Saturday, November 28, 2009

World's craziest staircases

Stairs aren’t just a boring, utilitarian part of our homes and public buildings. They’re an opportunity for an architect to really make a statement and do something bold and distinctive. From staircases that float to stairs that fit in impossibly tiny spaces to staircases that go nowhere, this often-overlooked part of everyday architecture is being rethought by many designers and architects. You’ll see no beige-carpeted run-of-the-mill staircases here; these are some (more!) of the best, strangest, and most beautiful staircases in the world.

These majestic and impressive stairs can be found in Lello Bookshop in Portugal. The sheer heft of this staircase is balanced nicely by the smooth flow of all of its shapes. The grand staircase begins as two sets of steps on the upper level, then the two become one when the entire staircase folds under itself to glide smoothly to the lower floor. The color and sturdy dimensions give the entire staircase an almost mouth-like appearance.

This incredible design, believe it or not, is made from 10mm thick sheet metal, and there are no hidden suspensions keeping it aloft; just wall brackets and tension. The ribbon of sheet metal zigzags up the space to make the exposed staircase appear open, airy and mysterious. And best of all, the whole staircase is surprisingly sturdy. Designed by HSH Architects, the staircase is in the main living area of a home in Prague.

This crazy staircase to nowhere was commissioned by accounting firm KPMG in Munich in 2004. It was built by artist Olafur Eliasson and now stands in the courtyard of the KPMG building. Besides being an interesting focal point, it’s a functional staircase – if you consider traveling its pointless path “functional.” Although the stairs won’t actually get you anywhere, it’s probably a fun lunchtime break for the people who work in the building.

For hopelessly tiny spaces where traditional stairs would take up too much precious floor real estate, EeDesign has a solution. These stairs fit into just over 1 meter of floor space to provide a passage to higher ground that’s basically like walking up a spiral ladder. They come in many colors and can be customized to fit each unique home and space.

The Gray Hotel in Milan is a stunning modern building designed by Florence architect Guido Ciompi. There are countless things to love about the building and its furnishings, but these floating stairs stand out. Obviously, one would need to be very careful when ascending them after a night of drinking, but their clean lines and unique design are unforgettable.

London architect Alex Michaelis may have discovered the quickest way to get the kids to come down for dinner: let them slide down. Alex let his kids have some input as to what features they wanted in the house he was building, and the staircase slide was one of them. It may not be the most practical design ever, but when the kids are happy, everyone’s happy.

For everyone who has ever gotten around in a wheelchair or pushed around a baby stroller, you know how frustrating it is to encounter a building with stairs and no ramp. Almost as bad are the steep, poorly-designed ramps that were simply tacked on later. The McCormick Tribune Campus Center in Chicago made a stylish compromise between stairs and ramp with this staircase that incorporates a zig-zagging ramp with the stairs. Of course, it looks like it might take more energy making all of those twists and turns than it would to just go up an ordinary ramp, but aesthetically it’s very sharp.

Unlike other floating stairs, this staircase by Bernstein Architecture doesn’t rely on wall brackets to support the steps. Instead, it uses a network of cables to hold each one aloft and completely motionless. According to the architect, the stairs don’t move even a little when they’re stepped on, even though they’re subject to very heavy traffic in their home inside the There TV office in Chicago.

While such a precarious-looking alternating tread stair design would probably never pass building code in America, this ingenious bookshelf staircase makes very good use of a small space. It comes from Czech architects Adam Jirkal, Jerry Koza and Tomáš Kalhous and resides in a house they remodeled in Všenory, Czech Republic.

disappearing staircase aaron tang

When are stairs more like a door? When they glide smoothly into the wall, disappearing to prevent unwanted guests from wandering up to your home’s upper level. Though it’s just a concept, this disappearing staircase from designer Aaron Tang would be the perfect addition to any international spy’s house. It operates on interior pistons that drive the whole assembly out from the wall, then help each stair lower gently in a wave-like motion. The touch of a button opens or closes the stairs from either end of the staircase.

villa glittenberg floating stairs

These stairs reside in Villa Glittenberg, a family home on the west coast of Norway built by Saunders Architecture. The staircase is made of 1 cm-thick steel and weighs close to one metric ton. It is so massive that it had to be lifted into the home through a skylight with a special crane. The results are simply stunning, though, as the white stairs hovers above the ground and the residents seem to float up to the upper level.

gamper martino hidden staircase storage

Martino Gamper produces consistently elegant and distinctive custom furniture, and this under-staircase storage drawer system is a testament to his ability. In this beautiful English country home, Gamper installed an ingenious hidden storage staircase to give the occupants more room for storage and to use up some previously forgotten wasted space.

16th ave tiled steps san francisco

In the summer of 2005, the residents of the Golden Gates Heights neighborhood banded together to make a unique and long-lasting public art project: the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps. The risers of all 163 stairs (on city property) were decorated with mosaics that neighborhood volunteers assembled. The resulting mural is absolutely breathtaking, covering images from deep in the sea to high in the sky.

cherry tree wooden library stairs

These wooden library stairs are rich, full of character, and absolutely beautiful. The slats are made from spalted white birch and they were all cut from the same log. The cherry tree in the center is real, and it goes through the ceiling to emerge on the upper floor as the staircase’s newel post. The steel supports and mahogany handrails just add to the luxurious feeling of this amazing staircase.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Amazing canned food art sculptures

There’s often a large amount of difference between community service and innovative design. Canstruction is an annual event that’s aimed at changing that. The design event is held in cities all around North America, Australia and across the world. Over an 8-12 week period, teams of engineers, architects and students band together to create fascinating and amazing sculptures out of thousands of cans of food.

Following a public exhibit of the sculptures, all of the food is donated to local food pantries and shelters. Created in 1992 by the Society of Design Administration, Canstruction has collected over ten million pounds of food. More than 130 local competitions are expected to be held in the 2009/2010 season.

