Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I got this email...

(Please go read it, and vote or comment if you like!)


It’s official!

The first chapter of your submission to the First Chapters Writing Competition on Gather.com is now live. The link below is the unique URL to your first chapter which has been posted for Round 1 consideration. You can send this link to your friends, family, and colleagues so that they can read, rate, and comment on your work!


Your Round 1 Unique URL: http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474976899016

During Round 1, the first chapter of your submission (link provided above) will remain live on the site at Firstchapters.gather.com for fourteen (14) days from the date it was published. At the end of that voting period we will remove the chapter from Gather and tally the votes. To complete your competition eligibility, please double-check to ensure that you are a member of First Chapters Writing Competition Group. If you are not a member, click here to join

If you would like to invite your friends, family and colleagues to read and rate your submission they must:

1. Join Gather.com so they can vote on your chapter. Make sure to send them a join link.
2. Click on your chapter’s unique link (send out the link provided above) where they can read and then rate your first chapter.

Note on voting: To ensure the integrity of contests on Gather we have developed fraud detection systems to monitor rating/voting patterns as well as member account validity. We run the processes periodically throughout the contest and again at the end of the contest, across all entries. If we determine that certain ratings or actions are intended to compromise the outcome of the contest we will take appropriate actions which can include disqualifying the ratings, entrants and submissions. Therefore, rating averages can change throughout the contest period. Entrants are eligible to vote in the Competition but are expected to do so fairly and in the spirit of the competition.

That's it. Got some neat comments, and some who hated it. That's OK. I'm glad a few are reading it (at least the first chapter!)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Preparations continue

I know. You don't care about my vacation. I understand.

I don't care about YOURS, either.

But the pile of gear in the staging area den is slowly growing, the van has been cleaned out, and the snow reports and forecasts checked. Tomorrow is cookie-baking day(!), Thursday Carol gets her hair cut, Friday we do last-minute shopping and loading of the van, and then Saturday moring is GO-DAY.

Heck, the anticipation of the trip and the good times we'll have is half the fun!

And don't worry... You'll hear ALL about it right here on this blog (and likely on Christina's as well) after the fact.

I'm sure you can hardly wait!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Is it real?

Several of my wonderful, loyal readers have asked me that question.

They refer, of course, to the Africam web cam link I mentioned in my last post. The link is over in my sidebar right under the "I Power Blogger" button, but I'll copy it again HERE.

The answer is, yes, definitely!

In the last 36 hours (one daylight period and two nights) we have seen a large herd of impalas (and I DON'T mean Chevrolets!), four zebras, one wildebeest, numerous baboons, a family of hyenas, a cheetah(!) up close and personal, giraffes, one elephant, a pair of kudus, and lots of birds hard to identify.

During the daylight hours the display is in color, and often an "operator" of the camera will (remotely, I'm sure) pan around to an animal, zoom in and then back out. Sometimes in the early night that will happen as well.

It's a fascinating site, especially to anyone who has had the thrill of seeing many of these animals in person in the wild. If the bird and cricket noises are annoying, turn down the sound. But try leaving the site running and just check it every now and then.

As Forrest Gump would say, "It's like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get."

Sunday, January 28, 2007

We couldn't stand it

So we played golf today despite puddles on some of the fairways. This is the first chance we've had for over two weeks (due to rain), and the last chance we'll have for the NEXT two weeks (due to ski trip).

It wasn't pretty. Our golf was mediocre, and every shot left mud on the club.

But then, back home, we took all the golf paraphernalia out of the van to give it a thorough cleaning (on the inside, anyway). Carol's tasks for the coming week are to bake cookies, and to vacuum out the van.

If she bakes the cookies, I'LL vacuum out the van! No contest!

Little additional snow is forecast for our ski area over the next week, but there's plenty of base snowpack and that's all we need to have fun.

You can tell where my mind is right now. There's a lot going on at work but it's hard to concentrate on that as the vacation looms.

I'll try hard not to daydream TOO much next week, boss. Honest!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Feeling Better

1. After a long night of cold rain, today the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the 70 degree temp is perfect for golf. Trouble is, the course is pure muck. Maybe by tomorrow there will be enough dry spots to get out and try to hit the ball.

