Scary one if you don’t like heights – Daredevil rope walker crosses China canyon (+video)

Daredevil rope walker crosses China canyon (+video)

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A US daredevil has crossed the Enshi Grand Canyon canyon in China’s Hubei Province on a rope just 2cm thick.


Slackline walker Dean Potter, who grew up in New Hampshire, traversed the 40m canyon at a height of 1800m above sea level, Chinese state media are reporting.

The feat was filmed and has been posted on YouTube.

Slackline walking is considered more challenging than tightrope walking, as the line is not held completely taut and is susceptible to stretching and bouncing.


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This Year the ‘A’ in Anzac Stands for Australian Ships

This Year the ‘A’ in Anzac Stands for Australian Ships


Media Advisory

24 April 2012 
This Year the ‘A’ in Anzac Stands for Australian Ships

Three Royal Australian Navy (RAN) ships are arriving at ports around New Zealand prior to Anzac Day, and members of their crews will march alongside New Zealand Defence Force personnel at commemorative services around the country.

The Royal New Zealand Navy’s Captain of Fleet Operational Support, Captain Jim Gilmour, says the visit by three Australian frigates – HMAS NEWCASTLE, HMAS PERTH and HMAS WARRAMUNGA – is a tangible expression of our ongoing close relationship with Australia.

“ANZAC Day will forever be a part of what it is to be a New Zealander or an Australian. It is particularly pleasing that this year in New Zealand, we are able to commemorate the sacrifices at Gallipoli with three Royal Australian Naval units,” says Captain Gilmour. “The values and bond between our countries was forged upon the Gallipoli Peninsula and as such, ANZAC is part of national identities.”

The visiting ships are:
o HMAS NEWCASTLE, an Adelaide Class Guided Missile Frigate, will be berthed at Queens Wharf in Auckland City over the period Tuesday 24 April to Sunday 29 April. Some of her 206 crew will be on parade for Anzac Day both at the Auckland and Devonport War Memorials. NEWCASTLE will fire blank rounds from her saluting guns, whilst at her berth in Auckland Harbour, during an official function on Thursday 26 April between 6pm and 8pm.

o HMAS PERTH is an Anzac Class Frigate, the same class as New Zealand’s own HMNZS TE MANA and TE KAHA. PERTH will be berthed in Wellington, at Queen’s Wharf from Sunday 22 April to Thursday 26 April.
o HMAS WARRAMUNGA is an Anzac Class Frigate (Helicopter) that was commissioned in to the Australian Navy in 2001. The ship and her crew of over 170 will visit the ports of Tauranga (24 – 28 April), Wellington (4 – 7 May) and Dunedin (11 – 14 May) during her time in New Zealand.

As it is an operational visit by the three RAN ships they will not be open to the public.





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How To Learn English !


April 18, 2012
Viewed 124 times.

How To Learn English!

Here are some tips which may help you to master the English Language!

Speak without Fear

The biggest problem most people face in learning a new language is their own fear.  They worry that they won’t say things correctly or that they will look stupid so they don’t talk at all.  Don’t do this.  The fastest way to learn anything is to do it – again and again until you get it right.  Like anything, learning English requires practice.  Don’t let a little fear stop you from getting what you want. 

Use all of your Resources

Even if you study English at a language school it doesn’t mean you can’t learn outside of class.  Using as many different sources, methods and tools as possible, will allow you to learn faster. There are many different ways you can improve your English, so don’t limit yourself to only one or two.  The internet is a fantastic resource for virtually anything, but for the language learner it’s perfect. 

Surround Yourself with English

The absolute best way to learn English is to surround yourself with it.  Take notes in English, put English books around your room, listen to English language radio broadcasts, watch English news, movies and television.  Speak English with your friends whenever you can. The more English material that you have around you, the faster you will learn and the more likely it is that you will begin “thinking in English.” .

