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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mom, Dad, This Playground’s for You

The New York Times

Mom, Dad, This Playground’s for You

Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

GROWN-UPS New York City installed an adult playground at Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx.
Published: June 29, 2012

June 29, 2012

Mom, Dad, This Playground’s for You

IT was a classic father-son moment, reversed: The 2-year-old sat and watched patiently as his parent hung upside down from the monkey bars. A few feet away, a white-haired man skipped across an S-shaped metal beam. Another man squeezed his six-foot frame onto a metal rack for situps, and two others hoisted themselves up chin-up bars.
Never mind the punishing diets, the gym dates and the doctors’ warnings, the quest to live a healthier, more active lifestyle has come to this: playgrounds for adults. 

New York City is testing its first such playground in Macombs Dam Park in the Bronx, and plans to bring as many as two dozen more to neighborhoods across the five boroughs in the next 18 months, park officials said. 

The goal is to lure people off their couches and into the outdoors with specially designed playground equipment — in grown-up shades like forest green and beige — that recall the joy of childhood play while tightening up flabby abs, thighs and triceps. 

Though there are no swings or slides — these are essentially outdoor gyms — such playgrounds not only have the look of traditional children’s play spaces, but they are also built in some cases by the same manufacturers. 

The adult playground concept is borrowed from China and parts of Europe, where outdoor fitness areas for adults have become as routine as high-fiber diets or vitamin D supplements in preventive care, particularly for older people.
Now a growing number of city and park officials, health experts and community leaders throughout the country are praising the health and social benefits of adult playgrounds. They say that the playgrounds will succeed where treadmills have failed in combating rising rates of obesity and related illnesses by enticing the grown-ups out for play dates. 

“Let’s face it, most of us dread going to the gym,” said Dr. David Ludwig, a Harvard Medical School professor who directs the Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. “The point is to make physical activity fun, easy and accessible, so it’s the normal thing to do.” 

Adult playgrounds have spread across the nation, including to Miami-Dade County in Florida, where four fitness zones with advanced strength-training equipment opened this year in neighborhoods with high rates of cardiovascular diseases. San Antonio has added outdoor fitness stations to 30 parks since 2010. Los Angeles has 30, with 15 more on the way, after park officials found, to their surprise, there were “lines of people waiting to use the equipment.” 

And two mothers in Washington State, Paige Dunn and Kelly Singer, started a grass-roots campaign last year to build “Momentum” sites to help new mothers shed their baby weight; each site would face a children’s play area and hold seven pieces of equipment that specifically target problem areas. The women raised $30,000 to open the first one in Auburn, Wash; a second will be dedicated in Redmond, Wash., next month. 

In New York City, where adults are banned from playgrounds unless accompanied by a child, the $200,000 Bronx playground with 15 pieces of equipment opened two years ago as part of an effort to get more people out to the parks to exercise and slim down. Parks officials said it had been popular enough that the city was now planning a rapid expansion. 

“This represents a continuing evolution of both parks and playgrounds,” said Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner.
This fall, the city will build a second adult playground with upgraded amenities — river view, exercise mats, chess tables, a sign that says, “Adult Space” — at John Jay Park on the Upper East Side. Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, who represents the neighborhood, said she had secured $250,000 in city money for the project after some of her older constituents pointed out, “There are tot lots, but there’s no place for us.”
“A lot of these people live alone,” she said. “So going outside to the park, and being part of the activity of the park, is important to them.” 

About 150 spots in city parks have one or two pieces of old-fashioned adult fitness equipment, mostly static pieces like chin-up bars. And parks elsewhere have had fitness circuits for years, though usually they’ve been fairly modest. Many of the new adult playgrounds will have comprehensive workout areas and equipment with moving pieces.
As public policy, adult playgrounds have proved far easier to sell as an anti-obesity measure than, say, a proposed ban on large sodas. They produce almost no noise or car traffic, take up little space and are cheaper to build than children’s playgrounds, though the cost varies depending on size and location. 

