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ARCHIVES: August 23-31, 2003



August 31, 2003 - Sunday

Creative Birthday Cakes

My sister, Deborah, puts a lot of time and energy into her 5 children. Last week, two of my nieces had birthdays. I am amazed at the work she put into making their cakes. She says it is easy, but I think anything less than getting one ordered at the store is a lot of work. Just mixing more than one color of frosting is too much work for me, not to mention the clean up involved, even with a dishwasher.




August 30, 2003 - Saturday

Hair Cut

When it comes time to cut my hair, I grab scissors and whack it off myself, then beg my husband to "even it up." When my daughter wants a haircut, she seeks out a good stylist. This time, she wanted "the best" in town to do her hair. I recommended "The Masters." She called and got an appointment. Unfortunately, I gave her the wrong address and she got lost driving around looking for it. They moved from that location 10 years ago. I felt so old. Fortunately, a quick phone call gave her the right address. They did a top-quality job on her. She looks great with her new modern style.



August 29, 2003 - Friday

Live in a Sprawling Suburb? Die Sooner.

An article about the dangers of living in a suburban area appeared today. The dangers are lack of exercise (which is second only to tobacco as the number 1 cause of preventative death) and traffic considerations.


The article adds that people who live near a walking park or store, get more exercise than those who have to drive everywhere (which makes me glad I live by a walking park). This is true. I've been taking daily walks for over 6 years after a life of moving as little as possible. When I first started walking, I did not enjoy it, but with good music, the best shoes, the right clothes and time, I grew to love walking. I get sore feet from time to time when I don't buy new shoes often enough, but the other benefits are worth it.


I've heard so many things about the value of exercise besides prolonging life. Paul Harvey cited a report about how exercise is better than antidepressants for lifting your mood as well as improves self-esteem and increases confidence. Exercise lowers blood sugar. Exercise actually decreases an appetite in the long run, adds muscle which burns more calories than fat, improves problems with asthma, reduces bad cholesterol -- and the list goes on.


Life will last longer, people will feel better emotionally and, of course, feel better physically if they can stick to a habit of exercise in some form. I remember a past Reader's Digest article where doctors were interviewed about exercising. They agreed that a fat person who exercises is better off than a thin one who doesn't. Get out and take a walk today.



August 28, 2003 - Thursday

Pictures that Don't Make the News

This is from a group of pictures floating around the Internet. They are probably copyrighted somewhere since I am sure they would indeed make the news. I tried to find the source and only came up with one site showing the rest of them. (Click on the picture to see more.) Thanks, Janice, for sending me these. This is my favorite one from the group.




August 27, 2003 - Wednesday

Dark Chocolate is Good For You

I love chocolate, but I am cynical of "studies" like this. Who are the real people behind the scenes funding these? Inspite of the following article's statement that the study received no industy funding, I am still suspicious. Perhaps it is Hershey's or Nestle's who are at heart. Maybe their funding for the study was not direct, but maybe they have some tie to the organization that is not obvious (perhaps the same person owns a lot of stock in both). I never quite believe one of these studies, but since I love chocolate -- here's the link to a story that says dark chocolate is good for you. (Just don't mix it with sugar, oils or eat too much. Gee, that rules out the ways it is normally enjoyed.)


Dark Chocolate is Good for You


There are real benefits to chocolate that have been studied in enough ways to likely be true. I think you could take just about any food and find a benefit and a detriment. It may depend on what company is doing the funding for the study and if they are "studying" a competitor or finding a way to promote their own product. I can envision a company giving a "grant" to a university or science lab and then that organization "deciding" to do a study that just happens to be of interest to the granting company. The company can then sit in the background and not be mentioned, so it will not be obvious who promoted the actual study -- all very convenient.



Colored Text and Tables

I've been using this site so much in other things, that I forgot I hadn't mentioned this here. It creates color fading text and tables in random combinations or as defined by the user. To use a random choice, keep clicking the "Fade Me" button until a combination comes up that is acceptable. (The link to this site is in the colored text below.)


Online HTML Color or Table Fader


Here's an example of the tables it can create.


Text or pictures can be put in each cell as desired.


I had been using it on AOL in the message boards and in a web page or two. AOL has been crazy this year. For a while, they allowed pictures to be posted on their message boards, then they took that ability away, then they brought it back along with an ability to add sound, then they took the picture ability away and left the background sound.


After inquiring about all the changes, we found out that AOL had NO IDEA what was causing these things. It was a random event and apparently, they do not want to pour their funds into getting it fixed. Oh brother! When the ability is on, it makes message posting fun. The messages can look more like a web page. Knowing AOL, they may never get this fixed.



