Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
Everyone is welcome here.
(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)

Tue, Aug 31 2004

Mon, Aug 30 2004

Changing Country Names

Several days ago the news began to talk about Equatorial Guinea, and I realized that many countries I grew up learning about simply no longer exist. Their names have changed with new regimes and leaders. I found a great place to look up historical country names, so that if you know what a country used to be called, you can find out what its more modern name is. And if you need to know the capital city of a country or state, try checking here.

posted at: 11:19 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Sun, Aug 29 2004

Needing Nonstick That Really Is Nonstick

Some days are just difficult when it comes to doing blog entries. It isn't a matter of having nothing to say. It's just that sometimes other things in life keep taking one away from the keyboard. We had to go and buy a skillet today, which sounds like a very minor thing. But it had to be a certain size, with a certain finish, and I did not want to spend a lot of money on it. I have bought cheap nonstick skillets that worked as well as the expensive one I bought from a well-know party sales company. The pans all lose their nonstick coating after awhile, no matter what the companies tell you. I've seen TV commercials where they put ball bearings in the skillets and rolled them all around and then cooked an omelette in the skillet and it popped out with no sticking. Of course, that's for the commercial. What they don't tell you is that no amount of babying, temperature-controlling, gentle washing or careful storage will stop the process of the nonstick finish getting little scratches in it after awhile. And once the scratches develop, things begin to stick in those scratches and all around them. Period. If you have a pan or skillet that has a nonstick finish that is intact after years of use, I would certainly love to hear about it. I came home with a pan, but I know I won't get years of great use from that pan. At least I paid less than twenty dollars for it. That makes me feel a little better.
Here are a few companies that make interesting claims about their nonstick cookware:


posted at: 18:06 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Sat, Aug 28 2004

It's Tongue In Cheek, But Still...

In the ever-populer love-hate relationship between scientists and theolgians, the sort of project that Jonathon Keats began may sound bizarre and silly at first, but it might also poke people into responding in new ways to a very old debate.

posted at: 13:46 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Fri, Aug 27 2004

Open Water Reality

I believe Open Water actually began showing in most theaters last week, but I forgot to mention it. I haven't seen it, and I'm sure it's terrifying. But I never think of divers being left behind without thinking of friends Lynda and Michael. They were also once Left At Sea, off the coast of Florida. Their frightening experience is almost impossible to describe, but they have chosen to make it a cataylst for change so that recreational scuba divers can continue to enjoy the sport in as safe a fashion as possible, with companies accounting for divers and equipment during all phases of a diving trip. They are very special people, and I am so glad they lived to tell their tale.

posted at: 10:41 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Thu, Aug 26 2004

500 Times On The Board: Hempstead Is A Nice Town In New York

Maybe we should encourage a few Georgia school administrators to take a refresher course in geography. They seem to have set themselves up for a bit of ridicule this week. They pulled a student out of class for wearing a shirt with the name of his former hometown on it. Shame on them. Let's all go give a few nice clicks to the town of Hempstead, NY 516.

Considering the school's zero tolerance attitude, it's a good thing for the poor kid that he hadn't just moved from Two Guns, Arizona. Or Hooker, California. Or Intercourse, Pennsylvania. Or worse yet, Toad Suck, Arkansas. None of these are bad places, but for people who look to see the evil in innocent children, they would present great ammunition.

posted at: 12:44 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, Aug 25 2004

Musings On Islam And Christianity

I was led by Chuck over at Just Thoughts to El Cachorrito Ladrando's interesting post on Islam vs. The West. I liked his observations, but my stream-of-consciousness took off with some more questions:

If, as the writer says, Islam is a benign religion in its purest form, I wondered if Christianity is also benign in its purest form.

If the extremists in Islam have turned to violence and terrorism, and if that religion, as the writer suggests, is some 600 years behind Christianity in its developmental stage, does the future mean that Islam will split into many denominations while holding some core set of beliefs in common (a bit like we see today if we compare Lutheran and Baptist practices)?

