Friday, December 31, 2004

Snope's, my favorite place to check out the latest email forward, has compiled a list of New Year's traditions. The kissing at midnight angle is one most people are familiar with. I've seen the others turn up in various forms in various books over the years, but I delighted in reading them anyway. Pick one out and make it your new tradition for kicking of the new years to come. via Average Jane

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

How to fix Mom's computer

How to fix Mom's computer is a great how-to for anyone wondering about how to rid a machine of spyware, adware and any other nasties. I wish I had found this article a little sooner. I might have been able to help my sister-in-law better when their machine was taken over by malware.

Lists, Lists and yet, Still More Lists has lists covering the best and worst of every possible subject for 2004. Great for the compulsive list reader. via J-Walk

Monday, December 27, 2004

Top 10 Odd College Courses

Where were these courses when I was in college? MSN Encarta lists ten of the Odd College Courses and the universities that offer them. I think I'd lik the "Art of Walking" offered by Centre College.


I trust that you had a very merry holiday season. Especially those of you who scored some time off from your company this week. Now that Christmas is over, I'm sure that you are looking for something amazing to do with your time (like you don't have enough to do already, I know.) J-Walk posted this link a while back. When I was a kid, snowy winter days meant making snowflakes. Popular Front: SnowDays brings this winter past time to a new level with its virtual snowflakes. Making one is quick and easy. Unlike their paper counterparts, they have an "undo" button, in case you make a mistake. Happy snowflake making!

Thursday, December 23, 2004


Hi, my name is Stacie, and I'm addicted to chapstick. (Hi, Stacie.) A chapstick addiction really seems quite innocent compared to most of the addictions that exist, but can prove harrowing anyway. Consider, if you will, the plethora of selections available from the local department store. The flavor range and product names range from the normal (Mint) to the morid (stinky boy stench, which was grape flavored, by the by.) Managing and handling an addiction in such an environment can cause paralysis. My own addiction suffers most when a tube of chapstick is not readily available. To forever end this situation, I carry four or five tubes of chapstick in my purse. A couple more are stashed in my nightstand drawer. A few at my desk at work and in my truck and life is secure. But today, I noticed something different about my chapstick. It had directions. Remarkable that someone would require directions as to the usage of chapstick, I snickered. But nevertheless, there they were. "Apply to lips as needed." Duh. But what truly made me laugh was the warning printed just under the directions: "Stop use and ask a doctor if condition last more than 7 days." I've been using chapstick every day, several times a day, for more years than I can remember and never once thought that I might need to call a doctor since my (cough) "condition" wasn't improving. And when my schedule clears, I'll make an appointment for that very reason. I reckon I'll have time somewhere around 2021, after the baby graduates high school and before he goes to college. Provide, of course that I remember and nothing dramatic happens between now and then.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Mother of Suicide Victim Sues Wal-Mart

People are taking it too far. As unfortunate as an event like this is, what they want to propose is worse. The suicide victim bought a gun and used it. The mother believes that if the "associate" had asked, "What are you going to use this for?" the whole event could have been prevented. Personally, I don't like Wal-Mart and take pains to avoid shopping there (especially after reading this study about Wal-Mart's labor practices.) But I don't want them asking me what I am going to use my purchases for or checking my medical records to see if I should be allowed to buy it. It may start with just guns, but it could quickly evolve into the amount of junk food I buy (Gee, Ms. P, you are on a weight loss medicine. I don't think that box of ho-hos is going home with you today) or the video games I buy (Gee, Ms. P, you have small kids at home. This game is too violent for them to be around. Not going into your bag.) Maybe I'm taking it too far. Actually, I know I am. At what point, though, does "too far" become "really close?" I don't know and I don't want to find out. This is a country founded on freedom. Yet at every turn someone is calling for more checks, more balances, more limitations. When does it end? Truly, I am sorry for the loss of the victim's family. Is further limitation of our constitutional rights the best answer? via MSNBC

Holiday Shopping Idea

Need a present for your favorite cube dweller? Cubefigures might be just what you are looking for. Think Legos meets Office Space. I love them. Not that I have any, but if I had some, I'd set up my own little cube world on my spare desk. Just wanted you to know what I'd like for Christmas. (via J-Walk)

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

July 16 -- The Date to Wait For

New Harry Potter book to be published July 16. Need I say more? Other than I'll update my template to include a calculator at time this weekend. I just can't do it right now.

