Thursday, June 25, 2009

'Charlie's Angel' Farrah Fawcett dies at 62
Thu Jun 25, 1:29 PM EDT

Farrah Fawcett, the "Charlie's Angels" star whose feathered blond hair and dazzling smile made her one of the biggest sex symbols of the 1970s, died Thursday after battling cancer. She was 62.
The pop icon, who in the 1980s set aside the fantasy girl image to tackle serious roles, died shortly before 9:30 a.m. in a Santa Monica hospital, spokesman Paul Bloch said.
Ryan O'Neal, the longtime companion who had reunited with Fawcett as she fought anal cancer, was at her side, along with close friend Alana Stewart, Bloch said.
"After a long and brave battle with cancer, our beloved Farrah has passed away," O'Neal said. "Although this is an extremely difficult time for her family and friends, we take comfort in the beautiful times that we shared with Farrah over the years and the knowledge that her life brought joy to so many people around the world."
She burst on the scene in 1976 as one-third of the crime-fighting trio in TV's "Charlie's Angels." A poster of her in a clingy swimsuit sold in the millions.
She left the show after one season but had a flop on the big screen with "Somebody Killed Her Husband." She turned to more serious roles in the 1980s and 1990s, winning praise playing an abused wife in "The Burning Bed."
She had been diagnosed with cancer in 2006. As she underwent treatment, she enlisted the help of O'Neal, who was the father of her now 24-year-old son, Redmond.
This month, O'Neal said he asked Fawcett to marry him and she agreed. They would wed "as soon as she can say yes," he said.
Her struggle with painful treatments and dispiriting setbacks was recorded in the television documentary "Farrah's Story." Fawcett sought cures in Germany as well as the United States, battling the disease with iron determination even as her body weakened.
"Her big message to people is don't give up, no matter what they say to you, keep fighting," her friend Stewart said. NBC estimated the May 15, 2009, broadcast drew nearly 9 million viewers.
In the documentary, Fawcett was seen shaving off most of her trademark locks before chemotherapy could claim them. Toward the end, she's seen huddled in bed, barely responding to a visit from her son.
Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith made up the original "Angels," the sexy, police-trained trio of martial arts experts who took their assignments from a rich, mysterious boss named Charlie (John Forsythe, who was never seen on camera but whose distinctive voice was heard on speaker phone.)
The program debuted in September 1976, the height of what some critics derisively referred to as television's "jiggle show" era, and it gave each of the actresses ample opportunity to show off their figures as they disguised themselves in bathing suits and as hookers and strippers to solve crimes.
Backed by a clever publicity campaign, Fawcett — then billed as Farrah Fawcett-Majors because of her marriage to "The Six Million Dollar Man" star Lee Majors — quickly became the most popular Angel of all.
Her face helped sell T-shirts, lunch boxes, shampoo, wigs and even a novelty plumbing device called Farrah's faucet. Her flowing blond hair, pearly white smile and trim, shapely body made her a favorite with male viewers in particular.
A poster of her in a dampened red swimsuit sold millions of copies and became a ubiquitous wall decoration in teenagers' rooms.
Thus the public and the show's producer, Spelling-Goldberg, were shocked when she announced after the series' first season that she was leaving television's No. 5-rated series to star in feature films. (Cheryl Ladd became the new "Angel" on the series.)
But the movies turned out to be a platform where Fawcett was never able to duplicate her TV success. Her first star vehicle, the comedy-mystery "Somebody Killed Her Husband," flopped and Hollywood cynics cracked that it should have been titled "Somebody Killed Her Career."
The actress had also been in line to star in "Foul Play" for Columbia Pictures. But the studio opted for Goldie Hawn instead. "Spelling-Goldberg warned all the studios that that they would be sued for damages if they employed me," Fawcett told The Associated Press in 1979. "The studios wouldn't touch me."
She finally reached an agreement to appear in three episodes of "Charlie's Angels" a season, an experience she called "painful."