If the next 100 years are crucial to the future of Islam, what does that mean for the other major religions? Will their followers also be forced to redefine basic attitudes? What will each keep and what will each give up?

Christianity began in the Middle East, where theocracy has generally been the rule, rather than the exception. Has the Westernization of Christianity brought with it a tendency to pull away from the idea of theocratic rule? And is this why the U.S. has been experiencing some growing pains in such side issues as the display of the Ten Commandments (and other Christian interpretations and symbols) in courthouses?

If the U.S. is seen as a symbol of the separation of church and state to other people who have based their whole system of government on religious theocracy, and if that whole idea threatens their core beliefs, is it any wonder that some of them think of our American push for them to have a democracy as overbearing and evil?

How do we convince them that our best intentions toward them are based on our own sense of the separation of church and state being a good thing for each individual's freedom? Is it possible? Are we going to try? Can we sit down with one another long enough to find the common ground in the part of any religion that is love? Or will there be first, as the writer suggests, another conflict in the next one hundred years that brings with it the use of nuclear weapons?

If we thought we could prevent such a war, would we all stop what we're doing (which obviously hasn't worked so far), and take steps to be good to one another? Or is it too late? And if we battle one another here over the separation of church and state, are we actually the pot calling the kettle black as we talk about freedom and democracy, when some of our own country's issues still involve theocratic ideas? If we don't keep religious liberty as available as possible to all our own American citizens, how can we think to convince other countries to replace their theocracy with our version of democracy that looks to them like just a different form of theocracy?

Several years ago, when I first began to read of Osama bin Laden's warnings against the United States' actions in the Middle East, I remember thinking that I had never heard much from him before, and I thought that maybe, if he or someone else close to him, had not hidden themselves for so long, a lot of good could have been done to educate the people of this country about what the trouble was, in a follower of Islam's eyes. I remember wondering if there wasn't someone, somewhere, who would sit and talk with me about how the people of a country, or a religion, could learn from the past and could help one another to rise above the rhetoric and become friends, even if the rest of the world said it couldn't be done. I still think about that. Osama bin Laden seemed to think it was too late, and he said that in the interviews I watched back then. I think he gave up too soon, and he turned to violence, and because of that, now he can't get us to listen to him anymore at all. By the time we might have been ready to even know who he was, and what his religion might have meant to the United States, he had given up on us all and he fell into a pit of hate. He failed to convince us, because he failed to take an enlightened path of patience and strength and went instead onto a path of recklessness and weakness. I hope very much that he doesn't think to represent the best of Islam thinking anymore. And for him, it doesn't matter what happens now. He's lost his ability to be an inspiration among government and religious leaders. He could have done tremendous good if he had shifted his gaze from himself to his Maker. He's become the epitome of that old saying about serving as a bad example, if nothing else. But we could each be that way, in our own sphere of influence. I really hope we learn from his mistakes.

posted at: 11:09 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Tue, Aug 24 2004

Got An Idea For A SitCom?

Bravo is looking for the next great Situation Comedy. You have until September 18 to submit your script. If you always thought you could do better than what's on TV, now's your chance to prove it.

posted at: 10:18 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Mon, Aug 23 2004

Mild Monday Distractions

Monday can be a tough day to navigate, so here are a few games for a quick distraction when you have time to take a break from the mundane tasks of work, school or home.

I found a simple flash game called Click It. It's a bit rough on the eye muscles though. Your mouse-clicking muscles will also take a beating.

In Gridlock, you must slide the bars around so that you can move the blue bar out the opening on the right of the puzzle grid. It took me a minute to figure out that a bar moves only horizontally or vertically, depending on to its shape.

The game called Character Disorder also takes quite a bit of eye movement, because you're lining up colors and characters, in a clever Tetris-style game.

Use your arrow keys to bump the square, but watch out for the circles, in Eskiv.

posted at: 10:31 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Sun, Aug 22 2004

Minimum Wage Enforcement? What Else Might Work?

