January 31, 2005

Random Thoughts on Pompeii

We have Pompeii: The Last Day on TV right now. I haven't been watching it closely so I don't want to be too critical but from what I can tell so far, the main result of the eruption was to kill some mediocre actors.

Why does everyone have a British accent?

What's with the scene where the slaves refuse to leave their master and his family even after they are given their freedom? They aren't staying because they think going on would be equally hopeless, they stay out of loyalty. No more derisive comments about Mammy and Pork staying with Scarlet, okay?

When it appears certain that they will die, one man offers his wife a poison that he promises is quick and painless. What is he, KGB? They're running for their lives with little or no time to take anything with them and he "just happens" to have poison for a suicide?

Pyroclastic is fun to say...at least the makers of this program think so.

Posted by marybeth at 12:33 AM | Comments (1) Other Stuff

January 30, 2005

Worth Waiting For

Carnival of the Recipe #24 is up at Kin's Kouch.

Categories are:

1. For me
2. For my mates
3. For that special person
4. For the kids when no one else will cook for them

Recipe list:
Shrimp Bisque
A few recipes from David of Third World County:
Quick Salsa
Basic Beans
My Fav Cornbread
Kickin' Tomato Soup
Kickin' Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Stir Fry Chicken
Cavity Pie
Spanish Style Garlic Shrimp
Tilapia and Crab Napoleons
Mulled Wine
Spicy Dip
Pasta with Gorgonzola
All-American Crockpot Chili
Boiled Cookies
Earthquake Cake
Apricot Slice
Dragon Wings
Fettuccine Alfredo
Challah for bread machines
Salmon Chowder
Chicken and Veal Piccata
Chicken Fried Rice
Clay Pot Chicken
“You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta”
Chicken Kiev
Eggplant-Wrapped Meat for two
Carrot Cake
Soft Gingerbread
Grandma's Chocolate Pie
Meat and Beans
Mom’s Enchiladas
Ranch Chicken Potato Salad
Stir Fried Shrimp and Veggies
Pork Roast Soup
Sticky Buns
Lemon Bars
Stuffed Tomatoes A La Kin

New Day and a New World

I feel as though I woke up to a new world this morning.

I remember how happy and proud I was the first time I voted. Even so, it didn't come close to how Mohammed and Omar of Iraq the Model describe their feelings about voting today.

Not that the voting has gone on without violence. There have been attacks and people have died for trying to exercise their new right to vote. But even the news stories that shout "violence", "bloodied by attacks", or list the numbers killed in their headlines go on to tell within the articles about the higher than expected turnout. Every article that I have read so far but one has told about the joy and pride Iraqis are feeling. The one exception is an article by Robert Fisk. No surprise there. There's a reason that taking apart idiotic rantings piece by piece is called "fisking".

Even Kofi Annan sounds, um, less than negative. Speaking in Nigeria, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Sunday's balloting "the first step" toward democracy. "It's a beginning, not an end," he said.

Posted by marybeth at 09:51 AM | Comments (3) Iraq

January 29, 2005

Read Before Crossing Bridges

Finally, the answer to a question that has been plaguing mankind for years (since 1975, anyway.)

Posted by marybeth at 02:49 PM | Comments (0) Cool Links

January 28, 2005

Cats and Christians

When I began reading this, I thought they were serious. Then as I read further, I thought it had to be an attempt at satire. So I checked to see what else was on the site.

I think they're serious.

Posted by marybeth at 08:02 PM | Comments (0) Cats

Buttons for Blogs

80x15 Brilliant Button Maker

Make your own buttons that say what you want to say. No special knowledge or skill required.

Posted by marybeth at 07:20 PM | Comments (0) Cool Links


If you use Google, you're probably familiar with the blue bar at the top of your search results that has a link to definitions of your search terms.

The link used to take you to a dictionary. Now it goes to a page in Answers.com. It still has definitions but also includes encyclopedia and Wikipedia articles. From the Answers.com page you can search web pages, images, news (all through Google), blogs (Technorati), or products (Amazon) for further information.

It looks as though it would be a handy resource when you want a quick answer and not a bunch of web pages.

Posted by marybeth at 01:33 PM | Comments (0) Words

Iraq Elections

Last night I was listening to the radio report about the upcoming elections in Iraq. There was a Baghdad cafe owner who said that his customers were talking about the election but haven't seemed very excited about it.

I'm wondering if this isn't more a case of his customers practicing discretion. Before the presidential election in the U.S. there were Bush supporters who didn't want to advertise that fact when they were out in public for fear of being harrassed or berated by Kerry supporters. Iraqis showing strong interest in the elections or in any of the candidates have a lot more to fear than a little social unease.

I've tried imagining what I would be thinking and feeling if I were an Iraqi citizen. This is close to impossible for me, my ideas about freedom and democracy are too much a part of me to really be able to look at the elections from another point of view.

If I had grown up under a repressive regime, would I value freedom more or, not having experienced it, would I really not understand the value of it? Would I be afraid to vote since it could bring attention that might result in harm to me or my family? Or would I think that it's worth the risk, that by voting I would be taking a step to secure my children's future?

I don't know, but I am still optimistic about the upcoming election. Even if the turnout is low, some people will vote. The bravery of the candidates and of the people who vote won't go unnoticed by those who choose to stay home. It won't go unnoticed in neighboring countries such as Syria either. When people see that they can have a voice in determining the future of their country, whether they learn this by participating in the election or just watching it, I believe that more people will want to have that voice heard by voting in future elections.

I am ecstatic to have passed through this experience at last. This (election) might cause a difference, not necessarily right away but eventually,” said Sara Masoud, a student who has lived in Syria for eight years.

