Lost, Cave Dweller Calls It a Day

After 130 days alone in a sealed cave, Stefania Follini emerged into the sunshine again. Follini had to put sunglasses over her regular glasses when she poked her head out of the entrance to Lost Cave in southeastern New Mexico. The temperature under the midday sun was 97 degrees, a big difference from the cave's constant 74 degrees. The Italian volunteer for a scientific experiment designed to simulate the solitude of interplanetary spaceflight and other forms of isolation entered the cave near Carlsbad on Jan. 13. Follini, 27, apparently studied the English primers she took into isolation with her and told a crowd of welcomers: "I feel great." She nodded when asked if she would do it again and said, "Sure." In the absence of day and night or timepieces, the interior decorator from Ancona, Italy, began staying awake 20 to 25 hours at a time and sleeping about 10. Her menstrual cycle stopped. She lost track of the days, and thought about 80 days, rather than 130, had elapsed. Her only contact with the world above ground was a computer linked to the researchers' computer. In the coming days, Follini will undergo tests to determine the effects of the isolation. Maurizio Montalbini, the experiment coordinator for the Italian research team, said Follini retained her strength and flexibility by exercising, and maintained her mental poise by keeping busy around the cave.

--George and Barbara Bush will be seeing red--and maybe wearing it--after they open their mail. Students at the middle school in Cedar Springs, Mich., wanted to make their views on problems such as the national debt and pollution known, so they wrote to the Bushes. To encourage President Bush to read the 100 letters, they also sent him a pair of the community's trademark--red flannel long underwear. The seventh-graders enclosed a red flannel nightgown for the First Lady, Principal Karl Pilar said. "In talking with the kids, it was touching to see that, in their innocence, they felt someone would actually read these letters and do something about (the problems)," Pilar said.

--Donald Trump faced the music when he conducted the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall. "It was a lot of fun," he said after his debut. "I've always said I'd try anything once." The billionaire developer took the orchestra through a rousing version of "New York, New York" as part of the guest conductor program. "I think the Pops would go over great in Atlantic City," Trump, who is a casino owner there, told the crowd. "Maybe we'll bring them over."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
64°