Forever Young Records

Over in Grand Prairie lies some mighty groovy competition to the oft-praised Good Records of Dallas. Forever Young Records stocks the largest selection of vinyl we've seen in Texas—from ABBA to Zappa and everything in between—as well as a stellar selection of CDs and cassette tapes. If you're into forgotten gems of the past, this is definitely the place. We've found plenty of titles we'd only read about before seeing them here. Sure, the old black platters can be pricey at times, but we're all about tangible gratification in this era of eBay and Amazon, especially when there are 80,000 LPs to flip through.

Lights Fantastic

Granted, there are a few fun things you can do in the dark (e.g. hide-and-seek, hide the sausage, etc.). But for most day-to-day activities, you're gonna need light. And if you can't find a lamp/sconce/chandelier/light sculpture to suit you at Lights Fantastic, it's possible that you're legally blind. For the more conservative among us, there are classic lamps from Stiffel, gorgeous chandeliers from Schonbek, and enough Craftsman- and Tiffany-style fixtures to furnish every house in the M Streets. But it's contemporary lighting in which Lights Fantastic really shines (pun unapologetically intended). Groovy mid-century-type fixtures, bold steel and glass fixtures, cutting-edge LED lights: They're all here. And once you've selected your lamps, be sure to stock up on compact fluorescents, Verilux daylight bulbs, or even the bizarre, "as seen on TV" O-ZONELite (air purifier and light bulb in one!). With more than 1,500 fixtures on display, you're bound to find something to brighten your home.

Sacred Cellars

Started by two local wine nerds, this brand-spankin'-new wine shop specializes in hard-to-find vino at reasonable prices, as well as boasting a slowly expanding online inventory for those of you who've "tasted" a little too much to leave your house and hit up a traditional liquor store. Looking for a 1985 Niebaum-Coppola Rubicon? How's about a 2001 Penfolds Grange? They've got all that stuff and more, and they'll bring it to your house! Not only do they deliver, they also offer two monthly wine club memberships for the aficionado in your life—delivering two bottles a month to your door for $49.99, or for those of you with friends and money, 12 bottles a month for $239.99. They say good wine gladdens a person's heart, but we say good wine delivered straight to your door gladdens harder.

H.D.'s Clothing Company

The unassuming little shop on Lower Greenville stocks the edgiest casual threads from London, Milan, Paris, Rome and Amsterdam. On frequent buying trips abroad, Harry and Vicki DeMarco, who own this boutique, pick up hot new items in line with international fashion trends. At price points that don't bruise the budget (and you shouldn't miss the 60 percent off midsummer sale), the cute skinny jeans, mandala-emblazoned tees and nipped jackets have a right-off-the-runway look without that mass-produced sameness. You can order online from H.D.'s, too, with no extra charge for shipping.

Anthropologie

If the catalogs and store racks are any indication, designers these days are touring the globe to gather inspiration. At this branch of the national women's clothing chain, each new season brings a slew of colorful new blouses, skirts, pants, dresses and knits with artistic influences from many cultures. Peasant-style shirts come in natural fabrics, many with delicate patterns and interesting trims. Skirts are even more intricate, like the summer's "Miroslav skirt" made of cotton poplin decorated with tasteful gingko leaves and an embroidered hummingbird. Youthful dresses are elegant, fun and flirty. And if you like comfy, wide-legged trousers, this is the place. We also like the handcrafted headbands, beaded jewelry and knit caps. And don't overlook the sale racks, a goldmine of still-fashionable bargains.

Epiphany Boutique

Located in the heart of the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff, Epiphany offers a funky yet elegant collection of clothing, jewelry, handbags and home décor. The colorful wardrobe pieces are a mix of boho and sophisticated styles. Check out the designer jeans, baby T's with the Epiphany logo and pretty Hanky Panky lingerie. The jewelry is affordable and fun, much of it handcrafted. Service is tops too. Try on racks of outfits without doing that awkward peek out of the dressing room. One of the sales staff will always be there to help just when you need it.

There's a time for custom-made rags to wear to special events. But there's perhaps a greater need for basics, those solid V-necks, scoop-necked sweaters, slacks and capris that every woman uses to balance out the more complicated pieces of her wardrobe. Ann Taylor Loft, more casual and less expensive than its mother store, offers these mixed in with girly dresses, sensible coats and other staples. The clothing comes in a variety of fits for different figures, including a large selection of petites.

DSW

High-quality, low-priced kicks for well-heeled ladies (and not a few men) are the specialty at DSW. The store's spacious, self-serve selling floor is organized into row after row of shoes classified by type: stilettos, platforms, pumps, clogs, flats, wedges, boots and sandals. The shelves are low, perfect when you're perched on a stool and looking to grab the box with your size in it. If there's a style you've been searching for at the mall, or maybe you like a certain style your budget can't quite allow, you could find it here at a discount. From the high-end Carrie Bradshaw pumps to sleek leather boots to everyday sneaks, DSW rules for variety of style and sizes. And pay attention to the colored stickers that indicate further heavy markdowns, which happen often.