These amazing structures really are feats of engineering. The competition lets top architects and engineers show off their design skills to a huge audience while doing something good for the poor in their city. Canstruction is sponsored by contributions from local associations in every city, and visitors are invited to make additional donations of canned food or cash when coming to see the exhibit.

But more than being a great art exhibit, a chance for engineers and strut their stuff and a unique philanthropic project, the Canstruction sculptures are an innovative way to create low-waste, ecologically friendly art. The materials used don’t create an additional negative environmental impact and just go to show that incredible things can be made from ordinary, everyday materials.

Canstruction builds are often community events, with spectators being invited to watch the structures go together. The Super Bowl XLII Host Committee invited Canstruction to build two Giants helmets as part of the 2008 Super Bowl weekend festivities, and families were invited to watch it take place. Canstruction sculptures have also appeared at major events like Oddysey of the Mind, the NeoCon World’s Trade Fair and various conferences and gatherings around the world.

Source: via neatorama

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Kim Clijsters "YOU" Magazine photo shoot part 3 & 4

Here is part 3 and part 4 of the photo shoot Kim did recently for U.K.'s Women's Magazine "You".

This time posing with her adorable daughter Jada and husband Brian.

Love the kiss Jada gives Kim at the end. Awww.

And her saying cheese while in her parents arms. So cute :).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In-depth Kim Clijsters interview

Kim Clijsters had been home from New York for just a few days when her 18-month-old daughter, Jada, slipped into the back garden without her noticing. Only the sound of Jada’s happy gurgles outside the back door alerted Kim to her whereabouts.

As her mother approached, Jada flashed an angelic smile and waved the dog food clutched in her tiny hands. Kim recalls the moment with an embarrassed laugh. ‘I thought to myself, “What sort of mother am I?”’

As she speaks, I notice children’s books written in English and Flemish littering the dining room table, along with a new consignment of wrapped tennis shirts from her Italian sponsor. Unwittingly, she has neatly presented me with the twin facets of her life: mother and world class tennis champion, ranked most definitely in that order.

Kim, 26, is wearing jeans and her hair is still damp from the shower after a hard training session as she warmly welcomes me into her house in Bree, the Belgian town where she grew up as the eldest daughter of Leo Clijsters, an acclaimed international footballer. Upstairs, Jada is having her afternoon nap oblivious to her role in her mother’s story, and the fright and relief she caused her.

When Kim won the US Open in September, she became the first mother to triumph at a major tennis championship since Evonne Goolagong was crowned Wimbledon champion 29 years ago. Motherhood has been good for other sportswomen: Paula Radcliffe won the New York marathon ten months after having her daughter, Isla, while Scottish golfer Catriona Matthew captured the women’s British Open championship this summer when her second daughter was just ten weeks old.

‘I think motherhood makes you mentally stronger, not necessarily physically stronger,’ says Kim. Incredibly, she had played just two warm-up tournaments after coming out of retirement, and Jada’s unexpected appearance on court alongside her mother at the presentation ceremony brought the house down.

‘I was more proud of seeing Jada there than I was of winning,’ says Kim. ‘There’s nothing better than being a mother. No win, or trophy, can come even close.’

Life has been kind to Kim; and it has been devastatingly cruel, too. In her time away from the sport – almost two and a half years – she had married her American boyfriend, Brian Lynch, a basketball player, and given birth to Jada.

But her happiness was brutally tempered when, at the beginning of last year, it was discovered that her father (who had split from Kim’s mother in 2005) had terminal cancer. Kim and her younger sister, Elke, nursed him at a farmhouse Kim owns, close to her own home, until his death in January this year, aged just 52. ‘I was eight months pregnant when he rang to tell me he had cancer,’ says Kim.

‘When he told us that the doctors had no cure for his illness, it was such a confusing time for me. I was carrying a new life inside me and I was also being confronted with death. I would have done anything for him. He was given just three months to live, but he was determined to stay alive as long as he could to see his first grandchild. He did that…’

Momentarily, her voice trembles with emotion. ‘Sorry,’ she whispers. Her father’s presence is all around us in the living room where we are talking. His ashes are kept here in an urn, surrounded by family photos and a solitary rose, withered through age.

‘Dad was able to give Elke away when she got married in the summer of 2008,’ says Kim, pointing to a photograph of him proudly escorting Elke into church.

‘He looks so well, doesn’t he? I’m happy for that last year we had with him. He never went to hospital. He had always said that one day he wanted to live in my farmhouse, so when he was sick he moved there. If you have to say goodbye to someone I wish everyone could have it this way.

‘Before, I didn’t know if I would be capable of being part of a situation like this, but we were with him until the last second. It was very personal, very intimate. Dad was peaceful, and he looked at ease. It is comforting afterwards to know all that.’

Last month, Elke had her first child, a boy named Cruz Leo. Kim is his godmother. ‘I cried when he was born,’ she says. ‘My sister means everything to me. It’s special that her baby is named after Dad. He knows, for sure. It’s hard to explain; he may no longer be with us, but we still feel he’s a part of what we do.’

Kim explains what she means by telling me about something that happened at the US Open. She had been growing increasingly nervous as her courtesy car driver took her from her Manhattan hotel to the Flushing Meadows tennis facility, across the East River in the borough of Queens, for her semifinal match with world number one Serena Williams. Kim had already beaten Venus Williams in the fourth round, but Serena was the defending champion and, through wild weather disrupting the programme, Kim had not played for four days.

That was plenty of time for the match to play on her mind. Then, the car radio came alive to the unmistakable sound of soul singer Barry White.

‘Barry White was Dad’s favourite, and he had asked us to play that same song at the service we held at the crematorium,’ she explained. ‘I called my sister in Belgium, almost crying, and said: “Elke, listen!” Some might say it was a coincidence, but at the time I felt it was a message telling me I’d be OK.’