After the 30th, when you try to decide whether the elections were a success or not, remember that it's the first free election that most Iraqis have had. Don't treat it as though it were the last.

Posted by marybeth at 12:03 PM | Comments (1) Iraq

Fettuccine Alfredo

My oldest son, Trevor, can cook two things - grilled cheese sandwiches and Fettuccine Alfredo. About once a month he will fix the fettuccine for us for dinner. Considering how rich it is, if he starts making it more often I'm going to wonder if he's hoping for an early inheritance.

Seriously, you can feel your arteries clogging just from reading the recipe.

Fettuccine Alfredo
(The Kitchen-Aid Cookbook)

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup butter
1 1/3 cups Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 lb. fettuccine noodles, cooked and drained

Place 1 1/2 cups cream and butter in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until butter melts. Remove from heat.

Add noodles to cream mixture and toss. Add remaining cream, Parmesan cheese, and salt, mix well. Return to heat and cook 1 minute. Toss gently to coat noodles thoroughly and serve immediately.

Posted by marybeth at 09:11 AM | Comments (4) Family , Food , Food

Coming to Crestwood

I've been thinking that it would be a good idea for me to get a new hobby. I think I may have the answer.

What used to be a roller skating rink in Crestwood, KY will become an indoor paintball facility and firing range. According to the Courier-Journal (the article isn't online anymore - see extended entry for a copy) work on it should begin next month. Barry Laws, a Los Angeles real estate broker who is the developer behind this project says he hopes to open the range in eight to nine months. There are also plans to build a 10,200-square-foot rifle range.

I've been considering getting a handgun for about a year. The main thing that has stopped me so far is the distance I would have to drive for lessons or to practice...I don't want a hobby that requires a 70 mile round-trip drive. I'm only a few miles outside of Crestwood so this has made me start thinking about it again.

Not everyone is happy about this. Opponents worry that there will be a gun accident in the parking lot.

I don't hang out at gun ranges so maybe I'm wrong, but I would think that the risk of an accidental shooting wouldn't be that high. I'm assuming that the people going here would be likely to take safety precautions.

Related posts here and here.

Firing range gets permit in Oldham
By Leslie Ellis
The Courier-Journal

A Californian won approval yesterday to turn a former Crestwood roller rink into an indoor paintball facility and firing range.

The decision came at the end of a five-hour hearing during which opponents argued it isn't safe to have a gun range in a highly populated area.

The Oldham County Board of Adjustments and Appeals voted 3-1 to approve a conditional-use permit for the range and a variance to allow expansion of the building.

It already is zoned for general business.

Barry Laws, a Los Angeles real estate broker, said he hopes to start work in the next month on the conversion of the building behind the Crestwood Station shopping center, off Ky.146.

He also intends to build a 10,200-square-foot addition for a rifle range.

Laws said he hopes to open the facility in eight to nine months.

He is certified by the California Department of Justice in handgun-safety training and will move to the area next summer to run the range.

Laws said it will give shooters a safe place to practice, will be family-oriented and will increase the county's commercial tax base.

Opponents of the proposal include Kay Powell and Robert Hansen, who live behind the range. Both said they are "extremely disappointed" with the board's decision, and Hansen said he is considering an appeal.

Powell collected a petition with 121 signatures opposing the project.

She and Hansen said their biggest concern is the possibility of someone being hurt from a gun accident in the parking lot.

Shane Jacobs, who owns the Jacobs Ladder Child Care Center in the nearby shopping center, expressed concerns about increased traffic on Cross Keys Boulevard, which children from his center cross to get to a playground.

Board member Vickey Grace, who voted against issuing the permit, shared concerns about the chance of parking-lot accidents.

But board member Frank Fain called the risk of a gun accidentally discharging outside the building "very, very low." He said his biggest concerns are noise and ensuring that no bullets escape the range.

Laws said the building will be renovated in accordance with industry standards developed by the National Rifle Association.

"Nothing will get out of that facility," he said.

He also said he will use sound-suppression materials. "I doubt if you'll hear anything (outside)," Laws said, although he was unable to give specific decibel levels when pressed by the board's Tom Davis.

Supporters included several men who said they would like to have an indoor range where they could take their sons, Scouts and 4-H members to learn how to handle guns.

William Trent of LaGrange said he wants his 8-year-old son to "see people handle weapons in a safe and constructive environment."

Don Helton, a Boy Scout leader from Pewee Valley, said the facility will be good for the county's economy.

And children who want to play paintball will have a "controlled, safe environment" instead of a field or woods, he said.

Posted by marybeth at 02:05 AM | Comments (0) News

January 27, 2005

Gadgets and Geegaws

I found out about these in the latest issue of Popular Science.

From Charge2Go - a nifty gadget that lets you charge your cell phone from a AA battery. Unfortunately they don't have a conector for my type of phone. Hmmm, can I use a $20 gadget to justify getting a new phone?

Fujifilm Digital Mobile Printer MP-100 - mobile printer for cell phones. Just beam the photo from the phone to the printer and it prints out a credit card-sized photo. This doesn't work with my phone either. I don't think it works with any of the phones I can use with my service provider. I feel disenphonechised.

Because we always have batteries, just not in the size I need...Energizer Quick Switch - a flashlight that has spring-loaded clamps so you can use D, C or AA batteries in it.

An article in the February issue of Discover tells about pitch-correction software called Melodyne.

You croon a few verses into a microphone, and Melodyne plots the notes you sang against a standard musical scale. Then you select the option for Note Snap, and with a single click, the software corrects the pitch of each snippet of audio so that your vocals are perfectly in tune. You can even copy a refrain, drag it up or down a few notes, and create harmony without singing another line.

