Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Cooking with abandon

Tomorrow is Teacher Appreciation Day at Quentin's school. I was charged with making a Hummingbird Cake for the occasion. On the way home, Quentin asked what "appreciation" meant. I explained a special thank you, job well done, etc. His reply? "I don't feel appreciated." Why is that son? "No one has made me any cake lately."

So in order to let Quentin feel appreciated too we also made brownies with Shrek mini M&M's and sprinkles on top. My kitchen looks like a powdered sugar bomb has hit it. And I have to clean up the mess by myself.


(But it was a very nice evening. Loud music. Powdered sugar. White zinfandel. Baking zen.)

Airport X-ray sees through clothes

Link - A new X-ray machine at London's Heathrow airport, which sees through passengers' clothes, has been attacked by civil liberties campaigners as a "voyeur's charter."

Vatican sex guide urges Catholics to do 'it' more often

Link - A Vatican-sanctioned sex guide is encouraging churchgoers to make love more often in an effort to offset "impotence and frigidity" and address papal concerns over declining birth-rates among Italian Roman Catholics.

Robert Johnson's grave

My lovely co-worker did get a midnight tour to Robert Johnson's grave sealed through The Alluvian, where we are staying for our business trip. Only I don't know which grave we're touring, as it seems there are three and no one is 100 percent sure where his actual remains rest. (This should be an interesting tour.)

My co-workers are joining in the tour in the birthday spirit, but some claim they will not wait till midnight, so the tour might actually be on Dec. 2 instead of midnight, which would be my birthday, Dec. 3. But that reminds me of another thing to add to my 35 Great Things About Turning 35 that I hope to have finished by Saturday (because some of the great things I'm sure I won't actually discover until I am 35...I'm still a young 34 right now).

9. Getting to bed by 10 p.m. is a gift - not an embarrassment.

The Alluvian is owned by the Viking Range Corporation, and our group will have lunch with a lesson at the Viking Cooking School on Friday too. (I can't get believe I get paid for this stuff! But I'm sure I will have oven envy when I leave.)

But I digress. Back to Robert Johnson. In my search for information on his grave, I unearthed some interesting information. It seems that Eric Clapton, who recently released Me and Robert Johnson, his rendition of Johnson's music, is now being accused (like Elvis Presley before him) of stealing the black man's music and getting rich off of it. (This press release was even done before the release of the new album, so I would guess they are doubly mad now.)

Speaking of getting rich, it seems that when Johnson died at 27, supposedly from a poisoned whiskey flask passed by a jealous husband, he had no kin. But, sometime later, relatives out the wazoo all of the sudden (especially when the estate started making money).

Legend has it that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads for his great musical ability, but others say that it's just another "white man myth." Regardless, this kindhearted woman is going to the crossroads and falling down on her knees...from four till late, gonna barrelhouse all night long.

My last Waveland picture... Posted by Hello

More pictures from Waveland... Posted by Hello

More Waveland pictures... Posted by Hello

More Waveland pictures... Posted by Hello

This is what a flamingo looks like after she paints the town pink! Posted by Hello

Find other great Arlo & Janis cartoons at www.unitedmedia.com/comics/arlonjanis/ Posted by Hello

Coming soon: Google TV?

Link - Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are quietly developing new search tools for digital video, foreshadowing a high-stakes technology arms race in the battle for control of consumers' living rooms.

Turn yourself into a diamond: tips from science on a good life, and death

Link - A thinktank of British scientists has come up with a new way of quickening the national intellect - a brain-taxing spin on the old formula of 100 things to do before you die.

State of the World reports

Link - Want to know what's going on in the world? The big development institutions are very happy to tell you.

Tape Findings

Link - Found home recordings and other cassette deck oddities

A Nation Online: Entering the Broadband Age

Link - A Nation Online: Entering the Broadband Age is the sixth report released by the U.S. Department of Commerce examining the use of computers, the Internet, and other information technology tools by the American people. Based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey of 57,000 households containing 134,000 persons, this report provides broad-based and statistically reliable information on the ways that information technologies in general, and broadband more specifically, are transforming the way we live, work, and learn.

Ranking Ourselves to Death

Link - The link between control and contentment

Despite the Hype, No Elixirs of Youth

Link - Lots of products promise to reverse the signs of aging, while providing little or no proof that they work. Here's what you need to know...In honor of my upcoming 35th birthday on Friday. Where are the elixirs when you need them?

12 sided calendar

Link - Download a 12 sided calendar after your own specifiation.

Etienne-Jules Marrey

Link - The Musée d'Orsay has an exhibition of the mind-blowing photographs by physician and physiologist Etienne-Jules Marey, whose research in the 19th century led directly to the invention of the movie camera.

The Pro-Am Revolution

Link - How enthusiasts are changing our economy and society - Charles Leadbetter and researcher Paul Miller have published The Pro-Am Revolution, a PDF book that you can download online free of charge.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News

Link - After doing much in recent years to revolutionize the way an encyclopedia can be built and maintained, the team behind Wikipedia is attempting to apply its collaborative information-gathering model to journalism.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Sea Knowledge Not Very Deep

Link - A newly created marine science web portal containing 5.2 million records revealed for the first time that 95 percent of all observations of ocean life happen near the surface.

Ten tips for enjoying digital photography with your child

Link - Once children realize how easy it is to snap photos on a digital camera, instantly view images on the screen and watch photo slideshows on a computer monitor or on a TV, questions will be asked. Why can't I take daddy's new camera to the beach? When can I have my own camera? Be prepared - and enjoy the marvels of digital photography with the whole family.

The Gear Ahead

Link - This has been an amazing year for photography. But it's not over yet. Camera makers still have a few tricks up their sleeves...

Reader Satisfaction Survey - Digital Cameras

Link - Reader's Choice is Canon, it seems.

World Sunlight Map

Link - A world map showing current sunlight and cloud cover

David Byrne's blog

Link - A former Talking Head doing some talking online now...

S5: A Simple Standards-Based Slide Show System

Link - S5 is a slide show format based entirely on XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript. With one file, you can run a complete slide show and have a printer-friendly version as well. The markup used for the slides is very simple, highly semantic, and completely accessible. Anyone with even a smidgen of familiarity with HTML or XHTML can look at the markup and figure out how to adapt it to their particular needs. Anyone familiar with CSS can create their own slide show theme. It's totally simple, and it's totally standards-driven.

Never Heard of Nauru? Join 'Geography Olympics'

Link - America may dominate the world in sports and culture but in one arena where size doesn't matter, the "Geography Olympics," the United States was 88th behind minnows such as Madagascar and the Marshall Islands.

Air Traffic Control System Command Center

Link - Real-time airport status information

True love’s Christmas gift tally: $66,334

Link - What items in ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ will set you back this year

Small Business Administration seeking nominees for awards

Link - The U.S. Small Business Administration is seeking nominations for its 2005 Small Business Awards, an effort to acknowledge outstanding contributions of small business people and those championing their work.

Any individual or organization dedicated to the support of the small business community, including, but not limited to, trade and professional associations and business organizations. The award categories are Small Business Person of the Year, Small Business Exporter of the Year, Family-owned Small Business of the Year, SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Minority Small Business Champion of the Year, Veteran Small Business Champion of the Year, Financial Services Champion of the Year, Home-based Business Champion of the Year, Women in Business Champion of the Year and Small Business Journalist of the Year.

A panel of judges will select the winners. State winners will be announced next spring just prior to National Small Business Week 2005. For nomination criteria, call (228) 863-4449, extension 14.

Spam: Where it Came From, How to Escape It

Link - In 1936, long before the rise of the personal computer, Hormel Foods created SPAM. In 2002, the company will produce it's six billionth can of the processed food product. But that mark was passed long ago in the world of Internet spam.

The bully principle

Link - Nice workers more likely to get pushed around, less likely to get promoted

Blogger's Block

Link - Sick of blogging? Here's how to deal with business blog burnout.

Join the Team

Link - “There are over 90 million beer drinkers in the United States who spend over 67 billion dollars per year on beer!” the Web site blares. “The United States Beer Drinking Team is the first and only official beer drinking team for all of us. We are a team of hard working men and women who enjoy the best things in life: fun, friendship, family, passion, good times and great beer!”

