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Mom Corps

Moms find balance as high-skilled temps

Ashley Hewitt spent 16 years rising through the ranks of corporate human resources, reaching manager and director positions. But after having her third child, a full-time career proved too much.
Ashley Hewitt left a corporate career to raise her three children. She now works as a high-skilled temp.

Ashley Hewitt left a corporate career to raise her three children. She now works as a high-skilled temp.

Even cutting her hours back to 36 a week turned out to be more of a problem than a solution.

"I was trying to be a full-time mom and a full-time employee with part-time hours for both and it just wasn't working well," Hewitt said.

In 2006, she took a voluntary severance package from Duke Energy, her longtime employer, and became one of many professional women who leave the work force at the peak of their careers to focus on their families.

But such new stay-at-home moms can also be the perfect match for companies seeking highly-educated and skilled workers for temporary work.

"They're realizing that ... this is a talent pool that's experienced and professional and efficient and ready to work as long as they're given a little bit of consideration to their personal needs," said Allison O'Kelly, CEO of Mom Corps.

The Atlanta, Georgia, company is one of several staffing agencies formed in recent years to connect career-women-turned-stay-at-home moms with employers. On-Ramps, Flexible Executives, Flexible Resources and FlexWork Connection have similar missions. Video Watch why there's a need for 'on-demand top talent' »

Hewitt, 40, said she didn't want to quit working "cold turkey." She submitted her resume to Mom Corps in 2006 and currently works about 10-14 hours per week out of her home in Charlotte, North Carolina, doing human resources work on contract for Wachovia.

"I like the fact that I can do this work and the people that I'm working for... understand that it's only one aspect of my life," Hewitt said.

"They also understand that I'm trying to do this flexibly so I may not be available at 2 o'clock for a conference call because all the kids are coming off the bus."

Money not the top motivator

Mom Corps founder O'Kelly, 35, knows first hand about the tug of war between career and family.

The Harvard Business School graduate was a manager at Toys R Us when she had her first child. The baby had health problems that forced her to frequently miss work.

"I was having a really tough time with that because that just isn't my style," O'Kelly said.

Working Moms

• 71% of U.S. women with children work or are looking for work

• 55% of U.S. women with children under a year old are in the labor force

• 24% of U.S. working mothers have a part-time job

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

She left the company and began working on contract as an accountant. She ended up with so much work that she offered some of it to her friends. O'Kelly said she soon realized there was enough demand to expand beyond accounting and her circle of acquaintances. Mom Corps was born in 2005.

The company now has 25,000 job seekers in its database, many with marketing, human resources or accounting backgrounds. About 90 percent have a college degree and more than a third have a graduate degree, O'Kelly said. Most are 30-44 years old. Once placed, they typically earn $30-$70 an hour, O'Kelly said.

While the earnings can be high, the money isn't the primary motivator for many of the stay-at-home moms seeking flexible work. Some simply want to stay plugged into their industries and use their skills.

"I think it's probably something that they're missing from a personal, professional point of view, just part of their self-identity is very attached to their career and having to let that go is a big struggle," said Jessica Riester, founder of FlexWork Connection in Irvine, California.

Riester, 35, launched her recruiting business earlier this year after deciding to take some time off from her career to have children. The former finance manager at a start-up company soon landed a part-time corporate job, working 20 hours a week, and realized other professional women were very interested in the arrangement.

"I was telling my friends about this new setup and they were all jealous and wanted something similar," Riester said. "[They] all kind of struggled with wanting to have some kind of career going but also have the time to spend with their kids, not working the crazy hours that we had been."

'New normal of flex careers'

The demands of a full-time job appear to be taking their toll on working mothers. About 60 percent said working part time would be ideal for them, according to a 2007 survey by the Pew Research Center. Only 48 percent felt that way in a similar poll done 10 years earlier.

For those who don't want to work full time, turning to staffing agencies that cater to stay-at-home moms can be one option.

The trend reflects "the new normal of flex careers," said Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the nonprofit Families and Work Institute.

"There's been an assumption for a long time that a career is a straight and narrow ladder that one climbs and if one steps off of it then you're down at the bottom or if you even step sideways, you plunge, and you climb that ladder until you leap over an abyss ... to retirement" Galinsky said.

