Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Stripper, 80, still taking her clothes off

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AP) -- Tempest Storm is fuming. Her fingers tremble with frustration. They are aged, knotted by arthritis and speckled with purple spots under paper skin.

Tempest Storm at the Burlesque Hall of Fame's annual All-Star Burlesque Weekend in Las Vegas.

Tempest Storm at the Burlesque Hall of Fame's annual All-Star Burlesque Weekend in Las Vegas.

But the manicure of orange polish is flawless and new, and matches her signature tousled mane.

She brushes orange curls out of her face as she explains how she's been slighted.

She is the headliner, you know. She is a star. She is classy.

"I don't just get up there and rip my clothes off," she says.

Indeed, the 80-year-old burlesque queen takes her clothes off very slowly.

More than 50 years ago she was dubbed the "Girl with the Fabulous Front" and told by famous men she had the "Best Two Props in Hollywood."

Since then, Storm saw the art that made her famous on the brink of extinction. Her contemporaries -- Blaze Starr, Bettie Page, Lili St. Cyr -- have died or hung up the pasties.

But not Storm. She kept performing. Las Vegas, Reno, Palm Springs, Miami, Carnegie Hall.

Her act is a time capsule. She knows nothing of poles. She would never put her derriere in some man's face. Her prop of choice is a boa, perhaps the occasional divan.

It takes four numbers, she says adamantly, four numbers to get it all off. To do it classy.

But the producers of tonight's show, just kids, they want her to go faster. She gets just seven minutes.

"I did seven minutes when I started," she says.

They gave her trouble last year, too. They even cut her music before she finished.

There may not be a next time for this show, she says. The threat lasts just minutes.

"No, no. I'm not ready to hang up my G-string, yet. I've got too many fans that would be disappointed."

Dated Elvis, other celebrities

Stardom and fandom feature prominently in Tempest Storm's life -- and in her neat, two-bedroom Las Vegas apartment.

Visitors are greeted by photos of a young Elvis, her favorite rock 'n' roller and, she says, a former lover.

He met her after her show in Las Vegas and fiddled with her skirt as he introduced himself. The relationship ended about a year later because Elvis' manager didn't approve of him dating a stripper, she says.

But she could not change who she was. Stripping already had made her famous.

It put her in the room with Hollywood's heavyweights. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Mickey Rooney, Nat King Cole.

She dated some, just danced for others. The evidence is framed and displayed on tables and the living room wall.

That's Storm and Vic Damone. Storm teaching Walter Cronkite to dance. Storm and her fourth and last husband, Herb Jefferies, a star of black cowboy films who swept her off her feet in 1957 when such unions were instant scandals. They divorced in 1970.

"When I look at this picture I say, 'What the hell happened between this gorgeous couple?"' she says.

The moment is brief.

Storm is rarely wistful. She has no doubt she still is what she once was. Although she performs just handful of times a year, she would do more, if asked. She chides those who think age takes a toll on sex appeal.

"Ridiculous," she says.

There are just as many recent photos in the room: Storm and her daughter, a nurse in Indiana. Storm and her fiance, who died a few years ago. Storm and a beaming older gentlemen, just a fan who approached her for a photograph.

In others, the petite beauty with the long lashes and glamorous hair is alone, out of focus, in full makeup and smiling wide. In one, she is perched on her living room couch in a red hat and low-cut black suit.

"I took that picture of myself," she says proudly. "I have a self-timer. I took these, too."

Sharecropper's daughter fled abuse

"That stage saved me," she says as she leaves a sound check hours before the night's performance.

She had been expecting a much smaller space and she is relieved. She's a "walker," she explains. She needs room to move.

It is a direct and once-racy style, the signature work of Lillian Hunt, the choreographer at the Follies Theater in Los Angeles where Storm became a star.

She was Annie Blanche Banks then. The 22-year-old sharecropper's daughter had fled sexual abuse, two loveless marriages and poverty in small-town Georgia, she says.

She was working as a cocktail waitress but wanted to be a showgirl. First, she needed her teeth fixed.

"Do you think my bust is too big for this business?" she asked Hunt at her audition.