She returned to making movies, including the futuristic thriller "Logan's Run," the comedy-thriller "Sunburn" and the strange sci-fi tale "Saturn 3," but none clicked with the public.
Fawcett fared better with television movies such as "Murder in Texas," "Poor Little Rich Girl" and especially as an abused wife in 1984's "The Burning Bed." The last earned her an Emmy nomination and the long-denied admission from critics that she really could act.
As further proof of her acting credentials, Fawcett appeared off-Broadway in "Extremities" as a woman who is raped in her own home. She repeated the role in the 1986 film version.
Not content to continue playing victims, she switched type. She played a murderous mother in the 1989 true-crime story "Small Sacrifices" and a tough lawyer on the trail of a thief in 1992's "Criminal Behavior."
She also starred in biographies of Nazi-hunter Beate Klarsfeld and photographer Margaret Bourke-White.
"I felt that I was doing a disservice to ourselves by portraying only women as victims," she commented in a 1992 interview.
In 1995, at age 50, Fawcett posed partly nude for Playboy magazine. The following year, she starred in a Playboy video, "All of Me," in which she was equally unclothed while she sculpted and painted.
She told an interviewer she considered the experience "a renaissance," adding, "I no longer feel ... restrictions emotionally, artistically, creatively or in my everyday life. I don't feel those borders anymore."
Fawcett's most unfortunate career moment may have been a 1997 appearance on David Letterman's show, when her disjointed, rambling answers led many to speculate that she was on drugs. She denied that, blaming her strange behavior on questionable advice from her mother to be playful and have a good time.
In September 2006, Fawcett, who at 59 still maintained a strict regimen of tennis and paddleball, began to feel strangely exhausted. She underwent two weeks of tests and was told the devastating news: She had anal cancer.
O'Neal, with whom she had a 17-year relationship, again became her constant companion, escorting her to the hospital for chemotherapy.
"She's so strong," the actor told a reporter. "I love her. I love her all over again."
She struggled to maintain her privacy, but a UCLA Medical Center employee pleaded guilty in late 2008 to violating federal medical privacy law for commercial purposes for selling records of Fawcett and other celebrities to the National Enquirer.
"It's much easier to go through something and deal with it without being under a microscope," she told the Los Angeles Times in an interview in which she also revealed that she helped set up a sting that led to the hospital worker's arrest.
Her decision to tell her own story through the NBC documentary was meant as an inspiration to others, friends said. The segments showing her cancer treatment, including a trip to Germany for procedures there, were originally shot for a personal, family record, they said. And although weak, she continued to show flashes of grit and good humor in the documentary.
"I do not want to die of this disease. So I say to God, `It is seriously time for a miracle,'" she said at one point.
Born Feb. 2, 1947, in Corpus Christi, Texas, she was named Mary Farrah Leni Fawcett by her mother, who said she added the Farrah because it sounded good with Fawcett. She was less than a month old when she underwent surgery to remove a digestive tract tumor with which she was born.
After attending Roman Catholic grade school and W.B. Ray High School, Fawcett enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin. Fellow students voted her one of the 10 most beautiful people on the campus and her photos were eventually spotted by movie publicist David Mirisch, who suggested she pursue a film career. After overcoming her parents' objections, she agreed.
Soon she was appearing in such TV shows as "That Girl," "The Flying Nun," "I Dream of Jeannie" and "The Partridge Family."
Majors became both her boyfriend and her adviser on career matters, and they married in 1973. She dropped his last name from hers after they divorced in 1982.
By then she had already begun her long relationship with O'Neal. Both Redmond and Ryan O'Neal have grappled with drug and legal problems in recent years.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Discount Laptop Batteries: The "Refurbished" Laptop Battery Myth

