Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I moved...but I did leave a forwarding address

Last night, after months of fighting with Blogger, I finally got so frustrated that I plopped down $50 of my own hard-earned money for my own blog. Visit me soon...I'll be waiting!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Author offers a new take on Twain classic

How much do you know about 80s music?

You Scored 50% Correct

You are a solid child of the 80s

You'd never confuse Tiffany from Debbie

And while you may not know Prince's first #1 hit

You know every word to Little Red Corvette

Sex advice from editorial assistants

The World According To Barbie

Confessions of a writer who didn't pen a memoir

Link - We all hope to do something worth writing about, even if it's just us doing the writing. (Hey, at least they are picking on the memoirists now too and not just the bloggers.)

See, it's not just blogging that gets you fired...

Link - Eli Lilly & Co. said on Monday it fired an employee who wrote a book, Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman, about his tenure as a Pfizer Inc. sales representative which boasted about how little he worked and how much money he earned.

Reidy said he worked for Lilly for four and a half years, first as a salesman but most recently training other representatives. The book is based on the five years he worked at Pfizer, which makes Viagra.

Lilly's stance: Company spokesman Philip Belt said Jamie Reidy was terminated because the book advocated actions that were in violation of Lilly's policies.

Monday, March 28, 2005

A Whole New Mind: Meaning Portfolio

Dan Pink at 800.CEO.READ talks about an exercise invented by Jim Collins, author of the blockbuster book Good to Great. He encourages people to look at their lives--in particular, their work--and ask themselves whether they would still do what they're doing now if they had twenty million dollars in the bank or knew they had no more than 10 years to live. For instance, if you inherted $20 million dollars, no strings attached, would you spend your days the way you spend them now? If you knew you had at the most ten years to live, would still with your current job? If the answer is no, that ought you tell you something. This test alone obviously can't determine your life course. But the approach is smart--and the answers will be clarifying. He also has some additional books for your 20-10 reading list.

Dr. Thorson's Multi-Dimensional Sense of Humor Scale

My scores... Take the test yourself here.

1. Your Creativity and Performance Score16
2. Your Coping Score14
3. Your Facilitation Score14
4. Your Appreciation Score16Total score60
Your Creativity and Performance Score : 16

Statements 1 through 4 have to do with humor creativity and performance. If your total score for these items is 15 or 16, you’re probably the life of the party. But you don’t have to be a wild and crazy guy to be creative. Maybe you think of the thing that will crack up the group, but you’re reluctant to say it. Or you think of the right response 10 minutes too late. The point is, you do think of it. You may have a subtler or quieter wit, and that’s all right. If you scored 6 or less on these first four items, though, maybe you’d be happier if you opened up a little. Nobody wants to cultivate a reputation for being dull.

Your Coping Score : 14
Items 5 through 8 deal with coping. It’s important to realize that you don’t have to have the weight of the world on your shoulders in order to use coping humor. We all face the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. And even if you’re living a glorious life, you know that none of us gets out of this alive. So, having to cope might be situational, but it may also just be one of the good habits that prevent us from taking ourselves — or our lives — too seriously.

Our research indicates that women tend to score higher on the coping factor. This may seem paradoxical, as others’ research has shown women on average to be higher in depression, and coping humor is an antidote to depression. Either women are better able to admit vulnerability, or maybe they just have more to cope with. Scores of 13 to 16 indicate that you can laugh off in a healthy way much that might otherwise vex you. Scores of 8 to 12 suggest that you can often smile and go on. Scores of 4 to 7 may mean that you would be healthier if you laughed off some of your stressors.

Your Facilitation Score : 14
If you scored 14, 15, or 16 on Statements 9 through 12, you’re a facilitator. People mean so much to you that you’re willing to go out on a limb to ease their discomfort. You know that your coworkers are more productive when they’re happy, and you will go out of your way to try to cheer things up. Scores of 10 to 13 on these items don’t necessarily mean that you let other people stew; perhaps the situation demands some tension. If your scores on these items are low, though, you might study ways to inject humor into a situation.

Your Appreciation Score : 16
The last four items deal with appreciating humor. If you scored very low on questions 4 through 8, you might find that comedians really bug you. Do you think people don’t take things seriously enough? Perhaps you’re right. Or maybe you should take things less seriously. Read the comics before you read the obits.If, however, you can see hilarity in circumstances that others find mundane or distasteful, then perhaps you are blessed. Your optimism and playfulness go along with your rich appreciation of fun and funny people. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we diet.

In our work with a longer (25-item) multidimensional sense of humor scale, we have found that situational variables are important in total sense of humor score. Combining the factors above, the sum may be dependent on who one is and where one is in life. Young males, for instance, tend to score fairly high on creativity and performance, probably because their peers value being funny.

Older people, on the other hand, score fairly low on these items. There may be a cohort effect here: Young people were not expected to be so demonstrative when these subjects were young. Or they may have found quiet appreciation of others’ humor more valuable than being the class clown.

Both older people and women tend to score high on the coping items. This may be a matter of their peers’ styles or expectations. Or they may use less humor in public and more within the in-group. They are facilitators, who enforce group norms using humor, or they may be those who ease tension by making light of what might otherwise be seen as threatening. Most psychologists agree that those who cope by using humor are healthier mentally, and perhaps physically and spiritually.

People who appreciate humor don’t have to use it to cope or as a social lubricant, nor do they have to be gag writers. They may just smile at life. We find, though, that those who appreciate humor also use it as a coping mechanism. And one has to have appreciation before one can learn to create. Facilitation often depends on creation and performance.

Total Score : 60

So, total your four scores. The maximum score is 64. If you’re near it, you let your sense of humor serve you, improving your quality of life.

If your total score is between 40 and 50, you use humor sometimes, but perhaps you could learn to let yourself go and enjoy more variety.

Did you score between 20 and 30? Well, you poor old gloomy thing. Less than 20? You need to make an effort to look on the bright side. Life has greater potential if you can loosen up and enjoy it. You don’t have to laugh out loud. Somebody might hear you. Just mellow out a bit. Pull my finger.

Spring is in the hair

If a haircut is on your to-do list, make the cut at a local Fantastic Sam's salon and provide hairpieces to children. Locks of Love, a group in Lake Worth, Fla., is sponsoring a cut-a-thon on April 23 to collect hair for the hairpieces. Those with 10 or more inches to spare can get a free cut and style if they donate the clippings. Even a trim benefits, though - $1 from every cut goes to the charity.

Eudora Welty quotes

On the daring life of writers..."All serious daring starts from within."

On her keen sense of Southern dialect..."Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them." (from One Writer's Beginnings)

On photography...Eudora claimed that her love of photography taught her that "life doesn't stand still."

Her rumored last words, when the doctor asked her if he could do anything for her on her deathbed..."No, but thank you for inviting me to the party."

Don't pay for ice cream...

Mark your calendars. April 19th is Ben & Jerry's 27th annual Free Cone Day at stores worldwide.

Masters of the (Information) Universe

Link - In the new economy, knowledge is the ultimate source of competitive advantage. Grinding through the daily deluge of news, magazines, Web sites, reports, memos, voice mail, email, and junk mail is tough enough. But to succeed in your job, to get promoted, to become the "go-to guy" in your company you must also master all that information. To help get you started, Fast Company asked three know-it-alls who are widely regarded as Information Masters to share their secret techniques.

Exclusive Interview with International Book of the Month author Leslie Lokko

Courtesy of Quality Paperback Book Club...

QPB has given new meaning to the term International Book of the Month; our newest pick, Saffron Skies, isn't available in U.S. stores. But we were so taken by Leslie Lokko's sharp, glamorous, globe-trotting saga of four women that we had to share it with club members. Before you take in this thrilling U.S.-exclusive – which reminds us of Judith Krantz and other greats – read our one-on-one interview with its talented Scottish author, which we've included below. Enjoy!

Q. You flesh out all of the major characters in Saffron Skies so thoroughly. How did you decide what would happen to each character, what their family’s pasts would be, etc?

A. I found that getting to know the characters properly—really understanding what they were like—helped enormously. In each case, with Max, Amber, Madeleine and Becky, for example, I spent a lot of time imagining everything about their lives—what their rooms looked like, what they liked to eat, wear, do—and making notes about each one. I ‘lived’ with them for a period of about 6 weeks, ‘talking’ to them in my head, and so on…once I’d got to know them, the rest followed almost effortlessly. They ‘told’ me what was going to happen, not the other way around!