Serena became Kim’s sixth victim when she was punished a penalty point after cursing a lineswoman for calling a foot fault against her. As the foot fault had given Kim match point, Serena was out of the tournament.

‘I was so focused on the match, I had no idea what had happened,’ says Kim, clearly the better player on the night. Without a world ranking, and only in the tournament due to a ‘wild card’ invitation from the organisers of the US Open out of respect for Kim being a former champion, the Belgian had astounded conventional wisdom by reaching the final against Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki.

On the morning of her biggest match in four years, and her greatest-ever challenge, Kim calmly took Jada for a walk in Central Park in her buggy; a first for any woman finalist at the US Open.

‘Jada needed some fresh air, and it was helpful not to have the match on my mind,’ says Kim. She adds, laughing: ‘It was great to have hotel room service again, as at home I seem to be tidying up, changing nappies, or preparing food, from the moment Jada wakes up!’

Her husband Brian, who willingly surrendered the final year of his contract with a Belgian basketball club in March, in order to accompany Kim on the comeback trail, recalls: ‘Kim still had to take care of herself, eat properly and go to bed early during the tournament. But within all this, there’s her little girl making her laugh and me cracking jokes, or whatever. We were there to make sure that it wasn’t all business.’ Kim won the final in straight sets.

‘I don’t think any of us would have believed this could happen until it was over,’ says Brian. ‘It was a beautiful moment for us all. Kim deserved it. I know what she went through with her dad; and I know how hard she worked to get herself in shape. I am so proud of her.’

On the night she won the US Open, and received a $1.6 million (£970,000) pay day, Kim queued at 2.30am in a pizza parlour in a sleazy neighbourhood near Times Square. With Brian and her support team of Wim Fissette (coach), Sam Verslegers (osteopath and physiotherapist), Bob Verbeeck (business manager) and John Dolan (PR), she ate pizza and drank champagne at a nearby bar, still dressed in the tracksuit she had left the stadium wearing.

‘Nothing else was open by the time we had returned to our hotel,’ she says, laughing. Jada’s nanny Nicole Thijs had long since put Jada to bed in her cot at the hotel.

Two days after she returned to Bree, Kim was guest of honour at a reception at the town hall. After the formalities, she addressed a crowd of almost 7,000 well-wishers from a stage in the square; and then ordered drinks all round at her expense. The bill came to almost 710,000 (£9,000). ‘It was the least I could do,’ she said. ‘People had stayed up all night to watch some of my matches. I went to school here. I go to the supermarket, or the butcher, and it’s no big deal as everyone knows me.’

Her grandparents live two doors from her house, and her father’s home had been 200 metres up the street. ‘I had this house from when I was 16,’ explains Kim, who has won almost $16.5 million (£10 million) prize money in her career.

Next month, the house will begin to have a dramatic makeover when she goes to Australia, with Brian and Jada, to prepare for the next major tournament, the Australian Open in mid-January. ‘I want to make the house more personal, as it’s been like this since I was a teenager when it was originally designed,’ she says.

Kim and Brian want more children, but there is no rush, as she embarks on what she calls ‘my second career’. Winning Wimbledon is a goal; not least because that was the tournament her father loved the most. ‘We always rented a house there together and, as a football player, he loved the fact Wimbledon is played on grass!’ she says.

Kim admits that her part in the historic exhibition match, with Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf and Tim Henman, when the All England Club tried out the new Centre Court roof in May, had a profound impact on her decision to return to tennis. ‘When the invitation came from Wimbledon, that was when a switch in my head made me think about making a comeback,’ she says.

She intensified her training as her appetite for the game returned. ‘By the time I retired in April 2007, I cried after every match even if I’d won,’ she explains. ‘I strongly felt I needed a change. I didn’t want to be away from Brian for six weeks – and I couldn’t wait to be a mum.’

As she cuddles Jada, Kim knows she is holding something more precious than any one of the enormous collection of silverware kept out of sight in her basement. ‘I couldn’t play tennis if Jada wasn’t happy, if it was hard on her, or Brian,’ she says. ‘I love my sport, and I train hard. I hope I am showing that you can have your own life and still be a good mother and a good wife. But I won’t risk my family life falling apart for my tennis. Tennis would go!’

Kim Clijsters has proved herself to be an inspirational, well-balanced woman in her dual life as a mother and champion; just as her dearly missed father would have wanted.

(pictures from "YOU" Magazine included in the article)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

DWTS 9: Finals pt. 2

Well, after ten exciting weeks we've come to the end of yet another season.

Tonight's conclusion reunited contestants from past and present season's.

I particularly enjoyed Mark and Chuck showing off their martial arts skills on the dance floor. Very fun. Loved Mark and Melissa's Salsa.

Those two are a great pair.

Could have done without Steve Wozniak, or Cloris Leachman (too much of her shtick can get old real fast).

Louie & Chelsie returned to the dance floor to the tune of Donny Osmand's "Puppy Love" with Donny himself doing the honors.

Those two still are the epitome of cuteness :). Also this has to be said, boy has Louie been working out, the boy has some major guns!.

Aaron & Karina did their Kermit the frog routine (aka the Jive). Still as enjoyable as the first time they did it. I'm glad Aaron got something out of the whole experience.

Hopefully it'll keep him on the straight and narrow.

Next it was time for the top 3 to reprise their best dances. Kelly & Louis did one of my faves the Viennese Waltz.

Kelly looked as graceful and fluid as the first time she performed it, only this time she had a new found confidence as well.

She really has come a long way, and it's been an absolute pleasure watching her transform.

But as we all know in a dance competition confidence can only get you so far.

She finished in 3rd place on the judges leader board. And was ultimately sent home. Congrats on a good run Kelly! :).

