Odds & Ends: Michael Wartella, Christy Altomare & Joey McIntyre to Workshop Dion Musical The Wanderer & More

first_imgMichael Wartella(Photo: Emilio Madrid-Kuser) View Comments Here’s a quick roundup of stories you might have missed today and this weekend. Michael Wartella, Christy Altomare & Joey McIntyre to Workshop Dion Musical The WandererCharlie and the Chocolate Factory alum Michael Wartella, Anastasia star Christy Altomare and New Kids on the Block heartthrob Joey McIntyre have signed on to lead a workshop of The Wanderer, a Broadway-aimed musical based on the life of Grammy-nominated ’50s/’60s rock icon Dion. The show will be tested out at Baryshnikov Arts Center in a private invitation-only industry presentation on September 13 and 14. Wartella will portray Dion, with Altomare as his wife, Susan, and Wicked alum McIntire in the role of Johnny. “The story of Dion is a major part of rock-and-roll history and in casting The Wanderer we were careful to ensure that the actors lived up to the music legends they are playing,” said producer Jill Menza. “We are excited to bring this authentic and untold story to the stage with such a talented cast.” Joining Wartella, Altomare and McIntire will be Johnny Tammaro, Michael Kostroff, Stephen Cerf, Billy Finn and Michael Mastro.Clyde Alves & More to Lead The Drowsy Chaperone at GoodspeedA talented group of stage stars will offer up a “Toledo Surprise” at Goodspeed Musicals this fall. Casting is set for the East Haddam, CT theater’s production of the beloved Broadway musical The Drowsy Chaperone. Tony nominee Hunter Foster will direct the new staging, scheduled to begin previews on September 21 with an opening set for October 10. The cast will include John Scherer (LoveMusik) as Man in Chair, Clyde Alves (On the Town) as Robert Martin, Stephanie Rothenberg (War Paint) as Janet Van de Graaff, Jennifer Allen (The Bridges of Madison County) as The Chaperone, Tim Falter (Cagney) as George, Ruth Gottschall (Elf) as Mrs. Tottendale, John Rapson (Les Misérables) as Aldolpho and Danielle Lee Greaves (Hairspray) as Trixie, with Jay Aubrey Jones, James Judy, Ruth Pferdehirt, Blakely Slaybaugh and Parker Slaybaugh. The production will feature choreography by Chris Bailey and musical direction by Michael O’Flaherty. The Drowsy Chaperone will play a limited engagement through November 25.Renée Taylor to Lead Talkbacks After My Life on a DietRenée Taylor, the iconic writer and star of off-Broadway’s My Life on a Diet, will lead three talkbacks following upcoming performances of her hit show. The Emmy winner and Oscar nominee will talk about her life and career immediately following the performances on August 24 at 7:00pm, August 25 at 7:00pm and August 31 at 7:00pm. The recently extended solo show is scheduled to run through September 2 at The Theatre at St. Clement’s.André De Shields, Ken Page & Frenchie Davis Set for Ain’t Misbehavin’ ConcertAndré DeShields and Ken Page, who starred in the original production of the 1978 Tony-winning musical Ain’t Misbehavin’, will again celebrate the music of American composer Fats Waller in a 40th-anniversary concert at Feinstein’s/54 Below on September 9th at 7:00pm and 9:30pm. Richard Maltby Jr., the show’s Tony-winning director and co-conceiver, will helm the pair of concerts, also featuring Broadway and American Idol alum Frenchie Davis (Rent), Johmaalya Adelekan (Ragtime), Rheaume Crenshaw (Groundhog Day), Tyrone Davis Jr. (Waitress) and Zurin Villanueva (Mean Girls). Ain’t Misbehavin’ opened at the Longacre Theatre in 1978 and played 1600 performances. The original cast also featured Nell Carter in a Tony-winning performance alongside Armelia McQueen and Charlayne Woodard.Ghostlight to Release Album of Hundred DaysGhostlight Records has announced an original cast recording of the acclaimed musical Hundred Days, which appeared at off-Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop in 2017. The recording, featuring a score by musical group The Bengsons, boasts a cast including Colette Alexander, Abigail Bengson, Shaun Bengson, Jo Lampert, Dani Markham and Reggie D. White. Hundred Days will be performed at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse this Fall, followed by national tour engagements.last_img read more