The beach at Waveland, MS. Posted by Hello

The view from the window at the front of my house (or a partial anyway). Posted by Hello

The fuzzy pink slippers that I bought myself for a pre-birthday present! I haven't decided what the real birthday present is yet...I really want an iPod but it seems a bit extravagant. (Obviously, I will be the last person in the world to buy an iPod.) Posted by Hello

See your house from outer space...

Link - Fly from space to your home town. Visit exotic locales such as Maui, Tokyo, Rome and Paris. Satellite imagery makes it real. Explore restaurants, hotels, parks and schools. Think magic carpet ride!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The best home telescopes

New small telescopes "seek out the stars themselves," said Joe Light in SmartMoney, though some still have a few bugs.

Celestron Nextar 4GT
All you have to do is input the closest city, the date and the time, and the new Go-To technology finds what you want to see "on its own" - when it works. No manual adjustment is provided. Price: $695.

Orion SkyQuest XT10 Classic
A Pyrex mirror is supposed to "keep the image clear," even during wide temperature swings. But "mind-boggling" assembly and "blurry optics" might raise the user's temperature. It also weighs in at 55 pounds. Price: $549.

Tele Vue-60
The top choice. It lacks Go-To technology, but you get large, "razor-sharp optics" in a scope weighing only 3.3 pounds - and setup is a cinch. Price: $1,017.

Meade ETX-90AT
Its 7.8 pounds offer both Go-To technology and manual positioning. The setup is complicated but the views are crisp. Price: $645.

The man who discovered sex

Alfred C. Kinsey is the recent subject of a film, Kinsey, and a novel, The Inner Circle, by T.C. Boyle. Why the fascination with Kinsey? Because Kinsey got the sexual revolution started.

Kinsey was a zoologist specializing in gall wasps when he was drafted to teach a course on "marriage" (i.e. sex) at Indiana University in 1938. He was appalled at how little his students knew about the subject. According to one study at the time, 96 percent of young people didn't know the word "masturbation," and when told what it meant, 40 percent thought it caused insanity. The most popular marital guide of the day called oral sex within marriage "the hell gate of the realm of sexual perversion."

Kinsey devised an interview consisting of more than 300 questions about Americans' sex lives to find out what people did behind closed doors. He and four colleagues traveled the country, taking 18,000 "sexual histories."

In 1948, Kinsey published Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. In it, he reported that 85 percent of white men had had premarital sex, that 50 percent had had extramarital sex, and that 69 percent had frequented prostitutes. The Kinsey Report, as it became known, sold 270,000 copies, and Kinsey became a celebrity. He was compared to Darwin and Copernicus. But he became most famous for one statistic in particular: that 10 percent of men are gay.

Ironically, Kinsey never said it. He didn't even believe there were "heterosexuals" and "homosexuals" - only heterosexual or homosexual acts. What he found was that 37 percent of men had had at least one homosexual experience, that 10 percent "were more or less exclusively homosexual" for at least three years, and that four percent were exclusively homosexual their entire lives.

Kinsey often pointed out that because America's morality laws prohibited oral sex and other "deviant" acts, even within marriage, 95 percent of the people he met were sex criminals. He believed that social mores should be more in line with actual behavior. "There are only three kinds of sexual abnormalities," he once said. "Abstinence, celibacy and delayed marriage."

Sexual Behavior in the Human Female was his second book. The typical pre-Kinsey attitude toward female sexuality was summed up by a marriage manual that said for men, sex was as easy as falling off a log, while for women, it was "as simple as being that log." Kinsey showed that most women needed some form of direct clitoral stimulation. He also reported that 63 percent of women masturbated, and that 14 percent were capable of multiple orgasms. He also revealed that half of married women had had premarital sex, and that of those, 77 percent had no regrets. A nymphomaniac, said Kinsey, is "someone who has more sex than you do."

America was not yet ready to hear that their mothers and daughters were sexual creatures. The backlash to the book included congressional hearings, obscenity charges and an FBI investigation. Kinsey was branded a Communist out to destroy the American family. Depressed and stressed, he died of heart failure at 62.

But his work changed the world and paved the way for the sexual revolution. One by one, states undid laws against fornication, adultery and sodomy, usually citing Kinsey as their authority. Schools began to teach sex education based on his principles. (condensed from The Week, November 26, 2004)

The End of the Magic Mountain

The Alpine sanatorium that German author Thomas Mann immortalized in his novel The Magic Mountain is to close this month. Tuberculosis sufferers from across Europe used to flock to the Valbella Clinic in Davos, Switzerland, for the famously healthful climate. Although tuberculosis remains a problem, especially in Eastern Europe, antibiotics are considered a more effective cure these days, and health insurance companies have become reluctant to pay for patients to travel to the Swiss Alps. Clinic spokeswoman Maria Rieder says it was the sanatorium's south-facing view Mann writes about in the book.

Seeking the Christmas Spirit

I am one of those annoying "holiday people." But I just haven't found my Christmas spirit yet this year. I don't know where it's hiding. I'm forging ahead and hoping that the actual decorating will bring it out (though I'm already dreading having to take it all down).

In trying to find my Christmas spirit, I was thinking back to certain Christmases that meant more than others and I remembered one Christmas (and birthday) in particular from long ago...

David and I were living together in Hattiesburg, and I was still in grad school at the University of Southern Mississippi, surviving off an assistantship stipend and many odd jobs. One of those odd jobs was serving as a nanny/child shuffler/housecleaner/errand girl to the children of Rex and Anita Stamper, both professors at USM at the time. After surveying our financials for December, I had decided that we just did not have the money for a Christmas tree. It was sad, but it was an additional expense that we just could not make at the time. (I decorated a house plant in lights instead.) It was going to be the first Christmas in my life I had never had a tree at my house.

But the Stampers somehow learned belatedly of my Dec. 3 birthday that year and showed up unexpectedly on my doorstep about a week later with a birthday cake and $50 cash. I was so surprised! And with their $50 I was able to buy a small tree and even some decorations too. It was one of my best Christmases, I think, because I was able to have a tree after all, but also because I learned the true meaning wasn't the tree after all. (My Christmas would have been just as nice without a tree, I'm sure.) It was friendship, love and kindness - and finding special ways to show it to each other.

Research group finds Mississippi ranks as the nation's worst state for women

Link - For the fourth time since 1998, Mississippi has been declared the worst state for women by the 2004 Status of Women in the States report, issued by the Institute for Women's Policy Research. Findings include:

- While 74.8 percent of Mississippi women are registered to vote, only 52.5 percent actually voted in 1998 and 2000.

- The median annual earnings for Mississippi women is $7,600 less than for men. While women comprise 54 percent of Mississippi's workforce, only 29.2 percent of managerial or professional jobs are held by women.

- 20.5 percent of Mississippi women don't have health insurance while 20.02 live below the federal poverty level (the worst in the nation).

- Only 16.6 percent of Mississippi women have completed four years or more of college. Only 22.8 percent of the state's businesses are owned by women.

- Mississippi ranked 49th in the country in overall health.

- Mississippi women have the least reproductive rights in the nation.

State athletes can vie for milk money

The National Milk Mustache "Got Milk?" campaign is teaming up with USA Today for the annual Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year Awards. Those chosen receive a $7,500 scholarship and attend a special awards ceremony at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports. They also will appear in a milk mustache ad that will run in June 2005 in USA Today. High school seniors can visit www.whymilk.com to complete and submit an online application. The application deadline is March 4.

Score Super Bowl Tickets...or just make this low-fat cheesy-artichoke dip at your Superbowl party

Super Bowl XXXIX tickets are starting at $1,850 long before anyone even knows who's playing on Feb. 6, 2006, in Jacksonville on sites like GoTickets. Others sell tickets with hotel packages (a three-night package from Sports Travel and Tours is $3,595 per person, double occupancy).

But you can get in on the 2006 Super Bowl lottery for a chance to buy two tickets at face value - a handful of these tickets are reserved to sell to the general public via a public lottery. (These brokers often mark up the tickets by as much as 300%.) Between Feb. 1 and June 1, 2005, send a request via registered or certified mail to: Super Bowl Random Drawing, P.O. Box 49140, Strongsville, Ohio 44149.

And for those of you who didn't win the lottery this year and will be hosting a Super Bowl Party at home instead, here's an easy, lower-fat version of warm artichoke-cheese dip (one of my favorites) from USA Weekend. (I have not tried this yet so cannot personally attest to the recipe.)