If you knew how much my singing ability falls short of my enjoyment of singing, you would know why I think this software is so cool. While it won't improve my live performances (usually in the car with the radio turned up loud enough to almost drown out my singing) at least I could record myself and have it sound acceptable. And with this, could a microphone with auto-correction software embedded in it be that far off?

I don't know what the cost of the software is, though it's probably more than I would want to spend just for my own amusement.

Posted by marybeth at 11:37 AM | Comments (0) Shiny Things

News Flash: Men and Women are Different

From Time Magazine: Harvard's Crimson Face
The university's blunt president sparks a furor about women. Is he hurting the Ivy's brand?

When Summers suggested at a Jan. 14 conference that innate differences between the genders might help explain why fewer women succeed in math and science, he intended to provoke an intellectual debate among a small group of academics....Summers wound up drawing international attention to Harvard's own shortage of female professors, bolstering a perception that the school isn't welcoming to women and minority academics, and enraging many faculty members, students and alumni of both genders. "It's not appropriate for the man who holds in his hands the future of the brightest minds in America to say that 50% of them don't have the right aptitude" for science, says Nancy Hopkins, a biology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She walked out on the talk.

There isn't a transcript of the conference so I'm not sure what he said exactly. From what I can tell, he asked if innated differences in males and females could be the cause of scarcity of women in hard sciences.

Boys and girls are different (and aren't we glad for the differences?). That doesn't mean that all boys belong in set A and all girls in set B. It's like height. In general, men are taller than women. We don't need it explained to us that there are taller women and shorter men. Innate skills and aptitude are the same way. There's a wide spectrum and people of either sex will fall at various points along it. It just happens that men tend to group more on the science skills end and women more on the verbal skills end. There are always exceptions - Marie Curie for science skills and William Shakespeare for verbal skills, for example.

Recent reports on gray vs. white matter support this.

The study confirms sex differences in human brains, with women having more gray matter than white matter. However, the study also showed that in areas related to intelligence men had much more gray matter, which is typically needed for isolated tasks, such as doing a math problem. Women, on the other hand, had much more white matter, which is necessary for integrating information.

The question isn't whether or not women belong in science, it's how can their skills be best used. Judging from this report, I would that women would be more likely to have the skills needed (integrating information) to oversee groups of researchers.

I'm not letting Summers off the hook completely. "Since Summers, 50, arrived, in 2001, the percentage of tenure offers at Harvard in the arts and sciences that go to women has fallen from 37% to 11%." [Time Magazine]

I would also think that the ability to integrate information combined with verbal skills would, in general, make women better at teaching...including at the college level. It goes without saying that the professor needs to be knowledgeable about the subject, his/her ability to share that knowledge plays a big part in how well the students learn it - and that takes verbal skills.

It's also important to remember that students need more than just an innate ability to do well in a subject. They also need to have an interest in it and a desire to learn and succeed. In the end, that may count for more than natural skills.

According to the Time article, this wasn't the first time Summers has offended people. Maybe it's not so much what he said but how he said it or to whom. You decide:

* Many at Harvard were upset last spring when Summers rejected a tenure recommendation for Marcyliena Morgan, a scholar of hip-hop in the African and African-American studies department, prompting her to leave for Stanford. (Hip-hop scholar?)
* Summers questioned African-American studies professor Cornel West's scholarship and teaching, causing West to leave for Princeton and upsetting many in Harvard's African-American community. (Summers' request that West check in with him on his scholarly progress "was the main thing that upset me." If the university president can't question what a professor is doing, who can?)
* In a controversy in 2002, Muslims on campus said they were offended when Summers labeled as "anti-Semitic in their effect if not in their intent" the efforts of a group of students and faculty to persuade Harvard to divest its holdings in companies that do business in Israel as a protest against its treatment of Palestinians. (RTWT)
* He rattled some Asian Americans at Harvard when he used an inaccurate statistic on child prostitution to illustrate a point about South Korea's economic growth. (“In Seoul, South Korea in the 1970s, there were one million child prostitutes. Today almost none,” he said. “This reflects the progress made in a single generation.” Time didn't supply this quotation nor did it say what is inaccurate about it.)

Posted by marybeth at 10:31 AM | Comments (0) News

I'm Normal, Everyone Else is Weird

What is your weird quotient? Click to find out!

Posted by marybeth at 08:31 AM | Comments (2) Quiz

January 26, 2005

Search Terms

I like looking at my referral info (as if you don't) to see how people find my blog. It's nice to see that right now, my Kuchen post is showing up as the first listing in Google for Butter Kuchen. My cheesecake bars have been number one for a while and my pumpkin muffins are in the top ten. My crab appetizer post has dropped to the second page of Google results but I'm still number one for honey hot wings.

If that doesn't encourage you to post a recipe on your blog and submit the link to the next Carnival of the Recipes, I don't know what will.

I'm number one in Friendster's search for "MaryBeth"...I'd never seen this one before. Third on Google, first on AlltheWeb, second on Yahoo, and first on MSN.

It's not vanity. It's curiosity. Really.

Posted by marybeth at 11:32 PM | Comments (0) Internet

Sick Day

Trevor wasn't feeling well this morning so he stayed home from school. Emma's school called in the late morning saying she wasn't feeling well so my husband went to pick her up. This means Conor is the only child feeling well today.

It bothers me, just as it would any parent, when my babies aren't feeling well (okay, so one "baby" is at least a foot taller than I am....) but it's been so quiet around here today. I like quiet.

So, should I feel guilty for appreciating the quiet or just be grateful for it because I know that within a day or two they'll feel well and it will be as noisy as usual?

Posted by marybeth at 10:18 PM | Comments (0) Family

January 23, 2005

eBay Warning Email

Or not. It appears to be from "nobody" (see the extended entry). If you receive an email like this, don't fall for it. It's a big enough problem that eBay even has a Spoof Tutorial.