Q. Did any of the characters in Saffron Skies do anything that surprised even you, their creator? If so, what?

A. Paola and Kieran surprised me; I hadn’t planned on their illicit relationship developing at all…the scene literally just came to me as I was writing dialogue between them; Becky also surprised me a little…I’d almost written her off half-way through the novel and then she came back, a little gutsier and more determined than before.

Q. With which character in Saffron Skies do you have the most in common, and why?

A. I think Madeleine is closest to me in the sense of having been an outsider within a certain culture for part of her/my life; I recognize the same desire to find ways to fit in, make myself likeable and acceptable—as, I suspect, nowadays, many people experience.

Q. You’ve been credited with “bringing brains to the blockbuster.” How do you feel about that statement?

A. Good! I’ve always loved fat, juicy books that had something more to them than sex and shopping and I’ve always been attracted to books that don’t fit easily into genres. I remember reading Andre Brink’s An Act of Terror, set in South Africa, which combines serious political and historical research with a thriller feel and reading it over three days, hardly sleeping. I love reading books I can’t put down.

Q. How did you feel when you heard that Saffron Skies would be the newest International Book of the Month?

A. I was absolutely thrilled!

Q. Saffron Skies is a big book—almost 500 pages. How long did it take you to write it? And were you developing each character’s story as you went along, or did you do it one at a time?

A. The actual writing didn’t take that long—about 9 weeks, although I spent a lot of time beforehand thinking it through. As I said before, I spent a lot of time getting to know each character before letting them loose on the page, so to speak. Also (of course), having trained as an architect, I can’t resist the urge to plan everything through well in advance of execution! It’s not all that different from building a house…start with the foundations, then move upwards, making walls, spaces, etc., then getting into the details. Writing, for me at least, is curiously three dimensional.

Q. What was the most important lesson you learned from writing Saffron Skies?

A. Know the people and places you write about. And don’t stay with one person for too long.

Q. You’re trained as an architect. What made you decide to pursue a writing career?

A. In architecture, I was always interested in the relationship between culture, identity and architecture, and not just in more straightforward building…writing was an opportunity to talk about some of the same issues (race, cultural identity, movement, migration and so on) but in a much more plastic and malleable form. Architecture generally takes a very long time to come off—there’s something about the immediacy of writing that has always appealed to me. Plus, architecture tends to be quite serious and pedantic, especially when talking about these sorts of issues. I was looking for a medium that could be fun and spontaneous, as well as informative, in some small way. I spent some time working in South Africa in 1992-94, and the idea for my first novel, Sundowners, developed from the experiences I had over there . . . Saffron Skies is a continuation of the same sorts of themes, but with religion, family secrets and sibling rivalry thrown in!

Expert: Hurricane Ivan caused severe sand loss along Gulf Coast

Link - New findings show Hurricane Ivan caused massive erosion of beaches, dunes and barrier islands along the Gulf Coast and underscore how vulnerable the American coastline is to hurricanes, a U.S. Geological Survey oceanographer says.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Stupid Human Tricks

Quentin and I returned from our brief spring break trip to Waveland. We went down to support my mother in her first Paws on Parade. She is a volunteer at the local animal shelter and spent a lot of time and energy working on their annual event, so we wanted to be there to cheer her on. Everything went beautifully - I have lots of great photos that I'll post sometime this week (if I ever have time). The weather threatened to rain but was just overcast (which was probably better for the pets anyway).

During Paws on Parade, there was a contest for the pet who could do the neatest trick. I look up from my seat and my five-year-old son is trying to break dance in the center ring. By this time, I figure it will draw more attention to go get him out than to just wait until the contest is over.

He comes to me afterwards, downtrodden because he didn't win. "But, mama," he says, "I thought I did a pretty good trick."

"Son, it's not human tricks. It's animal tricks," I reply.

"Oh," he answers softly. A few seconds pass. "But I still think I had the best trick."

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Creative Commons search engine

Link - Yahoo! now has a Creative Commons search engine.

Sleeping with the guitar player

Link - In the Ages of Man, there are the classics - infancy, childhood, adulthood. We have the Midlife Crisis, of course, so dear to therapists and second wives everywhere. There is adolescence, which in some men seems to last, oh, well, when does it end? But in the last few years I've experienced, via my husband, another masculine stage, one I'd been blissfully unaware of. This is the time of a man's life that I must now and forever think of as the Guitar-in-the-Basement phase.

M-W offers new words for College Dictionary

Merriam-Webster announced this week that it is adding 58 words to the New World College Dictionary.

58 bon mots, including wedgie, blog, Al Qaeda, cargo pants, irritable bowel syndrome and partial-birth abortion. (via Worthwile)

Why Logic Often Takes A Backseat

Link - The National Hockey League and its players wrangle over a salary cap. The impasse causes the season to be canceled. Everybody loses. What went wrong?

Artichokes: Raising Eyebrows, Lowering Cholesterol?

Courtesy of The Good Cook electronic newsletter:

A member of the thistle family and one of the oldest cultivated vegetables, the artichoke looks like a green pine cone. It has raised eyebrows ever since its introduction to the west from its native North Africa, and its popularity was once based on rumors that it has aphrodisiac qualities. Today it is thought to have various health benefits.

The artichoke historically has had as many critics as fans. The Roman writer Pliny, disgusted by artichokes, could not understand why people paid so much for them. Catherine de Medici, however, compromised her reputation by eating many artichokes at a time when they were believed to be an aphrodisiac. This attribute, never proven, carried into the 17th and 18th centuries, according to food historian Andre Simon; Parisian green grocers would snicker suggestively at the mere mention of the word "artichoke."

Artichokes often cause great consternation when served, because the only way to eat a whole, mature artichoke is to pick it apart with the hands and pull its petals through the teeth. But there is a long list of health benefits popularly attributed to the vegetable, with some studies suggesting that artichokes protect the liver from damaging toxins and help lower cholesterol. It has been scientifically shown that artichokes stimulate the gall bladder and the kidneys, though there do not appear to be any health benefits from this.

Makes 3 to 4 Hors d'oeuvre servings.

This old-time classic hors d'oeuvre is hard to beat.

What this recipe shows:
Microwaving is a quick, simple way to prepare an artichoke.

2 large artichokes, rinsed and stems cut off close to the base, sharp leaf tips trimmed (if desired), 1 recipe hollandaise (see below).

Wrap each artichoke in microwave-safe plastic wrap. Microwave one at a time for 6 to 7 minutes on High. Let stand 5 minutes. Push the leaves down to spread out and make them easier to remove. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold with hollandaise for dipping and a plate for the leaves, which are discarded after the edible portion has been eaten.

Classic Hollandaise
Makes about 1 1/3 cups

What this recipe shows:
Once the yolk-lemon juice mixture begins to thicken, it has reached a temperature high enough to kill salmonella.

Whisking in the melted butter over hot, not boiling, water off the heat prevents the yolks from scrambling.

Adding salt to the hollandaise after the ice cubes are added and the hot water has cooled prevents the yolks from scrambling.

4 large egg yolks
3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 tablespoon water
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, and water in the top of a double boiler or in a bowl resting over the top of a medium saucepan of simmering water. It is important that the top of the water be well below the upper part of the double boiler or the bottom of the bowl. Have the melted butter ready to drizzle in. Whisk constantly. The second that the yolk mixture begins to thicken slightly, remove the top of the double boiler or the bowl from above the hot water and continue whisking. Turn off the heat. Add four ice cubes to cool the hot water a little. Put the pan or bowl of yolks back above the hot water. Whisk in the melted butter, drizzling it in very slowly. If at any time the sauce looks as if it is about to break, remove bowl and continue whisking to cool it down or whisk in 1 teaspoon cold water. With constant whisking, whisk in the salt and cayenne. When all the butter is incorporated, taste and add more salt or cayenne as needed.

From Cookwise, Copyright 1997 by Shirley O. Corriher. Reprinted by arrangement with HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Golf courses springing up

Link - The number of golf courses affiliated with Coast casinos will double in the next few years.

Two of the three new courses will open by next spring: Beau Rivage's Fallen Oak and an unnamed course in Jackson County being developed by the owner of the Palace Casino. The third course is connected to the proposed Bacaran Bay Casino.

Each has a celebrity designer. Tom Fazio, the famous golf architect, is responsible for Fallen Creek. Former professional golfer Jerry Pate is doing the Jackson County course slated to open next spring. And golf great Arnold Palmer is planning the Bacaran Bay course.

Hot line set up to aid search

Link - A national hot line has been set up to help in the search for missing 14-year-old Jacob Jordan Sigalis, who was last seen March 4 in Gautier. The number is 1-800-433-TIPS (8477). All calls are anonymous, with a $1,000 reward offered for any information leading to an arrest in the case or the location of the missing teen.