“They’re not controversial,” said Michael Shull, a parks superintendent in Los Angeles, which spends an average of $40,000 on a site for adults, versus $300,000 for children. New York City’s adult playgrounds will cost from $75,000 for the smallest one, with five pieces of equipment, to more than $200,000, park officials said. In contrast, children’s playgrounds typically start at $500,000, with the majority running $1 million to $2 million. 

The demand for adult-size equipment has created a niche business in an industry that once catered mainly to the elementary school set. GameTime, one of the largest manufacturers of children’s playground equipment, introduced a new adult line in 2009 called iTrack, which includes elliptical trainers and rowing machines. Outdoor Fitness in Colorado has worked with more than 600 adult sites since 2005, according to Barry King, the founder. In addition to sites in public parks, the equipment is being installed at residential developments and business complexes. 

Jim Sargen, a former technology executive who started TriActive America in California, which has supplied 470 adult sites since 2004, half in the past three years, said he discovered firsthand while traveling in Beijing in 2002 that exercise could be passed off as play. “My wife, who doesn’t normally exercise, climbed onto one of the pieces,” he recalled. “She said, ‘It’s kind of fun,’ and an idea clicked.”
The adult playground in the Bronx, the city’s poorest borough and a place dogged by troubling health statistics, is built on top of a parking garage and sandwiched between a track and basketball and handball courts. It has attracted regulars like Brian Ferreira, 20, who once tried working out at a children’s playground near his home in Soundview, only to draw stares from the parents. Now he hops onto two trains and a bus, three times a week, to have a playground of his own. “I use every piece of equipment,” he said. “It’s good endurance training.” 

On a recent morning, regulars and newcomers alike drifted onto the playground and waited patiently — no tears or whining here — to use the equipment; one of the most popular was a pair of metal seats that any child would have loved, rising and falling with the push of foot pedals.
The morning hours brought fathers with toddlers, and muscled older men who wore gloves and earphones and effortlessly executed situps, push-ups and pull-ups. They retreated when noisy teenagers passed through bouncing basketballs and running around the equipment without stopping to use any. 

In the afternoon, a 30-year-old court clerk swung from the monkey bars during his lunch hour. Others just watched.
“Oh no, I’m past my prime,” said Daren Trapp, a bus driver with a tummy bulge who was among the observers. “It’s out in the open, and I guess I’m a private individual.”
But Colette Prosper, an unemployed mother of five, and her daughter, Iesha, 21, came ready to sweat. It was their third time at the playground in a week; the first time, a stranger had to show them how to use the equipment. Ms. Prosper, 45, who said she was trying to lose 40 pounds, said her clothes were already feeling looser.
“It’s a free membership, and I like what they have to offer,” she said. “I’m getting older, so I’m trying to get everything in shape.” 

OUTDOOR FITNESS Rosie Hambery and Joanna Gonzalez, foreground, worked out in the Bronx in May.

Monday, May 14, 2012

No War on Women?

No War on Women?
No War on Women ? ??!!!!???

Big A** Chart Says You’re Wrong!

Many have said the war on women doesn’t exist, that it’s a ploy by the left to demonize Republicans. But what have we seen since they took over the house and stormed state legislatures across the country in 2010?

We’ve seen no comprehensive jobs bills, no bills drafted to try to stabilize the economy or rein in the criminal excesses of Wall Street and the banking worlds; we’ve witnessed continued, unrelenting obstructionism…

And we’ve seen the passage of an unprecedented number of bills meant to limit women’s access to health care and abortion services, which, may I remind you, remains legal in the United States of America. By the end of 2011, 135 pieces of legislation had been passed out of 1100 introduced, and in 2012 alone over 30 new provisions or measures have already been enacted out of 944 bills introduced.
Sometimes all those numbers can make it difficult to grasp the severity of the situation and only a visual will drill the message home.
Luckily for you, The Stew has just that – with a huge thank you to Stew blogger Karen Y. for her tireless research!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Evolution of Mom

The Evolution of Mom

Yes, parenthood changes everything. But parenthood also changes with each baby. Here, some of the ways having a second and third child differs from having your first:

Your Clothes -

1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your OB/GYN confirms your pregnancy.

