Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Lunacy Museum

One of the most unusual museums you'll ever visit is the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri. It's on the grounds of what was originally named "State Lunatic Asylum Number Two" when it was established in 1874. It's packed with full-sized replicas, interactive displays, artifacts and documents detailing how treatment of the mentally-ill--and others--evolved over the last 135 years.

The facility opened with 25 patients in 1974, then grew to over 3,000 at its peak in the 1950s as it expanded to provide treatment for tuberculosis patients, syphilitics, alcoholics, and patients with physical disabilities. The museum, located in a building on the original grounds that had once been used as the admitting ward and the clinic for hospital patients, not only details the history of treatment in this hospital but other mental health facilities from as early as the 16th century.

Exhibits almost guaranteed to give you pause include the tranquilizer chair, dousing tub, and an amazing array of objects swallowed over time by a singularly disturbed patient.

The Glore Psychiatric Museum is located at 3406 Frederick Avenue about one mile west of Interstate 29 in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blue Monster Fun

Doral Golf Resort and Spa is an oasis of luxury in the South Florida sun for golfers and their families. Guest rooms and suites are in lodges arrayed near the main clubhouse, and the Spa at Doral can only be described as palatial.

There are loads of activities for the family, too, with Camp Doral offering everything from Arts & Crafts to Volleyball. It’s next to the Blue Lagoon, where the whole family can enjoy the beach-entry pool, 125-foot waterslide, and 20 poolside cabanas with amenities. There are eight restaurants on the property, ranging from the Java Zone coffee counter to Windows On The Green, which serves fresh seafood and American cuisine with South Florida and Caribbean accents. There’s also an unheralded but not to be missed sushi bar, too.

There are five courses at the resort, but the must-play track is the Blue Monster. It reminds me of a mugger in a Brooks Brothers suit--it looks harmless but it will hurt you when you least expect it. The 7,288-yard (from the tips) home of numerous PGA Tour events looks benign on paper. From the blue tees, only four of the par fours are over 400 yards and the longest is 416. The 131 slope isn’t even particularly daunting, so you stand on the first tee expecting to put some good numbers on the scorecard.

The gem of the track is the 18th hole, which played to a PGA Tour-toughest 4.625 stroke average at the 2007 WGC-CA Championship. From the mortal tees, it’s only 414 yards! But when you play it into the wind, it’s more like 474—with water on your left all the way until it cuts almost all the way across the front of the green to drown any hope you may have had of getting home in two. Your trials and tribulations aren’t over when you finally make it to the green, either—Mark Calcavecchia putted right off it into the water last year. It makes you wonder how even Tiger Woods won here three years in a row (2005-2007).

Doral Golf Resort & Spa
(800) 713-6725
Nearest airport: Miami (15 minutes)
Golf package: $594 includes room and breakfast, one round on the Blue Monster with forecaddie for one golfer, and other amenities. Also a one-hour introductory golf clinic at no additional charge.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

One-Island Golf

You know you’re at TPC Sawgrass when you look out your hotel room window and see the miniature island green in the lagoon. It’s not the real thing, but it might as well be, since you have just about as much chance of landing your ball there as you do on the real one at the Players Stadium Course, one of five courses at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort totaling 99 holes of fine golf in Ponte Vedre, Florida.

There are 18 holes on the Players Stadium Course, home of the Players Championship since 1982, but the 17th hole generates 99% of the excitement. It’s only 128 yards—the pros play about the same distance but from a slightly different angle—but the tee shot is like trying to land a ball on half of a tennis court. When the swirling winds come up, it’s more like trying to hit a ping pong table at the other end of a football field. Players lose 120,000 balls in the lake surrounding the green every year. Maybe that’s why it’s known as the most frightening hole in golf.

The Marriott Sawgrass Resort provides all the amenities a tired, hungry golfer could want. There are five restaurants on the property, including the Augustine Grille, where you can treat your homesick palate to a serving of Hudson Valley foie gras before tearing into a fine steak. The 25,000 square-foot spa is the place to go after your round for a soak in the whirlpool or the Sawgrass Grand Slam, which includes a hydro and color therapy bath, a deep cleansing and exfoliation, and, for the grand finale, a full body massage.

Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa
Ponte Vedre Beach
Nearest airport: Jacksonville (35 minutes)
Golf package: $469 includes room and breakfast, one round on Players Stadium Course for one golfer, forecaddie and other amenities. Note, you must be a guest at the Resort to play the Players Stadium Course.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fighting HIV/AIDS in Congo

Bloggers UniteThe spread of HIV/AIDS is among the many deplorable effects of the continuous violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While the country as a whole has an estimated adult HIV prevalence of 3.2%, UNAIDS reports that prevalence of the infection among women who have suffered sexual violence in areas of armed conflict may be as high as 20%.

The eastern provinces have seen an astounding number of terror rapes--one every half hour, 24 hours every day--with a corresponding rise in HIV/AIDS.

Children are affected, too, both by infections through mother-to-child transmission and the loss of a parent to the disease. According to UNAIDS, 120,000 children under the age of 15 are infected with HIV.

While Congolese government efforts to fight the epidemic are not inconsiderable and the US provided $10.6 million specifically for essential HIV/AIDS programs to the DRC through USAID in fiscal 2008, getting assistance to the war zones is all but impossible. Over 1,000,000 people are homeless as a direct result of the fighting in the region, further complicating the delivery of essential medical services of all types.

While there is little we as individuals can do to stop the violence in the DRC, we can help its victims. One organization I support is Women For Women International, a leading force in helping women and their families re-establish their lives.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the