Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Zealand under pressure to stay afloat

Rahul Dravid warms up during a training session, Bangalore, August 29, 2009
India's middle order has been shaky against fast, short-pitched bowling and if a wicket goes down early, expect Rahul Dravid to walk out first

Despite finding out the morning before their first match that Gautam Gambhir had aggravated a groin injury and would take no part in the series, India's captain MS Dhoni was confident of the side's chances. He has reason to be.

This is India's third one-day series in Sri Lanka over the last 13 months. Where for decades India's record here had been nothing to crow over - they arrived for a tri-series in 2005 having won just nine of 33 matches - a strong one-day outfit has turned that record around dramatically.They have won seven of ten matches since then and in their last two series proved the past now counts for little, beating Sri Lanka 3-2 last August and 4-1 in February. In terms of rankings, there's plenty at stake for India in this series - if they go unbeaten into the final and win there, they will climb to No. 1 in the ICC's ODI rankings for the first time.

India strutted their stuff at the two practice sessions they had since arriving two days after the tournament began, and look confident. There were no traces of rust in how their batsmen and bowlers applied themselves. On the whole, the manner of their preparation has been calm and self-assured even though Virender Sehwag, a critical cog in the batting line-up, is missing. Plenty of responsibility will be on Rahul Dravid, recalled to the one-day team after two years. India's middle order has been shaky against fast, short-pitched bowling and if a wicket goes down early, expect Dravid to walk out first.

To beat a confident Indian outfit, New Zealand will have to shape up in disciplines that let them down in the first game. Their batting was rocked by a superb display from three bowlers of varying speeds and trajectories - Ian Bishop called it one of the best one-day efforts under lights he had seen - but the application was perhaps to blame. The top order seemed intent on attacking from the start. In the field, New Zealand failed to finish the job when Sri Lanka were 69 for 5 in 25.3 overs, and also gave them leeway with singles and doubles in the field. That was surprising given how efficient they were in the Twenty20s. A defeat tomorrow will see them crash out of the short tournament.

Form guide

(last five matches, most recent first)
New Zealand LWLLNR

Watch out for...

Ashish Nehra's return to Sri Lanka. In 17 matches here, he has taken 25 wickets at 26.36 with a best of 6 for 59 in his last outing here. That match happened to be at the R Premadasa Stadium. A recall to the side after a stellar IPL in South Africa was followed up by a good showing in the West Indies. If he gets the chance to bowl under lights at the Premadasa this time, with the assistance it provides to swing, Nehra could add to his impressive tally in the country.

Jesse Ryder should take a look at this Indian team and say to himself, 'Right, let's get some runs here'. Ryder was in top form when India toured New Zealand earlier this year, and set the tone for a personally excellent series in the one-day leg. He scored a sublime hundred in Christchurch and then took three wickets and scored a half-century in the last game, smashing India's attack all around Eden Park. Conditions are obviously a lot different and hitting sixes at the Premadasa will be a difficult proposition, but Ryder may just decide to raise his game against this outfit.

Team news

Dinesh Karthik has been confirmed as the man to open the innings in Gambhir's absence, at least for this game. Dravid will bat at either of Nos 3 or 4. Dhoni said it was rare that India went in to a match with five specialist bowlers, and indicated that it would be a 3-1 combination, which means Harbhajan Singh will be the only spinner. Ishant Sharma, Nehra, Praveen Kumar and RP Singh will contest the fast-bowlers' slots, but it is likely RP will be the one to miss out. Abhishek Nayar will have to wait to get his chance.

India: (probable) 1 Dinesh Karthik, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Suresh Raina, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 7 Yusuf Pathan, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Ashish Nehra.

It's not been confirmed whether Kyle Mills, who was under the weather before the last game, will fit in this time. Daryl Tuffey stepped up admirably in Mills' absence, and Ian Butler's poor bowling in the batting Powerplay during the last match may see him sit out for Mills. The batting will remain the same.

New Zealand: (probable) 1 Brendon McCullum (wk), 2 Jesse Ryder, 3 Martin Guptill, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Jacob Oram, 6 Grant Elliot, 7 Daniel Vettori (capt), 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Ian Butler/Kyle Mills, 10 Daryl Tuffey, 11 Shane Bond.

Pitch and conditions

In the last match the pitch was two-faced and not an ideal one for one-dayers. It remains to be seen what is rolled out for Friday's encounter. As usual, scattered showers are forecast but fans will hope the rain stays away, as it did on Tuesday.

Stats and Trivia

  • Sachin Tendulkar averages 44.25 at the Premadasa, with 885 runs and three centuries from 24 matches.
  • Dravid averages 31.25 here, with 500 runs from 21 matches.
  • Quotes

    "It is good to have him in the team. With that sort of experience, he is always going to help the team. It is wonderful to have him back in the squad."
    India's coach Gary Kirsten is excited about Dravid's return

    "New Zealand really missed him when he was in the ICL. He's their spearhead and the fast bowling goes to a new level with Bond."
    Dhoni knows New Zealand's confidence will be up with the return of Shane Bond

    Hands-Free Tech From BlueAnt

    S1 for the Car, Q1 for Your Ear

    Bluetooth headsets are becoming an increasingly common sight -- for better or for worse, depending on your opinion them. But the fact remains that many states have made it illegal to talk on cell phones while driving, unless a "hands-free" device is used.

    BlueAnt is one of the companies that has been at the forefront of the Bluetooth craze. For mobile users who want an in-car solution without having to stick a headset in their ears, the BlueAnt S1 car speakerphone may be a terrific option.

    BlueAnt S1

    The S1 clips easily onto any car visor, with no installation required. The S1 "pairs" with a cell phone in the same way that any Bluetooth headset does, and it takes advantage of BlueAnt's lauded noise-reduction and voice-activation features.

    My wife has been testing the S1 for a while now, and really likes it. In her daily grind as a real-estate agent, she sends and receives calls all day long but would rather not use a headset in most cases. The S1 lets her keep her hands on the wheel while driving, and the noise-reduction capabilities are pretty remarkable.

    For mobile users who do crave the "Star Trek" look that many headsets have, there's the BlueAnt Q1 ($129), which we previously reviewed here on the MSN Tech & Gadgets Blog.