A Story of Understanding and Hope

I've had, unfortunately, a few of my near and dear fall victim to cancer. Watching their struggle, knowing the odds, risks and potential outcomes is something that cannot be understood by those who have yet to endure this path in life. One man watched as his mother fell victim to the terrible disease. Mom's Cancer shares that struggle with others. The narrative is simple and covers the wide array of emotions, struggles and victories that cancer patients go through along with the victim's family. The author explores his reactions to the news and treatment as well as several other family members. Saying that enjoyed reading this comic isn't quite right. Knowing that others out there feel as I felt helped me to realize that my reactions were normal and that others experience the same. (via J-Walk)

Friday, December 17, 2004

New Worm

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Computers (Zafi.D) reports a new worm just in time for Christmas. Make sure your firewalls and security is up to date and ready to block this unwelcome present.

Find Danny

Dan Clune is missing. He is a programmer who works for Bookcrossing. This site gives the details that are needed to get Danny back to his family. Please take a couple of minutes to look at the picture. He isn't from the Oshkosh area, but who knows how far from home he really is. If you click on the "What you can do" link, it will take you to a list of contacts for various news sources. The family asks that they be contacted and request to have the story run so more people hear about it. The leads that these sort of stories have produced have been good, according to the investigators. Thanks.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Irritation At Blogger

Sorry, folks, but you are going to get a lame post today. I had a great one, but when I hit the infamous "Publish" button, Blogger took that to mean "Lose it." And it's not the first time. My posting about Average Jane's wedding took me four tries. I'd like to say that my writing improved for it, but I'm pretty sure that version two was much better than version four. I just updated my template to have the same thing happen. I had to do it twice before it would work. The most irritating is that often times I do copy my entry into Notepad or MS Word, depending on what I am feeling like. The day I do, everything works smoothly. But the day that I don't, everything goes to hell in a hand basket.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Cutting of the Donut

I work in an office where treats periodically appear. Between birthdays, holidays and the goodness of someone's heart, one can often find a tray of donuts, bagels or some other tasty offering. If the donuts are from Copps Food Center, they are enormous. We are talking about the 3000 calorie donut. Just as often though, they are Krispy Kremes and are of a reasonable size. The table generally used for these treats is outside of my cube. Whenever there is food, I get to hear about it every few minutes. Or smell it, if it is particularly aromatic. Besides fighting the urge to nibble, I also must endure the constant stream of comments about cutting. A few individuals have decided that nothing should ever be cut. The taker should take the whole donut and throw out the uneaten portion. I can appreciate his reasons, but object to them none the less. If I know that I am not going to eat all of a donut, why shouldn't I cut it in half and prevent waste? If I want to sample two kinds, should I really take both just to appease the objecters? Even though I know I won't eat all of it and god knows my waist line doesn't need it? The main objection to the cutting of said treats is how the cutting is done. A few individuals are less concerned about germs than others. They will cut the donut and touch both of the resulting pieces, but leave one of them. Also known as germ sharing. When I cut a donut, I am careful to touch only the piece I take. Yet, because of my proximately to the treat table, I am subjected to the constant exclamations of everyone who walks by -- regardless if they are for or against the practice of cutting treats. Truly, I don't see what the big deal is. So what if you cut only a sliver to get a taste, but a fraction of the calories. So what if you do that two, three or twenty+ times a day. What does it matter? Then I heard this. Genltemen restrooms, being what they are, allow all frequenters to learn each other's restroom habits. Without going into detail, some people should have stayed in kindergarten a little longer to learn good habits. I'll cut a donut, but I'll think twice about taking one that has been cut. Especially if some of those gentlemen have been near the table recently.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

U-M's entire library to be put on Google

If only U-M's entire library had been on Google when I needed it for the numerous papers my literature degree required of me. What my GPA could have been.