Get the Drunk Home game

Try this game and see how far you can keep this drunk man up.

You just move you mouse left to right (no clicking) to keep him walking in a straight line. The object of the game is to keep him walking, without falling over, by moving your mouse from left to right or right to left - you can't see your mouse, which makes it more difficult. Apparently the record is 90 meters!

Love the sound effects. It's in German.

Everything I learned, I learned from the Easter Bunny

Don't put all of your eggs in one basket.

Walk softly and carry a big carrot.

Everyone needs a friend who is all ears.

There's no such thing as too much candy.

All work and no play can make you a basket case.

A cute little tail attracts a lot attention.

Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day.

Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.

Some body parts should be floppy.

Keep your paws off of other people's jellybeans.

The grass is always greener in someone else's basket.

An Easter bonnet can tame even the wildest hare.

To show your true colors you have to come out of your shell.

The best things in life are still sweet and gooey!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Xtreme shots

To capture your extreme exploits in near-DVD quality, pocket this cigarette pack-sized Sports Cam and strap the second lens to your arm, leg or helmet. Its wide-angle view is fed to the main unit over a tether cable. A water-resistant rubber shell protects the system.

Bend like Beethoven

The Japanese perfected the hand roll and moved on to the rockin' roll. This Hand Roll Piano is a flexible 2.5-lb rubber pad unfurls into a 61-key set. It offers 128 synthesized sounds. And, when not in use, the keyboard rolls up for easy carrying.

What a Girl Wants

Link - In Tokyo, teen trends come and go faster than bullet trains. As soon as Sanrio's My Melody cell phone straps were all the rage, it-girls in Shibuya wouldn't be caught dead with them. For companies that cater to these kogals, spotting the next fad is like throwing udon against the folding screen to see what sticks. Luckily, the cool-hunters at GirlsLab ( discovered a way to divine what's cute and hip.

Rock Doctors

Link - It might surprise you to learn that Dr. Dre never actually received a doctorate (his must be some sort of honorary degree). But a handful of musicians got their PhDs the hard way - by powering through the rigors of higher education.

Rebuild Like You Give a Damn

Link - The flip side of disaster is a fresh start - at least for those lucky enough to survive. Cameron Sinclair founded Architecture for ­Humanity in 1999 to help apply innovative design to humanitarian crises. Its motto: "Design like you give a damn."

The Ultimate Drill Down

Link - In the movie The Core, Hilary Swank saved humanity by drilling to Earth's center. In reality, of course, that's impossible - and not just because Swank isn't the geologist type. Try as they might, actual scientists have yet to get through even the crust, the thinnest, outermost skin of the planet. It's just too deep.

Did You Hear That?

Link - Why worry about watching the watchmen when you can become one yourself? Safety Dynamics - an Illinois company that's installing a network of smart gunshot detectors for the city of Chicago - plans to market cell phone-sized units to consumers. The Smart Sensor Enabled Neural Threat Recognition and Identification system, or Sentri, uses microphones and a time-phased acoustic pattern modeled on the human brain to listen for specific sounds, then dials 911.

13 things that do not make sense

Link - I'm impressed. Only 13? (via Big Jim)

Benefit planned to raise money for transplant

In two weeks, Sierra Phillips, 2, of Pearl will receive a kidney from her grandmother during a transplant operation in Birmingham. Sierra was diagnosed with renal failure two weeks after her birth. Since her birth, she has undergone six operations, including one to remove her right kidney. Her remaining kidney was too weak and she has been on dialysis for most of her life - she's the youngest known dialysis patient in the state.

To help her family pay for medication that could run as high as $3,000 per month, plus a possible two-month stay in Birmingham and other expenses, a fund-raising is set for March 26 from 10 a.m. till 1 p.m. at Pearl Park, U.S. 80 in Pearl.

Proceeds will be generated from the $1 per person admission tickets for a day of games, giveaways and other entertainment, and other sales, including food and drink. Another fund-raising, a benefit race, is planned for 7 p.m. April 2 at Jackson Motor Speedway on Old Byram Road in Byram.

The transplant operation is scheduled for April 7 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center.

For more information, contact Christy Phillips at (601) 933-0406 or Tickets for the Pearl Park benefit can also be purchased at the Shoney's in Pearl (601-939-8127).

Knight Ridder, Gannett, and Tribune buy

Link - Knight Ridder, Gannett and Tribune have formed a new JV to buy 75% of Topix; the founding/managing team holds the remaining 25%. Topix will operate independently, and will have its own editorial voice.

The JV structure is the same approach these three Newspaper Co's already use to share ownership and operate CareerBuilder, ShopLocal, and Classified Ventures, which includes, and Homescape.

Author Barry Hannah hospitalized for undisclosed illness

Link - Author and professor Barry Hannah is being treated for an undisclosed illness in an intensive care unit at a Texas hospital, his wife, Susan Hannah, said March 17 through a family spokesperson.

Hannah, an acclaimed author who has won numerous awards and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in fiction, had been teaching creative writing at the University of Mississippi.

The Clinton native took leave from the University of Mississippi after accepting a one-year position as writer-in-residence at Texas State University-San Marcos.

He has been the University of Mississippi's writer-in-residence for 23 years.

Hurricane experts worried about 'skinny line' effects

Link - Experts gathering for the National Hurricane Conference this week are worried about people paying too much attention to the "skinny line" tracking the eye of a storm's predicted path because it can offer false hope.

Museum collecting menus

Link - The nation's first cultural institution dedicated to the South's deep and wide appetite for good eating is now building an archive of menus from every Main Street restaurant, dirt road dive, juke joint and grocer, across this most food-centric region.

Decidedly ambitious, the Menu Project is among the first conducted by the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, which opened recently. The museum, in one of the great culinary ZIP codes, is committed to understanding the role of food in Southern culture.

The Menu Project, a partnership with the University of New Orleans, is requesting that menus be sent to Southern Food and Beverage Museum, 1435 Jackson Ave., New Orleans LA 70130. For information, go to

Crockpot Shrimp Creole

1 1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup diced green pepper
28 oz. diced tomatoes
16 oz. tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
Tabasco to taste
1 lb fresh shrimp, shelled

Combine all ingredients except shrimp in crockpot. Cook on low for 7 to 9 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. During last hour, turn crockpot to high and add shrimp. Cook one hour. (Goes great with a green salad and a loaf of Gambino's French Bread.)

Easter flowers

1-800-Flowers is offering an Easter special - Flowers from $24.99. Same Day Delivery

(I prefer daisies, by the way.)

Borders printable coupons

Printable coupon for 15% Off the Regular Price any one item

Printable coupon for 10% Off Your Total Purchase (via Cheap Stingy Bastard)

Expert's Experts: How to win at Scrabble

Link - Paul Berger of the Washington Post asked the best Scrabble players in Washington, D.C. for their tricks of the trade.

I'm headed to my parents this weekend, where a heated game of Scrabble awaits me with my mother, so I'll have to peruse the suggestions before I go. But, I beg you living room Scrabble players - don't just memorize the two-letter words that get you by and the arcane letters that mix into some semblance of a score.

The beauty of Scrabble lies when you find the perfect word for the perfect place with the perfect score. It's just phonetics if you're only memorizing "game tricks." There has to be a better way!

The princesses meet the queens

I forgot to blog about flying into Jackson on Sunday. In Houston, we met up with half the girls of some sorority at Ole Miss flying back to Jackson. In the Jackson airport, we met all of the sweet potato queens flying back home from the Hal & Mal's parade. I felt like turning to the college girls and saying, "Look closely, girls, and be nice. This will be you in 30 years." But I kept my mouth shut for once.

One big difference (besides the fake tiaras on the SPQs): Obviously, high school graduation for the sorority girls was the year of the monogrammed luggage. It was everywhere. (And they still couldn't find their damn bags because they all got the same color.) ;)

Net Family News

Link - Kid-tech news for parents. Toys, trends and tips for parents. For example, here's an article about cyberbullying. It's moved to the blogosphere. (via Blogging About Incredible Blogs)

Blogging Mount Everest

Link - In the next few weeks, British climber Gavin Bate will be attempting a solo summit of Mount Everest, for a charity called Moving Mountains. He's blogging the adventure, and will also be phoning in reports via AudioBlogger.

IACP 2005 Cookbook Awards finalists

Link - The International Association of CulinaryProfessionals (IACP) announced the finalists for the 2005 IACP Cookbook Awards at a reception for cookbook authors, editors, publishers and the food media at the Time & Life Building in New York recently. The awards, which are sponsored by the California TableGrape Commission, Cuisinart, and Le Cordon Bleu, honor the bestwriting and publishing in the food and beverage industry.