2. The cedar pollen levels are much lower, and I've got some vim and vigor back. Consequently I took some time today to prep the van for our winter trip in a week. The temps in the mountains routinely reach 10-20 below zero at night, and our Texas van is not usually ready for anything like that. So today I put in lighter weight engine oil, beefed up the antifreeze, and replaced the windshield washer water with a non-freezing solution.

3. We began dragging out of various storage areas all the "stuff" we don't use the rest of the year but always take on the ski trip. This we "stage" in the middle of the den. Next week we will empty the van (including all golf stuff), clean it out and vacuum it, and start loading tire chains and other items that never see the light of day all year except for this trip.

4. Thanks to all who commented and emailed "get well" wishes. They seem to have worked!

5. At the urging of RobotJam I upgraded Carol's computer desk to a high-res version. Don't have a picture to share yet, though.

5. Finally, a Canadian reader sent me a link to a 24-hour web cam located in South Africa, aimed at a water hole in the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve. I put the link in the sidebar right under the "I Power Blogger" button. Check it out some time; it's pretty cool.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ever hear of Cedar Fever?

If you live anywhere within a few hundred miles of the kind of cedars we have in Central Texas, you probably have.

Cedar Fever is the common name people give to an allergic reaction for the pollen spewed forth by the Texas hill country cedars, starting about two weeks after the first freeze of the winter. Some folks are completely unaffected. Others, if sensitive, are completely incapacitated.

My younger daughter Amy lived near Austin (Round Rock) for a few years, and when the cedar pollen hit the air the first winter, she was bedridden with headache, fever, and other symptoms. Total incapacitation.

Fortunately she was properly diagnosed and given a prescription for some anti-allergy stuff that kept the reaction at bay. Her doctor told her to take it daily starting about a week after the first freeze. The next winter she was... what? ...re-capacitated? In other words, mostly unaffected.

I've never had a problem with cedar pollen in the past. In fact, I have no known allergies. (Yes, I'm perfect in SO many ways... but we won't go there.)

This year, starting last weekend on Saturday (as I think I reported here) I felt washed out, listless, kind of achy, but not quite bad enough to send me to bed. The weather was too nasty to play golf, but even if the sun had been shining and the temps in the 70s I think I would have passed on the activity. Ever since then (including today) I have had more or less those same symptoms. They're never bad enough that I felt I ought to stay home from work, but I never feel quite good enough or energetic enough to get really productive, either.

Allergy medicine and ibuprofen seem to help. Some. But my aura of perfection is definitely tarnished. Hopefully by the end of NEXT week (when we leave for our ski trip) I'll be once again rarin' to go!

We'll see. Meanwhile, sitting around the house sounds like all the activity I need for right now.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Getting ready!

For the ski trip. It's just around the corner (actually, week after next -- but that's pretty close!)

Getting ready consists of a lot of details, but the one on my mind right now is influenced by my nose. This house smells heavenly! And Carol HASN'T started baking cookies yet.

So, what smells so good? Well, one of the ways we try to save money is by preparing our lunches in advance, freezing them in small containers, and then heating the food each morning and taking it to the mountain in big thermos containers. You see, our lodging place comes with a meal plan; cafeteria-style breakfasts and dinners - all you can eat! The quality is fair to very good, but you can't beat the quantity. Not to mention the ease of preparation (none) and clean-up (none)!

But that leaves the lunches on us, and the food in the restaurants on the ski mountain is VERY expensive. You know, like the old $7.50 hamburger with a $3.50 (small ) coke. If you want fries with that, it's an extra $4.00. It's like your basic $15 happy meal!

Our lunches (tradition dictates this, by the way) consist of fruit, chips, hot chocolate and cold sodas, the main course, and COOKIES! The main course alternates each day between beef stew, and black eyed peas with ham. Both are home made, and excellent!

When Carol makes these main courses, she uses a HUGE crock pot and lets them cook either all day, or all night. So the house fills with the aroma of these most basic of "soul foods."

Since we have to ensure the quality of these main courses and make sure that no one will be poisoned by them, it is imperative that we sample them before they are frozen into their small containers.

Tonight is beef stew night, with a salad and some home-made garlic bread.

If your mouth isn't watering, it ought to be!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bullet Bitten

Well, I did it. I entered the contest.

Why? Well, it was free (the price was right!) I have nothing at all to lose, and a few people might actually read at least my first chapter and wonder what happened next.