Cheesy Artichoke Dip

2 8-ounce pkg frozen artichoke hearts
1 1/2 cups fat-free cottage cheese
4 oz herbed goat cheese
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup fat-free half and half
1 cup chopped chives
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook artichokes according to package directions; chop roughly. Set aside.

In a food processor, mix all ingredients except artichokes and Parmesan cheese until smooth.

Stir in artichokes. Pour mixture into a 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Bake for 30 min. If top hasn't browned, put under broiler.

Let sit for 15 minutes before serving (it may be watery when first removed from the oven). Serve with toasted whole-wheat pita chips.

Yield: 4 1/2 cups

Per 1/2-cup serving: 130 calories, 9 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 6.5 g fat (3 g saturated), 3 g fiber, 427 mg sodium.

Studies: Walking matches success of gym workouts

If you want to get more exercise, just going for walks can be as beneficial as a gym membership. This was among the findings of two new studies presented this month at the annual meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. In one study, participants followed one of three exercise plans: 40-50 min. of structured activity four days a week in the gym, about the same amount at home or increasing their steps by 5,000 a day (the equivalent of about two miles - verified by a pedometer).

At the end of 20 weeks, participants in all three groups lost similar amounts, about 7 percent to 8 percent of their starting weight. At then end of 40 weeks, they were all down 8 to 9 percent.

Scientist: Drilling caused La. to sink

Link - Equipped with more research, a federal geologist believes the pumping out of oil and natural gas under Louisiana's coastline clearly caused land to rapidly sink in a short period and accounts for much of the state's subsidence.

Hurricane graphics will get new look

Link - A hurricane is not a point, forecasters always warn the public. So why on the tracking maps do tropical tempests appear so small - the projected path rendered in a line ending in a small hurricane symbol?

Inaugural Speeches Often Don't Inspire

Link - Ask not why so few inaugural speeches resonate long after they are given.

Scientists propose conservation parks on Mars

Link - Next time you go for a stroll on Mars, be sure you don't leave any litter behind. A plan to keep parts of the red planet in their pristine state could see seven areas turned into 'planetary parks', regulated just like national parks here on Earth.

NASA is planning on a smash hit with a comet

Link - You can learn something about a rock by looking at it. But what most geologists really want is to smack it with a hammer. That's just what planetary scientists will do July 4 when NASA's Deep Impact mission reaches the comet Tempel 1 after a trip of six months and 80 million miles.


Link - An information retrieval and extraction system for biological literature - with a shout out to all of my marine biology friends out there.

The Teenie Harris Archive Project

Link - Teenie Harris' photographs are unsurpassed in the range of subjects they portray and for their ability to evoke the spirit of an era and to display the humanity of a people. Harris' 40-year career with the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the largest and most influential Black newspapers in the country, began as the nation emerged from the Depression and ended with the Civil Rights Movement. Numbering upwards of 80,000 images, this archive represents the largest single collection of photographic images of any Black community in the United States—or the world, for that matter.

Building with Books

Link - They can do more, after all, than collect dust on a shelf.

Overqualified - Every Tuesday

Link - This was especially amusing to me because the first class I taught in grad school was technical writing, a 300-level class that was basically created in the hopes that science majors could write a half-decent cover letter with their resume. But they are boring drivel and it's pretty hard to get around it. If you're too "creative," you will probably get trashed. Yet after reading hundreds of these things myself from job seekers, there just has to be a better way.

International Edible Book Festival

Link - The International Edible Book Festival is a yearly event on April 1 throughout the world .This event unites bibliophiles, book artists and food lovers to celebrate the ingestion of culture and its fulfilling nourishment. Participants create edible books that are exhibited, documented then consumed. April 1st is also the perfect day to eat your words and play with them. (A day that combines three of my favorite things - baking, books and April Fool's Day! I am a cake decorator also and have several pans that look like books. They are good for wedding showers, graduations, etc.)

The Blogosphere By the Numbers

Link - The size of the blogosphere has doubled every five months over the last year and a half, according to blog analysis firm Technorati.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Secret Santa

Link - Share the love this holiday season by giving and receiving gifts with webloggers from all around the world!

What's your political persuasion?

Link - Take the quiz and see for yourself. I am a Liberal Republican...

When you tell people that you're Republican, they rarely believe you.

That's because you're socially liberal - likely pro-choice and pro-gay rights.

You're also not so afraid of big goverment, as long as it benefits people and not politicians.

You are the most likely of any Republican type to swing over to the Democrat side sometimes.

Turning 35

This Friday, I'm turning 35, and there seems to be something almost mystical about the number - and the birthday - to me this year. Maybe it's because I'll be halfway to the Biblical three-score and ten mark. Maybe it's the looming "middle age" moniker. I don't know.

But whatever it is, at least I'm not alone. It seems that a lot of others have felt something similar - a need to somehow mark this 35th year somehow....

- Reflections on Turning 35
- Turning 35
- Happy Birthday to Me!
- Ride of Passage
- Sex and the City episode - Carrie receives a dating service ad in the mail addressed to "Dear Single" which becomes the topic du jour at the morning coffee shop ritual with the girls. On the subject of soulmates, Charlotte believes in them piously. Carrie believes there are many of them for all of us. Miranda and Samantha think the idea is dangerous because it sets us up to fail and makes "the gap between the holy grail and the assholes even bigger." Miranda & Samantha decide to fill the application out for Carrie. They check off the 30 to 34 age box when Charlotte reminds them that Carrie's turning 35 next week. Miranda checks off 35 to 44 and with a wink Samantha purrs, "Honey, welcome to my box." (And Charlotte decides in another episode that she will get no older than 35. Period. Faux birthdays after that.)
- Turning 35

"You're only old when your regrets outnumber your dreams." (from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, via Accordion Guy)

Any my own 35 Great Things About Turning 35

1. I'm eligible to run for President.
2. I can afford wrinkle cream.
3. While raising kids, you don't have time to worry about getting older.
4. I'm due a shiny-new, super-fast, sleek red convertible any day now.
5. It sure as hell beats the alternative.
6. I can still touch my toes.
7. Any occasion that encourages cake and gifts is a good occasion.
8. When I see a light at the end of a tunnel, I don't automatically assume it's a train.
9. I'm eligible to run for President.
10. It sure as hell beats the alternative.

OK, OK...I'm working on figuring out the full 35 by Friday. I'll have to do some thinking on the issue. Please help me along by adding your comments!

Sale of handmade gifts to benefit Mustard Seed

Mississippians can buy unique handmade gifts - including ornaments similar to some on national display in Washington, DC - at the Holiday Open House from 10 a.m. till 3 p.m. on Dec. 4 at Mustard Seed, 1085 Luckney Road in Brandon.

Proceeds from the annual event support Mustard Seed, a group home and activities program for mentally challenged adults.

The Bells of Faith Handbell Choir will perform at 11:30 a.m.

Among the items available for purchase will be an angel figurine trimmed in gold, a design developed by Mustard Seed artists for the 2004 Christmas Pageant of Peace in Washington, DC, which begins Thursday with the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.

Other works by Mustard Seed artists will be on sale as well, including ornaments in several styles, vases, planters, bowls, casserole dishes, trivets, mugs, art cards and canvases.

A taste of home: Miss. congressman shipping shrimp to troops in Iraq

Link - U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor learns a thing or two each time he ships seafood to servicemen overseas. He learned last year that you can't leave shrimp unguarded in Baghdad. They will disappear. This trip, he learned not to leave home without packing tape. Taylor and Beaux Gex, his chief of staff for the district, hauled 1,000 pounds of shrimp from Biloxi to Pass Christian on Friday morning. They stacked the shrimp on a trailer Gex pulled behind a pickup truck.

Lycos Declares War on Spam Servers

Link - A new screensaver from Lycos targets known spam servers (taken from spamcop and verified by hand) with traffic in order to raise their bandwidth costs and hopefully price them out of the game

Digitization of the Nature Archive Continues

Link - Nature Publishing Group (NPG) are currently digitizing the archives of their title 'Nature' back to 1950, with content being released in installments. Full text access back to January 1980 is now available.

Canada's National Air Photo Library

Link - The National Air Photo Library (NAPL) of Natural Resources Canada archives over six million aerial photographs covering all of Canada, some of which date back to the 1920s.

Credit checkup

Link - Starting next week, millions of consumers will be able to get free credit reports via a new Web site.

Blogger Uncovers Microsoft PR Gaffe

Link - The Public Relations India blog claims that Microsoft or its PR agency released this photo of the new MSN Search to AP using the IE competitor browser, Mozilla Firefox.

