30 November 2005

Cats and cookie making

Baking Cookies (with your cat)

1. Look in cookbook for cookie recipe.
2. Get cup of coffee.
3. Get cat off of cookbook.
4. Find that special recipe.
5. Get cat's nose out of coffee mug.
6. Go to fridge and get eggs.
7. Get dry ingredients from cupboard.
8. Break eggs in small bowl.
9. Sift dry ingredients in large bowl.
10. Answer the phone.
11. Cat ate eggs; get more from fridge.
12. Get cat out of flour bowl and dust cat off.
13. Get Band-Aids for scratches on hands.
14. Throw flour out and get more.
15. Preheat oven for cookies.
16. Looking at cat & wanting to bake cat now. Cat runs for cover into bathroom.
17. Flour the counter to roll out cookie dough.
18. Big crash in bathroom; run to see what happened.
19. Cat has TP all over floor; stuff spilled
and knocked over on top of bathroom counter.
20. Yell at cat. Cat falls in toilet bowl.
21. Can sense cat is angry.
22. Take cat out of toilet to dry cat off.
23. Get bandages to cover more scratches on arms and legs.
24. Cleanup bathroom.
25. Hear a thump in kitchen ... Oh Golly ... now what?
26. Get cat off floured counter in kitchen.
27. Try to pick out cat hairs from flour.
28. Step on cat's tail and get bitten.
29. Get coat, car keys, and go to store to buy cookies!!!

27 November 2005

My paternal grandmother

Your Birthdate: June 5

You have many talents, and you are great at sharing those talents with others.
Most people would be jealous of your clever intellect, but you're just too likeable to elicit jealousy.
Progressive and original, you're usually thinking up cutting edge ideas.
Quick witted and fast thinking, you have difficulty finding new challenges.

Your strength: Your superhuman brainpower

Your weakness: Your susceptibility to boredom

Your power color: Tangerine

Your power symbol: Ace

Your power month: May

My paternal grandfather

Your Birthdate: April 15

You take life as it is, and you find happiness in a variety of things.
You tend to be close to family and friends. But it's hard to get into your inner circle.
Making the little things wonderful is important to you, and you probably have an inviting home.
You seek harmony with others, but occasionally you have a very stubborn streak.

Your strength: Your intense optimism

Your weakness: You shy away from exploring your talents

Your power color: Jade

Your power symbol: Flower

Your power month: June

My sister

Your Birthdate: May 1

You are a natural born leader, even if those leadership talents haven't been developed yet.
You have the power and self confidence to succeed in life, and your power grows daily.
Besides power, you also have a great deal of creativity that enables you to innovate instead of fail.
You are a visionary, seeing the big picture instead of all of the trivial little details.

Your strength: Your supreme genius

Your weakness: Your inappropriate sensitivity

Your power color: Gold

Your power symbol: Star

Your power month: January

My brother

Your Birthdate: March 14

You work well with others. That is, you're good at getting them to do work for you.
It's true that you get by on your charm. But so what? You make people happy!
You're dynamic, clever, and funny. And people like to have you around.
But you're so restless, they better not expect you to stay around for long.

Your strength: Your superstar charisma

Your weakness: Commitment means nothing to you

Your power color: Fuchsia

Your power symbol: Diamond

Your power month: May

My husband

Your Birthdate: June 12

You're a dynamic, charismatic person who's possibly headed for fame.
You tend to charm strangers easily. And you usually can get what you want from them.
Verbally talented, you tend to persuade people with your speaking and writing.
You are affectionate and loving, but it's hard for you to commit to any one relationship.

Your strength: Your charm

Your weakness: Your extreme manipulation tactics

Your power color: Indigo

Your power symbol: Four leaf clover

Your power month: December

My dad

Your Birthdate: October 26

You lucked out the the skills to succeed in almost any arena.
Put you in almost any business or classroom, and you'll rise to the top.
You're driven and intense, but you also know when to kick back and cooperate.
Your ability to adapt to almost any situation is part of what's going to make you a success.

Your strength: Your attention to detail

Your weakness: You can be a little too proud of your successes

Your power color: Turquoise

Your power symbol: Arrow pointing up

Your power month: August

My mom

Your Birthdate: October 2

You're so intuitive, it's like you have a sixth, seventh, and eighth sense.
You connect with others freely and easily - and you tend to have many best friends.
Warm and caring, it's hard for you to close your heart to anyone.
Affection is like air for you - you need to give and receive it to survive.

Your strength: Your universal compassion

Your weakness: Your unpredictable mood swings

Your power color: Mauve

Your power symbol: Butterfly

Your power month: February

What does my birthdate mean?

Your Birthdate: July 16

You're incredibly introverted and introspective. You live inside your head.
You spend a lot of alone time meditating and thinking.
People see you as withdrawn, and at times they are right.
You are caring and deep, but it may be difficult for you to show this side of yourself.

Your strength: Your original approach to thinking

Your weakness: You tend to shy away from others

Your power color: Pale blue

Your power symbol: Wavy line

Your power month: July

26 November 2005


If a child lives with criticism,
She learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
He learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule,
She learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame,
He learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance,
She learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
He learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise,
She learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
He learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
She learns to have faith.
If a child live with approval,
He learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
He learns to find love in the world.