2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.

3rd baby: Your maternity clothes are your regular clothes.

The Baby's Name -

1st baby: You pour over baby-name books and practice pronouncing and writing combinations of all your favorites.

2nd baby: Someone has to name their kid after your great-aunt Mavis, right? It might as well be you.

3rd baby: You open a name book, close your eyes, and see where your finger falls. Bimaldo? Perfect!

Preparing for the Birth -

1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.

2nd baby: You don't bother practicing because you remember that last time, breathing didn't do a thing.

3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your 8th month.

The Layette -

1st baby: You prewash your newborn's clothes, color-coordinate them, and fold them neatly in the baby's little bureau.

2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.

3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can't they?

Worries -

1st baby: At the first sign of distress - a whimper, a frown - you pick up the baby.

2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your firstborn.

3rd baby: You teach your 3-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.

Activities -

1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, and Baby Story Hour.

2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.

3rd baby: You take your infant to the supermarket and the dry cleaner.

Going Out -

1st baby: The first time you leave your baby with a sitter, you call home 5 times.

2nd baby: Just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave a number where you can be reached.

3rd baby: You leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she sees blood.

At Home -

1st baby: You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby.

2nd baby: You spend a bit of every day watching to be sure your older child isn't squeezing, poking, or hitting the baby.

3rd baby: You spend a little bit of every day hiding from the children.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012



Alibert - Histoire De Voir (Du Film "Il Est Charmant")
Barbara Septembre (Quel Joli Temps)
Capri C'ést Fini

Carole Marieclaire  Padam-Padam

Charles Aznavour ("Sa Jeneusse"   "Hier Encore")

Charles Aznavour Hier Encore

Charles Trenet - Boum

Charles Trénet - La Mer (Live Olympia)

Charles Trenet - Que Reste-T-Il De Nos Amours?

Charles Trenet-Je Chantes

Dalida - Est Virtuelle

Dalida - Gigi

Dalida - Les Gitans

Danielle Darrieux - Les Fleurs Sont Des Mots D'amour ()

Edith Piaf - C`Est D`La Faute A Tes Yeux ---

Edith Piaf - Elle Frequentait La Rue Pigalle ---

Edith Piaf - L'accordeoniste -

Edith Piaf - Milord

Edith Piaf - Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien ()

Efteling "Monsieur Cannibal"

Gilda Giuliani - Mon Vieux Lucien Live

Il Etait Un Petit Navire

Juliette Gréco - Moulin Rouge

Juliette Greco - Parlez-Moi D`Amour

La Complainte De La Butte "French-Cancan"

La Marseillaise

La Marseillaise  Aniversario Revolución Francesa - La Mar

Laura Fygi - Les Feuilles Mortes (Autumn Leaves)

Laura Fygi - The First Time

Le Bleu De Tes Yeux

Les Amants D'un Jour

Les Rita Mitsouko - Marcia Baila

Les Roses Blanches

Lucienne Boyer - Parlez-Moi D'amour []

Lucienne Boyer - Un Amour Comme Le Notre

Mattrach - La Foule

Maya Casabianca- El Matador-French Old Song-Français

Mireille Mathieu - Acropolis French

Mireille Mathieu - La Marseillaise

Mireille Mathieu - La Paloma Adieu

Mistinguett - Je Cherche Un Millionaire,

Mouloudji, La Complainte De La Butte

My Man Mon Homme

Mylene Farmer - Deshabillez Moi - Bercy

Mylene Farmer - Deshabillez-Moi (Live At Grand Opera, )

Mylene Farmer - L'amour N'est Rien

Nana Mouskouri - Plaisir D'amour

Nana Mouskouri - Va Mon Ami Va

Natasha Atlas - Mon Amie La Rose

Ne Me Quitte Pas

Notre Dame Des Fleurs... "Que Reste-T-Il De Nous Amours"

Pink Martini  - Je Ne Veux Pas Travailler - (To Feh!!)