Hunt put her in the chorus line, told her not to gain a pound and called a dentist.

In Storm's telling, she didn't stay long in the background. She got a new name. ("I really don't feel like a Sunny Day.") She took to the spotlight quickly. Then and now, she blossomed to the chorus of hoots and cheers.

The trick is having a warm presence, an inviting smile, she says.

When she takes the stage, she lets her mind float back to "Georgie." She imagines herself as a little girl, in her best dress, running down the road to meet her daddy coming home from work.

"I feel that I am that little girl dressed up out there. I got a picture in my whole mind of it. I can see that little girl," she says.

On stage, the image is frozen there.

But it's not the end of the story Storm tells. If she plays out the memory, the little girl is stopped in her tracks as an aunt blurts out a truth that pains her today.

"That's not your real father."

Doesn't smoke or drink, gets religion on TV

On Sundays, Storm tunes in to a televangelist who tells her anyone can overcome odds. It's the only religion she's ever taken to.

She believes this is the lesson of her life. Be a survivor. Never stop doing what you love, it makes you who you are.

"If you want to get old, you'll get old," she says.

There have been men who disappointed her, financial strain, brain surgery.

After it all, she sits on her couch and exercises in front of the television on a small stationary bike. She doesn't smoke or drink or eat much.

"I'm just blessed, I think. And I know when to push myself away from the table."

If some might see all this as chasing after lost youth, she says she cares little. Younger dancers tell her she is an inspiration to them, and she has no reason not to believe them.

"I feel good about myself. And I enjoy it," she says. "I have fun when I'm onstage, and the audience loves it. Nobody ever said it's time to give it up. Why stop?"

Cheers and whistles

Indeed, no one is dreaming of telling Tempest Storm to give up stripping when she slithers onto the casino nightclub stage for her seven minutes.

"Something in the way she moves ..." pipes through the speakers. Her live drummer, the Ringo Starr on loan from the Beatles tribute show on the Strip, picks up the beat.

The burlesque queen emerges stage right. A slinky purple gown hangs off her shoulders. A rhinestone necklace envelops her decolletage. The snakelike boa pours into her hands.

For a few seconds, her face flashes her nerves.

And then she hears the cheers.

When she performs, Storm smiles, leans back and walks on her heels, leading with her pelvis. Her hands float back and forth as if in water, until they fall below her hips and sweep up in tandem with a full frontal thrust.

More cheers. Whistles.

The boa disappears stage right.

The next number picks up the tempo, letting Storm cock a hip on the down beats. She loses the gloves and steps off stage to put on the negligee. It's gone almost as quickly as it came.

And with two flicks of her orange fingernails, the dress goes, too.

Two-finger whistle. Hollers. Applause.

Staring up at the 80-year-old woman in fishnets, a sheer rhinestone bra and a G-string, a young woman turns to a young man and declares:

"I want to look like that when I'm her age."

Original here

In search of a beautiful mind

He was long a jewel of the MIT faculty. Now, after a devastating brain injury, mathematician Seymour Papert is struggling bravely to learn again how to think like, speak like, be like the man of genius he was.

Seymour Papert constructed a mobile as part of his neurotherapy at his house in Blue Hill, Maine. The former MIT mathematics professor suffered massive brain trauma when he was struck by a motorbike. (Fred Field for The Boston Globe)

BLUE HILL, Maine - Seymour Papert is tinkering with a robotic, computer-controlled turtle in The Learning Barn, the rustic, light-filled laboratory where he developed and refined many of his ideas.

The long table he sits at is covered with relics of his prodigious career. A super-inexpensive laptop computer - based on his ideas - that originated at the MIT Media Laboratory, where he was a founding faculty member. A pile of DVDs on higher mathematics. A truck that brings to mind Papert's work in developing a line of robotic toys made of Legos. His turtle, a device to teach children to program computers.

Papert, who was a professor of mathematics, education, and media technology at MIT, has devoted much of his career to learning: self-learning (he taught himself Russian) and learning about learning. He was one of the early pioneers of artificial intelligence, and he invented the computer language Logo to teach children about computers.

Now he must learn something even more challenging - how to be Seymour Papert again.