18 November 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

The History of Thanksgiving

Here is the History of Thanksgiving from a couple sources:


Don't cry fowl, but the first Thanksgiving was not celebrated by the Pilgrims. In fact, Thanksgiving Day has been celebrated in one way or another throughout history by cultures around the world. Today, Americans of all religions and ethnicities take the fourth Thursday of November to appreciate all that we have to be thankful for. So, let's cut through all the turkey, and tell you the real story:

Animist tribes believed that plants and animals had spirits which were angered by the harvest. To appease these spirits, tribes would make offerings which often included elaborate festivals. These ceremonies provided the foundation for today's Thanksgiving Day holiday.

In addition, the ancient Greeks, Romans and Hebrews all performed their own festivals to celebrate bountiful harvests. The Greeks honored their goddess of grains, Demeter, during the autumn festival of Thesmosphoria. The Romans made annual offerings to Ceres, the goddess of corn. The Jewish people have been celebrating Sukkoth, the harvest festival, for over 2,000 years.

The American tradition began in 1621 when Massachusetts Bay Governor William Bradford proclaimed a feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest. The colonists had suffered severe hardships during their first year in the New World, and the successful harvest provided hope that things were improving. According to several documented accounts of this feast, the colonists shared corn, fruits, vegetables and fish with friendly native American tribes who in turn provided fresh venison.

Stop! Hold the cranberry sauce! Although this autumnal feast has served as the foundation for later Thanksgiving Day celebrations, the Pilgrims neither called it "Thanksgiving," nor did they repeat the ceremony in future years. In fact, a day of "thanksgiving" would have been spent fasting and praying by these devoutly religious peoples.

So when did the holiday start? Actually, there were various Thanksgiving Day celebrations throughout the early years of colonial USA and Canada. It was George Washington who first declared that all the members of the new Union should celebrate Thanksgiving on the same day, Thursday, November 26, 1789. But, not surprisingly, it was Abraham Lincoln who first declared Thanksgiving as a US national holiday in 1863. America's neighbors, the Canadians, celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October

The History of Thanksgiving

Ever wonder what the pilgrims and their Native American guests really ate at the first feast? The truth may surprise you. Contrary to popular belief, they didn't sit down to a meal featuring turkey, corn, cranberries, and pumpkin pie (in fact, they didn't even have forks!).

Travel back to Plymouth and discover some of the humble origins of Thanksgiving traditions we celebrate today and what the original celebration was actually like!

First Thanksgiving

In 1621 the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast which is now known as the first Thanksgiving. While cooking methods and table etiquette have changed as the holiday has evolved, the meal is still consumed today with the same spirit of celebration and overindulgence.

What Was Actually on the Menu?
What foods topped the table at the first harvest feast? Historians aren't completely certain about the full bounty, but it's safe to say the pilgrims weren't gobbling up pumpkin pie or playing with their mashed potatoes. Following is a list of the foods that were available to the colonists at the time of the 1621 feast. However, the only two items that historians know for sure were on the menu are venison and wild fowl, which are mentioned in primary sources. The most detailed description of the "First Thanksgiving" comes from Edward Winslow from A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, in 1621:

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers
of our plenty.

The Pilgrims' Menu

Foods That May Have Been on the Menu

Seafood: Cod, Eel, Clams, Lobster
Wild Fowl: Wild Turkey, Goose, Duck, Crane, Swan, Partridge, Eagles
Meat: Venison, Seal
Grain: Wheat Flour, Indian Corn
Vegetables: Pumpkin, Peas, Beans, Onions, Lettuce, Radishes, Carrots
Fruit: Plums, Grapes
Nuts: Walnuts, Chestnuts, Acorns
Herbs and Seasonings: Olive Oil, Liverwort, Leeks, Dried Currants, Parsnips

What Was Not on the Menu
Surprisingly, the following foods, all considered staples of the modern Thanksgiving meal, didn't appear on the pilgrims's first feast table:

Ham: There is no evidence that the colonists had butchered a pig by this time, though they had brought pigs with them from England.
Sweet Potatoes/Potatoes: These were not common.
Corn on the Cob: Corn was kept dried out at this time of year.
Cranberry Sauce: The colonists had cranberries but no sugar at this time.
Pumpkin Pie: It's not a recipe that exists at this point, though the pilgrims had recipes for stewed pumpkin.
Chicken/Eggs: We know that the colonists brought hens with them from England, but it's unknown how many they had left at this point or whether the hens were still laying.
Milk: No cows had been aboard the Mayflower, though it's possible that the colonists used goat milk to make cheese.

Source: Kathleen Curtin, Food Historian at Plimoth Plantation

Seventeenth Century Table Manners:
The pilgrims didn't use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers. They wiped their hands on large cloth napkins which they also used to pick up hot morsels of food. Salt would have been on the table at the harvest feast, and people would have sprinkled it on their food. Pepper, however, was something that they used for cooking but wasn't available on the table.

In the seventeenth century, a person's social standing determined what he or she ate. The best food was placed next to the most important people. People didn't tend to sample everything that was on the table (as we do today), they just ate what was closest to them.

Serving in the seventeenth century was very different from serving today. People weren't served their meals individually. Foods were served onto the table and then people took the food from the table and ate it. All the servers had to do was move the food from the place where it was cooked onto the table.

Pilgrims didn't eat in courses as we do today. All of the different types of foods were placed on the table at the same time and people ate in any order they chose. Sometimes there were two courses, but each of them would contain both meat dishes, puddings, and sweets.

More Meat, Less Vegetables
Our modern Thanksgiving repast is centered around the turkey, but that certainly wasn't the case at the pilgrims's feasts. Their meals included many different meats. Vegetable dishes, one of the main components of our modern celebration, didn't really play a large part in the feast mentality of the seventeenth century. Depending on the time of year, many vegetables weren't available to the colonists.