Year of the blog

Link - "Open-source journalism" changes the face of reporting and forces once-buried stories onto the national stage

Make your list and check it twice...

Link - Or be bad and save Santa the trip.

The Fridge

Link - It's not just for wine anymore.

Tennessee fall foliage photoblog

Link - One look and you'll understand why people trek each year to the Tennessee mountains...

Friday, November 26, 2004

Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas

During my family visit, we all got a chance to watch Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas together. (My Life as Marie story came about because my Mom remembered that Emmett Otter first came out the year I changed my name to Marie.) It's been my family's favorite Christmas movie since 1977 when it debuted. We try to watch it every year together at least once. If this is your family's favorite Christmas movie too, you'll definitely ace this trivia quiz.

Local film spotlights teen AIDS problem

Link - A locally produced film, depicting the true story of a 13-year-old South Mississippi girl who becomes pregnant and contracts HIV, airs at 9:30 p.m. Sunday on Fox 25.

Black Friday Deals 2004

Link - The latest Black Friday 2004 deal offerings for the day after Thankgiving by retailers across the nation. Come here first for the latest information.

Dropping the anchorman

Link - Dan Rather's retirement marks a welcome change in American journalism

Gift Guides for Rich Include $90M Estate

Link - Billionaires and multimillionaires are browsing for holiday gifts just like the rest of us, but the unbelievably rich are opening bulging wallets for dream presents that challenge the imagination.

Boeing Converts 737 Into Bomber

Link - Picture the Boeing 737 -- the small, stocky jetliner that's the workhorse of hundreds of airlines around the world. Now picture the 737 with missiles slung under its wings and a bomb bay in its belly.

Boeing Converts 737 Into Bomber

Link - Picture the Boeing 737 -- the small, stocky jetliner that's the workhorse of hundreds of airlines around the world. Now picture the 737 with missiles slung under its wings and a bomb bay in its belly.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

My life as Marie

This week, while visiting with my parents, they reminded me of an episode in fifth grade when I changed my name to Marie. My parents have lived on the Coast all of my life but they moved around a lot. I attended most public schools and some private schools in Orange Grove, Gulfport and Biloxi.

In the middle of fifth grade, I was moved to Orange Grove Elementary. As the principal was walking me down the hallway to the class, she read my transcript. "Shawn Marie Zehnder...Do you go by Shawn or Marie?" Well I never knew I had a choice. Marie, of course!

Only I forgot to tell my parents, who had been calling me Shawn since birth. My dad had been telling friends for weeks that there was no Marie at that house. One night I happened to be in the kitchen when I heard my father say, "I'm sorry. There is no Marie at this house. Stop calling!" Then I had to confess. And, of course, the first question is Why?

Shawn had no poetry to it. Can you think of one song off the top of your head with the name Shawn in it? No. Marie? Yes, yes, yes. The Shawns of this world are the songwriters...the Maries have the songs written about them. And I wanted to be a Marie, just for once, if only for a little while.

The Maries of this world aren't asked every day, Why Shawn? Why not Shawna? Didn't your parents know you were going to be a boy? Why don't you spell it Sean, like the boys? No one asks a Marie why!

And, oddly enough, this new Marie was very popular at her new school. She even caught the attention of Robert, the cutest boy in the class. She was best friends with Julie, the most popular girl in the class. But, alas, my life as Marie was cut short.

My parents moved back to Gulfport by sixth grade and I was returned to Shawndom. I was already known as "just Shawn" at my old school and couldn't possibly see a way to change it without risking ridicule. So Shawn it was, Shawn it now is and Shawn it shall always now be. But I will always have the memories of my one semester as Marie at least...Ahh, that was the life. ;)

Rare fish found in Grand Bay

Link - Scientists said a newspaper's discovery presents evidence that a rare, pencil-shaped fish could be breeding in a coastal bay, raising new questions about the effects of drilling for gas there.

Author Larry Brown dies at 53

Link - Larry Brown, a firefighter turned author who wrote of the poor rural South and the consequences of life there, died Wednesday at his home in the Tula community near Oxford. He was 53.

Ridgeland police donate bullet-resistant vests to soldiers in Iraq

Link - The Ridgeland Police Department has donated 16 used bullet-resistant vests for use as armor on vehicles headed to Iraq.

How to Survive Thanksgiving Overeating

Link - Here's my Thanksgiving overeating list...turkey, beef brisket, oyster stuffing, cornbread stuffing, spinach madeleine, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, pecan pie. (And I had seconds of the sweet potato casserole.)

Welcome to the Babelplex

Link - A new tool that leverages the mechanical translation technology from Yahoo (Babelfish) and Google. Babelplex allows the searcher to build a query in one language and then have their search terms translated and executed in the "other" language with just one click. (via SearchEngineWatch)

Preview an updated Thomas

Link - The 109th Congress convenes at noon on January 4, 2005. In preparation for that, we have been working to improve the appearance and the usefulness of THOMAS, the Library of Congress' public legislative information system. We expect the updated site to be released on January 4, but in the meantime we invite you to preview the updated THOMAS.

Creative Commons Unique Search Tool Now Integrated into Firefox 1.0

Link - Creative Commons recently unveiled an updated beta version of its search engine, which scours the web for text, images, audio, and video free to re-use on certain terms a search refinement offered by no other company or organization today.

Librarians' Index to the Internet

Link - Information you can trust from the people who find it everyday.

IceRocket offerss free RSS Builder

Link - RSS Builder is an easy to use service to create RSS feeds for your web site. It provides a simple interface that lets you add topics, links and content, and then publish the RSS (v2.0) feed to your web server with one click!

Thanksgiving in Fallujah - Emails Home

Link - Via Seamus and Gunny Gregory come a few emails sent home from Marines in Fallujah. The Marines only have about a minute to fire off emails home. These were sent at 5am CST today.

Ways you can help our U.S. troops...

Link - A very comprehensive list of support-the-troops Web sites.

Reflections on the first Thanksgiving

Link - It is worth remembering the only specific contemporary account of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, that of Edward Winslow. His letter was dated December 13, 1621.

TrackBack and Pingback supported by CNET News.com

Link - CNET News.com recently introduced support for TrackBack and Pingback as additional tools to help readers follow the flow of interactive content. Anyone linking to a CNET News.com story who sends the proper notification will get a link back in return.

The Problem with Viral Branding

Link - Want to build a long-lasting brand? A viral strategy is too short-lived to get the job done, Douglas Holt argues in this excerpt from a new book, How Brands Become Icons.

Nice Guys Can Finish First

Link - Your people skills become more important the higher you go -- so behave yourself!

Mum's the word, says the world

Link - Mother is the most beautiful word in the English language, according to a survey of non-English speakers.


Link - Marketing has finally become a conversation. Not, in most cases, as was intended, BETWEEN corporations and consumers (that would make too much sense), but rather a global conversation involving millions of consumers ABOUT corporations.

The Relationship Revolution

Link - The notion that digital technologies have catapulted us into "The Information Age" has become one of the most durable and annoying clichés of the post-War era. Savants and seers insist that Future Shocks and Third Waves, along with their high-tech/high-touch megatrends, are being powered by new Information Paradigms along the Information Superhighway.

The World's Smartest Wine Bar

Link - Two Bay Area passions -- wine and tech -- have joined forces at VinoVenue, a wine bar recently opened in San Francisco. The twist? There's no bartender needed. Instead, a new system from Italy's Enomatic lets drinkers serve themselves, filling their wineglasses an ounce at a time at dispensers that look like high-tech soda fountains.

Blog Torrent

Link - Blog Torrent is software that makes it much easier to share and download files using the bittorrent protocol. Making it easy to blog large video files means that people can share their home movies the same way they share their photos or writings. It lets people create vast networks of truly peer-to-peer video content-- video that was made by individuals and shared with individuals, no bandwidth budget or distribution deal needed. Does this mean that we can do for television what blogs have done for news? Let's find out...

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Definitely no blogging this week

This is the last post I'm attempting till Friday. I just don't have the patience to do this with dial-up!

Quentin and I made it to Waveland through the fog and rain and it cleared this morning to a beautiful day (although it's not supposed to last). It rained all the way through Louisiana, but cleared when we got back to the Mississippi line. But it's very hot and humid now - and I packed heavier clothes so we'll be sweating profusely the whole time, I'm sure. We've already taken three walks on the beach since last night - I'll post pictures when I get back home on Friday.