To seafarers sailing in deep water in the middle of the ocean, a tidal wave is virtually undetectable. A sudden shift of the earth undersea sends great pulses of energy across the water, and they pass unfelt under a ship's hull only to reveal their power at some distant point onshore.

Seismic shifts in science roll across time in similar fashion. Sloppy housekeeping in Alexander Fleming's laboratory led him to unearth penicillin in 1928—a chance discovery that decades later revolutionized medicine. Physicist Max Planck theorized about quanta of energy in 1900, not realizing that he was giving birth to a branch of physics that would lead us to modern chemistry, nuclear physics and iPods.

Somewhere, maybe today, the next wave of scientific discovery is quietly propagating. Will the next innovation to rock our world and marketplaces be spun from threads of carbon atoms woven into super-lightweight sheets of fibers stronger than steel and 1,000 times better at conducting electricity than copper? Fifty years from now will we be coddled by tippling robots whose artificial muscles are made of elastic metals that draw energy from alcohol? Will our electrical grid pull power from devices that convert waste heat from manufacturing processes?

If Dr. Ray Baughman and the team of researchers and students he directs at the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute at the University of Texas at Dallas have their way, the answer is yes to all of the above. In spare, fluorescent-lit labs on UTD's Richardson campus, Baughman and his fellow scientists from across the world are probing the very small world of nanotechnology, shoving about and rearranging materials at the molecular level to create "biomimetic" materials that imitate nature, to weave wonder fibers or to build new fuel cells to harvest energy, among other potential creations.

Maybe they should start by mining energy from Baughman himself. A frequent world traveler and tireless proselytizer for nanotech, Baughman's words skip like stones across a pond as he quickly shifts topics while leading a visitor through a quick-paced walk through the institute. Two themes ring clear through the rapid patter: America needs trained minds to undertake the institute's research, and Baughman wants those minds to be Texan—even if they are, like Baughman, adoptive Texans.

"Right now we're in crisis," he says. "Americans are not going into the sciences."

To compound the problem, security worries after 9/11 have put up barriers to immigration that are keeping some of the best-trained minds at home in places like India and China, which are challenging the United States for leadership in research.

"We're a nation of immigrants," Baughman says. "We've been fed bright people from all around the world, and that's not happening now."

Nevertheless, the institute draws students and researchers from Korea, Spain, Ukraine, Ireland, the Philippines and Brazil, among other places, and Baughman is particularly proud of its NanoExplorers program, which since its launch in 2002 has trained about 35 high school students, who took part in original research under the institute's guidance.

Originality and curiosity are hallmarks of young and innovative minds. Those who struggled through high school math and chemistry might consider science the worst sort of drudgery—especially if they never had a teacher like Baughman, who bubbles with the creative vigor that fuels science's "eureka!" moments. Shifting about his office, reaching among reams of paperwork for patent applications on the shelves, he pulls down a collection of toys and knickknacks: a vase made of sticks woven in a loose-hinged netlike pattern that expands laterally as it's stretched, which he picked up at a restaurant in Sicily; a Mexican bowl cut in a flexible spiral from a single piece of wood; a springy animal toy from Australia whose head turns as its body stretches.

To Baughman and the institute's students, the curios suggest ways of arranging molecular structures to create new types of materials and artificial muscles that replicate nature. Of course, motion requires energy, and finding new ways to capture, store and convert energy is high on the institute's list of priorities.

"Our programs are focused to what we believe are important needs. The energy crisis, of course, is paramount," says Baughman, who earned a doctorate from Harvard and worked in private industry for 31 years before making Texas his home seven years ago. He's since become an enthusiastic booster of the Lone Star State, persuading three of his four daughters to settle in the state by singing "Deep in the Heart of Texas" to them, he says.

"Texas has in the past been and is now the energy state," Baughman says. "To be the energy state in the future will mean more than it used to be in the sense of having oil in the ground and the technology to get oil from the ground. Our nanotechnology programs in energetics are designed to help Texas always be the energy state."

Laudable goal, but it leads to some obvious questions: What will the next great innovative nanotech device be, and when can we buy it?

Baughman can't say, so we ask the next-best question: Does he feel that he's riding the edge of the next great wave of science?

He smiles.

"I feel like that," he says. "But I also felt like that 20 years ago."

Even then, he was right. Patrick Williams

Supermarket El Rancho

They're scattered all over town, from far north to deep south, but a few months ago, the supermarket—with its wall of breads and pastries, its open grills sizzling spicy chickens, its rows of fruit juices beckoning in bright neon, its sides of beef and pork hanging in see-through freezers, its rich spread of inexpensive produce—opened at the northeast corner of Walnut Hill and Marsh lanes, where, many moons ago, once stood a Baskin-Robbins and Lantrip's Pharmacy. The neighbors were at first panicked about the addition; the ignorant spread fliers warning of increased crime, what with all those brown people congregating in a Northwest Dallas neighborhood where the immigrant is already the majority. But now, its aisles and taco counter (and, really, the barbacoa in adobo is to be savored) are a multiculti experience—and a far better trip than to the next-door Wendy's, no offense.

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