Waxing lyrical: What rhymes with Camilla?

Link - Britain's official poet Andrew Motion, who once waxed lyrical about Princess Diana, now faces the trickier task of composing a celebratory ode for the wedding of Prince Charles to his longtime lover Camilla Parker Bowles.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

McDonald wins photo award

John McDonald of Picayune won first place for his photograph Bayou Moods: Peace and Tumult in the inaugural Mississippi Photography Competition 2005. The winning entry shows Wolf River in Harrison County where the peaceful images on a tidal pond's surface belie a growing thunderstorm.

Outstanding Achievement Awards were also presented to Becky Glover of Meridian, Carson Hughes of Jackson, Conrad Johnson of Long Beach, Mike Higginbotham of Hattiesburg, Mary Anderson of Waveland, Mikel Morris of Poplarville, Charlie Harrison of Lauderdale, Teresa Morris of Drew, Luther Smith of Meridian, John Rhodes of Biloxi, Benjamin Marble of Gulfport, James Pankey of Gulfport, and Robert Mitchell of Biloxi.

The competition was organized by Wolf Valley LLP, a Web design company. Entries can be found here.

G-mail icon generator

Link - Amazing, something computer-related I can do successfully the very first time I try it, simply by reading the directions. (via Book of Joe)

Great big computer key seat

Link - No need to worry about the computer geeks on your Christmas list now.

The birth of the notebook

Link - History has a way of reinventing itself. Like Michael Jackson, the past makes strange and sometimes hideous transformations -- and, as with Jacko, it's not always easy to tell what exactly happened. (via Boing Boing)

Vote for the best literary sex scene!

Link - Nerve has announced the monthly Henry Miller Award, with a prize of $1,934 (the year Tropic of Cancer was released) to the best literary sex scene of the month. (via Blog of a Bookslut)

A new twist on an old meme

Link - Pratie Place gives us 100 things about other bloggers (via Carnival of the Vanities)

Documentary confirms Hogzilla's existence

Link - A team of National Geographic experts has confirmed south Georgia's monster hog, known to locals as Hogzilla, was indeed real - and really, really big.

Oysters on the Hard Rock

Link - Acme Oyster House is looking to serve its Creole jambalaya, oyster artichoke bisque and New Orleans bread pudding at the Biloxi Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort.

Ex-Netscape chief pledges $50 million if lawmakers fund MAEP

Link - Jim Barksdale has once again put his money where his mouth is - $50 million, to be exact - when it comes to education in Mississippi.

Highways renamed for martyrs

Link - Stretch of U.S. 49 East and Mississippi 19 to honor victims of civil rights slayings

Blog diet

I had to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with myself recently. It went well, thank goodness.

At the conclusion, my self and I both agreed that I was attempting to read WAAAYYY too many blogs to be a productive employee, an attentive spouse and/or an engaged parent. (But, but, but, I whined. These blogs can make me a better employee, a more interesting spouse and a better parent. And I'll be well read, at the least.)

Enough is enough, I told my self. You have to draw the line somewhere. Now go in there and get rid of 2/3 of those feeds. My self sulked, but did as told.

Today, I feel lighter. Like after a haircut when I let me hair get really long. Like losing 10 pounds overnight. I recommend it...I really do. Go on a blog diet! (Just don't cut mine out, of course.) ;)

Body beautiful: Anatomy as art

Link - Exhibits at two museums in Washington, D.C., use medical imagery to showcase the beauty of the human form.

Quentin at Ashley's birthday party - a few months before his 1st birhtday. Posted by Hello

Christmas 2000 - Quentin on his new firetruck toy and me in the background on the floor Posted by Hello

Flashback: Dec. 27, 2000. Quentin's 1st birthday party. Posted by Hello

Monday, March 21, 2005

Park for Mississippi Braves nearly complete

Link - With less than a month until Opening Day, the Mississippi Braves are hustling to finish their field of dreams. The outfield at the Class AA team's $25 million ballpark in Pearl, Mississippi consisted primarily of gravel last week.

The Great Pintoid Adventure

Link - Pintoids are pinhole cameras made from Altoid containers. A piece of pop culture transformed into something useful. An instrument to view the world with a dry, distorted, sense of humor. They tend to create curiously strong images. (via J-Walk blog)

Jamie Oliver's Vanilla Sugar

Someone did a search earlier today for Jamie Oliver's vanilla sugar, but the searcher spelled his name wrong. They ended up here somehow anyway, but here's the vanilla sugar recipe you were searching for, courtesy of the Food Network...


Don't buy vanilla pods that are dry and hard -- buy them fat, sticky and squashy. What we want to do is infuse the natural vanilla flavor of the vanilla pods into the sugar. It is perfectly fine, and obviously quicker, just to pop the pods in an airtight container with the sugar; you will achieve a more subtle flavor. I really like this recipe, though, because you get the maximum flavor from the pods.

2 pound superfine sugar
4 vanilla beans

You need a food processor for this one. Put your vanilla pods in the mixer, blitz, scrape the sides and blitz again. Add all the sugar and blitz for about 2 minutes. Sieve the mixture into a bowl, return any lumps to the food processor and blitz again. (You may want to repeat this process if you want it really fine). The result will be a slightly ashy-colored mixture -- now that's real vanilla sugar!

Store it in an airtight container. It should last you for ages.

A global cookbook

Link - Wikipes is a community-contributed recipe database. They allow anyone to contribute recipes in hopes that they will create a more diverse collection of unique and delicious recipes and in the long run you’ll be able to choose from a vast archive of drinks, appetizers, main dishes, desserts. Start sharing today!

Buy One, Get One Free Games

Link - is offering buy one get one free on select games - plus free shipping on both games. (Stock up now for birthday parties and Christmas!)

Kiss me...I'm cute! Posted by Hello

Jam on... Posted by Hello

Quentin with Aunt Kathy Posted by Hello

Ashley and Aaron getting decor from the bead bucket before the parade started. Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Bezos plans West Texas spaceport

Jeff Bezos, founder of, flew into Van Horn, Texas, recently to tell key leaders how he planned to use his newly acquired 165,000 acres of desolate ranch land. He also gave his only interview so far on the spaceport to the Van Horn Advocate, run from the back of a local Radio Shack store.

The goal of Bezos' venture, known as Blue Origin, is to send a spaceship into orbit that launches and lands vertically, like a rocket. Their first spaceship is going to carry three people up to the edge of space and back. But, ultimately, he told the paper, his thing is space colonization.

Bezos was accompanied by Rob Meyerson, Blue Origin's program manager, whose resume includes stints as a manager on the space shuttle emergency return vehicle project and lead aerodynamics engineer developing the shuttle's parachute landing system.

Bezos said Blue Origin would first build basic structures at the Texas site, such as an engine test stand, fuel and water tanks and an office building, then begin test flights in six to seven years.

He said most of the original research and development would be done in Seattle. Bezos has said nothing else publicly about the project.

A Houston-based spokesman for Blue Origin, which was incorporated in September 2000 in Washington state, said there was "not much to see or tell" and the project "won't go anywhere anytime soon." He provided a short news release and a company fact sheet, which included their mission statement: to "facilitate an enduring human presence in space."

Bezos is not alone in looking toward the stars.

SpaceX, started by PayPal founder Elon Musk, plans to launch and deploy a military satellite this year using a rocket. The California-based company has conducted much of its testing in McGregor, near Fort Hood.

John Cormack, who owns the software company that created Doom and Quake, owns Armadillo Aerospace, based in Dallas. The venture hopes to launch its own brand of space rockets.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen spent $20 million to fund the SpaceShipOne rocket plane.

Cocktail culture

Link - The Museum of the American Cocktail opened recently in New Orleans, the birthplace of the cocktail as we know it. The collection features rare books, vintage shakers and other memorabilia. Co-founder and mixologist Dale DeGroff will team up with local bars to host an ongoing series of classes and seminars. Also, the museum will publish a quarterly journal, Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail. Membership information is available here.

How to make the quintessential Mint Julep - just in time for the Kentucky Derby

From Bon Appetit, April 2005

First you need the right ingredients and the right gear. Try Maker's Mark or pricier small-batch bourbons like Basil Hayden's and Elijah Craig. Brown sugar and fresh mint give the drink depth and freshness. Get pewter Julep cups ($12 at and a wooden muddler ($3.50 at for crushing mint.

For each serving: Crush 4 cups of ice. In a pint glass or cocktail shaker, muddle 8 mint leaves and a teaspoon of brown sugar. Add 2 oz. of bourbon and stir. Pack a julep cup with ice until overflowing. Strain bourbon mixture into cup. Stir drink until the outside of the cup frosts. Top with more ice, garnish with a fresh mint sprig, and serve.