Nineteen months ago he was struck by a motorbike in Hanoi and suffered a brain injury so severe he was comatose for a month and couldn't walk, talk, or read. The man widely considered to be the most important living thinker about the way children learn is struggling with an unreliable memory and an uncertain grip on words. And his wife and his caregivers are using insights from his theories about learning to help bring him back to a normal life.

"His accident was worse than horrible for somebody whose life was the mind," said Nicholas Negroponte, a cofounder and former director of MIT Media Laboratory.

It's been a year since Papert came home to Blue Hill on the Maine coast, where he lives with his wife, Suzanne Massie, a writer and Russian scholar. He'd spent months in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities. Doctors say it could take years to know the full extent of the brain damage.

He spends every weekday in The Learning Barn. Here, with friends and aides, he plays dominoes to practice working with numbers. He adjusts gears on a Lego truck, an echo of a lifelong passion for gears so exuberant he wrote an essay about them - "The Gears of My Childhood" - in his seminal 1980 book, "Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas." He works, tentatively, on math problems and is starting to play chess.

"He is unbelievably brave and courageous," Massie said. "I've come to the conclusion that the good Lord still wants him to do some work."

The accident
When the accident happened on Dec. 5, 2006, Papert was 78 years old and as vigorous as ever.

The South Africa native was midway through an ambitious new book about the future of education. He'd just returned from Greece, where he lectured at an international educational conference. He had a meeting coming up with the king of Thailand to talk about new learning initiatives in Bangkok. Though he'd retired from MIT in 1996, he worked under contract as a consultant with doctoral students, gave lectures, and attended faculty meetings.

He had been invited to Vietnam to deliver the keynote speech at a conference of mathematicians and educators hosted by Hanoi Technology University. The speech he gave was vintage Papert. With his eloquent command of language and thoughtful discourse, he challenged the audience to help students embrace "the beautiful jewel of the human spirit called pure mathematics" and to "think beyond the possible, beyond what you think can be done."

The next day he went back to the conference and was struck by a speeding motorbike as he crossed a chaotically busy street. He was rushed to a Hanoi hospital, where he had two emergency brain operations. A few days later he was airlifted, in a coma, to Massachusetts General Hospital in a Swiss air ambulance.

He spent nearly a month in intensive care and seven months in Maine hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, at one point developing septicemia, an infection that nearly killed him. Last July, he returned home to the light-filled 1839 farmhouse adjoining The Learning Barn in this picturesque coastal community.

He was a very changed man. He'd lost nearly 40 pounds and used a wheelchair and a walker. His speech was totally garbled. He was relearning how to feed himself. He had bouts of extreme anxiety and was terrified of stairs.

With some trepidation, Massie began helping her husband become himself again, the man she describes as charming, funny, a deep thinker, a "constant learner," a scientist so fully engaged he often neglected to tie his shoes.

Doctors prescribed 24-hour home care, Massie said, while offering no assurances he'd recover completely. "Memory and other high-level thought functions take a long time [to return]. It can take years," said Dr. Douglas Katz, medical director of Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital's brain injury program, who was asked to consult on Papert's case.

"We wait," said Massie. "We wait."

But not passively. "I will say there certainly were times [with Papert] when I got pretty depressed," she says. But she clung to hopeful advice offered by a physician in Hanoi. "He said, 'It's a good thing he is so brilliant; it means his neurons are well developed,' " Massie said. " 'Put him to work at something hard as soon as possible.' "

She did. Inspired by Papert's own ideas on experiential, hands-on learning, she encouraged friends and colleagues to relate to him as the mathematician and thinker they'd always known. Colleagues brought learning toys and puzzles to the hospital. "Past colleagues would come with gears," said Dr. Peter Keebler, chief of rehabilitation at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where Papert spent several weeks. "In a sense they were applying his own paradigms for learning."

Exercising his mind
Four mornings a week, Papert works with Peter Rottman, a friend and executive director of The Learning Barn, who engages him in conversation and reminds him of the theories he constructed and the work he used to do.

"I ask open-ended questions," said Rottman. "I never know where we'll end up."

