Friday, December 29, 2006

Playing card money

I have here on my desk a used book I'm getting cleaned up for the store: 1960 Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins Tokens and Paper Money: Fully Illustrated 1670 to Date, by J.E. Charlton, Whitman Publishing Company, Racine, Wisconsin, c. 1959.

Noted in passing, a caption on page 99:

First brought into use as a result of scarcity of regular currency - and as a temporary expedient. Playing Card Money nevertheless remained in common use for a period of approximately 75 years in French Canada. Full cards, half cards, quarter cards and even portions of clipped cards were used.

The years in question aren't listed, but the examples shown in pictures have dates on them of 1714. 1729, 1749 and what appears to be 1757. The next illustration is of "Canada's First Bank Note" issued in 1792.

That puts a different spin on "dealing" or "closing a deal" or "do you want to deal?"... ;)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Who ya calling a pup?

When it was time to check out at the grocery store today I headed for a line that had an older lady I know, hoping to have a brief chat. Well, to call it a line is stretching things. There was one person ahead of her, and she was end of the line until I joined her. She was unloading her groceries onto the belt as I came up.

The bag boy looked up, saw her, and said, "Hi, Granny."

"Does everyone call you Granny?" I asked her. We do, and I think everyone we have as mutual friends does, but somehow to have a cocky teenybopper do it with a straight face was a surprise.

"Oh, him?" she said, picking up on my surprise about the bag boy. "I've known him since he was a pup."

He wasn't sure how to take that.

The checker grinned. "He's still a pup," she volunteered, teasingly.

To this, the bag boy took offense, and said so. The checker explained to him that since she had children older than him, he was a pup.

He spent his time bagging Granny's groceries and then mine alternating between proclaiming his maturity and trying to get back at the checker for saying he was still a pup. His main tactic was to compare himself favorably with her children. Not, perhaps, a wise course of action...

He insisted on taking my cart out for me. As we went across the parking lot, which slopes down, he apparently forgot he was in the midst of a mission to prove he wasn't a pup. He jumped on the back of the cart and steered it by applying his feet to the wheels, happily zigging his way to my van. All boy. All kid. All pup. Heh.

I kept a straight face and held my tongue. He was being careful and wasn't likely to run into anybody, which I figured was the main thing.

When we got to my van, without missing a beat or batting an eye he hopped to the ground and morphed back into a grown-up, pleasant and well-mannered and helpful.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Life in a small town, holiday post office edition

Our post office is only open Monday through Friday, although between ten and noon on Saturday morning you can knock on a certain Dutch door if you've got a yellow slip in your box announcing that you have a package to pick up, and they'll go find the package for you. (These yellow slips, I might add, never get filled in like at some post offices. Probably the postal worker knows which box is yours anyway, and if he or she doesn't, you just tell them. No sense wasting forms when you can reuse them for the price of a little human to human communication.)

So, when I walked into the post office Sunday morning early to check our P.O. box, I was startled - and a bit concerned - when I saw that the top of the Dutch door was wide open. It's not even wide open on Saturdays, thanks. And this Sunday was Christmas Eve, a holiday, a day you might expect the post office to be full of echoes instead of workers.

I was relieved when the movement I saw in the back room, through the Dutch door, turned out to be the acting postmaster. I wished him a Merry Christmas and he wished me a Merry Christmas right back and we went on about our separate business.

When I got home, the mystery was explained. Several times over, the DJ on our local radio station announced that Chuck down at the post office still had a mountain of Christmas packages, and he'd be there until noon for anyone who wanted to come in to pick theirs up. If you didn't know if you had a package, you were urged to call Chuck.

Since I live quite close I sauntered back minutes before noon to check my box again, just in case something Christmas-y had slipped in at the last moment. There wasn't a yellow slip in it, but there were three pieces of mail that hadn't been there earlier in the day. Behind me, hidden behind the wall of boxes across the room, I could hear Chuck diligently sorting mail into boxes, making good use of his time waiting for latecomers.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Random acts of generosity

If I ever have money to burn, I think I'd like to do something like this. (Wouldn't you?):

A mysterious woman hopped aboard Spokane Transit Authority buses Thursday, greeted passengers with "Merry Christmas" and handed each an envelope before stepping off. The envelopes contained a card and a $50 bill.

