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Showing posts from October, 2011

One Gourd to Rule Them All...

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I have no idea who carved this, but being a Tolkien fan, I had to share.  :-D


Top 10 Reasons Trick-or-Treating is Better Than Sex

10. Guaranteed to get at least a little something in the sack.
 9. If you get tired, wait 10 minutes and go at it again.
 8. The uglier you look, the easier it is to get some.
 7. You don't have to compliment the person who gave you candy.
 6. Person giving you candy doesn't fantasize you're someone else.
 5. If you get a stomach ache, it won't last 9 months.
 4. If you wear your Batman mask, no one thinks you're kinky.
 3. Doesn't matter if kids hear you moaning and groaning.
 2. Less guilt the next morning.

and, the #1 reason trick or treating is better than sex...

 1. If you don't get want you want, you can always go next door!
Happy Halloween!!!

My Halloween Mission: Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I was growing up, my sister and I went trick or treating alone, from house to house, all around our neighborhood or town (depending on where we lived at the time).  We received packaged candies, apples, and homemade treats such as brownies or cookies.  Mom and Dad never checked our candy or treats for "tampering" nor did they limit how much we ate.  (They believed a stomach ache cured all children of overeating candy.  It did.)

Then the fear mongering began. Suddenly, only psychopathic child haters gave out homemade treats or fresh fruit.  Parents needed to accompany children of all ages trick or treating, since children somehow magically lost the ability to do this alone.  Packaged candy needs to carefully examined by a responsible adult to ensure the candy isn't poisoned.

Where did our common sense go?  How did it get to be so bad?

This year, I am going to rebel against the fear mongering, against the insanity of it all.  This year, I am going to make homemade c…

A Grand Introduction to.... Paul and Storm!!!!!

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Just under a year ago, we took our kids to their first Jonathan Coulton concert.  We already loved JoCo's music - the kids regularly sang along with "Re:  Your Brains" and "Skullcrusher Mountain".  But little did we know we would meet what has become their other favorite musical group of all time - Paul and Storm!!!

While I had heard a song or two from them, I never really put together who this Dynamic Duo was.  Until, that is, that night.  Paul got up on stage, saw kids in the audience, and immediately apologized for his f*cking potty mouth.  I giggled - partly because of what he said, and partly because Paul just looks too innocence for such a potty mouth.  Storm played guitar as they sang "Opening Band" .  Then they went through the funniest song set list I'd ever heard.  We literally were almost peeing in our pants at them.  (They even made a funny joke about the audience peeing its collective pants!)

By the time JoCo came on stage, I knew tw…

National Novel Writing Month - Craziness for 30 Days

In 2006, I stumbled across organized insanity on the Internet.   It was called National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, for short).  The concept is quite simple - you agree to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  No editing allowed, no revisions, nothing shorter than 50,000 words.

I instantly fell in love with the idea, and proceeded to write a vampire murder mystery that year.  Since then, I have attempted NaNoWriMo just about year.  Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don't.  The point is, I always try, which leads me to learn something about me and my writing.

This year, I planned a novel called, "Crazy".  The protagonist is a lovely lady named Donna, who returns to her small hometown after a nasty divorce.  The first week back, she witnesses a local person go crazy and stab a waitress for pouring too much ice in a glass.  Donna investigates because she wants to do something other than sit around and mope.  But the investigation turns from a time-burner…

American Society: We're All In This Together, Folks

Imagine that you live in an apartment with several roommates.  You divide up the rent, the water bill, the electric bill, phone bill, ....  You don't measure how long each individual takes in the shower, or how much television any person watches.  Everyone just pitches in to pay for the apartment and amenities.  If you're lucky, your roommates will even tide you over on the bills when your car breaks down and you need to spend an extra $1,000 to fix it.

That's what we are, the American people.  We are roommates, all living in one big apartment called the United States of America.  Instead of rent and bills, we pay taxes to cover living expenses, such as the police, firefighters, public libraries, and schools.  Our living expenses also include maintenance of items previous generations "purchased", such a public roads and public parks.  When someone has  a "bad month", that means that they live under the poverty line, we help them out with the expenses.…

Emergency Dinner: Chicken and Rice

We all know what an emergency dinner is - you've gotten home from either work, shopping, or some other errand and it's dinner time.  Actually, dinner time passed you by 30 minutes ago, and now everyone (including you) is hungry and cranky.  You want to get food on the table as soon as possible, and you want to avoid hitting the local fast food restaurant again.

When our oldest son was seven, I worked in Denver and lived in Colorado Springs.  That meant I had a very long commute home, after which I needed to get dinner ready.  Let me tell you, cooking is definitely not one of the top 10 things I wanted to do after a commute.  So, I cooked extra on weekend and we ate leftovers at the beginning of the week.  Sometimes we ate pizza (he was seven, so we could not eat enough pizza for him).  But other nights, I'd whip up an emergency dinner.  No, it's not the healthiest dinner on the planet, but it beats fast food.