Listen to Native Speakers as Much as Possible

There are some good English teachers that have had to learn English as a second language before they could teach it. However, there are several  reasons why many of the best schools prefer to hire native English speakers. One of the reasons is that native speakers have a natural flow to their speech that students of English should try to imitate.  The closer ESL / EFL students can get to this rhythm or flow, the more convincing and comfortable they will become. 

Watch English Films and Television

This is not only a fun way to learn but it is also very effective.  By watching English films (especially those with English subtitles) you can expand your vocabulary and hear the flow of speech from the actors.  If you listen to the news you can also hear different accents. 

Listen to English Music

Music can be a very effective method of learning English.  In fact, it is often used as a way of improving comprehension.  The best way to learn though, is to get the lyrics (words) to the songs you are listening to and try to read them as the artist sings.  There are several good internet sites where one can find the words for most songs. This way you can practice your listening and reading at the same time.  And if you like to sing, fine.

Study As Often As Possible!

Only by studying things like grammar and vocabulary and doing exercises, can you really improve your knowledge of any language. 

Do Exercises and Take Tests

Many people think that exercises and tests aren’t much fun. However, by completing exercises and taking tests you can really improve your English. One of the best reasons for doing lots of exercises and tests is that they give you a benchmark to compare your future results with.  Often, it is by comparing your score on a test you took yesterday with one you took a month or six months ago that you realize just how much you have learned.  If you never test yourself, you will never know how much you are progressing. Start now by doing some of the many exercises and tests on this site, and return in a few days to see what you’ve learned. Keep doing this and you really will make some progress with English.

Record Yourself

Nobody likes to hear their own voice on tape but like tests, it is good to compare your tapes from time to time.  You may be so impressed with the progress you are making that you may not mind the sound of your voice as much.

Listen to English

By this, we mean, speak on the phone or listen to radio broadcasts, audiobooks or CDs in English. This is different than watching the television or films because you can’t see the person that is speaking to you.  Many learners of English say that speaking on the phone is one of the most difficult things that they do and the only way to improve is to practice.


Have fun!


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Young Kiwis to commemorate US Army landings

Young Kiwis to commemorate US Army landings


Last updated 14:07 23/04/2012


BREATHER: Scanned from book ‘Brief Encounter’ by Jock Phillips, the US Marines march through the streets of Wellington in a route march past Oriental Bay where they stop for a breather

They wouldn’t have even been a twinkle in their grandparent’s eyes back then, but young New Zealanders are being asked to preserve the memories of their elders to commemorate the landing of the first US Army ships in New Zealand nearly 70 years ago.

The first US Army warships during World War II arrived in Auckland on June 12, 1942 with the marines arriving in Wellington two days later. They came to New Zealand to help deter an invasion by Imperial Japanese forces sweeping southward through the Pacific.

Those dates this year will mark the 70th anniversary of their arrival and the US Embassy, along with the New Zealand Defence Force, Archives New Zealand and the Auckland War Memorial Museum are calling for students to take charge in the commemorations.

The Making History Competition will invite teams of students to make a short video that tells a local story about the presence in New Zealand of tens of thousands of U.S. Army troops, Marines, and sailors during World War II. 

Both secondary and tertiary students were being invited to make a short film documentary with the winner being awarded a day on a military base or ship, special behind-the scenes-tours of Auckland Museum and Te Papa collections, and a day’s mentoring by a professional documentary film maker.

US ambassador to New Zealand David Huebner said it had never been more important to capture the stories.

“As the World War II generation passes, personal memories of the great sacrifices and achievements of that era will pass with them.

“History is not a clinical exercise reserved to elites.  It’s a living, breathing, very personal story.  Young people have an important role in preserving history, gathering stories before they are lost,” he said.

Huebner said entrants would be judged on how well they captured the flavour of the War World II era in New Zealand, and how well they combined their original research and other new materials with the historical resources available Making History website.

2012 also marks the 70th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations between New Zealand and the US – New Zealand’s first formal government-to-government relationship apart from the British Crown.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Walter Nash was sent to Washington in early 1942 by then Prime Minister Peter Fraser as New Zealand’s first envoy, in part to ensure troops for the defense of New Zealand and the Pacific.

