\Walk on the mild side on road of redwoods

In the years since its inception, Cyber Monday has grown to rival Black Friday as one of the biggest shopping days of the year, with some speculating that, at least in terms of year-to-year growth, it may even surpass its older cousin in coming years. Black Friday sales grew far more than expected this year, suggesting that Cyber Monday figures can expect to see a similar jump, if not larger.

How much of your shopping will you be doing on Cyber Monday? Let us know in the Comments.

Social networking sites like Twitter are awash with buzz about Cyber Monday. While most tweets are from retailers advertising their deals, or from price aggregators promising to help find the best prices, others range in topic from the humorous…

In preparation for Cyber Monday, I just pepper sprayed my computer… 13 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

To the cautionary…

RT @DHSgov: Shopping this #CyberMonday? Check out these #cybersecurity tips from Stop. Think. Connect. first: http://t.co/sz0eTjkx 1 hour ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Nearly every retailer, from the smallest to the largest, has at least some sort of Cyber Monday special going, offering sometimes enormous discounts on a wide array of products. Some of the best deals are to be found in electronics. For example, Amazon has reduced the price of its Kindle DX reader by $150, and is offering massive discounts on a variety of gadgets, video games, and movies. Data obtained from PriceGrabber.com shows that these categories are some of the areas showing the most significant sales growth this year are already.

Here’s an interesting infographic, courtesy of Daily Infographic:

Ballet and tap are so old-school. A dance studio in British Columbia is offering a new type of movement program for kids — pole dancing class.

Kristy Craig, the owner of The Twisted Grip Dance and Fitness Studio says the class, which is offered to kids as young as 5, originated in response to demand from parents. “My existing students were asking about it for their children. They were saying, ‘My daughter plays on my pole at home all the time, I’d love her to actually learn how to do things property and not hurt herself,’” Craig told The National Post.

And so, “Little Spinners” was born. As of September 6, UPI reports that four kids (three girls, one boy) had signed up for the weekly class that costs a mere $70 per one hour session.

The cost of pole dancing class, however is not what most critics are up in arms about. Many parents ask whether kids should be participating in this type of workout at all. Last year, when a studio in England offered a similar program, Babble blogger Meredith Carroll wrote, “How anyone could offer pole dancing to girls almost that young is beyond me. Talk about the increased sexualization of kids.”

According to the Daily Mail, child protection groups called photos of last year’s class ‘deeply disturbing’.

But Craig defends her program claiming that there is nothing sexual about it. “Do you see anything provocative going on here? Because there isn’t. This is strictly about fitness,” she told the National Post. In fact, she think it’s just like the types of physical activity children are already drawn to.

“I mean kids love climbing trees. They will climb anything,” Craig told UPI.

In 2010, when Scotland studio Up Yer Pole came under fire for their under-16 pole dancing program, owner Pammy Cameron used a similar defense. “There are no sexy routines or provocative dance wear, it just so happens there’s a pole involved,” she told The Sun.

Pole dancing teachers aren’t the only ones trying to change the public’s mind about the activity. The International Pole Sport Federation (yes, there is one) is pushing for pole dancing to become an official Olympic Sport. They seek to erase the “stripper” stigma, if you will.

As far as how pole dancing class may impact kids who participate, child psychologist Dr. Derek Swain told CTV that there’s no problem with it if it’s used only for physical activity. But, he is concerned that because of its association with the sex industry, “it could cause bullying and even increase the likelihood of girls becoming strippers when they’re older.”

And, Dr. Swain wonders where the desire to take these classes are even coming from. “Sometimes these kinds of activities are more of an interest to the parent than they are to the kids,” he said.

(h/t The Frisky)

    TheFind.com, a discovery shopping search engine that debuted in 2006, has launched a shopping search engine that allows you to search for products being offered by tens of thousands of merchants that accept PayPal payments.


    Search PayPal Stores

    You can try out the PayPal search by going to PayPal.TheFind.com.

    Similar to the search results that you’ll see on TheFind.com, the PayPal search results consist of catalog-like images, not just text links or thumbnail images of products.

    PayPal merchants do not pay for their products to appear in the search results–which is much different than the traditional shopping search engines.

    Traditional shopping search engines typically run on a pay per click business model, which can be costly for merchants.

    Merchants who wish to showcase additional promotional or branding messages to Paypal customers can pay for placement in “sponsored” areas of the site. Merchants can add their products to PayPal.TheFind.com by going here.

    TheFind.com originally debuted in October of 2006 as a “discovery shopping search engine”.

    TheFind.com’s goal is to deliver comprehensive, relevant and visually compelling shopping experiences to users.

    Unlike traditional comparison shopping search engines, TheFind.com provides the largest product selection, with an emphasis on leading styles, brands and stores–and the ability to browse and search for similar items

    TheFind.com crawls the internet and uses its “Product Ranking Engine” technology to rank more than 170 million products from more than 500,000 online stores.

    TheFind.com, is headquartered in Mountain View, California and is backed by venture capital firms Redpoint Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners.


Walkers enjoy Juknongwon, a path through a bamboo forest.

DAMYANG, South Jeolla – Air conditioners, cold showers and ice cream are all good ways to keep cool. But a walk down a tree-lined forest trail beats them all.