DENVER (IFS) - If you have to purchase a battery for any of your devices, please read this. - KHS

Some laptop battery vendors offer refurbished discount laptop batteries for sale, claiming that most or all of the useful life of the laptop battery has been restored. Why would customers take the risk? Price. Refurbished items are generally cheap laptop batteries that are sold at a fraction of the cost of a new laptop battery.Unfortunately, their true worth is essentially zero. The reality is that refurbished, cheap laptop batteries don't exist. Though technically possible, the process of refurbishing a laptop battery costs more than manufacturing a new one. The internal impedance of each lithium ion cell in a laptop battery pack must be matched precisely, and there are only a few manufacturers (mostly in Japan) who have the technical expertise required. By the time a skilled technician disassembles, tests, and reassembles a laptop battery, the cost is prohibitive - and that's before the laptop battery is shipped across the Pacific and back.So what are these so-called "refurbished" discount laptop batteries? They're simply used laptop batteries that have been pulled from older laptops. The problem with old, cheap laptop batteries is that you don't know how much life they have left. All Lithium ion cells offer a maximum of 600 to 800 charge/discharge cycles over 1½ to 3 years of useful life. It's impossible to know how many cycles - and months - have passed since a particular used laptop battery was built, but one should probably assume the worst. In fact, that's just what the sellers of refurbished, cheap laptop batteries do - they generally warranty their discount laptop batteries for just three months.Sadly, we've heard stories from customers who don't even get that level of warranty protection. It seems that some refurbished laptop battery vendors have such low margins and order volumes that they can't afford to handle warranty replacements. For that reason, we strongly advise all consumers to buy new discount laptop batteries - even if it's not from us!If you do choose to buy a used laptop battery, at the very least make sure that your vendor is a member of the Better Business Bureau or some other organization that enforces honest business practices among its members. If you're thinking of buying a laptop battery from a private party on an online auction site such as eBay, make sure you review any available feedback to see how other customers fared.Over time, we expect that consumer awareness will grow to the point that the market for "refurbished", cheap laptop batteries will die off.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Denver (IFS) - Karen Parker, Pine Hill School District's high school counselor, was so excited when she got a call from AJ's mother telling her that AJ was drafted by MLB again. The look in Ms. Parker's face was worth more than words could ever say, as one of her students made that "big league". It's as if, only yesterday that I saw several of my high school friends drafted to the majors when I was a kid. I remember Mike Bergen, then a Senior getting drafted number #1 by the New York Mets and his contract for for $100,000 (big money in the 1960's). Or Jimmy Johnson and Reggie Graves from Rosamond High School in California to the Houston Astros and better yet, Jim Slaton from Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, California who played for many years with the Brewers, or Dwight and Dewayne Murphy to the Oakland A's and the Detroit Tigers. As for myself, I only got a chance to tryout for the Denver Broncos as a special teams player and I didn't even make the team -- only for nine weeks -- that was my career in pro sports, and it was very exciting back in those days. Oh well those were my days as a kid. But these days, the talent is spread across many areas and schools. Karen Parker, school counselor at Overbrook Senior High School in Pine Hill, New Jersey who was AJ's biggest fan and his counselor -- just got the news from AJ's mother by phone, that AJ was drafted to the Chicago White Sox from the University of Maryland. This is the second time that AJ has been picked by the majors, and this time, he's headed to MLB camp with the pros. Talking to Ms. Parker, she was so excited for AJ as he was a very good student and a very hard worker over the years to get to this point. AJ sacrificed many hours -- right along with his parents that got him to many try-outs and contests over the years. Ms. Parker would tell me of the times that she would run "administrative roadblocks" to help AJ and his family get to these important events, when know one else believed he even had a chance. He is a great inspiration to his old high school for kids to follow for years to come. More than that AJ is a wonderful, warm and caring person and a good citizen. I am so glad that I got a chance to witness this wonderful day for him and see him in several games his first year at Maryland, as I would drive Ms. Parker to Maryland to see his home games there. Way to go AJ. - KHS

Baseball: Casario to White Sox
Posted By Kevin Minnick On June 11, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

A.J. Casario, an Overbrook graduate who just wrapped up his junior year at the University of Maryland, was taken by the Chicago White Sox in the 38th round of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft. He was the 1,153rd overall pick. Casario, who was drafted in the 27th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2006 draft our of high school.

The spring, the outfielder batted .319 for the Terps with 10 doubles, one triple, 10 home runs and a team-leading 45 RBIs. He posted a .522 slugging percentage, a .409 on-base percentage and stole 12 of 15 bases.