Friday, December 31, 2004

My fortune

Just got back from a New Year's Eve lunch with friends at Bonsai Japanese Restaurant. My fortune cookie: "Someone finds you wonderfully mysterious."

Happy New Year's eve early

Fark is getting started early so they can include every time zone - and they want you to post your favorite drink recipes.

Eye of Science

Link - Scientific photography

5ives

BoingBoing points to Merlin Mann's "5ives" site. It's where he keeps very, very funny lists of five things. They list his "5 things I'll be doing while you're at Burning Man," but, in honor of New Year's Eve, here are his:

Five things it’s probably better not to do when you’re kind of drunk
1. buy domain names
2. hire an attorney
3. do lots of file management from the command line
4. sort out your finances
5. telephone people you remember fondly from elementary school

Blues Today: A Living Blues Symposium

Link - Anyone who thinks the blues is dead need only to travel to the University of Mississippi Feb. 17-19 for Living Blues Magazine's third annual Blues Today Symposium. For more information, visit the Web site or contact Mary Beth Lasseter at marybeth@olemiss.edu.

Mississippi native may be oldest living person, but can't prove it

Link - She will never make the record books, but she has lived a life worth documenting. At age 119, Clinton Township resident Arbelia Wood may be the oldest living person in the world -- but she can't prove it.

The Art of Gifting

"He is a good man, who can receive a gift well. We are either glad or sorry at a gift, and both emotions are unbecoming." -Ralph Waldo Emerson, from his essay Gifts

Michelle Singletary's Money column this week is about the art of gifting. But it's not about the art of buying gifts, as you would first imagine, but of the art of receiving a gift well. And one of the many lessons I hope to learn in the New Year!

It's also funny to see that even men in the 1800s had no idea what to get their wives for Christmas! But Emerson points out (pointers here, men) that flowers and fruits are always fit presents. Bread and drink were also acceptable gifts.

"The only gift is a portion of thyself. Thou must bleed for me. Therefore the poet brings his poem; the shepherd, his lamb; the farmer, corn; the miner, a gem; the sailor, coral and shells; the painter, his picture; the girl, a handkerchief of her own sewing. This is right and pleasing, for it restores society in so far to its primary basis, when a man's biography is conveyed in his gift, and every man's wealth is an index of his merit. But it is a cold, lifeless business when you go to the shops to buy me something, which does not represent your life and talent, but a goldsmith's." (Oh, how Christmas has changed over the years!)

But, alas, even Emerson expected sublime gifting from his loved one:

"I fear to breathe any treason against the majesty of love, which is the genius and god of gifts, and to whom we must not affect to prescribe. Let him give kingdoms or flower-leaves indifferently. There are persons, from whom we always expect fairy tokens; let us not cease to expect them."

May many fairy tokens come your way in the New Year!

Mississippians recount the tsunami tragedy - and others reach out to those in need

State newspapers have been busy collecting firsthand accounts from Mississippians who were in various countries affected by the tsunami. Susan and Scott Sweat were in Thailand. Joe Miller of Ocean Springs and Doug Pardue of Prentiss were in Cochin, India - wives spoke to the Sun Herald and the men spoke to Kevin Walters of The Hattiesburg American. (Kevin and I were in graduate school together - and we both survived years of teaching Freshman Comp!)

Mississippians are also busy finding ways to help the many victims. The Central Mississippi Red Cross Chapter has been flooded with calls from people who want to go and help in person. (Volunteers would need extensive training, a minimum three-month commitment without pay, passports and specialized immunizations, said the Red Cross, encouraging folks to volunteer at the local level instead.)

Several groups are collecting funds and supplies:
- The Indian Association of Mississippi (no Web site found)
- Catholic Charities, (601) 355-8634
- Kannan Nagarajan of Ridgeland, an engineer, says he can't sit back and do nothing as the death toll rises. He is heading a relief drive in the Mississippi Indian community. The goal is to raise $25,000. A tsunami-Asia disaster relief-Mississippi account has been set up at SouthTrust Bank branch in Flowood, he said. Nagarajan said he has donated $1,000 to the fund.
- International aid organizations are accepting donations to help victims of the powerful earthquake and resulting tsunamis that caused widespread destruction and deaths in parts of South Asia and East Africa.



This week's Carnival of the Recipes

Amy has done a wonderful (and clever) job of hosting this week's Carnival of the Recipes. (And this edition marks my first - but definitely not last - contribution.)

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Dog celebrating early

It seems like our black Lab has started the New Year's celebration early. She was acting a little funny yesterday and we couldn't quite figure out what it was. It seems that a bottle of white zinfandel uncorked itself somehow from our wine rack. And there's no evidence and no wine left in an empty bottle. We're guessing that Sassy "cleaned it up" for us - and spent yesterday sleeping it off. (Water! We don't need no stinkin' water - bring in the wine!) ;)

Miraculous visions

Link - A century after Einstein's miracle year, most people still do not understand exactly what it was he did. Here, we attempt to elucidate

The year of the Green Rooster: tips for a successful celebration

Link - According to the Eastern Zodiac the upcoming year of 2005 will be the year of the Rooster; the year of Green Wooden Rooster to be exact. (Yes, I'm still going on about this being my Year of the Rooster."

"Roosters are also very peaceful birds. They guard their owners. In fact, it is a common misconception that roosters are cocky. They are only cocky for a reason.

Those born in the year of the rooster tend to be very reliable; they make their relatives and/or loved ones feel at ease when they are with them. Despite their powerful sex drive, Roosters are good family men."

"It is recommended to celebrate New Year's with family, relatives and close friends. You will offend the Rooster if you chose to abandon the family comfort and celebrate the holiday at some night club." (And so as not to offend the Rooster I will be staying at home and watching the traditional "When Harry Met Sally" and drinking the traditional champagne - don't want to mess with the Rooster by any means.)


Crossroads Film Society Monday Night Films At Parkway Place in January

Crossroads Film Society Monday Night 35mm Indie Films at Parkway Place Theatre in Flowood

$6, ($3 for Crossroads members). Come early to join: $35 annual membership, $25 students, $50 couple. Members screen free and discounted films year round, get in free to all filmmaker parties, members only events, participate and help decide what Crossroads does and screens, get discounts to the annual film festival in April, and more. 613-6060


I Heart Huckabees - Mon., Jan. 10, 7:30 p.m. Parkway Place Theatre, Lakeland Dr. at Airport Rd. This ensemble comedy is about a married couple, the Jaffes (Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin), who work as detectives, helping people solve existential crises in their lives. For those not familiar with the philosophy-based term of "existential crisis", some examples of such a crises would be a "mid-life crisis", a "what am I doing with my life?" sort of hang up, "my life has been a mistake", "my whole life is a joke", etc.. (Jude Law, Jason Schwartzman, Mark Wahlberg, and Naomi Watts.).

Maria Full of Grace - Mon., Jan. 17, 7:30 p.m. (Drama, Crime/Gangster) The harrowing story of a (not quite) typical mule: Maria Alvarez (Moreno), an intelligent and fiercely independent 17-year-old girl from Colombia who agrees to smuggle a half-kilo of heroin into the United States.www.mariafullofgrace.com

Stage Beauty - Mon., Jan. 24, 7:30 p.m. Period drama set in the 1660s, starring Billy Crudup and Claire Danes. At a time when in live theatre women's roles were played by men, Edward 'Ned' Kynaston (Crudup) is England's most celebrated leading lady, using his beauty and skill to make the great female roles his own. But when Charles II is tired of seeing the same old performers, the ruler allows real women to tread the boards and men may no longer play women's parts. Ned becomes a virtual nobody, virtually overnight and seems headed for suicide till his ex-dresser turned actress Maria (Danes) takes it upon herself to make a man of him again.

Motorcycle Diaries - Mon., Jan. 31, 7:30 p.m. The true story of Ernesto Guevara before he becomes the icon and historical figure the world has come to know as Ché Guevara. As a 23-year-old medical student from Argentina, Che Guevara traveled across South America on a motorcycle with his friend Alberto Granado in 1951-1952, in a personal odyssey which would ultimately inspire him to become a revolutionary who had a profound impact on the history of several nations.

Students ooh and aah over Ohr-O'Keefe's architecture

Link - A group of architecture students from across the country spent part of yesterday in Biloxi touring the construction site of the new Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art. The students are attending an American Institute of Architecture Students conference this week in New Orleans.


Choir desperate for D.C. money

Link - Tropical Wave, the Long Beach High show choir, needs money to fulfill a dream of performing on Inauguration Day. The award-winning choir has raised only $5,000 toward the $25,000 needed to send the 40 dancers and singers to Washington, D.C. Choir director Dianne Holbert, who refuses to throw in the towel with only five days to raise money, says this is the only inauguration-bound Mississippi choir.