Thick, green leaves that block the sun and create shade and branches that reach to the sky all evoke a calm coolness.

In Damyang, South Jeolla, there is a road lined with trees thought to be the most beautiful in Korea. Locals call it “the Road of Metasequoia,” after the trees that are of three species of conifers known as redwoods.

Last year, encouraged by the country’s “walking boom” triggered by the Olle Trail in Jeju, the county office of Damyang designated an 8.1-kilometer (five-mile) trail as Damyang Sumokgil. Sumokgil roughly translates as tree-lined road.

Damyang Sumokgil consists of three courses: Juknongwon, which runs through a bamboo forest; Gwanbangjerim, along a river bank lined with 200-year-old trees; and the 1.8-kilometer Road of Metasequoia.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has also taken note of Damyang Sumokgil, designating it as a “culture and ecology exploration road with stories.” Every year, the ministry chooses 10 roads with exceptional cultural and natural values and provides financial support for maintenance and improvements.

Three courses, three colors

The best part about Damyang Sumokgil is that the three courses that make up that road have distinctly different colors.

The road is pretty much level and can easily be completed in three hours.

At the start is Juknongwon, a bamboo park that is the pride of Damyang. Located in Hyanggyo-ri, it was privately owned when the county office of Damyang rented part of it and created a one-kilometer walking trail in 2003.

It was an instant hit, so three years later Damyang bought the entire park and created a 2.2-kilometer trail. The concentration of numerous tall bamboo trees creates quite a scene and a perfect getaway during the summer.

Next up is Gwanbangjerim – a 1.2-kilometer course designated as Korea’s Natural Monument No. 366. It is a road on a bank that was built in 1684 to control Damyang Stream, the uppermost part of the Yeongsan River. The bank was renovated during the Joseon Dynasty in 1854 and a forest was planted around it.

Aphananthe aspera was the most evident species in Gwanbangjerim. The tree is known for roots that are intricately tangled together, allowing the soil and the bank to maintain firmness and strength. Besides the aphananthe aspera, there were also zelkova, hackberry, and others – many of them more than 200 years old.

The road is rather narrow at about three meters (9.8 feet) wide, so even at midday the tall trees create a shady path that makes for a pleasurable summer walk.

The Road of Metasequoia (top) and a tree-lined path along a river bank are sections of the Damyang Sumokgil. [JoongAng Ilbo]

Road of Metasequoia

When I arrived at the Road of Metasequoia, I was overwhelmed by the height of the trees – at least 20 meters – that made the road look almost like a large tunnel.

But the atmosphere created by the colony of metasequoia, which are rare in Korea, was also quite exotic.

Like most other people I encounter on the forest roads, I walked barefoot thanks to the leaves of metasequoia that covered the dirt road and made it feel quite soft and pleasant. Sometimes the silence would be broken by falling metasequoia fruit, which are about the size of an adult’s thumb.

Originally, the Road of Metasequoia was part of National Highway No. 24 that cuts across the southern Korean Peninsula. Even during Joseon times, the road was important for merchants, connecting important cities in South Jeolla like Sunchang, Gwangju and Ulsan.

But in 1972, the government planted metasequoia. And in 2000, the trees were threatened by a road expansion project, but the residents of Damyang worked together to save them. In subsequent years, the Road of Metasequoia was the setting for numerous films, dramas and TV commercials, emerging as the star tourist attraction of Damyang.

And last year, the county office of Damyang banned motor vehicles and bicycles and restored the dirt road to complete the walking trail.

After the Road of Metasequoia, walkers reach a quiet village and other points of interest – Geumwol Bridge, an airfield and Damyang Resort.

Damyang and bamboo

Damyang is famous for bamboo.

Although residents – even those who were born and raised here – do not know exactly when the people of Damyang began to grow bamboo, they have used the plant for food and made their living by selling crafts made of bamboo trees for centuries.

In the 1980s, the bamboo business went over the hill. Yet in 1998, as a mobile carrier used a bamboo forest in Damyang as a setting for its TV commercial, the bamboo of Damyang was in spotlight again. But its real comeback took place in early 2000s. With Koreans’ raised awareness and interest in healthy lifestyles and diets then, bamboo business was thought to be the “it” business once again.

In Juknongwon, there are several types of bamboo – local species like wangdae and bunjuk as well as foreign ones like ojuk and maengjongjuk.

The species differ, but in all of them the shoots pop up before summer. Once that happens, the plant grows two to three centimeters in just an hour. And in a month’s time, it reaches a height of 10 meters.

In our recent visit, bamboo in Juknongwon obscured the sky, attesting to an old saying, wuhujuksun, which means bamboo shoots popping up after the rain that is used to refer to something springing up everywhere very fast.

Bamboo emits a high level of phytoncide – an organic compound produced by plants that is thought to be good for one’s health – when it’s warm. And bamboo emits twice as much phytoncide as retinispora, which is known to be a prodigious producer of the compound.

Bamboo also emit a high level of oxygen, which is why bamboo forests tend to be 4-7 degrees Celsius (7.2-12.5 degrees Fahrenheit) lower than temperatures outside the forest.

That sounds like a pretty cool place to be this summer.

By Hong Ji-yeon, Kim Hyung-eun [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

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