Hey, it COULD happen!

What contest, you ask? Oh the one that all the writers' sites are buzzing about. A month or two ago everyone was panning the Sobol contest which required you to pay an entry fee and didn't promise much.

This one is free. Here's how they suck you in:

"Are you an unpublished author looking to get your fabulous work of fiction in bookstores near you? Well, put away your query letters and fear of rejection and enter The Gather.com First Chapters Writing Competition.

The winner of this writing competition will receive:

* a publishing contract with Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
* a $5,000 cash prize from Gather.com
* promotion and distribution by Borders


Don’t have a novel at the ready? Readers are needed, too! In the weeks to come, you can join other book lovers and writers to help read and rate the entries. Who deserves their big break? YOU can help decide. With this almost unprecedented opportunity, you or someone you know could be the next bestselling American author."

Here are the rules.

Modesty and normal doubts aside, I really doubt this submission will garner many looks. The story dosen't have a gripping hook at the beginning (an admitted weakness) and requires you to get to know the characters a bit before you decide if you like them or not, or if you care what happens to them.

Gee, I wonder if... (and I bet EVERY entrant has wondered the same thing) I were to contact everybody I know, and get them to contact everybody THEY know, and so on, and ask them ALL to join the group at Gather.com and ALL vote for my book, if...

Nah, that'd be cheating, or the same thing as.

I'll just see how it fares.

And if NOBODY like it, I'll sic the "C" on them. That'll teach 'em, right?

Right!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Busy


The age-old excuse for 'most everything. The fact that it may be true does not lessen the fact that it is only an excuse. It just means that I chose to do other things besides posting to my blog.

Busy doing what? Well, I can't even use golf as an excuse since the weather here for the past week through this morning has been cold and rainy and nasty. No, I've been doing other things.

Work actually had me going in for a couple of 10-11 hour days last week. Then yesterday I felt kind of sickly all day: no appetite, achy, and absolutely no energy or desire to do anything except sit/lie around. So that's what I did.

Today Carol and I assembled a new desk we bought cheap ($103 at Office Depot) to replace the tiny drafting table that she's been using as a computer desk. Here's a picture of it, taken with my new little Logitech web cam that my daughter Christina gave me for Christmas:


Yeah, it's pretty low-res, but it works! The desk is not bad for the money. But it took much of the day to assemble.

OH! Plus we've been watching the Chicago Bears dominate the New Orleans Saints. As I saw all the snow swirling down in Soldiers Field I thought about my friend Viki sitting out there with her kids and husband freezing their tails off.

Hope you enjoyed the game, Viki, and got home safely despite the celebrating crowd!

Well, those are my excuses/reasons for no blog posts for a few days. I wish I could claim I was busy working on my novel. And I guess I could claim it, but it'd be a lie.

I'll try to do better this week.

We'll see.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

He may be on to something

If you read the comments on yesterday's post, they raise some interesting points and conjectures.

I think we've all had experiences like the one described by kenju. I know I have, at least. You completely give up on some piece of equipment or component, buy a replacement, and then before you throw away the old one you try it one last time, and it works!

Taken one step further: if you then return the purchased replacement item, the original will again begin to malfunction. You just KNOW it's laughing at you! You grind your teeth and re-purchase the replacement. Then, like me with my router, you throw the old one in the trash even though it may once again be working fine, because now it's unreliable. Then you berate yourself for "wasting" a "perfectly good ______."

There's a fine line between Murphy's famous law, and the "C."

Then RobotJam weighed in (I didn't catch his weight, exactly. And even if I HAD caught it I'm not sure I could convert "stone" into pounds or kilograms. You know those Brits!) with his correlation between calling tech support and the "C."

It's a funny thing about tech support folks. All they ever tell me to do is to pull the power plug on various components, wait 30 seconds, plug it back in, and then reboot the computer. It doesn't matter if I tell them I've just done exactly that 10 times before I called them. They tell me to do it again in some new sequence. And often the problem then goes away, like Rob said.

I think they're really just resetting things on their end and telling me to power-down and then power-up devices just to brag later to their colleagues, like this:

"Hey, wait till I tell you about the doofus who called me last night. I got him to reboot his computer 6 dozen times before I turned his internet connection back on! I'll bet he would have kept on doing it all night if I'd had the patience to keep telling him to do it!"

