Wales: Well Worth The Trip

ybhsIt rises, unexpectedly, out of a peaceful corner of Wales populated mainly by flocks of sheep. Suddenly, you leave the gentle, green hills of rural Wales and enter a world of wide pavements, canopied shopfronts, tiled facades, ornate wrought ironwork, tall red- and yellow-bricked houses, bay windows, lace curtains, balconies, and turrets. You have arrived in Llandrindod Wells. In spirit, it’s a million miles removed from the surrounding farmlands of Mid Wales. It’s Victorian England, created in a way that anticipated the alien nature of the modern theme park.

The parallel with today’s pleasure domes is not too fanciful. Llandrindod was self-consciously conceived–purpose built, no less–as a spa and inland resort in the mid-19th century, when the coming of the railways signalled the emancipation of …

Can Sports Skills Get You A Job?

wbbtaWHEN ANNE FLANNERY graduated from Syracuse in 1983, she thought she might try law school. Her true love was basketball, but she wasn’t sure how to make it part of her life after college. Then she got a phone call from Scotland.

The call came from the coach of the Bellway Women’s Basketball Team. He could bring in two American players for the eight-month season, and he offered flannery a slot. Flannery was a solid Division I player – good enough for the perks in Scotland: a place on the team, a car, a place to stay and a salary equivalent to that of an entry-level teacher. Although Flannery kenw she could do better in Italy or Japan, where heavily funded programs allow teams to …

Fly-Fishing – Not Just For Men!

flyfLong before I ever picked up a rod and reel, I felt that I would never understand fly-fishing. How could I? I couldn’t even find anyone able to tell me what it was. Fly-fishing, it seemed, occupied a mysterious world so remote and complex it defied explanation. More than just catching fish, fly-fishing was a lifestyle, a way of thinking, a philosophy. How else to explain its remarkable effect on otherwise ordinary people?

My boyfriend, for example, is a down-to-earth kind of guy. Yet on the subject of fly-fishing, this Popular Mechanics fan suddenly waxed poetic. “Fly-fishing makes you a better human being,” he told me one day. “If you understand the natural things in life, you’re in a better position to understand what’s unnatural.” …

Asthma Needn’t Stop You In Your Tracks

asmansIn high school, Kathy Button won 15 varsity letters for field hockey, volleyball and tennis. She also helped guide her basketball team to 33 consecutive wins. Later, at Princeton University, Button starred in field hockey and lacrosse and competed in intramural tennis, squash and basketball.

Almost no one knew she played with a chronic illness. Even now, many of Button’s friends don’t realize that she has had asthma since she was 4 years old and takes medication daily to minimize its effects. “I love to work out and I don’t let asthma hold me back,” says Button, 33.

Asthma, a chronic disease that constricts the bronchial tubes (breathing passages), affects an estimated 11 million Americans. It can strike at any time, causing even the most …

Physically Fit Travel: The Reykjavik Marathon And More

fclftHigh in the sky a solitary plane appeared – and then a multi-colored dot. As we watched, mesmerized, the dot drifted downward, spiraling over downtown Reykjavik, over the now-hushed crowd of runners. Soon we could see the skydiver dangling from his chute. But it became increasingly apparent that there was no place to land. And then he was down, hitting a water table, knocking it over, almost hitting us. In typical “Just to it” Icelandic fashion, the Reykjavik Marathon had begun.

Without so much as a “Ready, set, go,” some 1500 runners from 15 countries were pounding down Reykjavik’s main thoroughfare. Most were running a 7K; my husband Frank and I and most of our tour group were running the half marathon. Just a handful …

Geography Of Nowhere Review: Man-Made Madness

The Geography Of Nowhere burns rubber from its very first words with a deft pop culture summation of our national transportation predicament taken straight from the movie, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” The movie’s villain is Judge Doom, a cartoon character posing as a human being with an evil scheme to create a car-crazed society. Of course, Doom is eventually unmasked and winds up being flushed into the Los Angeles sewer system. Eddie Valiant, the movie’s detective hero comments, “That lamebrain freeway idea could only have been cooked up by a ‘toon.” All of this leads author James Howard Kunstler to conclude: “In the real world, Judge Doom’s vision has prevailed and we are stuck with it. Yet the movie’s central metaphor – that our civilization has …

Militia Movement Long Haters Of Environmental Thinking

mmlhRecent attacks on environmental activists and federal employees point to emerging links between right-wing militias and the anti-environmental wise use and property rights movements. The militias, brought to prominence after the Oklahoma City bombing, advocate military resistance to federal government agencies, including those that enforce environmental regulations.

Last October, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offices in Reno, Nevada were bombed during congressional debate of public range reform. And the day after the Oklahoma bombing, employees and members of the BLM, Audubon Society and Native Forest Council received bomb and death threats.

In March, a bomb exploded at the U.S. Forest Service office in Carson City, Nevada. In July 1994, a county commissioner, backed by an armed group, chased two Forest Service rangers off a …

Are Environmental Groups Really Dying?

enmtrd“Environmental Groups Are Drying Up in the `2010s.” “Green Magazines in the Red. “Environmental Movement Struggling as Clout Fades.” The headlines in the nation’s press read like epitaphs.

A Wall Street Journal article observed that, “After years of fighting to save whales and spotted owls, the nation’s big environmental groups are in agony about another dwindling species – their supporters.”

Adding to the perception that the greens have lost their muscle was the dismal lack of legislative victories in the last Congress, when the Democrats controlled both houses and the White House.

But it’s not just the media offering a grim prognosis. “The environmental movement is in massive decline and is going to need a major overhaul if it wants to stage a comeback,” says Eric …

Need To Cut Corporate Welfare? Start With Polluters!

ntccwfAfter the slash-and-burn fervor with which Congress passed provisions of the Contract With America, the climate for environmental protection on Capitol Hill has never seemed chillier (see “Activist Alert,” page 30). But the budget-chopping frenzy could actually benefit forests and waterways and even help lead us on a path to more sustainable transportation. By cutting subsidies to big business and resource extraction industries and by reigning in environmentally destructive federal projects, billions of dollars could be trimmed from the federal budget.

In all, taxpayers will spend $51 billion in direct subsidies to corporations and lose another $53.3 billion through tax breaks for corporations this year, according to the Office on Management and Budget. Nearly $6 billion a year goes to nuclear subsidies alone.

Terminating the National …

Is It Still Possible To “Get Press”?

pressrDURING MY FIVE YEARS AS A BUSINESS WRITER FOR The Miami Herald, I must have sifted through thousands of press releases and fielded hundreds of phone calls from local business owners and their public relations people trying to pitch me stories.

Few of these stories ever make it into the paper, and most of the press releases end up in the trash. The reason: They just aren’t news. On the other hand, a small band of local businesspeople and professionals seem to pop up regularly in the pages of The Herald’s Business Monday tabloid.

What makes the difference? Some people know how to play the game, others don’t have a clue. Art Berkowitz was one of the savvy ones. CPA Berkowitz, 45, a Laguna Niguel, California, …

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