The pilgrims probably didn't have pies or anything sweet at the harvest feast. They had brought some sugar with them on the Mayflower but by the time of the feast, the supply had dwindled. Also, they didn't have an oven so pies and cakes and breads were not possible at all. The food that was eaten at the harvest feast would have seemed fatty by 1990's standards, but it was probably more healthy for the pilgrims than it would be for people today. The colonists were more active and needed more protein. Heart attack was the least of their worries. They were more concerned about the plague and pox.

Surprisingly Spicy Cooking
People tend to think of English food at bland, but, in fact, the pilgrims used many spices, including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, and dried fruit, in sauces for meats. In the seventeenth century, cooks did not use proportions or talk about teaspoons and tablespoons. Instead, they just improvised. The best way to cook things in the seventeenth century was to roast them. Among the pilgrims, someone was assigned to sit for hours at a time and turn the spit to make sure the meat was evenly done.

Since the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians had no refrigeration in the seventeenth century, they tended to dry a lot of their foods to preserve them. They dried Indian corn, hams, fish, and herbs.

Dinner for Breakfast: Pilgrim Meals:
The biggest meal of the day for the colonists was eaten at noon and it was called noonmeat or dinner. The housewives would spend part of their morning cooking that meal. Supper was a smaller meal that they had at the end of the day. Breakfast tended to be leftovers from the previous day's noonmeat.

In a pilgrim household, the adults sat down to eat and the children and servants waited on them. The foods that the colonists and Wampanoag Indians ate were very similar, but their eating patterns were different. While the colonists had set eating patterns--breakfast, dinner, and supper--the Wampanoags tended to eat when they were hungry and to have pots cooking throughout the day.

Source: Kathleen Curtin, Food Historian at Plimoth Plantation
second photo in this blog Courtesy of Plimouth Plantation, Inc., Plymouth, Mass. USA

14 November 2005

Gas prices

Our gas prices are outrageous, and the oil companies are making huge profits.

Here is a song that describes my feelings on the matter:



I got out of bed this morning,
Got in my car and turned the key,
Then I called outta work and I went back to bed,
Because the needle was on "E".

I can't afford my gasoline.
The prices have become obscene.
They're up 5 cents a day. Who has that kind of green?
I can't afford my gasoline.

I've got a friend who bought a hummer, (hum v yeah)
One of those gigantic trucks, (he don't give a... darn)
But he can't drive since he maxed out his credit cards, (tough for him)
Because his mileage really sucks. (six whole miles)

He can't afford his gasoline.
The prices have become obscene.
Too bad he had to buy that gas guzzling machine.
He can't afford his gasoline.

Who are the people making money (stack them chips)
While the rest of us are hurtin? (choose gas or food)
Big oil companies, their shareholders, and friends (scratch my back)
Go ask those guys at Haliburton (I'll scratch yours)

We can't afford our gasoline.
The prices have become obscene.
Unleaded regular, forget about supreme.
We can't afford our gasoline.

We can't afford our gasoline.
The prices have become obscene.
You'll get screwed at the pump, so bring your vaseline.
We can't afford our gasoline.

"That hybrid car doesn't seem so queer after all..."

12 November 2005

The White Ribbon Campaign

Please support White Ribbon Days (November 25th – Dec. 6th) by wearing a white ribbon.


The White Ribbon Campaign
The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) is the largest effort in the world of men working to end men's violence against women. Near the end of 1991, a handful of men in Ontario and Quebec, Canada decided there was a need to urge men to speak out against violence against women. Since then, the WRC has spread throughout the world, and we are now creating a chapter here in Charlottesville.

A white ribbon--worn originally to commemorate the massacre of 14 women at the Université de Montreal Engineering School--has become a symbol of men's opposition to men's violence against women.

Wearing a white ribbon is a personal pledge never to commit, condone nor remain silent about violence against women.

Participation in the White Ribbon Campaign is open to any man who is opposed to violence against women. We welcome men from all walks of life, religions, and political affiliations regardless of age, sexual orientation, race, ethnic group or physical ability. To view the White Ribbon Campaign's home page, see: http://www.whiteribbon.ca

Personally, I ask both men and women to take this pledge and wear a white ribbon during the week of November 25th - December 6th.

Thank you so very much for participating.

~Helen Irene Count-Wayt

Time to Boycott Sony

What Sony is doing is absolutely criminal in my opinion. I will no longer buy any Sony video, CDs, DVDs, etc. Nothing with the Sony name on it.

Here is why:


DRM this, Sony!

By Molly Wood, section editor, CNET.com
Thursday, November 3, 2005

Updated November 10, 2005

I hope this is the week that everyone in the world finds out what a root kit is. And I hope it's a week we look back on in amazement, as we consider just how far Sony was willing to go to criminalize consumers in its efforts to preserve control over its product. Because I believe this is the week that Sony effectively declared war on the consumer, announcing what most of us had already suspected: fair use is a joke in the movie and record industry, and the companies who control mass-market content will truly stop at nothing to protect their profits.