I've received a few spoof emails and I thought it was fairly obvious that they weren't from eBay but I also know that there are people who have been fooled by them. If you receive an email asking you to verify information, assume it's a spoof. If you want to make sure that the company (eBay users aren't the only targets of this type of email) really doesn't need information from you, go to that company's site the way you normally do - NOT BY CLICKING THE LINK IN THE EMAIL. If you still aren't sure, find the contact info on the site and ask them to verify the need for information.

Here is the email I received. My comments are in brackets [].

Dear eBay Member,

Due to recent account takeovers and unauthorized listings [Done by people who send out spoof emails like this one], eBay is introducing a new account verification method. From time to time, randomly selected accounts (seller and/or buyer) are subjected to an advanced verification process based on our merchant accounts/bank relations and customers credit card. eBay may also request in an email message scanned/faxed copies of one or more photo ID's. [Note to scum sucking person who is trying to steal account info - "ID" isn't possessive so you don't need an apostrophe.] Your account confirmation may go wrong if your credit card/bank account is expired, or if you have changed your credit card number, billing address etc. without notifying us about the change. Subject of this verification process are also the accounts that have unpaid dues to eBay.
Your account is not suspended, but if in 48 hours after you receive this message your account is not confirmed we reserve the right to suspend your eBay registration. If you received this notice and you are not the authorized account holder, please be aware that it is in violation of eBay policy to represent oneself as another eBay user. [Gee, what does the law say about representing oneself as eBay security?] Such action may also be in violation of local, national, and/or international law. eBay is committed to assist law enforcement with any inquires [Don't you mean inquiries?] related to attempts to misappropriate personal information with the intent to commit fraud or theft. Information will be provided at the request of law enforcement agencies to ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Note: If this is the second time you receive this notice, it might be because you have made a mistake when you entered your details or that the account was not updated at all. [I received the same email sent three minutes apart...does that count as a "second time"? Don't hold your breath waiting for me to respond.]

To confirm your identity with us click here:
http://signin.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayIsession.dll?userconfirm&ssPageName=h?-fom:sin_US [Actual link you can see with mouse over - http://www.cryptography.ch/image/ebay/index.html]

We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause you and we would like to thank you for your cooperation as we review this matter.

Trust and Safety Department
eBay Inc.

Received: from server26.fastbighost.com (ev1s-67-15-111-2.ev1servers.net [] (may be forged))
by [DELETED]; Sun, 23 Jan 2005 10:35:51 -0500
Received: from nobody by server26.fastbighost.com with local (Exim 4.44)
id 1Csl5f-00020t-7F
for [DELETED]; Sun, 23 Jan 2005 16:59:55 +0000
Subject: eBay account Suspended
From: eBay Security Validation
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/html
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
Sender: Nobody
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 16:59:55 +0000
X-AntiAbuse: This header was added to track abuse, please include it with any abuse report
X-AntiAbuse: Primary Hostname - server26.fastbighost.com
X-AntiAbuse: Original Domain - [Deleted]
X-AntiAbuse: Originator/Caller UID/GID - [99 99] / [47 12]
X-AntiAbuse: Sender Address Domain - server26.fastbighost.com

Posted by marybeth at 05:15 PM | Comments (2) Box of Rocks

How NERDY are You?

I didn't think I was that nerdy. I mean, I know people who are much, much nerdier than I. (You know who you are.)

First I saw this on Beth's blog and I resisted taking the test. Then I saw this on Drumwaster's Rants and I gave in. One time is an interesting link, twice is the beginning of a meme. I am such a lemming. A nerdy lemming, it would appear.

I am nerdier than 94% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Posted by marybeth at 04:30 PM | Comments (0) Quiz

January 22, 2005

Punny Stuff

A guy and his pet newt walk into a bar. The bartender asks, "What's that thing on your shoulder?" The guy says, "Oh, well he's my pet. His name is Tiny." The bartender replies, "Why'd you name him that?" And the guy replies, "Because he's my newt!"

While walking to a bar, a rope sees another rope being thrown out of the bar. The rope warns the other rope not to go in there, as they hate ropes. This rope tells him not to worry, he has an idea. He rolls himself into a ball, then fluffs up his ends. As he walks up to the bar, the bartender asks him, "Are you a rope?"

"Nope," he replies, "I'm a frayed knot."

In what way are a dodecahedron and a missing macaw alike?

In both cases you have a polygon.

What did Mr. and Mrs. Buffalo say to their boy as he left for college?...
"Bye son."

Pretty Good Jokes from A Prairie Home Companion

Posted by marybeth at 11:29 PM | Comments (0) Amusing

January 21, 2005

Finding, Saving, and Sharing

This ended up being a fairly long post. It happens, I begin with one simple thing and it grows as I find one link, check it out and it leads me to another, and another, and another.... If you just want to see some useful/amusing/weird links go on to the extended entry. If you want to know how I found them, read the whole thing.

Technorati Tags - find photos, blog posts, and web sites on tagged topics. This page in Technorati shows a list of words. The size of the word indicates the number of related tagged entries coming from Flickr (photos), links are from Del.icio.us and Furl, and the blog posts come from blogs that have categories and RSS/Atom or posts that are tagged (see Technorati and this page for details). It says it is currently tracking 122,033 tags. (You can search for tags that aren't listed on the page.)

I've checked a few of the categories and haven't found any listings under the blogs section that were more recent than January 12th. So while this is interesting and has potential it isn't a source for breaking blog news at this time.

Reading about it did lead me to LookSmart's Furl. It's a bookmark manager that you can use through a toolbar or a link in your favorites folder. I have enough toolbars, any more and I won't have any screen room for the actual sites I visit so I added the no-pop ups link to my favorites list to try it out. (Requires free registration.)