We're having mumblings over California's minimum wage. I can understand both sides of the issue, but I wonder at the wisdom of forcing employers to pay a wage that makes them likely to open a business somewhere else. If it's a mom-and-pop kind of store, I would like to see them work it out on an individual basis. But for chains, such as fast food restaurants, it makes sense to encourage them to pay their employees more in states that have a high cost of living. Every time we have been to an IN-N-OUT Burger, it's tough to find a place to sit. The restaurants are packed, and the drive-through service is busy at the same time. They start their employees out at well over the minimum wage, and they still manage to move their products. But I believe (someone correct me if I'm mistaken) that they also own all their stores. They don't make money selling franchises to people and then watch the franchise operator struggle to stay afloat while paying employees a very low wage. Something doesn't seem quite right about this whole system.

I'm not saying that franchises are evil. But what if we encouraged companies like In-N-OUT Burger to do more business in our state? Why force a higher minimum wage on every company when there are plenty of other companies who see the virtue in paying employees well without being forced to do so? We might not have as many fast food places if we did that, but we'd have fewer people having to take two and three jobs to make a living.

posted at: 08:54 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Fri, Aug 20 2004

Cream Puff Franchise

If you thought there were no new food franchise ideas anymore, you might not have heard of Beard Papa's cream puffs. I have my own great recipe for these delicate, sweet treats, but I would certainly try Beard Papa's more substantial double-crust version, if it came to town. A tip of the Stetson goes to Springwise for the link.

posted at: 12:16 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Thu, Aug 19 2004

Gold Rush Years Captured On Canvas

The Gold Rush inspired people to seek their fortune, but it also inspired some wonderful paintings. There's a nice intro here, and when you finish reading you can enjoy the slide show.

posted at: 17:37 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

The Freedom of the Press Affects Us All

A Federal judge has held these reporters in contempt and has fined each of them $500.
H. Josef Hebert
James Risen
Jeff Gerth
Robert Drogin
Pierre Thomas
Last week another reporter, Matthew Cooper, was held in contempt by a different Federal judge.

All the journalists had refused to reveal their sources.

These are the judges involved:
Thomas Penfield Jackson
Thomas Hogan

I support the journalists in their stance. Anyone who writes public material could be negatively affected by this trend of government interference. Let's encourage our Federal employees (including judges) to uphold First Amendment rights. If you agree, you might like to get more information about these issues from The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. They also have an excellent news blog called Behind the Homefront.

Every U.S. citizens either reports the news or receives it. We should all keep asking ourselves if we want the media to be free to use sources and report events without fear of reprisal from government employees. If the answer is yes, we should speak up now, before it's too late for anyone to speak up at all.

posted at: 08:08 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Aug 18 2004

Rubber Stamping Is Both Disease And Cure

One of my ongoing interests is rubber stamps and rubber stamp art/mail art. If you think of a rubber stamp as something to put PAID or COPY on business papers, I must tell you that you have missed a world of fun. Check out Bridget's Stamping Friends Card Gallery. Enjoy the Meer Image Art Gallery. If you want more, a search at Google will get you many online galleries to enjoy.

Of course, there's a very good chance that some of you reading this are starting to get a particular sort of twitch in the joints of your fingers and at the bend in the wrist of your dominant hand. Your heart rate may become elevated and you may find yourself getting up from the computer to go see if you still have those old PAID and COPY rubber stamps you used to have around there somewhere. You may actually experience a unique type of panic attack if you can't locate them. If you rush back to the computer and start searching for places to buy art rubber stamps, you'll know you've been bitten by the rubber bug (although technically, these days a lot of stamps are made of acrylic).

It's all right. Really. Take a few deep breaths and keep reading.

The first thing you have to do is read a few basics. That way you'll know a little more about what to get your hands on for the best stamping experience. Check out Redstick's Remedial Rubber, where you can get online help with basic rubber stamping and learn how to mask, sponge and emboss. I think that page was done some time ago, and since new tools and materials are coming along all the time, try Learn2Stamp for a little more help. You can find books at the library and there are also magazines that feature rubber stamp art. Some of it may be too cute for you, so you should know that there is a whole camp of stampers who shun cute and go straight for weird.