We're not gonna take it
But let me start at the beginning. On Monday, October 31, alert users discovered that Sony BMG is using copy-protected CDs to surreptitiously install its digital rights management technology onto PCs. You don't have to be ripping the CD, either--just playing it from your CD-ROM drive triggers the installation. The software installs itself as a root kit, which is a set of tools commonly used to make certain files and processes undetectable, and they're the favored tool of crackers who are, as Wikipedia puts it, attempting to "maintain access to a system for malicious purposes." In fact, root kits are often classified alongside Trojan horses. And Mark Russinovich, who created a root-kit detection utility and was one of the first to blog about the Sony intrusion, discovered another little gem when he tried to remove the DRM drivers. It broke his computer--disabling his CD drive.

So, I think we all agree that this is pretty bad, right? Tell it!
Post your comment hereSo, let's make this a bit more explicit. You buy a CD. You put the CD into your PC in order to enjoy your music. Sony grabs this opportunity to sneak into your house like a virus and set up camp, and it leaves the backdoor open so that Sony or any other enterprising intruder can follow and have the run of the place. If you try to kick Sony out, it trashes the place.

And what does this software do once it's on your PC? It enacts unbelievably restrictive DRM, including possible incompatibility with computer CD-ROM players, DVD players, and car CD stereos. And in a deep-dive into the Sony end-user license agreement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation found some astonishing fine print. For example, if you lose the original CD or it's stolen, you lose the right to any digital copies you've made. You can't keep your music on computers at work. You must delete your songs if you move out of the country or if you file for bankruptcy. The list goes on and on. As for the artists whose names have been sullied by their association with the root kit, it seems that at least some of them didn't give permission to Sony to use the backdoor DRM technology and want no part of it.

Happily, and despite the use of scary words like root kit, this story hit the Web in a big way. The PR for Sony is, shall we say, not good. On Wednesday, November 2, Sony had announced that it would, in conjunction with the company that developed the root-kit plan in the first place (First4Internet) release a patch to antivirus companies so that hackers wouldn't, hopefully, be able to take advantage of the backdoor they just opened on your property. But the patch only reveals the the antipiracy software, it doesn't uninstall it. And of course, it leaves the insanely draconian copy protection cheerily intact. If you want to remove the software, you must beg Sony for an uninstall link. CNET's Brian Cooley reports that he received the link via e-mail, but that running the uninstall gave him an error. Visiting the support site to request help with the error, Cooley was sent to a form whose first field asks which country you're from. Neither USA nor North America are options. That's not trying very hard to fix the problem.

Actually, Sony's response to the mess it caused is almost as bad as the mess itself. The company continued to insist, despite growing evidence to the contrary, that its components weren't harmful in the first place. And in fact, the president of Sony BMG's global digital business division, Thomas Hesse, told National Public Radio that most people don't know what a rootkit is, so they shouldn't care that it had been secretly installed on their PCs. Mr. Hesse, they care. And they should start caring a whole lot more--on November 10, BitDefender uncovered the first Trojan horse (but possibly not the last) that takes advantage of the upatched DRM technology to open a backdoor on a Windows PC. So, if you're the recipient of the rootkit and you haven't yet received a patch, Sony has officially endangered your PC.

No, we ain't gonna take it
This is an unacceptable development in digital rights enforcement. I don't know how to put this any more clearly. Don't get me wrong--we've long since crossed the line of DRM insanity. But this--using the tactics of criminals to invade our PCs without our knowledge and to expose us to further attack, just so you can keep us from, say, burning a mix CD and giving it to our friends--this is beyond the pale.

And as many news sources are beginning to point out, there's some reason to think it might also be illegal, under the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. As of this writing, two class-action suits had been filed against Sony BMG over the root kit--one in Italy, and one in California. I'm quite sure that won't be the end of it.

We're not gonna take it...anymore
You will never get the increasingly technology-aware, mass media-consuming populace to support your right to copy protection or digital rights management unless they are on your side. And because we are increasingly technology aware, your ever-increasing assault on not only our fair use but also our common sense will virtually guarantee that we use our God-given ingenuity to find a way around whatever bizarre restrictions you see fit to impose. Why? Not because we're dying to break the law, but because you have sold us a crappy product, and, fundamentally, because it is not our responsibility to protect your profits.

What's the solution? In the near term, for us, it's not to buy any Sony CDs, and maybe not any Sony anything. In the longer term, it's to start agitating for a rewrite of copyright law in the manner so eloquently suggested recently by Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal. He suggests copyright law with actual teeth that can chomp on massive-scale piracy, but with broad exemptions for personal use, because excessive DRM is hampering innovation and alienating consumers. I couldn't put it any better. And companies? Sony? Are you really going to tell us that overhauling these outmoded rules is harder and more destructive than suing retirees over honest mistakes made by their 12-year-old grandsons? This is the path you're going to choose?

I'm truly sorry that there are, out there in the world, mass-production piracy operations that are digging into your bottom line, but you know what? I'm not one of them. Neither are most of the people who will be laboring under the nasty little flags, Trojan horses, and FairPlay/Plays For Sure doublespeak that you see fit to slap on the stuff we legitimately purchased.

And you know who's not going to labor under those restrictions? You know who's not even going to notice? The mass-production piracy operations, that's who. You know it, and I know it. So why are you engaged in this nickel-and-dime, small-time thrust-and-parry with me and my friends? Trust me, you're not going to make back the money by dropping viruses onto my PC, because my almighty dollar and I are going elsewhere--and you're probably not going to like where I end up.

Technology will march on. Technology is the reason we're in this fix in the first place, and technology will keep on giving us solutions to whatever irritating, invasive, and potentially illegal roadblocks you keep throwing in our path. And damned if we and our almighty dollars, no matter how long it takes, don't eventually win these little wars.