Average Jane Goes to Vegas

Average Jane, a fellow blogger whose blog I read regularly, has gone to Las Vegas. I love Vegas. Sigh, I wish I could have gone instead of her mis-matched boots. Jane will be posting about her trip throughout the week. Parts One and Two have been posted already. I've been to Vegas twice before, once for a business seminar and once to get married. I'd highly recommend getting married in Vegas. I might be going again in February but that depends on a few things, like work. Until it is decided, I'll live vicariously through Jane's postings.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Twelve Days of Survival

As an adult, my perspective of Christmas and holidays in general has changed. I used to anticipate the arrival of Santa and the truckload of toys he would delivery throughout the neighborhood. I would lie awake for a good portion of the night, waiting until it was even remotely close enough to a decent hour so I could creep out in the living room to check my stocking and scope out the unwrapped presents under the tree. I'm grateful that my kids sleep until six-thirty and take naps. I love watching their faces as they unwrap one gift and are delighted with what they find. They are still into "quality," so we often have to urge them to unwrap the next thing as they are busy playing with the first. I used to love all of the candy and food that just seemed to sit everywhere. No one told you that you had had enough cookies for the day. Instead, every adult turned a blind eye to the number and quantity. The office I work in receives food baskets and gifts from a large portion of our vendors. By the end of the day last year, I would be so stuffed that I have to remind myself that my family hasn't been snacking without constrant and that they do expect to find dinner on the table shortly. Christmas parties used to mean a half day of school and not much work during that half day. Now Christmas parties mean baby-sitters and remembering not to drinking too much. Buying presents used to mean begging money from my parents. Now it means trying to find something for someone that I don't know very well, but drew their name out of the bucket. It means credit card bills, long lines and impossible parking. The only shopping I do in December is grocery shopping. I'm one of those people who have 65% of it done by the end of October and 80% by Thanksgiving. The remaining 20% I have decided what I'm getting for them and do it on my lunch break. Christmas is less about family, God and sharing with one another. Christmas is more about buying, spending and hassle. Is this because I'm an adult or because I'm a grinch?

Friday, December 10, 2004

Building a Gingerbread House

I decided to fulfill one of my Christmas fantasies and build a gingerbread house. I cheated and bought a kit. Gimme a break; my assistant was four-years-old. It started out well. The kit looked fun. I got it on sale even. Then I got home and opened it. The pieces were intact. Opening a box to broken pieces was one of my fears, so I checked it out before I even told the little guy about the house. The white frosting was easy to make. Just add water varieties usually are. They included packets of red and green dye that I opted not to use based on their packaging. Food coloring in plastic tubes sounded like a disaster to me. I figured that regular food coloring would be okay to use instead. More on this later. The kit included a plastic piping bag which I filled with white frosting. At this point I discovered why the icing instructions were adement on keeping the frosting moist through the use of wet cloths. Instantly my hands were spotted with fast-drying white dots and dribbles. The little guy and I started with the back wall and on of the side walls, per instructions. Note to self: Construction of gingerbread houses requires four capbable hands. I called for my husband to come help and distracted the little guy by sending him to show Grandma the house we were building and the other ones available. I hadn't opted for the train kit, but based on his coaxing, we might end up with it yet. Once the four walls and roof was one, I gave the little the special task of decorating with the available candies. Our base was a white cutting board that is seldom use due to its size. We drew sidewalks and made bushes and in general had fun. The little guy was disappointed that we didn't have any men to put in it, but overall, he was happy with the house we built. Next time, though, I'm going to trust the kit. Remember my food coloring substitution? The effect was really, really, really runny frosting. The windows were supposed to be red outlines. They look more like red globs. The verdict hasn't come in yet on the green bushes and trees yet. If they hardened sufficiently well by tonight I'll try to stick them on the house with regular frosting. Otherwise I'll just "drop" them. Overall, I had fun. I probably do it again next year, but no way am I doing this without a kit. I don't think I could handle all of the steps without a crutch.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