Plaisir D'amour

Plaisir D'amour - Rina Ketty

Sacha Distel - Monsieur Canibal

Sacha Distel ; Scandale Dans La Famille

Salvatore Adamo - Inch' Allah

Salvatore Adamo - Vous Permettez Monsieu Bij Willem Duys

Salvatore Adamo - Vous Permettez Monsieur

Tango Français - Lucienne Boyer !

Tango Français - Marie Dubas !

Tino Rossi - Besame Mucho,

Tino Rossi - Catari! Catari!

Tino Rossi - Petit Papa Noel

Tino Rossi Petit Papa Noel

Yves Montand - Les Feuilles Mortes

Ziad Ghazal Chante Piaf (Padam Padam)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The cheap way to convert LPs, audio cassettes to digital

The Cheap way to Convert 

LPs, Audio Cassettes to Digital

Connect your stereo amplifier to your PC's sound board and use the free, open-source Audacity audio-conversion software to create MP3s, WMAs, or other digital copies of your analog tunes.


A couple of weeks ago, "k_hettich" posted a question in CNET's How-To forum asking about converting vinyl LPs to CDs. A couple of people recommended USB turntables that automate the process and cost from $70 to more than $230.
Over the last couple of years I've converted a couple hundred audio cassettes and dozens of LPs to MP3s and WMAs, many of which were ultimately burned onto CDs. The only expense required was a $5 connector between my stereo amplifier and PC sound card. The real work was done by the free Audacity audio-conversion software.

Back in October 2009 CNET Senior Editor Donald Bell presented an 11-step tutorial on using your PC to record audio that provides both a video and a slideshow explaining everything you need to know about PC audio recording. The how-to briefly covers converting analog audio to digital using Audacity.

Audacity audio-conversion software
The free Audacity audio software records analog tracks and lets you convert them to various digital formats for copying to CD. (Credit: screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly)
As the how-to points out, Audacity was designed for sound engineers, so the program can be daunting to learn. In fact, on my machine the software crashed repeatedly, especially when other apps were active. The online Audacity manual provides a series of tutorials for beginners and other help resources.
Most of the problems I encountered while using Audacity were overcome through good-old trial and error. Here are a few of the lessons I learned:

Notebook computers may not have the required sound-processing hardware. When I tried using a two-year-old laptop to convert analog audio, I found the sound chip built into the machine's motherboard simply couldn't handle the load. For as little as $15 you can buy a USB sound adapter that supplants the notebook's sound chip, but the sound card that came with a six-year-old PC (like the one I use for the bulk of my audio conversions) will likely give you a better end result.

Record a few tracks at a time. In my experience, Audacity was more likely to crash if I had recorded an hour or more of audio in one go. I soon got into the habit of recording and converting tracks in 30- to 45-minute chunks, which is roughly one album or tape side at a time.

Use the maximum record volume. The MP3s and WMAs I converted from analog tend to have a lower default volume than native-digital audio files, so combining analog-native and digital-native tracks on the same CD makes the disc's volume uneven. Even setting Audacity to record at the maximum volume often leaves the converted tracks quieter than their native-digital counterparts.
Audacity features an Amplify option on the Effect menu that can mitigate some of the volume difference, but I have had mixed results using the feature. As I mentioned, I'm no sound engineer, so you might have better luck than I had evening the track volumes. Other effects include filters, fades, bass boost, echo, and equalization.

Don't be afraid to edit. Some of the tapes I converted date back to the 1970s, a time when my recording "skills" included splitting a single track on two different sides of the same tape. It's surprisingly easy to splice such tracks back together, as well as to remove or reduce the applause at the end of live tracks and the dead air before and after individual tracks.

After you become more familiar with Audacity's many extra features, you may start feeling like a home-grown record producer. Grammys, here you come!

Spring cleaning tips to take control of your movies, music

Spring Cleaning Tips

  Take Control of your Movies, Music.