11 November 2005

At 11 a.m., Please observe 2 minutes of silence

Nancy M.
Two Minutes of Time Thursday, 8:36 PM

On November 11
Remember those who came before us
And fought
So that we could be here today.


~ Nancy
(Thanks Grandpa - I Always Remember!)


Thanks Dad
Thanks Grandpa Katsaras
Thanks Uncle Bill
Thanks GGGrandpa Hynes
~Helen Irene

10 November 2005

56-year-old gives birth to twins

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Just three days shy of her 57th birthday, Aleta St. James has given birth to twins.

The baby girl and boy were born at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital by cesarean section.

Francesca was born first, at 9:18 a.m., weighing 5 pounds, 12 ounces, and Gian (pronounced John) followed at 9:19 a.m., weighing 5 pounds, 3 ounces, the hospital said.

"The babies are in excellently good health," said Dr. Jonathan Scher, the physician who delivered the babies. "They are fabulous babies and were well enough to go directly to the well-newborn nursery." He also reported that St. James "is doing just fine."

"When I look into my children's eyes, I feel such love, gratitude and appreciation for having been given these miraculous gifts," St. James said after her birth.

Jane Miller, director of the North Hudson IVF, a fertility clinic in New Jersey, said that St. James, a motivational speaker and life coach, had been her patient for several years before she discussed undergoing in-vitro fertilization. "She's been my gynecological patient for a while. It wasn't like she just came to ask to become a record or be some statistic," Miller said.

"In general I would not recommend someone to get pregnant at this age," Miller added. "Pregnancy at this age can increase the chances of premature birth, which can cause neurological damage to the baby."

MayoClinic.com, a partner of CNN.com, lists these additional risks to pregnancy during a woman's 50s:

  • Increased miscarriage risks

  • Gestational diabetes

  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension

  • Greater chance of Caesarean delivery

Miller said she agreed to oversee St. James' pregnancy because she was in such good health.

"There was no medical reason that would prevent a successful-term pregnancy with her through the use of donated eggs," Miller said.

Miller noted that in the wake of publicity about St. James, more older women are contacting her about giving birth.

"This is a very risky situation," Miller said. "And when women of this age range call, I'm going to give them a dose of reality."

St. James was bit more optimistic about the possibility of other women following her lead. "At any age it's possible," she said. "It's only over when it's over. ... I don't want to have any regrets when I'm older."

The oldest American to give birth to twins was 57-year-old Judy Cates, on December 9, 1998. The oldest to give birth is believed to be a 63-year-old woman from Highland, California.

St. James is the sister of Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa.

Today, while flipping around the 3 major network morning shows, I saw Katy give an interview with Ms. St. James. It gave me a lot of hope. This woman appeared to have a wonderful attitude, and her boys are now very healthy and alert toddlers.

Now, I am only 41 years old, and I realize how much potential my life still has. With so many people saying I am too old to have a child, I know that these people who make these assertions are not me.

Now lets talk about the news report where a restaurant manager gets a phone call by someone stating to be a police officer telling the manager to make a young girl strip because the police officer claimed she stole something. This is not the first time this has happened. I suspect this person is a serial perve.

When I was working as a supervisor at Hardy's, I was transferred to the restaurant in Charleston where this same thing had happened before I got there to a manager there. I had met that manager during training. He said he used to own a pizza place and was training to be a general manager.

The exact same thing happened to him, and the girl's family sued Hardy's over it. This was a few years ago. Sad to see it is still going on.

And get this...the call was collect. And the call came from Florida. We were in West Virginia. O.K...now, a police officer will never call collect from another state to order a manager to take a young girl down to the basement and completely strip search her. That is sexual assault.

ok...lets talk about the election Tuesday. I voted. We made history in Pennsylvania since it is the first time a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Judge was voted out of office. I voted "no" on both judges because the state legislature decided to give themselves an outrageously high raise, and they do not earn it. Next year, I plan to vote against all incumbents also. Maybe then they will get the message.

That is why I voted the Democrats out off Congress and the Senate which turned our house of representatives into a Republican majority. The reason was simple. We were in a recession and they gave themselves a raise. So I voted incumbents out. I guess Pennsylvania representatives just do not learn.

Halloween was nice. There were some really adorable kids. Still it was not nearly as busy as last year.

It is hard to think of my Uncle Bill as having passed over from lymphoma Cancer. I would like to thank my aunt Mary for emailing me 2 pictures from Uncle Bill's funeral, since I was unable to attend.

Saturday, John, Dad Ullom, & I went to the Ohio damn to go fishing. We were there for 5 hours. John was wonderfully patient with me setting up the spinner bait for me and unhooking and releasing all the fish I caught. It is almost like the fish were just jumping onto the hook. It was not uncommon to release a fish, and the next cast, there was another fish on the hook. I suck at fishing, and I caught over a half dozen fish. With John and Dad Ullom, they easily caught at least 100 fish. We caught Walleye, Sauger, White bass. I only fished for about 2 hours. I noticed a lot of Shad being stranded on shore, and when I saw some still alive, I decided to try to save some of their lives. The ones I saw that were still fighting to survive, I tossed back into the water. One to the guys there who was fishing with his grandson though I was picking up the shad to use as bait and brought me some. I explained to him that I was trying to save their lives. He replied that it is just part of nature...fish die. I was still determined though to save as many as I could, no matter how crazy I looked.

At the end of the day, Johns shoulder and arm were very sore. Fishing is really good upper body exercise.