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Leon Czolgosz # 1 With A Bullet

Leon Czolgosz # 1 With A Bullet

Don’t miss Company One’s AssassinsHas the Internet exacerbated American entitlement, or merely exposed it fully? Either way, you can’t spend more than 10 minutes on a web forum without encountering some people who have mentally added new privileges to the Bill of Rights, like the right to never feel annoyed or the right to never be contradicted. Flame wars erupt over the tiniest of matters because we’re so smugly sure that we’re beautiful and unique snowflakes that merely being disagreed with is upsetting and offensive.

It’s not a phenomenon confined to online trolls. In a Boston Globe article last week, former broadcast journalist Liz Walker expressed concerns about Company One’s production of Assassins, the musical/dark comedy about malcontents who’ve taken a shot at American presidents. "Why would a show like Assassins be done at a time when we’re about to have a first black president?" Walker is quoted as saying. "Why would we want to put that energy out there?" Though delicately and diplomatically stated, this is just another expression of the idea so prevalent online: that if there’s something I’d rather not think about, no one else should talk about it. (I wonder how far we should go to protect this sensibility? There will always be a president in the White House, so is there ever a good time for a production of Assassins? Should we remove mention of Hinckley and Booth from history textbooks lest anyone gets any ideas?)

It’s not as if Assassins is advocating assassination. The 1991 musical revue with a book by John Weidman and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim isn’t advocating much at all beyond taking a closer look at some damaged minds, but it comes down pretty clearly on the "assassination is bad" side of things. The show’s second and penultimate numbers, which are about the assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy, say that John Wilkes Booth made Lee Harvey Oswald possible; that violence always begets more violence. "Angry men don’t write the rules, and guns don’t right the wrongs," is delivered to a dying Booth by The Balladeer, the narrator/conscience of the show.

Booth, the only fairly lucid gunman in the show’s metaphysical combination of peanut gallery and shooting gallery where nine assassins and would-be assassins gather, expresses some complaints about Lincoln that resonate loudly today: that he exceeded the power of his office, that he provoked a war, that he silenced critics by jailing them without trial. The Balladeer offers up the comforting notion that soon the country will be "back where it belongs," but also blasts Booth for begetting violence to political discourse: "Lincoln, who got mixed reviews/Because of you, John, now gets only raves!"

You can trace that degradation of American discourse into two shrill sides in the motivations of the assassins who follow in Booth’s footsteps. Some of the other gun toters in this lot try to cloak themselves in political rhetoric - anarchist Leon Czolgosz rails against the exploitive evils of industrial capitalism; Giuseppe Zangara dispenses cryptic vitriol against governments in broken English - but by the time we get to John Hinckley, expressions of vague political dissatisfaction have been replaced with vague complaints of being wronged by the world.

To be sure, the show explores legitimate concerns in its exploration of the flip side of the American dream. All of these hotheads are manifestations of disillusionment with myths like "Anyone can grow up to be the President." But this dissatisfaction with the very real inequalities of our country, which forms "another national anthem" of discontent, has here curdled into an outrage that is insular, personal. "Everyone has the right to be happy," claim the assassins in the opening number, but that dubious right proves insufficient. They also have the right to be famous, to be special, to be Ambassador to France and Leonard Bernstein’s buddy and Jody Foster’s boyfriend.

The most unsettling character in the show is not one of the obvious loonies like John Hinckley or Lynnette "Squeaky" Fromme, the acolyte of Charles Manson. It’s Charles Byck, who tried to blow up the White House (with Nixon in it, preferably) in 1974. As portrayed in Assassins, Byck is not burdened with obvious mental illness or indeed any problems that aren’t run of the mill. Nevertheless he feels a towering rage at the world. When Byck sing-screams "Where’s my prize?" at fate itself, I was reminded of the hundreds of unaccountably angry online posters I’ve seen rail against anyone who offers, however innocently or subtly, a threat to their worldview or sense of self-importance.

In an interview with Bay Windows last week, Company One’s artistic director Shawn Laconte said that Assassins asks how our country produced these people. Watching Byck’s tantrums, I wondered why we haven’t produced more of them.

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Suzanne Somers TV Upskirt

Suzanne Somers TV Upskirt

VIEWERS of the Home Shopping Network always have their eyes peeled - usually for a bargain.

But in this case what was on offer was an eyeful of the host's undies.