How my Dog is Like God

Disclaimer: I am not trying to be sacrilegious, nor do I worship my dog. I have a 3 1/2 year old black lab named Elle. Every day I come home and she is thrilled to pieces to see me. She jumps around, trying to give me kisses. In her own way, she is asking how my day was. Regardless if I have been gone five minutes or ten hours, her reaction is always, "Hi, Mom, how's it going? What did you do?" I imagine that God works the same way when someone shows up for church, regardless of what day of the week the service is. "Hi, how's it going? What did you do today? Gosh, I'm really glad to see you." After I've spent some time talking to Elle and telling her that I am glad to see her too, we spend some time together doing what she wants. Some days it is playing fetch; other days it is petting her behind the ears in that special spot she loves so much. Once at church, I sit in my pew and think about what the pastor might have to say that day. Sometimes I'll know the hymn the organist is playing, other days I think of the talents that the organist has. I'll prepare for worship with prayer. When I get to church, I spend some time doing what makes God happy. When I am not feeling well, Elle sits and comforts me. She does what she can to make me feel better. God does what he can too, through medicines, good foods and rest. Elle likes it when I take her on car rides. She likes it when I take her for walks. God likes it when we take him along too. Elle guards my house at night. She sleeps by my feet and if she hears a strange noise, she growls alerting me to the possible danger. Usually there isn't any. God guards and watches out for us too. He keeps the trees from falling on our roof. He keeps the bad guys away from our house. He provides smoke detectors to alert us if necessary. Every day Elle reminds me of something else God does for us. I'm pretty sure it is not a coincidence.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Signs of the Holiday Season

Building gingerbread houses always sounds like lots of fun, but I never had done it. Fond du Lac actually sponsors a contest for the best among all entries. I wonder if using this site would disqualify me? Living in Oshkosh probably would.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

New Ulm fire cleanup is greasy, gooey mess

I post this for all of us who have fond, and not so fond, memories of New Ulm, Minnesota. Can you imagine those poor people who have to trek up the Hill for classes right about now? I wonder if VP Shone will excuse them.

Hit Me, Please

I must have a "hit me" sign on the back of my truck. A couple of weeks ago I was involved in a minor fender bender in a parking lot. It's one of those where both of us were backing up and hit each other. The insurance claim jury is still out, but I anticipate it will come back 50-50 fault. My bumper is scratched, but nothing serious. We'll probably get it fixed out of pocket. Last night I was driving south on Hwy 41 near the Neenah-Menasha-Appleton area of things. It was foggy and rainy; the road weren't slick, but it was only a matter of time. I was in the far left lane of the three lane road. As I was passing a small SUV in the center lane, another car was following me so close that I couldn't see their head lights or most of their hood. I know I have a big truck, but tailgating is best done when I am parked at Lambeau field during daylight hours. As I moved in front of the small SUV in the center lane, I turned on my signal to indicate I was moving. I was really uncomfortable having someone following me that close, but it was evident that they were in more of a hurry than I was. I moved over, only to find yet another car was behind me in the center lane -- not the small SUV but a mid-sized sedan. I have no idea where they came from. All I know is I kept watching my mirrors and checking my blind spots. I assume that they were in the right hand lane and switched to the center about the same time I did. After the first tailgater was passed me, I moved back into the left lane. The mid-size sedan kept tailgating me with the same furousity of the original tailgater. As she drove by me, she flipped me off and screamed, "You -ucking -itch." I assume she meant me, and not the person to whom she spoke on the cell phone. She then whipped around another car in the right hand lane, moved in front of them and drove probably an 1/8 of a mile to exit at the Neenah Wal-Mart. I really don't know who would have been at fault if we had hit one another. From my point of view it was her fault. I'm sure she would have said that I didn't signal and she moved into the lane before I did, so I should have seen her. Maybe I should have. I have insurance and they are accidents, not on-purposes. What really bothers me is her reaction, which has become typical of every driver on the road. Few people use turn signals. Lane changes are random. Talking while driving is prevalent. Yet, I'm a -ucking -itch because I did everything possible to make sure that the lane was clear before I moved, including using my signal? Please, lady. Take responsibility for your actions. I was ahead of you, using my signal to indicate my intention to change lanes. You were far enough behind me that, if we had hit, you would have hit my bumper. I'm just going to have to remove that "hit me" sign. I just hope I can find it.

Where's the innovation?