01 November 2005

Good Morning World

I hope everyone is having a wonderful All Saints Day. Here is the meaning of All Saints' Day:

All Saints Day is a universal Christian Feast that honors and remembers all Christian saints, known and unknown. In the Western Church (esp. Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans) it is kept on November 1. The Orthodox Churches observe it on the first Sunday after Pentecost.

Ephrem Syrus (d. 373) mentions a Feast dedicated the saints in his writings. St. Chrysostom of Constantinople (d. 407) was the first Christian we know of to assign the Feast to a particular day: the first Sunday after Pentecost.1 The Feast did not become established in the Western Church, however, until the Roman bishop Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to Christian usage as a church on May 13, 609 or 610.2 The Feast was observed annually on this date until the time of Bishop of Rome, Gregory III (d. 741) when its observance was shifted to Nov. 1, since on this date Gregory dedicated a chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter's to "All the Saints." It was Gregory IV (d. 844), who in 835 ordered the Feast of All Saints to be universally observed on Nov. 1.3

As mentioned above, All Saints Day is celebrated by Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans However, because of their differing understandings of the identity and function of the saints, what these churches do on the Feast of All Saints differs widely. For Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and to some extent, Anglicans, All Saints is a day to remember, thank God for, but also to venerate and pray to the saints in heaven for various helps. For Lutherans the day is observed by remembering and thanking God for all saints, both dead and living. It is a day to glorify Jesus Christ, who by his holy life and death has made the saints holy through Baptism and faith.

I also hope everyone is having a wonderful Diwali. Here is an explanation of Diwali:

{ Introduction to Diwali }
Every Year On the dark nights if Diwali the sound of firecrackers announces the celebration of the favourite festival of Indians. Homes are decorated, sweets are distributed by everyone and thousands of lamps lit to create a world of fantasy. Of all the festivals celebrated in India, Diwali is by far the most glamorous and important. Enthusiastically enjoyed by people of every religion, its magical and radiant touch creates an atmosphere of joy and festivity. Diwali Celebrations in India are similar to Christmas celebrations in the USA.

{ Origin of Diwali }
The ancient story of how Diwali evolved into such a widely celebrated festival is different in various regions and states of India. In the north, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar and the surrounding areas, Diwali is the day when King Rama's coronation was celebrated in Ayodhya after his epic war with Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. By order of the royal families of Ayodhya and Mithila, the kingdom of which Sita was princess, the cities and far-flung boundaries of these kingdoms were lit up with rows of lamps, glittering on dark nights to welcome home the divine king Rama and his queen Sita after 14 years of exile, ending with an across-the-seas war in which the whole of the kingdom of Lanka was destroyed.

{ How Diwali is celebrated all across India }

{ The first day : Dhana Teras }
The first day of Diwali is Dhanatrayodashi or Dhanteras. Doorways are hung with torans of mango leaves and marigolds. Rangolis are drawn with different coloured powders to welcome guests. The traditional motifs are often linked with auspicious symbols of good luck. Oil diyas are arranged in and around the house. Because of these flickering lamps, the festival has acquired its name : Dipawali or Diwali meaning `a rows of lamps'. On this day, people buy something for the house or some jewellery for the women of the house. It is auspicious to be buy something metallic, esp silver.

{ The second day : Kali Chaudas }
The next day or Kali Chaudas is also called Chhoti Diwali.

{ The third day : Diwali }
On the dark new moon night, the entrances to all homes are lit up and decorated with rangoli patterns to welcome Lakshmi, the radiant consort of Vishnu and the goddess of wealth and lustre. Lakshmi Puja is performed on this day. Diwali is the last day of financial year in traditional Hindu business and businessmen perform Chopda Pujan on this day on the new books of accounts.

The day ends with a mega cracker bursting sessions. For 5-6 hours, every family burns fire crackers worth thousands of ruppees. Poplular fire crackers are sparkling pots, bombs, rockets etc.

{ The fourth day : New Year day or Bestavarsh }
The day after the Lakshmi Puja, most families celebrate the new year by dressing in new clothes, wearing jewellery and visiting family members and business colleagues to give them sweets, dry fruits and gifts. Among the business communities of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, Diwali is the festival when the new
business year begins. All business establishments and families perform muharat pujan or veneration of their books. Stock brokers do mahurat trading or symbolic auspicious business deals to i iwali : Time to shop or start new ventures }

Diwali, one of the longest festivals in the Hindu year, is a time when everything in India comes to a standstill except family life, feasting and shopping. Diwali is considered auspicious for shopping, inaugurations of new homes, business deals or for starting any new ventures and projects.

{ Diwali in Krishna Temples }
In many Krishna temples, Diwali is celebrated as a day of feeding and venerating cows. In Nathdwar, for instance, there is a day-long feast for cattle called Annakoot. The reason for this special place given to the cow lies deep in the religious consciousness of Indians.The sacredness of the cow goes back to the myth of the churning of the cosmic ocean by the gods. Of the 14 `jewels' which the ocean gave to the gods, Kamadhenu ,the celestial cow, was one. She was venerated as the mother of the universe. The celestial cow is also called Surabhi or Nandini, the giver of joy and plenty. A cow is the constant companion of Krishna.