Soldiers’ Angels from Williston receives $10,000 from Walmart

first_imgOn the sixth day of its “12 Days of Giving” holiday campaign, Walmart is awarding $110,000 to 11 nonprofits that are making an extraordinary effort to support troops, military families and veterans in their local communities.The Soldiers’ Angels from Williston received $10,000 in this round of giving.Over twelve consecutive days, Walmart will award a total of $1.5 million to 140 organizations across the country that are providing basic needs and services such as food, shelter, clothing and medical care. Organizations receiving grants today are featured on Walmart’s Live Better tab on Facebook. The organizations serve communities in: District of Columbia, Delaware, California, New York, Florida, Oregon,Texas, Washington, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Vermont.”We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to those who serve or have served in our country’s military, as well as to the families of those individuals.” said Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the Walmart Foundation. “Whether protecting our freedoms in foreign fields or making contributions here at home, the value these men and women bring to the American workforce and our way of life is beyond measure. We are truly honored to provide grants this holiday season to local organizations that support our military and veterans.”Walmart’s November call for submissions resulted in more than 21,677 nominations from Facebook users who submitted descriptions of each nonprofit’s impact in its local community. Submissions were initially reviewed by Walmart associates from across the company and then a panel from the Walmart Foundation selected the winning organizations.One of the winning organizations, Operation Homefront Oklahoma/Arkansas, serves its community by providing food and financial assistance to military families and wounded warriors.  The organization also works to prevent homelessness among young military families and combat veterans. The organizations being spotlighted today for “Supporting Our Military and Veterans” include:Nonprofit NameCityStateGrant AmountA Soldier’s SmileMiamiFL$10,000Delaware Center for Homeless Veterans, Inc.WilmingtonDE$10,000Homefront AmericaSan Juan CapistranoCA$10,000Intrepid Fallen Heroes FundNew YorkNY$10,000National Veterans Homeless Support, Inc.MimsFL$10,000Operation Homefront OregonPortlandOR$10,000Operation Homefront TexasSan AntonioTX$10,000Operation Homefront WashingtonSeattleWA$10,000Operation Homefront Oklahoma/ArkansasLawtonOK$10,000Purple Heart HomesStatesvilleNC$10,000Soldiers’ AngelsWillistonVT$10,000 About Philanthropy at Walmart  Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are committed to helping people live better through philanthropic efforts. By operating globally and giving back locally, Walmart is uniquely positioned to address the needs of the communities it serves and make a significant social impact within its core areas of giving: Hunger Relief and Nutrition, Sustainability, Workforce Opportunity and Women’s Economic Empowerment. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are leading the fight against hunger in the United States with a $2 billion commitment through 2015. To date, Walmart has donated more than 1 billion pounds of food to those in need across the country. To learn more about Walmart’s giving, visithttp://foundation.walmart.com/(link is external).SOURCE BENTONVILLE, Ark., Dec. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.last_img read more