Couple on way to Asia to try to help victims

Link - A South Mississippi couple are on their way to parts of Asia today for what was meant to be a series of Christian leadership conferences before a devastating tsunami killed thousands of people in six countries, from Africa to Indonesia.

Anyone who would like to donate money to help those in need in the Bangkok area can bring it to Grace Independent Baptist, 3707 Bienville Blvd., Ocean Springs, or call 1-228-875-2093. Supplies will then be sent to the sister church in Bangkok, from which they would be distributed to those in need.

Three Mississippi soldiers honored with Bronze Stars

Link - Three Mississippi soldiers have been honored with Bronze Stars for their service in Iraq. Sgt. 1st Class Hulet Moore of Bruce, Sgt. Ricky Browning of Calhoun City; and Sgt. Keith Seaton of Tupelo received the honor for their service in B Company 223rd Engineer Battalion. The men were deployed for 15 months in Iraq, said 1st Sgt. David Mitchell.

Champagne anyone?

Link - Bubbly a popular part of New Year's Eve celebrations, but fans tout it all year long

(And this article has some great champagne quotes - and recommendations for food pairings.)

MagazineLiteracy.org adds new features

MagazineLiteracy.org has added new features to its Web site. Visitors can now see what programs are in need and what programs currently have sponsors. The group has also expanded its children's magazine offerings with titles from the National Wildlife Federation, Girl's Life, and the Children's Better Health Institute. With the addition of Cooking Light, Food & Wine, Bucks and Boston magazines, they have also expanded support from consumer publications, which have offered advertising space to promote the program and its needs. Stay tuned for more changes in the New Year!

For more information on the program or to support the cause of feeding kids hungry to learn, contact John Mennell at (609) 651-4340 or john@magazineliteracy.org.

Amazon: Giving Away the Store

Link - Visit Amazon Light at www.kokogiak.com/amazon4, and you’ll see a plain search box that allows you to locate any product in Amazon.com’s database. Click on an item, and you’ll be taken to a page with the usual product image, price information, and customer reviews, and, of course, the familiar “Buy This” button. Amazon Light’s pages are deliberately less cluttered than those at Amazon itself, but the family relationship is obvious.

Look closer, however, and you’ll spot some distinctly non-Amazonian features. If the item you’re viewing is a DVD, for example, there will be a button that lets you see in a single click whether the same disc is for rent at Netflix. If it’s a CD, you can check whether Apple’s iTunes music store has a downloadable version. And if it’s a book, Amazon Light will even tell you whether it’s on the shelf at your local public library.

Clarksdale's Ground Zero Blues Club the "Toast of the Nation"

Ground Zero Blues Club has a waiting list to get in to their New Year's Eve House Party featuring Jimbo Mathus' Knockdown Society, Big George Brock, Cedell Davis, Terry "Harmonica" Bean, Wesley Jefferson and Mr. Tater. The party begins at 9 p.m. and will be broadcast on Mississippi Public Radio for those of us who didn't get tickets. At 11 p.m. National Public Radio will broadcast a portion of the event on Toast of the Nation.

For more information, call (662) 624-2591.

Fire and Ice

The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra will present Fire and Ice featuring Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 on Jan. 8th at 7:30 p.m. at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson. Ani Aznavoorian will be the guest artist.

There will be a special post-concert reception to welcome MSO's new Concertmistress Marta Szlubowska-Kirk. A native of Poland and a semi-finalist in both the Wieniawski and Sibelius international violin competitions, she has played most recently with Wisconsin's La Crosse Symphony Orchestra. Sample Russian hors d'oeuvres provided by A Catered Affair and warm up with an international vodka tasting. ($15 per person)

Tickets for the performance are $40/$25 for adults, $30/$20 for seniors (65 and over), $5 students (18 and under) and $5 for college students with valid ID, 30 minutes before concert time. For more information or to make reservations, call (601)960-1565.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Agreement Will Keep 1,060 Acres Surrounding Monticello, Jefferson's Plantation, Intact

Link - A preservation agreement will keep about 1,060 acres surrounding Monticello - land that was once part of Thomas Jefferson's plantation - much as it was in his day.

U.S. history seminars available for teachers

Link - A series of interactive professional development seminars on American history will be broadcast on Mississippi Public Broadcasting Distance Learning newtowk on Jan. 19, Feb. 23 and April 6. Schools that want to participate should contact Lucy Ferron at lucy.ferron@mpbonline.org.

Free Radon Testing Kits For Mississippians During Radon Awareness Month

Link - The Mississippi Department of Health (MDH) encourages Mississippians to take action and keep their homes free of radon -- an odorless, tasteless gas and the second leading cause of lung cancer. In January, National Radon Action Month, the Mississippi Department of Health is offering educational opportunities for Mississippians on this public health issue.

MDH is offering the public free radon kits to use in testing their homes for radon. While supplies last, the public can request a free radon kit by simply calling the state’s Radon Information Line at 1-800-626-7739.

The free radon test kit will also have a self-addressed envelope so that the residents can send the test kit directly to the lab for testing and analysis. The homeowners will then receive their test results directly from the Mississippi Department of Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the only known health problem of radon exposure is lung cancer. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. If a person smokes and has high radon levels in a home, the risk of getting lung cancer is especially high.


I'm still trying to perfect pictures in mirrors with my camera. Whenever I turn the flash off, the autofocus doesn't operate very well. Posted by Hello


Walking on the nature trails at the Natural Science Museum. Posted by Hello


Quentin gets up close at the Natural Science Museum in Jackson. Posted by Hello

Headline Hawk

Big Jim recommends Headline Hawk, a free application that sends RSS feeds to your Blackberry. He also recommends this Blackberry Web browser. (I'm still a Blackberry newbie so I'm hesitant to dive in too deep now - but maybe a few months from now I'll be able to use his suggestions.)

Report: Schools not getting job done

Link - Mississippi is one of five states that requires four years of math for high school graduation, a standard recommended by a national research group. But Achieve, in its report "The Expectations Gap: A 50-State Review of High School Graduation Requirements," said all states are failing to do the job they need to do to prepare high school students for the world after high school.

Barbours to lead Jan. bash for Bush

Link - At least 500 Mississippians led by Gov. Haley Barbour and his wife, Marsha, plan to travel to Washington for President Bush's second inauguration Jan. 20 and related festivities, including eight evening balls. Republican Party leaders say the number, not including the bands, should top the 350 Mississippians who attended the Republican National Convention in New York City earlier this year and will exceed the number that attended Bush's first inauguration.

B.B. King, an Indianola native, will headline the Mississippi party at the Dream nightclub in Washington the evening of Jan. 18 . Tickets cost $200 each. Also, Mississippi will team with states like Georgia, Maine, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Arkansas at the Constitution Ball at the Washington Hilton the evening of Jan. 20. For details, call Mississippi GOP headquarters at (601) 948-5191.



Sounding the Alarm on a Tsunami Is Complex and Expensive

Link - If only people had been warned. An hour's notice for those living and vacationing along the coastlines of the Indian Ocean might have saved thousands of lives. But predictions, and acting on them, are not simple, geoscience experts say.

USM offering summer class on Gulf of Mexico

Link - College students, precollege teachers and nature enthusiasts are invited to explore the northern Gulf of Mexico through courses at the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory this summer. Registration opens Jan. 3 for the lab's summer field program, which emphasizes hands-on experiences in local coastal and marine environments in addition to time in the laboratory and the classroom. Courses are offered in three sessions, starting in May. The 2005 line-up also includes four mini-courses designed for teachers of kindergarten through 12th grade that last one week and carry two semester hours a credit each. Students may earn more than 12 semester hours in a summer. Credit earned is transferred to students' home institutions. For details, call Dawne Hard at (228) 872-4223 or e-mail dawne.hard@usm.edu. (Or visit the link above.)

Recycled Christmas trees give Louisiana coastline a break

Link - The state of Louisiana loses 30 miles of coastline each year. A system of levies and canals that is designed to keep cities like New Orleans dry also keeps sediment from replenishing shrinking shorelines. That's where the Christmas trees come in.

Holiday web2store shopping rises 43%, CrossMedia reports

Link - The number of holiday season shoppers who browsed its client retailers’ web sites before purchasing in stores rose 43% this year over the 2003 holiday season, to 14.7 million from 10.3 million, CrossMedia Services Inc. reports.

Officials plan big celebration commemorating the completion of Natchez Trace Parkway

Link - A Natchez committee is already planning the party of the year for 2005. In May, Natchez, along with state and federal officials, will celebrate the opening of the final 8-mile stretch of the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Listmania

Link - Yes, fellow list lovers, a fellow list lover has been creating a list of lists in 2004.