Mya & Dmitry reprised the Jive, showing once again why they deserved a spot in the finals. They came in 2nd score-wise.

Donny & Kym on the other hand did the Argentine Tango. Donny put his serious face and showmanship skills into full gear earning 1st place from the judges.

There was also a reprise of the Mumbo competition only with Jerry Springer, Steve Wozniak and Cloris Leachman.

The only season regulars were Derek and Joanna. I gotta admit the whole thing was pretty funny, especially when you add Tom Bergeron's running commentary of each dancer.

And how good was Whitney Houston tonight?. She may not be able to hit the really high notes anymore, but she still sounded great!.

As a long time fan of hers I'm very happy to see her looking healthy and enjoying life again. Her new album "I Look To You" is surprisingly good too.

But back to the results.

As predicted it was indeed a battle of fan bases rather then talent.

Donny's fan base won out over Mya's consistent excellence. Making him the champion in the end. Was anyone surprised?.

And that's all folks. Hope you enjoyed it as much as me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

DWTS 9: Week 10 Finals

Before I get on with tonight's re-cap I just have to say that I was not at all happy with last week's results.

Though I feared that Joanna's fan base may not be as large as Donny and Kelly's I still hoped she would somehow make it through (solely on her dancing skills).

But alas it was not to be.

Kelly & Louis
started the night off with an Argentine Tango that made me glad she made it all the way to the end.

It was sharp, and in character through-out, something she has been lacking in most of her routines.

Len loved it, Bruno wanted a little more sizzle and Carrie Ann (who came in to give them pointers during their training) thought it was a really good sophisticated routine.

All of them agreed that Kelly (who unlike the remaining competitors) has no dance training is the most improved one this season.

Have to agree 100%. Being on this show has really made her come out of her shell. It's been really fun watching her become more confident as the show progressed. Her final score was 26/30.

Dmitry & Mya did a Paso Doble the judges thought was worthy of a perfect score. Carrie Ann dubbed her the 'queen of Paso Doble'.

Len (who came in to give the two pointers) thought it equalled Mel B.'s and Max's (of season 5). I have to disagree.

While I did think it had the right intensity and all the right steps, it was no where near Mel and Max's power charged Paso.

Donny & Kym Ok, I'm with Carrie Ann on this one where did the sudden hip movement ability come from Donny?. Kudos!.

You've proved you can Cha Cha with the best of them (Bruno must have given you some very good pointers!). He earned himself 27/30.

Next it was time for something new. A mega mix group dance where all the contestants danced 3 different styles side by side for judges points.

Donny & Kym did the Viennese Waltz earning them 2nd place with 28 points.
Kelly & Luis came in 3rd with 26 points for their Jive.
Unsurprisingly Mya and Dmitry won 1st place and the most points (30) for their Samba.

Then it was time for my favourite part (and the reason I watch this show to the very end), the free-style.

Kelly & Louis were up first with their dance. Kelly had a slight fumble, but covered it well by enjoying the heck out of it.

Which is another positive progress point. Had this happened a few weeks ago I'm sure she would have either completely frozen, or forgotten half the steps.

Instead she recovered and moved right along. Her recovery skills weren't enough to garner her high scores however. She only received 24 for an overall total of 76/90.

Mya & Dmitry's "Hair Spray" inspired free-style disappointed the judges. Which I had a feeling might happen since I read somewhere that many people expect Kelly to be the winner.

Still it didn't prepare me for the lackluster feeling I got from watching their routine.

I think the judges and myself expected something mind blowingly awesome (a little bit more risk with the tricks and flips perhaps).

What we got instead was a complete bore-fest choreography-wise. Which is exactly why I'm still pissed Derek didn't make the finals.

I know he would have come up with something much more worthy of one. I have a feeling it would have been something akin to season 5's Helio Castronevez "Mask" inspired number on the excitement scale.

I think Dmitry is going to regret not going with Mya's choreography idea instead of his.

With all that said they still got 27/30 and an overall total of 87/90 putting them at the top of the leader board. But will it be enough to get them the trophy?.

Donny & Kym's traditional Jazz/Vegas inspired free-style finally got them a perfect score, and nothing but praise from the judges. An overall score of 85/90 put them in second place on the board.

Once again I thought it looked very good but seemed to lack a certain something, and as a result felt kind of blah. Sorry Kim, guess I'm just not gonna get over Derek getting the boot one week shy of the finals.

It's really anyone's guess as to who the winner will be. But I have a feeling it'll come down to who has the biggest fan base rather then who is the better dancer.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Yawning may be rude, but it's good for you!

By Danielle Winston, Natural Solutions

Afraid to risk rudeness and let out a hearty yawn? Well, here’s an excuse to give Miss Manners a hissy fit: According to neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, MD, director of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania, yawning is one of the best-kept health secrets. “If you want to maintain an optimum healthy brain, it is essential that you yawn,” says Newberg.

The action stimulates neural movement in certain areas of the mind and regulates brain temperature and metabolism–all of which can increase muscle control, enhance sensuality, and even ward off jet lag. Newberg suggests yawning 10 times in a row every day, along with your regular workout or wellness routine.

A nightly yawning ritual can help you:

Chill out. Newberg says a good yawn can relax you more effectively than meditation. “More than simply calming the body, yawning brings the mind into a heightened state of cognitive functioning.”

Stay focused. “Yawning rids the brain of sleepiness, helping you keep your attention on important ideas and concepts,” says Newberg. So why do we start yawning before we hit the sack? Because it also helps regulate our internal clock: When we’re tired, yawning signals sleep.

Be more compassionate. Studies show yawning stimulates the part of the brain responsible for generating empathy and social awareness. So intentional yawning may actually strengthen our ability to be kind to others.


Wow, gotta say I never realized how useful this simple body function actually was.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Evan Rachel Wood "Love Me, Chase Me" video

Evan Rachel Wood joins the band Carney in their video for their newest single, “Love Me, Chase Me.”