The scene was repeated on several other buses.

The secret Santa did it so quickly that descriptions of the woman varied among surprised passengers.

Authorities said she handed out at least a thousand dollars. Spokane is in Washington state.

Full story: Bus Riders Get $50 Gift From Anonymous Woman (AP on, Dec. 22, 2006)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Those shy and sensitive wild beasts

Shortly after we opened our first bookstore, my husband stepped out the back door, only to fly back in and slam the door. It turns out he'd nearly stepped on a mountain lion standing at the bottom of the steps. This was inside a lean-to that ran along the back of the building and opened onto the parking lot, mind you, not out in the open air. The cougar had invited itself inside.

The bookstore was in a building that had been a feed store, and before that a truck repair shop, and I'm not sure what else over the years. Somebody along the way had built a floor over the service bays, leaving the deep pits as they were, and incidentally leaving enough room between the old floor and the new for a cougar to maneuver. This cougar had decided that this set-up made a perfect den. Never mind that the floor above her head housed a bookstore and computer repair shop, and that people came and went, came and went, footfall after footfall after footfall, day after day, hours every day. It was apparently a good enough den to compensate for the neighbors - hey, it even came with heat - and it turned out she accessed it through a hole near the back steps, hence my husband's close encounter of the life-endangering kind.

The Fish and Wildlife people were kind enough to come trap her and relocate her to the deeps of the forest somewhere, just before she had her kittens. (Thanks again, fellas!)

She was just one of three cougars that I remember we had trouble with in that location. One was an old cat, too crippled up and toothbare to hunt anymore. He came for the trash cans behind the building next door. The other was a young male cougar, who'd trot through the parking lot now and then, just passing through. Never mind that we were along a state highway in a town that's been around since the 1860s.

I took to running outside with warnings to anyone who let their children or pets loose to play outside. But a curious thing happened. I'd tell people that they probably shouldn't let their five-year-old run off steam beside or behind the building because we'd been having cougar sightings, and some of them got on their high horse with some variation of "What do you take me for? Cougars are wild animals and they'd give a place like this right on the highway a wide berth. Everybody knows that."

Well, no. A thousand times no. They'd found easy pickings in pet cats and dogs and trash cans, and they'd proved themselves perfectly happy to put up with the hustle and bustle and cars roaring by. (Your children don't want to hear this, but sometimes the first clue you've acquired a cougar as a neighbor is when pet dogs and cats disappear. Although they don't generally provide as much meat, they're ever so much easier to catch and kill than deer and elk, etc.)

More than once, I've seen a cougar chasing deer on the hill above the elementary school here. It's apparently a good hill for ambushing deer...

At any rate, some people do tend to vastly underestimate the ability of animals to adapt to - i.e. ignore - life's little annoyances, human-caused or otherwise. Laer's The Fish Guys And The Bear Guys post provides a pretty good illustration of the point.

hat tip: The Paragraph Farmer (includes book recommendation)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I hope we're not killing the messenger

Late last night we ordered a plant online, to be delivered by a florist a few hundred miles from here to an older relative who suffered a fall. She's OK, but she's hurting - and besides it's Christmas - so we ordered up a small but perky holly plant to be taken to her door.

This morning we see by the news that where she lives is suffering some of the worst winter weather in living memory, with stranded motorists and car wrecks all over the place.

Note to delivery people: I don't want anybody risking his neck to deliver stuff for me. That's one of the reasons I don't like to ship via 'overnight' or other such rush-rush ways, especially in the winter. I worry about delivery people, feeling pressure to get stuff somewhere, even when conditions are bad, and even when the deliveries aren't truly urgent.

I wish sometimes there was a place on order forms where I could mark a priority box, so that in blizzards the deliveryman could set aside my shipment without a qualm, waiting for a sensible time to try to get it to its destination.

If you give a gal a new cleaning agent...

Back in September, I read a Works-For-Me Wednesday post over at Fernnook Farmgirl in which the blogger said her grandmother kept her house spic and span using a bit of dishwashing detergent in water in a spray bottle. I decided I'd try it when I ran out of the spray cleaner I already had. I could see that if her suggestion worked well enough to suit me, I could save a fair amount of money.