Warren's Werewolves wins Radio 2's Greatest Opening Song Line vote

Link - Cult songwriter Warren Zevon's 1978 single Werewolves Of London has won a top accolade today beating songs such as Bill Haley and The Comets' Rock Around The Clock and Bruce Springsteen's Hungry Heart for the Greatest Opening Song Line in rock 'n' roll history.

GED preparation available online in Mississippi

Link - GED Integrated Online Solutions is offering Mississippi students a chance to prepare for the GED online using software and Internet technology - even if they can't afford Internet service on their home computers.

The State Board for Community and Junior Colleges is giving away 500 free CDs to people who want to prepare for the GED using the system. In Mississippi, 27.1 percent of residents age 25 and older do not have a high school diploma or GED, Census figures show. Mississippi ranks 20th in the nation for the number of people it serves in adult education classes.

For more information about Mississippi GED Online, call 1-888-4ABE-GED or visit the link above.

Fees increased at Vicksburg Military Park

Link - Entrance fees are being increased at the Vicksburg National Military Parkand will be used for park improvements, officials say. On Jan. 1, 2005, the basic per-vehicle fee to enter the preserved Civil War battlefield will increase from $5 to $8. That fee allows a car or light truck carrying six or fewer passengers to enter the park for up to a week.

Giant Telescope Will Keep An Eye On Planets In Other Solar Systems

Link - MIT astrophysicists and their colleagues are excited about the latest milestone toward developing a giant telescope that among other things will allow direct observations of planets orbiting stars in solar systems beyond ours.

Flirting dictionary for cellphones

From the Chicago Tribune: "In Europe, even some old-guard publishers have jumped into the mobile format. The Munich-based Langenscheidt Publishing Group is a traditional, family-run company that would seem an unlikely player in this market. It has been publishing dictionaries, travel guides and map books since 1856 and is run by the fourth generation of the Langenscheidt family.

This month Langenscheidt started offering a phone-size flirting dictionary that is its way of promoting international understanding. For about $5, the service offers 600 or so phrases in the chosen language, and practical advice including phonetic pronunciations of polite brushoffs.

The benefit, said Ina Kaese, who manages Langenscheidt's mobile services, is that if you are a traveler in a foreign city in a busy bar, your telephone can be your instant guide to romance."

America's Most Literate Cities 2004

Link - The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater recently surveyed cities with populations over 200,000 to find the most literate cities for 2004. The Sun Herald reports that Birmingham, AL, (ranked 18th) beat out New York City (49th overall)Chicago (58th) and Los Angeles (68th). Montgomery beat those big cities, too, ranking No. 38 overall. The study looked at factors like libraries, newspaper readership, book stores, publications and education and compared them on a per-person basis. The study did not look at literacy rates. Other nearby cities that made the list include Atlanta, Ga. (15th); Nashville-Davidson, Tenn. (29th); Baton Rouge, La. (30th); New Orleans, La. (43rd); Shreveport, La. (50th); Houston, Tex. (63rd); and Memphis, Tenn. (67th).


Recombinant innovation

Link - One of the best new books on innovation, How Breakthroughs Happen: The Surprising Truth About How Companies Innovate, by Andrew Hargadon (Harvard Business School Press, 2003), contains perhaps the most contrarian concept of how, in fact, breakthroughs do happen. It's not with out-of-the-box thinking or other facile forms of corporate creativity, but through the effects of community - the milieu, the culture, and the camaraderie in which innovators find themselves.

Blogumentary

Link - Chuck Olsen is producing an independent documentary about blogs. He wants to know from bloggers:

What compels us to blog?

How does it affect us, each other, our work, the mediascape, the world?

Do bloggers have anything in common?

Does the blogosphere have a life of it's (sic) own, like the emergent behavior of an ant colony excited by the discovery of food?

And also any other information that could help the documentary...Send the info to chuck(nospam)@blogumentary.org.

Tsunami charities rated

Link - Benjamin Rosenbaum created a table with ratings by watchdog organizations on the efficiency of the relief organizations most prominently mentioned, plus news about the relief.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Stewed black-eyed peas

The traditional New Year's day dinner at my house...

Stewed Black-Eyed Peas

1 lb andouille
1 c. yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
Thyme
4 bay leaves
3 tsp parsley
8 c. chicken stock
1 lb dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
1 tbsp minced garlic

Cut sausage in half lengthwise and into 1/4-inch thick slices. Brown over medium heat. Add onions, salt, cayenne, thyme, bay leaves and parsley. Cook, stirring, until the onions are wilted about 5 min. Add the stock, peas and garlic. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, till the peas are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the bay leaves and serve warm.

(No one will eat cabbage at my house, so I serve salad instead - which may explain why we're not wealthy yet. And this goes great with a loaf of Gambino's Garlic Bread.)

Keep the credit cards away from the men...

Home Depotwill start selling appliances directly from its Web site. The Atlanta-based home improvement chain said the more than 1,800 products to be sold online include trash compactors, cooktops, dishwashers, washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, ranges and wall ovens. The appliances offered online will be sold for the same price as those in Home Depot stores, which began selling appliances in 2001. The company also said prices will not vary by region. (via Wall Street Journal)

U.S. Scientists Say Quake Movement Shifted Islands

Link - The massive earthquake that devastated parts of Asia permanently moved the tectonic plates beneath the Indian Ocean as much as 98 feet, slightly shifting islands near Sumatra an unknown distance, U.S. scientists said today.

Quake May Have Made Earth Wobble--US Scientists

Link - The deadly Asian earthquake may have permanently accelerated the Earth's rotation -- shortening days by a fraction of a second -- and caused the planet to wobble on its axis, U.S. scientists said today.

2004 - The Year in Pictures

Link - From the New York Times

Rage Against the Machines

Link - His lab looks like a silicon slaughterhouse. Over here is a heap of mangled monitors, over there a sad little collection of flame-broiled mice. Brutally kicked keyboards, drowned hard drives, pounded PDAs and other tortured technology are piled under desks and stashed in corners.

2005 Career Horoscopes

Here's mine for Saggitarius...

You've taken things pretty far up until this point, so why not take a break? Ease up on the career focus in January. Keep up the good work, but try to reclaim some personal time while you're at it. You might need to take the lead if a financial problem pops up, but otherwise you've got smooth sailing ahead. The full Moon of March 25th signals a return to the hustle and bustle; you won't be able to help yourself as you jump back into the swing of things.

You'll feel settled in wherever you are throughout the spring, though it might feel a little weird to not be as restless as usual. Embrace the calm while it lasts! The first week of May will be especially good for you -- you'll feel grounded and really able to tackle any level of work. You're definitely making a name for yourself, probably far beyond the walls of the workplace.

You'll develop an itch for new skills and knowledge as summer rolls around, and it might be a good time to take a class or involve yourself in some pro bono work that expands your horizons. By mid-August at the latest you should know what you want to tackle next and be ready to move toward it full throttle. Business starts picking up dramatically in late September, so be ready to take on more and more work.

As all that work piles up through the fall, you'll need to polish up your work relationships to make sure everyone helps you get it all done. October eclipses will help push you over the edge from friendly to charismatic, so it shouldn't be too hard to keep people happy and attract new business (maybe even poaching from your rivals). The holidays should exceed your expectations and then some!

What's yours?

And the women revolt

This is what happens when aerobics instructors are holed up over Christmas holidays with all of those fitness magazines. We're in the middle of Brand New Body, which is 45 minutes of weights and toning, when the instructor tells us to get out the 10 lb weights. She then instructs us to put our hands on the weights in the push-up position. (We're all still with her here.) And then she tells us to do one-arm push-ups while lifting the 10-pound weight. The whole class just laughs. (In my over-15 years at the gym, I've never seen an entire class just start laughing when an instructor asks for an exercise.)

She tells us that we have to try this. It's in the November 2004 issue of Men's Journal - something about trainers to the stars and we have to train our muscles for the future tense. (If you build it, they will come, I guess.) But she does it. And she's no 20-year-old sorority girl - she's in her late 40s. And, by golly, if she can do it, I can do it.

Well, my right arm did OK, but when I went to balance on my right arm and lift my left arm, it just wouldn't move. My brain was willing it to move but my body just wouldn't obey.

We all decided she was watching way too much G.I. Janeor something. But now I'm determined to do the damn move just because no one else could do it. I guess I'll be ready for basic training once I have mastered the one-arm pushup with the 10-pound weight! (And I'll always smile every time I remember an entire aerobics class busting out laughing at the new move.)

AMAZON is collecting donations for tsunami relief

Link - The total is currently $244,000 - and rising.

My iTunes purchases this week...

Howie Day – Collide
Los Lonely Boys – Feliz Navidad
Lateef & The Chief – Don’t Stop
Ciara – One, Two Step
Over and Over – Nelly & Tim McGraw
JoJo – Baby It’s You
The Dresden Dolls – Coin-Operated Boy
Jack Johnson – Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
Toby Lightman – Operator
Jamie Cullum – All at Sea

Gravity May Lose Its Pull

Link - It was in 1980 that John Anderson first wondered if something funny was going on with gravity.