Nonjudicial foreclosure bill appears dead

first_imgNonjudicial foreclosure bill appears dead May 1, 2010 Senior Editor Regular News Nonjudicial foreclosure bill appears dead Gary Blankenship Senior EditorBills that would allow banks to bypass the courts with a nonjudicial foreclosure process appear unlikely to clear the Florida Legislature this year.The bills suffered double setbacks in House and Senate committee hearings last month. The legislation is opposed by the Bar’s Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section, which raised many procedural and due process questions.The first setback for the bill came on April 12, when the House Criminal and Civil Justice Policy Council failed to consider HB 1523, sponsored by Rep. Tom Grady, R-Naples. It had cleared two other House committees, and the policy council was the last stop before sending the bill to the full House.The committee was not scheduled to meet again before the end of the session.That left only two rarely used methods to get the bill before the lower chamber. One would be for the House speaker to withdraw the bill from the policy council and send it to legislators. The other would be for the Senate to pass its bill and send it to the House for approval.But that latter possibility became more unlikely on April 13 when the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee failed to consider SB 2270, sponsored by Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, and the counterpart to HB 1523. The Banking and Insurance Committee had scheduled one more meeting the following week, but that was canceled.However, even if the bill passed there, it still has two more committees, Judiciary and Commerce, to clear before reaching the Senate floor.Pete Dunbar, legislative consultant for RPPTL, said it “would be my best guess” that the bills are dead. In the House, he said the speaker could withdraw the bill. But in the Senate, since the bill never cleared any committee, it would take a unanimous vote to bring the bill to the floor.The bills allow banks to foreclose from 120 days to one year after the initial notice to property owners. Property owners would have to go to court to stop the nonjudicial foreclosures, something critics said many would either not realize until too late or would be unable to afford since filing fees for foreclosures go as high at $1,900.Dunbar and Jerry Aron, a former RPPTL chair who is spearheading work on the issue for the section, said the bills, especially the House version, were problematic in many ways.“The section’s position is we are against nonjudicial foreclosure to the extent they don’t protect people’s property rights and due process rights,” Aron said. “And we’re zealous in protecting those rights.”They listed several problems, starting with due process.“When you think about basic due process, first you have the opportunity to be notified about the action taken; two, you have an opportunity in an independent forum; and three, if there is harm caused because the facts are wrong or the claims are wrong, you have an opportunity for those to be corrected,” Dunbar said. “None of those are in the House bill.”He and Aron noted that the House bill requires only that the bank send a letter or e-mail — with no proof it was received — to satisfy notice requirements. That was changed in the House bill for the initial default notice to require proof, but not on the notice that foreclosure was beginning, Dunbar said.Further, instead of an independent trustee or mediator, the bank can designate any employee to deal with the property owner, and only a telephone meeting is required. And if there is a mistake, as has been documented in some recent cases where lenders mistakenly sought to foreclose on the wrong homes, the homeowner should not be faced with paying a filing fee or hiring a lawyer to correct the bank’s mistakes, even if those expenses are eventually reimbursed.“When a process like this, which ultimately has the potential of taking someone’s property, is 100 percent overseen by such an interested party — like the lender — it’s considerably more likely that the process. . . and the qualifications of the person conducting the process are less than ideal,” Aron said. “It seems a little unusual to turn the entire process over to the lenders when the lenders are partially responsible for the current clogging of the courts.”He also said there’s a constitutional question of whether the law would meet Florida’s due process requirements.Aside from those questions, Dunbar and Aron said the bills would not affect the backlog of foreclosures in Florida’s courts. Dunbar said that federal requirements in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans — which underwrite perhaps 80 percent of Florida’s mortgages — require judicial foreclosures.They also said there could be unforeseen consequences, including that title companies are doubtful about insuring titles for anyone who bought a property that went through a nonjudicial foreclosure.Nor, Dunbar said, is the House bill clear about what would happen to long-term renters of a foreclosed property or with underlying mineral rights. There could also be problems with deficiency foreclosures, which occur when a homeowner fails to maintain a property or make repairs, and can happen even if the homeowner is current on payments.After four hurricanes hit the state in 2004, Dunbar said 1.7 million homeowners filed insurance claims, but because of a lack of adjusters, it took several months for claims to get settled, leaving those owners open to deficiency foreclosures. Likewise, he said sometimes in condominiums, it’s the condominium association that’s responsible for repairs, not the unit owner. But the association can drag its feet, leaving the owner vulnerable.Aron and Dunbar agreed with supporters of the bills that other states do have non-judicial foreclosures. But they said there are differences. Those states typically have trustees acting as neutral third parties. Plus, Aron said, Florida has legal differences.“Florida, in most respects, is very different. We are what’s called a lien theory state [where the property owner holds the title] as opposed to a title theory state [where the mortgage lender holds the property title until the loan is paid off],” he said. “We have a state constitution that protects access to the courts, due process, and property rights. And that combination of four elements makes us unique and different. It’s a major, major change in Florida to move to nonjudicial foreclosures.”Despite their criticisms of the bills, Aron and Dunbar said they are not unsympathetic to the problems of bankers.“The truth of the matter is these are borrowers who haven’t paid, and the lenders do need some relief when it comes to frivolous defenses that are being filed — and on abandoned property,” Aron said. “They are entitled to relief, and the section has worked with the bankers on proposed legislation to assist the bankers in those areas.”last_img read more