Actress Suzanne Somers lifts her dress to show how light it is.

But unfortunately the dress proves lighter than she'd expected.

Somers, who twiced featured in nude Playboy shoots in the 1980s, went on to star in TV's Step by Step and Candid Camera.

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Kay Ryan Is Named Poet Laureate

Kay Ryan Is Named Poet LaureateKay Ryan, award-winning poet, mountain bike rider and self-described "modern hermit," will soon be going to Washington.

The Library of Congress announced Thursday that the lifelong Californian, whose compressed, metaphysical poetry has been compared to Emily Dickinson's, will succeed Charles Simic as the 16th U.S. poet laureate, starting in the fall. The appointment lasts for one year and comes with a $35,000 salary, plus $5,000 for travel and a "splendid office," according to Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

"In a society full of rhetorical overstatement and a kind of zigging in and out of all kinds of pontifical disguises, she's got this marvelous, understated depth," Billington told The Associated Press during a recent interview.

Ryan, 62, lives in Fairfax, Calif., with her longtime partner, Carol Adair. The poet acknowledged that being named the nation's laureate was hardly on her mind during the past 30 years as she quietly completed six volumes of poetry, taught part-time at the local College of Marin and otherwise enjoyed the woods and hills of Northern California.

She told The Associated Press that she was "delighted and surprised" to receive the job. Upon hearing that the Library of Congress had called, she thought to herself, "I can't have that many overdue books." But she was also "hip enough to the world of possible glories for the poet" to know who chose the laureate.

The daughter of an oil well digger, Ryan was born in San Jose, Calif., in 1945. She is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles whose books include "Elephant Rocks," "Say Uncle" and, most recently, "The Niagara River," released by Grove Press in 2005. She has won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and four Pushcart Prizes, and received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Describing her work, she says she likes "to squeeze things until they explode."

Her poems are brief, reflective, profoundly and humorously aware of both the limitless cosmos and our limited lives, as illustrated in "The Best of It," in which she writes, "However carved up/or pared down we get/we keep on making/the best of it."

Ryan cites William Carlos Williams, Philip Larkin and John Donne as among her favorite poets. She praises Robert Frost as the "master," denies her talent even approaches Dickinson's ("like comparing Michelangelo to a local artist"), but does list their similarities: "short poems, aphoristic, highly metaphoric, peculiar but intense in the rhymes."

Billington noted that the only credential for the job was to write great poetry, and laureates over the years have ranged from the politically active Stanley Kunitz to the commercially successful Billy Collins to the more introspective Louise Glueck.

Both Billington and Ryan referred to parallel traditions of American poets — the expansiveness of Walt Whitman, and the reclusiveness of Dickinson. Both place Ryan in Dickinson's column.

"I pride myself on having a brief biography," Ryan said with a laugh.

The laureate's salary is modest, but so are the requirements, little beyond "raising the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry." Once largely ceremonial, the office has become an unofficial poetry pulpit, whether Robert Pinsky compiling the public's favorite verse or Collins advocating daily broadcasts of poetry in the nation's schools.

"We've been very heartened to see so many of the recent poets take up so many projects," says Billington, who praised Ryan as a "quiet evangelist for poetry." Ryan has no definite plans for her new job, but says she is "crazy about libraries" and expects to take on some kind of project involving them, "right down to the bookmobile."

The public life can wear down a laureate; Simic announced in the spring that he didn't want a second term because he wanted more time to write. Ryan, about halfway through a new collection of poems, has granted her muse a sabbatical.

"It's kind of a thrill to go from nothing to this," she says. "This is probably going to keep me so occupied that it will discourage any contact with the deeper mind. But my deeper mind needs a break."

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Atkins Diet Is 'Most Effective'

Atkins Diet Is 'Most Effective'

Low carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins regime are the most effective way to lose weight, a study has found.

Woman on scales

Slimmers put on a low-carb diet lost an average of 10.3lbs, compared to 10lbs on a Mediterranean diet and only 6.5lbs on a low-fat diet.

Researchers said these rates were comparable to the results achieved by prescription weight-loss drugs.

Scientists followed the progress of 322 moderately obese workers at the Nuclear Research Centre in Dimona, Israel, who were randomly assigned one of the three diets.