These tips and tools will help you finally whip your growing collection of movies, music, and video files into shape.
If your home media center feels fragmented and frustrating, there's good news: with a weekend or two of spring cleaning, you can make it all much easier to keep track of and enjoy. I've tried to keep this hardware-independent, though some tips assume you have networked storage or a particular operating system. Here are a few tricks and tips to get you started:

This is usually the toughest library for most people to manage. Depending on the tools you use, it can be hard to effectively manage more than 10,000 individual music files, and while some may boggle at those numbers, many music-lovers wistfully look back on the days when they had just crossed the five-figure point. Here are some easy ways to tame your music collection:
  • Rip your CDs. This does not have to be a daunting process, even if your collection might resemble an outtake from "Hoarders." Almost any up-to-date media player will let you rip CDs, and it's easy to keep the process going in the background while you attend to other business, checking in every 5 to 10 minutes to change discs. Here's a video on using iTunes to rip CDs; the process is similar for other programs.
  •  Rip your analog music. Are you nostalgic for the tunes of your youth, the ones that are stuck on vinyl or cassette? It may take time, but it can be totally worthwhile to rip your records and tapes. There are plenty of hardware options to choose from, but I think you're much better off using the free, cross-platform Audacity app. Just connect your record or tape player to your computer's line-in and let 'er rip!
  • Organize your music files.  Once you cross over past your thousandth album or so, you may start to lose track of where individual files are located. This is especially true if you have multiple networked locations, but there's no easy answer. My preferred solution is to maintain a memorable folder structure and then sticking to it every time I add new files. I have my music sorted into folders labeled by artist, then subfolders labeled with release year and album title. It take some effort to set up and maintain, but it pays off when it's time to migrate or tinker with files.
  • Tag your music files. The digital tunes you buy should come pretagged, meaning their metadata covering artist, title, year, and genre should be correct and easy to search. Files you find for free online or rip yourself may have errors or even blank space where the tags should be. Many media player apps let you fix tags, but I prefer the standalone, cross-platform MusicBrainz Picard tagging software. It's fast, easy to use, and connected to a huge use-supported metadata collection.
  • Stream your music collection. This is where it starts to get fun! Once you've got your collection ripped, organized, and tagged, it's incredibly easy to listen to it from nearly any networked location. Audiogalaxy is a great app that lets you stream your music to any Web-enabled device. It does require a dedicated computer with access to both a network and your music collection, but if you have a network storage device or just an old computer with a sizable hard drive, you're good to go. 
Movies and Videos
Most of us have manageable video collections, but they can always be easier to work with. With a little effort, it can be easier to find, watch, and stream your collection to most of your devices:
  • Digitize your old videotapes. This is more of a chore than digitizing old tapes or records, and may require some hardware purchases. You'll need a playback device like a VCR or camcorder, a DV camera that supports DV pass-through, and cables to connect them. It should be fairly easy to find the right cables or adapters; they should have come with the equipment. You'll also need software that can accept the playback stream and digitize it, like Windows Live Photo Gallery. There are also dedicated devices that will convert VHS tapes to DVDs directly, which can save quite a bit of trouble if you've got the money. 
  •  Rename your video files. Depending on where and how you got them, your TV and movie files might be poorly named. This can make searching really tough, especially if you have more than a few dozen files to look through. Filebot is a great, free app that helps you quickly plow through your video files and rename them in a way that makes them much easier to find later.
  • Organize your video files. This is pretty easy for TV and movies; just pick a folder structure that suits the way you naturally look for files. I use series or movie title, but you may prefer year, genre, or something more esoteric. As long as it's consistent, it should work fine. Many media player programs will let you search your library for tags, so you may want to add in metadata related to starring actors, Oscar nominations, or whatever else suits your fancy. For personal videos, you are probably better off tagging them more prodigiously: date, people involved, location, and events make these videos much easier to find and share, and that's the point, right?
Still feeling motivated? If you're ready to tackle your digital photo collection, get our tips here. 

Editors' note: As part of our spring cleaning series, we are focusing on one topic each day to get your computing life in order. Our first piece focused on PCs, next we helped speed up and clean up your Mac. Check back each day this week for a new topic.;title