The 22-year-old actress, who showed off her juggling skills in the behind-the-scenes video below, plays a fire breather named Lady Vilette who seduces a tiger tamer.

“They have this love/hate relationship,” Evan said, “hence ‘Love Me, Chase Me’.”

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kim Clijsters "YOU" photo shoot part 2

Kim Clijsters posing for YOU magazine

Kim Clijsters will grace the cover of the UK's most widely read women's magazine YOU, which will hit stands November 22.

Here is the second of five sneak previews of the photo shoot on her YouTube channel.

Source: womenstennisblog

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Roger Federer on fatherhood and life with 2 twin daughters

Rich or poor, famous or humble, young or old, men are apparently the same the world over. Roger Federer, whose wife Mirka gave birth to twin daughters three months ago, knows, like most males, that when it comes to dealing with babies who cry in the middle of the night, the job is best left to an expert.

"Mirka gets up more," Federer admits. "She's quick on her feet. I sleep very deeply, which actually helps me to sleep through some screaming."

Do Charlene Riva and Myla Rose wake up much during the night? "Sure. If one sleeps the other one's awake. That would be too nice of them to be asleep at the same time! They don't sleep through yet. There were times, especially at the beginning, when I woke up and helped as well. Now I think we've got into the right habits. During the day I try to help as much as I can."

Federer does "a bit of everything", including feeding the babies and changing nappies, but adds: "For Mirka, the most important thing is just that I'm there. She doesn't care too much if I change nappies or feed them. She just wants me to hold them as much as possible, because we both believe it's very important that mum and dad are both there as much as possible."

Few sportsmen and women have to travel as far and as frequently as tennis players. Federer and family were on the road within a fortnight of the twins' births, heading for Montreal, Cincinnati and New York.

"I knew that trip would give me some idea of how possible it would be to travel," Federer says. "What I have realised is that travelling with babies isn't the most difficult thing in the world. The twins are very good travellers. Of course we'd never put their health at risk for anything, because that's what's most important, but it's been fun, travelling in a big group, as a family. I'm happy because it was the way I expected it to be. I expected some more screaming along the way in planes and everything, but it's been really easy.

"We were a bit surprised when we learned that Mirka was going to have twins, and we were maybe a touch worried that it would be really difficult and stressful, but so far it's been really easy. I think we've had the right approach. Mirka is very laid-back and I'm also a calm person, so I think all of that enabled us to handle the situation."

Federer is talking at Roland Garros, home of the French Open, where he practised during last week's Masters tournament, staged on the other side of Paris. The most remarkable year of even his remarkable life will finish, in sporting terms, next week in London at the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which start at the O2 Arena on Sunday.

It is a year that began in tears after his defeat to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open, and saw Federer marry his long-term girlfriend, become the father of twins, complete his set of major triumphs by winning the French Open, win an all-time record 15th Grand Slam tournament with his sixth Wimbledon title and reclaim his world No 1 ranking.

It could not be finishing in more appropriate fashion. "This is an amazing trip for me," Federer says. "It only really came to my mind when I was playing in Basel. I thought to myself: 'I'm playing here at home in Basel, where I grew up, then I'm going to Paris, where I won the French Open for the first time, then I'm going to London, where I won Wimbledon.' It's really inspirational to come back to places where you have so many memories – and these three tournaments definitely have that. These are good times."

No wonder he is in a relaxed mood as he sits back in his chair. Before the ATP Masters, the Swiss took a six-week break from tennis, before returning to a competition in his home city of Basel. Federer rarely gives the impression that he is anything but calmness personified, but the time he has been able to spend recently with his family back in Switzerland seems to have left him particularly mellow.

What was a typical day for an extraordinary family during his break? "I was just happy to be at home. We really had no plans. Friends would come over to see the babies and we would hang out with them – it was those kind of days. It's what you sometimes look forward to during the year – not having something to do at two o'clock, four o'clock, six o'clock. If we were in the mood to go out, we did.

"I tried to spend as much time as possible with the babies because I know there will be a time when we're travelling, like we are right now, and we're at the tennis, doing interviews and practising, and can't be with them."

The time at home was also beneficial from a sporting standpoint. "Babies or not, I needed that break, mentally and physically, to recuperate from a tough year," Federer says. "From Miami all the way through to the US Open was a tough stretch with a lot of emotions – getting married, expecting the births, was all energy-consuming. On top of that I had so much success, so it was a lot of things at once. But I feel like I'm refreshed again. That's great. Spending some time with the babies in a completely private way was key. I'm lucky in that I haven't spent one day apart from them yet."

Federer will go into the end-of-season finale in better shape than 12 months ago, when he had a back problem and then fell ill. He estimates that he was feeling "only at 50 per cent well" – for a while he could not even bend down to tie up his laces – and went out at the round-robin stage, ending a run of five successive appearances in the final. The knock-out blow was delivered by Andy Murray, who gave everything in a three-hour thriller that probably scuppered his own chances of beating Nikolay Davydenko in the semi-finals the following day.

Had Murray's determination to send Federer packing come as a surprise, given that the Scot had already qualified and did not need the win? "You've seen me play many dead rubbers over the years and you don't just give them away," Federer smiles. "There are too many points involved and maybe too much money. There's too much at stake, too much pride as well. Why just lose against a main rival if you don't have to? I was vulnerable and he knew that."

That result was the second of four successive defeats to Murray. When Federer ended the sequence at their most recent meeting, in Cincinnati in August, the Swiss seemed particularly fired up, although he insists: "I always have the same hunger to beat players. I'm not one for revenge, even if many people like to build that up."

There have been times, nevertheless, when Murray, a classic counter-attacker, has appeared to get under Federer's skin. After losing in Dubai last year Federer said he was surprised Murray's game had not developed and that he would "have to grind very hard for the next few years if he's going to keep playing this way."