Tonight's Dinner:

Chicken and Rice

Ingredients:

2 c. of w…

We, The People - A New Way to Petition the Government

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About a month ago, I received an email from the White House announcing a new website called We the People: Your Voice in Our Government.  I hopped over there, and found the executive branch created a new way for citizens to petition the government in accordance to the First Amendment:


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Basically, any citizen can go there and create a petition.  If a petition receives enough signatures to go over a threshold, someone in the White House will review the petition and give a formal response.  The first petitions had a threshold of 5,000 signatures, but new petitions now need at least 25,000 signatures to receive attention.


I did not write about this website before, because I wanted to see a response, an action, anything that …

Marietta Zombie Walk - Braaiiinnssss

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In years past, I've watched programs on famous zombie walks around the country.  From Pennsylvania to California, people have dressed up for years as zombies and strolled around streets or malls, groaning for fun.  Inside I wept, for I knew that Georgia was way too conservative for something like a zombie walk.

This year, a group of people proved me wrong.  For this coming Saturday is the first annualMarietta Zombie Walk!!!!   Sponsored by the City of Marietta, the Strand Theater, and a whole lot of other folks, the citizens of Cobb County now have the opportunity to sport fake death wounds while calling out for "Braaiinnsss".

The activities actually start early in the afternoon and continue well into the night.

The Earl Strand Theater scheduled four old zombie movies, starting at 2:00pm with "White Zombie".  From 2:00pm to 5:00pm, zombie wannabes can show up at The Brickyard to get help with their costume from local makeup artists.  Local photographers will a…

Not-Really Wordless Wednesday - English Grammar

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Traveling Rules for a Family

To those who don't know, I am a *big* fan of the Free Range Kid movement.  I feel that society artificially pumps up the fear in every situation that involves children, until children themselves feel scared to go outside.  
Well, I work hard to get my kids' ready for the world and not scared of society at large.  I even follow the Free Range Kids blog.  The following rules and responsibilities appeared in the blog, and I love them so much that I am passing them on.
Ambler Family Travel Rules and Responsibilities It’s good to talk to strangers.  The outside world is full of them.  The place you don’t have to deal with them is at home, which is where people who can’t cope with strangers will stay next time.Each traveler is responsible for finding things to be excited about, and sharing that enthusiasm.If the enthusiasm of others embarrasses you, pretend otherwise.  Being cool is dull, except in a sports car.Unusual foods are part of the point.Staying home is usually more comfortab…

Wordless Wednesday - Memphis Zoo

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New NPR Kids' Book Club

I came across a link tonight that made me almost giggle.  NPR now has a kids' book club, called the Back Seat Book Club.

Why did I want to giggle?  Because of pure happiness.  With all the adult book clubs out there, I have been looking for something for my children.  They love reading, but it's hard to get recommendations for them.  Yes, I do research at Common Sense Media and Scholastic websites, but what I want is something more.  And more is what a kid (and a parent) gets with this latest NPR offering.

The book club hooks into All Things Considered.  Parents and kids aged 9-14 are encouraged to read the book, either separately or together.  Then the young readers (i.e. the kids) can send questions in to the author, who appears on the show at the end of each month to chat about their book and answers some of the questions.

October's selection is "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman.  I love this book!  After reading the book, you can go to the submission page

Book Review: "The Mysterious Benedict Society" by Trenton Lee Stewart

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The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"The Mysterious Benedict Society" brings readers to a world with adventuring orphans, evil genius machinations, and a sinister plan that plays on modern day fears.

I read this book out loud to my children, and even though they were perfectly capable of reading it themselves, we had a fantastic time. Trenton Lee Stewart creates believable characters who live extraordinary lives. No one comes from a perfect home or a perfect background, but the children come together as a working group. I particularly like how each child reads as a separate individual, but none of them had stock personalities.

The only negative about the story is the length of time it takes to find out what is going on. Partway through the beginning of the book, I felt like I was missing some vital piece of information, because I just didn't get it. But soon enough, Mr. Stewart gets around to informing the reader of what&…

How To Be Your Child's Advocate

It is the job of every parent to be an advocate for their child or children - this message comes across in society through media and adult peer pressure.  But rarely does the message contain how to be an advocate.  Do you stand up for your child in every circumstance, always believing every word your child reports to you?  Do you stand next to the teacher, never believing what your child tells you?  What exactly does "being your child's advocate" really mean?

As a mother who has had a child in Cobb County schools for a combined total of 19 years, I learned how to be an advocate for my children the hard way, through trial and error, blood, sweat, and tears.  This is what I learned, in a nutshell.

For 180 days, you, your child, and your child's teacher work as a team with the goal being a happy and productive school year for your child.  That means that if a problem arises, all three of you need to work together to fix the problem.  The team works the best when no one is…

Recipe: Homemade Egg Noodles

I never really cooked when I was single - it just seemed like too much work for one person. After I got married (years and years ago), my husband cooked on the weekend, and I learned several simple meals. But in some ways, I never felt like I was cooking, since I used several cans of ingredients to make the dishes.