My mom has Christmas trees in every room - so Quentin is having a ball running around looking at them all. I'm enjoying it all - I feel like I'm on vacation! ;)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Books as glimpses into the soul

I'm reading the Jane Austen Book Clubright now and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. In the story, a man (who is then a friend) gives a woman a gift of books that he enjoys that he wants her to read. They are science fiction books and she puts them aside as not her kind of reading. But then later he decides he would like more than friendship and she decides she has to read the books before she makes up her mind. If she enjoys the book...maybe. If not...no way.

How fitting! I've inspected book shelves at peoples' houses for years. I inspect book shelves the way some like to nose into the medicine cabinet (which I've never understood). I inspect the shelves not just for the titles themselves but also for their appearance, location and reachability. (Are they just for show? Do they actually read the books? Any heavy reading? Do they all look like leftovers from college? Are they dusty?)

And what was especially interesting to me in the story was the concept that if she didn't like the books, she probably wouldn't like the man. Somehow if someone doesn't like a restaurant you enjoyed or a movie you loved, it doesn't have the same affront as if they didn't like the book you "got." How could they not? What did they miss?

So in this holiday season, always remember the gifting of books is not an easy task, though it may seem so on the surface. Much thought must go into the choice. If you buy someone a book that they would never dream of reading, somehow it's even worse than the ugly sweater or the deluxe coffee holiday set.

Six south Mississippi counties designated National Heritage Area

Link - Six counties in south Mississippi will share $10 million over the next decade to help with tourism and historical preservation efforts.

Recalled toys

Link - Check your Christmas list twice -- and make sure there are not any recalled toys on the list. (Especially if you are a bargain shopper like me...sometimes the toy is 80 percent off for a reason!)

Old Habits Really Do Die Hard, Study Shows

Link - New research may help explain why people find it so easy to fall back into old habits after they've decided to change their ways.

The Worst Jobs in Science

Link -Monitoring dumps, extracting worms, lobbying politicians: science's ugly side.

Electric shock: it's faster than a Porsche 911

Link - A Japanese professor wants us to switch on to battery powered vehicles, Peter Lyon reports.

Soviet Space Battle Station photos

Link - And its prototype Polus too.

Internet Radio Made Easy

Link - Forbes.com reviews AudioFeast.

How to check your blog's Google position

Link - Rubel has some advice.

Podcasting 101

Link - Steve Rubel did some research on podcasting over the weekend and shares the results with us.

Instructions for your optics gone amuck...

Link - Here is a collection of illustrated articles on the chief causes of image degradation in photography. Currently available pages can be accessed via hyperlinks. The reader should keep in mind that the articles are more about principles of photographic optics rather than tests of specific lenses. Also, most of the phenomena have been captured on film. Since a film acts as no more than a light-sensitive medium, the examples equally apply to a digital recorder array. In the few cases where the nature of the recording medium is important, this will be emphasized.

Space tourism legislation makes comeback

Link - After ups and downs, House revives and approves bill

Spirit of America

Link - Their mission is to extend the goodwill of the American people to assist those advancing freedom and peace abroad. 100% of your donation goes directly to the project of your choice to help Iraqi citizens.

Tokyo's G-Cans Project

Link - The G-Cans Project is a massive project, begun in Tokyo 12 years ago, to build infrastructure for preventing overflow of the major rivers and waterways spidering the city (a serious problem during rainy-season and typhoon season). The underground waterway is the largest in the world and sports five 32m diameter, 65m deep concrete containment silos which are connected by 64 kilometers of tunnel sitting 50 meters beneath the surface.
The whole system is powered by 14000 horsepower turbines which can pump 200 tons of water a second into the large outlying edogawa river.

The site is all in Japanese, but offers an ubelievable photo gallery (no translation needed). Supposedly the G-Cans project is also meant to be a tourist attraction, and can be visited for free. (And, remember, my birthday is fast approaching on Dec. 3. If you haven't gotten a present yet, feel free to fly me to Tokyo to see the G-Can Project.)

Kevin Sites responds to Falluja shooting video

Link - Blogger and war correspondent Kevin Sites has issued his first detailed public statement on the Falluja shooting incident and its aftermath on his blog.

Superman too super a role model

Link - Superman is too good a role model. Fans of the man from Krypton unwittingly compare themselves to the superhero, and realise they do not measure up. And as a result, they are less likely to help other people.

40 Feet Under Water

Link - For the first time in history an exhibition of art works takes place under water, right in front of the coast of one of the Lesser Antilles, the island of Bonaire. The visitor, with diver's license or accompanied by a diving instructor, has to go under water to admire the enormous works of art in the middle of the Caribbean Sea flora and fauna. For those who are used to walking into a museum this will become quite a different experience. (OK...this would be a great idea for my birthday present on Dec. 3, which is coincidentally the grand opening day also, if anyone is interested in taking me!)

Sunday Shoot

Link - Founded on Ansel Adam's belief that you don't take a photograph, you make it, this site gives photography lovers a challenge/concept each week and photographers display their memes (or photographs, if you're old-fashioned). (When did this world get so popular all of a sudden?)

Sunday, November 21, 2004

History of food gets dished out in Delta

Link - Just in time for the holidays, residents in the Delta region can tickle their tastebuds with information about their favorite treats - from corn to sweet potato pie - through a new exhibit at Delta State University sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute.

Beauty school offers free cuts in exchange for food donations

Link - The Academy of Hair Design in Pearl is known for giving stylish haircuts for the reasonable price of $5. But for the second consecutive holiday season, the beauty school is giving those same haircuts free in exchange for the donation of five canned food items.

Target wake-up call

Link - In a strange combination of promotion and telemarketing, Target is insuring attendance to its two-day sale Friday and Saturday by allowing shoppers to sign up for a free wake up call on the day of the sale. Visitors to the Web site can choose a caller from a list including Darth Vader, a heartbreaker, a tween diva, a construction worker, Dennis the Rooster and supermodel Heidi Klum. Who do you want to wake up with?

Ever wanted your own personal shopper?

Link - Well here it is. This holiday season, Personal Shopper Inc. launched a free software and
service designed to save online shoppers time and money. Once downloaded, the site selects products tailored to the shopper's interests, style and brand preference as well as gift ideas customized for special occasions. The software eliminates the need to run from store to store or search multiple Web sites, and users can initiate their purchases right from their desktop.

The Love Letter Connection

Link - Chicago artist Cindy Loehr has been gathering love letters as part of an ongoing project...donate yours here.

Texas photoblogging

Link - Things you might see while driving around Texas

Rock'n'roll to blast across new frontiers

Link - Rock and roll music will be boldy blasted where none has been heard before when NASA's Cassini-Huygens spacecraft completes it journey to Saturn's moon, Titan.

How To Steal Wi-Fi

Link - And how to keep the neighbors from stealing yours.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Don't forget your passport, kids!

Link - Kids can record their visits to museums, zoos and parks all over the country as well as collect cool - and FREE - souvenirs with the new TripKid Souvenir Stamp Program. Simply present a notebook or one of the program's spiffy souvenir passports at any of the 188 participating zoos, museums, resorts and parks, and receive a free sticker stamp, each one unique to the location. The passport looks like a real passport and neatly houses the collection. It's $5 and can be purchased at many of the participating destinations.

AFBF: Thanksgiving Dinner Remains Affordable

Link - A traditional Thanksgiving dinner – including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings – remains affordable and will cost less this year than last, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Online vacation planning for kids

Kids-Eye View Program - Embassy Suites Hotels polled kids ages 6 to 16 in 10 of the country's top vacation sites (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, D.C., Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix and San Francisco) to get the low-down on the coolest places for kids to visit. The information can also be found at the front desk of any of the Embassy hotels in the featured cities.

ChowHound - Lists hundreds of thousands of restaurant ratings written by all kinds of critics, from gourmets to local families that have been there. You can browse the extensive message boards by region or search them by typing in your destination. You can also pose a question to other visitors on message boards or post your own review.

Landscapes from Brazil

Link - Beautiful pictures!

Be fabulously prepared

Link - Finally, a Swiss Army Knife just for women. When look-good snafus strike, fight back with the Miss Army Kit ($25). Miss Army squeezes in essentials such as a mirror, pillbox, needle and thread and even a tiny perfume bottle and flashlight, plus a corkscrew for spontaneous celebrations.