However, Federer believes he copes with opponents like Murray better than he did in his early days against men like Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian. "I had a lot of trouble against those baseliners early on just because they were too consistent. They could always get one more ball back. Maybe they didn't have the best serve, but I wasn't the best return player, so I couldn't take advantage. My serve wasn't solid enough yet, so I would always get tangled up in those horrible baseline rallies.

"Murray can still do that to some degree, but when I play too well or too offensively I can take time away from him now. And I'm too physical, whereas in the beginning I couldn't do that. I couldn't get around backhands like I can now. Now I can mix up my game too well for him to get under my skin.

"I know what I can do and I know what he can do. When we both play well it's a close match, but I always feel it's the attacker who holds the key to success, so it's up to me whether I win or lose, not up to him. That's why I don't mind the match-up, to be honest.

"It's like when [Pete] Sampras

and [Andre] Agassi played. Agassi was more aggressive [than most counter-attackers], but still Sampras held the key because he was serving, pushing the limits, taking the risks. Which Murray doesn't do so much – though that doesn't take anything away from Murray. That's just his game style.

"Everybody has his own game and you can't change the way you play. It's just something you're born with. He comes to the net more, for instance, than other players. I think if you look closely, every player needs to have something aggressive in his game to play well. If you want to be a top player you need to have offensive skills."

Is he surprised that, at 22, Murray has not yet won his first Grand Slam title? "How old was I?" says Federer. He was 21. "I'm not that surprised. How many serious chances has he had to win a Slam now? Maybe six, when he's been a real contender? Before that it would have been a bit of a surprise.

"It's not that easy. I was favourite to win the French Open in 2003 and I lost in the first round in straight sets. He's done better than I did! Of course I never expected to be as dominant or as good after that, but sometimes you just have to wait and see. But at the same time he's come close a couple of times. He made the final against me [at the 2008 US Open] and the semi-finals at Wimbledon, and was able to handle the pressure there. I think he's not far off."


Gotta love the polite way he disses Murray. Swiss diplomacy at it's best.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Roger Federer teams up with Credit Suisse

Seems Roger's endoresment deals continue to increase. First Lindt chocolates now this:

Monday, November 16, 2009

DWTS 9: Week 9 Semi Finals

The 4 remaining couples duked it out tonight with not 2, but 3 challenging routines.

The first time this has ever been done in all the years of the show.

As I did for season 8 I will recap in order of couples instead of appearances this time. So here we go.

Donny & Kym were first up with a Tango which Donny said he wanted to make people uncomfortable with.

He accomplished just that, it was uncomfortable, but unfortunately not in a good way.

It lacked passion and due to Kym getting tangled in her dress it was rittled with mistakes from the get go.

I think doing 3 dances in one night got a little too much for him. The judges awarded him 21/30.

He redeemed himself with the Samba for which he got a 26/30.

Bruno and Len both thought it was effortless, carefree, and fun. Carrie Ann thought it was better then his first dance, but felt a little sloppy.

For their 3rd knockout dance Donny and Kim chose the Jitterbug.

Which was as Bruno put it full of vigor. It earned them 27/30.

That give them an overall total of 74/90 placing them at the bottom of the judges leader board.

And though I praise Donny immensely for his effort in the past 8 weeks, I don't think what he did tonight was enough to deserve a spot in next weeks final.

Although with his large fan base it may happen anyway.

Derek & Joanna Viennese Waltz was the epitome of fluidity and grace. It was like watching poetry in motion, or as Bruno put it the grace of angels in heaven.

The dress was equally as beautiful. And though the judges were quite pleased it still came short of perfection at 27/30.

The Cha Cha was next Carrie Ann loved Joanna's solo. Len thought it was crisp and clean but could have been more cheeky (I agree).

Bruno praised her achievement of very high standards throughout the competition. She earned a 27/30 for her efforts.

The Salsa was their 3rd dance of choice. Bruno thought it was delicious and flirtatious, Len said it was tasty and full of spice.

Carrie Ann spared us more food metaphors, and instead said she would love to see Joanna in the final. I agree with her. The overall score of 81/90 put them in second place.

I don't know about the rest of America, but I for one would very much like to see what Derek has up his sleeve for the freestyle in the finals. So vote, vote, vote!.

Kelly & Louis started things off with the Rumba. Which Kelly was very excited about. The routine looked very diffucult and though it didn't blow me away I thought she did it justice.

I thought she really came out of her shell for the second dance, the Quickstep.

It was outstanding, and possibly one of her best dances in the competition.

The scores reflected that with her highest score thus far 27/30.

For her final dance Kelly did the Cha Cha. Bruno thought it was a quickie, but effective nonetheless.

Carrie Ann thought she had a great night, and Len said she danced all 3 at an equally high level.
She received 27/30. And their combined overall score was 78/90.

She has really gone through a transformation, and come a long way in the last few weeks and throughout the course of the season.

I hope the American public gives her a chance to battle it out for the mirror ball trophy. She deserves it.

Mya & Dmitry danced the Waltz for their first round which was as smooth and effortless as ever. Len loved it.

Bruno thought it was love set to music. Carrie Ann (ever the party pooper) thought they broke their hold a little. Despite that they still got a total of 28/30.

For round two Mya danced what Bruno called a sansational Salsa. It was everything a Salsa should be so it's no surprise that she received a perfect score.

They ended the night with a Cha Cha that got them 29/30.

Pretty much cementing a place in the final, and in turn setting themselves apart and making sure the other two couples (whoever they will be) will have to work their butts off if they want to win.

With an overall score of 87/90 everyone else has their work cut out for them.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kim Clijsters "YOU" Magazine photo shoot sneak peek

Click Here for a sneak preview of Kim Clijsters posing for a photo shoot for the UK’s most widely read women’s magazine YOU!

