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  professional basketball player

  Kobe Bryant first started turning heads on the basketball court when he was in middle school. His talents dominated the game so much that high schools from all over the Philadelphia area watched him grow up. The almost six-foot tall seventh grader definitely had the make-up and genes for the game, as his dad was former NBA forward, Joe Bryant. Kobe developed his basketball skills under the watchful eye of his father, helping his mission to become a professional basketball player. He worked daily on his game, watching video, playing in the playgrounds and listening to his father.

  When he entered high school at Lower Marion in Philadelphia, Kobe was a highly touted recruit. He proved that he had the skills and work ethic to be a star at the next level and the scouts noticed this. Kobe didn't let anybody down either, as he played on the varsity basketball team his freshman year. He wouldn't immediately be a superstar, though. Rather it was the countless hours of early morning workouts by himself in the gymnasium that escalated Kobe's talents.

  Kobe became a better player every year he played at Lower Marion and soon enough, he had developed into one of the premier talents at the high school level. He sold out the games everywhere he played during his junior and senior years and he didn't disappoint anyone. He once packed the school gym so much that it caused a traffic jam on the main highway just outside the school.

  He went on to finish his high school career as the all-time leading point scorer in Pennsylvania history with a total of 2, 883 points. Kobe's highly decorated high school career made him the 13th overall choice by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA draft.


  honoring mothers

  So who came up with the idea of honoring mothers nation-wide on the second Sunday in May?

  EARLY CELEBRATIONS Some historians claim that the predecessor of the Mother's Day holiday was the ancient spring festival dedicated to mother goddesses. In the ancient Greek empire the spring festival honored Rhea, wife of Cronus and mother of the gods and goddesses. In Rome the most significant Mother's Day-like festival was dedicated to the worship of Cybele, another mother goddess. Ceremonies in her honor began some 250 years before Christ was born. This Roman religious celebration, known as Hilaria, lasted for three days - from March 15 to 18!

  ENGLAND'S MOTHERING SUNDAY More like the modern celebration of Mother's Day is England's "Mothering Sunday", also called Mid-Lent Sunday, observed on the fourth Sunday in Lent. Some say the ceremonies in honor of Cybele were adopted by the early church to venerate the Mother of Christ, Mary. Others believe the Mother Church was substituted for mother goddess and custom began to dictate that a person visit the church of his/her baptism on this day. People attended the mother church of their parish, laden with offerings.

  Also in England in the 1600's, young men and women who were apprentices or servants returned home on Mothering Sunday, bringing to their mothers small gifts like trinkets or a "mothering cake". Sometimes furmety was served - wheat grains boiled in sweet milk, sugared and spiced.

  In northern England and in Scotland, the preferred refreshments were carlings - pancakes made of steeped pease fried in butter, with pepper and salt. In fact, in some locations this day was called Carling Sunday.

  Another kind of mothering cake was the simnel cake, a very rich fruit cake. The Lenten fast dictated that the simnel cake had to keep until Easter. It was boiled in water, then baked, and was often finished with an almond icing. Sometimes the crust was of flour and water, colored with saffron.

  INTEREST STARTS IN THE UNITED STATES Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948) is credited with originating our Mother's Day holiday. She never married and was extremely attached to her mother, Mrs. Anna Reese Jarvis. Mrs. Jarvis was a minister's daughter who for 20 years taught Sunday School in the Andrews Methodist Church of Grafton, West Virginia. Miss Jarvis graduated from the Female Seminary in Wheeling, West Virginia, and taught in Grafton before moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with the rest of her family.

  Anna Reese Jarvis died in Philadelphia in May of 1905. Still unmarried and left alone with her blind sister Elsinore, Anna missed her mother greatly. Two years after her mother's death (1907) Anna Jarvis and her friends began a letter-writing campaign to gain the support of influential ministers, businessmen and congressmen in declaring a national Mother's Day holiday. She felt children often neglected to appreciate their mother enough while the mother was still alive. She hoped Mother's Day would increase respect for parents and strengthen family bonds.

  THE FIRST MOTHER'S DAY The first Mother's Day observance was a church service honoring Mrs. Anna Reese Jarvis, held at Anna Jarvis's request in Grafton, West Virginia, and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 10, 1908.

  Carnations, her mother's favorite flowers, were supplied at that first service by Miss Jarvis. White carnations were chosen because they represented the sweetness, purity and endurance of mother love. Red carnations, in time, became the symbol of a living mother. White ones now signify that one's mother has died.

  OTHER MOTHER'S DAY OBSERVANCES The first Mother's Day proclamation was issued by the governor of West Virginia in 1910. Oklahoma celebrated Mother's Day that year as well. By 1911 every state had its own observances. By then other areas celebrating Mother's Day included Mexico, Canada, China, Japan, South America and Africa. The Mother's Day International Association was incorporated on December 12, 1912, with the purpose of furthering meaningful observations of Mother's Day.

  OFFICIAL PROCLAMATION The House of Representatives in May, 1913, unanimously adopted a resolution requesting the President, his Cabinet, members of Congress, and all officials of the federal government to wear a white carnation on Mother's Day. Congress passed another Joint Resolution May 8, 1914, designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. The U.S. flag is to be displayed on government buildings and at people's homes "as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country." President Woodrow Wilson issued the first proclamation making Mother's Day an official national holiday.


  If your mother is still alive, take care to shower her with special attention this Mother's Day. Visit her. Phone her. Send her a card. Give her flowers. Get her gourmet chocolates. Buy her something you know she's been wanting. But don't wait until after her funeral to let her know how much you've appreciated her! Wear your red (or otherwise-colored) carnation proudly.


  Good Trade in Bad Times

  Virkven Sargu's phone has been ringing all afternoon as anxious Singaporeans ask him to forecast when the city state's recession will end.But with a vermilion caste mark on his forehead and head-to-toe robes in white, Sargu isn't an economist or a banker —— and his predictions aren't limited to the markets.He's a fortune-teller or, as he likes to put it, an astropalmist.

  Business has been booming in recent months, with more and more people seeking his words of wisdom as they struggle with an economic downturn that the government says will leave as many as 25,000 workers out of a job by the end of this year.

  “Nowadays in Singapore, so many people are worried about the economy. It was like this when the economy became sick five or so years ago,”Sargu said at his office and home in the city's Little India district, stroking a long, white beard that belies his 44 years.“They're very confused these days and I just try to tell them what to expect,”he said.Bad times have been good to Sargu, even if he's a bit hazy on the numbers.“Sometimes three appointments in an afternoon,Sometimes 10 or more appointments.”Sargu is not the only fortune-teller in Singapore to see people queuing for more arcane ways of predicting their prospects after fund managers may have failed them.

  Demand is stronger in other Asian countries as well.A recent report by Thai Farmers Research showed Bangkok residents lining up to consult fortune-tellers, with nearly 81 percent of those polled saying they have visited one. The average was two readings a year since the Asian financial crisis began in 1997.










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