When you come across a site/page you want to save you click the Furl link and it sends the page to your archive. From the save page you can edit the title and URL, rate it, assign it a topic, make it public or private, add keywords, comments, and clipping (summary). You can also select to have the info emailed to you.

I signed up to try it out because I thought it would be good for someone who can only remember arcane trivia and not recall what she was reading and wanted to blog about only ten minutes ago a handy research tool. If I'm looking at multiple news articles on a topic I want to blog about, I can save the ones I'm interested in to my archive. It has the potential to keep me from having to backtrack or repeat previous searches. It's also a way to save something that I don't have the time to write about now but may in the future.

Furl lets you subscribe to other users' daily links if you know their first name, last name, user name, or email. (My username is marybeth if you're interested in my links. There's not much there yet since I just began trying it out, though.)

The front page of Furl has the day's most popular links. That's where I found The Complete Collection of Gmail Tips. Here are a couple that had information that I thought was interesting:

#4: If your gmail address has a dot in the username - john.doe@gmail.com - you can leave the dot out. It's also not case sensitive.

#5: Gmail supports the standard "plus" addressing scheme. For example you can submit john.doe+sitename@gmail.com (replace sitename with the a word that will let you remember the name of the site to which you are submitting your email address for shopping or a membership). Then you will know who sold/shared your address if you get spam to it. You can also use the plus feature in combination with filters to manage incoming mail.

The most popular list also shows the members who linked to them and some of the other things they have linked to. I don't know if today is typical but a good precentage of the links seem fairly geek-oriented.

I didn't sign up for Del.icio.us, the other link manager that Technorati uses. (See A Beginner's Guide to Delicious.) Many of the popular links are the same as those I saw on Furl but I also found a few new ones. See the extended entry for links.

Cliche Finder
ASCII Generator
Style Sheets
Hack a Day
One does not simply walk into Mordor!
Overheard at the Office
Bunny suicides
A Complete Waste of Time (online and downloadable games)

Posted by marybeth at 11:59 AM | Comments (0) Blogging

Monk Returns

Monk begins new episodes tonight with Mr. Monk and the Red Herring at 10:00. USA is showing reruns of the last four shows beginning at 6:00: Mr. Monk & the Girl Who Cries Wolf, Mr. Monk and the Employee of the Month, Mr. Monk and the Game Show, and Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine. (Episode Guide)

I've read comments that the mysteries on Monk aren't very challenging or complicated. How in-depth can a mystery be in a one-hour format? If I want complicated mysteries, I'll read a novel. I don't really want to have to stay riveted to the TV so that I don't miss anything. I want TV shows to be entertaining and this one is.

I haven't seen it yet (duh), but plan on watching tonight. I have read some synpsis/reviews and have posted some of the information in the extended entry.

In tonight's show, Monk's nurse Sharona has remarried her ex-husband and moved to New Jersey.

No, the question of why she would leave San Francisco for New Jersey and her ex isn't the mystery...although why the actress who plays Sharona, Bitty Schram, decided to leave the show hasn't been explained - although there have been rumors of a salary dispute. It also isn't how he's managed to survive for the three months she's been gone. From what I've read about it, it doesn't sound as though he's coping well...but if you're familiar with the show you have to wonder how he was able to even function alone after three months. Monk even got on an airplane (major anxiety for a man who gets anxious over everything) to fly to New York with Sharona rather than be left alone for a week in one episode.

In tonight's show, Monk is busy conducting unsuccessful interviews for Sharona's replacement when he is asked to help solve a case where a woman (Natalie Teeger played by Traylor Howard) has killed a man in self-defense. The man has burglarized her house twice even though she doesn't know of anything she has that's worth stealing. Spoiler -highlight here with mouse to see what they were after -> The target of the burglaries was Julie's (Natalie's daughter) fish tank. It turns out some people were after a moon rock they had stolen from a science museum and had hidden in an aquarium kit.

Natalie is a Navy widow with a eleven-year-old daughter (Emmy Clarke). It's no surprise that after Monk solves the mystery, Natalie becomes his new assistant.

Posted by marybeth at 09:45 AM | Comments (1) Amusing

Mind Boggling

Montréal — Wearing sexy rubber miniskirts, latex-trimmed tops, and stiletto heels—designer outfits courtesy of New York duo Gaelyn & Cianfarani—and holding signs that read, "Fur Is a Fashion Felony," a pair of sexy "fashion police"—PETA’s own top-cop Lisa Franzetta and a French-speaking Montréal beauty—will hand out violation notices in French resembling citation tickets to fur-wearers among the throngs of shoppers for "violating the code of common decency"

The high temperature in Montreal today is supposed to be -5 F with a low of -15 (-20/-26 C.) I don't think this will help convince anyone that the rubber and latex outfits are more "decent".

Posted by marybeth at 08:20 AM | Comments (0) PETA

A Was Once an Apple Pie, Nice Pidy Widy Tidy Pidy Insidy Apple Pie

Not Exactly Rocket Science has an alphbetical celebration of the Carnival of the Recipes.