Tickle's Inkblot Test

Link - Shawn, your subconscious mind is driven most by Self-protection.

You are emotionally reserved and private. You typically keep your cool during arguments and rarely reveal personal information that you later regret.

On the surface, you appear very serene. Inside however, you may sometimes feel detached or disconnected from the world around you. The upside of this is that you are not the sort of person to easily lose your temper. You think about things rationally rather than get swept up in emotions. You also remain calm in the toughest of situations.

Your psyche is very unique; the more you learn about it, the more you will understand who you really are.

And that's just some of what we know about you from your inkblot test results. Find out more about what drives your subconscious and how it affects you and your happiness in your personalized 25-page inkblot test report.

Wine Bottle Cork Candles

Link - Cool gift idea for Christmas or any other occasion...An inventive way to set a romantic mood. Wax candles look exactly like corks; they're even imprinted with Bouteilles a la propriete. Each fits the neck of a wine bottle as safely as a stopper. Each is 3" high. Set of four. $9.95

The 5-Factor IPIP Personality Test

I signed up for a Tickle account - and they keep sending me links to all of these free personality tests. And I just can't resist taking them...I wonder what that would say about my personality? ;) Here's the result of my 5-factor IPIP Personality Test, which supposedly finds the most unique aspect of your character. Want to find out what makes you unique? Take the test.


Shawn, your most unique quality is that you're unusually Personable

You come to life when you're around others and are a real “people person.” You're also a natural leader and are able to maneuver difficult personal situations with ease and tact. You're on the ball, assertive, and have energy to carry out your best ideas. Not to mention the fact that people just enjoy being around you. Compared to others who are outgoing, you have an unusually warm nature. Only 1.6% of all test takers have this unique combination of personality strengths.

While this says a lot about you, there is much more to you than this. The 5-Factor IPIP Personality Test measures you on 30 unique personality traits, backed by over 70 years of personality research. This enables us to provide you with the most thorough, in-depth personality assessment available to you. (And costs $19.99, of course.)

Hummingbird Cake

Well, I don't have to cook this Thanksgiving because Quentin and I are staying at my parents' house until Thursday morning. Then we're driving to Hammond, La., to celebrate Thanksgiving with David's family. But I didn't get out of cooking the traditional Hummingbird Cake for my father (so I won't get to miss his traditional "How did you get all those little feathers off so easily?" question).

This Hummingbird Cake recipe is from Southern Living. It first ran in the magazine in February 1978 but has been repeated many times since because it's so popular. It was elected favorite recipe ever in 1990 and has won blue ribbons at several county fairs across the South. It was submitted by Mrs. L. H. Wiggins, Greensboro, NC. (I both love and detest Mrs. Wiggins because I have to make this cake about four times every holiday season by popular demand. I've made it so long now that I'm bored with it but everyone insists on it. So beware of the danger before you try it!)

Hummingbird Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 (8-oz) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup chopped pecans (you can also use walnuts - the taste is the same and they are usually cheaper)
1 3/4 cup mashed bananas (about three bananas)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting

Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not beat. Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup pecans and bananas.

Pour batter into three greased and floured nine-inch round cakepans. Bake at 350 degrees for 23 to 28 minutes or till a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pans and let cool completely on wire racks.

Stir 1/2 cup pecans into cream cheese frosting, if desired, or reserve them to sprinkle over the top of the frosted cake. Spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. (It's best to mix the pecans in because then no one will see the results if any crumbs get in the frosting. Also, I sometimes decorate the edge of the cake with pecan halves in a circle.)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 cup butter
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16-oz) package powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream butter and cream cheese. Gradually add powdered sugar, beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. (I always double the frosting recipe because I can't tolerate a lightly frosted cake.)

Off for a parental visit

I'm off to Bay St. Louis on Monday morning for four days/three nights of bonding with parents (and to allow Quentin the same). I don't think I've stayed that long at my parents' house since I lived there, so wish me luck. Anyways, light blogging next week, if at all. (My father has dial-up...you understand.)

But I am bringing my digital videocamera down with me. When I get back I'm going to experiment with posting video clips on my blog. All of the articles make it sound very easy, but we'll see.

It's gloomy and raining here again this weekend, so we'll probably head for the movies this afternoon to see Spongebob. I want to see Polar Express but can't get my husband or son interested in going to see that one. Maybe after turkey next week the holiday spirit will overcome them. Let's hope anyway!

Full scholarships offered at MSU

Link - Mississippi State is offering full scholarships over two years - including stipends ranging from $8,000 to $15,000 each year - to students who will commit to careers in computer security and information assurance.

Scholarship recipients are required to focus in the area of computer security/information assurance and serve summer internships with the federal government and to work for the federal government one year for every year or part of a year that a scholarship is awarded. Feb. 4, 2005, is the scholarship application deadline.

Spousal damage control

After all of the writing that was done on how Terese Heinz Kerry supposedly hurt the Kerry/Edwards campaign, you would think the Democrats would start grooming Bill Clinton early for the supposed Hillary 2008 run. Obviously not.

After playing nice at the grand opening of his library, Bill obviously just couldn't take it anymore and blasted Peter Jennings about how the media has destroyed his reputation. Whether you believe that or not, the fact remains that his rantings, if they continue, won't bode well for Hillary in 2008.

The public doesn't mind remembering good-time Bill who loved blowjobs as much as hamburgers fondly, even if he did lie to us. (Men like that always lie to women. We already know that.) But he needs to let the Kenneth Starr/media conspiracy thing die. By 2008, there will be a generation of reporters who won't vaguely remember how the whole sordid thing played out on the news...unless Bill keeps bringing it up. Hillary...get control of your man, girl! ;)

Building a Cyclotron on a Shoestring

Link - Starting when he was an undergrad, Tim Koeth built a 12−inch cyclotron. Now he is in grad school and his creation is used in a senior−level lab class.

The Tech-Support Generation

Link - Millions of young Americans will head home next week to give thanks, eat turkey … and fix their parents’ computers

Operation Truth

Link - American soldiers blogging from the front lines.

Blogs, Death and Rock 'n Roll

Link - E&P will be blogging shortly, and we need your help: name our blog, win a free sub.

2004 Weblog Awards

Link - Nominate someone here.

Cut and Paste

Link - A history of photomontage.

The Bootstrapper's Bible

Link - Seth Godin's ENTIRE book! FREE for TWO WEEKS ONLY! There's never been a better time to start a business with no money. This manifesto will show you how. (He's trying to let the word spread through the blogosphere and I'm sure he's tracking results. But the book is in Acrobat format only - you won't be receiving a hard copy in the mail.)

Friday, November 19, 2004

Tis the season...

December is fast approaching - and we all know what that means...it's time to celebrate my birthday season as the treasured day of Dec. 3 approaches. And since this year is the 35th celebration season special observances are in order.

I will have to be out of town on business on my actual birthday, but we are having a girls' night out/birthday celebration to see Bridget Jones in Jackson on Nov. 30 for those of you who can make it. (Frozen margaritas and sombreros at Margarita's are definitely in order.) I have to head to Greenwood on Dec. 2, but I think a trip to Ground Zero Blues Club is in order that night. (And Judith is checking into a midnight tour to Robert Johnson's grave for the afterparty!) And somewhere in December I'm going to have to add in a birthday day celebration with Carol, who shares my birthday (but who has not yet experienced the 30s yet at all, poor girl). And Kathy and I will observe our annual no-kids, no-husbands, just-us-again weekend birthday celebration in Hattiesburg at some time in December. Stay tuned!

The Circuits Holiday Buying Guide

Link - Toys and games, mobile devices, recreation, music, etc. etc.

NY Times RSS Feeds

Link - RSS feeds from The New York Times (and a Technology feed was added recently).

Carpe diem gone awry

Link - Pupils were left in tears after a teacher told them that an asteroid was about to hit Earth and kill them all. The spoof announcement was designed to teach 14-year-olds the importance of seizing the day but backfired after they became visibly frightened.

Questioning Authority

Link - David Livingstone Smith is a liar. And he explains why you are too.

2004 "10 Worst Toys" List

Link - W.A.T.C.H.'s annual "10 Worst Toys" list nominates representative toys with the potential to cause childhood injuries, or even death. W.A.T.C.H.'s annual "Toy Conference" has generated extensive national press and media coverage. Because of these efforts, and the positive response from both the media and the public, there have been many toy and product design changes. Founder Edward M. Swartz and W.A.T.C.H. have fearlessly exposed potentially dangerous toys to the general public. As a result, children’s lives have been saved.