Much of the time he talks to Rottman in a kind of gibberish, using nonsense words and sentences, albeit with the syntax and the cadence of proper sentence construction.

Rottman observes that Papert still speaks in his old professorial manner, drawing circles with his finger on the table, interjecting terminology - "data," "robot," "key ideas" - from his academic days at MIT. Even when he speaks nonsensically, it's with a South Africa accent and a tendency to pontificate.

Their starting point, one recent morning, was Papert's work with children at MIT Media Lab.

"Are children still using the robots?" Rottman asked.

Papert paused and appeared to reflect. "For this particular group of kids, something of kinetic directed very started getting this moving," he responded authoritatively, but then lapsed: "So a lot of children gradually are taken vocay and the convense."

"When I talk to you," Rottman said, "do you understand everything I say?"

Papert nodded. "Somewhat," he said, and smiled.

Rottman said it's disconcerting, sometimes, to watch Papert speak and know he's conveying only a small percentage of what he's thinking. "When he's talking to you, obviously in his mind it's correct, but coming out of his mouth it's not. Every now and then he'll string together three or four sentences and they'll just be perfect," Rottman said. "But if he can put together three or four, why not five or six? That's the fascinating part. We don't know."

Searching for Seymour
Papert has a devoted group of caregivers working around the clock, including nurses, a physical trainer, and a speech therapist. The services cost $15,000 a month, Massie said, and since Papert has used up his Medicare and Blue Cross benefits, she was forced to launch a Seymour Papert Recovery Fund, which has generated donations from colleagues and friends all over the world, as well as the Lego company. She said MIT has refused to help pay for his home care, although it did cover his emergency evacuation from Hanoi.

In a statement, MIT said: "Seymour Papert, a retired professor emeritus at MIT since 1996, has been a member of the MIT community for over 40 years and is loved and respected by everyone who has had the privilege of working with him. Since his terrible accident in Hanoi, MIT has provided him with assistance and support."

At the end of March, Massie brought Papert to MIT for the first time since the accident to visit his old colleagues at the Media Lab. "I hope he understood what was being said," Nicholas Negroponte said via e-mail, adding: "It did not feel like the same Seymour."

Massie is convinced it is the same Seymour.

Rottman, for his part, is heartened by the continual improvements in Papert's speech. "At the very beginning, I think he was confused. He wasn't very aware of his surroundings. Now he seems much more aware."

Then he turned to Papert to get his perspective. "Think that will change, Seymour?" he asked.

"I don't know," Papert replied with a shrug. "We'll see."

Original here

Texas has hired people with abuse records to care for disabled, audit finds

By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN -- The state institutions for people with disabilities are failing to find community-based homes for many patients who want them, and have hired 10 state school employees who should’ve been ineligible because of previous abuse and neglect records, according to a state audit released today.

While the Department of Aging and Disability Services has gotten better about listening to patients who want to move from state schools into the community, the report indicates 70 percent of patients who asked to leave the state schools in fiscal year 2007 weren’t granted their wish.

And half of all residents in the state schools had no documentation expressing their living preferences by the end of that year.

“DADS should improve its documentation of required community living options discussions with [residents], as well as its documentation of the reasons for not providing community living arrangements,” the report notes.

The audit also found 10 state school workers listed in the state employee misconduct registry – meaning they had abuse or neglect records that should have made them ineligible for hire. The Dallas Morning News first identified several of these employees in May.

And thought the agency investigates the overwhelming majority of high priority abuse and neglect incidents within one day, as required by law, they’re not so timely with “level two” complaints. Over the last two years, only 41 percent of those were investigated within the required two-week time frame.

Laura Albrecht, a spokeswoman with the Department of Aging and Disability Services, said at the beginning of the year, the agency began “dramatically improving” the process for state school residents to move out into the community. Those changes are underway.

She said all of the unqualified employees the audit found have since been terminated – and that the agency is now doing annual reviews of the state “employee misconduct registry.”

The delay in investigating the “priority 2” complaints has to do with staffing, Ms. Albrecht said. The agency’s employee turnover rate in that area is high but dropping, she said.

“It’s a competitive market to get trained and qualified professionals,” she said.