Drug courts: twice the bang for half the bucks

first_imgDrug courts: twice the bang for half the bucks December 1, 2013 Jan Pudlow Senior Editor Regular News Drug courts: twice the bang for half the bucks Senior EditorTwice the bang for half the bucks.That’s what Florida reaps with its 101 drug courts, Seventh Circuit Judge Joseph Will told the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee on November 5. “You won’t have as many people recidivating as you do through the normal process, be it supervision, jail, or prison,” he said. “You will spend less than half the money to accomplish that. So you get twice the bang for half the bucks.”Frustration with a criminal justice system that kept cranking the same people in and out, over and over — probation, failure, jail, another arrest, prison, another arrest — led to the first drug court in Miami in 1989 that became a national model.“It was that frustration, that inability to make the system click, to make it have meaning, to get a result out of the process. . . that caused people to gather together,” he said.“The people who gathered together were judges, state attorneys, public defenders, correctional officers, probation officers, and treatment professionals. Our communities have gathered together and put together these little ad hoc partnerships that receive diverse funding from all over the place, trying to hold us together with bailing wire and chewing gum. That’s what we’re doing with our drug courts.”Steve Leifman, associate administrative judge of the Miami-Dade County Criminal Division, said for every dollar invested in drug courts, there is a 221 percent return.“People’s first thought is: ‘Well, what are you talking about? You’re going to coerce people into drug treatment? People don’t do well with drug treatment unless they come to it on their own, unless they hit their bottom, unless they’re ready,’” Will said.“Hogwash! Hogwash! It works three or four times better than voluntary treatment. Coerced treatment has gone off the charts for us, as far as success goes,” Will said.“Drug court — for those of you who haven’t seen one up close and personal — it is our primary problem-solving court. It’s judge-directed. The judge is always going to make the decision, but we sit down with a team of all of these people: state attorneys, public defenders, correction officers, and treatment professionals. And we make decisions on a weekly basis on the treatment plan for the people who are going to be in our program.“We take what we call high-risk, high-needs people. We’re not looking for weekend pot smokers. We are looking for people who have serious mental health and substance abuse issues, very often at the same time.“We identify these people with a screening device. We take them from our regular felony dockets and we put them into this judge-supervised team, with our professionals.“We unbelievably scrutinize these people daily. We treat them almost constantly with one-on-one counseling sessions, in group sessions. They attend AA and NA meetings. They see the judge frequently in early phases, once a week. In later phases, once every three weeks. They are monitored with urinalysis to make sure they are not cheating, which, by the way, is getting very difficult and very expensive to do because of the creativity of all of the people in the drug business these days.“They receive rapid and firm sanctions when they violate. Sometimes, their sanction will be a jail sentence. Sometimes, it will be something else.“They are also given small rewards, because that is all part of the behavioral program that we are running.“In my court, everybody works. Everybody works at ‘a job with a hat,’ we call it. Because there are so many people in our state who are working off the grid, particularly in the population that we’re talking about now. They haven’t worked in a job on the grid, where they have paid taxes and contributed anything to the rest of us for so long, that we compel that as a part of the drug court treatment as well, so that we can build some independence and some sustainability for the people who are with us.“We follow evidence-based practices throughout. We get them from current research that goes faster than we can. We utilize national standards. We have something called the ‘10 Key Components’ that keep us on the same wavelength, so that we don’t have aberrant drug courts wandering off and being crazy.”Another group of high-risk people headed for prison participated in an experiment called the Adult Post-Adjudicatory Drug Court Expansion Program that began as an eight-county pilot with federal dollars and then was funded by the Legislature for the 2013-14 fiscal year.“The state for the first time said, ‘Let’s try this outside of the counties; let’s try it on a statewide basis, and see if we can save prison time for people who are hell-bent on prison.’ They were going to prison, end of discussion,” said Will, who provided statistics that 77 percent of Florida’s state prisoners identify with a substance-abuse problem, yet 86 percent of them leave prison without treatment.A report from OPPAGA — the Florida Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability — is expected in January, he said, that examines the new program. Will said that report is expected to prove “you are getting twice the bang for half the bucks for the people who were going to go to state prison,” too.“The question at the time was: ‘Can we replicate this on a statewide basis?’ And I think the answer is: Yes, we’re going to. We have eight counties in the program. It’s an experiment. There’s about 2,400 people admitted to the program, and it’s proceeding just as it was scheduled to.”last_img read more