Recipe List:
Wake the Dead Applesauce
Baked Beans and Pot Roast
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Shallots
Salad with Lemon-Butter Dressing
Banana Toffee Pie
Screaming Blue Death (drink)
Bacalao fritters with red pepper aioli
Easy Feta Chicken Bake
Down in the Dumps Pudding
Bolognaise sauc
Just Wonderful Lemon Garlic Pork Chops
Crab Cheesecake
Li'l Cheddar Meat Loaves
Scottish-Style Meatloaf
New Orleans Style Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce
Roasted Lemon Bay Scented Fish
Chicken Pot Pie
Pan-Fried Steak with Red Wine Reduction
What Will Your Kids Eat?
Starving Student Staples
Split Pea Soup
Shrimp and Corn Soup
Glazed Apple Tart
Hot Milk Spongecake
Snow Ice Cream
German Apple Cake
Apple Butter Muffins
Pepper Steak with Rice

January 20, 2005

Apple Butter Muffins

Apple Butter Muffins

2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup apple butter
3/4 cup milk
3 Tbl. butter or margarine
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together all of the dry ingredients. In separate bowl, mix apple butter, milk, butter, and egg until well blended. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened.

Grease or line muffin pans. Fill pans 3/4 full with batter.

Mix together 1/8 t. cinnamon, 4 T. flour, 2 T. brown sugar, and 1 T. butter, melted. Sprinkle on top of muffins.

Bake for 20 to 22 minutes.

Posted by marybeth at 10:43 PM | Comments (0) Food , Food

January 19, 2005

Cat Barf Dreams

Even though I haven't been writing much lately I've still been making the rounds and reading other blogs. I like to see what you all have to say and I keep hoping inspiration will strike and I'll find something I want to write about.

I haven't found it yet. This can be good news or bad news, depending on how you view my usual posts.

I blame the cold weather. (While I enjoy comments, I don't want to hear from those north of me saying I don't know what cold really is. Nor do I want to hear from those in the south saying, Oh, yes it's so cold...it got down to 50 degrees this week....) If I forced myself to write something daily it would have just ended up as a series of one-line posts - I hate cold weather.

I could try to be positive about it and say that it's good weather for napping. (I love taking mid-morning naps. Naps at other times aren't too bad either.) But I have no problem taking naps anytime during the year so cold weather isn't a benefit here.

This reminds me of one reason I'm happy the presidential election is over and that Bush was re-elected. During the fall I would fall asleep with the TV news on. Two or three times I woke up from bizarre dreams in which I was cleaning up cat barf. Every time this happened the TV was showing Kerry making a speech. I haven't had a dream like that since then.

I'm not saying there was a definite causal relationship there, but just in case there was, I'm glad I don't have to endure four years of cat barf dreams.

Posted by marybeth at 02:18 PM | Comments (0) Other Stuff

January 16, 2005

A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action

In a couple of weeks my oldest son will be sixteen - old enough to get his driving learner's permit.

(Please pray for my sanity and for him to use good judgement.)

Getting a permit is just the beginning, then comes a driver's license, a big milestone bringing more freedom and more responsibility. With that, he'll be able to get a job (without mom having to provide transportation.) And before long (a couple of short, short years) it will be time for high school graduation and along with that, choosing a college.

Things like this (via Education Watch) make me wonder if I should be more concerned about helping him choose a college than I should be about handing him the keys to a two-ton vehicle.

(I know one course isn't going to kill or injure someone physically. On the other hand, the only brainwashing ideas instilled in him are by me or his driving instructor and have to do with safety.)

If parents and students are right to be alarmed by the results of recent national tests that show U.S. schoolchildren falling behind Latvia in math scores and doing even worse in science education, then they will really be puzzled by the latest initiative at the University of Michigan: requiring that all students take a mandatory course on gender and sex. The same people who brought you racial preferences in college admissions, "hate speech" codes and mandatory courses in race and ethnicity now want another official captive audience so they can hector their charges about "oppressive" heterosexual dominance, homophobia, male harassment, "antiquated" religious beliefs about sex, and the usual laundry list of liberal enthusiasms. Students who might refuse to take the course cannot graduate.

I'm not worried about his math scores. He scored in the 99th percentile in math on the last set of tests the schools gave. I'm worried about him ending up in a school that is less concerned about developing his academic potential and more concerned about indoctrination into a set of beliefs. (Not just the one mentioned above, but all of the "people with different ideas are right and you're wrong" classes.)

You want students to be exposed to different ideas? To interact with other students from other backgrounds and cultures? To appreciate others for who they are and not on stereotypes? Sitting them down in a classroom and lecturing them about it isn't the way to go.

In my opinion, a better way to go would be to place more emphasis on making sure the students have a wide variety of classes from which to choose that are outside of their major/minor.

It would work for any major - get students out of their scholastic comfort zone by selecting introductory classes in another area for electives. For example, encourage a math geek (not that I'm saying my son is one) to take photography, dance, or a cooking class. An arts major could take an introduction to astronomy class. A physics major could take music appreciation. By choosing electives such as these, a smart student should be able to find something in them that relates to their interests and may even find a new interest or hobby that could last a lifetime.

The classes would introduce the students to new experiences and to new people they might not normally have met. It's real-life exposure to others that breaks down the barriers of prejudice, not class lectures about it.

Posted by marybeth at 05:38 PM | Comments (0) Family

January 15, 2005

Three Day Weekend

My kids are off from school on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. day. Words cannot express my feelings about this.

Gnashing of teeth, screams, hair pulling would be more appropriate. I've just started to recover from them being home for the winter Christmas break.

I love my children dearly but I love peace and quiet too. Maybe if I take them to the YMCA to go swimming every day they'll be too worn out to bicker much....

(Not likely, but I can hope.)

Posted by marybeth at 02:51 AM | Comments (2) Family

Carnival of the Recipes #22

This week's Carnival of the Recipes can be found at One Happy Dog Speaks. There are a lot of recipes this week and they all sound good.