Converse asks customers to create ads

Converse, the sneaker company that is owned by Nike, is asking fans to create short films inspired by their shoes. Some of the films will air as 30-second TV spots on MTV and other cable networks. The lucky film makers will each receive $10,000. See a gallery of the films here. (via Church of the Customer)

Turning the digital tables

Link - MP3Jing opens the dance floor to amateurs


My favorite...the pink flamingoes Posted by Hello


A very determined giraffe... Posted by Hello


The Spider Web at the Jackson Zoo Posted by Hello

The Golf Insider honors Dancing Rabbit, Pearl River Resort

The Golf Insider has honored Dancing Rabbit and Pearl River Resort in the category of "Best Golf Resort Value" as part of their annual The Year in Golf Travel: Platinum Places 2004 Awards. This is the second consecutive year Mississippi has earned recognition from The Golf Insider. Last year, the state was ranked second in the "Top Ten Golf Travel Discoveries of the Year."

SPACE.com Quiz: Top Astronomy Stories of 2004

Link - Test your knowledge of some this year's most important and intriguing findings and events. If you can score 8 of 10, you've been paying close attention!

Steam engines could be eco hope

Link - Think of steam engines and hazy, romantic images of chugging great beasts of old fill the mind.

Aid groups accepting donations for victims

Link - International aid organizations are accepting donations to help victims of the powerful earthquake and resulting tsunamis that caused widespread destruction in parts of Asia and Africa. (compiled by CNN.com)

Taste of Gourmet draws attention to Delta catfish industry

Link - Through Taste of Gourmet, the business operated out of Sunflower County by the Schaumburgs, gourmet food items, including Catfish Pate and Catfish with Capers, are being introduced into the homes and lives of people in over 20 states.


Flour, Eggs, Sugar, Chocolate . . . Just Add Chemistry

Link - With two bad knees, Shirley O. Corriher is not quite as nimble as she once was when she performs her "protein hop" - an interpretive dance of sorts to demonstrate the molecular transformations that turn flour, eggs and sugar into a cake.

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Grade - A

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's very clever - and seeing the events through the eyes of the autistic narrator is refreshing. (And it just as easily could have been maudlin or boring.) The only thing that I was surprised about was the cover art. The colors red and yellow play such a big part in the book I thought the orange color should have been red and the cream color yellow on the cover art.(But, admittedly, the chosen colors were more aesthetically pleasing.)

The book has quirky and interesting information throughout about Sherlock Holmes, Marilyn vos Savant of Ask Marilyn fame, math theories, etc. Here are a few of my favorites...

The Monty Hall Problem, solved by Marilyn

You are on a game show on television. On this game show the idea is to win a car as a prize. The game show host shows you three doors. He says there is a car behind one of the doors and there are goats behind the other two doors. He asks you to pick a door. You pick a door but the door is not opened. Then the game show host opens one of the doors you didn't pick to show a goat (because he knows what is behind the doors). Then he says you have one final chance to change your mind before the doors are opened and you get a car or a goat. So he asks you if you want to change your mind and pick the unopened door instead. What should you do?

Marilyn said that you should always change and pick the final door because the chances are 2 in 3 that there will be a car behind that door. Marilyn received tons of letters about her response, with 92% saying she was wrong. But the narrator proves that she is right with a diagram in the book. The Monty Hall Problem shows that numbers are not always simple after all - they are sometimes complicated and not straightforward at all. It supposedly also shows the difference between intuition (which would tell you that the odds don't change by changing doors) and logic. (I'm not normally much of a math person but I LOVE probability problems, for some reason.)

The narrator breaks down The Hound of the Baskervilles into clues and red herrings. He includes two interesting facts about Sherlock Holmes:

1. In the original Sherlock Holmes stories Sherlock Holmes is never described as wearing a deerstalker hat, which is what he is always wearing in pictures and cartoons. The deerstalker hat was invented by a man called Sidney Paget, who did the illustrations for the original books.

2. In the original Sherlock Holmes stories Sherlock Holmes never says "Elementary, my dear Watson." He only ever says this in films and on television.

Occam's razor, which is not a razor that men shave with but a Law, says "Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem," which is Latin and means "No more things should be presumed to exist than are absolutely necessary." -- "Which means that a murder victim is usually killed by someone known to them and fairies are made out of paper and you can't talk to someone who is dead."

Natchez company supplies recycled paper for Starbucks cups

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Starbucks Coffee Company supply chain member Mississippi River Corporation the first-ever approval to use recycled content in food packaging, specifically Starbucks hot beverage cups. Following successful testing, Starbucks expects to convert its hot beverage cups to 10% recycled material, which the company says is an industry first.

"Beginning to use post-consumer recycled content hot beverage cups is an important milestone for Starbucks in addressing the environmental impact associated with our paper-buying practices," said Jim Donald, Starbucks CEO designate. "Starbucks goal is to convert hot cups in our U.S. Company-operated retail stores by the end of calendar 2005. We will continue to explore ways to include recycled content in all Starbucks-branded paper goods in our stores."

Starbucks collaborated for more than two years with its suppliers Solo Cup Company, MeadWestvaco and Mississippi River Corporation to obtain approval from the FDA for this innovation in food packaging.

After testing in early 2005 to validate performance, quality and safety issues, Starbucks expects to convert the recycled content cups into retail stores in the U.S. The hot beverage cups will look and perform the same, but the new cup is expected to lower the company's dependence on tree fiber annually by more than five million pounds.

High-tech firm to help NASA map out Mars

Link - When future astronauts try to decide where to place facilities and roads on distant planets, they may get help from a toolkit developed in Mississippi.

Monday, December 27, 2004

New York bounces back as top destination spot for New Year's

Link - Three years after the Sept. 11 attacks, partygoers are making Times Square in New York City the top destination spot to ring in the new year, according to a survey of Priceline.com hotel reservations.

How much would make you smile?

Link - I still smile when I find a lucky penny on the street. But I don't think that's what they mean.

SPACE.com Quiz: Great Space Mysteries

Link - Test your knowledge against some of the most puzzling topics in astronomy. These mysteries didn't get fully solved in 2004, but not for lack of effort. Each will occupy great minds in 2005 and beyond. Meanwhile, there are some known facts.

Marking the Legacies of Writers Lost in 2004

Link - Despite the fame that some writers achieve, most pass away with little fanfare. Alan Cheuse remembers writers who died this year, with help from poet George Garrett, who reads his poem "Anthologies."


A Winemaker's Library

Sean Thackrey is a well-respected winemaker from Northern California, who is unusual in that he prefers to learn from old writings on the subject than from modern enological studies. His personal website includes not only practical information and interviews, but a collection of his favorite texts about winemaking through the ages, with his own introductions. (via Metafilter)

Photos by Laura Holder

Link - Four image galleries, neat photos

Clean Software

Link - CleanSoftware.org is a resource to help Windows users find the best free daily-use software, free from nasties: adware, spyware, harmful/intrusive components, and threats to privacy.

What Makes Beautiful Minds

Link - Some forms of creative genius seem unfathomable. But as the author of A Beautiful Mind tells us, that doesn't mean we can't learn from them.

People of Plenty

Link - The American dream says that anyone can be rich. But the real question is, Are you keeping up with the Joneses?

Secret history of the credit card

Link - FrontLine and the New York Times join forces to investigate an industry few Americans really understand.

Ever wonder what the iTunes Music Store backend looks like?

Link - It’s called iTunes Producer, and it’s how the people at the iTunes Music Store take music and sell it to you for a buck a go. You can check out some really low-fi photocopied screenshots in their patent application. Oh, thank god for the searchable patent application database…

DURL

Link - A search tool for Del.icio.us.

Why There's No Escaping the Blog

Link - Freewheeling bloggers can boost your product—or destroy it. Either way, they've become a force business can't afford to ignore.

The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami

Link - News and information about resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts.

Bill of Rights free MP3 audiobook

Link - For free on TellTale Weekly, a website that produces high-quality audiobooks from public domain texts: an MP3 reading of the Bill of Rights. (via BoingBoing)

What 2004 hit song are you?

I'm 100 Years by Five for Fighting...

"Every day's a new day...
15 there's still time for you
Time to buy and time to choose
Hey 15, there's never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live"

2004 was about thinking and reflecting - but isn't every year?

What 2004 hit song are you?