This morning at 4:51, Mars was the closest to the earth that it will get in our lifetime. We were just waking up when almost precisely at that moment, we heard a very loud crack of thunder. It surprised us since we had not heard rain or other rumbling before then. Maybe Earth was telling Mars to back off.


I can see why married folks usually live longer. I figured the lightning might have moved on and I was thinking of going for my morning walk when my husband persuaded me otherwise. He's a sweetheart. We have to look out for each other because sometimes we are too bull-headed to look out for ourselves.


Here's one of the spectacular photos being taken with the Hubble Telescope as close to Mars as it will ever get.



Minimize Programs Better with TrayIt

Since I began using AIM more often, I let AIM load on startup (my name is TerryAnn2 and it can receive mail @aol.com as well). AIM does not offer an option to start the program minimized. (I guess they want to force you to see the ad banner when it first runs.)


I found a handy little free program to force anything to start in a minimized state called TrayIt. Several options are included such as being able to restore with one click and putting anything into a tray icon (near the clock on the right) instead of as a task on the toobar.


One thing I like about this is that it does not hook itself into the Windows registry so it is easy to remove.



August 26, 2003 - Tuesday

Moved a Few Things

Due to virus proliferations slowing down the Internet lately, I moved a few items to another page. The Pet Finder was extremely slow yesterday. I also moved the weather and moon phase to the next page. There's a link to them instead.


Speaking of viruses, I have gotten several hundred on my customer service name for our website (GenealogyForum.com). They were titled with names like "Thank-you," "Details," "Wicked Screensaver" and more. What a mess!



Real Homemade Pumpkin Bread

We grew our own pumpkins, even. In fact, it was almost impossible to find pumpkin seeds just for "pie" pumpkins in stores around here. Although only interested in taste, the best I could find was a seed that promised a blend of good round carving pumpkins with tasty  ones.


To prepare the pumpkin, I had to wash and slice it and bake it in the oven for a long time well over an hour at 350 degrees. (It was a very thick pumpkin.) When it cooled, I cut it up and blended it together to make that mushy stuff usually found in cans.


Now, it was ready to use in a recipe. Although I personally love nuts in recipes, I had to leave out the nuts and raisins to make my family happy. It turned out well. Fresh pumpkin is better than canned. The best thing about these kinds of breads is that they taste better the next day - when the flavors have a chance to age.


(Funny how the cell phone camera shows the oven's heating elements to look purple when they are really orange. I look forward to much improved cell cam quality in the future.)



August 25, 2003 - Monday

AOL Genealogy Changes - My Story

Many changes have been going on with my 15-year volunteer job at AOL in the Genealogy Forum. I have refrained from posting anything before because of many changes still in progress. Now that things have shaken out a bit, here's what happened. Dick Eastman writes some of the story in his column, and he does an excellent job, but there's more to this saga. It's a long one. I was one of the original cash investors to create AOL in the first place, having been a member of QuantumLink since the mid 80's (AOL's first incarnation as a Commodore-only service). I won't go into my long history with genealogy and AOL, except to say that I had a good time.


About 15 years ago, some of us wandered into a genealogy area on AOL and began chatting and answering message boards, etc. As a little time passed, it became apparent that George Ferguson was the natural leader of our group so AOL made him the official leader. AOL was growing in leaps and bounds and gave our group the opportunity to grow. We developed genealogy message boards, topic chats, resources, libraries and more. Some of us learned AOL programming tools and were given direct programming access to AOL. Others were given AOL tools to manage chats, manage (downloadable) files and more.


George was very open-minded to change. He came up with creative ideas, found others who thought the same and developed the forum in ways that nobody else could do as well. Because of his open mind, willingness to change and grow --  and because of AOL's support, our forum became very large and successful. We are the oldest, still online genealogy group today. We made millions of dollars for AOL and won awards, got to travel around the country, etc.


AOL was growing rapidly. Our internal AOL contacts kept getting promoted. It was good in a way because we had acquired loyal fans high in the company. One day, AOL decided to divest themselves of us as a group. We were to stay on the system, but AOL forced us to become an independent company. Thus, George formed Golden Gates Genealogy Services, became the official owner of our forum, we signed a contract with AOL and kept on doing what we had always been doing. I suppose AOL preferred to work this way for tax purposes.


Our life was still good. In fact, we saw AOL eliminating other forums. Our dear friends in the Cooking Forum were all dismissed as AOL reformed that part of their system. But because we had a contract, we were safe from this kind of thing. Nevertheless, George saw the handwriting on the wall. We branched out into the Internet to copy our resources, to reach nonAOL members and plan for a future without AOL.


We kept getting new internal AOL reps to work with. This time, they were getting laid off instead of promoted. It looked like the stupendous company growth spurt was over and we were losing our friends within the higher reaches of the company.


