the next Facebook? Its cofounder, 19-year-old Harvard sophomore Allan Sahagun, isn't making any predictions. But the jobs and networking website that he and his San Francisco-based brother, Aaron, self-funded and launched in May is already generating enough ad revenue to cover costs. Their gimmick: Users must have an "edu" e-mail address in order to access job listings and join the network of almost 3,000 college undergraduates and recent grads, and that's a demographic both employers and Web advertisers like. Sahagun still keeps up with four classes per semester despite working "constantly," he says. Sure, any new business is a risk. And Harvard's always a good Plan B. alumwire.com
This just doesn't happen. You don't walk onto your top-20-ranked college football team with zero experience and start kicking field goals on national TV. Unless you're STEVE APONAVICIUS, a high school soccer star from Easton, Pennsylvania, who thought he was being shooed off Boston College's field one day last fall after playfully booting a few balls there. Instead, he was asked to join the team, and he eventually found himself kicking in games on national television. "The first kick - there's a big JumboTron behind the uprights - I looked up and saw a picture of me on ESPN," the 20-year-old sophomore remembers. "That's when I realized this was bigger than I thought. I went numb." But not totally numb. Aponavicius lasted the season and even nailed the winning kick in the Meineke Bowl, to beat Navy. Any kid who's ever dreamed "what if" has one more role model.
Not all of James Poss's inventions have panned out, like his high-performance shoes with layers of foam on the soles designed to help wearers make quick turns. "I almost broke my ankles with my prototypes," says the Jamaica Plain resident. But his latest idea - a solar-powered compacting trash can he calls BIGBELLY - is going places fast. Some high-traffic, old-fashioned urban cans get serviced by collection trucks several times a day. But since one BigBelly holds a lot more trash than a non-compacting can, it requires fewer drive-bys. Boston's test program
placed 50 cans around the city, making all of the just-stand-there cans around town look pitifully last century.
Having a childhood pen pal in Menemsha put living in Martha's Vineyard on Australia-born author GERALDINE BROOKS's to-do list, and in 2006 she checked that box for good. Another '06 milestone: winning the fiction Pulitzer Prize for March, her historical novel based on characters from Little Women. After many summers on the island with her husband, Tony Horwitz (his Pulitzer's for reporting), and their 10-year-old son, she adjusted easily to full-time residency. Post-prize, says Brooks, who is 51, her mostly female readership has become more mixed: "I think blokes like a badge on a book." Who doesn't?
The unveiling of the CHARLIECARD - a fare card that replaced subway tokens - dragged America's oldest subway system into the 21st century. Now you can buy a new card or add value to an old one in train stations; eventually the cards will be registered online, allowing users to cancel a lost card and replace it. Try that with a token.
Probably the only place more baseball crazy than Boston is the Dominican Republic, where a bat is a nice baby gift and grade schoolers dream of becoming the next David Ortiz. Jamaica Plain
filmmaker JARED GOODMAN, 27, packs the passion and humanity of aspiring big leaguers into his first feature-length documentary, Rumbo a las Grandes Ligas, a selection at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival that he's working to get aired on cable TV this spring. His next film, about an annual beauty pageant held inside a Colombian women's jail, has attracted an impressive co-producer: Radical Media, one of the companies responsible for Errol Morris's 2005 Oscar-winning Fog of War. Sounds as if a star is born.
The SAGAMORE ROTARY is the closest the state has come to building a Berlin Wall. The traffic circle on the mainland side of the Sagamore Bridge created many a miles-long backup that slowed decades worth of families trundling off for vacations. But the blockade was breached by a $33 million BYPASS, a project promoted by then Governor Mitt Romney that was finished last year. The change is expected to save an average of 30 minutes for spring and summer Cape-bound cars. That's progress.
When 17-year-old ALEX DOONESBURY was applying to colleges last spring, the teen prodigy, venture capitalist, computer genius, and fictional character in the long-running comic strip Doonesbury got into Cornell University, Rensselaer Polytechnic, and MIT, among other top schools. Strip creator Garry Trudeau let readers decide her fate in an online poll, and thanks to a computer script designed by a real MIT student that cast more than 1,000,000 "votes" in one afternoon, she headed to Cambridge. Doubtless Doonesbury has her own campus hacks planned.