    BlueAnt Q1

    The Q1 also boasts the very finest in noise-reduction and voice-activated technology, and is a breeze to use. Also, as pointed out by our GearDaddy expert Paul Hochman in this "beach tech" video, the Q1 is a great option for outdoor and recreational use because the in-ear speaker won't slip out or fall out of your ear.

    So put those hands to use doing something more productive, and let BlueAnt field those calls for you.

    What's Your Hair Dream?

    For years and years, I have been a blond. A nice, golden blond color has been my friend for as long as I can remember. Month after month and year after year, my roots would start to call. Time for a run to the drugstore and purchase my blond dye kit; time to hide what is dark. Yay! Although I couldn't stand the sight of this truth from beneath my scalp, hubby loved to see the real me. This sight of truth didn't make me look so prim and proper and I think he likes when I look a little dirty. Hey, to each their own...

    After years of trying to hide my dark roots, I'm beginning to embrace them instead of hide them away in my head. This is not an easy task. Once your hair has been bleached for as long as mine has, the hair is very porous. That means the darker hair color has a harder time grasping the hair strand, in turn leaving me at first try with green hair. After another bottle of dark brown color it looked a little better but each time I wash my hair, the color fades back to blond. I'm going to keep trying.

    The decision has been a long time in the making. The saying "blonds have more fun," could be defiantly looked into. When your hair is blond, I swear men will hang their bodies out of a car to get a look at you. You could be stopped in traffic and see a man driving his car the opposite way and they will literally fall out of the car to see this blond person. I'm tired of this. Look at somebody else. I'm busy over here.

    My mother was a blond for many years before she wanted to try the "red look". She loved it and did this look for awhile. Early in the summer when she visited her hairstylist, he asked her what she wanted to do this season. For some reason , she told him to take her back blond. Never really loving this look again, she plans on returning to her red hair the next time she visits him. As we talked about this color change she embarked on, she laughed to tell me of men hanging their heads out of turning cars just to get a peek at this woman in blond. When she was a red head, no one looked.

    I have to say that Emmanuelle Chriqui's character as Sloan on Entourage has been a huge inspiration of mine for the transformation of blond back to my roots. Also Jessica Lowndes from 90210 has also been inspirational.

    Do you have a hair dream of the moment? Has it been inspired in anyway?

    On the Wall: BenQ Mini Projector

    Joybee GP1 Shows Digital Movies and Photos Anywhere

    BenQ Joybee GP1Popcorn, anyone?

    For some reason, the experience of watching projected images on a wall makes me crave a tub of popped, buttery kernels. The feeling was no different as I was testing the extremely cool BenQ Joybee GP1 Mini LED Projector.

    Almost every digital media product on the market touts its ability to be connected with or plugged into a TV. Which means you could theoretically hook up your camera or laptop to your HDTV and enjoy your media on a big screen. But who really does that? And what if no TV is available, or you don't have the right cable to make the magic happen?

    Enter the Joybee GP1, from the good people at BenQ. Billing itself as the "world's first LED pocket projector with an integrated USB drive," the Joybee is a compact and stylish little machine that makes it easy to project your digital media with or without a PC. It weighs in at just 1.4 pounds and is compatible with just about any device you can think of. Sure, you can hook up a laptop or game system to the project (which is fun). But what gets even more interesting is that if you pack your media onto a portable storage device like a USB thumb drive, you can plug that drive directly into the Joybee GP1 and project your media on any wall. You can't get a "bigger" screen experience with more portability than that.

    At our house, the Joybee GP1 was a big hit. My 4-year-old daughter loved the idea that we could watch "computer movies" on the wall -- an idea that was completely foreign to her, having never really seen a projector before (yes, that made me feel old). For my wife and me, the GP1 offered a welcome alternative to the "hook the laptop up to the TV" scenario, and it was a lot more fun. The LED light source is bright and powerful (no "lamp" to burn out), and we were able to project a very sharp, 12-foot-wide image on an interior wall of our house.

    The Joybee GP1 is a great option for traveling professionals or teachers who need an easy way to present slide shows to an audience, for organizations or families who want to share photos and videos easily, and for just about anyone else who dreads trying to figure out how to plug their media into whatever TV may be available at their venue. Just find a wall, and you're good to go.

    The Joybee GP1 is available now for $499. Learn more at the BenQ Web site.

    And pass the popcorn, please.

    New Season, New Favorite Handbag

    If you’re like us, you’ve been dreaming of suede and leather all summer - and lo and behold, it's finally fall.



    There are tons of drool-worthy designs out there this season, so we’ve sifted through and picked out our favorite fall styles. Check out the assortment of totes, shoulder bags, and clutches that we’ve compiled in our fall handbags guide.

    The purple Cole Haan number, above, is our favorite - creative zipper placement, a rich jewel tone, and not too much distracting hardware. Sigh.

    For more fashionable picks for the upcoming seasonal shift, check out our guides for the best blazers, evening tops for jeans, and fall shoe trends.

    First algae-fueled car crossing the U.S.

    The first algae-fueled vehicle called the Algaeus has begun its drive across America. The car, a converted plug-in Prius outfitted with a nickel-metal hydride battery and filled with a blend of 5 percent algae and 95 percent gasoline from Sapphire Energy, set out from San Francisco yesterday and will take 10 days to make it to Washington, DC.


    The group responsible for the Algaeus, the Veggie Van Organization, expects the car will only require 25 gallons of fuel to make the entire trip.

    Yes, a 5 percent blend of algae doesn't exactly signal the start of an algae revolution, but it does mean that progress is being made on fuel with great potential and this road trip lets people see the progress in action. The main point of the Algaeus is to show the ability of algae to be used in a standard engine.

    The road trip isn't being made just to show off the algae car, but to also promote the film FUEL that discusses solutions for our dependence on foreign oil and opens on September 18th, the day the algae car will reach its destination.

    Sapphire Energy plans to produce two million gallons of algae fuel per year for the next two years with hopes of it becoming cost-competitive in the next few years at $60 to $80 a barrel. The company intends to create a 10 percent algae blend for its future commercial products. Sapphire is also producing one million gallons of algae-based jet fuel this year.