What's in your kitchen?

The gear in your kitchen says a lot about you, according to Bon Appetit magazine. (I wonder what mine says about me.)

Newest thing - Wire storage shelves from Target (placed under my counter to store pantry-type items that previously resided on the counter too often).

Oldest Thing - We have many old (almost vintage) items from David's family - a sifter, a colander and an old percolator. I don't use them and should probably get rid of them, but they hold sentimental value to my husband.

Embarassed to admit - The tile is coming up on the floor next to the refrigerator. (We are getting ready to be forced to revamp the kitchen, I think. We've put it off for 10 years now and it just won't wait much longer.)

Most like you - My smart-ass signs. ("Martha Stewart Doesn't Live Here"; "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, What the Hell, It's Me He's Got"; "You may touch the dust but please don't write in it"; "If we are what we eat, then I'm fast, cheap and easy"; "I can only please one person per day, Today is not your day...tomorrow is not looking good either"; and "Today's Dinner Choices: Take It or Leave It."

Least like you - The 70s-style cabinetry

Kitchen's on fire - What do you save? - My professional-grade KitchenAid fire-engine red stand mixer

Smoothie operator

Dark-purple acai berries - with a rich berry flavor and a hint of chocolate - have twice the antioxidants of blueberries. Abundant in Brazil, the berries are also noted to be great for your complexion. Sambazon began importing the pureed berries and are now launching a line of ready-to-drink acai smoothies (available at Whole Foods Market, West Coast Trader, Joe's stores and

Money matters

Web sites that can help when it comes to money issues...

- BenefitsCheckUp. Helps those 55 and older find new services and discounts they may be eligible for.

- Nolo. Nolo translates tricky legal-speak into plain English. The site's section on estate planning is full of advice.

- Making a gift contribution to your child's education account can be easier than you think. Get all the information you need about tax-deferred 529 plans and Coverdell education funds at this site.

- YouCanDealWithIt. Planning a monthly budget is easy at this site. A budget calculator and other neat tools are available.

Bloom again

Link - The bride-to-be (or the host of any gala) can now arrange for some of the flowers used to be delivered to local hospices or nursing homes. If you live in New York City or Los Angeles, call the non-profit group Flower Power at (212) 308-4930 or visit the Web site and it will do the delivering for you.

Hammer Time

Link - Donate used home tools (pliers, hammers, saws, etc.) to Rebuilding Together and they'll be used to fix up the homes of low-income families (and you get to declutter the garage once and for all). The non-profit organization is most in need of power tools, painting supplies and safety goggles - donations are tax deductible.

Free service

Link - Free postings at connect you with shoppers within driving distance when you're ready to sell that car, trampoline or armoire. No shipping large items, no worries.

Hal & Mal's St. Paddy Day Parade

Link - Clarion-Ledger slide show

Hal & Mal's St. Paddy

Hal & Mal's St. Paddy

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Why Johnny Can't Save for Retirement

Link - Money decisions are hard. It's not that we're stupid—we're just not wired properly. How brain science is changing the way we think about 401(k)s, Social Security, and the whole notion of retirement planning.
The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that by 2030, at current savings rates, American retirees will be $45 billion a year short of the income they need to meet basic food, housing, and medical needs.
The idea that we humans harbor conflicts within us is not new. Plato figured it out 2,400 years ago, depicting the soul as a chariot drawn by two horses, one noble and one not. Economists, though, long found it easier to depict us as rational computing machines, weighing all the options and deciding on the path of action that optimizes our well-being.

Ready to learn more? Try here...

- Brain imaging study reveals interplay of thought and emotion in economic decisions

- An Economic Theory of Self-Control

- Libertarian Paternalism is Not an Oxymoron

- Behavioral Economics and the Case for Asymmretric Paternalism

You can make Martha's new prison poncho

Link - Lion Brand Yarn will introduce a free "Welcome Home" poncho pattern, satisfying crocheters and knitters who took one look at Martha Stewart's post-prison apparel and were hooked.

Quiznos seeks new baby

Quiznos is holding a nationwide casting call for babies between four and 18 months of age for a chance to head to Hollywood and land a "crawl-on" role in an upcoming Quiznos commercial.

The winning tot star will star alongside Baby Bob, the Quiznos' spokesbaby.

The winner of the role will also get $30,000.

Entry forms can be found at Quiznos' locations beginning March 28 and online at Casting calls will also be held in Miami, Los Angeles and New York.

See Dick try to read. See Dick lose interest.

Link - Enticing boys to read -- and to keep reading -- is the flip side of the sometimes fierce debate about girls and their math and science abilities, and both issues are receiving new attention as educators focus on how boys and girls learn differently.

First in flight

On my first Southwest flight, from Jackson to Houston, I sat in the very back row next to a woman and her son (from Vicksburg) flying to Las Vegas. (Everybody was going to Vegas we met last week.) It was the boy's first flight. He was about 10 years old. I enjoyed experiencing his first flight with him (except for the fact that I sat in the very last row of the plane). Southwest lesson: Don't sit in the back row. The passenger in front of you can lean his seat back but your seat is against a wall and therefore cannot lean back.

And the flight was fine, but I thought they would be funnier. I guess I was expecting a mini stand-up routine or something. Everyone always talks about how funny they are - but I got a nice but somber crew from Jackson to Houston. Luckily, the Houston to San Antonio crew were a little livelier, more what I expected. But the Jackson crew needs some comedy tips!

My son has been begging to go on a plane ride with me. He doesn't yet understand though that planes go somewhere. He thinks of it more like an amusement park ride - get on, get off, you're done. Since my husband won't fly, I'll have to figure out where Quentin and I will go on our promised adventure. Hopefully his first flight will be as exciting to him as the boy next to me. (And I hope he had great time in Vegas too!)

The Best Advice They Ever Got

The March 21st edition of Fortune has a neat article, The Best Advice I Ever Got, where they ask 28 "luminaries" about the people who most influenced their lives - and the best advice they ever got. Most of it's along the bland lines you would expect, but a few threw some interesting tidbits in there that I will share with you.

Vivek Paul, 46
President and CEO of Wipro Technologies

Don't limit yourself by past expectations.

The best advice I ever got was from an elephant trainer in the jungle outside Bangalore. I was doing a hike through the jungle as a tourist. I saw these large elephants tethered to a small stake. I asked him, "How can you keep such a large elephant tied to such a small stake?" He said, "When the elephants are small, they try to pull out the stake, nd they fail. When they grow large, they never try to pull out the stake again."

Anne Mulcahy, 52
CEO of Xerox

From Albert C. Black, Jr., president and CEO of On-Target Supplies & Logistics: When everything gets really complicated and you feel overwhelmed, think about it this way: You gotta do three things. First, get the cow out of the ditch. Second, find out how the cow got into the ditch. Third, make sure you do whatever it takes so the cow doesn't go into the ditch again.

Rick Warren, 51
Minister, founder of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose-Driven Life

In life you need mentors and you need models. Models are the people you want to emulate. IA recommend that your models be dead. I'm serious. You don't know how people are going to finish up. A lot of people start out like bottle rockets. They look great, but then the last half of their life is chaos. That can be quite devastating.

A consumption tax that would work in the real world

In the March 21st edition of Fortune, Bruce Bartlett writes in favor of a consumption tax. He points out that President Bush's bipartisan tax-reform commission, which had its first meeting on Feb. 16, focused mainly on taxing consumption instead of income. This is seen as a way of increasing savings and investment in a nation of spenders.

In the article, he mentions that an unheralded economist, David Bradford, is the reason for this new discussion. Bradford, a professor of economics at Princeton since 1966, died Feb. 22 at the age of 66 - he is widely viewed as one of America's best tax economists. He made his greatest contribution to tax policy early in his career as an assistant to Bill Simon, then Treasury Secretary under Gerald Ford.

Simon was one of the first politicians to propose killing the federal tax system as we know it and starting again from scratch. And he assigned Bradford the job of figuring out what it should look like. Bradford delivered his Blueprints for Basic Tax Reform days before the inauguration of Jimmy Carter, who had no desire to pursue Ford administration ideas. In this publication, he outlined the nation's first consumption-tax proposal.

Hot Careers for the Next 10 Years

Link - Which professional jobs are likely to be in greatest demand in the next decade? To find out, Fortune asked the outplacement and executive-coaching giant DBM to survey its thousands of career counselors and outplacement specialists; they also analyzed the Bureau of Labor Statistics' job-growth projections.