Some years ago, before the internet was the easy place to navigate that it is now, I was in a stamping group with Stampo, who went on to develop and sell his wonderful Viva Las Vegastamps!, which are mostly wild and wonderful, but he also devloped the Love Me Tender line for those who must have their cute bear fix. Stampo got so embroiled in the whole rubber stamp world that he also ended up opening a retail rubber stamp store in Las Vegass. So you see, this whole thing can go from being a little twitch of the fingers to a full-blown career before you know it.

The cute vs. weird controversy continues among stampers, so many companies sell both kinds of stamps and include other designs that defy categorization. You can get stamps depicting animals, nationally-known politicians (note the juxtaposition there), holiday symbols, vehicles, aliens, furniture, toys, sea monkeys, vegetables and household appliances. There are ethnic stamps, art deco and other retro stamps, fantasy and travel stamps, teacher stamps, religious stamps, word and phrase stamps and many more. And I haven't even touched on the inks: archival, chalk, embossing, pigment, metallic, resist, watercolor and rainbow. There are brayers used to roll ink onto large areas, foils and glitters to add sparkle, charms and tags, eyelets and brads, corner rounders, Fiskars decorative scissors and punches, and then there are the papers and stamping surfaces: matte, glossy, handmade, linen, cardstock, vellum, velvet, fabric, wood and acrylic.

So how are those twitchy fingers doing?

Did I mention the light boxes, paper crimpers and heat guns?

posted at: 16:21 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Lunge, Grin, Repeat

I really enjoyed watching Mariel Zagunis win her Olympic gold medal. Since Americans had waited 100 years to see the gold in sabre, she made the whole thing worth waiting for, with her swift fighter-style attacks and her post-win exuberance. The facial expressions she wore when she took off her mask made we wonder what looks she had beneath that mask when she was making her no-nonsense moves during the match. I'm sure the folks who seek out sports celebrities to speak for their products are lined up right now to sign her up.

They are all winners, of course. Tan Xue of China, who was defeated by Zagunis in the match, still won a silver medal. It was fun to read that Tan got a lot of her inspiration from watching a film about Zorro. And Sada Jacobson got a bronze medal. All the young women have a lot to celebrate this week.

Getting back to Mariel for a moment, I do think she makes a good point that not every teen should head for college right after high school. Some paths in life just don't follow the typical educational track. That year or two taken before college, when the whole world is open and all things are possible, could be the best time for a teen to explore sports, business or other life ambitions. If you know you need to do something before college, and you have the support of friends or family, taking that time could be the best move you ever make, as long as you have been working really hard on your dreams up to that point. Your preparation might even put you in the right place, at the right time, to make history. Just ask Mariel Zagunis.

posted at: 08:35 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Tue, Aug 17 2004

Life Is (Not) Just A Cabaret If You Want Good Health

It's great to know that people are studying several factors that affect health, and that better health probably isn't only about diet and exercise, but about making a difference in the world and feeling one has a definite purpose in life. Science Blog reports on a study that shows the possibility that just looking for fun and pleasure isn't enough to boost our immune systems and keep us feeling well physically. Our lives need to be meaningful, and we need to see ourselves and others as worthwhile.

posted at: 17:04 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

What Harry Did Matters To Us All

If you read the statistics on the number of troops killed, you know we have lost some fantastic people. Some of them were descendants of the first inhabitants of America. Harry N. Shondee Jr. was one of them. We won't know what Harry would have gone on to do in the long life he didn't get, but when I think of the history of the American Indian people who lived and worked here long before my own ancestors came, and I remember how much they have already sacrificed, I'm absolutely in awe that Harry and others gave life for a cause that took them so far from their homeland. Many of us who gripe and groan about the war in Iraq talk about the dollars spent. Our talk is just as cheap as the political rhetoric we complain about on one side or the other. The real cost that should be on all our minds and hearts is the loss of life. No matter how you feel about the war and the political processes involved, I hope you'll take time to send a note to Harry's family. The article linked above has the address.

posted at: 08:58 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Aug 16 2004

Sandy Duncan And The Musical Stage

Something or someone the other day reminded me of entertainer Sandy Duncan. I wondered what she's up to in her work these days, and found this. It's good to know she is still spreading that smile and that energy across the planet. Several articles reported that she was lamenting the fact that no new good musicals have come along to attract theatre-goers in recent years, and that musical theatre has lost a lot of its sparkle because of people who put shows together on the cheap and rehash old productions when there is such a wealth of talent they could be growing.