    12 Personalized Beauty Tips For Your Features

    Make the most of what you have with these simple makeup tips that play-up and downplay your best and not-so-loved features accordingly. A dab of concealer here or a touch of bronzer there can hide a multitude of sins - no surgery, sunglasses, or brown paper bags required.
    Don Flood

    Don Flood

    • To downplay a prominent nose, Jerrod Blandino, CEO of Too Faced Cosmetics, suggests dabbing an eyeshadow brush into bronzer or taupe shadow: "Draw a straight, soft line down both sides of the nose. Add an upward swipe underneath the tip to make it look shorter."
    Try: Victoria's Secret Beauty Rush Shadow in Bronzinger

    • You can make a slightly crooked nose appear aligned by blending a dab of creamy highlighter down the bridge in a perfect straight line—it tricks the eye and reflects light away from the bend.
    Try: MAC Strobe Cream

    • To make a round face appear more defined, dust bronzer down your temples, along your jaw line, and down your neck. Then, pop your cheekbones with bright blush.
    Try: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Natural Radiance Bronzer

    • If you have a narrow face and you'd like to make it seem more balanced, Tarte's makeup team suggests being generous with blush: "Apply it on the cheekbones and the apples of the cheeks."
    Try: Clinique Powder Blush

    • To minimize a large forehead, sweep an illuminating bronzer along your hairline, creating a shadow across the top of your face—remember to blend well! Also, try a dramatic lip to draw attention downward.
    Try: Estée Lauder Bronzer Goddess Soft Shimmer Bronzer

    • If you're looking for cheekbone definition without a stripy, 1980s effect, try sweeping your regular blush on the apples of the cheeks in a circular motion and dabbing a shimmery cream in a horizontal line above it, blending outward.
    Try: Bobbi Brown Shimmer Cream

    • Emphasize your eye color with complementary shades. "Blue eyes look brilliant in toasty suede tones, brown look rich when you wear slate or navy, and green eyes really pop with purple," says Blandino.
    Try: L'Oréal Made for Me Shadows

    • If your eyes are wide-set, play up the inner corners: Use a fine-tip pencil in black or plum and pull the liner all across the lash line, making sure not to go past the last lash. Try a mascara with a mini wand to coat even the smallest lashes.
    Try: Tarte EmphasEyes pencil and Bottoms Up mascara

    • To transform small eyes into sultry doe-eyes, Tarte's makeup team recommends lining the top, inner rim of the eye. "It brings attention to the eyes and creates the look of fuller lashes," says founder Maureen Kelly. Use a nude pencil along the bottom.
    Try: Smashbox Cream Eyeliner, Paula Dorf Baby Eyes

    • If you have Asian eyes, don't try to fake a crease—enjoy your natural almond shape! Try a diffused smoky eye that starts along the lashes and gradually fades. Finish it off with a sweep of black liquid liner.
    Try: Almay Liquid eyeliner

    • Make downturned eyes appear more awake with a quick stroke of liner. Draw from the center of the lashes towards the outside of the eye and sweep up to create a slight cat-eye.
    Try: Too Faced Cosmetics Liquid Eyeliner

    • You can easily make too-close-together eyes seem more balanced by adding pale shimmer to the inside corners of the eyes, sweeping it towards the center of the eyelid. Focus mascara and liner on the outer half of your eyes.
    Try: Maybelline Eyeshadow in Elegant Pearl

    Retro Hands-On Cell Phone Accessories

    Phoning the Old Fashioned Way for Those Who Hate Headsets

    No matter how well-styled or low-profile Bluetooth headsets become, some people just can't bring themselves to wear them. If you're a headset hater, we've found a couple of cell phone accessories that take a hands-on approach.

    First there's the Yubz Talk Mobile corded handset ($39.95), which connects to a cell phone via an adapter and features a one-touch answer button. Yubz claims that in addition to cutting down on background noise, the Talk Mobile handset also reduces exposure to radiation -- or at least worrying about it.

    Next, is the Bluetooth Mini Phone ($49) we discovered via CNET Asia. It's a small Bluetooth handset that comes with a lanyard so that you never have to fumble for your cell phone when it rings -- or look like you're talking to yourself after you answer it, as with a Bluetooth headset.

    It's available only in the U.K. for now, but we expect to see this handy Bluetooth accessory stateside soon -- and more backlash against the much-maligned Bluetooth headset.

    Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page Get Cozy

    New best friends, Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page can't keep their hands off each other. The two stars first buddied up on the boisterous set of Whip It, this month's Roller Derby romp movie. Gigglingly pressed thigh-to-thigh, the roller girls spent their afternoon with Marie Claire discussing everything from their Vegas trip to the sexiness of black socks. Just try to keep up:
    Peggy Sirota

    MC: Was the chemistry instant between you two?

    Ellen Page: I first met Drew at the Chateau Marmont. And it was a surreal moment for me in my life. You could just feel her warmth and kindness immediately, and the way she carried herself was just so grounded. So then it was like, "Oh, this is going to be great." And then it went into, "Oh, my God, I'm really crazy about this person." It just grew and grew and grew and grew and grew.

    MC: Music seems like a driving force for you both.

    Drew Barrymore: I love using music to set a mood. We both started almost crying at the [MC] cover shoot when we were listening to Kings of Leon. [sings] Use somebody. Someone like youuuu. It makes you emotional, you know? You're just standing there doing a shoot with someone you love, celebrating this thing that you shared.

    One chicken, 4 dinners

    If you’re looking for a way to make your food dollars and your cooking efforts go further, think cheap chicken dinners. A whole chicken can go a long way. Once a month, my husband and I buy a fresh chicken from a local farm. Sometimes I roast it whole and use the leftovers in another meal the next night. If I don’t want to cook the whole thing at once, I divide it up so we can have the breast one night and the legs another. Because I think this fresh local chicken tastes so amazing, I get really excited about the delicious chicken recipes we can make with our special purchase.

    Here are some of my all-time favorite chicken recipes, from simply roasting a whole chicken to a quick, easy recipe using convenient boneless, skinless breasts to a great recipe for leftover chicken.