Here are the 20 fastest-growing professional jobs, in order, according to their projections...

Environmental engineers
Network systems and datacom analysts
Personal financial advisors
Database administrators
Software engineers
Emergency management specialists
Biomedical engineers
Public relations specialists (!)
Computer and information systems managers
Comp, benefits and job analysts
Systems analysts
Network and systems administrators
Training and development specialists
Medical scientists
Marketing and sales managers
Computer specialists
Media and communication specialists (!)
Couselors, social workers

Easter Basket Cases

Link - Eating Marshmallow Peeps seems crazy enough. But if you knew what some people do with these things ...

In the mid-1990s, web pages and local papers began recording Peep-eating contests, including an annual Peep Off in Sacramento. In the late 1990s, the Associated Press and CNN picked up the story of two Emory University science professors who experimented on the (fairly indestructible) creatures and reported their results. On April Fool's Day 2000, NASA launched five Peeps in a balloon from the Marshall Space Flight Center; they went missing when the balloon ruptured.

Gather your gadgets and go

On April 22, lug your contraption or inventioPn to West Chester, PA for the last stop of QVC's 2005 National Product Search, a sort of on-the-road American Idol for inventors. If your gizmo is selected, QVC will hawk it on TV this summer. (And I've been at The Market in San Antonio for a good part of the day - let me tell you there's some interesting wares being peddled out there! Luckily, Gay was with me and could explain the dope pipes to me.)

Block-by-block radio monitoring

New technology can now tell radio stations and advertisers who's listening to what in cars. Since last June, Herndon, Virginia-based Mobiltrack has logged the listening habits of one million commuters a month by monitoring electric radiation.

Mobiltrack promises data a lot more specific than that currently provided by Arbitron, which just estimates audience size and demographics. As cars pass Mobiltrack's towers at busy intersections, sensors detect electrical radiation emitted by each car stereo. Because radios emit a unique level of radiation to translate each frequency, Mobiltrack is able to distinguish what station is playing. Once a signal is picked up, it's routed to Mobiltrack's servers in Phoenix. Subscribers can then access all the data via the Web.

Mobiltrack has signed up all of Washington DC's major stations for subscriptions averaging $2,500 a month. Advertisers pay $750 a month per location monitored. In California, a company called Smart Sign Media is even using the technology to customize its video-billboard advertising in real time. It measures the demographics of passing cars and displays targeted ads accordingly.

Tired feet

After sitting in conference rooms for two whole days, I started walking first thing this morning. It's now almost 7 p.m. and I am a bit exhausted. But I saw lots of cool stuff and took lots of pictures. We walked to the Alamo, the Rivercenter and the zoo. Back to Jackson tomorrow.

Friday, March 18, 2005

For those preparing for the St. Paddy's Parade...

Link - Bill Fitzhugh has some pictures on his Web site of the infamous Sweet Potato Queens. I won't be there. Y'all kiss Tammy for me. ;)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Stream of consciousness blogging

All of my tests that weren't showing up before are now all there, so I'm typing as fast as I can in my short window of Blogger opportunity. What can I say...I am a former teacher and I miss giving tests, I guess.

In the Jackson airport, Gay and I met two guys who were flying to Las Vegas. They were brothers, were partners in a construction company with a third guy and were taking separate flights because their partner insisted they fly separately. Interesting. The Jackson airport, due to construction, had a long line just to get past the check-point to the terminals. Buzz, one of the guys, called it the Bin-Laden Express. Our plane was delayed so we had brunch with the brothers in a sports bar. Nice guys, nice lunch. But we barely made our connection to San Antonio in Houston because of the delay. (If you were in the Houston airport Wednesday, we were the women running to Terminal 5.)

On the flight to San Antonio, I sat next to a woman who never said a word but smiled a lot. It was a trait I admired, as I don't have much silence in me. Directly across the aisle from me, I watched two college kids on spring break fall in love, literally. It was sad and mushy and cute and funny and slightly nauseating.

Last night, after too many margaritas, we asked our 25-year-old waiter, Jesus, to be our guide tonight. He agreed. I gave him my cell phone number. He called but he did not leave a message, so I felt I didn't have to call him back. (And now I won't have to be embarassed that it's 9 p.m. and I'm ready to go to bed.) He was very nice - but I am sure Gay and I would not have been able to keep up with him.

Dinner cruise tomorrow night with the whole group. That should be fun! More later...

This is a test

I haven't gotten one single post to work from my laptop. Blogger has chewed them all and spit them all out. So this is a test before I lose another 10 minutes of typing.


This is a test. Blogger has chewed up my last four posts.

I give up

We made it to San Antonio fine - and I posted three posts yesterday that Blogger chewed up. So I'm giving up on much blogging from here. It's a beautiful city so it's painful to sit i.n meetings all day - but I've been good so far. I'm going out exploring with my camera tonight. More later...

I give up

We made it to San Antonio fine - and I posted three posts yesterday that Blogger chewed up. So I'm giving up on much blogging from here. It's a beautiful city so it's painful to sit i.n meetings all day - but I've been good so far. I'm going out exploring with my camera tonight. More later...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I'm here!

We made it to San Antonio in one piece. We just barely caught our connecting flight in Houston because our plane was late getting to Jackson, but we got here. San Antonio on the Riverwalk is beautiful. When we got to the hotel, our room wasn't ready so they set us up in the bar and bought our drinks. Well, three hours and $80 later our free drinks turned into more drinks, coffee with Bailey's, fried oysters, crabcakes and creme brulee. The rooms are beautiful, though - whirlpool tubs, high ceilings, great molding, definitely worth a visit!

Ben’s Top 11 Positive Psychology Internet Resources

Ben’s Top 11 Positive Psychology Internet Resources
By Ben Dean, Ph.D.

1. Website for Reflective Happiness

The most interesting new website in Positive Psychology is Marty Seligman's "Reflective Happiness" site at For a nominal monthly fee, subscribers are given access to monthly exercises intended to increase happiness, question-and-answer sessions with Marty, newsletters, bookclubs and more. But most valuable, is access to Marty's own constantly evolving thinking about the field. He knows everyone in Positive Psychology and thus is always at the center of the latest thinking and research. His own thinking is always evolving as well. His highest signature strengths is his love of learning. So members of the Reflective Happiness community get to share in the benefits of knowing Marty! If you care about your own happiness and that of your clients; if you care about the white hot field of positive psychology itself, how can you not enroll in this program? This site is described in detail at the bottom of this newsletter.

2. Website for Barbara Fredrickson’s Laboratory

Barbara Fredrickson is perhaps most famous for her “broaden-and-build” theory of positive emotions. She maintains a very active lab at the University of Michigan, and it is interesting to check in periodically to read about the latest research conducted by Dr. Fredrickson and her graduate students. Many of her articles can be downloaded from the website.

3. The Positive Psychology Center Website

If you can follow only one link, start here. The Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania is directed by Martin Seligman. This Center’s website provides lists of positive psychology books, information about funding opportunities and awards in positive psychology, materials for teachers of positive psychology, and links to positive psychology conferences. The webmaster maintains a Positive Psychology E-mail Directory of individuals who are doing positive psychology work. You can view this directory (or add your own name)here.

4. The Positive Psychology Listserv

This is an active listserv for anyone interested in positive psychology (not just academics). Sometimes the discussions get heated, so buckle up! To request membership in this listserv, send an e-mail to Acacia Parks ( In your e-mail request, be sure to include your full name and the e-mail to which you would like your messages sent.

5. Jonathan Haidt’s Website

You may recognize Jonathan Haidt’s name from my newsletters about strengths because I often borrow his creative ideas on building individual strengths. Dr. Haidt is a psychologist at the University of Virginia whose research focuses on morality and emotions. You can download papers written by Dr. Haidt and other members of the lab. Be sure to check out this article which wins the prize for most intriguing title: “Affect, Culture, and Morality, or Is it Wrong to Eat Your Dog?” Also be sure to note Dr. Haidt’s personal list of recommended readings.

6. The Official Site for Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman

Definitely spend an afternoon at this site if you have not already done so as this is truly a remarkable resource. After registering on the site, you can take 18 different surveys related to positive psychology. I recommend starting with the VIA Strengths Survey (if you have not already taken it) to receive feedback about your highest strengths. Also fascinating is the Approaches to Happiness Questionnaire which assesses whether you tend to pursue happiness via pleasure, engagement, or meaning. The website stores your previous scores so that you or your clients can track changes over time.

While you are poking around on, be sure to subscribe to the newsletter and check out the newsletter archives here.