Overusing your strengths can be a weakness

A co-worker and I rode together to a luncheon meeting yesterday. She is about 20 years older than me and has been a kind of role model/mentor for me in my current position. We are very similar personality-wise (we're both Ds and ENTJs). I was telling her about my taking the Kiersey test and trying to examine my personality weaknesses so I could work on them in the future.

She brought up an interesting point. She had taken the Kiersey test with a group of others working on a project once. Afterwards, they had a counselor-type come in and talk about how they could optimize their differences, etc. The point he made that stuck with her is that most people's problem is not knowing their weaknesses, it's overusing their strengths.

We all know our weaknesses - we may need to work on them more, but most of us at least know what they are. But we have a hard time saying No for requests for our known strengths.

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I'm the "creative one" in all of the organizations I participate in. Need an idea? Need a concept or a design? Need a theme? Call Shawn. But this sometimes leaves me burnt out and depleted mentally. It requires so much brain power that it leaves me exhausted (but pleased if I solved a problem for someone).

So when examining our personal and professional lives, we may want to spend as much time ensuring that we are not relying solely on our known strengths as we often do trying to categorize and fix our weaknesses. We need to give ourselves room to figure out what our new strengths could be if we had enough time to explore!

My weird dream

I read today somewhere that my recurring dream about losing all of my teeth is a dream about fear of losing control. Then I read somewhere else that it was a fear of losing all of your money. (I'm sure they are somehow connected anyway.)

New Targets now have big balls

Our Targets in the Jackson area got re-vamped recently. The newest addition, besides the Starbucks in the stores, are these big red cement balls all over the outside of the store. I've been racking my brain figuring out what the hell these big red balls has to do with the Target store and/or brand... I found one article where a store manager said the balls were "eye-catching." Huh? (And I won't even bother you with what my search for big red balls and Target spat back at me! It would make a demure Southern girl blush, for sure!) ;)

Anderson exhibit takes magic to New Orleans

Link - A year after leaving the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., a version of the Walter Anderson Centennial travel exhibit that's based in Ocean Springs will open at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, both modified and expanded from the original.

Ocean Springs, Hattiesburg among 100 Top Places To Live

Link - Ocean Springs is one of the Top 100 places to live in America, according to a list published earlier this year by Relocate-America. Other Mississippi cities making the list include Hattiesburg and Saltillo.

Sirius Hires Karmazin As Its New CEO

Link - Mel Karmazin, the former president of media conglomerate Viacom Inc., is joining Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. as CEO, replacing Joseph Clayton, who is staying on as chairman, the company announced Nov. 18.

Trial in Hooters suit against chain accused of stealing ideas

Link - Hooters of America and a rival restaurant chain began arguing in federal court over who has rights to the concept of using scantily clad women to sell food and beer.

My parents are always on the road in the RV these days...so we're using the postcards to decorate Quentin's room. Posted by Hello

One of my Walter Anderson pictures - I practically grew up on Ship Island. My parents were boat bums. Posted by Hello

Music and the Brain

Link - What is the secret of music's strange power? Seeking an answer, scientists are piecing together a picture of what happens in the brains of listeners and musicians

President Bush's Kissing Cabinet

Link - The nominations of Condoleezza Rice for secretary of state and of Margaret Spellings as secretary of education were visually intriguing events, most notably because President Bush puckered up and gave both of them a congratulatory kiss. The president did not kiss Alberto Gonzales, his nominee for attorney general. He was congratulated with a strong handshake and the sort of torso tackle that men give each other in lieu of an actual hug.

Winning the Career Tournament

Link - What factors account for career success? And how can those factors help explain the continuing dearth of women at the top of American corporations? Professor Charles A. O'Reilly has been fascinated by those questions for decades. We sat down with him in his office at the Stanford Graduate School of Business to discuss the results of his recent study, which followed a group of MBA students from UC Berkeley's Haas School of Management for eight years after graduation.

How To Make Your Own Luck

Link - Some folks do have all the luck -- and psychologist Richard Wiseman can teach you how to be one of the lucky few.

My iTunes purchases this week...

Ray LaMontagne - Trouble
Delbert McClinton - Lie No Better
Mavis Staples - At the End of the Day

Thursday, November 18, 2004

EBay Sellers Generous With Junk

Link - Tired of that lime-green lamp gathering dust in the den? While useless to its owner, such junk could translate into cash for a needy charity with the click of a mouse.

$50M casino takes site in Waveland where two others failed

Link - Developers of Silver Slipper Gambling Hall & Saloon in Waveland plan to finalize details of financing for the $50 million casino by the end of this month and then begin construction.

Self-Navigating Vehicle

Link - Progress is logical: from audible warnings to vehicles that respond to user commands with door-to-door service

Quiz yourself about job satisfaction

Anita Bruzzese from Gannett News Service says even if you dislike where you work, it can be scary to leave. That's why so many miserable people stay in jobs they hate. So when is it time to leave? She recommends a checklist to sort out what you would lose and what you would gain by leaving a current job.

Consider these elements:

- Are you happy? It's been shown that being unhappy at work can lead to a multitude of problems such as high blood pressure, back and neck problems and depression. If you have family, ask them if they're happy with your job.

- Company health. Is the financial future of your company solid?

- Perks and benefits. Especially good health benefits but also does management support your taking time off?

- Pay. This should not be the only factor in deciding whether you take a job or not. But it is a factor.

- You feel fulfilled. Do you get a sense of personal satisfaction out of what you do?

If most of these answers are not answered positively, it may be time to consider other options.

Walking partner

This week, my four-year-old son has decided to join me in my nightly dogwalking routine. I thought this was most likely a random addition that would disappear as quickly as it appeared - but last night was the fourth night in a row he's joined me. And as soon as we get home, he starts asking when we're going for our walk. (This from a child who was supposedly afraid of walking in the dark just two weeks ago...go figure.)

So we're taking our walk last night, struggling for control of the dog leash, as usual. Quentin and Sassy, our black Lab, weigh about the same amount and he insists on holding the leash so a quite comical tug-of-war always ensues. Quentin has finally discovered that if he stands stock-still and plants his feet he can at least make her stop. The rest of the time we are usually at a slow sprint so she doesn't take him for a walk. The positive side is that this speeds up our walk. The negative side is that my once peaceful, star-gazing, contemplative walk has turned into a derring-do adventure, full of stops and starts, slow and fast and everything in between.

Last night, I noticed that Quentin had slowed down behind me and was turning to check on him when I see him sniffing bushes and trees and everything else. I tried to resist but finally just had to ask him what in the world he was doing. He said he was trying to figure out why Sassy was smelling everything all the time, and he figured it must smell pretty good if she was giving it that much attention.

After I got my laughing fit under control, I told him that dogs have a much better sense of smell than humans. That we could see much better than dogs, but that they could hear and smell better than humans. And I went into the dogs that sniff for a living and the dog whistles that hurt dog ears that we cannot hear. But then came the inevitable Why? So if your's ask the same question, I've done the research for you already!

- Just for Kids: Your Dog's Senses
- Dogs and Smell
- It's a Stinky Job But Somebody's Gotta Do It
- Animal Noses
- How Far Can Dogs Smell?
- How Dogs Use Their Senses

Muppets get their own Web site

Link - Kermit, Miss Piggy (my personal favorite), Gonzo and all of their pals are starring in their own Web site. The site, which debuted on Nov. 17, features games, biographies, screensavers and news about current projects, including the new film The Muppets Wonderful Wizard of Oz, slated to air on ABC next May.

More of our backyard. Posted by Hello

Our front yard (the part in the curtains on the left side is Sassy's head at the window wondering what I'm doing outside without her...that's not allowed). Posted by Hello

Our backyard Posted by Hello

My wild little Indian Posted by Hello

The Fastest Cars

Link - By price, the 12 cars with the fastest zero-to-60 times.

U.S. vows 30M newspaper pages to go on Net

Link - The government promises anyone with a computer will have access within a few years to millions of pages from old newspapers, a slice of American history to be viewed now only by visiting local libraries, newspaper offices or the nation's capital.