    Use a whole chicken in:
    Pan-Roasted Chicken & Gravy (see recipe below) – A cast-iron skillet is the perfect vessel for a simple roast chicken. Almost every side dish, be it vegetables, legumes, pasta or rice, goes well with it.

    Use boneless, skinless chicken breast in:
    Grilled Chicken Ratatouille – We gave this classic Provençal dish a taste of summer by grilling the vegetables traditionally used in ratatouille (bell pepper, eggplant, zucchini, tomato). Topped with grilled chicken, it makes an easy main course for summer entertaining. We like fresh marjoram and basil to complement the flavors, but any fresh herb will work. Serve with polenta and a glass of Pinot Noir.

    Use chicken thighs in:
    Pineapple-Teriyaki Chicken
    – Grilled teriyaki chicken with pineapple can be made with just a few pantry staples. Although it’s delicious when made with canned pineapple, fresh pineapple and its juice can easily be used in its place. Serve with brown rice and snow peas.

    Use leftover chicken in:
    Cheesy Chicken Pasta – This ooey-gooey pasta dish is a crowd-pleaser for adults and kids alike—think rich and creamy macaroni-and-cheese tossed with cauliflower and chicken. Serve with a spinach salad.

    Pan-Roasted Chicken & Gravy

    1 large clove garlic, minced
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
    1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
    1 3 1/2-pound chicken, giblets removed
    1 teaspoon peanut or canola oil
    2 teaspoons butter, softened, divided
    2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
    1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

    1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
    2. Mash garlic and salt into a paste in a small bowl, using the back of a spoon. Stir in pepper and thyme.
    3. With a sharp knife, remove any excess fat from chicken. Dry the inside with a paper towel. With your fingers, loosen the skin over the breasts and thighs to make pockets, being careful not to tear the skin. Rub the garlic mixture over the breast and thigh meat.
    4. Heat oil and 1 teaspoon butter in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning often, until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.
    5. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast the chicken until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165°F, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board; tent with foil.
    6. Meanwhile, mash the remaining 1 teaspoon butter and flour in a small bowl until a paste forms. Place the pan (use caution, the handle will be hot) over medium-high heat. Add broth and bring to a simmer, stirring to scrape up any browned bits. Gradually whisk in the butter-flour paste a few bits at a time, until the gravy thickens, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, allowing any fat to rise to the top. Skim off the fat with a spoon. Carve the chicken and serve with the gravy. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

    Makes 6 servings.

    Per serving: 223 calories; 10 g fat (3 g sat, 3 g mono); 95 mg cholesterol; 1 g carbohydrate; 31 g protein; 0 g fiber; 216 mg sodium; 253 mg potassium.

    11 Reasons Guys Are Afraid To Commit

    The most common guy question I hear from my girl friends is about commitment. I'm a perfect example of the guy who is afraid of commitment, so I figured I could shed some light on why we are afraid to commit: He Still Wants To Play The Field
    Once a guy commits, he will lose the right to date other women. Most guys try to hold on to this right as long as they can, especially when they are not sure what they are looking for.
    Getty Images

    Girls Grow Up Faster Than Boys
    "Committing" means "growing up" to some guys. And a lot of us guys don't want to grow up, or we want to delay the process of growing up as long as possible. Commitment is a sign of maturity, and some guys are simply too immature to commit.

    There's Someone Else
    It's hard for a guy to commit to one woman if he's got others on his mind-- imagine trying to commit if you had a couple of guys on your mind.

    He's Got Other Priorities
    In life, it's tough to balance love, family, work, etc. If there are things in his life that demand more attention than his love life, he'll commit to the other stuff and deal with love when he can.

    He's Got Baggage/Afraid of Intimacy
    We all know my head is messed up from my crazy family, my terrible experiences, and all of my mental downfalls. Maybe he's had a bad experience with a past girlfriend, or he's a child of divorce. Unresolved pain in his past can prevent him from committing.

    He's Afraid It Won't Work Out
    Committing involves risk. You are essentially taking a plunge, and investing energy in the relationship. Some people feel that it's not worth a try unless it's 100% certain it will work out. But, you can never really be that sure of things, and that unknown keeps some people from committing.

    None Of His Friends Have Committed
    If you are able to get the first guy of his group of friends to commit, I commend you. Most of us guys want to commit eventually, but we don't want to be the first one, and there is respect among guys for the last single guy in the group.

    He's Only In It For The Sex
    Sadly, some guys are just out to conquest women. Keep a close eye on things so you're not a victim of conquesting. Usually, if you have a gut feeling that this is the case, you are right.


    He's Still "Selfish"
    A few weeks ago, my friend was freaking out via text because his wife scheduled a dinner the night of the Ravens nationally televised Monday Night Football game. He was "extremely jealous" that I planned to lay in my boxers alone watching the Ravens game in HD. Committed relationships are acts of selflessness. We are giving ourselves and our time and energy to one another. I know that I'm still in a selfish period in my life: I'd rather wake up at 10 AM on Sunday and read about The Sex Pistols and Maryland History on Wikipedia instead of waking up at 9 AM and going to brunch with a girlfriend. Some day we all get less selfish with our time, but when that occurs differs for everyone.

    He's Not Into You Enough To Commit
    Most of the reasons a guy won't commit have to do with the guy. But he may see you as a fun person to date, but never thought of you as someone he'd commit to in the end. It's tough to swallow when this is the situation, but sometimes it's easy to resolve it in your mind this way and move on.

    You're Pressuring Him Too Much To Commit
    If he's going to commit, let him come to that moment on his own. If you continue to bring it up, he may become bitter and annoyed at the whole thought of it. You'd rather him come to the decision to commit naturally on his own, and not because he was pressured to do so anyway. Just think about how you feel when someone pressures you to commit.

    Any combination of these reasons contribute to a guy's reluctance to committing. One of the biggest factors in the success of a relationship is timing. if you're out of synch in a relationship, and with commitment, then you may not be right for one another.

    What reasons have you seen in your experience for guys not committing. Do you agree with my reasons?

    Back-to-school fashion, 2009-2010

    back-to-school fashion

    You’ve purchased all the school supplies, but as your children head off to school, there are still more items on the list: the components of the back-to-school wardrobe.