Our forum grew to over 130 volunteers. At the same time, we saw AOL releasing even more of its chat hosts from other areas. Chat hosts and AOL volunteers were given free accounts on the system and access to private message boards. By releasing them and turning the chats into open areas, AOL saved money.


Finally, the bell tolled for us. Our contract expired and while we were in negotiations to renew it, suddenly, without notice to George or anyone else, AOL abruptly told us that "Golden Gate Services had left the system." When George investigated this announcement, it became obvious that AOL did not want to work through a 3rd party anymore and simply wanted to keep the forum under internal operation. The forum is still there on AOL although all the volunteers were "fired." AOL plans to revamp the forum into a genealogy area of its own making. They have opened some chat and other positions for anyone who wants to return.


I enjoyed being with AOL and I am glad there will still be something of our forum's work left on their system. I hope it is successful in the way they need. I don't think it will have the high quality that it did under Golden Gate Services, but it will still exist.


What has become of our volunteers? Some of them will reapply to become members of AOL's revamped genealogy area. Another group has broken off to become GenealogyForum.org. Golden Gate Services will continue its place on the web at GenealogyForum.com. Essentially, we are now divided into 3 groups. GenealogyForum.org will continue holding chats (something our forum was famous for) and plans to expand their site with message boards, producing a newsletter and more. They are excited about the future.


Meanwhile, GenealogyForum.com will continue as well, although chats were never started over there so most of our former staff will be with GenealogyForum.org and a few will reapply to stay with AOL. Some might do both.


The future has not completely shaken out, yet, but it looks bright for us all. GenealogyForum.org and GenealogyForum.com are glad to be free of the restrictions AOL had placed on us. We can be more creative and expand. We are thankful to AOL for fostering our existence in the first place and look forward for great things to come.


Personally, I have worked so closely with George that I give him my first loyalties.  I am grateful for his open mind, his kind heart and the tremendous trust and responsibilities he gave me. He encouraged me to learn web programming in the first place. I am grateful to AOL for making exceptions for our group longer than they did any other forum, allowing us to grow. I will stay around, peeking into all 3 groups at one time or another and still administering the message boards at GenealogyForum.com and doing whatever else comes my way. Who knows exactly what the future will bring?


Here are the links to the various areas:


   GenealogyForum.com (Golden Gate Services)


   GenealogyForum.org (Online Genealogy with Chats)


   AOL's Genealogy Area (Link only works for AOL members)




August 24, 2003 - Sunday

Wendy's Hamburgers & Salads

We ate at Wendy's for lunch yesterday. I ordered a salad with the accompanying dressing and croutons. My husband ordered two cheeseburgers. When we figured out the calories, I was getting more calories from the salad than he was from his two cheeseburgers! I know the reason why is the dressing, but it doesn't seem fair, somehow.


One of my biggest gripes with eating places is the lack of a noncaffeinated, sugar-free cold drink (besides water). Chick-fil-a carries a diet lemonade. Good for them. I get one often. Oh well, most of restaurants are not known for being all that health-conscious anyway, but I wish more places offered diet Sprite or diet Lemonade. I want a low-calorie cold fizzy drink without sugar and caffeine that doesn't taste like water.



Operating Systems

My husband has set a goal to see how many old and new operating sysytems he can put on his computer. He put 3 versions of Linux on it. He's adding Windows XP, Windows 98, and Windows 2000. He bought Windows ME once a long time ago, but discovered that it was the worst version of Windows out there, so he's skipping that one.


The process is not a smooth one and I hear a few angry sounds coming from the other room now and then as he tries to find out if his computer is even compatible with all those versions. When I asked him why he's doing this, it was like asking someone why they climb mountains - just to see if they can and of course, to test program compatibilities. I think it's just the scientist in him, wanting to discover and experiment and it's kind of fun. I am enjoying seeing it all unfold.


My daughter prefers to stick with Windows 98. She has an older computer. We found out the hard way that not all components of an older computer will work with Windows XP. My husband had to buy a new video card when he upgraded.



August 23, 2003 - Saturday

Morning Humor

This cartoon has been floating around the Internet. Has anyone used a grocery delivery service? I remember when they were big among my friends, but lately I haven't heard much mention of them here except for a segment on TechTV. Do pizza places still have Internet or FAX orders?


Speaking of FAX, my home phone is in a medical lab phonebook. Once a year, a lady goes in for medical tests and they FAX the results to my home. When I first answer the phone, I hear the FAX sounds and hang up. Five minutes later, I get another call from their FAX. I finally figured out that the blasted thing is set to repeat calls every FIVE minutes until I receive it so I set up my computer's FAX program and take the FAX, then I call the office to tell them what happened. This goes on every year since they obviously don't change the original record with my number in it. It just seems to be tied into one patient. Maybe she will die soon.



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