So, I finally ran out of the other stuff, and instead of buying a refill I filled the spray bottle with water and added a small squirt of my off-brand, very inexpensive dishwashing detergent.

Tell me again, why have I been buying more expensive stuff all these years?

But here's the funny part. I tried it to see if I could save money, but once I tried it I realized that it didn't subject me to the smells I don't like about cleaning.

Once I realized that it didn't subject me to smells I don't like, it occurred to me that since it didn't fill the house up with nasty smells I could use it in the morning when my husband is still asleep. (I'm the early riser around here.) Theoretically, I could have cleaned with the other stuff, but it seems inconsiderate to jar a person out of slumber with assaults to his nose and lungs.

Once I started cleaning in the morning, I found it jumpstarted my day. I know I didn't acquire more time to do housework in, but things done before breakfast seem like bonus work, if you know what I mean? Besides, it got those chores out of the way, uncluttering the rest of the day. (Besides, if I get going before I turn my computer on, I don't get pulled off course so easily or so often. Ahem.)

Once I got cleaning in the morning, and seemed to have more time to do that sort of thing, I found I was getting my cleaning done with time to spare. So I found I was looking around for little jobs I'd been putting off...

Once I started tackling little jobs I'd been putting off, it occurred to me that I wasn't hesitating to clean surfaces with seriously diluted dish detergent that I didn't much like to clean with the other stuff. I'm still careful to rinse and dry surfaces involved in food prep, etc., but I don't have that 'gee, I wonder if I got the cleaner off enough to be safe' feeling I used to have.

Now that I wasn't worried about turning my home into a hazmat site, I got to thinking about the other tasks I put off because of the chemicals...

I hate cleaning my oven with the commercial oven cleaners, and I never do it except in good weather when I can throw open windows and doors. (I have an old kitchen. No exhaust fan.) Why soapy water wouldn't work was beyond me, so I washed the inside of the oven. This didn't get all the caked on stuff, but it got a lot even with my hit the high points and rinse twice for good measure approach - and when I made scalloped potatoes right afterward I didn't wonder what I was baking into the food. Before I baked, I preheated the oven and sniffed for good measure (and out of habit, since I always heat and smell check the oven after I've cleaned it) and for once I didn't have that sharp aftersmell that seems to go along with cleaning an oven.

I figure that I can clean my oven more often, now that it's not a major undertaking with rubber gloves and newspapers on the floor and rinse buckets and fans and open windows and locking the cats in another part of the house for their safety. I figure in the long run I'll have a cleaner oven on average than the old way. Such a deal.

Heh. Watch out. I am armed with a spray bottle, and I'm not afraid to use it.

Thank you, Laurie, for the tip. And thank your Grandma Opal for me, will you?

Update: Fixed editing error second graf.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Author note: Richard Carlson, author of `Don't Sweat the Small Stuff' books, has died

Richard Carlson, who got a lot of people to lighten up by teaching them not to sweat the small stuff, has died of a heart attack. He was only 45. He was in the middle of a book tour for his latest book, Don't Get Scrooged.

According to Jackie Burrell, reporting in the Contra Costa Times, "The family is requesting that memorial donations be made to local food banks, Challenge Day, Girls Inc. or Children Inc."

Don't Get Scrooged: How to Thrive in a World Full of Obnoxious, Incompetent, Arrogant, and Downright Mean-Spirited People
Don't Get Scrooged: How to Thrive in a World Full of Obnoxious, Incompetent, Arrogant, and Downright Mean-Spirited People

Four-legged golf hazard

If you want to play at a certain golf course near Missoula, Montana, expect to lose a golf ball or two to an unusual hazard: a fox that likes to steal balls that hit the green. Luckily, players seem to have a good sense of humor about it. has video.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Gadget geekery deluxe

I can't quite comprehend the sport of having a more gadget-laden knife than the next person, but I have known some competitors in my day. For them, the new Giant Swiss Army knife (Call that a knife?, Andrew Martin, Guardian Unlimited, Dec. 6, 2006) ought to send rivals whimpering into a corner, acknowledging defeat. Or down on the floor laughing. I'm not sure which. :)

hat tip: Lars Walker

"Responding to Rangel"

James Taranto, who runs Best of the Web Today at Opinion Journal, has been printing comments from readers who have decided to respond to Rep. Charles Rangel's unflattering statements about U.S. servicemen and -women. The sixth installment ran today. Links to previous installments are at the bottom of the article. He promises more tomorrow.