* Making History is free to enter on website Entries close midnight June 3.






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Liner salvage contract awarded

Liner salvage contract awarded

Updated at 8:09 am today

A contract has been awarded for the salvage of the Costa Concordia, which sank off the coast of Tuscany in January.

Titan Salvage of Florida is expected to take about a year to raise the Italian cruise liner, which is lying on its side in shallow water near the island of Giglio.

The ship’s owners say the work is due to start next month. Under the plans, the Concordia will be re-floated in one piece and towed to a port on the Italian mainland.

The BBC reports airbags will be used to re-float the ship after the gash is mended on its port side.

Work to drain more than 2000 tonnes of fuel and sewage from the ship was completed last month.

Thirty two people died when the ship hit rocks off the island of Giglio with 4200 people on board on 13 January.


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How To Make Natural Garden Pesticides



Garden pests are one of the few things I find frustrating about gardening. Whether it’s the snails taking over your lettuce or the aphids sucking on your roses — it’s definitely annoying — but not a reason to fret and reach for harmful, toxic sprays. They might eliminate the pesky culprits, but they are harmful to you and the environment. Instead, try whipping up one of these simple recipes with ingredients you most likely have on hand.


What You Need


Spray bottles
Biodegradable liquid dish soap
Lemon or orange essential oil
Cooking oil
Baking soda
Chili powder




Natural Insecticidal Soap Spray

This is by far the spray I reach for most often. It’s easy to make and keep on hand, and should take care of most of those annoying common pests such as aphids, mites, white flies, thrips, and mealy bugs. It kills them by attacking them at the skin, suffocating and therefore eliminating them. I like to add a few drops of orange or lemon essential oil, which is in itself a natural insecticide, especially effective against ants and scale, and it also helps the the spray stick to your plants.

1 1/2 tablespoons of liquid soap
1 quart of water
A couple drops of orange or lemon essential oil

Use a biodegradable, liquid soap (such as Murphy’s oil soap, castile soap or Ivory), to make the mixture. Add water and essential oil to the spray bottle and shake. Spray your plant thoroughly, making sure you cover the underside of the leaves as well.

All-Purpose Garlic Chili Spray

Pepper and garlic are both natural insect repellents and will help to repel Japanese Beetles, borers, leafhoppers and slugs. Garlic also deters larger pest like deer and rabbit.

Natural Insecticidal Soap Spray (from recipe above)
1 tablespoon of chili powder (you could also use fresh or dried hot peppers)
5 cloves of garlic, crushed and cut roughly

Allow garlic and chili powder to steep overnight. Strain and pour into a spray bottle. Add Natural Insecticidal Soap Spray. Should keep for a couple weeks.

Baking Soda Spray

This spray is great for treating plants with fungal diseases. There is nothing quite as frustrating as discovering your plant has an unsightly case of mildew, a type of fungal disease. Suddenly your beautiful green cucumber and squash leaves are replaced by patches of grayish-white blotches.

1 tablespoon of baking soda
1/2 tablespoon of oil
2 quarts of warm water

Add baking soda and oil to a cup of warm water until it dissolves. Mix in the rest of the water. Before attempting to spray and treat your plant, remove the most severely damaged leaves first. Then spray your solution, repeating every few days until it disappears. This mixture is best made and used immediately.

Additional Notes: It’s best to spray your plants in the morning, before the sun is too hot or you run the risk of burning the leaves of your plant. And while these spray are non-toxic and less harmful than commercial pesticides, they will kill beneficial bugs along with the harmful ones. I recommend using these sprays sparingly, only treating the infected plants.


(Images: 1, flickr member Mullers, licensed for use under Creative Commons; 2-10, Kimberly Watson)


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Italy has a new 300kmh train

Italy to launch Ferrari-style high-speed train

Making its debut next week, the Italo has a top speed of 186 mph and will connect Milan, Rome, and Naples in high style.