The enforcer

Link - Michael Koubi worked for Shin Bet, Israel's security service, for 21 years and was its chief interrogator from 1987 to 1993. He interrogated hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including renowned militants such as Sheikh Yassin, the former leader of the Palestinian group Hamas, who was killed in an Israeli attack this year. He claims that intelligence gained in interrogation has been crucial to protecting Israel from terrorism. He tells Michael Bond that, given enough time, he could make almost anyone talk.

Mr. Patent

Link - Marvin Johnson can't seem to stop innovating. The plainspoken scientist from Phillips Petroleum has 212 patents to his name. Here are the surprising secrets of his creative success.

2004 threatened species

Link - A photo gallery of the species threatened this year...just in case a picture is worth a 1,000 words.

Scientific American 50

Link - Scientific American's list of outstanding technology leaders in the realms of business, research and policymaking.

Blogging grows by getting smaller

Link - There's a new kind of Web log: Call it a me-blog.

Blogging 101

Link - Orangejack Blogging University...a series of the ins and outs of blogging for beginners.

Google scholarly literature search

Link - Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

My second purchase during my women and guitars phase. Posted by Hello

I went through a women with guitars phase in artwork - I don't know what that was about. This was the first picture I bought in that phase. Posted by Hello

First the Boyfriend's Arm Pillow...now the Girlfriend's Lap Pillow

Link - It is a pillow imitating a woman's legs made from urethane foam...sitting on her knees in a tight mini skirt. It was aimed at males from their late teens to early twenties, but it seems like there has also been quite a reaction from males in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. (I guess once they hit their 70s it's too damn hard to get up once you're down to worry about it.) ;)

The Final Capitalist Frontier

Link - Space scientists and entrepreneurs are envisioning much more than tourists taking pictures, and planting flags and footprints, as they plan humanity's off-world future.

National Digital Newspaper Program

Link - The government promises anyone with a computer will have access within a few years to millions of pages from old newspapers, a slice of American history to be viewed now only by visiting local libraries, newspaper offices or the nation's capital. The first of what's expected to be 30 million digitized pages from papers published from 1836 through 1922 will be available in 2006. "Anyone who's interested --- teachers, students, historians, lawyers, politicians, even newspaper reporters -- will be able to go to their computer at home or at work and at a click of a mouse get immediate, unfiltered access to the greatest source of our history," said Bruce Cole, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. (ResourceShelf points out that ProQuest has already digitized the complete archives of several major newspapers. And also recommends Cold North Wind, Gale, and NewspaperARCHIVE.com.)

National Archives opens high-tech vaults

Link - A new permanent exhibit that turns old documents into interactive computer stations opened on Nov. 12 at the National Archives and Records Administration's building in Washington, D.C.

The British Guide to the U.S. Elections

Link - A just-released 82-page report.

It ain't easy being Green...

The Green Party recently began its first-ever advertising campaign - "A cure for the Election 2004 hangover."

The ad shown here, running in the Nov. 16 New York Times, reads, in part: “Election fraud, job loss, low wages, the war in Iraq, expensive healthcare, air pollution, unsafe drinking water, poisonous chemicals in our food. … Aren’t you tired of their mess? … We have sensible solutions and we are implementing them locally every day, not just talking about them during election season.”

Tom's Hardware Gift Guide

Link - Since I haven't updated my Christmas Gift Guide for the Clueless yet this week...I think they sent all the catalogs in like two weeks time because it's been kind of dry this week.

Divergence, convergence and other marketing strategies

Link - In their new book, The Origin of Brands: Discover the Natural Laws of Product Innovation and Business Survival, Al and Laura Ries examine the development of brand strategy with the help of naturalist Charles Darwin. But along with a discussion of Darwin's The Origin of the Species, the authors analyze a number of current-day marketing strategies - successful ones as well as flops - in their discussion of what works, and what doesn't. In a word, divergence is in; convergence is not. (Free registration required.)

Found Typography

Link - And cool pics too!

New Vocabulary Word of the Day

Googlewhacked - A Google.com game in which one attempts to find two words that produce only one result among its 3 billion Web pages, i.e. "unconstructive superegos" and "dork turnspit." Obviously there are several Web sites devoted entirely to this endeavour. And Dave Gorman even turned his search into a one-person show.

Classifying books by their covers

Link - Artist Chris Cobb convinced Adobe Bookshop in San Francisco to allow him to reclassify 20,000 books based solely on their color.

Blogs Illustrated

Link - The new art of illustrated blogs, illustration used as a means of blogging, illutrated by the blog owners. They'll be illustrated blogs then!

Thackeray's The Chronicle of the Drum

Link - Available online.

The Real Gilligan's Island

Link - TBS has a new reality show, The Real Gilligan's Island. They’ve gone out and found a real Skipper, First Mate, Millionaire (and his wife), a Movie Star, a Professor and a Mary Ann and will dump them on a desert isle.

A tale of two maps

Link - The now familiar map of the United States, separated into red and blue states, makes the point, graphically, that the coastal population centers tend to vote Democratic while fly-over country leans Republican.

Unfortunately, the map's binary either/or electoral college nature overestimates the philosophical division within the country while failing to show the extraordinary degree to which Americans' voting behavior reflects the degree to which their own neighborhoods are more or less crowded.

FREE Wall Street Journal video

Link - The WSJ has set up a new video page. And, amazingly, it's free.

Numbers We Live By

Link - An article about the digits we use every day during routine financial transactions, the scores that determine our future and the figures (pardon the expression) that drive us nuts when look in the mirror.

Speed record smashed

Link - A US hypersonic experimental scramjet, the X-43A, has clocked up a test flight at a world record speed 10 times faster than sound, NASA said today.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Wine 101

Link - FineWine.com offers a free monthly e-mail newsletter that includes food and wine pairing suggestions and tips on starting your own wine-tasting group. For Thanksgiving, the site recommends an American-made Pinot Noir. (It's a red that goes with a wide variety of foods.) If you prefer white wine, try Pinto Gris or Riesling. Here are a few recommendations for less than $15:

- Holloran Stafford Hill, Pinot Noir, Oregon
- Lemelson Vineyards, Six Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Oregon
- Domaine Sainte Eugenie, Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, France
- Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards, Pierre's Ghost Red, California

- Martin Schaetzel, Tokay-Pinot Gris Cuvee Reserve, France

The Wisconsin Cheese Secret Ingredient Contest

Link - Enter your recipe to win three days in New York City, including a cooking class in the Gourmet Cooking Arts Center with Executive Chef Sara Moulton, and $10,000 in kitchen appliances.

To enter, submit an original recipe using Wisconsin cheese, along with part of a cheese package proving Wisconsin's identification. Finalists will be selected based on originality and how successfully Wisconsin cheese is incorporated into the recipe. The winner will be selected by Gourmet Cooking Arts Center under the direction of Sara Moulton.

If you're looking for a neat Thanksgiving cookbook...

Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions by Fernando and Marlene Divina and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian is a scrupulously researched book documenting the varied culinary traditions of the native people of the Americas that existed before the settlers arrived here. The book also describes the contributions the New World made to the Old, including chocolate, tomatoes, potatoes and pineapples, and provides some unusual recipes that make use of indigenous ingredients. The book coincides with the opening of the museum's new building, which will house the Mitsitam Cafe serving Native-inspired cuisine. The book also features recollections of harvesting, cooking and eating contributed by the current generation of Native Americans as well as beautiful photographs of the museum's collection. (List price $39.95.)

Vintage Soda Pop

Link - Remember when the soda pop aisles of grocery stores were glittering with glass bottles in all kinds of colors and flavors? Me neither, but I still like Soda Pop Stop. The LA store has more than 500 offerings including 43 root beers, 33 ginger ales, a mint julep soda, coconut pop from the Caribbean and Moxie Orange Cream. (But no Barq's root beer. You haven't really lived until you have an ice cold Barq's poured into a chilled beer mug alongside an oyster po-boy with some home-style fries. Heaven!)

Green Chile Stew

Yummy and filling for a soup...I made this tonight. I like the recipes because it's quick and easy and tastes even better the next day. (And even my four-year-old picky eater will eat it.)

1 lb chicken breast, cut up
1/2 c. diced onion (1 medium)
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
2 can chicken broth
1 lb red potatoes, cubed
4 medium carrots, sliced
1 can diced green chilies
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cilantro (optional)

In a large pot, cook chicken, onion and garlic in oil until the chicken is tender and brown. Stir in chicken broth, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, water, chile peppers, chili powder, basil, salt and pepper.

Bring stew to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. If desired, top with cilantro.