It's sad to wonder whether show business is becoming mostly business and very little show. The arts are what we all turn to when the world news is too much to bear. Spirituality is the backbone of life for many of us, and the arts are that part of our humanity that lures us to join hands with the Grand Creator. At their best, the arts inspire benevolence and majesty in the human existence. Let's hope that all the best stories haven't yet been told, and that some of the best songs are still to come.

posted at: 17:20 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Bang! Bang! Let's Give The Little Lady A Hand

Last week Alan K. Henderson mentioned something on his blog, and I didn't get time to talk about it until now. He pointed to a story about female athlete Nassim Hassanpour. The BBC News did their own story of the young Muslim woman from Iran.

As a female who lives in a much more free society, it would be really easy for me to feel sorry for her. But I doubt very much that she'd like that. She could have refused to pursue her athletic dreams to spite the limits placed upon her by her country and her religious leadership. She could have come to competition and worn clothes that were unacceptable to her critics, placing herself in danger of social, if not physical, repercussions. Instead, she has embraced the benefits of her religion and her roots, and has chosen to work through the accompanying limitations and to stand in a unique place among women, among athletes, among theologians and among history. Because of her careful choices, she is going to give hope to many young girls who might otherwise have given up the whole dream of someday being able to exhibit their talents and hard work. She's changing this world with the kind of spiritual insight that even ayatollahs might aspire to, if they chose to be half as wise as she is.

posted at: 11:34 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Sun, Aug 15 2004

My Kind Of Gamble

A tip of the Stetson to The Accidental Hedonist for the link to Roulette Chocolate. Eleven of the chocolate "bullets" have a sweet center, but the twelfth has a big surprise.

posted at: 18:46 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Sat, Aug 14 2004

Support Your Local (Blogging) Mad Librarian

I can't say I know about everything that Eilor is going through. I do know what it's like not to have a license due to bad eyesight, and it does make a huge difference in one's lifestyle these days. If you read and enjoy the links at Mad Librarian, please take time to type off a note of encouragement to Eilor.

posted at: 15:14 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Aug 13 2004

Is The Material Girl Being Replaced By The Digital Girl?

A lot of modern films use digital enhancements these days. CGI work is integrated into the final product of a movie with almost seamless results in many cases. Designers are working on ways to allow computers to do things that humans simply can't do in the real world. This concept is spilling into advertising, gaming and other industries. Now it looks like we're going to see virtual beauty contests.

posted at: 14:11 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Covering The Coverage

Here's a good example of how news media cover stories in different ways. We had a local accident this week involving a film crew. The Register-Pajaronian tells the story like this. If you read that version of the event, you might get the idea that it was some professional crew that got into trouble. But if you move on to the Santa Cruz Sentinel's version of the story, you'll find out that was not the case. Note that the Sentinel version also refrains from mentioning the names of those involved (except for that of one CHP officer).

This is really important for those of us who blog, because sometimes it's very tempting to rush to be among the first to post comments on a breaking news story, only to find out later that the first news reports were inaccurate or incomplete, or perhaps biased, and in a few unfortunate cases, completely fabricated. Some of the best posts I read from other blog writers are the ones where the writer has taken some time to research the whole thing just a bit more, when possible, before jumping in with both hands and shooting off a post that makes the writer look silly later. I really need to remember this when I get itchy keyboard fingers.

posted at: 09:04 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, Aug 12 2004

For You Artsy Atlantans

One of my favorite places is Design Within Reach. You lucky people in the Atlanta, Georgia area may be getting one of their studios soon. Their newsletter says they are looking for design lovers to work with them, so go to their Jobs page to find out where to send your resume. (The Atlanta studio doesn't seem to be listed on the site yet, but they are working on it, I'm sure)

posted at: 17:42 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Pink Consequences