I'm not sure those serving in the American military ever fit the template assigned to them by the big boys in the media and certain varieties of college professors in the last half of the 1900s. But they sure don't fit that template now. Not from what I can see.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blair's take on PC multiculturalism

If you missed British Prime Minister Tony Blair's speech in which he attacked what is wrong with multiculturalism in practice, and laid out what he thought should be done about it, you can read the full text at the Telegraph. An excerpt:

Our tolerance is part of what makes Britain, Britain. So conform to it; or don't come here. We don't want the hate-mongers, whatever their race, religion or creed. If you come here lawfully, we welcome you. If you are permitted to stay here permanently, you become an equal member of our community and become one of us. Then you, and all of us, who want to, can worship God in our own way, take pride in our different cultures after our own fashion, respect our distinctive histories according to our own traditions; but do so within a shared space of shared values in which we take no less pride and show no less respect.

The right to be different. The duty to integrate. That is what being British means. And neither racists nor extremists should be allowed to destroy it.

hat tip: Rush Limbaugh

Monday, December 11, 2006

Book note: Mindless Eating, by Brian Wansick

Danielle Bean has been testing some of the theories presented in the book Mindless Eating. Her post here.

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We Think
Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We Think

Clicking on the book cover will take you to Barnes & Noble, where you can read an excerpt.

Smiling at people on treadmills

Brrr. Cough. Sniff. This is cold and flu season around here, and for weeks now my husband and I have been catching one mild to moderate bug after another. Last week, I had a bug that made me feel cold no matter what I did, while simultaneously my hubby had one that made him feel overheated no matter what he did. It gets a little tricky, knowing where to set the thermostat in situations like that...

Today we both woke up fighting something that made us feel chilled, amongst other things (I'll spare you the details). But I was well enough this afternoon to do my usual work.

By late afternoon I was feeling the effects of being cooped up more than usual lately. (This is too early in the year for cabin fever. Way too early.) So I bundled up and went for a walk, just a short one, rounding a couple of blocks. I figured the fresh air and exercise would do me good, despite the rotten weather and harsh wind. (Did I mention I have a mild case of cabin fever? Or that my judgment is sometimes questionable when I'm sick?)

I am lucky in that I have several good options for walks around here. But for the purposes of this post I'll just note that most of my routes go by a certain gym on Main Street sooner or later. This gym has its treadmills facing a front window. The front window is very large. So, passersby and cars provide a show for the folks on the treadmills, and the folks on the treadmills provide a show for the passersby and people in cars.

During the spring, summer, and fall, I suppress a chuckle most days when I go past the gym. Here I am, walking just like the folks on the treadmills, albeit not so earnestly, and I'm getting fresh air and multiple opportunities to chat with neighbors over a fence. I'm getting a bit of sunshine, vital for good heath. And I'm getting all this for free. Plus I'm not making a spectacle of myself, not like the folks in leotards on treadmills, at any rate.

Today the trade-offs weren't quite so obviously in my favor. The wind was howling. It was strong enough I had to lean into it when I was facing it, and had to compensate for it when it was to my side or behind me. There certainly weren't any neighbors working in their yard for me to pass the time of day with. And yet, when I passed the gym and there was an athletic woman walking at a fast clip on one of the treadmills, I found myself suppressing a chuckle anyway. We half-glanced at each other, and my translation of the look that passed between us was that each of us thought the other person was to be pitied, just a wee bit.

For what it's worth, she is in better shape than I am. Also for what it's worth, I was enjoying myself, the wind, wet and cold notwithstanding. (Of course, I was well-bundled and it was a short walk.) She looked like she was fulfilling some grim duty.

To each her own, I guess.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Just for grins

If You Give Your Mom Some Bubble Bath is inspired by real events (as well as "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" books), Mother Auma says.

Girls will be girls... :)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Book market watch: Hanna's Christmas

If you happen to run across a nice used copy of a children's book called Hanna's Christmas by Melissa Peterson, you might want to buy it if it doesn't cost the moon. Here's why.