NTV borrows its look, and its chairman, from Ferrari.

(Credit: NTV)

Next time you’re stuck in traffic on the highway, consider those lucky Italians. Some will get to ride in style next week when services on the slick Italo high-speed train kick off.

Operated by Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (NTV), the Italo debuts April 28 and will connect Milan, Rome, and Naples. It’s being billed as the most advanced train in Europe.

It has a top speed of 186 mph — not the fastest in the world but still respectable. The record for fastest commercial service depends on several factors, but Shanghai’s Maglev Train can run at 268 mph.

Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemoto is a major shareholder in (and chairman of) NTV, as is French National Railways (SNCF). Thecars are painted Ferrari-style red and feature a stylized hare on the side.

The 25 trains in the fleet are being manufactured by France’s Alstom based on its AGV model (Automotrice Grande Vitesse). They’ll use the same traction system as the AGV-TGV train that set a speed record of 574.8 kph (357 mph) in 2007, as seen in this video.

Italo trains will have 11 cars with a capacity of 460 passengers. The first, business, and economy classes — called Club, Prima, and Smart — will feature leather seats, free Wi-Fi, and ceiling-mounted screens in some cars. The cheapest ticket from Milan to Rome (about 300 miles) will cost about $60.

Services will compete with Trenitalia, which has held a monopoly on high-speed rail in Italy until now, as well as airlines. NTV hopes to attract 9 million annual passengers by the end of 2014.

Check out more pics of the Italo in our gallery.


Inside the high-speed Italo Ferrari train (photos)

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How to Prepare a Salad to Last All Week for Just a Few Dollars

How to Prepare a Salad to Last All Week for Just a Few Dollars

A Fresh Salad Every Day of the Week With Little Effort

Nothing says fresh and healthy like a salad. But if your life is a little hectic and you find it difficult to find the time to prepare a salad among other items for dinner, you’re not alone. Even if you do have time, how do you keep the salad fresh? You don’t want to deal with soggy lettuce or stop at the store a few times a week just to keep fresh produce on hand, so it’s helpful to know how to prepare a salad in advance so that it won’t lose freshness and keep you from making multiple shopping trips.

So, I’m going to share with you how I prepare salad here at our house. This requires just 5 to 10 minutes of initial prep time, will feed my wife and I all work week, if not longer, and it keeps fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week. Even better, all of this ends up costing less than $5 a week.

The Benefits

One of the main benefits of preparing a salad in advance is that you’re much more likely to eat it. We’re all trying to eat healthy these days, and while we have good intentions, if there is a lack of time or if it requires more work, we’re far more likely to skip the salad and opt for something else, which will probably cost more, and be even worse for you. Being able to just go into the fridge and have a salad in your bowl in 30 seconds is great.

It’s also cheap. For just a few dollars, you can create a first course for each dinner during the week that will allow you to buy fewer more expensive ingredients. Even better, this whole process can be applied when entertaining a crowd. Not only will you be preparing a salad to feed your family for a week, but it can make one big salad that can entertain a crowd.

The Process

Let’s start with what you need. The ingredient list is pretty simple. You can put whatever toppings or dressing on your salad you want, but we’re mainly focused on the greens and how to prepare and store them so they last. This is the cost of the items I picked up earlier this week. Your prices may vary depending on location and the season.

Organic Red Leaf Lettuce: 0.83 lb @ $2.49/lb = $2.07
Organic Romaine Lettuce: 0.81 lb @ $1.99/lb = $1.61

Total = $3.68

Salad Greens

As you can see from the picture above, it’s as simple as buying two average size heads of red leaf and romaine lettuce. Now, you can certainly get cheaper varieties of lettuce such as iceberg, but there’s virtually no nutritional value. You really get the most bang for your buck with dark green leafy varieties.  So, if you’re going to eat a salad, you might as well get as many nutrients as you can out of it. Feel free to substitute, but I’fe found that both romaine and red leaf store pretty well and you should have no problem getting it to last a week.