Late this summer, I finally decided to do what I considered "real cooking". Two things happened:

I learned how much I love my crock pot. I realized that I had been cooking before - I just didn't know it. 
 I found a wonderful website called A Year of Slow Cooking, where I learned how to make homemade marinara sauce. When it came time to make the pasta, I wanted to have something homemade to go with my marinara sauce.

I searched the Internet, high and low, and came up with...  a big headache.  Then I created a very simple recipe, using all the other recipes on the Internet.  So here is...

(Yet Another) Homemade Egg Noodles Recipe


Ingredients:

16 oz. (453.6 g…

Occupy Wall Street and the American Dream

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I have yet to post about Occupy Wall Street, because quite frankly there are enough people talking about the protests.  But I when I read about the situation, sometimes I think the general public does not realize that protests such as this are an integral part of American history.  In fact, we might still be a colony of Great Britain without people such as the protesters, willing to endure quite a bit of pain and discomfort to get a point across.

In the early 1700s, Great Britain basically ignored collecting taxes from the colonies, focusing it’s attention instead on the wealth of the Caribbean1. Then King George and the East Indies Trading Company decided to enforce taxes again, one of the triggering events of the American Revolution.  The colonists simply wanted what has become the American Dream - a chance to work hard for a roof over their heads, food, and comfort.  The colonist specifically did not want to work hard so that the East Indies Trading Company, the historically equival…

How You Can Help Your Child With Homework

Now that you have a good environment ready for your child to do homework, the question arises as to how to help your child with her homework.  Before you begin,  I have one word of advice.  

You are a parent, not a teacher.
     Even if you are a teacher, you are a parent first when helping your child with homework. This means:  
You do not correct the homework, unless you have specific instructions from the teacher.  If your child misses the majority of the problems, send a note to the teacher and let her handle it.  If your child is struggling and doesn’t want your help, stand back and let your child handle it.  If your child struggles for too long, stop her, send a note to the teacher, and let the teacher handle it..

    Homework lets the teacher know if a student understands what’s being taught, but only if you, the parent, don’t correct the homework yourself.  In other words:
Your job is to make sure the homework gets complete and to communicate to the teacher about any probl…

Wordless Wednesday - Gimme Your Candy!

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Review: "One Right Tricky Bastard" by Craig Sottolano

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One Right Tricky Bastard by C. M. Sottolano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me be honest up front - the author for this book, Craig Sottolano, is my cousin. Some people might think I'll be nicer to my cousin, and they are almost right. If he wrote a book that I absolutely hated, I'd just delete it from my Goodreads list and never mention it again.

But I did read the book, and I'm keeping here because I am quite proud of this novel.

"One Right Tricky Bastard" blew my mind. The story begins with a magician, Milo Gives (rhymes with "strives") accidentally getting a phone call meant for someone else. A young girl named Pandora is in trouble, and Milo decides to help her, because he really is just that kind of guy.

The novel is set in a different universe - one with magic, fay, angels (though you don't really see them), spirits, and ghosts. The novel begins with a bang, and maintains a nice, steady pace of action the entire way through. The charact…

An Afterward About Clouds

Reviewing my post on the Kindle Fire, I realized that neither Amazon nor Google care about people using their cloud services, per se.  In fact, if you include Apple in this list, it becomes obvious that the big three might look like competitors, but each one wants something different from consumers.

Amazon sells hardware to get people to buy content from them.    Google sells neither hardware nor content; instead the company gives away free services to draw people to Google's websites to see advertisements.Apple sells content to get people to buy their hardware.  
     Interestingly, Amazon and Google can cooperate in this mode of operation, and they actually do cooperate.  Yes, there is some overlap in services (e.g. Google Checkout), but generally speaking, Amazon and Google play nicely.  On the other hand, Apple remains a competitor to both.

     How do clouds play into this arena?  Amazon wants people to use their cloud services to strongly encourage consumers to continue…

Farewell to Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie, 1941-2011

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Earlier this week, Dennis Ritchie died.  To many people, this event went unnoticed.  But to those in the computer world, we mourned, because Dennis Ritchie changed the world.  In the 1970s, Ritchie worked at Bell Labs, and he developed the C programming language and helped develop Unix.         To those not in the computer industry, let me explain this in simple terms. Microsoft uses C to write the Windows operating system.  Microsoft Windows provides Unix APIs for developers to use.  Steve Jobs brought Unix to Apple, and all current day Apple products run a Unix core, with their GUI on top.  Linux is a derivative of Unix, written by Torval Linus and given away for free.      Whether or not you are using a desktop computer, laptop, netbook, tablet, or smart phone, the operating system would not exist as is without Dennis Ritchie.      So raise a glass or bow your head, but I urge you to take a moment today to honor Dennis Ritchie, a quiet man who changed the world.      If you want …