Next year the Rotary International will be celebrating their 100th Anniversary. I knew the Rotarians do a lot of good deeds, but I didn't know the kind of zany fun they have. The local bunch has apparently had an ongoing prank with a certain pink bathtub that gets dumped on absentee members.

posted at: 13:37 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Wed, Aug 11 2004

Copyright: Trying To Do The Right Thing Is Tough Sometimes

A few years I bought a box of Christmas cards that were produced by a well-known card company. I loved the design and wanted to send more later, so I saved one card and sent them the design number and asked them to please continue to produce the card. I got back a very polite note telling me they had no plans to do so. They still own the copyright, of course, so I'm not legally free to reproduce the cards on my own. I would happily buy boxes of the cards from them if they would only print more for me to purchase. I have also run into this same sort of issue with music publishing companies, including companies that are no longer in business. How does one obtain permission to use or duplicate materials in these situations? Are these goodies just lost to all of us forever?

Perhaps not. Check out Kahle v. Ashcroft, and tell them your own stories of difficulty obtaining permission to copy, distribute or otherwise use copyrighted material. They are thankfully working to free up some of these gray areas.

posted at: 11:03 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Pay Attention To These Good People

Mamamontezz says we should all pay some attention to Keystone Military News and the good works they are reporting, and since we don't want to get on the bad side of Mamamontezz, we will do what she says, won't we? Mama and I aren't always in the same political corral on everything, but we both care a lot, and that makes us blog sisters of a sort. She packs a lot more heat than I do though.

posted at: 09:09 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Aug 10 2004

Watsonville And Greedy Developers Still Threaten Rural Buena Vista Community

Our local battle over the encroachment of the city of Watsonville and its effects on our airport continues tonight at the Watsonville City Council meeting.

The city's residents were allowed to vote on a measure that opened the way for development in the unincorporated Buena Vista area of the county. The residents of Buena Vista were not allowed to vote, and we will be the most heavily impacted by the city's plans to annex and develop the area. Much of the area would be marked for "affordable housing", and would be developed with dense, multi-story units that will change the landscape of Buena Vista forever. What is now a rural area of rolling hills with horse farms and green hills will become congested with people and traffic. The already-stressed Highway 1 corridor will have further demands placed upon it, and plans for possible future widening of the this scenic, historic coastal road do not include the portion of the highway that intersects Buena Vista Drive.

As water becomes more of a precious commodity, the idea of putting multiple units on smaller and smaller portions of land is a ludicrous choice.

The safe and proper use of our airport is a tremendous factor in all this controversy. The pilots in the area have spent long hours educating the public and the Watsonville city council members on the facts concerning the need to keep the airport unencumbered and operational in a safe manner that benefits the entire Santa Cruz County. If we lose this fight, we lose scenery, we lose history, we lost valuable business and personal transportation, and we lose quality of life for existing and future Buena Vista area residents.

My post involves a local controversy, but urban sprawl could be affecting your local airport and community too. The Center for Immigration Studies has a chart showing land use trends in states, and they also have a bit of background on the multiple factors contributing to urban sprawl.

posted at: 10:07 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Aug 09 2004

Search Engines: Is Chain Linking The Answer To Higher Rankings?

I can understand how this could be affective, but part of me balks. I'm concerned that it might come across as being a little like sending a chain letter or maybe doing a multi-level marketing program. I suppose it's fairly harmless, as long as everyone who participates is happy. But my sense of artistic pride wants to believe that the best way to get high rankings on Google is to be faithful about making blog entries and to do quality work that makes a difference in the world, whether it's a serious political post or a light-hearted pointer to someone's online comic strip. It does help rankings to have the cross-linking between blogs, but I like that to happen as a natural outgrowth of the writing that we do, and have it help search engine rankings as a positive side effect. But my stance may be too narrow. I'll certainly give it more thought.