At Dick's Daily Dose of Excel a great discussion has been filling the comment box. Stephen Bullen, a Microsoft MVP, asked "Where's the Innovation" in Excel? The comments and resulting discussion have been fabuous. I use Excel at work and would consider myself an Intermediate user. Dick's blog is great for research, posting and finding help. I've commented a couple of times on this discussion.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Winter Treats

Most people think of winter as a time for snow-related activities. Not me. I think of winter as hibernation. One of my very favorite winter treats makes its appearance around Christmas time. Oh sure, it can be found year round, probably, but in my mind it is a Christmas candy and always will be. The treat? Chocolate covered cherries. When I was young and foolish, one of my favorite weekend activities was a trip to the local department store. I'd get a book, usually romantic in nature, a new candle and a box of chocolate covered cherries. I didn't have a set time to start or anything like that, but the indulgence of reading a book in one sitting while burning a candle and eating a whole box of chocolate covered cherries was complete bliss. Now that I am old and pretend to be wise, I have kids and find that I am completely unable to indulge in the above described activity. I love my family, but (could you hear that one coming?) I would love to send them away for a day to enjoy my favored past time. Then I'd have them all come home so I could shower them with love.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Writer’s Toolbox

The following collection is really for my own purposes. But if I am collecting links of excellence and worthy of my time, I should bless the rest of you with the fruits of my labor. Many of these have come from the boards of NaNoWriMo. Thank you to everyone that is contributing and making it such a fertile field. Excellent Resources for Writers The Scriptorium has a great tool box for writers. How Stuff Works explains things to you that your characters already know about. Info Please is a collection of pop culture for any given year. If your opus takes place in 1927, this is where to find out the "common knowledge" of the day. Fantasy Writers contains most everything a fantasy writer would need. Role Playing Games Character sheets aren't just for D&D players. Great for fantasy novels or brain teasers for "normal" characters. Holly Lisle shares her experiences as a writer with the rest of us. She has a little bit of everything on her website, including a section on what it is really like to be a writer. Time Travel plots from various movies is explored on this site. Great for discovering rules and conventions of time travel. Sacred Texts has excellent works for those characters who worship outside of convential realms. Rough Draft, an alternative word processor. The program was written specifically for writers and has some unique features that cater to us. Organizations Wisconsin Region Writers' Association WisCon, the world's only feminist science fiction convention Available as a Word Document Please Email Requests to raspberry.latte [at] gmail [dot] com. In the subject line, say "Writer Documents" otherwise I'll think it is spam. If I have not sent you anything after a week or so, leave a comment somewhere and I'll for sure catch it. From Astrology Signs – personalities according to astrological signs Chinese Astrology – personalities according to the Chinese year The Elements – speak to the basic nature and temperament of a Sign The Qualities – address their manner of expression The Eclectics Character Sheet From RPG Character Sheet (Practical Questions and Inspirational Questions) Other Sources Basic Statistics – from NaNo participant krazikrys Thirty Days of World Building – from NaNo participant mortaine Stories, Ideas and Things to get Your Creative Juices Flowing Yes, this section is void of anything useful. I am working on it. My bookmarks are just in a different spot right now. Ideas are always welcomed and will be considered. If they do not meet criteria for any reason, they will not be posted. Please, don't ask what the criteria is. It will simply have to pass my ultra demanding test and evaluation.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Bookworm Report, November 2004

Even though the majority of my attention was on NaNo this month, I still had time to read. Basically, I gave up every side project and activity, except reading. A couple of the titles were re-reads. I love Patricia Wredes Enchanted Forest Series. I need to find and read the other titles. Maybe next month. For the month of November, I read 2,747 pages or 8 books. In 2001, I read 5,139 pages/19 books; 2002, 4,076 pages/13 books; 2003, 2,448 pages/7 books. Double Shot by Diane Mott Davidson Metro Girl by Janet Evanovich Night Watch by Terry Prachett London Bridge by James Patterson Hour Game by David Baldacci Mimosa Grove by Dinah McCall Talking to Dragons by Patricia Wrede Searching for Dragons by Patricia Wrede For the year, I've read 79 books, or 29,263 pages, which averages to 7 books a month, or 2,439 pages per month, and an average book length of 370 pages. Next month should be interesting. During Christmas break, I plan on joining the ranks of bad mommies and send my kid to day care even though I will be home. I firmly believe in the value of the routine. Plus, it will give me a chance to do things like clean without dodging small bodies or picking up the same collection of toys 800 times.