National Search for Twinkies(R) Recipes to Celebrate Iconic Snack Cake's 75th Anniversary

Link - 75 Taste-bud Tingling Recipes to be Featured in Commemorative Twinkies Cookbook


NEWS FLASH: Quentin is eaten by a king vulture! ;) Posted by Hello


Prairie dog exhibit at the Jackson Zoo Posted by Hello


It looks like I'm the most destructive animal - pics from the Jackson Zoo recently. Posted by Hello

UPS package tracking with RSS

Link - SuperJason created an RSS function to track UPS shipments.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Molecular gastronomy

Link - Explorations in kitchen chemistry...The term molecular gastronomy was coined in the 1980s by a French scientist, Hervé This, and Nicholas Kurti, who was a professor of physics at Oxford University in England. Both men were interested in food science, but they felt that empirical knowledge and tradition were as important in cooking as rational understanding.

Biodynamic wine

Link - An introduction to biodynamics courtesy of wineanorak.com. There's also an interview with James Milton on the site about on the growing field of biodynamic wine producers.

In the United States and in European countries, government doesn't oversee the use of the term biodynamic, but it does allow wines to be labeled as such. Look for bottles that have a mark from the certification bodies Demeter-International or Biodyvin, or have BIODYNAMIC on the label. If you can't find them at local wine store, Organic Style reccomends winezap.com for a list of stores that will ship them to you (depending on your state laws).

Solar ovens

Link - With electric and gas prices climbing, turning to the sun is an increasingly appealing idea. Made of lightweight plastic, this oven is easy to carry out to your deck or patio - put the food in the included pot and cook away while you lounge in the sunshine (which is required).

The Year of the Chef

2005 is the year of the rooster. (My year - I was born in 1969.) Those born in a rooster year (1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981 and 1993, for example) make the very best chefs, restaurateurs and all-around foodies, it's said. Roosters are diligent, ambitious and hard working, but they are also vain. (And also 5 to 7 p.m. are the hours of the rooster, according to legend - the typical dining time.)

Building a better henhouse

Link - Now you don't have to live in the country to have fresh eggs. The Omlet Eglu will make its American debut in March. The iMac lookalike contraption comes complete with everything from feed to egg boxes (and there's a 30-day money-back guarantee). The only requirement is a 20-square-foot yard. Suburban farmers can expect to collect from 8 to 12 eggs a week.

Sweet smell of success

Link - Bergamots are the next Meyer lemon. Thought to be a hybrid of sour orange and lime, and now available in the U.S., the fruit is best known for perfuming fragrances and Earl Grey tea. Rising C Ranch sells fresh bergamots from $6 per pound plus shipping, 559-637-9546.

Faux pearls

CaviArt is a colorful line of "costume" caviar from Denmark. It is a vegetarian alternative to roe, made from sustainably harvested Nordic seaweed. It doesn't have the bold, briny flavor of the real thing but it is an acceptable stand-in and much less expensive. There's no refrigeration required and the colors don't bleed so it can be added to hot or cold dishes. It is popular in Scandinavia, but won't be available in America until spring.

Eating his words

Chef Homaro Cantu of Moto in Chicago is using edible ink and soybean-cornstarch paper for a unique "tasting" menu at the restaurant. For example, the Italian entrees might taste of mozarella, basil and tomato. Sometimes, after you order your meal, a server will bring a small piece of paper on a plate - an edible photograph of the actual item that will follow.

Cantu is also developing a course that floats. He starts with a cube made of a special kind of whipped silicone invented by NASA and imbues it with various aromas in a smoker. The server then holds it above the table and spins it to release its fragrance.

Cantu is the son of an engineer and has always been fascinated by mechanics. So far, he has applied for 30 patents for everything from a cylinder that carbonates solid food to a pressurized polymer box that steams fish at your table.

Women earned more bachelor's degrees in 2002

Women earned 742,000 bachelor's degrees in 2002, and men just 550,000. The difference in education achievements between the two sexes is growing so large that most colleges are now quietly practicing affirmative action for male applicants. (USA Today)

Nation's first sunrise

Link - See the first sunrise of 2005 from the top of Cadillac Mountain in Maine's Acadia National Park. Each year, a small, champagne-fortified group treks the 3.5 miles up to the mountain, in the cold and the dark, to be the first to welcome the New Year. (Sounds like the perfect place for a New Year's Eve evening - and toast - to me!)

Wine of the Year

Sauternes are among "the greatest and longest-lived wines in the world," says James Suckling in Wine Spectator. Yet their very sweetness is why wine lovers continue to undervalue them. One good reason to get excited about Sauternes again is the 2001 Chateau Rieussec, from France's Bordeaux region, which is "phenomenal any way you look at it." In Wine Spectator's round-up of the year's 100 best wines, it was the only one to earn a perfect score of 100. The wine sells for about $80 a bottle.

The Blue In Blue-Collar

Link - Despite Backlash, John Mellencamp Continues to Fight Authority

WFED, Radio Free Bureaucrat

Link - New AM Station in Washington DC Caters To Federal Employees

Florida Seeks to Aid Native Plants After Hurricanes

Link - NPR's Ari Shapiro continues his series on the long-term impact on Florida from the record hurricane season this year. Biologists look to see if native species can successfully battle invasive species that blow in on the big winds.

Christmas and End of Year quizzes

Link - It's time for Christmas and "End of Year Quizzes". The King William's Quiz (previously posted) is quite the challenge. The following are a bit more manageable. (via Metafilter)

Personal Power: Bendable Organic Solar Cells

Link - Researchers think new, flexible, lightweight organic solar cells may soon power everything from laptops to iPods. The abundance of solar energy is a tantalizing alternative to the dwindling reserves of fossil fuels.

Peyton Manning sets single-season NFL touchdown record with 49

Link - The Colts were playing a bit like the Saints today, but they did finally win. And Peyton did finally beat his tie with Dan Mareno.

Toy inventor brings spotlight to brains behind the fun

Link - From game inventor and toy industry insider Tim Walsh comes The Playmakers, a celebration of classic toys and a tribute to the people who brought them to life. This 312-page book promises to take you on a toy trip of epic proportions, covering nearly 100 years worth of playthings and offering a delightful look back at many childhood favorites. With an accompanying blog also

Soul ballet inspired by Gullah paintings

Jonathan Green's vivid paintings of the Gullah coast are about to come alive. Dubbed a Southern soul ballet, a production of the Columbia City Ballet, Off the Wall and Onto the Stage: Dancing the Art of Jonathan Green, will tour three states in 2005 with hopes of mounting a national or worldwide tour. Gullah is a South Carolina native who now lives in Naples, Fla.

The dances are based on 18 of Green's stylized paintings depicting life on the sea islands along the Southeastern coast. The ballet is choreographed by William Starrett. The music will be drawn from various sources, including original composition hymns, Motown and Gullah work songs, all arranged by Trevor Watson, who teaches at the College of Charleston. The ballet will be performed by an integrated troupe of black, white and Hispanic dancers.

ASU choir going to inaugural

Link - The Alcorn State University Concert Choir will perform as part of the inaugural ceremonies in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20.

UM writer earns spot in Best New American Voices 2006

Sean Ennis, a graduate student in English at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, is to be featured in Best New American Voices 2006, a short story anthology series that showcases promising new writers from around the country. Ennis' Going After Lovely will be published in the anthology.

In the story, the narrator's older sister, Lovely, has run away from home and the family tries to use the Christmas presents their father has given them that year, a telescope, a bow and arrow set an indoor greenhouse, to find her.

Jackson couple boosts Ole Miss scholarship endowmen

Charles and Sally Carmichael of Jackson established the Mike Carmichael Scholarship Endowment at Ole Miss after their son's death from a heart condition to provide academic scholarships for physically challenged students. The couple recently added $200,000 to the endowment.

Water to quench fans' thirst for Elvis on eBay

Link - Wade Jones likes Elvis, but he insists he's just a casual fan. That's why he decided to part with three tablespoons of water from a cup Elvis Presley used during a concert. The high bid on the online auction service Saturday night was $455. The auction closed at 4:30 p.m. Christmas Day.

Bars save the day

Link - I found it ironic that a dry county's local newspaper had a caption of "Bars Save the Day," but alas, it was only breakfast bars.

Trio's book gives advice on easy entertaining

Link - A trio of talented co-workers who produce the bi-monthly "Mississippi Magazine" have cooked up another successful project, destined to become a holiday classic.

Space Station Astronauts Get Christmas Delivery

Link - An unmanned Russian supply ship docked with the International Space Station on Saturday, delivering food, water and Christmas presents to astronauts running low on supplies.

Exploding the Self-Esteem Myth

Link - Boosting people's sense of self-worth has become a national preoccupation. Yet surprisingly, researchshows that such efforts are of little value in fostering academic progress or preventing undesirable behavior

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Stennis space being readied for defense firm

Link - Renovations are continuing at a former ammunition plant where a high-tech defense contractor plans to set up shop next year with an anticipated 300 employees. Work began in mid-November to renovate 50,000 square feet of space for Ionatron, of Tucson, Ariz.

