inbreeding and roaming in packs in the home of their elderly owner, were closer to miniature wolves than the cute breed made famous as the Taco Bell mascot. The dogs were seized from the home of 72-year-old Emma Harter in November. Harter was charged in April with felony animal cruelty. Animal experts employed by Los Angeles initially determined that the dogs were too dangerous to be sent to new homes, Animal Care & Control spokeswoman Kaye Michelson said. "They are very unsocialized," Michelson said. "They do have severe behavior problems." 
       Their fate will be sealed on Thursday, when a judge is expected to decide whether the dogs should be euthanized or rehabilitated, a question also being debated by Chihuahua rescue groups. Lynnie Bunten, president of Chihuahua Rescue & Transport, a Texas-based organization, said the dogs were too threatening to be adopted by "regular Joe families." "They are pack animals and as pack animals are dangerous," Bunten said. But Kimi Peck, former daughter-in-law of the late actor Gregory Peck, said all the dogs could be rescued and planned to hold a candlelight vigil on Wednesday at her Burbank kennel, Chihuahua Rescue. Peck also criticized Bunten's group for its stance: "They are despicable. They are Hitlers. They won't take dogs unless they are perfect." No one questions that these are troubled dogs. The pack's dominant members have attacked and killed more than a dozen kennel mates after arriving at the shelter, Michelson said. Pet expert Warren Eckstein, who evaluated the dogs for Peck, said he believed all of the dogs can be saved. "Of course they are going to have that kind of behavior -- look at how incarcerated humans act," Eckstein, who hosts a national pet radio show and consults with NBC's Today Show, said. "I'm not saying they are all Rin Tin Tin, but they're not Cujo either."