I do know that one other thing that counts in search engine ranking is being persistent, professional and tireless, in a blog or any other kind of web site that ones does. After nearly 7 years of publishing Deb's Monthly Review (which is mostly a guide to U.S. festivals and events), I can attest that it took awhile for it to gain good ranking on search engines. I think what Dan and the others are doing over at Get That Job! is really valuable for people who are between jobs (and also to anyone who freelances, works temporary positions or works from home). They're doing quality pieces on that blog, and I don't think they really need to use artificial ways to get their ranking higher on search engines. But I do know how frustrating it is to work hard on a site and then wonder why more people don't come to take advantage of your labor. Google's search associations seem to like relevant linking even better than random linking, so maybe we should all do more of that as we write. It couldn't hurt.

posted at: 18:24 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Daydream Cooking

I don't spend very much time cooking anymore, but if I was going to spend a few hours in the kitchen, these are a few of the recipes I would like to try next:

The Best Guacamole In The World
What made me choose this one was the call for cilantro, which I really love the fragrance and flavor of.)

A copycat of Olive Garden's Pasta E Fagioli
(I could feast on the soup and breadsticks alone, and be quite content.)

Thai Satay Beef
(I might opt to use chicken or even a vegetarian substitute with that sauce)

Avocado Egg Rolls
(This is a copycat version of those served at a certain cheesecake restaurant.)

German Oven Pancakes
(I've also heard this concoction called a Dutch Baby Pancake. I've seen them served in restaurants. They looked like too much for one person to handle, and I've never never been able to find anyone to split one with me.)

After all that daydreaming about cooking and eating, I suppose it would be only appropriate to daydream about a good session on the treadmill.

posted at: 08:28 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Sun, Aug 08 2004

Mortgage Tricks For Home Buyers

This area of the country has such outrageous home prices that fewer and fewer people can qualify for a mortgage. And it looks as though mortgage rates are going to climb soon. Growabrain's real estate archives had a pointer to a great article on new ways to pay the mortgage.

posted at: 10:58 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Saucer Buses And SkyCars

A tip of the Stetson goes to Exclamation Mark for a pointer to an artist's concept of a saucer bus. They seem to have thought of it before I was even born, but no one has built one yet. My husband has been waiting for years for them to get the Moller SkyCar into general production. For now, he might have to be content with the 1:38 M400 die cast model, or this Lego version for awhile. Of course, he could use this time to practice with a SkyCar simulation.

posted at: 09:09 | category: /Science | link to this entry

Sat, Aug 07 2004

Stories In Stained Glass

If you enjoy stained glass works, you might like this stained glass photography site. The depiction of Gethsemane is one of my favorites.

posted at: 17:08 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Really Reactive Reviews

If you've ever read some of the book reviews at Amazon.com, you know that not everyone agrees on the merits of any particular book. This is to be expected, but some readers take it a step beyond basic opinion and vent in ways that are being captured and logged for us to enjoy, over at Amazon World. One thing is clear. Some readers were simply in bad humor before they ever opened the book to begin with.

posted at: 09:24 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Aug 06 2004

Multi-Level Wheeling?

I guess the folks working at the Thompson, Manitoba Wal-Mart up in Canada decided not to be part of a union. I can't quite understand this concept of unions who come in to recruit people. We had some of that happen in our local area when people in a union tried to get local agricultural workers to organize. Is this something like multi-level marketing, where you join a union and then you get more people to start other unions and join them? If somebody has figured out how to make money doing this, I can see why it would be really popular.

I browsed a bit for more information, and eventually found my way to the Industrial Workers of the World site. I even found Father Haggerty's Wheel, which I had never heard of. At the bottom of the page they mention that the wheel has been modified over time a bit, so that it includes 3 new groups of workers, one of which is Sex Trade Workers Industrial Union 690.