Rare bird getting attention in Mississippi Delta

Link - Don McKee has seen a lot of birds in Mississippi this year. In fact he's seen more than anybody. But McKee says the most significant find he's seen while setting a new record for most species discovered in a year was the Ruddy Ground Dove found by Jim Norris of Cleveland at the Dahomey/Great River Road Christmas Bird Count. The Pascagoula native is one of more than 40 people who have visited Bolivar County since the rare bird was discovered here.

Inside Einstein's Universe

Link - Join NASA and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics to celebrate the Einstein Centennial in 2005.

Convinced the Eel Is in Trouble, 2 Brothers Try to Save It

Link - It is one of the creepier of creatures: a squirming, snakelike fish, good mostly for sushi or bait. Nevertheless, Tim Watts is taking a stand to protect the American eel, which he says is in dangerous decline.

'The Selected Letters of Tennessee Williams': The Productive Years

Link - Even in his most productive years, Tennessee Williams's life was a mess. If he was not an alcoholic, he was surely close. He was, as well, a prodigious pill popper -- uppers following downers in mighty doses -- and a heedless hedonist, by no means discreet about the boy toys he picked up at bathhouses and swimming pools. And this says nothing about his hypochondria, his haunted relationships with his difficult mother and his tragic sister (who was sequestered in a succession of mental institutions) or his vast range of louche and feckless friends on whom he squandered far too much doting attention.

Thankfulness for a short prayer at end of long wait

Link - The waiting's over...now the clean-up begins!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Silly string environmental concerns

My son got a SpiderMan Web Blaster as a present during our pre-Christmas Coast visit. My mother, whom I love dearly but easily exasperate (and vice versa), started telling Quentin about how he didn't need to throw the toy away because it was going to kill the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea. It was ecologically unsound, etc. etc. All I've found on the toy so far is a warning about how it could irritate eyes and skin. The other articles seem to say that it is usually banned because cities don't want to clean it up - not for any known dangers, besides the vague "environmental concerns" because it's not biodegradable. But do we ban all that is not biodegradable?

In the name of science, I want to find out if it is a real or a pseudo-environmental concern and share it with Quentin. (He's already thrown the toy away to appease his grandmother. In fact, he was ready to throw away all of his Spiderman toys because they were going to kill birds and fish - thus my frustration.)

My mother's arguments stem from silly string being banned from Mardi Gras parades on the Coast and in New Orleans. I noticed that Hollywood banned it for Halloween. They all cite "environmental concerns" but don't really explain what the concerns are. If you know more, please point me in the right direction!

Bright Stars in the Holiday Sky

Link - The Yuletide evening sky is especially rewarding now. The eastern sky is filled with brilliant stars – sort of a celestial Christmas tree.

After the IBM Deal, Where Is the " PC" Business Headed?

Link - Already the iPod, TiVo, Xbox, and other devices change the way we think of a PC and liberate it from the desktop. Get ready for the life recorder.

Food blogs

Grocerylists.org - What happens to all of those grocery lists? Find out here. (And see if yours turned up.)

Sautewednesday.com - A Bay Area food lover's musings on food and food media

Sliceny.com - This portal is dedicated to all things pizza

Thefoodsection.com - All the news that's fit to eat

Vinography.com - A San Francisco wine geek offers reviews, rants and ramblings about wine

Great Valentine's gift for the chef in your life...

Link - Kyocera is offering a pink and white ceramic model Santoku knife. And $5 for each knife sold goes to breast cancer research. ($79.95 at Chefsresource.com)

Getting a new computer for Christmas?

Link - Donate your old one to a non-profit organization - and have a deduction for your income taxes. Deductions are valid only for gifts to a recognized charity. (Find IRS-recognized charities at www.charitynavigator.com.)

Willie's new CD proves he's king at Bettie's Place

Willie King and his Liberators, Sunday night regulars at Bettie's Place in Noxubee County, recently released a live CD, Jukin' at Betties. The CD is the fifth from King, a native of Prairie Point who now resides in Memphis. King hosts the annual Freedom Creek Blues Festival in Memphis each year. The CD is available on King's Web site, which also features a short documentary about King, The Real Baptizing, by Oxford's Joe York.

Hinds offers drop off sites for trees

Starting Dec. 26 through Jan. 2, Hinds County is offering several recycling sites for used live trees. The recycling program, Save One for the Chipper, will use the trees for mulch that will be used in city landscaping projects and also offered free to the public in January.

For safety reasons, ornaments, nails and tree stands should be removed. City drop-off sites are Mynelle Gardens, Parham Bridges Children's Playground, Sykes Park, Dizzy Dean Museum, Bailey Magnet School, Callaway High Scool, Forest Hill High School, Jim Hill High School, Lanier High School, McLeod Elementary School, McWillie Administrative Center, Murrah High School, Provine High School and Wingfield High School.

For more information, call (601) 960-1193.

Manuel's rhinestone-studded stage costumes on display in Nashville

Link - Manuel: Star-Spangled Couture on view December 17, 2004–March 13, 2005 at Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville

Death proves oblivious to Christmas

Link - A widespread belief that dying people are able to postpone death until after important dates is simply not true, according to a US study of cancer patients.

Three Dozen New Galaxies Are Found in Nearby Space

Link - Fourteen billion years after the Big Bang started it all, there is still life in the old cosmos.

Space Station Visible Over Most of U.S. During Holidays

Link - Santa will have company in the sky over most of the United States this holiday season. The International Space Station is visible in the early morning, flying by at five miles a second. Information about how, when and where to see it is available on the Internet at http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/isssightings.

Netflix has launched a blog

Link - "Netflix Movie Reviewer James Rocchi has the scoop on great DVDs, old and new, in his Recommendations -- you can also read his take on what's hot and what's not Now in Theaters! "

Movie mistakes

Link - A list of movie mistakes in 2004

Dreaming of a white Christmas in Mississippi?

Link - Will there be snow for Christmas? Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Order your SG4-LED Snow maker today to insure a White Christmas at your home! (I found this after trying to explain to my days away from 5-year-old son who has overdosed on Christmas movies at Grandma's house that it does not "automatically" start snowing on Christmas day...especially if you live in Mississippi!)

Letters from Bad Santa

Link - Have Santa tell someone you know they'll be getting coal this year...

Operation Phone Home

Link - They have sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and friends who are with them in spirit and silently supporting them from the other side of the world. But it would mean so much to our service members to be able to hear their voices.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

What Christmas song are you?

I'm "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeerHad a very shiny nose.And if you ever saw him,You would even say it glows.For you, Christmas is a mix of tradition and fun.You're not above strapping on a red blinking nose for a laugh.

What Christmas song are you?


Monday, December 20, 2004

How do I post via e-mail?

Link - If you were wondering how to post via e-mail too, here's the Blogger.com answer. I'll have to try it from the Coast!

Closed for Christmas

I'm heading to Waveland to visit with the folks till Christmas Eve morning. Then Quentin and I are headed back to Jackson. But then Christmas Day we're headed to Louisiana. (Why do they call this Christmas BREAK?) Anyways, we'll see if we continue to defy Newton's law claiming perpetual motion is not possible. (Yes, I'm ready for January.)

To make a long story short, my parents have (horror of horrors) dial up - and after my last visit, I'm not going to even try to check e-mail or blog (unless I figure out a way to blog from my Blackberry by then).

Merry Christmas to you and yours! I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures to post after Christmas.

Former Coastian will laugh it up on Leno

Link - Laughing diva Kitty Stallings, whose first CD of Christmas "ha-ha" melodies was cut in Biloxi five years ago, is scheduled to appear tonight with Jay Leno on NBC's "Tonight" show at 10:30 in connection with the nationwide release of her new Christmas CD.

Greenwood-Leflore to honor actor Morgan Freeman

Link - Veteran actor Morgan Freeman will be inducted into the Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce's Hall of Fame at the chamber's annual meeting in February.

Reward offered for info on civil rights workers' killings

Link - Leaders of the Mississippi Religious Leaders Conference, offering a $100,000 reward, ask those with information regarding the 1964 killings to contact the attorney general’s office at (601)359-4381. Information may be provided anonymously.

NASA to Smack a Comet

Link - NASA is on a collision course with a comet, and scientists say they can't wait to see what happens. The collision, which is to take place between a projectile fired from the space agency's Deep Impact spacecraft and a 4-mile-wide comet known as Tempel 1, is scheduled for July 4, 2005. That's when Tempel 1 will be close enough to Earth for astronomers to monitor the debris that the impact kicks up. If the mission is successful, it will help the scientists see for the first time just what comets are made of.

School of Soul

Link - R&B singer Roberta Flack plans to transform two abandoned brownstones in Harlem into a school of music to be opened next fall.

