Yoga for Computer Users by Sandy Blaine

We’ve all been guilty of it – spending too much time hunched in front of the computer, typing and clicking, either for work or entertainment. Pretty soon the stress of bad posture and repetitive motion catches up to you and your body reacts with aches and pains. Yoga for Computer Users was written with you in mind with a series of simple yoga poses targeting the neck, shoulders, wrists and hands. Each pose includes a list of specific benefits of the exercise, a detailed description of how to do the exercise and is illustrated with photographs. Many of the exercises can be done right at your desk and none require any equipment more complicated than a towel or a chair. They range from quick 5-minute breaks, to 30-minute sessions to do at home. There is also a section of lifestyle tips for adding yoga to your everyday life, such as become ambidextrous, strengthen your core, and balance your load. Blaine also recommends that you disconnect from technology when possible; she has made her Sundays computer free and was amazed at how restful and stress-reducing this practice has become. So, unkink that neck, stretch out those cramped fingers and enjoy sitting at your computer again.

Four Fun 4th of July Facts

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” -Erma Bombeck

1. Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two of the most influential founders of the United States and former Presidents, died within hours of each other on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the country they helped to create – July 4, 1826.

2. There’s a better than 1 in 4 chance that that hot dog you’ll eat on the Fourth originated in Iowa, the nation’s leading producer of hogs. It’s estimated that the number of hot dogs eaten by Americans on the 4th is 150 million.

3. There are 31 places in the United States that have the word “Liberty” in them. Iowa is the state with the most – Libertyville, West Liberty, North Liberty and New Liberty.

4. Fireworks imported from China to the United States in 2006 were valued at $216 million. Be sure to catch some of those fireworks at Red White and Boom tonight, a fireworks display on the riverfront presented by Davenport and Rock Island.

Armchair Traveler – India

India conjures up images of vibrant flavors, brilliant colors and tropical heat. It’s also the second largest liberal democracy in the world with a varied people, a rich culture and a tumultuous history. Sample some of the exotic beauty of this fascinating country through these books.

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. Set in modern day Bombay, this is the story of the entwined lives of a wealthy woman and her servant, the caste system that holds them apart and the shared joys and tragedies that bring them together.

The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott. The crown is England and the jewel, of course, is India. Jewel describes the turbulant final days of Englands’ occupation of India through the personal stories of the people, English and Indian, that live there. This exceptional novel, written with a keen understanding of human nature, is the first of the Raj Quartet.

Imaginary Men by Anjali Baneriee. This fun chick-lit novel highlights the push and pull of modernity vs tradition in India today. Professional matchmaker Lina Ray invents a fiance to silence pressure from her family to marry, then has to scramble to find a real man. Detailed description of Indian customs enliven this light, entertaining read.

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. Set in 1950s post-colonial India, this follows four Indian families as they struggle to survive the upheavals and change of a new order. Centered on the search for a suitable husband for a younger daughter, this sprawling novel touches on the complex issues facing the newly independent country.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. The latest from award-winning author Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth explores the divide between immigrants from India and their American-born children, straddling two countries and two cultures, belonging to neither. Rich and complex, the doubts and heartbreaks that Lahiri’s characters face in this beautiful novel are universal.

The Greatest Game Ever Played by Mark Frost

With Tiger Woods winning the 2008 U.S. Open and the John Deere Classic nearing, I was reminded of my favorite book and movie about golf, The Greatest Game Ever Played by Mark Frost. It is the story of the 1913 U.S. Open held at the Country Club in Brookline Massachusetts. Frost has interwoven the biographies of Harry Vardon and Francis Ouimet, slowly building to the dramatic finish. Born on the Channel Island of Jersey in 1870, Vardon had won five British Open titles by 1913. On this side of the Atlantic, 20-year-old Ouimet was the Massachusetts state amateur champion and had been a caddie at the Country Club; his invitation to the Open was unexpected. The long, wonderful second portion of the story dramatizes the exciting week in September when Vardon, Ouimet, and others battled for the coveted title. Frost paints a lively supporting cast. Ouimet’s mother, brother, and sister were supportive, but his father had no truck with the silly game. Englishman Bernard Darwin, the scientist’s grandson, found his niche as a first-generation golf journalist. Ted Ray, a big bear of a man, punched out a fellow English golfer before joining friend Varner and Ouimet in a three-man playoff. Ten-year-old caddie Eddie Lowery almost stole the show with his pugnacious confidence and sage advice for Francis. It is a wonderful book about the beginning of the sport of golf in the United States.

The book was published in 2002; in 2005 the movie of the same name was released. Starring Stephen Dillane and Shia Labeouf as Harry Verdon and Francis Ouimet were wonderful. The best minor character was Eddie Lowery played by Josh Flitter. The movie puts pictures to Mark Frost’s words. It is a beautiful film.

Be sure to catch exciting professional golf action at our own golf tournament, the John Deere Classic, July 7-13. Because you never know when the next sports hero will emerge.