    New shoes, new T-shirts, and even a new fall coat are likely in your kids’ future. By making greener choices for their wardrobes, you can protect the health of your kids and the planet. Many natural materials are hypo-allergenic. And organic cotton is a healthier choice because it’s free of potentially dangerous pesticides.

    To help your family start thinking and wearing green, here are some companies that make fashionable children’s clothing from sustainable materials. With these pieces and others from these earth-friendly retailers, your child will be the sleekest, greenest fashionista around.

    Jackets and coats:

    bubble coat

    Bubble coat from Kate Quinn: This 100% organic looped sweat coat for girls features a Peter Pan collar, a fashion-forward empire waist, and bubble sleeves. The coat is fully lined with super-soft organic jersey.

    LAPSAKY hooded jacket

    LAPSAKY hooded jacket: Made with thick and warm organic cotton fleece on the inside and heavyweight organic cotton twill on the outside, this zip-front jacket with kangaroo pockets is suitable for a boy or a girl. The company pre-washes the organic cotton to prevent shrinkage.

    snow patrol jacket

    Patagonia kid's snow patrol jacket: Seam-sealed, lined, and insulated, this recycled polyester jacket is snow-, wind-, and water-proof and will keep kids warm in the coldest environments.

    Aigle boots

    Shoes and boots:

    Aigle boots: Many styles of wellies are made out of PVC — which can be laden with chemicals like mercury, dioxin, and phthalates — that you wouldn’t want your child to dip his or her little toe into. Aigle boots are made of natural rubber, which is a renewable resource tapped from rubber trees.

    Satire sneaker

    Back-to-school almost always means a new pair of kicks. Check out the Macaroon shoe for girls or the Satire sneaker for girls or boys, both from Simple Shoes.

    For older kids, I love Simple’s Retire line, which features your teen’s favorite college logo on a slip-on sneaker.

    Ethletics sneakers

    For an eco spin on a classic look, dress your teen or little one in the Ethletic sneaker from Automomie Project. Available in six fun colors just for kids, the little Ethletics are made with 100% fair trade-certified organic cotton and FSC-certified all-natural rubber.

    Back-to-school basics:

    Since kids go through clothing faster than I go through mini-Snickers bars, it’s important to get more bang for your buck.

    Recycle-a-Tee has a solution: Buy one of the company’s T-shirts, dress your child in it for as long as it’s wearable, and then send it back or donate it to a local charity. You’ll receive 25% off your next purchase, and the materials will either go to a child in need, or if it’s unwearable, it will be recycled to make new T-shirts.

    The perfect basic organic cotton tees from Hanna Andersson are $20 each, but buy two and the price drops to $14. They come in six colors for boys and girls.

    For teen girls, check out Banana Republic’s line of organic cotton denim. The jeans feature the company’s classic fit in an eco-friendly material.

    For younger boys and girls, pick up a pair of SKAL-certified organic cotton jeans from Tatty Bumpkin. The jeans, designed for kids ages 3-11, are priced under $55.

    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    Oudin falls in Open quarters; Federer-Djokovic set

    Sparkling White ton flattens England

    Australia 230 for 4 (White 105, Clarke 52) beat England 228 for 9 (Strauss 63, Watson 3-36) by six wickets

    Cameron White flays to third man during his maiden ODI ton, England v Australia, 3rd ODI, Southampton, September 9, 2009
    Cmeron White's 116-ball hundred followed his half-century at The Oval

    Cameron White scored his maiden international hundred, and Michael Clarke signed off as captain with a sheet-anchor 52 from 92 balls, as England's under-performing batsmen were taught an object lesson in how to pace a run-chase in the third ODI at the Rose Bowl. Chasing 229 under the floodlights after losing the toss for the third time in the series, White and Clarke added 143 for the third wicket to steer Australia to a comfortable six-wicket victory with nine balls remaining, and secure a virtually unassailable 3-0 lead with four matches of the NatWest Series still to come.

    Though England's bowlers put up something of a fight with the ball, the match was lost during another inadequate performance from the batsmen, in which Andrew Strauss, once again, was the only redeeming feature, Australia lost both openers early in their chase, and at 56 for 2 after 15 overs, it looked as though they might be forced to struggle for the ascendancy. But whereas England's batsmen produced five partnerships worth between 34 and 41 runs - a stat that perfectly encapsulated the wastefulness of their performance - the Aussies needed just one hefty alliance to make the game safe.

    For differing reasons, White and Clarke had plenty to prove in tonight's contest - the return of Ricky Ponting for Saturday's fourth ODI will require White to relinquish his No. 3 spot, and Clarke to hand back the captaincy. But both men ensured that the skipper will return to a steady ship after silencing a full house at The Rose Bowl with a performance that was light on fireworks but brimful of determination. Clarke contributed a solitary boundary to a stay that spanned 30 overs, which also happened to be his last shot before being bowled by Graeme Swann one ball later, and while questions remain about his lack of impetus in the middle-order, tonight is not the night for quibbling.

    Instead, it is a night for White to celebrate his arrival on the international stage. Having never batted higher than No. 5 before this series, today's 116-ball hundred followed on from his maiden half-century in the first match at The Oval, and whereas England's skittish batsmen have continually found new and innovative ways to squander their promising starts, he belied his reputation as a biffer to set himself a platform and, then, crucially, to build on it.

    His only error with the bat came on 92, during Australia's Powerplay, when Tim Bresnan fluffed a skier at long-on - and while the bowler, James Anderson, was not best pleased at that let-off, Anderson himself had earlier been guilty of letting White off the hook with two run-out chances - the first an underarm shy from five yards that somehow missed the stumps with the batsman on 46, and later a failure to break the stumps with White on 70, and floundering for the crease having worked a single into the leg-side.

    There was no panic at any stage of Australia's performance, however. They claimed the Powerplay at 154 for 2, with 66 balls of the chase remaining and 75 runs still needed, whereupon White drilled Sidebottom over mid-on for their first six of the series. His own contribution ended with nine runs still required, when he scudded a Luke Wright slower ball to mid-off, but Callum Ferguson and Michael Hussey ensured there were no late dramas.