Overheard in New York

Link - We need a site like this for Mississippi. But I'm too lazy to build another Web site, so it will have to reside on this blog till someone volunteers to take it off my hands. Fellow Mississippians, if you overhear anything interesting, send it my way... And I'm a natural eavesdropper anyway, so it will be second nature for me, I'm sure.

Credit scores - what you should know about your own

Link - Millions of Americans who once worried about test scores in their school days are now discovering a new score is following them around as adults -- the credit score.

My Necktie

Link - Every day a different neck tie photo

The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life

Link - We don't think about it much, but most of our day-to-day activities including our economic lives are dependent on our trust in complete strangers like seamstresses, bankers, pilots, and builders. Our agreement among strangers and institutions to divide labor has made modern life possible, but it is a remarkable occurrence in the context of human evolution, says author Paul Seabright, a Professor of Economics at the University of Toulouse, France.

More Mississippi Bloggers

Thanks to Jim in Biloxi for letting me know about:

Harry in Madison
http://www.kudzufiles.com/

Scott in Brandon
http://www.silmarili.net/blog/

Sunday, December 19, 2004

More Mississippi bloggers

Big Jim in Biloxi
http://bigjim.org/index.php

Donny Broome
http://www.broomeman.com/

Mississippi bloggers

I have been compiling a list of Mississippi bloggers, that I will add to as I go. These bloggers updated their blog at least once during the month of December (except for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, which I let slide since I reside in their Hall of Fame for 1989)...But I am not endorsing the blogs in any way. I have not read all of them, except for making sure that entries were up to date. And I don't plan on reading all of them. They are just all blogging from Mississippi. (And if you are blogging from Mississippi and want to be included in the list, post your information in the Comments or send an e-mail to shawn.lea@gmail.com.)

Special Interests

Mississippi History & Genealogy Notes
http://msgenealogy.blogspot.com/

The Apple Blog – Contributors are from all over, but one, Josh Pigford of Sabotage Media (http://www.sabotagemedia.com/), is in Jackson, MS
http://www.theappleblog.com/

Mississippi Blues News
http://www.blues.ms/

Ken Smith’s Blackjack Blog
http://www.blackjackinfo.com/blog/

Mississippi State Fanblog
http://www.fanblogs.com/sec/archives/cat_mississippi_state.php


Regional

Think Hattiesburg!
http://www.myhattiesburg.com/blogs/


Students

3 Blue
http://3blue.modblog.com/

Miss Oblivious
http://www.livejournal.com/~missoblivious/

Todd in Hattiesburg
http://www.fillingim.com/

Ebonysin.org
http://ebonysin.org/

The Second Time Around (in college, that is)
http://thesecondtimearound.blogspot.com/



Personal

LaShundra
http://www.lashundra.net/shespeaks/

Basil’s Meanderings
http://basild.tblog.com/

Cowgirl…Again
http://ebloggings.blogspot.com/

Dixie Horses
http://www.livejournal.com/users/dixie_horses/

Joe’s Place
http://joej.blogspot.com/

Netgrrl.com
http://www.netgrrl.com/personal/index.html

Neurotic Fitch Mom
http://www.xanga.com/home.aspx?user=neuroticfitchmom

Signifying Nothing
http://blog.lordsutch.com/

Chris in Hattiesburg (Update: Chris is no longer in Hattiesburg. Chris left Hattiesburg in 2002. Chris is now in New York City but blogs about Mississippi and USM.)http://ccs178.com/

CyberSouth
http://cybersouth.blogspot.com/

State Dog
http://www.statedog.com/

Living in Mississippi
http://livingontheplanet.com/northamerica/us/south/ms/index.php

Mississippi Mama
http://mississippimama.tblog.com/

Teaching in Cleveland
http://www.iheartidaho.blogspot.com/


Businesses

Soundacious Records - A netlabel for the singer-songwriter.
http://blog.soundacious.com/

Radiant Marketing – a blog dedicated to business blogging
http://www.radiantmarketing.biz/

Jackson Free Press
http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/

The Corporate Writer
http://www.thecorpwriter.blogspot.com/

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
http://mgccc.blogspot.com/

Max Goff’s Blog
http://weblogs.java.net/blog/dmax69/

100 Things About Me

1. My first name is Shawn.
2. My middle name is Marie.
3. My maiden name was Zehnder.
4. I enjoy thunderstorms (and, I’ll admit, hurricanes).
5. I am 35 years old.
6. I remain fascinated by some of the search requests people use to find this blog.
7. I am short. (5' 2")
8. I enjoy mowing my lawn and doing yardwork.
9. I hate cleaning the house.
10. I’ve lived in Mississippi all of my life – but hopped around the state quite a bit.
11. I am a mom.
12. I am a wife.
13. I read the comics everyday.
14. I’ve always hated Celine Dion.
15. I’ve used a seat belt ever since I saw what my little brother’s face looked like after going through his car’s windshield.
16. I have a little brother. He just turned 30. (HE LIVED!)
17. I’ve never been to New York City. (I’ve never been north of Chicago even.)
18. I love books – even when I don’t have time to read them.
19. I really enjoy photography.
20. When I was a child, my phone number was 896-4845. (My parents must have ingrained it in my head well.)
21. I love my job.
22. I make friends easily.
23. But I’m not good at letting go.
24. I don’t watch much TV.
25. I am a gadget freak.
26. I am a fantastic cook.
27. I first learned about blogging when Wonkette outed Washingtonienne.
28. My favorite work of fiction is Streetcar Named Desire.
29. I am not a morning person.
30. My personality type is ENTJ.
31. I am an animal person – dogs, cats, fish, snakes, iguanas, pigs, etc. etc.
32. My favorite Christmas present ever was a Baby Alive.
33. I buy Folger’s coffee – custom roast.
34. Sunday is my favorite day of the week.
35. My first job was at Wendy’s.
36. My favorite poem is T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
37. My favorite poet is Ogden Nash.
38. I’ve never colored my hair. (And I’m from the South, so that’s saying a lot.)
39. If I had a $100 today to spend frivolously, I’d buy either books or clothes.
40. My best friend and I have been best friends since 7th grade.
41. I am a Sagittarius.
42. I don’t like to gamble.
43. I drive a red 1999 Lincoln Navigator.
44. Yahoo! is my home page – at home and at work.
45. I’ve never had braces or eye glasses.
46. I do not have any tattoos.
47. The only piercing I have is in my ears (and only one on each side).
48. I’ve had a full-body massage only once in my life.
49. I have no patience.
50. My favorite jacket is a long dark green leather coat. It was given to me by an ex-boyfriend. My husband used to hate that I still wore it. After 10 years of marriage, I guess he doesn’t care any more.
51. If I take a nap, I can’t sleep that night.
52. I don’t sleep well – even under the best circumstances.
53. I love to watch boxing and football.
54. I hate watching golf and basketball.
55. I am a people person.
56. I always cry at sad movies.
57. My dad made me stop watching Little House on the Prairie when I was little because I cried so much – and he didn’t want me to cry.
58. I have two half-brothers that I haven’t seen in years.
59. I have a half-sister that I have never seen.
60. I would prefer to know a little bit about everything rather than everything about a little bit.
61. I like monkeys.
62. I think New Year’s Eve is the most romantic holiday.
63. Christmas is my favorite holiday.
64. I am a movie fanatic.
65. I subscribe to Sirius satellite radio.
66. My Internet service is through Road Runner.
67. I am always listening to music – unless I’m sleeping or watching a movie.
68. I am creative.
69. I am sarcastic (and it sometimes gets me in trouble).
70. People always think I work wherever they need help.
71. I spend too much time online.
72. I have a burn scar on my leg from a three-wheeler accident in my teens.
73. I always play to win.
74. I usually win.
75. I have very vivid dreams.
76. I have an odd sense of humor.
77. I love to dance.
78. Daisies are my favorite flowers.
79. I am a sucker for personality tests.
80. I have sensitive skin.
81. I am great in a crisis.
82. I am addicted to blogging.
83. My favorite color is red.
84. I love to write.
85. I love long, hot baths with a cold glass of wine and a thick book
86. I trust people too easily
87. I played the clarinet in high school
88. I don’t wear perfume.
89. I learned French in high school.
90. I learned Russian in college.
91. I love Mexican food.
92. I never learned how to water ski, much to the chagrin of my father, who spent a lot of time trying to teach me.
93. I have weak ankles that I sprained quite a bit when younger. I can be walking along and if I step the wrong way, I’ll just fall flat on the ground. But I never break my ankle regardless – I always sprain it all over again.
94. I can do math fairly well in my head.
95. I love bodies of water of any kind – lakes, rivers, streams, seas, oceans, inflatable pools.
96. I hate monotony.
97. I graduated from Gulfport High School in 1987.
98. I adore Godiva chocolates.
99. I still love to roller skate.
100. I don’t smoke.