Then they all laugh and drink some more coffee while other poor souls are sitting at home, waiting, listening to that awful music-on-hold. When the tech support folks get tired of laughing, the put their headsets back on, push the button, tell the caller that their name is something they just made up, and begin again telling him/her to reboot.

But Rob MAY be right. Those nerds and the "C" MAY be in cahoots!

I'll ask Murphy, next time I see him.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A nice visit

This past weekend we were visited by Les and Linda.

Linda is Carol’s cousin. She and Les (her husband) live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Each winter, at about the first snowfall, Les and Linda pack up their large motor home (referred to as the MOHO) and head south. They will typically stay in RV parks for a few days at a time, visiting relatives and friends as they meander their way towards Arizona.

Linda does NOT like the cold weather.

Unfortunately they picked a bad time to Visit South Texas, because the winter storm that’s plaguing most of the eastern half of the U.S. right now has brought rain, sleet and freezing drizzle to our area. (Maybe Karyn was right; maybe that robin I posted a picture of on January 2 WAS heading to Mexico.)

Anyway, while they were here we spent a considerable number of hours trying to troubleshoot problems with Linda’s Sony laptop computer. Without much luck. Making the attempts even harder was the loss of our cable internet signal last night. That forced another of my calls to the ISP tech support group with umpteen voice prompts, requests for account numbers, last 4 digits of the account holder’s Social Security number, and the usual litany of requests to reboot everything several times, disconnect the cable, connect components in a different sequence, and so on. None of which helped.

The well-trained, patient Customer Support Rep (named Marcie, btw) finally set up an appointment for a live, local technician (as opposed to a dead one?) to come to our house on Wednesday and “fix the problem.”

Okay. We left everything running and went out to dinner (Mexican food – YUM!). When we returned 90 minutes later, everything was working perfectly.

I was tempted to introduce Linda to the “C” but decided against it.

Anyway, for a lot more on Les and Linda including pictures, check out the link at the bottom of the side bar (where it says "click HERE") for the whole Africa trip story.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Vindication... sort of

This weekend I decided to go ahead and do what I’ve been putting off for weeks.

Several of you have taunted me by posting that YOU’VE done it. You've bounded ahead fearlessly where I was loath to go. Some of you had bad experiences with it, but in most cases you were quite pleased with yourselves once you were finished with the process.

In fact, it was based on a few comments I received on THIS VERY BLOG that I finally fell off the fence, jumped off the precipice, swallowed the bitter pill, bit the bullet, uh... (I’m running out of clich├ęs here.)

Anyway, even my very own daughter told me I should do it.

So, against my better judgment (or despite my inertia), I navigated over to the Blogger dashboard and clicked “Switch to the New Version!”

I mean, for weeks Blogger has been urging me to Try The New Beta Version! I was steadfast in my refusal. Hey, I was happy with the OLD Blogger version. I’m not one who gets all gaga over bells and whistles. I read what the new version would supposedly offer and thought, “I don’t need any of that.”

(Aside: Did you notice that "gaga" starts with "gag?")

Would the New Blogger help me write better? Would my material be more humorous? Would I be better looking or have a bigger penis? (Oops! Sorry. Too much spam getting through the spam blocker. Maybe I need to switch to the new and improved version of THAT!)

But now that the new version is OUT of BETA (big flippin’ deal), and everybody seems to be switching (except me), I guess the time has come.

Besides, two of you wrote that you were unable to comment on my blog without doing so anonymously since I still had the old Blogger.

So, okay. I clicked the link. The link took me to a sign-in page and asked me to enter my password. (I wondered why. I had already logged in using that password.) But I did what was asked. I even accepted the “terms of service.”

And guess what happened? When I clicked “Continue” I was taken to a page that told me...

Could not switch you to the new Blogger

Thanks for your interest in the new version of Blogger! Unfortunately, we cannot switch your Blogger account at this time, because one or more of your blogs cannot be moved. Please see our help article for more information.


HA! See there, I CAN’T make the switch. Blogger won’t let me!

Oh, if you’re interested, here’s what the “help article” told me:

Why can't I switch to the new version of Blogger?