7. Website of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

Here is an excerpt from the Foundation’s mission statement:

Established in 1995 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a resource for people committed to spreading kindness. We provide a wide variety of materials on our website, including activity ideas, lesson plans, project plans, teacher's guide, project planning guide, publicity guide, and workplace resources on our website at – all free of charge.

While you are exploring the website, be sure to visit the discussion boards and sign up for the Kind Times Newsletter.

8. Website for Julie Norem’s The Positive Power of Negative Thinking: Using Defensive Pessimism to Harness Anxiety and Perform at Your Peak

Julie Norem is a psychologist at Wellesley College who is widely respected for her research on Defensive Pessimism, a strategy of always imagining the worst that could happen in any given situation. Although this is technically not a “positive psychology” resource, I think it provides some balance to the list and will round out your positive psychology library nicely! Be sure to take Norem’s Defensive Pessimism quiz on her website.

9. Website for Division 32 of the American Psychological Association / Humanistic Psychology

Current research in positive psychology is rooted in humanistic psychology, and much can be learned from this active division of the APA. Even if you don’t join, you can read recent newsletters online. Be sure to check out the Internet Resources listed under “Humanistic Study” on the website.

10. Ed Diener’s Website

Ed Diener, Ph.D., is a psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is most famous for his work on subjective well-being. You can download many of his articles directly from the website. He also provides a list of resources organized according to topic and a helpful summary page of the main findings produced by his lab.

11. Website for the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience (directed by Richard Davidson, Ph.D.)

Interested in positive emotion and the brain? Check out the webpage for the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience. Be sure to download these articles:

Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., et al. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 564-570.

Davidson, R. J. (2001). Toward a biology of personality and emotion. Annals of the N.Y. Academy of Sciences, 935, 191-207.

Also, read here about Dr. Davidson’s work with the Dalai Lama!

Copyright Ben Dean Ph.D. 2004-2005. All rights reserved.
Subscribe to the free "Coaching Towards Happiness eNewsletter"

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Blog lite tomorrow

I am spending most of tomorrow flying to San Antonio for a conference. It's my first trip on Southwest, so I'll have to report. I do have high-speed Internet in my room at The Watermark Hotel, but I won't be in till tomorrow evening, so light (if any) blogging tomorrow.

I forgot my son's Easter party at school is tomorrow until tonight, so since 8 p.m. I've been making cupcakes that look like Easter baskets (bake cupcakes, make green icing that looks like grass, use a Twizzler for the basket handle, put some eggs in your basket, you're done). I'm supposed to tell you it was a drag - but I turned the radio up loud, danced around the kitchen and had a pretty good time. But it's now 11 p.m. and I'm still awake - not good.

Off to bed now. Good night!

Debbie Weill asks for some link love

Debbie Weill is asking for some link love. And I'm giving it to her. But I still tend to side with Mr. Jarvis on this particular issue - "new voices" can be white and male. If we want to call it 10 New Non-White Male Voices, so be it. Just call it that. But I do read Ms. Weill regularly and generally agree with her, so I'll let this one instance pass.

(Warning: This is a bit of a rant of a former English grad student who came in right at the "new voices" phase where you read one Jewish woman and one lesbian woman and one vegetarian Jewish lesbian woman because they were "new voices.")

Technorati Link Love
Debbie Weill, Debbie Weill, Debbie Weill, Debbie Weill, Debbie Weill, Debbie Weill, Debbie Weill, Debbie Wiell.

Glazed lemon cake

With spring on its way, this lemon cake would be a perfect complement to your Easter dinner or a spring picnic. And it's easy to make and delicious! Everytime I bring it, I get asked for the recipe. (I have also added poppyseeds to the recipe for a neighbor that wanted a lemon poppyseed cake and I have baked it like a bread loaf. It's very versatile.)

Glazed Lemon Cake

1 package white cake mix
1 package instant lemon pudding
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup lemon-lime soda
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, oil and eggs; beat on medium for one min. Gradually beat in soda. Pour into a 13x9x2 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min.

Combine sugar and lemon juice and spread over warm cake.


Another Crackberry addict caught in the act...

Link - BBHub reports that The Edge was checking his messages while the O'Jays played Love Train. Coincidence? I think not. ;)

Naked in the Boardroom - an interview with the author

Naked in the Boardroom by Robin Wolaner is on the Business Blog Book Tour this week. The tour starts off with this post, and then this interview with Robin. The book includes 81 "naked truths" for women.

Here are a few of the rules...

If an idea is a good one, more than one person will have it.

Choose your teachers based on talent and personal connection, not upon hierarchy or shared gender.

And a few statistics from the interview...

Women make up 47% of the labor force and 51% of managerial, professional and related positions. Yet there are just 8 female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. Only 3% of women entrepreneurs lead businesses that gross over 1 million in revenues. Dismal numbers.

Media Bistro's 100

Media Bistro selected 100 People They Would Love to Have Lunch With (and they are even buying).

First off, congratulations to Steve Rubel for making the list! (See, nice does matter.)

These are the only ones on the list that I would personally buy lunch for (so if you're ever in Jackson, just let me know) ...

Jeff Bezos,
Steve Jobs, Apple
Glen Reynolds AKA Instapundit
Steve Rubel, Micropersuasion and CooperKatz
Jon Stewart
Martha Stewart
Oprah Winfrey (a fellow Mississippian)

Yahoo Messenger For BlackBerry

Link - Yahoo and Research In Motion (RIM) announced a new relationship to provide Yahoo Messenger service to BlackBerry users around the world.

Expert's Expert: How to buy a steak

Link - My favorite online doctor (or doctor online I guess is more correct) points us to some expert advice on how to buy a steak.

State of The Blogosphere, March 2005

Link - The blogosphere is doubling in size about once every 5 months. It has already done so at this pace four times, which means that in the last 20 months, the blogosphere has increased in size by over 16 times.

Mother Leads Best

800.CEO.READ is posting excerpts this week from...

Mother Leads Best: 50 Women Who Are Changing The Way Organizations Define Leadershipby Moe Grzelakowski
Dearborn Trade - March 2005
232 Pages - ISBN 0793195187

“Motherhood absolutely impacts your leadership style. It rounds you out. Overall, it makes you a more complete person. By virtue of raising children, you become a much more complete leader.”
-Linda Wolf, Chairman and CEO, Leo Burnett Worldwide

Todd gives the Table of Contents

THE CASE FOR MOTHERHOOD What Moms Can Teach Us About Leadership
PREGNANCY Transitioning to a Softer, More Accountable, More Value-Conscious Style
BABIES Nuturing Becomes Second Nature
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Developing and Motivating Teams
TWEENS Listening At A Higher Level
TEENAGERS Coaching with Unconditional Love
THE CHARACTER OF A LEADER How Motherhood Brings Out the Best in People

And the excerpts from Chapter 3 are here, here and here.

The proof's in the pudding - the bait theory works! ;) Posted by Hello

The bait - My son, Quentin, and my best friend's children. (It's a proven parade fact that you get more loot with cute kids as bait.) Posted by Hello

Quentin and I getting ready for the parade. (We had to practice "Throw me something, mister" for a while.) Posted by Hello

Chuck and Beth - Parade hosts who always volunteer their house on the parade route as Party Central Posted by Hello

My parents at the Waveland St. Patty's Day Parade Posted by Hello

Monday, March 14, 2005

Between Midnight & Day

Dick Waterman's blog is a great example of the power of the blogosphere to bring like-minded individuals together, individuals who most likely would never have crossed paths in the "real world." The man combines three of my favorite things - writing, photography and the blues - and creates a beautiful book out of the experience, Between Midnight and Day. And he sent me an autographed copy in the mail today. I'm almost giddy. (And for you fellow blues enthusiasts, I found this essay Waterman wrote on why he wrote this book.)

Before I received the book, I had read his blog and knew he had been photographing great blues singers for a while, which made him automatically cool in my book. But when we were e-mailing back and forth, what I didn't know was that he formed Avalon Productions, the first agency dedicated exclusively to managing and promoting blues musicians. I didn't know that he managed such names as Son House, John Hurt, Buddy Guy and Otis Rush, just to name a few. I didn't know that he promoted concerts for Bruce Springsteen, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Los Lobos, John Lee Hooker and many others. I didn't know that he managed Bonnie Raitt for many years. Hell, the man managed or promoted 3/4 of my CD collection!

But it's probably best that I didn't know that because I would have been self-conscious. And I would have missed the most important fact - that, in spite of all the stuff you read above about his talents and his contacts, he's just a nice guy. A guy kind enough to e-mail and say Thank You for including him in a Ten New Voices piece.