Graham Jeffery's Favorites

Link - His 48 favorite photos...

We are what we ate, cookbook collection shows

Link - Donation of historical recipes by Jan and Dan Longone is about more than cooking

Top Sci/Tech Gifts 2004

Link - A Gift Guide from The Scientific American

CNET's Holiday Gift Guide

Link - Ten laptops a-leaping, 9 PDAs dancing, 8 iPods playing...

Wired Tools 2004

Link - The coolest geek shopping list ever - 129 of the best screens, cams, phones, games and gadgets of the year

Newspaper Pictorials

Link - During the World War I era (1914-18), leading newspapers took advantage of a new printing process that dramatically altered their ability to reproduce images. Rotogravure printing, which produced richly detailed, high quality illustrations—even on inexpensive newsprint paper—was used to create vivid new pictorial sections. Publishers that could afford to invest in the new technology saw sharp increases both in readership and advertising revenue.

My three favorite Christmas songs

1. Santa Baby
2. What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?
3. Baby, It's Cold Outside.

Explorer hopes sonar sweep turns up Earhart, plane

Link - Nauticos, under the direction of David Jourdan, plans to launch an expedition in the spring to find Amelia Earhart's plane. The latest expedition will use sonar to sweep a 1,000-square-mile area of ocean bottom near Howland Island in the Pacific Ocean.

Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared July 2, 1937, as they approached an air strip on Howland Island, a tiny island midway between Australia and Hawaii. They had taken off from Papua New Guinea, just 7,000 miles short of reaching Earhart's goal to be the first woman to fly around the world.

This will be Jourdan's second search of Howland - he had to abort a mission in 2002 because of technical problems. And the same area was searched in 1999 by another group that found nothing conclusive. Jourdan says his new expedition will use better sonar technology (at a cost of about $1.5 million).

He believes that the metal airplane will be mostly intact and will not have completely corroded due to the shortage of oxygen and the fairly still water in the area.

The Aluminum Christmas Tree Museum

Link - What began as a joke in 1991 has become an obsession for Stephen Paul Jackson, curator of the museum. And he unwittingly started an entire aluminum Christmas tree movement. This year's collection includes 30 trees of all shapes and sizes. He even shipped 25 trees to a satellite museum in Nashville, TN, this year. The original museum is hosting the Elvis Tree and the Toilet Tree among many others.

iTunes Music Store RSS generator

Link - And you can pick from New Releases, Just Added, Top Songs, Top Albums and Featured Albums in addition to the genre categories.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Lose weight for your community's sake

Benefit your health and your city by joining the Got Milk? Great American Weight Loss Challenge sponsored by the Milk Processor Education Program. The community that drops the most pounds in 12 weeks wins $25,000 to support a local walking/fitness trail. To sign up, go to 2424milk.com.

Natural-born thrill seekers

Have an urge to jump out of airplanes or climb mountains? It may be your birth date: People born between October and March are more likely to try risky sports or other daring experiences than those born between April and September, reports a British study of 450 people. (See...it's not my fault!)

JCJC offering FREE classes on math, writing and more

Link - Jones County Junior College's Adult Education Department is offering free classes that help build math, reading, writing and computer skills. Classes are available 8 a.m. till 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The department is also offering a beginning reading class from 6 p.m. till 9 p.m. on Mondays. The class is limited to eight students. Confidentiality is respected. JCJC also has a GED class that meets for six weeks from 8 a.m. till noon Monday through Friday. The GED test is administered to all students during the six weeks. For more information, call (601) 477-4164.

Entergy customers can donate to needy

Link - Entergy Mississippi is giving Mississippians the chance to help fellow residents in need as temperatures continue to dip. Customers will find a card in their monthly statement that offers the chance to participate in the "Energy Concern" program. (Or you can donate online at the Web site.)

Accidents Waiting to Happen: Rural Roads in the Southeast Prove Deadly for Drivers

Link - Rural two-lane highways are the largest single class of roads in the United States -- and they are the deadliest, especially in the Southeast.

Millsaps students get wireless Internet

Students at Millsaps College can access online wireless services almost anywhere on the 100-acre campus now. Jackson-based Air2Lan already has dotted the Leggett Center with an access point. It's the first time Air2Lan has partnered with an academic institution. Within the next three months, Millsaps-Wilson Library, the Campbell College Center, Murrah and Olin halls and the Millsaps Bowl will be among common areas that will have WiFi. Dormitories and other campus sites will get several smaller antennae and WiFi access points during two other installment phases. It is unknown when the entire campus will have wireless access. Other state hotspots include Mississippi State University's Starkville campus and parts of Baptist Medical Center.

Ready to skip Christmas?

Link - Crossroads Christian Church in Lexington, KY, is approaching Christmas differently this year - it's skipping it. And through advertisements around town and their Web site, members of the church are urgin you do the same. Skip the stress, the overspending, the huge crowds. The church, a non-denominational Christian church, began a series of weekly discussions last month (available on the Web site). The sessions focus on helping the community find simplicity, joy, rest, belonging and Jesus.

Introducing .... the WIKICast!

Link - All you need to know is the phone number to call and leave a message. It's a mixture of a Wiki, dial in audio, and RSS/podcasting. (via Scobleizer)

Conventions of the Holiday Letter Genre

Link - NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Stephen P. Banks, professor of communications at University of Idaho, about holiday letters. Banks coauthored the article "Constructing Personal Identities in Holiday Letters," which appeared in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships in 2000. We hear a few sample letters and Banks talks about his analysis of the genre.

And now there's Google Print

Link - "To use Google Print, just do an ordinary Google search. For example, when you search on "Books about Ecuador Trekking" or "Romeo and Juliet," and we find a book that contains content that matches your search terms, we'll show links to that book at the top of your search results. Click on the book title and you'll see the page of the book that contains your search terms, as well as other information about the book. You can also search for other topics within the book. Click "Buy this Book" and you'll go straight to an online bookstore selling it. If the book was scanned from a library, click the library link to find a local library that has it.

Right now we're just testing this program, so you may not see books in your results for every search. But you can expect to see more and more books popping up in your search results in the coming months. If you're a book publisher and you'd like to have your books included in Google search results, look into the Google Print program for publishers."

NASA Image of the Day

Link - NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured Dione against the globe of Saturn as it approached the icy moon for its close rendezvous on Dec. 14, 2004. This natural color view shows the moon has strong variations in brightness across its surface, but a remarkable lack of color, compared to the warm hues of Saturn's atmosphere. Several oval-shaped storms are present in the planet's atmosphere, along with ripples and waves in the cloud bands.

Chased by the Light

Photographer Jim Brandenburg gave himself a challenge: for 90 days between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice he would take exactly one photograph each day, around his home near Minnesota's million-acre Boundary Waters Wilderness. He then repeated the challenge in the summer, again taking one photograph each day from the summer solstice to the autumnal equinox. You can see the results here: Chased by The Light and Looking for the Summer. (via MetaFilter)

The year in verse, part one

Link - "The world's events we here rehearse—The year that's passed is told in verse" from The Economist

Megan's Law - Information on Registered Sex Offenders

Link - If you live in California, this site will provide you with access to information on more than 63,000 persons required to register in California as sex offenders. Specific home addresses are displayed on more than 33,500 offenders in the California communities with the last registered address reported by the offender. An additional 30,500 offenders are included on the site with listing by ZIP Code, city, and county.

New Maldives island rises from the depths

Link - Life can be cramped when you live on a remote cluster of tiny coral islands in the Indian Ocean, so the Maldives has plumped for a novel if seemingly extreme solution -- build a new island from scratch.

1001 free fonts

Link - Check this site out if you need to find some "emergency" fonts to finish that last-minute project that was dumped on your desk the week before Christmas. (Moi? Bitter?)

AvantGo

Link - With the free AvantGo software, you can download free news from sources like CBC, Canada.com, Reuters, MSNBC, Sporting News, Business Week, and Forbes. And read it on the road. Or in the airport. Or standing in line at Toys 'R Us.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Why women love romantic comedies

A great romantic comedy is like a great motivational speaker...you leave ready to work wonders with your life (romantically). It brings hope back to women whose lives don't have much background music. And it's the damn background music that always gets us in those romantic comedies. Real life has no background music, sadly. (Cueing the orchestra in your head isn't quite the same either.)

And every good romantic comedy has to have some struggle that is overcome, because that's what love is like in the real world. Only the struggles usually aren't as interesting or glamorous. And the work is different and harder. But we don't want to see love without work. We don't trust it.

And honestly, guys, I guess romantic comedies are like our porno for the heart. The guys always say and feel how WE want them to at the end of the movie, regardless of what happened in the beginning or the middle. Romantic comedies are women's hope that there will one day be order restored to the romantic universe. That boy will meet girl and fall in love and live happily ever after, if only at the movie theatre even.