Original here

I had sex with my brother but I don't feel guilty

A woman slept with her sibling for years and has good memories. Not many people understand their relationship, she says

Strangely enough, Daniel's wedding day didn't upset me at all. It was his 30th birthday six months later which really got to me, as he stood there with his wife Alison while they greeted the guests. I can honestly say that that was the only time when I felt real envy and wished desperately that it was me standing beside him, arms round each other as we showed the world how much we loved each other.

It's not as if I'm not allowed to love Daniel, but the way we feel about each other isn't something that we can share easily with anyone else. Daniel is my brother, but since I was 14 we've had a sexual relationship - and that's not something that many people would feel comfortable with.

I've only ever spoken about this once before, and even then it was very much in the abstract. While I was still at university a friend had a major misunderstanding with a relatively new boyfriend when one of his friends had reported back to him that he'd seen her hugging and kissing another man in the union bar. She was firstly annoyed at being questioned and became even more exasperated when she explained that the man in question was her brother, as her boyfriend refused to believe her. Their loud discussion took place in the union with an interested audience, until he finally stamped out in fury, still refusing to believe her. As she flounced back to join us she made a remark about preferring her brother to any other man, whereupon one of the crowd said “Yuck, how pervy!” As she sat down beside me she muttered something like “It's not that strange,” and three or four drinks later I quietly asked her what she'd meant.

Fuelled by drink or maybe just rage, she started talking in a very intense but hushed way about how close siblings could be, going on to say that she was sure that many people experimented sexually with them as they grew up and then simply grew out of it. She said it was like practising your social skills on your family and so long as it was mutual, she couldn't see the harm. I didn't say much - partly because I couldn't believe that I'd met someone who seemed to be like me - and she very quickly clammed up and moved over to talk to someone else and never brought up the subject again.

I think the only reason that I'm talking about it now is to emphasise that I truly believe that she was right - it doesn't happen to everyone but it happens to some, and I don't want to be made to feel guilty about it. Incest is so often spoken about in the same breath as abuse, but if you're close in age and equal in relationship terms then it's entirely different. Of course abuse happens, but it can happen in any sexual relationship and there's an expectation that a family member would never hurt you in the way that someone else could. There's no comparison between siblings close in age having sexual feelings and contact and an adult forcing a younger member of the family to do something they neither understand nor want to be involved in. I think incest is traditionally seen as bad, but in some cultures that isn't the case. When I was small I asked a Sunday school teacher if Adam and Eve's children married each other since they were the first people on earth. She just laughed and didn't reply. Having children with Daniel was never an issue and we were always careful about contraception.

All my memories of my relationship with Daniel are good. He's only a year older than me and we've always been close, especially since we always seemed to be full of nonsense compared with our older sister Jane. She's four years older than Daniel and very studious and focused, while he's bursting with fun and light-hearted enthusiasm. I've adored him for as long as I can remember and my parents were always delighted by our closeness when we were small. We shared friends and moved happily in the same social circles, so I could never understand girls who didn't get on with their brothers.

Things changed when I was 14. I had spent hours getting ready for my first Christmas dance when I knocked on Daniel's bedroom door. It's a dodgy age as you're trying to come to terms with your developing body and worry endlessly about how you look, so his wolf whistle was very welcome as he swept me into his arms and we pirouetted, laughing, around the room, before going downstairs to show off our finery to our parents and Jane.

Daniel's appreciation really helped my confidence and I was aware of him smiling approvingly as boy after boy asked me up to dance, though my greatest pleasure was when he claimed me for the last dance. We giggled home to gossip and hot chocolate with our parents and by the next day all the finery was discarded and life was back to normal.

On New Year's Eve Daniel went to a party and by the time he got home I was already asleep. I was extremely sleepy when he crept into my room and curled up on my bed, which was something we'd both done for years, especially if we wanted to share some snippet of gossip. When he started stroking my hair and face it was a surprise, but I could feel myself drifting pleasurably back to sleep as he caressed me gently. Then I became aware of his hand drifting lower and suddenly I was wide awake as he stroked my neck and started sliding his hand down my vest top. I wasn't scared but I was surprised as he started stroking me, though my overriding sensation was one of sheer pleasure. I instinctively lifted my mouth to his as he kissed me and then he hugged me very tightly and left.