I can see how that might put a brand new spin on that whole recruitment thing.

posted at: 17:51 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Sites That Force My Browser Window To Maximize

I keep seeing ways for people to do this. What I want is a script (or something) to prevent anyone's site from changing the size of my browser window. I have it set a certain way for a reason and I like it that way. When I go to your site, and the first thing you do is resize my browser window, I do 2 things. I size it down, and then I close that browser window, so I never even see what other brilliance you had waiting there for me. Well, there is that other thing I do, but let's keep this post polite, shall we?

posted at: 15:37 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, Aug 05 2004

Off The Beaten Trail

It's typical for me to find great sites while looking for other things:

Makito Sudo's Sketchbook

Tandy Leather Outlet

Aerobic Cleaning
(I do this sort of thing too, but I used lots of music and I set timers to keep me really moving.)

Free web meeting space for your neighborhood

A picture of an Australian Scribbly Gum Moth and the mess it makes, plus some daring 1921 photos from a publication intended to promote Australia's Golden Wattle.

posted at: 13:15 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, Aug 04 2004

Anti-Terrorism Trail Riders

With a tip of the Stetson to Boing Boing, this is for all you horse lovers in the Houston area. Sign up, saddle up, grab your cell phone and become one of the Intercontinental Airport Rangers.

posted at: 07:43 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Tue, Aug 03 2004

The 3-Digit Scam

I get a lot of forwarded emails that warn me of scams, so I usually spend some time checking out the information before I warn anyone else. For some reason, the one about the 3-digit number on back of the credit card never got opened until this morning (though someone sent it weeks ago). I was a bit curious to find out whether or not it was a real problem, because one time the bank that had issued a credit card to us had called to verify some extra activity that was unlike what they thought our previous usage pattern had been. But there had never been a mention of our number, and we had called them to verify all the charges, so there was little problem with fraud in that case. I decided to check out the 3-digit scam. Although it sounds as though the credit card companies don't want to alarm people, and that they might downplay the evils of such things, it makes sense to follow their basic advice on the phone. If anyone calls you first and claims to know about your account, and then they have to ask you for account information, be wary.

posted at: 10:18 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Will Things Get Ugly Outside The Doors At Wal-Mart?

There was a report on TV last night about Wal-mart and the relatively low pay its workers receive. There was also mention of a lack of health care benefits for the workers. I wonder if the future of Wal-Mart includes unions. I wonder if there will be a United Greeter Workers. And if someday the Greeters went on strike, would it be the friendliest strike we've ever seen, or would their non-working stance produce the grouchiest gang of picketers in North American history?

posted at: 09:47 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Aug 02 2004

Curse For Zero-Year Presidents?

I don't embrace astrology, for personal spiritual reasons, but this was especially disturbing reading for me. The author gives some astrological possibilities for why this curse may or may not have worked lately. And why it could work again, but might not.

If the curse is legend, and there's no real proof for it, that has only heightened humans' ability to take its basic thread and run with it. When you start with a factual event from history and then play connect-the-dots with some second factual event, you begin to build a strong framework. Throw in a little astrology and alien influences, and you have something that grows into an idea that brings with it a sense of drama and power. And humans do love drama and power.

Aside from the reservations I have concerning curses in general, this sort of thing bothers me because there is always some delusional element out there who would like to make certain these events happen as befits their narcissitic frame of reference. It only gives more fuel to the fire of extremists, fanatics and terrorists who are ready to lap up any opportunity to do what they believe (their version of) God would do if God had all the facts. If we choose to perpetuate these ideas in real life, it worries me that it could become a form of wishful thinking for evil. Isn't that a form of cowardly terrorism in itself?

posted at: 18:00 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Sun, Aug 01 2004

That's Right, She's Not From Texas, And She's Not From Mexico Either

Well, they are telling us that Farida Goolam Mohamed Ahmed entered illegally into Texas from Mexico. It seems she came through several other countries first, and then just kind of walked or crawled into the U.S. by way of Mexico, still bearing thorns in her shoes. Kudos to the alert border agent who noticed her. I hope all the talk about easing restrictions on illegal entry into this country will be looked at in a different light now, finally. All the people who come here legally from Mexico do not deserve to be put in the same category with illegal invaders. Illegal entry is just that. Illegal. And those who enter illegally do not deserve the privileges and benefits of citizens and legal guests.

posted at: 18:38 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!