Maximum weight loss was achieved after six months but there were improved health benefits over the whole two-year period.

Lead researcher Dr Iris Shai said: "Clearly, there is not one diet that is ideal for everyone.

"We believe that this study will open clinical medicine to considering low-carb and Mediterranean diets as safe effective alternatives for patients, based on personal preference and the medical goals set for such intervention."

The study, carried out by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Cabin In The Sky

Cabin In The SkyAs per the schedule of TCM here, viewers will get to see ‘Cabin in the sky‘ - A 1943 motion picture based on an American Broadway Musical of the same name.The film was produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The movie was directed by Vincente Minnelli and starred Ethel Waters as Petunia and Eddie “Rochester” Anderson as Little Joe. Lena Horne co-starred as the temptress Georgia Brown in her first and only leading role in an MGM musical. Other cast members included Louis Armstrong as one of Lucifer Junior’s minions, Rex Ingram as Lucifer Junior, and Duke Ellington and his Orchestra, who have a showcase musical number.

The plot of the movie is pretty interesting. It is about a man who is killed over gambling debts. He has six months time to redeem his soul and become worthy of entering Heaven, failing which it will be sent to hell. Cabin in the Sky was a groundbreaking production for its time due to the decision to use an all-African-American cast. It is also remarkable for its intelligent and witty script, which treated its characters and their race with a dignity rare in American films of the time.

The lead actress Ethel Waters used to perform jazz, big band, rock and roll and pop music, on the Broadway stage and in concerts. Her best-known recording was her version of the spiritual, “His Eye is on the Sparrow”, and she was the second African American ever nominated for an Academy Award.

SOC review says ” It was parable of faith, temptation, loyalty, and salvation in the imagined life of American black people, told as a musical play by black actors and white studio filmmakers at MGM in the middle of World War II. The film is at the centre of the six all-black cast films made by the major Hollywood studios”

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Radiation Therapy & Breast Cancer

Radiation Therapy & Breast CancerA new study from City of Hope National Medical Centre in Duarte, California has revealed that radiation therapy can help lower cancer recurrence of a rare type of breast cancer in patients.

Phyllodes tumours are rare breast tumours that develop in the connective tissue of the breast, as opposed to more common carcinomas, which develop in the ducts or lobules of the breast

Presently, patients with the rare tumours are treated either with a lumpectomy or mastectomy, with only a small fraction receiving radiation therapy.

The adjuvant radiation therapy is recommended for cancer patients with local recurrence risks of 15 percent or greater but the effect have never been studied for phyllodes tumors because they are so rare.

Researchers reviewed the records of 478 patients with malignant phyllodes tumors who were treated between March 1964 and August 2005 and found that the risk of local recurrence for phyllodes tumors was related to tumour size and the type of surgery received.

"Typically these tumours are treated well by surgery alone. However, local recurrences are not uncommon," said Richard Pezner, M.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, Calif.

They determined that adjuvant radiation therapy should be evaluated for phyllodes tumor patients who received lumpectomies for tumours at least 2 centimeters in size or a mastectomy for tumours at least 10 centimetres in size to reduce the risk of recurrence.

The study appears in the July issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, the official journal of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.

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American History X Files

American History X Files

The X-Files Makes History

The longrunning science fiction television phenomenon The X-Files will reappear after a six-year hiatus in a second film to be released in theaters next week. But the show that brought to life Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully and added "The Truth Is out There" and "I Want to Believe" to pop lexicon is also finally showing its age.

This morning X-Files director/writer/producer Chris Carter was at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History to present a series of items from the show to be placed on exhibit when the museum reopens this fall.

The items signed over to the Smithsonian include: the original television pilot script, an alien maquette statue, Scully's cross necklace, the stiletto blade weapon used to kill aliens masquerading as people, the original "I Want to Believe" poster, a photograph of Mulder's abducted sister, and a series of FBI badges and business cards used in the show.

“Standing up here feels like an X-file in itself,” said Carter, reflecting on where the show has taken him over the past 16 years.

He said The X-Files is "representative of two very exploitable American qualities: fear and paranoia."

"I’m kidding of course,” he added. “I think the show, as you will see when you come to see the movie on July’ll see that the show is really about hope and faith.”

Fellow writer/producer Frank Spotnitz also spoke on the show's legacy.

