ARCHIVES:  November 16-23, 2004

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November 23, 2004 - Tuesday

The Photoshop CS Book for Digital Photographers ...

... is a useful book by Scott Kelby. I've been using Photoshop for years and this book explained several things that I never knew existed. At first, I thought the book was only good for beginners. I was wrong.

Last night while I was reading, my husband probably got tired of repeatedly hearing, "I wish I had known that years ago!" For thing, I did not know the file browser itself could do so much. I've been doing things the hard way. No more!

P.S. Here's a picture I took a few days ago of my favorite flower, the giant blue morning glory. I was standing in the rain with an umbrella trying to keep the camera dry. I am delighted that they are still blooming this late into the year. Usually we have a hard freeze by now which will have wiped them out, but the fall has been warmer this season.


November 22, 2004 - Monday

Spamming is Profitable, Alas

My husband pointed out an interesting news article. A spammer on trial was making up to $750,000 PER MONTH on just getting replies from 1 out of 30,000 people. Whew, this news will likely cause more spamming, even though the spammer was convicted.


November 21, 2004 - Sunday

Preschoolers Solving Problems

It is interesting to see how children think differently. I was watching two boys of a similar age playing today. They had a box full of blocks of different shapes. The lid had three holes of matching shapes (round, rectangular and square). The idea was to dump the colored objects out of the box, then put them back in through the correct holes. The objects would not fit through any hole but one. (It was the old "round-peg-in-a-square-hole" game.)

One boy dumped the objects out in heap, then counted to see how many of each color he had (and to show us that he could count and knew his colors). He then carefully picked up each toy and examined it to see which hole might be the best fit, then tried it until he got it right. He loves this game and repeated it several times.

Another little boy (who did not observe the first one), took a turn with this toy. Instead of dumping the blocks out, he carefully removed each one, stacking them like he was making a building, then he would pick up a toy and quickly try to fit it into a hole. If it did not fit, he pounded the toy hard, thinking he could make it fit with brute force.

I had to chuckle to see how different children approached each puzzle.

Watching the adults was interesting, too. Remember the classic toy with the donut rings of different sizes and a rod up the middle of varying thickness? Each ring stacks together. If the rings are not put in exact order, they will not fit because the rod is thicker at the bottom and thinner at the top.

One boy was trying to fit the toy together. If he could not decide which ring to pick first, the adult with him would point out the correct ring for him to take, thus he built the toy in an orderly and quick manner. The adult would not let the boy pick the wrong ring.

Later, another adult found the same boy playing the game. When the boy was looking over the rings, the second adult did not point out the right one. She let him pick up an incorrect ring and try it. Sometimes the ring would not slide all the way down to fit and she would say, "Oh that looks funny! Look, I can wave my hand in the space here!" and then she and the boy would laugh.

She continued on, letting the boy make mistakes and watching him correct them himself until he had assembled the ring toy correctly, then she cheered for him.

It was interesting to see the different ways adults think. Does one teach a perfectionist philosophy while the other teaches humor or creativity? Will little things like this foster life-long attitudes in the children they teach?


November 20, 2004 - Saturday

Local Craft Show

I went to the craft show earlier today. I like walking through the show, seeing what people have made and talking to the crafters. I bought a couple of Christmas shirts. The festive atmosphere and music were fun.

We are at or barely past our peak fall color. Huntsville is beautiful right now. This photo is of, I think, the dogwood trees downtown near the civic center where the craft show was held.


November 19, 2004 - Friday

Wal-Mart's $1 Umbrellas

If you see any of those one-dollar mini umbrellas at Wal-Mart, don't touch them! I bought two of them to keep in the cars for sudden rainstorms.

One Saturday, the rain hit. I grabbed my mini umbrella and, as I opened it, the thing fell to pieces. It would not open all the way, losing several parts. I was desperate so I shaped the jumbled mess over my head and ran out into the storm, keeping my hair dry if nothing else.

My husband took a look at it, thinking perhaps he could make repairs. After a good examination, he threw the monster into the trash.

For one dollar, I expected shoddy workmanship, but to never even OPEN?! (I am afraid to touch the other umbrella in the other car. It might explode.)


Goodies Galore

My friend, EyeQ, has posted a wonderful page full of goodies for those who like to design personal (and other) websites. She has lot of interesting links and I find myself using several of her recommendations. You can add your own recommendations, too.


