The November 1997 Almanac

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Government


Electric outlets

November 1: Starting today Californians may file requests to opt out of the service provided by their local electric companies and sign up with any of a host of providers coming on the scene, many from out of state. This is the first of several steps in California's plan to deregulate its electric utilities and end the state-granted monopolies. Service from the new providers will start no sooner than January 1. California was the first state to legislate a system that permits retail competition in its electricity market; 13 other states have since either passed bills or supported rules that call for opening their electricity markets in a similar fashion. 10: The first White House conference ever held on hate crimes takes place today, bringing together victims, legislators, religious leaders, and police officers to discuss existing laws against hate crimes and ways to improve enforcement. The conference has been billed as part of President Bill Clinton's yearlong initiative on race relations, although crimes directed against a person's religion, nationality, sex, or sexual orientation will also be considered.

Arts & Letters


Matisse-type art

This could be a record month for art sales, with the rival auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's both holding significant auctions in New York. During the course of the month Christie's will offer 115 twentieth-century paintings, drawings, and prints from the estate of the art collectors Victor and Sally Ganz. The collection is valued at more than $125 million -- the highest total ever estimated for the sale of a single collection. The sale will include works by Picasso, Jasper Johns, and Frank Stella. On the 12th Sotheby's will auction 45 paintings and sculptures from the estate of the philanthropist and hotel owner Evelyn Sharp. This collection, which is expected to bring some $60 million, includes works by Matisse, Modigliani, and Picasso. Some experts worry that these auctions, along with those regularly scheduled for the fall, are more than the market can bear.

Health & Safety


Endangered hunter

Deer-hunting season is in full swing in many states this month. Deer are not the only ones who should be wary: according to a study conducted recently at the William Beaumont Hospital, in Royal Oak, Michigan, poorly conditioned hunters are at risk for cardiac complications, including heart attacks, sparked by "buck fever," or the excitement felt while hunting. The study found that heart rates increased drastically when subjects killed or simply sighted a deer; they were also elevated while hunters dragged their kills to their vehicles or camps. For example, one hunter's heart rate rose from 78 to 168 beats per minute after a buck came into view. Even after hunters are literally out of the woods, their health may still be in peril: arterial plaque dislodged by the rigors of hunting may cause blockage, and a heart attack, up to several days later. In response to these findings, doctors in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, have set up screening centers outside sporting-goods stores to try to identify hunters particularly at risk.

Demographics

November 28: The holiday mailing season begins today, the day after Thanksgiving; some 5 billion cards and letters will be delivered in the U.S. between now and Christmas. Expediting the process this year will be "remote computer readers" -- electronic devices designed to read hand-addressed mail. RCRs have been installed in some 250 postal centers, and are expected to be able to read at least a quarter of the hand-addressed mail. They will put a bar code on each piece, so that the mail can be sorted automatically. For those hand-addressed pieces on which the penmanship defies electronic deciphering, the Postal Service will use another new system, whereby computer images of addresses are sent electronically to regional encoding centers, whose employees will look at the images and enter the information needed to assign a bar code.

Food


Cranberries

November is the peak month for cranberry sales, owing, of course, to Thanksgiving. Demand for cranberries has been growing: for example, cranberry juice now ranks third in U.S. juice sales, behind apple and orange juice. The number of cranberry farmers is increasing, along with the number and size of cranberry bogs. However, creating new bogs is a slow, expensive process that is often thwarted by environmental regulations designed to protect wetlands. Farmers worry that the regulations could drive the industry abroad, even though cranberries are a North American taste: the vast majority of all cranberries are not only grown but consumed in the U.S. and Canada.

The Skies



Beaver Moon

November 4: Mars and Venus lie close together, near the crescent Moon, low on the southwestern horizon after sunset. 7: The waxing Moon passes above Jupiter in the southern sky. 11: After sunset in the southeastern and Gulf Coast states, southern New Jersey, and Cape Cod, Saturn will be occulted -- hidden from view -- by the Moon. 14: Full Moon, also known this month as the Frosty or Beaver Moon.

50 Years Ago

Budd Schulberg, writing in the November, 1947, issue of The Atlantic Monthly: "To most Hollywood executives, the safest stories still seem to be those which do the people's dreaming for them.... Away from your troubles, away from your responsibilities and your punch-in-punch-out monotony, you sit there in the enveloping darkness and let DeMille or some other genius of mediocrity spin out for you a million-dollar dream.
Blossoming secretaryThe homely secretary takes off her glasses and blossoms into a beautiful woman and the ideal mate for the boss. The rich and spoiled but beautiful heiress meets her match in an even more headstrong man of the people.The efficient and successful career woman who has forgotten that she is a woman is reminded of the fact by a forceful gent who puts her back in the home, where, it turns out, she wanted to be all along. Just in the nick of time, the villain is caught, the game is won, the show goes on."

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