{ Diwali in South India }
In the south, Diwali has two more legends connected with it. The first legend again concerns the victory of good over evil. Narakasura the demon of hell, challenged Krishna to battle. After a fierce fight lasting two days, the demon was killed at dawn on Narakachaturdashi.To commemorate this event, people in peninsular India wake before sunrise and make imitation blood by mixing kumkum or vermillion with oil. After crushing underfoot a bitter fruit as a symbol of the demon, they apply the `blood' triumphantly on their foreheads. They then have ritual oil baths, annointing themselves with sandalwood paste. Visits to temples for prayers are followed by large family breakfasts of fruits and a variety of sweets. The second legend is about King Bali, the benevolent demon king of the netherworld. He was so powerful that he became a threat to the power of celestial deities and their kingdoms. Intimidated by his expanding empire and taking advantage of his well-known generosity, they sent Vishnu as the dwarf mendicant Vamana, to dilute Bali's power. Vamana shrewdly asked the king for land that would cover three steps as he walked. The king happily granted this gift. Having tricked Bali, Vishnu revealed himself in the full glory of his godhood. He covered the heaven in his first step and the earth in his second. Realizing that he was pitted against the mighty Vishnu, Bali surrendered and offered his own head inviting Vishnu to step on it. Vishnu pushed him into the nether world with his foot. In return Vishnu gave him the lamp of knowledge to light up the dark underworld. He also gave him a blessing that he would return to his people once a year to light millions of lamps from this one lamp so that on the dark new moon light of Diwali, the blinding darkness of ignorance , greed, jealousy, lust, anger ego, and laziness would be dispelled and the radiance of knowledge, wisdom and friendship prevail. Each year on Diwali day , even today, one lamp lights another and like a flame burning steadily on a windless night, brings a message of peace and harmony to the world .

{ Diwali : Time to rejoice and enjoy }
Whatever may be the fables and legends behind the celebrations of Diwali, all people exchange sweets, wear new clothes and buy jewellery at this festive time. Card parties are held in many homes. Diwali has become commercialised as the biggest annual consumer spree because every family shops for sweets, gifts and fireworks. However, in all this frenzy of shopping and eating, the steady, burning lamp is a constant symbol of an illuminated mind .

I also hope everyone is having a wonderful day of the dead. Here is a little something about this holiday:

This is an ancient festivity that has been much transformed through the years, but which was intended in prehispanic Mexico to celebrate children and the dead. Hence, the best way to describe this Mexican holiday is to say that it is a time when Mexican families remember their dead, and the continuity of life.
Two important things to know about the Mexican Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) are:

It is a holiday with a complex history, and therefore its observance varies quite a bit by region and by degree of urbanization.

It is not a morbid occasion, but rather a festive time.
The original celebration can be traced to many Mesoamerican native traditions, such as the festivities held during the Aztec month of Miccailhuitontli, ritually presided by the "Lady of the Dead" (Mictecacihuatl), and dedicated to children and the dead. In the Aztec calendar, this ritual fell roughly at the end of the Gregorian month of July and the beginning of August, but in the postconquest era it was moved by Spanish priests so that it coincided with the Christian holiday of All Hallows Eve (in Spanish: "Día de Todos Santos.") This was a vain effort to transform the observance from a profane to a Christian celebration. The result is that Mexicans now celebrate the day of the dead during the first two days of November, rather than at the beginning of summer. But remember the dead they still do, and the modern festivity is characterized by the traditional Mexican blend of ancient aboriginal and introduced Christian features.

Generalizing broadly, the holiday's activities consist of families (1) welcoming their dead back into their homes, and (2) visiting the graves of their close kin. At the cemetery, family members engage in sprucing up the gravesite, decorating it with flowers, setting out and enjoying a picnic, and interacting socially with other family and community members who gather there. In both cases, celebrants believe that the souls of the dead return and are all around them. Families remember the departed by telling stories about them. The meals prepared for these picnics are sumptuous, usually featuring meat dishes in spicy sauces, chocolate beverages, cookies, sugary confections in a variety of animal or skull shapes, and a special egg-batter bread ("pan de muerto," or bread of the dead). Gravesites and family altars are profusely decorated with flowers (primarily large, bright flowers such as marigolds and chrysanthemums), and adorned with religious amulets and with offerings of food, cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. Because of this warm social environment, the colorful setting, and the abundance of food, drink and good company, this commemoration of the dead has pleasant overtones for the observers, in spite of the open fatalism exhibited by all participants, whose festive interaction with both the living and the dead in an important social ritual is a way of recognizing the cycle of life and death that is human existence.

In homes observant families create an altar and decorate it with items that they believe are beautiful and attractive to the souls of their departed ones. Such items include offerings of flowers and food, but also things that will remind the living of the departed (such as their photographs, a diploma, or an article of clothing), and the things that the dead prized and enjoyed while they lived. This is done to entice the dead and assure that their souls actually return to take part in the remembrance. In very traditional settings, typically found only in native communities, the path from the street to the altar is actually strewn with petals to guide the returning soul to its altar and the bosom of the family.The traditional observance calls for departed children to be remembered during the first day of the festivity (the Day of the Little Angels, "Día de los Angelitos"), and for adults to be remembered on the second day. Traditionally, this is accompanied by a feast during the early morning hours of November the 2nd, the Day of the Dead proper, though modern urban Mexican families usually observe the Day of the Dead with only a special family supper featuring the bread of the dead. In southern Mexico, for example in the city of Puebla, it is good luck to be the one who bites into the plastic toy skeleton hidden by the baker in each rounded loaf. Friends and family members give one another gifts consisting of sugar skeletons or other items with a death motif, and the gift is more prized if the skull or skeleton is embossed with one's own name. Another variation found in the state of Oaxaca is for bread to be molded into the shape of a body or burial wrap, and for a face to be embedded on one end of the loaf. During the days leading up to and following the festivity, some bakeries in heavily aboriginal communities cease producing the wide range of breads that they typically sell so that they can focus on satisfying the demand for bread of the dead.