Babies born with short-bowel syndrome can't absorb enough nutrients from milk and often need intravenous feeding to survive. Problem is, normal IV nutrition can damage their livers, and many die waiting for a transplant. But pediatric surgeon Mark Puder and clinical pharmacist Kathleen Gura, both of Children's Hospital Boston, announced last year that giving babies a different IV FORMULA appears to fix the problem; the discovery has helped save the lives of 29 children at Children's Hospital alone.
RACHEL KLEIN, executive chef of Om Restaurant & Lounge, says she has "an inner rock star waiting to come out," seemingly unaware of the fans already flocking to hear her "sing." Wooed away from Manhattan, where she had worked under some culinary lights, Klein, who is 32, helmed her first kitchen in Providence. But she wanted something bigger. So when Cambridge called (in the form of a job offer from restaurateur Bik Yonjan), she answered. Klein's signature modern American cuisine with a global edge - the split pea soup is made with bacon from China and local bay scallops, and the lamb shank with German spaetzle is drizzled in Korean chili oil - has the city's eating elite abuzz. Om Restaurant & Lounge, 92 Winthrop Street, Cambridge, 617-576-2800, omrestaurant.com
The Patriots, despite so much recent success, have hardly been a model of excitement. Steady and consistent? Sure. Dazzling? No. While the other teams showed faster backs and stronger arms, the Pats still took the championships, so it was hard to argue with the formula. But can't they have both the razzle-dazzle and the rings? Hello, LAURENCE MARONEY. The 21-year-old running back out of Minnesota proved tougher to catch than spaghetti on a spoon. Every time he touched the ball was a potential breakaway. It's so refreshing to see in Foxborough that even the most satisfied fans could be heard muttering, "It's about time."
To the long list of items claimed by Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters, you can add the following objects: three portable electric substations used to power New Orleans's streetcars. Enter the MASSACHUSETTS BAY TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY, which shipped an out-of-commission substation to New Orleans, enabling the city to restore some service. It's still there almost a year later, says Don Hyde, contract administrator for the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, still helping run the trains.
It's too big. Ouch, too narrow. Sound familiar? Wait till you try the other foot. One-third of the population has different-sized left and right feet, says Doug Clark, a vice president at New Hampshire-based outdoor apparel maker Timberland. The company's PRECISEFIT system uses inserts to customize 17 styles of Timberland shoes and boots to full and half sizes and narrow, medium, and wide widths, so that any one pair - retail is $130 to $140 - adjusts to six different sizes. The system won a 2006 silver medal from the Industrial Designers Society of America. Now that fits.
PTAC STYLING COMPANY, a hair salon that rents space in the Prayer Tower Apostolic Church near Codman Square, specializes in up-dos, stylish cuts, and chemical relaxers - and does good deeds on the side. After expenses, proceeds go to fund church programs in the neighborhood. The Rev. Antoine Montgomery says PTAC hopes to buy a nearby property and convert it to a teen center with after-school programs; already, senior citizens who cannot afford styling fees get free services every second Monday of the month. And that is beautiful. PTAC Styling Company, 146-154 Norfolk Street, Boston, 617-825-4247, ptacstylingco.org
A STEM-CELL BREAKTHROUGH shown to be successful in sheep could help thousands of human babies born with certain birth defects every year. Dario Fauza, a pediatric surgeon and researcher at Children's Hospital Boston, has started the long road to FDA approval for his method of using stem cells from amniotic fluid in a mother's womb to grow tissue in the lab that's ready for implant once a baby is born. Human trials are expected to begin this year, says Fauza, when he hopes to use fetal cells to grow new tissue to patch flawed diaphragms, a sometimes fatal birth defect that limits breathing. Next up: tracheas. In Fauza's not-so-distant future, a fetus growing without a windpipe could have one growing simultaneously outside the womb until both are ready for surgery.
JOHN WALSH, an insurance salesman from Abington who moonlighted as a Democratic organizer for years, had never run a candidate's statewide campaign - until he met a little-known lawyer named Deval Patrick. "By any traditional measure, you can't win," Walsh told Patrick at their first meeting. "You need to do something different." As campaign manager, Walsh, 48, created an unparalleled grassroots network that combined old-fashioned politicking (phone banks and street-corner stand-outs) with cutting-edge technology (an Internet-based voter recruitment and fund-raising machine). When the other side went negative, Walsh backed Patrick's decision to stay positive - and keep talking to the people. Now that the election is over, Walsh will remain an informal adviser to the governor, but in the near term plans to focus on his business.