Record breaking continues in Iowa State

first_imgRecord breaking continues in Iowa State Robert MewsFebruary 13, 2006Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintThe Minnesota women’s track and field team continued its record-breaking running at the Iowa State Classic this weekend.Freshman and reigning Big Ten Athlete of the Week Heather Dorniden continued her strong running performances. She broke the school record in the 400-meter event with a time of 54.71 seconds ” good for fifth.Dorniden broke the school’s 800-meter mark last week.Dorniden also helped break the school record in the 4-by-400-meter relay at Iowa. The relay team finished with a time of 3:40.77 minutes.In the mile run, three Gophers runners placed in the top 11. Emily Brown finished second with a time of 4:47.15 minutes.Brown, who finished second, said the race was tough because it featured too many runners.“The three of us kind of got knocked around a lot and just didn’t really get a chance to run our races,” Brown said. “It wasn’t a very organized race. It didn’t begin very well.”In field events, Minnesota’s Liz Roehrig finished fifth in the high jump with a mark of 5-8 3/4, and Christin Kingsley and Anna Arciszewska finished 20th and 21st, respectively, in the triple jump.Men running wildThe Gophers men also ran some fast times in Ames, Iowa, this weekend. Junior Aaron Buzard ran the second fastest collegiate 400 in the nation this year with a time of 46.20 seconds.Buzard also was part of the 4-by-400-meter relay team that finished seventh. Their time was 3:10.63 minutes.Freshman Ibrahim Kabia finished 11th in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.92 seconds.Freshman Adewole Adebayo finished sixth in the 600-yard dash with a time of 1:12.25 minutes.Minnesota’s Karl Erickson finished 10th in the shot put with a distance of 58-03.25 feet.Minnesota did not compete in the high or long jump events.Men’s tennisMinnesota’s men’s tennis team lost its opening meet this weekend on a trip to the Old Dominion State for two dual meets.On Saturday against Wake Forest in Richmond, Va., Minnesota fell 6-1 to the 13th-ranked Demon Deacons. Andres Osorio scored the lone Gophers win at third singles by downing Brett Ross 11-9 in a superbreaker. Every other individual match in the dual was won by Wake Forest in straight sets.Minnesota will compete Feb. 25 against Vanderbilt in Tennessee.last_img read more

Rowing team to compete in NCAAs for first time

first_imgRowing team to compete in NCAAs for first timeStrong camaraderie and a group of able upperclassmen led the team to success. Nick GerhardtMay 23, 2007Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintMinnesota’s rowing team sat in coach Wendy Davis’ office last Tuesday anxiously awaiting a phone call.They waited for the NCAA to tell them if they made the field of 15 to compete for the national rowing championship.The Gophers heard good news from the other end of the phone that day, earning the first team bid in school history to the NCAA Championships.Minnesota will compete against the nation’s top teams in Oak Ridge, Tenn., May 25-27.“I think it’s the biggest accomplishment we’ve ever had here,” senior Erika Bartkute said.The accomplishment has been seven years in the making for the Gophers since the program started in 2000.And with a strong upperclassmen presence on the team, the bid resonates even more strongly.“We’ve been working the last nine months for this as a team, and for me it’s been the last three years,” junior Mary Ann Weinzierl said. “Along the way, we’ve all gained more and more confidence.”Team members said they have learned about themselves and each other along the way, making a cohesive unit.“We’ve grown closer as a team throughout the years because we’re an older team with a lot of seniors,” Weinzierl said. “With everyone knowing each other so well, you have everybody motivating each other to pull harder and find an extra gear.” Minnesota will race their first varsity eight, second varsity eight and first varsity four boats in the competition, and they said they’re prepared for the tall task at hand.“The girls are ready, they’re healthy and they know what to expect,” Davis said.The Gophers sent their first varsity eight boat to the NCAA competition last year, but this year they look to prove worthy of a team bid.“We set our status last year,” Bartkute said. “This is a big step for us as a program. The difference is two times greater than last year because we have to prove we’re worthy of nationals.”The competition will prove tough and all the races will be close at nationals, but Minnesota showed strong preparation throughout the week and team members said they feel ready for their opposition.“We worked hard on our technique, start and sprint,” Bartkute said. “Everybody worked their way to nationals and we know it’s not going to be easy; we’re going to have to fight.”The Gophers completed regional races in Oak Ridge on May 12-13. That time, Minnesota advanced all their boats to the Grand Finals and finished sixth. The second varsity eight fared the best for the Gophers by finishing second.With the NCAA Championships taking place at the same venue, Minnesota has started to feel comfortable there.“It’s a lot of fun for us at Oak Ridge,” Davis said. “It’s almost like home water for us because we’ve raced there before.”The Gophers garnered other honors in addition to the NCAA bid as Davis won Big Ten Coach of the Year for the second year in a row and Jenny Barnes received the Big Ten Athlete of the Year award for the first time in school history.last_img read more