While the new version of Blogger is no longer in beta, some users with certain types of blogs will not immediately be able to switch to it. We'll be adding support for these blogs as soon as possible, so everyone can join in the fun. But for now, if you have a very large blog (more than a couple thousand posts + comments), you'll need to hold off for a bit.

Note that, even if your blog is eligible to switch, you may not have the link to do so on your dashboard. We are starting out by just switching over a limited number of accounts, but we'll add more and more as time goes on. However, if you still want to try out the new version of Blogger, what you can do is to visit
beta.blogger.com and create a new account. Later on, you'll be able to merge this account with your original Blogger account.

Thanks for your patience, and we promise it will be worth the wait!


“Thanks for (my) patience?” Awfully presumptuous of them to assume I’m patient!

But I do feel my procrastination has been vindicated.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

“All My Children”

That will be the title of my next book.

It will be non-fiction, and subtitled, “Memoirs of a Retired Human Resources Manager.” I’ll have to get on a speakers’ list and start touring various chapters of H.R. Associations so I’ll have a “platform” to convince publishers to print my book. After I retire, of course.

What brought this on, you ask?

Well, the title refers to the “human resources” I try to “manage.” I can’t go into any current situations because some people from the plant read this blog, and I’d be in violation of confidentiality or expectation of privacy issues. But I can give you examples of earlier adventures in the kindergarten I call my workplace.

How about if I start with graffiti? Oh, I don’t mean just the normal stuff like pictures on restroom walls, or “Cowboys Rule,” or “Managers Suck.” I’m talking about ugly stuff about employees. You know, accusations that somebody’s gay or a pervert. Ethnic slurs. Things like “John the Faggot.” Or “Wetback Juan.” The kind of stuff I used to see when I was in what they now call Middle School (Junior High to me). The stuff that today could form the basis for a hostile work environment claim and a lawsuit for harassment.

Then there have been the cliques, and the jealousies they cause.

There’s the juvenile insensitivity to another’s pain manifested in attempts at jokes about things that aren’t funny. Like an employee’s pending divorce that turned ugly. Or an employee’s family member’s problems with alcoholism.

How can people joke about these things in front of the affected person?

Oh yes, the book will have sex. From unfounded accusations of sexual harassment made in a state of jealousy or from a desire for revenge, to actual cases of quid pro quo demands for sexual favors in return for favored treatment.

It’s all there, and I’ve seen most of it. Even though we only have about 100 employees here, and we’re located in rural Texas.

But then, I guess few would buy the book. If you’ve been in the workplace you’ve probably already seen most of these things going on, or at least heard about them before.

It all makes me want to tell some of my human resources, “Children, grow up!”

Monday, January 08, 2007

I got to wondering

Last week I posted about my upcoming ski trip (in February) to Winter Park, Colorado. One of the comments to that post brought up the fact that during last year's ski trip I was visited by a particularly ugly manifestation of the dreaded "C."

I had intended to ignore that remark lest I inadvertently lend strength to the monstrosity (which seems, of late, to have been hibernating. At least around my household.) However, it appears that the damage has been done, and I'm now bracing for another onslaught.

In case you've forgotten, last year after a wonderful week of skiing, we were starting back to Denver from the mountains when the transmission in my van managed to grind itself to small pieces of gears, shafts and bearings, all in the space of about two seconds. To say the transmission was totaled would be incorrect, because the mechanic DID salvage the outer housing, but nothing else.

Three days and $3,000 later we were merrily on our way back to Texas. Well, "merrily" may be a bit of an exaggeration, but...

This year I had not planned to mention that little episode, not wanting to tempt "things." But in the few days after Candace felt she just HAD to remind me about its activity, it (they?) seem/s to be getting more and more active.

First there was the avalanche across the highway that we will be driving on in a few weeks (!), with cars swept away down the hill and buried in snow. Was that just the beginning? A little "flexing of the muscles" in preparation for the time when I will be there? Makes one wonder!

Then, just yesterday, as Carol and I were happily IM-ing our daughter Christina, we lost connection to the internet.

I won't bore you with the details of my attempts to reboot the cable modem, the router, both computers (desktop and laptop), TWO (not one but TWO) calls to the cable company's tech support line with its myriad voice menus and prompts and their sickening music on hold!

The final diagnosis was that my Linksys router had gone belly-up. Now, what makes a router just fail, all by itself?