And that's what I love most about blogging. Even though it attracts its share of egos, for the most part, everyone, no matter what their name or title, is generally very nice - think Steve Rubel, Robert Scoble, Rex Hammock, Jeff Jarvis, B.L. Ochman (a special thanks to Ms. Ochman for introducing me to Dick Waterman's blog) - all very talented and all very nice. Conventional wisdom has it that you can tell the most about a person when times are bad, but I've found that hard times are a great equalizer. I believe you can tell the most about a person when he has found fame or acclaim or fortune or success. Mr. Waterman has been added to my list above of those who passed the test with flying colors.

(And now I have a new book to read on my plane trip to and from San Antonio. Thanks again, Mr. Waterman. And, yes folks, I'll be blogging about the book as soon as I get back.)

Taylor seeks funding for historic bike path, road improvements

Link - Recent trips to Washington D.C. by Pascagoula and Jackson County officials could parlay into federal fundings for ongoing projects in those communities.

A historic bike path and improvements to the Round Island lighthouse are a couple of projects in Pascagoula that are slated to be funded through H.R. 3, the Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU) passed by the U.S. House of Representatives March 10 by a vote of 417 to 9.

Tupelo Elvis Festival sings new marketing tune

Link - Organizers of the Tupelo Elvis Festival plan a new approach to marketing this year that could dramatically increase ticket sales.

Through a deal with Clear Channel Communications and Dodge's Chicken stores, festival organizer Jim High said he hopes to pre-sell 10,000 tickets. The most tickets sold - before and during an event - was 8,500 last year.

This year's festival is June 3-5 and features performances by Chuck Berry and Tracy Byrd.

Alibris e-mail coupon

Save $3 off of a $30 order (coupon code: LION) or save $10 off of an $100 order (coupon code: LAMB) at

(Is it just me, or shouldn't the $3 coupon be the lamb and the $10 coupon the lion? Go figure.)

This discount can only be applied to the cost of books, movies, or music, and does not apply to shipping or any state taxes. Cannot be applied to previous orders. Offer Ends March 23, 2005

Historic designation sought for beachfront

Link - Research and paperwork are being done to have Beach Boulevard designated a national historic district.

Discover nature at weeklong festival

Link - Six cities and counties in South Mississippi have planned a weeklong schedule of nature observations, environmental ceremonies and fun activities for the third annual regional Migration Discovery Festival.

Throwing the bouquet. (Yes, I had the reception at Crescent City Grill - my favorite Hattiesburg restaurant. But don't laugh...they only charged me for the food, so my whole wedding cost only $800, including my dress, the bridesmaid dress, the reception, the cake AND the honeymoon. Yes, my father was proud.) Posted by Hello

Even then, I'm arguing about the bill. ;) (The reason for all of these old photos is I'm slowly but surely scanning them in, so bear with me. I will post new photos too as I take them, I promise.)
 Posted by Hello

My recent iTunes purchases...

The Be Good Tanyas – The Littlest Birds
Better than Ezra – A Lifetime
Better than Ezra – Good
Blue Merle – Burning in the Sun
Brian McKnight – Anytime
Ben Lee – Catch My Disease
Ben Lee – Desire
Jamie O’Neal – There is No Arizona
Kathleen Edwards – Back to Me
Stay (Radio Edit) – Mynt featuring Kim Sozzi
Nou – Little Girl
Nou – Make Me Your Girlfriend
Nou – Victoria
Nou – Where Have You Been All My Life
Nou – Coochie Time
Parliament – Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off)
Parliament – Flashlight
Robert Plant – Shine It All Around
Solomon Burke – Cry To Me

(Sorry, Rex.) ;)

The Lottery

A woman gets home, screeches her car into the driveway, runs into the house, slams the door and shouts at the top of her lungs. "Honey, pack your bags, I won the lottery!"

Her husband says, "Oh, my God what should I pack, beach stuff or mountain stuff?"

"Doesn't matter, she says. Just get the hell out."

Queen of the Big Time: an interview with Adriana Trigiani

Courtesy of Quality Paperback Book Club...

Adriana Trigiani isn't just the author of acclaimed, bestselling novels like the Big Stone Gap trilogy and Lucia, Lucia. She's a wife and mother with a two-year old daughter, a former script writer for TV (including The Cosby Show), a playwright, performer and documentary filmmaker . . . and a hilarious, engaging lunch companion, as we recently discovered. Read our conversation with Adriana, where she talked about her newest book, The Queen of the Big Time, its deeply personal inspirations and so much more!

QUESTION: We hear you've been working on the movie version of Big Stone Gap. This is actually a return to an earlier phase of your career. How did you start out?

ADRIANA TRIGIANI: I'll be directing Big Stone Gap. Right now we're in pre-production, revising the script; I'm hoping that will begin by the end of this year. And Lucia, Lucia was bought by a company called Deep River Productions. I wrote that screenplay but am not directing that one.

I was a theater major at Saint Mary's, an all-women's college at Notre Dame in Indiana. I came to New York City to be a playwright, and made my off-Broadway debut in 1985 in a play I was commissioned to write called Secrets of the Lava Lamp. I started an all-girl comedy group called the Outcasts, which is funny to me today because of that huge hip-hop group Outkast. And then I was really broke, doing plays in regional theater in Missouri, Pennsylvania . . . I worked steadily year-round, paying the rent as an office temp, a nanny [and] all kinds of odd jobs.

There came a breaking point around 1989; I'd been doing the play thing for four to five years and could not make a living. [After signing with a theater agent] I admitted "I'm broke, you've gotta get me a job." He said, "the fastest way to make money is in television." I grew up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia--we barely had reception, I never even watched TV. The agent told me to write a spec script; watch an episode of the show and write another episode. I could do that! He gave me the tape; the show had not premiered yet. I went to a friend's house to watch it--I didn't even have a VCR myself--and I couldn't get the picture to come up on my friend's TV! So I listened to it like a radio play, took notes [and wrote the spec script] . . . It was the pilot for Roseanne. A week later, I had a job. I started out at A Different World and then moved on to write for The Cosby Show. It took off from there. Then, I made a documentary, Queens of the Big Time, that got me attention from a place called The Shooting Gallery, which had just made Sling Blade. They asked me what I wanted to do: I wanted to write and direct a movie about Big Stone Gap. So I wrote the screenplay . . . [which eventually became the novel]. That's how it happened!

Q: What's the relation between your 1996 documentary Queens of the Big Time and the book?

AT: The setting---Roseto, PA--and the annual pageant that happens every July, in honor of our Lady of Mount Carmel. The Blessed Mother, throughout history, in our Catholic belief, has appeared on Earth. The Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel appeared in England to a coal miner. So when these Italians came over to America to work in the clay quarries outside Roseto, it just made sense that the church be in honor of our lady of Mount Carmel, since it was the Blessed Mother that fit the needs of that town. Starting in 1893, they had this festival, a carnival to raise money for the church. And then in the late 1920s, they began a pageant where a 16-year old girl and a runner up would become the queens of the festival. They sent these girls out to sell tickets door to door, and the one who raised the most would become queen. They built schools from this, furnished the church, all kinds of programs. My grandfather was one of the key instrumental people in building the Our Lady of Mount Carmel School. He was also the first Italian American on the board of a bank. He crossed all these lines, and he's one of my heroes. He and my grandmother built this great life together . . . she was a toughie! Like The Queen of the Big Time protagonist, Nella.

Q: What were some of the other influences for The Queen of the Big Time?

AT: There's funny stuff in it, but there's a lot of sadness and melancholy. I'm totally influenced by the real-world environment as I'm writing. There's a war going on! Examine how we're building our families for clues in this world disorder. I really think that these wars are raging because we have people in families that have feuds, where people don't speak to each other . . . If we can't get along on this level, how can we expect our government to do it?

My father died when I was editing Lucia, Lucia . He told me a story shortly before he died, which makes its way into The Queen of the Big Time. His parents didn't take him to the circus with a ticket--they took him in the middle of the night to watch the elephants put the tent up! It was so magical. It's these weird fragments that weave themselves into the novel.

There was this black and white photograph that my grandmother had saved. There's my great-grandfather, a farmer who looks like Gepetto; my great-aunt, their barn, this hill, an [unidentified] man, and my great-uncle. They're standing in this field of dandelions. In the background you see the slate slag hills, which they've blown up the ground for the quarries. And then beyond that is the town of Roseto, this beacon. I'd put that on my desk and just look at it and go into the reality of that photograph to write this world. The details are all there. There's a ladder that's on the barn, the way the sun's hitting, the way the hills are rolling.

To find out about Adriana's next project, her favorite books, The Sopranos and more, read the rest of this interview online! To begin, click here.