I lay in complete confusion with my mind racing and my body totally turned on. All the sex education I'd had said that this was wrong, that it was abuse and incest. But it hadn't felt wrong and I certainly hadn't felt forced. Rather, I felt that Daniel had stopped long before I'd wanted him to. It was hours before I finally fell asleep but I was sure of two things - that I'd really enjoyed it and I still adored my brother.

The next morning it was clear that Daniel had a hangover but as he grinned up at me from his prone position on the couch there was no awkwardness or regret between us. We didn't discuss what had happened, but went for a long walk that afternoon with Jane and the dog and everything felt the same, down to Jane chiding us about being irresponsible about leaving our parents to do all the tidying up after new year's dinner.

Over the next few years we had sexual encounters every six months or so, each time going farther and farther until I was 17, when we had full sex for the first time. We both went out with other people and there was never any jealousy, although I found it hard to be physically intimate with anyone else. Part of that was because sex with Daniel was so amazing that I had no patience for all the fumbling that seemed to happen with other boys. The sex was never pre-planned, but just always seemed to happen when there was no chance of being discovered.

Every so often I would wonder what people would think if they found out, especially our parents, but it always felt so right and was so exciting that these concerns were never enough to stop me. Sometimes he initiated sex and sometimes I did, but in between times our relationship was as easy, relaxed and affectionate as ever, with the incredible passion of each encounter quietly banked away until the next time.

I missed Daniel when he went to university, but went to stay with him every three months or so. Sometimes we would have sex and at other times neither of us seemed interested. By the time he met Alison he was working and I was a student, and I knew that this relationship was different, but it still came as a shock when he told me he wanted to marry her. However, I was more shocked when he said: “You only have to say and I won't marry her, but then I want us to stay together and not see anyone else. We could be the old boring brother and sister who never got married, but ended up sharing a house because no one else would have them! I know this is meant to be wrong but I've never felt anything so right.” This echoed everything that I've thought about our incestuous relationship over the years. After hours of discussion we agreed that it was time to stop the sexual side of our relationship and also decided that telling anyone else was a bad idea, parting in tears afterwards.

I know Daniel loves Alison, but she's very wary of me. I'm pretty sure that she doesn't see me as a sexual threat, but she thinks of me as an emotional rival and I suppose she's right. It's not unusual - there are countless people dealing with all the emotions that result from partners becoming officially family.

I have wondered if there will ever come a time when I'll look back on my relationship with Daniel in disgust, but I don't think so. Everyone has relationships where the sexual element has ended but a great friendship remains, and that's as good a way as any of summing up what's happened with us. Daniel has a unique place in my affections, as I do with him, and that will never change.

As an academic I have a tendency to draw logical conclusions. I like to see a pattern and resolution, so it does pain me that what appears so lovely and natural to me would be regarded as abhorrent by most people. It's not my subject, but I would be really interested to see a study on incest done on these terms, moving it away entirely from the concept of abuse. However, I simply cannot imagine that many people are happy to talk about it and I certainly wouldn't put my family through hell by being the first to go public.

Three months ago I met Derek and I think this is going to be a lasting relationship. The sex is certainly amazing and he's a warm and lovely man, so I have high hopes for this. The trouble with having someone like Daniel in your life is that it leaves you with very high expectations, but it's hard knowing that the one person you love above everything is out of bounds. Perhaps worst of all is the fact that you can't tell anyone, as his or her disgust would ruin everything.

Original here

Father-of-three branded a 'pervert' - for photographing his own children in public park

By David Wilkes

When Gary Crutchley started taking pictures of his children playing on an inflatable slide he thought they would be happy reminders of a family day out.

But the innocent snaps of seven-year-old Cory, and Miles, five, led to him being called a ‘pervert’.

The woman running the slide at Wolverhampton Show asked him what he was doing and other families waiting in the queue demanded that he stop.

Picture of innocence: The photograph Gary Crutchley took of his sons Cory and Miles

One even accused him of photographing youngsters to put the pictures on the internet.