    And so England were left to rue another day in keeping with their performances all year, in which their fortunes were dictated entirely by their captain. Having won his third toss of the series under overcast skies, Strauss might well have been tempted to bowl first, were it not for the memory of the failed run-chases that England compiled in the first two matches at The Oval and Lord's. This time, he took it upon himself to set the agenda personally, and at first he did so to fine effect. Though he did not open his account until his 11th delivery of the innings, he then climbed into Brett Lee with three fours in a row - a pull, a cut and a drive, the three staples of his international diet - en route to a 60-ball half-century.

    James Anderson holds his head in his hands as England slump towards their third successive one-day defeat, England v Australia, 3rd ODI, Southampton, September 9, 2009
    James Anderson holds his head in his hands as England drift towards another defeat © Getty Images

    At the other end, Ravi Bopara showed signs of his returning confidence when he drilled the first ball of Nathan Bracken's third over over long-on for six, and at 40 for 0 after seven overs, England were looking in command of their destiny. But then, however, it all started to go wrong. Bopara attempted a repeat stroke, but picked out James Hopes at full stretch running back towards the pavilion, and in the very next over, Matt Prior sized up a violent pull shot to get himself off the mark, but he fizzed a simple chance straight to Hopes once more, this time off the bowling of Mitchell Johnson.

    Owais Shah, under pressure again thanks to his haphazard running in the second ODI, was adjudged lbw, somewhat unluckily, as replays suggested that Johnson's delivery would have slipped past the off stump. And then, in a lapse in concentration that has been an unfortunate part of his otherwise excellent form in this series, Strauss worked Hauritz in the air with a flick of the wrists, and Clarke swooped low at midwicket to send him on his way. At 98 for 4, Australia were firmly in the ascendancy.

    Collingwood, charged with raising the tempo as well as providing mature support to the tyro Eoin Morgan, then produced arguably the most culpable dismissal of the lot, as he attempted to biff Shane Watson's medium pace over the leg-side field, but succeeding only in scuffing his drive to Bracken at mid-on for 28 boundary-free runs. And when Luke Wright scorched to short extra cover, it was left to Morgan to cobble together a defendable target. He added 36 in seven overs with Bresnan, including a rare six as Hopes was punched over the top, but the decision to call for the Powerplay in the 42nd over once again scuppered all England's momentum.

    On 43, Morgan was suckered by a slower-ball full toss from Lee, and patted a tame drive to Johnson at wide mid-off, before Swann played across the line to a wicket-to-wicket delivery from Shane Watson to be adjudged lbw for 3 from three balls (188 for 8). As England dribbled through their allocation, it wasn't until Bresnan cleared his front leg to smash consecutive fours off Watson with three balls of the Powerplay remaining that they managed so much as a boundary in their five sloggable overs.

    Bresnan and Ryan Sidebottom ensured that the innings was not a total surrender by hauling England through their 50 overs in a ninth-wicket stand of 40, with both men posting their highest scores in ODI cricket before Sidebottom holed out to Cameron White off Watson's final ball of the innings. Nevertheless, their modest achievements were a further indictment of the failings higher up the order. Only an inspired performance with the ball would have enabled England to escape. And sure enough, White and Clarke ensured it did not materialise.

    How to Keep the Flame Hot in a Long Distance Relationship

    Used to be a husband and wife would be separated by continents for months, writing romantic letters to each other about the work on the steam engine -- this wasn’t just yesterday, mind you. Can you imagine writing letters and waiting weeks for a response from your better half? Don’t even get me started about the sex (or lack thereof).

    Sometimes, I can hardly wait for a video to buffer or a new window to open without experiencing the sudden urge to toss my laptop across the room. No chance in hell I would have made it as a pioneer, no way, no how. Thank goodness we live in the digital age, where emails and phone calls can fan relationship flames so they don’t simply fizzle out in a week.

    Long story short, dating and even sex have evolved as a result of technology, and we can now continue to develop our romantic and sexual lives through online communications. No more waiting for the telegraph from loved ones. Instead, you can open your email account or social network of choice and then burn some digital sheets. Truth is, even if thousands of miles separate two people, you might still want to keep them in your life, be your connection emotional, mental, or sexual, cybering ... all ... night ... long.

    There are technologies being used nowadays to not only keep lovers connected, but also to develop their relationship on a level never possible before. A steamy Skype chat while using a cam might give you an incredible orgasm, just as a midnight chat about your dreams of becoming a botanist or publishing a book might afford you the opportunity to open up to your partner and discover a much deeper level of intimacy.

    Easier said than done, right? Not really, because here are some affordable (and often free) technologies that everyone can use, whether you’re trying to maintain a bond or revitalize and strengthen a connection. Whatever your motives, using the technologies mentioned below will definitely help you keep the spark alive, and perhaps even deepen your relationship.

    • Emails -- These babies are a necessity to long distance relationships! Everyone has an email account these days -- most are free after all -- and just dropping your boyfriend or girlfriend a little love note now and again can act as a huge demonstration of your commitment. Plus, you can reveal anything you want in an email: how you bombed your calculus final earlier today, or even how much you already miss the smell your lover left on your pillow the last time they slept over.
    • Walls -- Posting comments or links on someone’s social networking wall might not seem like it would make a huge impact on the relationship, but honestly, it does. A video of their favorite comedy show or even a link to a blog that details an inside joke you two share not only shows that you’re thinking about them, but also that you know each other inside and out.
    • Chats -- Practically speaking, chats are the single most useful form of technology a long distance relationship has at its disposal. Whether you’re using Facebook just to say hello or using Skype to talk to (and see) your boyfriend who’s currently studying abroad, chats allow you to communicate in real time, which means you don’t have to wait until the next day for an email update. Though the picture may be a bit pixelated and the audio may sound a bit rough, at least you’re in contact and engaging each other in conversation.
    • Texting -- Wherever you are, whenever you’re available, you almost always have your cell phone in your pocket or your purse. Something interesting or exciting happens -- and bam! -- you can forward a picture and a lovely text message to your lover, however far away. And just imagine their phone vibrating in their pocket, inches from their erogenous zone, already starting to anticipate your text with saucy thoughts of your next encounter...
    • Cameras -- Know anyone who hasn’t at least thought about the sexual potential of cams? You may be thousands of miles away, and you can still masturbate together with your loved one. Now that’s hot! Of course, camming isn’t as great as the touch of your lover, but sharing some online play and dirty talk is definitely the next best thing. In fact, this form of sexual exploration may open up the doorway to some experimentation the next time you meet in person -- ooh-la-la!