Recipe list:
Welsh Pancakes
Corned Beef Spread
Haitian Citrus Soup
Vietnamese Fisherman's Soup
The Orangutan (drink)
Hot Toddy
Thyme Tea
Macho Dip
Deep Fried Dill Pickles
Garlic Skewered Shrimp
Asparagus Bites
Salmon Bites
Mini Pepper Bites
Kate's Garlicky Chicken with Spinach
Spaghetti With Quick, Almost Like Home-made, Meat Sauce
VELVEETA® Taco Mac & Cheese
Smoked Pork Pot Roast
Citrus Chicken
Yogurt-baked Chicken
Sweet Apple-Pork Casserole
Tempora Batter
Enchiladas Suisse
Classic Red Enchiladas
Baked Chicken 101
Fried Seafood Salad
Székely gulyás
Burning Ring O Fire or Championship Chili
Champagne Risotto
Copper Penny Salad
Curried Vegetable Couscous
Joe’s Chicken
Cream of Coconut Cake
Dump Cake
Laughing Wolf Oatmeal Cookies
My Husband’s Banana Bread
Apple Bars
Italian Creme Cake
Red Velvet Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting

January 12, 2005

Quest for Kuchen

When I was (much, much) younger, I worked for my father. Every Saturday he would stop by a local bakery and pick up a kuchen or two to bring in to the office. I loved that kuchen so I began searching for a recipe to make it at home.

This was pre-Internet so searching for a recipe meant looking through all my cookbooks. I already had a good start on my collection even then. It meant trips to the bookstore and libraries. All the recipes I could find were some variation on a quick bread sort of thing. These weren't the same in taste or in texture, I wanted a yeast dough kuchen.

Finally I found it. It was over 20 years ago so I don't remember the source of the recipe. The recipe is for butter or cheese kuchen. If you prefer fruit, then I guess the only change you would need to make would be to get a can of fruit pie filling and pour that over the dough before baking.

If you want to have it for breakfast you need to get up very, very early or make it the night before...it's going to take at least 3 hours.


1/2 c. milk
4 Tbls. butter
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. yeast
1/4 c. warm water
2 eggs
3 1/2 c. flour

Butter Topping:
1 stick butter, (1/2 c.) softened
1 c. sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. chopped pecans (optional)

Cheese Topping:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Mix together milk, butter, sugar and salt. Dissolve yeast in the warm water. Add yeast mixture to the milk mixture. Beat in eggs and then beat in flour.

Cover and put in a warm place for one to 1 1/2 hours. Turn out on a floured board and roll to fit a large greased cookie sheet or two greased 9" cake pans. Pinch the edges to form sides.

Put in a warm place again for 45 minutes to one hour. Meanwhile, choose either topping. Mix the topping ingredients well and pour on crust after the second rising. Bake at 350 degrees fro 25 to 30 minutes.

Posted by marybeth at 04:46 AM | Comments (2) Food , Food

January 11, 2005

Predictable Weather

Today, Wednesday, and Thursday the temperature will be in the upper 50s to mid-60s. Sure, it's raining today and will rain or be cloudy most of the week but at least it isn't cold...until Friday.

The high for Friday and the weekend is supposed to be about 31 degrees. The weather forecast on the radio said it had to do with a cold front coming in. The cold front is only the method, not the reason. The real reason it's going to be cold is that it's Girl Scout Cookie time. Seriously, it's the same every year - relatively mild weather turns suddenly cold on the exact day cookie sales begin.

This is the time of year my daughter (a Brownie) and other Girl Scouts in our area go door-to-door taking orders for boxes of cookies. Last year it snowed so I guess I should be glad that at least it's supposed to be sunny this weekend.

Posted by marybeth at 08:41 AM | Comments (0) Girl Scouting

January 10, 2005

The Sound of Pi

I don't know why I find this so fascinating, but I do.


Posted by marybeth at 08:16 AM | Comments (0) Cool Links

January 07, 2005

Annan and the UN

It started when I read Annan Stunned at Indonesia Devastation

Twelve days after the tsunami hit, Annan and World Bank President James Wolfensohn flew over the island's west coast and later drove around the shattered coastal town of Meulaboh, where families picked through piles of rubble six feet high.

"I have never seen such utter destruction mile after mile," a shaken Annan told reporters. "You wonder where are the people? What has happened to them?"

2005 has just begun but the quotation in italics is bound to be a contender for one of the stupidest comments of the year. Um, Kofi, do you watch the news? Let's just say that we can expect the fishing industry there to be catching more (and larger) fish in the near future.

Then there was the comment from British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw who called "the effort to identify thousands of bodies one of the biggest international forensic operations in history." This made me think of all of the Iraqi mass graves. (Hatra, for example.) Estimates place the number of people buried in these mass graves across Iraq at aproximately 300,000. Has there been no attempt to use forensics to find out who these people are? If there has been, was it not an international venture?

Anyway, this made me think of comparisons I've seen between the number of people killed on 9/11 and the number of estimated deaths from the tsunami. I don't see the value in this type of comparison since one was caused by a group of evil men and the other was a natural phenomenon.

Still, if you're making comparisons, the number of people killed by the tsunami are (at current estimates) only about half the number in Saddam's mass graves. This brought me back to thinking about Annan and the UN.

Why does the UN view a large number of deaths over a short period as worse than a larger number of deaths over decades? Although measures can be taken to help protect people from natural disaters, they are still fairly unpredictable. I don't think that it would be unreasonable to assume that if Saddam had been allowed to remain in power, he would have continued killing Iraqi people. So why did the UN refuse to do anything to remove him from power? Is it just a fancy janitorial service that goes in and cleans up after tragic events?

One last comment from the article, "[I]n an apparent sign that American relief agencies want to keep a lower profile, several trucks delivering supplies from U.S. AID removed large banners marking the source of the shipments."