The feature issue with Kim on the cover is due out on November 22.

This is part 1 of a 5 part preview leading up to the release. We will be adding the rest of the links to the videos as soon as they are available…

Video: Kim Clijsters Photo Shoot for You! Magazine Behind the Scenes

Can't wait to see the actual pics! :).

Source: WTA Women's Tennis Blog

Friday, November 13, 2009

The day of superstition

Today marks the third time this year the 13th has fallen on a Friday. That's the most possible in a year, and something that happens just once every 11 years or so.

Fear of the 13th is called -- are you ready for this? --paraskavedekatriaphobia. It prompts millions of people to avoid travel, surgery and important business. Henry Ford, Napoleon and FDR had it, the Associated Press says.

"FDR would not depart on a (train) trip on the 13th," said Thomas Fernsler, a University of Delaware mathematician who has studied the number enough to earn the moniker "Dr. 13." The former president would order the train to leave the station before midnight on the 12th or after midnight on the morning of the 14th.

The phobia around the 13th is a cousin to triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13. The supposedly unlucky number, triskaidekaphobes say, is the reason behind the explosion of Apollo 13, which took off at exactly 1:13 p.m. (1313 military time) on 4/11/70 (digits that add up to 13).

The origin of these phobias? No one knows for sure. Some trace it to Jesus, who was crucified on a Friday after a Last Supper attended by 13 people. Or to Norse mythology when the mischievous Loki crashed a party of 12 gods at Valhalla. Or maybe it's just because it comes after 12 -- a good number. Think 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel and 12 apostles of Jesus.

There's one place where Friday the 13th may actually be lucky: Wall Street. Stocks have risen by an average of 0.04 % on each of the past 185 Friday the 13ths, according to the Bespoke Investment Group, a Harrison, N.Y.-based investment research firm. That's double the average 0.02% daily gain, but a little worse than other Fridays.

Source: usatoday

Fox gives Joss Whedon's 'Dollhouse' the boot :(

This has been a busy week for cancellations. The latest addition to the TV graveyard: Dollhouse.

According to multiple insiders, Fox has informed Joss Whedon that it will not be ordering additional installments of his low-rated drama beyond the current 13-episode order. On the bright side, the network still plans to burn off the remaining unaired episodes beginning in December. Hey, it’s something.

Dollhouse has been averaging a mere 3 million viewers this season. Last season — when fan support, together with significant budget cuts, helped it to get an odds-defying second-year pickup — the show averaged 4.7 million.

Bottom line: Dollhouse is lucky it ever saw a second season. Remember that when you’re posting your eulogies below.

UPDATE: Whedon just posted the following statement on “I don’t have a lot to say. I’m extremely proud of the people I’ve worked with: my star, my staff, my cast, my crew. I feel the show is getting better pretty much every week, and I think you’ll agree in the coming months. I’m grateful that we got to put it on, and then come back and put it on again. I’m off to pursue Internet ventures/binge drinking. Possibly that relaxation thing I’ve read so much about. By the time the last episode airs, you’ll know what my next project is. But for now, there’s a lot of work still to be done, and disappointment to bear. Thank you all for your support, your patience, your excellent adverts. See you again.”


Let's face it as much as I didn't want this to happen I knew it was only a matter of time.

It's too bad though once again a brilliant show got killed before it really got the chance to hit it's stride.

At least Fox is actually airing the rest of the eps that were filmed, that's something to be grateful for I guess.

Whatever Joss plans to do next I hope it doesn't involve anything with Fox.

Psst, Joss here is an idea next time screw the networks and just go with cable ;).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Celine Dion miscarries

By The Canadian Press MONTREAL - Celine Dion has lost her baby.

A spokeswoman for the pop star has confirmed that Dion's pregnancy - which she announced in August - has failed.

The couple had its first child with the help of fertility treatments, she became pregnant again with the help of the same technology, and the couple has kept trying despite the latest setback.

Dion tried fertility treatment last month, but that didn't work, and she will make another attempt at getting pregnant this weekend in New York.

Dion's husband Rene Angelil has told a newspaper that he and Dion are disappointed but determined, and that they take comfort in the fact they already have one child.

Dion, 41, and Angelil 67, have an eight-year-old son Rene-Charles.

Source: Yahoo News

My deepest condolences to Celine and her family.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Martina Hingis Belgium Gucci Masters


If Martina keeps going and turns professional I may have to start watching horse competitions.

Who would have thunk it.

Monday, November 09, 2009

DWTS 9: Week 8 Ballroom & Latin Rounds

And then there were 5.

Hard to believe we're nearing the semi-finals already. This season the weeks seem to have flown by at break-neck speed!.

With the competition winding down, and 2 dances each the pressure was on big time.

Ballroom Round

Mya & Dmitry got the night started with a Quick step that the judges thought was perfection. It certainly looked good to me!.

Giving them a near perfect score of 29/30. And putting Mya back on the top of the leader board.

This may be a tad presumptuous of me, but I think she's headed for the finals (in fact I'll be shocked if she doesn't make it).

Aaron & Karina were next on the floor with the Foxtrot. Carrie Ann and Bruno thought it wasn't fluid/smooth enough. Len opted for some encouragement instead.

They got a 23/30 for their efforts (so a real drop from the high of last week)

I have to give huge credit to Karina for continuing to dance (instead of pawning Aaron on to someone else) despite fighting the flu that has been circulating around.

DWTS has become a petri dish of germs.

Germs that are getting to them all one by one. I think it's a real good thing we're nearing the end, so all these guys can go home and get some proper rest and nourishment.

Derek & Joanna's Quick step failed to impress the judges (and me).

It was her weakest performance (her first weak performance really), but thankfully she made up for it in the Latin Round.

Their scores were the same as Aaron's and Karina's.

Kelly & Louis danced the Foxtrot.