Of course, if we're lucky, somebody will authorize a new print run. But it doesn't seem likely at this point.

How River Rising got its name

I would be very surprised to hear that you've lost sleep wondering how Athol Dickson's book River Rising came to be called River Rising. But the acquisitions editor who snagged the book for Bethany House has the behind-the-scenes story. In my humble opinion, it helps prove that humans work in publishing after all. ;)

Athol Dickson blogs at the group blog Charis Connection, by the way.

Related previous post: New book buzz: River Rising

River Rising
River Rising

An interview with Hank the Cowdog creator John Erickson

Susan Olasky of World Magazine got author John Erickson to talk about his books, his views on storytelling and art, and what buzzards do when they're upset. The buzzard bit is gross, but his views on artists are refreshing:

WORLD: You've said that you learned from parents and teachers that your "business is not books. It's nourishment." What do you mean by that?

ERICKSON: People need good stories just as they need home-cooked meals, clean water, spiritual peace, and love. A good story is part of that process. It affirms divine order in the universe and justice in human affairs and makes people better than they were before they read it. If artists are more gifted than ordinary mortals (we keep hearing that they are), they should find order and harmony in human experience. That's what Bach and Handel did. Artists should nourish the spirit, not poison it.


WORLD: You wrote that you once received three letters in a month from mothers of autistic children. You found out later why the books connected with these kids. Would you explain?

ERICKSON: One of the mothers explained that autistic children fight a constant battle against mental chaos. They crave structure and order. My stories are tightly structured. They all have happy endings and in every story, justice is affirmed. The grotesque irony is that, while the mothers of autistic children fight day and night against mental chaos, popular culture scoops it out by the ton: frantic television images that have no coherence, movies that can't distinguish between heroes and villains, art that seems to have lost all vision of form and beauty.

Full article

hat tip: Amanda Witt

The Vocabula Review

Since I know a lot of you care deeply about not letting language slide into the gutter or get too muddy to make things clear, John Epstein's article Language Guardian (Opinion Journal, December 7) led me to The Vocabula Review, which operates under the tagline "A society is generally as lax as its language."

Ooh, that tagline hit home for a reason you might not suspect. It wasn't until I got a job as a newspaper reporter that I learned the word its. My friendly editor went nuts until I learned to not use it's where I should have used its. To this day, whenever I use it's I stop to make sure I can turn it into it is or it has. Just to make sure. Just because I drove a lady bonkers in my former ignorance. Silly, I know. For those of you who are new to the word its, the way I remember to use it is to think of it as being in the same verbal basket as his and hers and ours.

Of course, the tagline hit home for other reasons. Words matter. Misusing words can make communications difficult and reasoning muddled. I'm far from being a good role model on matters of grammar or punctuation, I know, but it's not for lack of caring. I had a few too many teachers who had individualized ideas about such things, shall we say? If you think I'm original now, you should have seen me before I realized I'd been mistaught. Yinga. The relearning never ends. I haven't had a chance to take a good, hard look at The Vocabula Review, but at first glance it looks like it might be able to teach me a thing or two.

hat tip: Between Two Worlds (which I found from a link at Ponderosa Hill, which, appropriately enough, has a post today on a phrase that people seem to use without thinking about what they're saying. I know I've used it without thinking...)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Dueling gift traditions

When I was a child, my mother taught me that when handed a present, the proper thing to do was to open it in front of the gift giver, and then politely thank him or her for it whether you thought it was what you wanted or not. If you didn't like it, you weren't supposed to fake enthusiasm for the gift, but you weren't to let on you didn't like it, either. Thank you for thinking of me isn't lying. It's acknowledging that the other person wanted to please you, even if they didn't. This is known as being civilized. You can let them get to know you better later, if it comes to that.

So, fine. I was tested from time to time, when I'd open a gift and wonder how I'd managed to come across as somebody who would like that. But it wasn't any big deal, generally. Thank you makes people feel good. It's a gift you can give anybody. Any time. (People who give home decor and tell you exactly where and how to display it call for a slightly different approach, of course. There's a fine line between presenting a gift and trespassing. Learning how to say thank you while carefully not agreeing to take something with strings attached is a necessary life skill. It is called learning to deal with difficult people.)