“We’re at the center of our country, and when the nation's museum decides to include The X-Files as part of its permanent collection, it makes very tangible and real the impact that The X-Files has had.”

He said the film, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, was written both to attract a new audience as well as appeal to hardcore fans.

“I would say the conspiracy is non-existent in the movie. That’s not to say that the mythology of the show is completely put in a drawer.”

The most difficult part about writing after a six-year gap, he said, was getting back into the heads of two characters who he admits are a large part of the driving force behind the show.

“Writing the first scene with them together, where they are speaking for the first time, to me, to us, that was a scene that I have to say took an inordinate amount of time, and effort, and thought, and care and struggle because what do two people have to say to each other when we haven’t seen them for five or six years?"

The X-Files ran for nine seasons (1993-2002) and was followed up with the first feature-length film, The X-Files: Fight the Future, in 1998. With the characters' office located in the FBI Headquarters in D.C., much of the show's central storyline took place in and around the city.

When asked about how helpful the FBI was in the creation of the show, Carter explained that they weren't initially on board, and typically had more questions than answers.

“Right before the pilot episode aired, there was a call from the FBI saying who are you and what are you doing.” He said they have since become unofficial fans of the series, and even asked him to film something for the FBI's 100th anniversary being celebrated this year.

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Bunnyman Bridge

Bunny Man Hops to Big Screen
Local filmmakers prepare to make film based on Clifton's most notorious legend.

The story of the notorious Bunny Man Bridge in Clifton has remained a popular myth for decades. Several versions of the Bunny Man story have been told and re-told for years, keeping it a well-known myth in Northern Virginia.

In the spirit of continuing the storytelling tradition, a group of local filmmakers have written a film based on the story of Bunny Man bridge.

"We’ve been making films for over six years," said Aaron Goodmiller, a writer and producer with 19th & Wilson, the company that is producing the film. "We’ve made 10 short films, including one full-length feature that made it into one of Washington, D.C.’s film festivals." 19th & Wilson is composed of a group of filmmakers based out of Gainesville, Ashburn, Centreville and Burke.

Goodmiller, along with associates Donnie Conti and Richard Friend, came up with the idea of the movie based on an old friend of theirs.

"We had a friend who lived on the opposite side of the bridge, and whenever she left her house, she had to drive past it," said Goodmiller. "She would always talk about it, and it got us thinking about the story.

Director Eric Espejo researched the legend and found numerous versions, all of which seemed to lack a solid story line.

"After reading articles on the Bunny Man, I thought that maybe these writers have had some holes in their research, and I thought I would try to fill them in my own way," said Espejo. "I don’t want to make another typical slasher movie. I want this to be a film that makes you think."

THE ORIGINAL SCRIPT, written in 2003, has undergone several re-writes, and is well on its way to being filmed. "As a screenwriter, I am constantly on the lookout for good film concepts," said Espejo. "Since I too went to Bunny Man bridge on Halloween when I was a kid, I figured this idea would be great."

In a 2006 article for the Laurel Hill/Fairfax Station/Clifton Connection written by Glenn McCarty, a local historian was interviewed regarding the tale of Bunny Man Bridge.

"A guy with a bunny suit. It ends there," said Brian Conley, the historian for the Fairfax County Public Library, who wrote an 11-page essay based on the tale titled, "The Bunny Man Unmasked: The Real Life Origins of an Urban Legend."

After thoroughly researching the story, including checking Fairfax County Police Department records to confirm any reports of any murders around the bridge in 1970, Conley found no substantial evidence to support the myth.

"I am as convinced as I can get that that event really is the genesis of the story," said Conley. "Anything having to do with deaths, maulings or maimings has been added to the story over time," said Conley.

Goodmiller describes their version of the story as a mystery that ties into the Bunny Man story. "Our script centers around a detective who has come back to the area to make good on his dying mom's last wish of finding out who killed her son," he said. "As he delves deeper into the area, he finds that there are a lot of similarities between his brother's death and the legend of Bunny Man Bridge. The more he searches, the more opposition he finds in the townsfolk, and the more the legend begins to resurface. His only hope is to solve his brother’s murder before he becomes part of the legend himself."

Filming is set to begin early next year and will include onsite filming in Clifton and the area surrounding Bunny Man Bridge on Colchester Road.

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