Jennifer Ordonez

Stories by Jennifer Ordonez

  • Disasters: Summer Fires, Take Two

    As California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger discussed the "unprecedented wildfire siege" that since late June has burned more than 700,000 acres in his state, a handful of Buddhist monks in the Los Padres National Forest valiantly protected their monastery while fire crews from Mexico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere in the United States, including 2,000 California National Guardsmen, prepared to lend a hand to state efforts. Just another summer day in California.The Buddhists won their battle—their retreat was spared—but the war rages on. A mere month into the burning season, the toll has already eclipsed the more than $1 billion in damage sustained from fires in 2007, when the bulk of the flames stayed south, in San Diego and Orange counties. But this year, they're touring the north, and spreading to some of California's most treasured landscapes—Big Sur among them.So far nearly 20,000 personnel, in an army of planes and 1,590 fire trucks, have been deployed to stop them...
  • A Most Casual Addiction

    Free game sites have become a furtive pastime among office workers, insomniac moms and chronic procrastinators.
  • Tech: Rise in Casual Videogamers

    The number of casual videogamers is rising. If only the developers could find a way to make more money out of them.
  • From Web to Print

    The pages of 8020 Publishing's two magazines are filled entirely with content submitted by readers through its Web sites.
  • A Brave New Magazine Model?

    8020's publications are filled entirely with content generated by online readers. But will people pay for it?
  • $1 Coffee at Starbucks

    To stop McDonald's and other rivals from siphoning away even more customers, the company begins testing $1 cups of coffee.
  • A Real Cliffhanger

    Could the writers' strike kill the ailing soap-opera genre? Tune in to see.
  • We Need You To Disperse, Por Favor

    In May, Latino protesters at a rally in Los Angeles failed to heed warnings to disperse—warnings shouted at them in English from a noisy police helicopter. Hundreds were injured in the ensuing melee, which might have been prevented by the Phraselator, a handheld device that can translate 100,000 words or phrases, including crowd control messages like "We need you to move away." Created by Voxtec of Maryland, the Phraselator was designed for American cities where immigration is booming. Priced from $2,500, the device is cheaper than translators, but less effective because it works one way, like a bullhorn.Still, applications are spreading. In Lee County, Fla., corrections officers use the device to ask Spanish- and Creole-speaking prisoners yes-or-no booking questions. Rescue services are considering using the device in earthquakes, floods and wildfires. And in Los Angeles, police are programming Phraselators to translate into Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Japanese and, of course, Spanish.
  • Gadgets: Language Translator

    Struggling to police ever more diverse communities, law enforcement agencies are turning to handheld translation devices.
  • Race for Life: Triathlon Camp for Diabetics

    There was a time—say, the fourth grade—when I was sure my genetic destiny was to be an athlete. My father was a three-time All-American wrestler in college. My mother was a runner and a yoga teacher. At school, whenever teams were picked, I was among the first chosen, and, without exception, the first girl. But at 11 a different genetic fate revealed itself when I developed type 1 diabetes. The disease—which I and about 3 million others in this country have—develops when the pancreas stops producing insulin, which the body needs to turn glucose into energy. As a type 1, my life is a perpetual balancing act that requires me to check my blood glucose level several times a day. If it's too low, I feel shaky, tired and confused and must give myself sugar or risk passing out. Too high, and I feel listless and nauseated until I give myself more insulin. Over time, too many "highs," as I call them, can lead to the disease's nastiest complications—blindness, kidney failure and limb...
  • Blood, Sweat and Peers

    After 10 years as a clinical endocrinologist, Dr. Matthew Corcoran, founder of the Diabetes Training Camp, was frustrated. Having seen thousands of patients—as assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Hospitals and most recently as a physician in Lehigh Valley Hospital’s diabetes and endocrinology group—he wondered why more wasn’t being done to prevent the very complications he spent so much time trying to treat. So in March, the 39-year-old physician quit his job to focus full time on developing the camp—the first of its kind. This summer, 28 campers came from all over the country, ranging in age from 16 to 66. Some are competitive athletes looking to fine-tune their skills. Others just want to start an exercise program. All have type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that occurs when, for unknown reasons, a person stops producing insulin, a hormone that turns glucose into energy. Next year, Corcoran plans to add a sports camp for adolescents. Eventually he’ll...
  • The Ultimate Money Pit: Having a Baby

    Stay-at-home mothers just got a little more ammunition against their working counterparts in the mommy wars. It seems that if homemakers were ever paid for the myriad jobs they perform—from chef to chauffeur to psychologist—they'd command a whopping $138,095 annually, several times what most working mothers earn in the workplace. This according to a new survey from, which based its calculation on a 92-hour workweek and the median national wage for the assorted jobs that mothers must perform each day. Sure, the validation is purely symbolic, but it may come as some solace at a time when stay-at-home moms are being taken to task in the new book "The Feminine Mistake" for giving up the financial independence their ERA-era mothers fought so hard to win.To work or not to work, that is the question—for many affluent parents, at least. The answer often hinges on a cold, hard fact: having a baby is the ultimate money pit, albeit one most people wouldn't trade for the world....
  • Marriage & Money: What You Should Know