The Day of the Dead can range from being a very important cultural event, with defined social and economic responsibilities for participants (exhibiting the socially equalizing behavior that social anthropologists would call redistributive feasting, e.g. on the island of Janitzio in Michoacan state), to being a religious observance featuring actual worship of the dead (e.g., as in Cuilapan, Oaxaca, an ancient capital of the Zapotec people, who venerated their ancestors and whose descendants do so to this day, an example of many traditional practices that Spanish priests pretend not to notice), to simply being a uniquely Mexican holiday characterized by special foods and confections (the case in all large Mexican cities.)

In general, the more urban the setting within Mexico the less religious and cultural importance is retained by observants, while the more rural and Indian the locality the greater the religious and economic import of the holiday. Because of this, this observance is usually of greater social importance in southern Mexico than in the northern part of the country.

Happy Ramadan. This is another holiday celebrated today. Here is the story of Ramadan:

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar and the holiest of the four holy months. It begins with the sighting of the new moon after which all physically mature and healthy Muslims are obliged to abstain from all food, drink, gum chewing, any kind of tobacco use, and any kind of sexual contact between dawn and sunset. However, that is merely the physical component of the fast; the spiritual aspects of the fast include refraining from gossiping, lying, slandering and all traits of bad character. All obscene and irreligious sights and sounds are to be avoided. Purity of thought and action is paramount. Ordained in the Quran, the fast is an exacting act of deeply personal worship in which Muslims seek a raised level of God-consciousness. The act of fasting redirects the hearts away from worldly activities, towards The Divine.

The month of Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, doing good deeds and spending time with family and friends. The fasting is intended to help teach Muslims self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity. It also reminds them of the suffering of the poor, who may rarely get to eat well. It is common to have one meal (known as the Suhoor), just before sunrise and another (known as the Iftar), directly after sunset. This meal will commonly consist of dates, following the example of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon Him. Because Ramadan is a time to spend with friends and family, the fast will often be broken by different Muslim families coming together to share in an evening meal.

Ramadan derives from the Arabic root: ramida or ar-ramad, meaning scorching heat or dryness. Since Muslims are commanded to fast during the month of Ramadan, it is believed that the month's name may refer to the heat of thirst and hunger, or because fasting burns away one's past sins. Muslims believe that God began revealing the Qur'an to the Prophet Muhammad during Ramadan (in the year 610 C.E.). The Qur'an commands: "O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint...Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting..." (Chapter 2, verses 183 and 185). Fasting during Ramadan did not become an obligation for Muslims until 624 C.E., at which point it became the third of the Five Pillars of Islam. The others are faith (Shahadah); prayer (Salah); charitable giving (Zakah); and the pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj).

Another aspect of Ramadan is that it is believed that one of the last few odd-numbered nights of the month is the Laylat ul-Qadr, the "Night of Power" or "Night of Destiny." It is the holiest night of the holiest month; it is believed to be the night on which God first began revealing the Qur'an to the Prophet Muhammad through the angel Jibril (Gabriel). This is a time for especially fervent and devoted prayer, and the rewards and blessings associated with such are manifold. Muslims are told in the Qur'an that praying throughout this one night is better than a thousand months of prayer. No one knows exactly which night it is; it is one of God's mysteries. Additionally, Muslims are urged to read the entire Qur'an during the month of Ramadan, and its 114 chapters have been divided into 30 equal parts for this purpose.

When the first crescent of the new moon has been officially sighted by a reliable source, the month of Ramadan is declared over, and the month of Shawwal begins. The end of Ramadan is marked by a three-day period known as Eid ul-Fitr, the "Festival of Fast-breaking." It is a joyous time beginning with a special prayer, and accompanied by celebration, socializing, festive meals and sometimes very modest gift-giving, especially to children.

When Ramadan ends, Muslims give charity in a locally prescribed amount, calculated to feed one poor person in that region for one day. This is known as fitra, and is meant as another reminder of the suffering endured by many. Many Muslims also take this occasion to pay the annual alms which are due to the poor and needy, known as Zakah (2.5% of assets).

At the beginning of Ramadan, it is appropriate to wish Muslims "Ramadan Mubarak" which means "Blessed Ramadan." At its conclusion, you may say "Eid Mubarak.

I sincerely hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Halloween last night. It was a new moon, so it was very dark. At perryopolis.com the web master messed up and posted that trick or treat was Sunday night. So my husband and I were ready for trick or treaters that never came, though our neighbor did get one who they sent away stating trick or treat was not until Monday night. So last night, we got some trick or treaters, but only a fraction of what we got last year. Still, the kids were absolutely adorable.

There was one little boy who saw our cats in the glass door and ran right for the cats. Then he got some candy out of the bowl with the animated hand inside. This little toddler had absolutely no fear of the hand and told his dad to "do it again" (make the hand move). This kid was far too cute, as were all the kids who came by last night.

At the end of the night, I was telling kids to take handfuls. So one adorable little girl wanted to take the entire pumpkin bowl. I told her I needed the bowl for next year, but she did not want to let go. That is definitely my kind of girl. Definitely too cute.

We still have over 12 lbs of candy left, so John took some of it to work with him. With all the candy we have, I would not be surprised if we still had some for Thanksgiving.