Starting with the romaine lettuce, I chop off the bottom. This is another topic of controversy, as some people insist that lettuce will go brown faster if you use a metal knife. Honestly, I’ve been cutting lettuce with a knife for years, and I haven’t noticed any rapid browning. But, if you really want, feel free to tear the lettuce by hand, it’s up to you. But I find the knife is very quick and doesn’t produce any adverse effects.


After you’ve separated a few of the leaves, give them a good rinse. With the romaine lettuce, I will stack 6 or so leaves on top of each other with the center stalk pointing down. Then, I just cut the leaves in half lenghtwise. It doesn’t matter if you cut directly through the thick stalk or go just to the side since we’re really just looking for smaller pieces to work with.


Then, I stack all of the pieces on top of each other. From there, it’s just some quick slices across the stack. I usually keep them no more than about one inch wide so they are easy to eat. Once you’re through chopping, throw them into a collandar, or my personal preference, a salad spinner.


Moving on to the red leaf lettuce, again, just chop the end off. 


As with any lettuce, you’ll then want to give them a good rinse. Just like the romaine, I start by stacking the leaves on top of each other. 


Since the red leaf lettuce is a lot wider, I usually make two cuts to separate the leaves into three strips. Depending on the size of your leaves and how small you want your pieces, you may find that you need to cut them into four strips. There’s no right or wrong answer. And again, once you have your strips, go ahead and stack them all on top of each other and cut crosswise into bit sized pieces.


Above, I mentioned you should place your cut pieces into a collander or a salad spinner, and this is actually one of the most important steps if you want your lettuce to keep in the fridge. Moisture is the enemy in your fight to keep lettuce crisp for more than just a few days. When moisture is trapped against the lettuce while it’s being stored, it will make it wilt and that isn’t something you want to eat. If you don’t have a salad spinner, use the collander to shake any excess water, and then use paper towels to soak up any lingering moisture.


If you look at the picture above, you’ll see the true benefit of a salad spinner. Even after rinsing the leaves in the sink, I shook off what seemed like all of the excess water before chopping, but as you can see above, after a few quick spins, there is a lot of excess liquid on the leaves still. You might not see it on the leaves, but it’s there, and all of this water spells disaster for long-term freshness. So for me, a salad spinner is the best $20 you’ll spend in your kitchen. 


Once all of your greens are dry, it’s time to put it all into a big bowl. As you can see, those two heads of lettuce that came in under $4.00 makes a huge bowl of salad. As I mentioned in the beginning, this is enough for my wife and I to eat every day on Monday through Friday, and occasionally into the weekend.  One thing I do before putting the salad in the fridge is grind some fresh black pepper into the mix. A quick 10 to 12 turns from the pepper mill will do just fine, and it makes all the difference in taste.


Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is storage. So, how do you keep this all fresh? Remember, the key is to keep moisture from resting against the leaves. So, what I do is take a single paper towel and place it on the top of the lettuce, and then cover everything with thin clear plastic cling stuff, but if you have a bowl with a tight fitting lid, that’s just as good. What you’ll notice is the paper towel will slowly absorb some of the moisture, and you’ll probably want to replace it with a fresh one every couple of days.

In addition, each time you take some lettuce out of the bowl, give everything a good shake or stir before putting it back in the fridge. The moisture can also start to collect on the sides of the bowl, and you don’t want everything touching the bowl to go soggy. If you dry your greens thoroughly from the start, place a paper towel in the bowl, and regularly mix things up in the bowl, you should have no trouble keeping this fresh for a week.

Finishing the Salad

The possibilities are endless. For example, my wife likes to top the salad with some dried cranberries and walnuts, while I usually sprinkle some mozzarella cheese and top with tomatoes and croutons. You can top it with leftover grilled chicken and make it a meal, or do whatever you want.  The good news is that this is a very basic mix of greens that can be topped with almost anything so you can mix it up at home. So, experiment with it and find out what you like best.


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