Kelly has finally learned to relax and enjoy the experience rather then stress out over perfecting the steps. It's nice to see her looking comfortable out there. It's really helped her dancing in the last couple of weeks.

Their score was one point higher then last week 25/30.

Donny & Kym ended the Ballroom Round with an elegant Viennese Waltz. Carrie Ann and Bruno really liked it (and thought his posture has really improved). I agree.

Len thought the whole thing was too arty farty (whatever that means *lol*). End result?. 26/30. Not bad.

Latin Round

Ok, can I just say the decade theme latin dances is exactly the reason I love this style of dance, and why I continue to watch this show. Absolute fun!. I hope they bring it back next year.

Mya & Dmitry's 70's Samba (complete with 70's wardrobe) made the judges jump for joy. Earning them the first perfect 30 of the season.

I agree with Carrie Ann after this dance Mya has finally proven she actually wants to win this whole thing. Well done!.

Aaron & Karina's 90's Samba allowed him to put all his extra energy to good use. And got him a better score of 27/30 in the process.

Though I really could have done without the "throw up" comment thank you very much.

We know you're sick Aaron no need to over share as Tom Bergeron so aptly put it.

Derek & Joanna redeemed themselves with a futuristic Paso Doble that was literally out of this world (in a good way).

Definitely one of the most unique pieces of choreography I've seen Derek do in all 9 years of the show.

To paraphrase Len and Bruno it was genius. Pure genius. Bravo Mr. Hough!.

Kelly & Louis' 60's Jive was right up their alley. As soon as I saw the doll prop I expected Len to have a conniption fit, but Carrie Ann beat him to it instead.

Well, ok it wasn't quite that bad she just thought the prop was part of the dance for bit longer then necessary.

I'm actually inclined to agree with her, it seemed to detract from the routine. Their scores were fairly good 26/30.

Donny & Kym finished off the evening with one of my favourite dacades the 80's. An 80's Paso Doble to be precise.

The futuristic Paso was unique, this one was creepy verging on scary *lol*. And yet there was still something weirdly enjoyable about it *lol*.

The costumes were spot on. The scores weren't impressive however 24/30.

Landed them on the bottom along with Aaron & Karina and Joanna & Derek.

I'm not going to predict who goes this week, because I like them all too much to choose. Whoever does get the boot I'll be sad to see them go.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Kim Clijsters slams 'harsh' bans for fellow Belgians

BRUSSELS — Belgian star Kim Clijsters on Saturday slammed the "extremely harsh" sanctions imposed on compatriots Xavier Malisse and Yanina Wickmayer for missing drug tests.

US Open semi-finalist Wickmayer and Malisse were on Thursday handed one-year bans by the Flemish Doping Tribunal (VDT) for falling foul of doping regulations.

Wickmayer, the world number 18, was suspended for failing to fulfill the controversial "whereabouts rule" while Malisse was also punished for missing a drug test.

"To receive a one-year ban because of this seems extremely harsh and is potentially career-ending for both of them," US Open champion Clijsters said on her Twitter message system.

"While they may not have followed correct administration, they did not register a positive doping offence either.

"I feel I have to write about this. Its very, very unfortunate what's happened to Yanina and Xavier this week."

"I hope the authorities and athletes can work together on finding better solutions to keep our sports clean."

Both players can appeal against their suspensions to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Wickmayer was accused of failing on three occasions to fulfill the ADAMS (Anti-Doping Administration and Management System), under which athletes are obliged to tell national anti-doping authorities where they will be at a chosen hour each day for a three-month period.

Malisse was punished for missing a dope test and for twice failing to fulfill the ADAMS.

The sanctions came as a surprise as only last month it was expected that the two players would escape with just a reprimand.

The suspensions on Malisse and Wickmayer run until November 4, 2010.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said on Saturday that it backed the decision taken by the Belgian authorities.

"The ITF recognises and respects the decision of VDT, and shall take all steps necessary to enforce and give effect to it," said a statement.

Source: AFP

I'm with Kim on this one there's gotta be a better way for the players and ITF to work together on the drug issue.

The year long punishments are getting ridiculous (especially for something like missing the drug tests, I've never been a fan of the "whereabouts rule" ). Not to mention career killing.

Look at what happened to Martina Hingis, she would have played for at least a few more years had it not been for the ban.

I'm all for keeping the sport clean, but there's gotta be a better method.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Be a grump, it's good for you!

In a bad mood? Don't worry - according to research, it's good for you.

An Australian psychology expert who has been studying emotions has found being grumpy makes us think more clearly.

In contrast to those annoying happy types, miserable people are better at decision-making and less gullible, his experiments showed.

While cheerfulness fosters creativity, gloominess breeds attentiveness and careful thinking
, Professor Joe Forgas told Australian Science Magazine.

'Eeyore days'

The University of New South Wales researcher says a grumpy person can cope with more demanding situations than a happy one because of the way the brain "promotes information processing strategies".

He asked volunteers to watch different films and dwell on positive or negative events in their life, designed to put them in either a good or bad mood.

Next he asked them to take part in a series of tasks, including judging the truth of urban myths and providing eyewitness accounts of events.

Those in a bad mood outperformed those who were jolly - they made fewer mistakes and were better communicators.

Professor Forgas said: "Whereas positive mood seems to promote creativity, flexibility, co-operation and reliance on mental shortcuts, negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world."

The study also found that sad people were better at stating their case through written arguments, which Forgas said showed that a "mildly negative mood may actually promote a more concrete, accommodative and ultimately more successful communication style".

His earlier work shows the weather has a similar impact on us - wet, dreary days sharpened memory, while bright sunny spells make people forgetful.


Very insightful. Take that cheerful people! :P :D.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Song of the Moment: Hanson-Waiting For This

This song just makes me wanna get up and dance.

Can't wait for their new album!. Still a long way to go.