College to MLB involves long scouting process

first_imgCollege to MLB involves long scouting processGophers catcher Kyle Knudson signed with the Twins last Wednesday, but his initiation to the major began years — and plenty of scouting trips — ago. Daily File Photo John HagemanJune 15, 2010Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintFormer Gophers catcher Kyle Knudson holds a couple firsts in Target Field history.On March 27, he became the first player to catch a pitch at the Twins’ new ballpark during a game against Louisiana Tech, and last Wednesday night, he became the first player to sign a major league contract there.The Minnesota Twins took Knudson with the 285th overall pick (ninth round) in the 2010 MLB amateur draft, and he signed within a day. He will likely play for the Elizabethton Twins of the Appalachian League, whose season starts June 22.Knudson’s initiation to the major leagues began years ago and with plenty of scouting trips and reports collected by professional clubs.Mark Wilson, an area scout for the Twins, canvases six states and all of Canada in search of major league talent. Wilson’s most notable prospect was a Cretin-Derham Hall catcher by the name of Joe Mauer.Wilson said he started watching Knudson play as a sophomore at Maple Grove high school, and, like he does with all other prospects, began compiling reports on every aspect of his game from his on-field talent down to his demeanor in the dugout.Wilson, along with about 14 other area scouts for the Twins that cover the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, continually builds “follow lists” of players that perk his interest, even if they are not eligible for the draft.Before the draft each year, the area scouts rank their prospects into categories of where the player might go in the draft, using their reports as a guide. A handful of regional supervisors then combine the reports into more regional preferences, and an even smaller number of crosscheckers cross the country and combine regional lists into a more comprehensive nationwide preference list. About a week and a half before the draft, the scouting department meets and debates in the draft room, ranking players in each position.Although Twins scouts all use the same numerical scale to grade certain abilities of a prospect in their reports, Wilson said the process of ranking players from different areas of the country is a subjective process.“There isn’t a science formula to it — it’s all opinion,” Wilson said. “Much like going to an art museum, someone else is going to like a sculpture for different reasons.”The decision on who to draft is ultimately up to the scouting director, who has to take a number of factors into consideration before picking a player, including the likelihood they will sign with the team. According to MLB rules, players can be drafted straight out of high school, or after their junior or senior season in a four-year college, but can tell the team they won’t sign if they are drafted in a late round. This lets them improve their stock and come back to be drafted in a later year. That means players must decide if they want to try professional ball right out of high school or spend at least two years in college.Seth Rosin, who was drafted in the 28th round by the Twins out of high school in 2007, opted to play for the Gophers and was selected in the fourth round by the Giants last week.“I knew I wanted to go to college,” Rosin said. “I’m glad I made that decision.”Junior closer Scott Matyas was drafted in the 40th round by the Milwaukee Brewers, and will likely return for his senior year with the Gophers.Other than talent and the “signability” of a player, Twins vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff said the organization pushes versatility and ability to play multiple positions, because it never knows what spot the Major League squad will need to fill.“It’s hard to go from the rookie league … to the big leagues,” Radcliff said. “You want to have some versatility as a player just to give yourself a chance to survive.”Michael Kvasnicka was projected to be drafted as a catcher, but during a pre-draft workout, the Astros had him bring a third baseman’s glove to see him catch ground balls. Kvasnicka was surprised when the Astros announced they would play him at third base after drafting him with the 33rd overall pick.“I knew that if anybody was going to do that, it would have been the Astros, but I still didn’t think they were going to do it,” Kvasnicka said. “To me, that’s a great thing … because it means that they have a plan for me and that they have a need or some kind of importance for me.”Troy Hoerner, an area scout for the Astros who both scouted Kvasnicka and was drafted by the Twins in 1988 along with Kvasnicka’s father, Jay Kvasnicka, said he will play catcher and in the outfield as well as third base until they determine the best fit for him.On Monday, Michael Kvasnicka signed with the team for an undisclosed amount.Kvasnicka added that he is excited to have the scouting and drafting process finished so he can focus on baseball. But for Radcliff, the scouting process and the ability to draft well is what breeds success on the field in the major leagues.“If you’re better than the other 29 teams in the drafting process, you have a good shot at being better than the other 29 teams at the big-league level eventually,âÄù Radcliff said. âÄúThatâÄôs what we strive to do.âÄùlast_img read more