I learned that being gracious was basically a good policy. And, besides, gifts can grow on you, if you give them a chance.

But then I went to Japan to visit a friend who was teaching English. While I was there, some Japanese ladies handed me a gift. Dutifully, I started to open it.

There were sharp intakes of breath. I thought my hostesses were going to faint.

They did not know a whole lot of English and I had only a few words of Japanese at my disposal, but I managed to ask if I'd accidentally done something wrong.

Obviously, I had, of course. The ladies looked uncertainly from one to another, with that 'who's going to tell her?' look that seems to exist cross-culturally.

Finally, the explanation got past the language barrier. In Japan, they said, you never open a gift in front of the giver. Shifting your attention to the gift suggests that the thing is more important than the person.

Oh. I can see that. Good point.

On the other hand, not much beats watching kids open Christmas or birthday presents.

What to do? What to do?

Personally, I decided to pick either Japanese rules or ancestral rules depending on the circumstances. I like the Japanese emphasis on people being more important than stuff, but I also don't want to be a spoilsport. Besides, I like to think I can get across that the person is what matters, and the stuff is mostly for message and fun.

Then I got married. And found there are differences between my family's traditions and my husband's family's traditions... some subtle, some not.

I guess that's pretty common. Yes?

Luckily, we're all pretty quick to laugh at ourselves around here. :)

Book note: How to Train Your Pet Like a Television Star, by Ray Berwick

As I understand it, Ray Berwick was one of the top animal trainers in the entertainment industry back when animal actors were big. As much to the point, he had great success without using pain or punishment. How to Train Your Pet Like a Television Star, c. 1977, covers birds and dogs and cats mostly, with a few tips for horses, too. The forward is by Robert Blake. His show "Baretta" featured a cockatoo (Fred) trained by Berwick.

The used copy I have on my desk right now, getting it ready for sale, is a 13th printing from 1983, which suggests that the book had a good run of popularity back in the day. It seems to be out of print these days, but internet prices are surprisingly low for the limited number of used copies for sale. The publisher is Armstrong Publishing Company, Los Angeles.

The back cover copy: "For the first time, a fast and comprehensive method for training animals and birds without pain or punishment. It is the same method used by Ray Berwick and his associates at Universal Studios, San Diego Wild Animal Park, Marriott's Great America and Lion County Safari."

Berwick also wrote a book or books on training your cat, also out of print. I haven't seen it/them, so don't know if it's one book released under two titles, or two somewhat different books. The titles I've seen are Ray Berwick's Complete Guide to Training Your Cat and Train Your Cat. (And, yes, some cats can be trained. We have one that plays fetch handsomely. When she feels like it, that is... :)

For some nice stories in passing about Ray Berwick, see this transcript of a March 2005 television interview with actress and animal lover Tippi Hendren, in which, amongst other things, she talked about the filming of Alfred Hitchcock's movie The Birds.

Metal thieves endangering themselves and others

Steps are being taken to dry up the market for stolen metal. Why? Well, let's see, public safety, for one. Huge repair costs for some victims for another. See Metal Thieves Risk Life and Limb by Pam Blair, Ruralite, November 27, 2006, for more.

If you don't click through, one of the things you need to know from the article is that metal thieves have taken to taking grounding wires from existing homes as well as those under construction. Their measly haul nets them a few pennies or maybe a dollar or two, but leaves your home without working breakers or fuses. Not a good thing.

The article includes suggestions on what to watch for to help keep the electrical system safe. Many of the tips would apply equally well for tripping up terrorists, I think. There are rather large rewards on offer, too, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of burglars at power facilities, if rewards matter to you.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Three members of Kim family found, father still missing (Updated)

Wednesday update: James Kim has been found dead.

I'm almost afraid to believe this but AP and are reporting that Kati Kim and her two young children have been found and airlifted to a hospital. The father of the family, James Kim, is reported to have left them two days ago on foot, looking for help, and hasn't been found.