So I hustled over to my favorite nearby Super Wal-Mart (yeah, Victoria's a small town, but we've got a Super Wal-Mart!) and plopped down about $65 for a new one.

(Here it gets good!)

I got home, opened the box, and was greeted with a HUGE red sticker that directed me to RUN THE CD FIRST before changing any cabling or hooking up the new router. Being an obedient soul, I put in the CD and clicked "Start Install." I was greeted with an instant error message that a file was missing and the CD could not run.

I distinctly heard the old router laugh at me.

I thought I was smart enough to hook up the new router just like the old one had been and it would work. Wrong. I tried the Linksys toll-free support number and suffered through dozens of menus and choices before getting THEIR version of the sickening music on hold. While I waited, I plugged the internet network cable from the modem directly into the back of my computer (bypassing the router) and was rewarded with internet access!

AH! Then I could surf over to the linksys web site and run the installation software from there! It worked. I now have the new router running happily, we're connected to the internet, and the old router is in the garbage can. Laugh NOW you S.O.B!

But my concern lingers. Yesterday the router; tomorrow...??

My recommendation to each of you is that you avoid any mention or even THOUGHT of the "C" word. Otherwise you may find yourselves buried under an avalanche of dead routers, and be trapped there for hours forced to listen to sickening music on hold.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Not quite so random

As I half-expected, Dallas managed to find a unique way to lose their wildcard playoff game. In the fourth quarter when the Cowboys had the lead, I mentioned to Carol that they needed a 25 point margin with less than 2 minutes to play before I'd feel safe.

Sure enough, we had a fumble go into the end zone which was initially ruled a touchdown for Seattle. Upon review the ruling was changed into a safety, making it a one-point game. If that wasn't wierd enough, Dallas managed to fumble the snap on a late gimme field goal attempt that might have given them the victory.

They had to work hard at it, but managed to give away the game. Not that it mattered much, since they haven't been playing like they should be in the playoffs anyway.

Then, in this morning's paper, I saw this article.

So what, you ask? We drive through that pass on our way to our annual ski trip. in a few weeks, in fact.

The thought of being swept off the road on one of those steep switchbacks and buried under a few tons of snow does NOT give me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

This line, especially: "Wynn said crews were probing the area for other vehicles but they believe all have been found."

They believe?? Small comfort.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Random thoughts

1. Those cookies? Yes, they have oatmeal, but NO RAISINS! That's what makes them so scrumptious. It's the peanut butter and chocolate chips!

2. We played golf again today. Yeah, it was cloudy and breezy, but the temps hovered around 60 and that's not so bad. The ground was kinda wet, though, from the rains of last Thursday.

3. Christina needs to change her blog profile. She's not 33 any more! (Happy birthday again, daughter!)

4. Colorado just got hit by another big snowstorm. The ski resorts have gotta be loving this. OH, YEAH! We're going to a Colorado ski resort in February, aren't we? C'mon, SNOW!

5. I'm really tempted to email Faith and ask about the details of the Freya's Bower anthology, and maybe see if I could... Nah, I'd better not. Unless I could write under a pen name. Somebody at work would see it and spread around that I wrote erotica. Can't have THAT happening, right?

6. If Carol reads this, she's going to laughing right now at the thought of ME writing erotica. HA! (Not to mention my daughters.)

7. Who am I kidding. Even I am laughing at the thought of me writing erotica.

8. My younger daughter and her husband are vacationing in Hawaii right now with two of her cousins. I hope the Big Island can withstand the onslaught. (Actually I'm green with envy!)

9. I wonder if the Cowboys will actually play football tonight, or just jog around on the field while Seattle scores again and again. I'm a fan, but I'm not particularly sanguine about Dallas's chances after their last few games.

10. Finally, if Peg is a Seahawks fan and reads this (she DOES read my blog sometimes, under the pseudonym of "Schnoodlepooh") I won't be upset if the Seahawks slaughter Dallas. But somehow, from my readings of Peg's blog, I doubt she and her animal friends care much about the NFL. Correct me if I'm wrong, Peg!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

By Popular Demand...

OKAY!!

At least Viki was open (brave?) enough to comment PUBLICLY that she wanted the recipe for those cookies. SHE’S not worried that someone might think she’s cheating on her new diet.