November 18, 2004 - Thursday

The Discovery Channel

Today, my husband was interviewed by the Discovery Channel. They are making a documentary about the Space Shuttle's return to flight. He said they took about an hour's worth of film as he discussed the many improvements being made.

They told him not to wear red which did not come across well with the type of medium they were filming in. I wonder if they will also run this documentary on their breathtakingly-good high-definition channel.

The show will probably not air until after the shuttle's next launch. I enjoy the Discovery Channel and watch it almost daily. It will be good to see the Shuttle flying again next May.

I am proud of my rocket-scientist husband and the work he does. He truly loves his job. And, if I can't be an astronaut like I wanted to be in fifth grade, then I can support the space program in whatever ways possible.

Have you seen the new proposed Alabama license plate? Money for it will help restore the Saturn V rocket. Huntsville's nickname is the Rocket City for our support of the Saturn V development.



November 17, 2004 - Wednesday

Beautiful Dawn

Dawn was prettier than usual today. Even the western sky was lit up in pink. I was glad to have had a camera in my pocket. This photo was taken with a Minolta DiMage Xt while walking along Aldridge Creek, facing Green Mountain.




November 16, 2004 - Tuesday

Many Car Accidents Today

Today was a bad day for being in a car. I saw several accidents today and heard sirens going down our street more than usual. One of them was a firetruck. My husband saw yet another accident on his way home from work.

It's funny when, all of a sudden, every dog in the neighborhood starts to howl. We have learned what that means -- a few seconds later, we hear a siren. I guess this is all part of living near a noisy street.




As I type this, I am listening to Netscape's Radio holiday music. They offer 10 different Christmas channels right now (as well as much more- all free). Christmas music is the best.



XM iPod

The Delphi MyFi is not really an iPod, although this pocket XM radio may put a dent in Apple's sales. These were advertised in the Sunday newspaper ads. Alas, they are not out yet and no date was given for the release, but it must be soon since the ad is out, right? I wonder if it fits in a pocket. Unfortunately, the battery life is a measly 5 hours.


November 14, 2004 - Sunday

Wal-Mart: Bigger than the Internet - MUCH Bigger

My husband pointed out this interesting fact from SlashDot:


"The New York Times covers Wal-Mart's obsession with collecting sales data. Fun fact: 'Wal-Mart has 460 terabytes of data stored on Teradata mainframes, at its Bentonville headquarters. To put that in perspective, the Internet has less than half as much data, according to experts.' That much information results in some interesting data-mining. Did you know hurricanes increase strawberry Pop Tarts sales 7-fold?"

Whew - and I thought the Internet was big.


November 13, 2004 - Saturday


A visitor came here via an online bookmark service. I remember hearing about before so I visited the site. If you can't create and upload your own web page with your bookmarks, then this service will do it for you. I can see where it would be handy for travelers. You could go on the Internet and find your bookmark page, then visit your sites while away from home.

There's an option to keep the page private or make it available for public use. I don't see a lot of ads on the page. I created one very quickly with their utility that imports bookmarks from most browers -- very nice and no confusing bells and whistles to figure out.

So, whoever came to my page from this list. Thanks! I now have a list of my own bookmarks to use away from home or as a backup.


November 12, 2004 - Friday

Rainy Day & Music

It rained yesterday plus most of last night. I was talking about it with a friend. We find that we react to days like this differently. He gets cabin fever and grows bored and unhappy when he can't go out. I grab a good book, a quilt and a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy not having to go anywhere. Usually I end up with a cat in my lap for added warmth. I love walking, but I also love staying home.

Not only that, but I've been listening to newly-released albums from my two favorite artists -- Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Mannheim Steamroller. To hear excerpts from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra album, click here and scroll down the page. To listen to Mannheim Steamroller's new album, click here and also scroll down.


November 11, 2004 - Thursday

Blog Monitoring - They are Watching You

I worked for a newspaper clipping service in the late 1970's. Clients would hire us to read newspapers and report back to them whenever their name (or item of interest) was mentioned. (I was  assigned to Missouri, New Mexico and Minnesota papers. I got acquainted with every little city in those states.)

Mostly, companies wanted to see if ads they had paid for were actually getting out in print. Today, the reasons for monitoring the media are varied. Now, even blogs are being monitored professionally --> Market Wire News. I wish I were -- that would mean more visitors - ha!