The family went missing on November 25 on their way back to California from a trip to Washington state. Previous post: Info sought on missing family.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Peg-Leg Webb's legacy

From the What's a Bog? section of the Ocean Spray company's website (bottom of post):

At Ocean Spray we take a lot of pride in our cranberries. Only the best make it into our products. But how does one judge a cranberry? Well, we start by judging their color, size and freshness. And, surprisingly enough, by their ability to bounce. That's right. Bounce. You see, an early New Jersey grower, John "Peg-Leg" Webb, first noted this special property of the cranberry. Because of his wooden leg, he couldn't carry his berries down from the loft of his barn where he stored them. Instead, he'd pour them down the steps. He soon noticed that only the firmest and freshest berries bounced down to the bottom; the soft and bruised ones didn't make it. This led to the development of the first cranberry bounce board separator, a device we still use today, to remove damaged or sub-standard berries.

Children, I forbid you to test cranberries for freshness without your parents' permission.

The Nativity Story and the Real Mary

I don't live anywhere near a movie theater, so I'm out of the loop on this, but Mark D. Roberts - who saw an advanced screening of the film - is not only recommending people go see The Nativity Story, he's asking for people to turn out for this opening weekend if possible. He wants to send Hollywood a message, you see.

He's written a series of articles prompted by the movie: The Nativity Story and the Real Mary.

Breakfast Cookies? Hmmm.

I'm just about out of cookies from my last batch (I freeze them and thaw as needed wanted), and was casting about for a new recipe to try. Randi at I Have to Say... shares what looks like a good one. Although I'm not sure I'd try the cheese. I'm having trouble getting my head around the idea of cheesy cookies.

Randi omits the cheese, and says she gets good results. I'm game. Where's my shopping list? All I lack is the raisins. I wonder if chopped prunes would work? I have prunes...

Info sought on missing family

James and Kati Kim of San Francisco and their two children, Penelope, age 4, and Sabine, 7 months, have gone missing while traveling through Oregon. The public is being asked to keep a lookout for them, and their car, which has a custom license tag.

From the police page set up for them:

The San Francisco Police Department is seeking information regarding a missing San Francisco family of four. On Friday, November 17, 2006, James Kim, his wife, Kati Kim, and their children, Penelope Kim and Sabine Kim left on a road trip to Seattle, Washington. The family was expected to return to San Francisco on Monday, November 27th, 2006. When both James Kim and Kati Kim did not show up for their appointments on Tuesday, November 28th, it caused their co-workers to be worried for their safety. The Kim’s are known to always keep in touch daily either by phone or e-mail with their friends and co-workers. The last known whereabouts of the Kim family was in Portland, Oregon on Saturday morning, November 25, 2006. They were driving a 2005 silver Saab station wagon with California personalized plates of “DOESF”

There are photos and descriptions and more information at that link, as well as contact information.

Their co-workers have also set up a website with info and pictures and links.

Associated Press/Northwest Cable News (NWCN) reports that police have determined that the family's cell phone and credit cards haven't been used since Nov. 25.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Jockey Russell Baze breaks most-wins record

Jockey Russell Baze of California has become thoroughbred racing's winningest jockey.

Baze becomes thoroughbred racing's winningest jockey with victory No. 9,531, by Beth Harris, Associated Press (USA Today, Dec. 1, 2006)

Baze's record more Ripken than Rose, by Jeremy Plonk (Special to, December 1, 2006)

Folk music, circa 2006

Danielle Bean has had good luck using a folk/bluegrass CD by Justin and Hope Schneir to put her kids into better moods. She has a link to a site where you can listen to some clips.

It looks like the Prime Minister will have a special needs son

India Knight notes that both of the men in line to become Prime Minister in the UK have a child with a disability. David Cameron's son, Ivan, has cerebral palsy. Gordon Brown's infant son Fraser has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

Please note: The Gordon Brown post to which I linked is family friendly, but a quick browse through India Knight's blog turned up language that isn't allowed under my roof, and a few entries that I found unsettling. On the other hand, Isn't She Talking Yet? is specifically set up as a supportive blog for parents of special needs children and it has its good posts, too. (Not to mention cute kid pictures.) The blog is hosted at Times Online.

Update: One of my readers bets that neither David Cameron nor Gordon Brown will become Prime Minister. I don't know from UK politics right now, so I'm not going to bet against her (besides, at a guess Maxine's more savvy on this than India Knight). See comments.