    Tax time can tax even the strongest marriages, but newlyweds Brad and Drew Erb, who took their vows last October, should be feeling particularly in love as April 15 approaches. Over the past six months, the couple has done nearly everything possible to avoid the kind of financial conflicts that often lead to nasty fights between husbands and wives: they combined their checking and investment accounts, made each other beneficiaries of their respective 401(k)s and are bumping up their life insurance. Brad, who is now on his wife's medical plan, saves a few hundred dollars a month. Even better, filing a joint tax return this year gave them a 15 percent higher refund. "Our situation is probably luckier than a lot of people's," says Brad, a Winter Park, Fla.-based financial adviser for Edward Jones.He's right. All over the country, freshly married couples, confronting that cold 1040 "EZ" form for the first time together, are finding out the hard way that when it comes to marital stress,...
  • How to Buy a House With Bad Credit

    Regina Miller says she is tired of "throwing away $1,520 each month" to rent the two-bedroom apartment in Long Beach, Calif., that she shares with her 12-year-old son. So two years ago she set some goals, including making more money and buying a condo.She's accomplished the first goal, supplementing her modest hourly wage managing a local gift shop with money she earns selling cosmetics part time. But at least for the foreseeable future, a house may be out of the question. "I thought for sure I could buy something," says Miller, who says her credit rating hovers around 580. "Everyone was getting loans. People with worse credit than me, even."But the once booming housing market is now foundering in many cities, largely because buyers with shaky credit scores like Miller's have been defaulting on their mortgages in record numbers. That means the roughly 13 percent of Americans whose credit score is between 500 and 599 (read: not so good) and who not long ago might have qualified for a...
  • How Do Banks Spell 'Big Profits'? Dinero

    On Saturdays around 6 a.m., there's a decent chance that Tim Rios, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, will be working the fields of Northern California. Rios, an executive vice president at San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Bank, sets aside his pinstripes and sets up shop at vineyards and farms, looking to connect with laborers in need of financial services. None of these potential customers make much money, but many welcome the chance to open a checking account, get a quick tutorial on credit scores, or maybe find out how to get a mortgage. The outreach, Rios says, is key to his employer's efforts to gain a foothold among the Latino population, one of banking's most promising markets. "It's great for business," says Rios, who helps lead the company's Latino community development efforts. "This is as grassroots as you can possibly imagine."If Rios' methods seem a little unconventional, it may be smart business. Latinos are the fastest-growing market in the banking industry: The Federal...
  • California Hustlin'

    Spend an hour talking to Dov Charney, founder of American Apparel, and he is likely to start yelling: about his passion for his edgy clothing company, for sexy women, for being a "hustler," in the best sense of the word. At some point, Charney--37, single, waifish, styled to resemble a '70s-era porn star, with full facial hair--will offer to show you his underwear, which he designed, and maybe more. "Sex is good. Business is good. I don't see why I should be ashamed," he says. And if he didn't seem so earnest, it would all seem like one very exhausting shtik.Charney is American Apparel's best asset--and may be its biggest liability. In 1997, with a business partner and a loan from family in his native Montreal, Charney launched a wholesale T-shirt operation in L.A. after an earlier business failed. He opened his first retail store in 2003 and has added 131 since; 60 more are expected by the year-end. Charney says he turned a profit on revenue of $250 million in 2005. To take the...
  • Turbo Tussle

    There you are, sitting in your favorite recliner, wearing your hardly stylish, yet comfy sweatpants. Your laptop is fired up—wireless connection at full strength, classical music from your digital library playing softly. At your side: a comforting cup of tea and your beloved cat Fluffy. After double-checking the final numbers on your 2005 1040A tax form, you imagine for a moment how you might spend the $350 refund you're pretty sure will be directly deposited into your bank account two weeks later. Maybe a day of beauty at the spa. Or that new gas grill you've been drooling over. "Life is good," you think as you press "send" (an entire day before your tax return is officially due!). Seconds later, your information lands safely in the hands (or servers) of the Internal Revenue Service. Who said tax prep had to be stressful?OK, that idyllic scenario is probably a stretch. But for much of the fast-growing population of computer-owning taxpayers, the filing process is becoming...
  • The Web Chat That Saved Mom's Life

    When Karin Jordal's son hooked up a Webcam in her California home a month ago, the 69-year-old artist and mother of two considered it a novelty. With one son living in the family's native Norway and another headed to the Philippines, Jordal though at best the $50 gadget would allow her to keep in touch with her boys via the Internet without running up the phone bill. Instead, it saved her life. On Wednesday Jordal, an insulin-dependent diabetic who lives alone, was online chatting with her son Tore when her blood sugar took a dive. She told him she was going to have a bite to eat, and said goodbye. But before Jordal could get to her fridge, she fainted. A few hours later, from across the world in the Philippines, Tore glanced at his computer, which was still logged on to the Webcam. He noticed his mother passed out on the sofa. He tried phoning--she didn't stir. So Tore called brother Ole in Oslo, who contacted emergency services, and the siblings--several oceans apart--watched...