(Well, she did indicate she was making them for the kids, didn’t she? No, that was someone else. Sorry.)

But the REST of you who have sent me private emails asking for the recipe... What can I say? You’re just being SNEAKY!

But I don’t blame you. These things are so good, even I (moi!) sneak one or two (or three) every now and then.

So, anyway, as the title of this post indicates, by popular demand, here is the recipe for the famous “best in the world” cookies!

CHOCOLATE CHIP OATMEAL COOKIES

Cream together:
1 c. butter flavored shortening
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
2/3 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla

Mix together first then add to creamed mixture:
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 c. old fashioned Quaker Oats
1/2 c. toasted wheat germ

Add last:
2 c. chocolate chips

Dough may seem crumbly so compress spoonfuls slightly and press lightly on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Makes 6 dozen cookies. (John’s note: You’ll need more!)

(This year? Copy it into your recipe book, willya?)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Think SNOW!

In about one month, we're leaving on our annual family ski trip.

This tradition began when our dauthers were in their mid-teens. The older one turns 34 tomorrow! (Stop by her blog and wish her a happy birthday. She'll appreciate it!) So that means we've been doing this every year for 16 years. When they got married, their husbands were invited along. Now, Christina brings our grandson. This year (like last) we're also having one of our almost-adopted daughters and her husband along as well, so we'll be 8 adults and one 21-month-old.

No, the baby (Trevor) doesn't ski. Yet. Give him another year or two.

Anyway, I'm getting heavily into the planning mode for our trip, now that the holidays are over. All the reservations are made, including the one for our final meal together at Macaroni Grill in Denver after the skiing is done and we're ready to head to our homes.

I've reserved our rental ski gear, our place to stay near the mountain, our lockers at the mountain, and Carol has already begun to talk about baking COOKIES! I'm talking about the world's best-ever oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies. Like THESE!

I posted the recipe last year. If anyone wants it again, let me know and I'll provide it for you.

Here's what we look forward to so much...


Well, and this...


You get the idea.

Colorado has been having some great snowfall this season, so conditions ought to be really good. Again. As usual.

Can you see why I'm getting in the "snow" mood?

Think SNOW!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Years Day activities

Sorry. I had a bit of trouble uploading the pictures to Blogger, so I just used Dreamweaver and made a little web page to show them.

Click HERE to check them out.

(Then hit your "back" button to come back here and comment.)

Monday, January 01, 2007

And another year opens

2007, already!

I'm still having to stop and think, each time I write the date on a check, to prevent starting with 19... Old habits do indeed die hard.

Care to make any predictions for the new year? I'll venture a few.

1. I think the world economy will be strong in 2007. One factor will be China and Russia, both of which (whom?) will have an increasing impact. China has huge resources in labor. That nation has declared that it wants to be the world's leading shipbuilder, which sounds pretty capitalistic to me. Russia still has huge untapped natural resources which I think will fuel its emergence as a major trading partner. Oh, and energy prices will stabilize -- there never WAS a shortage; the run-up was based on speculation.

2. Nano-technology will make great strides in 2007 with amazing new applications. We're already seeing some of them, amid growing concerns that this industry may produce new risks to our health as well. Something to watch.

3. A book I just found on my shelf titled "Windows 95 for Dummies" will be thrown into the trash this week. Unless, of course, somebody tells me there's a market for it on e-Bay.

4. Carol will continue to play better golf than I do in 2007.

5. Somebody with credentials enough to be listened to will acknowledge this year that although global warming is indeed occuring, it is much more likely to be part of the normal cycles that occur over periods of millenia than due to man's feeble influence. The planet will take care of itself. There is firm evidence that the polar regions were nearly tropical eons ago, but now we are saying that our current conditions are "normal," and that those other conditions were anomalies. Oh? From polar tropics to ice ages, and back again. Hmmm... maybe we're just somewhere in the approximate middle of a (normal?) cycle.

6. And finally, I predict a general warming trend in Texas over the next six months, so that by July it will be quite hot here on a daily basis.

There you have my fearless predictions for the new year. Statistically I figure I cannot do worse than 50%, since numbers 3, 4, and 6 are what you gamblers would call a "sure thing."

And batting .500 is pretty darn good!

Now, if I can just remember to write dates starting with 2o instead of 19...