It's tempting to drop a few names like Paris Hilton, Tara Reid, Arafat, The OC, Daily Mirror and The Grudge, but that would not be nice. (Most of those names were top Google searches in recent weeks.)

Speaking of coming to this site, I hope anyone who comes here through a keyword search will click on "Search" at the top of this page and use the search box. Information has often scrolled off and been archived by the time a search engine reports it. Speaking of which, I read a comment about Microsoft's new search engine -- it is not staying as updated as Google does.


November 10, 2004 - Wednesday

Alignment of Jupiter, Venus, the Moon and Mars

This morning in the Eastern sky appeared an unusual vertical alignment of stars and the moon. Jupiter was the highest. Underneath it was Venus, the Moon and Mars. I was  out walking and watched it as the sky lightened. Dawn came in a blazing pink and orange, a breathlessly beautiful background.


I took a photo although all I had with me was my trusty little Minolta DiMage Xt. I decided to play around and move the camera in a pattern to see what would result.

What I ended up with was this photo of Jupiter, the Moon and a house light. It kind of reminds me of a candle. If you click on the photo and click on "<-- Newer Photo," there will be a few other photos like the one above made with street and house lights.

More events coming up for this year courtesy of Joe Orman:


November 17 - 18 (night): Leonids meteor shower. First quarter Moon setting about 11 p.m. will not interfere. Shower radiates from constellation Leo, which rises in E about midnight. Best time to look between midnight and dawn. Typical rate 20 meteors per hour, some years much higher.

December 5 - 6 (mornings): Mars 1 1/4 degrees to lower right of Venus, low in ESE before sunrise.

December 7 (morning): Jupiter 1 1/2 degrees to upper right of crescent Moon, high in SE before sunrise (occultation for much of North America).

December 9 (morning): Venus 8 degrees to lower left of crescent Moon, Mars between them, low in ESE before sunrise.

December 13 - 14 (night): Geminids meteor shower. Crescent Moon setting about 7 p.m. will not interfere. Shower radiates from Castor in constellation Gemini, which rises in NE around 7 p.m. and is near zenith in early morning hours. Best time to look between 9 p.m. and dawn. Typical rate 60 meteors per hour.

December 27 - 31 (mornings): Mercury less than 1 1/2 degrees to the upper left of Venus, very low in ESE before sunrise.


November 9, 2004 - Tuesday

Animated Alphabets, Buttons, etc.

Thanks to MAGOD, I found Animation VirtualLand with quality animated letters, dividers, etc. These are ones I'd never seen before. (P.S. Check the comments for the soup recipe from yesterday. There's an ever better recipe from Ned.)


November 8, 2004 - Monday

Another Campaign Flash

Got this link from A Bama Blog at Blogspot -- It's yet another flash file about the campaign -- a pretty good one, too -->


Cream Of ... Soup Recipe

I wanted to make a great cream of broccoli soup so I opened my trusty "Joy of Cooking" and found a recipe. I followed the recipe and -- phew -- what a disappointment that was! The recipe has little cream in it and was based more on chicken stock. It was not that thick, either. We made it edible by throwing in some cheese.

That was the first time that Joy of Cooking disappointed me. I was discussing this with a friend who said the 1968 or so edition is much better. I am looking for a recipe that is like a fresher version of Campbell's Cream of Broccoli.

Meanwhile, the next time I make a "cream of" soup, I may try Heloise's recipe. Heloise says:


This cream-soup recipe is so easy to put together and is the base for many different cream soups — just add your own flavor ingredients, like mushrooms, cooked chicken, broccoli or any leftovers you have on hand, and you’ll have a delicious, quick soup. A bonus is that the base is fat-free.

To make one batch, mix together:

1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
1 tablespoon of dried onion flakes
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
1 cup nonfat dried milk powder

If you don’t use it right away, store it in an airtight container or zip bag. To make the soup, put the mixture in a large saucepan and add 2 cups of cold water. Cook on medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture thickens. Next, add other ingredients and let the soup cook a few minutes longer. This will make about 4 to 6 servings, depending on what you add to it. For more great soup recipes, get a copy of my six-page soup pamphlet, Heloise’s Spectacular Soups. Just send $4 and a long, stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Heloise/Soup, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Or you can visit my Web site at and go to the pamphlet section. Hint: For an interesting cream-soup topping, sprinkle with chopped herbs, add a dollop of sour cream or sprinkle with a dash of paprika for color.