    So always remember -- a laptop and a high-speed Internet connection can do wonders for your long distance relationship, and help you show emotional (and sexual) sides of yourself never explored before. Geography’s got nothing on our desires, and technology will always prove useful in keeping us connected and intimate for ages to come.

    Ugly watermelons could make good Bbiofuel

    New research has come out that indicates watermelon could make a good biofuel additive. Now, I know you're immediately cringing because watermelon is a food crop and that spells disaster, but the good news is that no one is proposing that we start taking over arrable land with watermelon patches.


    It turns out that 20 percent of every annual watermelon crop is unused because, well, it's ugly. Misshapen or bruised fruit doesn't sell, so farmers leave them in the field and take a loss. Those extra watermelons could be processed for their juice, which could then be made into biofuel.

    What makes these disfigured melons biofuel-worthy? Watermelon juice contains seven to ten percent directly fermentable sugars or easy ethanol. While the juice would have to be almost triple concentrated to be the sole feedstock in a biofuel, it would make a great additive to other biofuel blends that need to be supplemented or diluted. Farmers could process the juice on-site and use it as an alternative fuel or sell it to biofuel-makers and make revenue on what would usually be wasted fruit.

    Of course, a feedstock's potential to make ethanol isn't everything. We'll have to see how watermelon-blended biofuels perform compared to other feedstocks and gasoline to know if harvesting their juice is worthwhile.

    What A Guy Is Thinking After Sex

    A reader recently emailed me with an interesting question: what are guys thinking right after sex? I wanted to help because I wonder what women think about right after sex. The reader mentioned both one night stands, and sex in committed relationships.
    The Thinker

    One thing to keep in mind: if you have sex with a guy who is not thinking or reflecting on it (whether it's a one night stand or not), it's a red flag. Anyone who dismisses something as intense as sex has no respect for the other person or themselves. I believe that every encounter deserves reflection, although most of my reflection is filled with self-loathing and self-doubt.

    Here is how my twisted mind works right after sex:

    One Night Stand

    Piecing The Night Together

    Most of the time, one night stands occur after a heavy night of drinking has battered my judgement. I hate that horrible feeling of waking up, and realizing that something is slightly different-- and then it all hits me like a ton of bricks. I realize that someone random is with me. If I'm cursed enough to be the first one awake, I lie there trying to figure out how I got there by putting the previous night's exploits together like a puzzle...a very difficult puzzle.

    Why Did I Do That?

    After one night stands, I analyze my mental state. Why did I end up doing this? Am I lonely? Losing respect for myself?

    Is There Any Mystery Left?

    One night stands are counter productive for long term relationships because they are an accelerated form of a relationship. There's no courship between meeting and sex. It's almost as fast as the Crystals song "Then He Kissed Me" where the guy's asking her to dance and then two minutes later they are married. It's hard to get into a long term relationship without comfortable pacing and the measured progression of surprises and moments.

    Should I Call Her?

    Naturally, one night stands make for awkward goodbyes. Usually, I feel obligated to call the girl and see her again, even if I'm not interested in seeing her again. But there is a lot of mental anguish as I decide what to do.

    How Will I Tell My Friends?

    It's bad, but guys do like to gossip. Even as i'm lying there the next morning, I'm going over the story and the order of friends I will tell.

    What Are The Ramifications?

    Whether I use protecton or not, I worry about STDs. I have no idea who she's been with, and who her partners have been with.


    Did She Enjoy it (Performance Review)

    Once you get into a serious relationship, you care a lot more about performance. After sex, I'll wonder if she enjoyed it-- but it feels too cheesy to ask her if she did. This is when I debate over whether she orgasmed or faked or whatever. I'd never make it on Broadway. In addition to wondering if my girlfriend enjoyed sex, I go over every little negative detail like a flawed audition. What did it mean when she kind of laughed? And how embarrassing was it when the condom slipped off? That can only mean bad: either I wasn't hard enough, or I was too small for it. And, because I'm never sure if anything was good, I can only dwell on the bad things.

    Does She Feel Respected?

    I try to be sensitive to how a girl feels right after sex. It is degrading if a guy "finishes his business" and then rolls off and leaves. It's important to hang out, laugh together, listen to some music, watch some TV and, yes, cuddle. I admit that there's some physiological/psychological thing in guys that causes them to want to move on to something else as soon as they've ejaculated. But guys should make an effort to spend time with a woman after sex, even if they dont' want to be there.

    Are We Having The Right Amount Of Sex?

    I don't want my girlfriend to feel like I'm obsessed with sex and having it too much, but I don't want her to feel like we're not having it enough. I consider frequency after each time we do it, and put it on a per week scale. Hopefully, she just tells me if she's satisfied with the amount of sex we are having.

    What are women thinking about right after sex in both situations? Are you surprised about what I am thinking about? Are these things guys should be thinking about?

    Follow me on Twitter:

    Fast food revealed: Real vs. ads

    You know how fast-food menu items always look amazingly juicy and delicious in advertising and marketing materials? WD was curious to see exactly what these food-styled concoctions actually look like fresh from the fast food, er, kitchen. We hit the city, dealing with long lines and mediocre service to snap some photos of a few franchises’ signature items. All photos were taken while we were still in the store, food fresh out of the bag (and off the assembly line). See what we found below, as we compare actual results with what the company advertises—the good, the bad and the ugly.

    Burger King Whopper

    This burger is described on as containing “1/4 pound of flame-broiled beef, ripe tomatoes, crisp lettuce, creamy mayo, ketchup, crunchy pickles and onions on a toasted sesame seed bun.” After sitting down with 50 other Burger King customers, we found it was more like a cold sesame bun filled with a thin layer of beef, three tablespoons of mayonnaise and warm lettuce with an over-ripe tomato. Although the advertisement shows layers of onions and pickles, our version contained one small pickle and two skinny slices of onion.