Virtual reality makes its best users the most queasy

first_imgEmail Share on Facebook LinkedIn Pinterest In a twist of virtual fate, people with the best 3-D vision are also the people most likely to suffer from motion sickness while using virtual reality displays.Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison demonstrated this irony by playing motion-heavy videos for study participants through the Oculus Rift — a 3-D virtual reality headset worn like a pair of goggles.Nearly two-thirds of the study subjects quit watching the videos early, overcome by nausea in the virtual environment for much the same reason discomfort catches up to people in real-world situations.center_img Share Motion sickness is the product of mismatched sensory information.“The classic example is reading in a car,” says Shawn Green, UW-Madison psychology professor. “Lots of people can’t read in a car because if you have a newspaper in front of you, your visual system says you’re still.”But you’re not still. While the newspaper may not be moving, the car speeds up and slows down, turns corners and climbs hills. All this movement registers in the vestibular system, a series of organs in the ear that aid balance by telling us which way is up.“In the car, those balance cues say you’re accelerating, and that’s a big mismatch with your eyes on the still newspaper,” Green says. “That mismatch makes you nauseous.”Oculus produces that mismatch in reverse, according to Bas Rokers, UW-Madison psychology professor and a co-author on the study published in the journal Entertainment Computing with Green, graduate student Brian Allen and recent graduate Taylor Hanley. While the 3-D movies depicted flying over forests and under bridges, the headset and the viewer aren’t actually moving.“And observers don’t have agency — they can’t control the motion,” Rokers says. “If they were in control, they could predict what things should look like. That would probably help them ease the discomfort.”But why is it only some users get too sick to stick with the Oculus Rift? Rokers and Green found that the people in their study who reported the most discomfort were also best at judging the direction of objects moving toward or away from them.“It seemed natural that people who may be very sensitive to 3-D motion might pick up on the fact that the visual motion signals provided in the Oculus can be inconsistent with balance signals,” Rokers says.Interestingly, it was just perception of moving objects that predicted motion sickness. Skill in identifying the relative depth of still objects was not connected with the 3-D discomfort. And, in fact, results of the two tests seem independent.“We’ve had people with perfectly good depth perception who couldn’t do the 3-D motion tests, and the exact opposite — people who could do the 3-D motion tests that would be classified as stereoblind by the static test,” Green says.Short of decreasing the difference between Oculus’ presentation of reality and reality itself — likely already a goal of the system’s developers — the researchers say users could benefit from a break-in period that slowly introduces the sort of mismatched cues that cause motion sickness. Like sailors finding their sea legs, people tend to work their way past the causes of motion sickness.“On a boat, maybe you stare at the horizon for a while and get those cues synced up,” Green says. “It’s probably contextual. Your body learns that in this situation, cues often mismatch. So, you just learn to ignore the mismatch.”Makers of virtual reality equipment may be able to use the researchers’ results to guide their own work.“Now you can identify those people that are most likely to suffer from motion sickness,” Rokers says. “And you can test your product directly on those individuals, and ensure a much larger market for your product.” Share on Twitterlast_img read more