Is this being done out of security concerns for the workers or out of a fear of offending Islamics? Or does that come down to the same thing - offending Islamic radicals endangers workers? Whatever reason, it's disappointing. Not that the point of providing aid is to receive recognition for having done so, but for people to know that Americans are generous and caring would be a good step in countering the anti-American propaganda to which so many people in the world are exposed.

Posted by marybeth at 04:31 PM | Comments (0) News

Carnival of the Recipes #21

The first Carnival of the Recipes for 2005 is up at Physics Geek.

Recipe list:
Recipes for children - Candy Coins, Easy Pudding Cookies, Boogers on a Stick, Kool-Aid Play Clay
Chicken Spaghetti (2 recipes)
French Toast Casserole
Chocolate Mousse "Cheesecake"
Cowboy Chili
Pot Roast
Spicy Pot Roast
Crock Pot Enchilada Lasagna
Pork Roast
Champagne Punch
Wicked Mustard
Irish Potato Stew (lamb)
Breakfast Cookies
Sand Tart Cookies
Sweet and Sour Pork
Irish Coffee
Molasses Pie
Fudge Truffle Cheesecake
Triple Chocolate Pudding Cake
Deep-Dish Pizza Casserole

January 06, 2005

Save the Cephalopod!

Read all about the sad, sad condition of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.

Although the tree octopus is not officially listed on the Endangered Species List, we feel that it should be added since its numbers are at a critically low level for its breeding needs. The reasons for this dire situation include: decimation of habitat by logging and suburban encroachment; building of roads that cut off access to the water which it needs for spawning; predation by foreign species such as house cats; and booming populations of its natural predators, including the bald eagle and sasquatch. What few that make it to the Canal are further hampered in their reproduction by the growing problem of pollution from farming and residential run-off. Unless immediate action is taken to protect this species and its habitat, the Pacific Northwest tree octopus will be but a memory.

If saving the tree octopus sounds like something you could support, you might want to check out this page of the site too.

Posted by marybeth at 08:24 AM | Comments (0) Amusing

January 05, 2005

Y'all Talk Funny

I watched the PBS program "Do You Speak American?" this evening. One of my favorite PBS shows is the Story of English, a miniseries that was broadcast in the mid-1980s. While tonight's show wasn't quite as good as that, it still had some interesting parts.

On of the things I found the most interesting was a discussion of a short vowel shift that's happening in the Great Lakes area. (More about that here - scroll down until you see the box with "busses" and "bosses".) You can hear it here.

If you're interested in English and its dialects, the show's worth a watch but the Web site has most of the same information and more. The articles and essays are especially good as are some of the special features - check out "Track that Word" if you're interested in slang.

Posted by marybeth at 11:48 PM | Comments (0) Words

January 03, 2005

Kids Cook

It's January 3 and my kids went back to school today. (Doing the happy-mommy-dance!) Still, I know that unless this is a very unusual winter, we will have at least one school day cancelled due to the weather.

Snow days are different from planned days off because in most cases the school closings aren't announced until early morning after everyone is already up and awake (or as awake as any of us are that early.) Around here this means that by late morning/early afternoon I get complaints of boredom. There's nothing to do. (We have the three most popular game consoles, handheld games, cable TV, videos, boardgames, and enough books to fill a library...but the kids want something new and different to do when it's the least convenient time.)

Sometimes I'll bake something and let them help. This is more fun for them than it is for me...too many arguments over who gets to add what ingredient and then they tend to drift off before our project is finished (especially clean up.) Here are a few recipes that kids can make that use ingredients you probably have on hand. The kids can do most of the work themselves with minimal help from mom or dad.

Candy Coins (I never said the recipes were nutritious!)

2 tablespoons margarine
1 1/2 teaspoons cocoa
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon milk
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

Put the margarine in a bowl and melt it in the microwave. Add the cocoa to the melted margarine and stir. Add the confectioner's sugar and mix well. Stir in the milk and the peanut butter until it is all well blended.

Pinch off marble-sized pieces and roll into balls. Smoosh the balls between your hands to make little patties. Don't flatten them too much or they will be hard to pick up. Place them on waxed paper.

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen

Easy Pudding Cookies

1 package instant pudding mix
1 cup Bisquick
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg

Stir all ingredients together, mixing well. Form into small balls (1"). Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, mash down with a fork.

Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes

Boogers on a Stick (I don't keep these ingredients on hand all the time, but I included it because I like the name.)

50 Pretzel sticks
1 jar of creamy American cheese (Cheese Whiz or similar)
Green food coloring

Blend cheese and green food coloring until it turns a light booger green. Dip pretzel sticks in the cheese blend.

The last recipe is one for adults to make but for kids to play with.

Kool Aid Play Clay

1 1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. salt
1/2 T. alum or cream of tarter
1 pkg. Unsweetened Kool Aid
1 1/2 T. oil
1 c. boiling water

Mix dry ingredients. Add oil (you can use vegetable or mineral oil) and water. Let cool.

When cool enough to handle, knead the clay. Store in plastic zipper bags or containers.

Posted by marybeth at 03:23 PM | Comments (0) Family , Food


Santa brought us a PS2 for Christmas. There are few things worse than sitting and watching others play while waiting your turn. (Well, getting up and going to do something productive might be worse.) At least, for most of the games I've seen, just watching someone else can be pretty dull.

Not this time. Santa also brought an EyeToy. It's a small camera that hooks up to the game console that lets the players interact with the game. Watching the game can still be dull but watching the player can be a hoot.

And it gets my kids up and moving instead of just pressing buttons. Yeah, I know it's not the same as getting them to go outside and play, but it's a step in the right direction. There aren't a lot of games for it yet (we've gotten AntiGrav and Groove) but some of the software sounds interesting. One called Cameo lets you put your face into another game and another called SpyToy acts as a room guard.

Posted by marybeth at 02:36 PM | Comments (0) Family