    McDonald’s Small French Fries

    We can't muster up much negativity about these favored all-American fries. McDonald’s fried potato strips have always been at the top of the fast-food chain for their perfect flavor and texture. Hot and fresh right out of the fryer, our order was shoved into what we wish was a little bit bigger package, but, just as we suspected, when we opened the bag we uncovered exactly what is described on—“golden, long, thin and perfectly salted fries that are crisp on the outside, tender inside with a great potato taste.”

    Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme

    The outside of the ever-so-popular Crunchwrap Supreme is pretty comparable to the ad; however, the inside is an entirely different story. Though it’s described on as including “seasoned beef, warm nacho cheese sauce, a crunchy tostada shell, reduced fat sour cream, lettuce and tomatoes,” we hardly found any lettuce and tomato on the Crunchwrap we ordered, and when it was cut open, the contents oozed out—nothing like the perfectly layered neatness in the image.

    Pizza Hut Tuscani Lasagna

    As one of Pizza Hut’s new Tuscani Pastas, the lasagna is something they are really trying to beef up. Pitched on as “layers of lasagna noodles and real ricotta, Parmesan and Romano cheeses smothered in Italian-seasoned meat sauce and freshly oven-baked with a layer of melted cheese,” the new menu choice looked more like a lasagna pizza. We finally located the noodles, the minimal sauce and ricotta in the center below the thick layer of cheese, but the fresh basil garnish in the ad picture was nowhere to be found.

    Wendy’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich

    If we used the advertisement image as guidance, the Crispy Chicken sandwich from Wendy’s would have a piece of chicken breast large enough to hang over the “premium bun” and crisp green lettuce. What we got on our tray was a cold white-bread bun filled with a piece of chicken that fits nicely inside (because it is much smaller), one piece of lettuce and lots of mayonnaise (of course).

    KFC Potato Wedges

    Another selection pretty true to its advertisement is KFC’s Potato Wedges, which, according to, has no trans fat and is flavored with “savory herbs and spices.” Even though we can’t tell that from the outside, we must say the picture is a nice representation of what these wedges really do look like. Made with real potatoes and special seasonings, this side dish needs no extra salt and pepper. However, it does weigh in at a whopping 260 calories per small order and contains 740 milligrams of sodium.

    Quiznos Primo Meatball

    After lifting up the top half of the somewhat “golden brown” sesame bread and digging under the layers of mozzarella cheese, we found three small meatballs nestled in the “zesty marinara sauce.” In reality, what appears in the picture to be a gigantic meatball creation is just a regular meatball sub that doesn’t have enough sauce on it and is overpriced—the smallest sandwich will cost you $7 a pop.

    Dunkin’ Donuts Egg White Veggie Flatbread Sandwich

    This DDSmart menu item looks quite slim and trim, neatly sliced and stuffed with veggies—Dunkin’ Donuts seems to have the perfect tactic for promoting it. Described on as having “fluffy egg whites, peppers, onions and mushrooms,” in actuality, the sandwich has a premade egg white patty with a few veggies tucked in it. Pitched as “easy to hold and eat with minimal mess,” when we attempted to pick up the fast food breakfast sandwich, the cheese spilled out the side. Although the presentation is far from what they led us to believe, the taste is pretty flavorful.

    KFC Kentucky Grilled Chicken Box

    Even Oprah supported this more wholesome option from the otherwise extremely unhealthy Kentucky Fried Chicken chain. Because of all the hype, the KFC Kentucky Grilled Chicken Box just had to make our list, but we were disappointed at what we found after seeing the tempting advertising image. We braved the hoards of people in line at the 3-in-1 chain restaurant, and found the chicken was shriveled and small, the potatoes seemed to be more like gravy with a drop of potatoes, and the biscuit was—well, a biscuit. Most disappointing was the chicken; unlike in the photo, both pieces were extremely dry.

    Burger King Crown-Shaped Chicken Tenders

    Much to our surprise, as you can see, these small chicken masterpieces actually do look almost identical to what Burger King shows in the advertisement (and are surely fit for a king). “Have it your way” by choosing four, five or eight tenders and dressing them with BBQ, honey mustard or sweet-and-sour sauce. We opted for four tenders with no sauce, since the fried, 180-calorie menu item is already quite high in fat for something that hardly fills you up. Overall, in an attempt to stand out among fast food chicken nuggets, Burger King has made fun-shaped little rascals that kids will love.

    McDonald's Big Mac

    After setting this sucker down on the tray and examining its contents, we must say it’s nothing that’s going to cure your “Big Mac attack.” It appears in marketing campaigns and advertisements that the Big Mac is a double-decker sandwich packed with two layers of veggies, special sauce and beef patties. The sandwich we got came with one piece of American cheese and one layer of veggies along with the two beef patties, three parts of a sesame bun and two coatings of “special sauce” that looked more like plain old mayonnaise.

    Subway The Feast

    The Feast is the ultimate menu item for this sandwich chain—containing five types of meat and your choice of cheese and bread. According to, “It’s the kind of concrete slippers that hunger fears the most”—whatever that means. We aren’t entirely sure that what looks like a fresh and healthy option in ads and billboards fully meets those expectations. After requesting “the works” as our condiments, we unwrapped it to discover, instead of the neatly stacked meats and fresh veggies, a sandwich soaked in mayonnaise and mustard, containing almost no lettuce—and when picked up, all of the contents slipped right through the bread and onto the paper.

    Taco Bell Nachos

    This 99¢ menu option is an easy and quick on-the-go option—that is, if you don’t have to wait for 15 minutes until your order number is called, like we did. The small side of nachos comes complete with about 20 chips and a side of nacho cheese. We have to say, the snack looks pretty similar to the original image, with hot and crispy tortilla chips and creamy nacho cheese, but perhaps the order is a bit smaller than the overflowing image shows.

    Wendy’s Broccoli and Cheese Potato

    To avoid all of the fried meals and other greasy temptations, many consumers opt for Wendy’s Broccoli and Cheese Potato, which contains only 2.5 grams of fat and 340 calories. What seems to be a plump baked potato with fresh broccoli florets and cheese in the marketing materials actually looks more like frozen broccoli bits atop a microwaved potato with melted cheese. While it is definitely healthier than most menu options, don’t be alarmed by what it looks like when you open the container.