Mom slams school over child’s injury

first_img Mother, Louise Dirks Mother, Louise Dirks The mother of a Bokmakierie Primary School Grade 1 pupil is furious after her child severed her fingertip in the girls’ toilet at school last week.Louise Dirks said to make matters worse, the school did not have updated contact details for her and did not save the fingertip so it could be reattached by doctors. She says she has been asking the school to have the children accompanied to the toilet. Ms Dirks said that on Wednesday March 8, her daughter, Zeah’s, money had fallen out of her pocket while she was in the toilet and as Zeah bent down to pick it up, the door was slammed against her finger, severing the tip as she pulled her hand back. The principal had then sent Ms Dirks’ nephew, who also attends the school, to her house to say that someone needed to come to the school and take the child to the doctor.Ms Dirks was at work and her aunt who was at home then went to the school where she and Zeah were taken to Dr Abdurahman Community Health Centre by the principal.At work, Ms Dirks cousin told her she needed to get to the hospital because her daughter had been injured at school. She went straight to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital where she waited for the ambulance to bring Zeah.“When I saw my child’s finger, I freaked out, and then the doctor told me they couldn’t save her finger. I asked why, and he said they didn’t have the other part of the finger, so they couldn’t do the operation,” said Ms Dirks.The following day, Ms Dirks went to the school for answers, and, according to her, the principal said that he didn’t have any because he hadn’t investigated the matter yet as he had been in meetings all day.“I told him that means that he wasn’t interested in what had happened because he didn’t investigate it yet, and he said he had done his job to drop my child at the day hospital,” she said.Ms Dirks said she had been complaining about the children going alone to the toilets, which are far from the classrooms and close to the canal which runs along the N2 highway.“I have been telling them that they need to accompany the children to the toilet because they are still young. Anyone can jump over the wall and attack our children,” she said.Ms Dirks said a teacher had told her it wasn’t necessary to accompany the children because they went to the toilet in pairs or in groups.Ms Dirks said that what upset her even more was that the school had not contacted her directly, and when she asked the secretary about that, she was told the school did not have her number. “I told them how could they not have my number if my child was at the school, for two years already. The number they have for me is when my 20-year-old child was at the school which is a house number. I don’t understand how they cannot have my number. Are they not supposed to update their contact book every year?“There is lots of negligence at the school. I am very upset about this. If the principal had to do what he was supposed to do and go look for the other part of my child’s finger then they could’ve fixed it, but he didn’t. What am I going to tell my child when she is older and asks me about her finger? It’s something that can’t be replaced,” she said.Bokmakierie Primary School declined to comment.Millicent Merton, spokeswoman of the Western Cape Education Department, said the principal had reported the incident to the department and an investigation revealed it was an accident and not a case of bullying.“Therapeutic support will be provided to the learners, as required,” she said.Aziza Kannemeyer, chairwoman of the Athlone Community police forum said it was sad and regrettable that a pupil had experienced an injury of this nature.“It is traumatic, to say the least, as the disfigurement is permanent and it has the potential to create long-term psychological consequences. One has to examine the causes of such an incident and what has given rise to it. But, at a primary school level, one expects that certain checks and balances would be put in place to ensure that learners are kept safe and are well taken care of,” she said.Ms Kannemeyer said it was important to have a class assistant or helper to accompany six-year-olds to the toilet. 1 of 2center_img The six-year-old girls hand is now in a bandage.last_img read more

Cultural Division announces Summer Arts Programme 2014

first_imgLocalNews Cultural Division announces Summer Arts Programme 2014 by: – June 26, 2014 Share Tweet Accordion playing workshopThe Cultural Division is currently gearing up to host its annual Summer Arts Programme at the Old Mill Cultural Centre during July and August 2014. The Summer Arts Programme offers courses for adults and children respectively. This year the programme for adults places some emphasis on craft with courses such as vetive mat making, latannye broom making and sensay dolls. Courses also include art, music, dance, woodcarving, photography and the ever-popular creole head tying course. Stage Management, traditional drumming and creole singing techniques are also being offered. The Cultural Division has recognized that the cultural industries is a growth sector of the economy and is generating employment for many persons. The Division is thus providing summer arts courses so that persons involved in the cultural industries sector can improve their skills, develop new products and increase their earnings. In this way the Division is contributing to national efforts at job creation, income generation and the encouragement of entrepreneurship particularly among persons involved in the cultural industries sector.The courses for children include creative dance, steel pan, art and craft, woodwork, percussion ensemble, and drama. Registration is now open and persons have up to July 11 to register. Persons interested should visit the Old Mill Cultural Centre in Canefield during normal working hours. Sharecenter_img 29 Views   no discussions Share Sharing is caring!last_img read more