Mr Crutchley, 39, who had taken pictures only of his own children, was so enraged that he found two policemen who confirmed he had done nothing wrong.

Yesterday he said: ‘What is the world coming to when anybody seen with a camera is assumed to be doing things that they should not?

‘This parental paranoia is getting completely out of hand. I was so shocked. One of the police officers told me that it was just the way society is these days. He agreed with me that it was madness.’

Father-of-three Mr Crutchley, a consultant for a rubber manufacturer from Walsall, West Midlands, was with his wife Tracey and their sons when the pleasant Sunday afternoon out turned sour.

He said: ‘The children wanted to go on an inflatable slide and I started taking photos of them having a good time. Moments later the woman running the slide told me to stop.

‘When I asked why, she told me I could not take pictures of other people’s children. I explained I was only interested in taking photos of my own children and pointed out that this was taking place in a public park.

‘I showed her the photos I had taken to prove my point. Then another woman joined in and said her child was also on the slide and did not want me taking pictures of the youngster.

All together now, smile: Gary and Tracey with Cory, left, and Miles

‘I repeated that the only people being photographed were my own children. She said I could be taking pictures of just any child to put on the internet and called me a pervert. We immediately left the show.’

Mrs Crutchley, 37, a teaching support assistant and qualified nursery nurse, said: ‘I was shocked by the reaction of those women.

'It is very sad when every man with a camera enjoying a Sunday afternoon out in the park with his children is automatically assumed to be a pervert.’

The slide was run by Tracey Dukes, 35, whose father Malcolm Gwinnett has an inflatables hire company.

Mr Gwinnett, 58, a LibDem councillor in Wolverhampton, said: ‘Our policy is to ask people taking photos whether they have children on the slide. If they do, then that is fine.

‘But on this occasion another customer took exception to what the man was doing and an argument developed between those two people that continued without any further involvement from staff on the slide.’

Original here

Woman has 140-pound tumor removed

Oregon mom was told for years she had to lose weight, but she couldn’t

By Amy Easley

‘My doctor told me I had two choices: I could either live or die,’ said Linda Rittenbach of Redmond, Ore.
REDMOND, Ore. - Throughout her life, Linda Rittenbach has struggled with her weight.

“You get bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Rittenbach, who has two grown children. “And then you go to your doctor and they tell you, ‘You need to lose weight — you’re fat!’”

Rittenbach had tried every diet, every workout, but the pounds wouldn’t go away. Doctors suggested weight loss surgery.

“But something in my head just said, ‘No, don’t do that,’” Rittenbach said last week.

It wasn’t until Rittenbach went to a different doctor this spring for flu-like symptoms that she found out what was really wrong.

Doctors told her a 140-pound cancerous tumor — a rare kind of liposcarcoma — was growing near her stomach. They said it had likely been growing for 15 to 20 years.

“My doctor told me I had two choices,” she said. “I could either live or die. And I had a 20 percent chance if I had the surgery. And if I didn’t have the surgery, I would die at home where my family would find me, and I didn’t want that.”

It took doctors three operations, over two months, in Redmond and at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland to remove the tumor.

Doctors also had to remove both kidneys to complete the surgery, and they were able to put only one back. The other kidney was so damaged in surgery that it couldn’t be saved, doctors told Rittenbach.

But now, said Judy Evanoff, a friend, Rittenbach is back to “driving herself around” as the healing process continues.

Doctor: ‘Don’t stop until you find the answer’
Dr. George Tsai of St. Charles Medical Center-Redmond said he was shocked by the size of the tumor.

“The type of tumor that wound up being extracted was extremely rare,” he said. “But I think it underscores that when things don’t quite make sense and become a chronic problem, don’t stop until you find the answer.”

Rittenbach agreed: “You should have things checked out, and not just take a diet pill or go on a diet or go through some kind of surgery, because if you don’t, it could be what I had.”

The kind of cancer Rittenbach had doesn’t respond to chemotherapy or radiation. Doctors told her it’s likely that the slow-growing tumor will return, but they can watch for it now.

Amy Easley is a correspondent for NBC affiliate KTVZ of Bend, Ore.

© 2008 MSNBC Interactive

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