Friday, November 30, 2007

Iconic Daredevil Evel Knievel Dies at 69

Iconic Daredevil Evel Knievel Dies at 69: "'They started out watching me bust my ass, and I became part of their lives,' Knievel said. 'People wanted to associate with a winner, not a loser. They wanted to associate with someone who kept trying to be a winner.'"

To remember.

Beacon Broadside: Read This! Instilling a Love of Reading in Kids

Beacon Broadside: Read This! Instilling a Love of Reading in Kids: "Among the study’s more dire findings: Only 30% of 13-year-olds read for pleasure on a regular basis. The number of 17-year-olds who never read for pleasure increased from 9% in 1984 to 19% in 2004. The average American between ages 15 and 24 spends only 7 minutes a day reading and half never read books for pleasure."

Part of it is what are they calling reading, from the context it seems to be pleasure or literary reading.

Reading for pleasure is a great thing but after reading page after page of school work and researching/surfing on the 'Net you want to do something else.

One of the things I find disturbing is the lack of backyards in most neighborhoods. You can't really tell your children to go out and play anymore, because you have to keep an eye on them. Now that means you can't do cooking or household chores while the kids play out back.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

People of the Web - Rolling in cash

People of the Web - Rolling in cash: "Linda started her online business, the Prairie Tumbleweed Farm, as a joke. It was 1994 and she wanted to teach herself how to design a website. Since she lived on the prairie in southwest Kansas, where rolling tumbleweeds are sometimes the only dynamic feature of an endless flat horizon, she invented a farm that sold tumbleweeds..."

The funny thing is that I've heard about this before but thought it was a joke.

But it also tells us what you have in nauseating abundance, some people are searching for, and are willing to pay.

It also shows us the power of the Internet. There is no real way you could have created a business plan for selling tumbleweed. You would conclude that while there may be a market out there there is no inexpensive way to actually find it and to market to it.

What do you have in abundance that might be driving you crazy?

from MaginalRevolution

Scientific American: The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

Scientific American: Nothing Says "Early Earth Was Cool" Like World's Oldest Diamonds: "In particular, attributing poor performance to a lack of ability depresses motivation more than does the belief that lack of effort is to blame. In 1972, when I taught a group of elementary and middle school children who displayed helpless behavior in school that a lack of effort (rather than lack of ability) led to their mistakes on math problems, the kids learned to keep trying when the problems got tough. They also solved many of the problems even in the face of difficulty. Another group of helpless children who were simply rewarded for their success on easy problems did not improve their ability to solve hard math problems. These experiments were an early indication that a focus on effort can help resolve helplessness and engender success."

This article isn't about gifted children at all it is about a learning mindset.

The way parents and teachers praise their children can have huge effects on how they react to challenges.

Rather then giving them a generic, "You're smart," Use a more growth oriented "You must have worked really hard."

It looks like all those years of focusing on self-esteem probably severely limited a good portion of the students it was focused on, for life.

So what does this mean to what I need to do for my children. I need to focus on giving work-based praise.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Big List of Sites That Teach You How To Do Stuff

A Big List of Sites That Teach You How To Do Stuff

This is a great resource. I have a lot more exploring to do.

On Homeownership

Homeownership is really turning into a hot topic. But it isn't just owning a home that is at issue here it is also the community you live in. Cities are just beginning to figure out that families are important contributers to growth. The sad thing is that most developers and city counsels don't seem to get it.

Owning your home, and I mean actually owning it by having a paid off mortgage and are keeping up with the property taxes, really means that your home, generally, can't be taken away from you on the whim of the economy, company or even a single person.

Mortgage payments tend to be a very large percentage of a family's expenses, typically near 30%. Paying off the mortgage means I get a the equivalent of a 30% raise, I'd like that. I'm sure you would too.

But something that drives me crazy is that communities aren't planned with families in mind. One of my nephews moved into a new development a few years ago and there still isn't a grocery store nearby. A thousand-odd families and no where within 5 miles to get food? How dumb is that. Sure there are spaces available to build but no one has yet. And the backyards are so small you can have a swing set or a porch or a garden but not really more then one.

You want a family friendly home, put a big window in the kitchen overlooking the backyard where you can watch the children play while making dinner. In college the married student housing was great a group of apartments were all facing into the courtyard that had a swing-set and a sand box shaded by trees and a bit of open space and all the apartments could watch the children play. That was great. Now some neighborhoods have a park in the middle but no one can see it from inside their homes, useless.

Owning a home can be good but you really need to have a good plan at what you are trying to do there or it can really hurt you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

'No Child' Law May Slight The Gifted, Experts Say

'No Child' Law May Slight The Gifted, Experts Say: "'We don't find any evidence that the gifted kids are harmed,' said Chicago economist Derek A. Neal. 'But they are certainly right, the gifted advocates, if they claim there is no evidence that No Child Left Behind is helping the gifted.'"

Are they even looking for harm?

The sad thing is, is that it will likely take 20 years for us to notice the harm. The self-motivated are not the ones we need to worry about.
The ones in the greatest danger are the ones that are directionless. They may be bright but they also have learned the first lesson of school, don't make waves. It you have been burned a few times and no one has stood up for you you'll just drift along, a good student but bored.

There is an old saying of you can manage what you can measure. If you are not measuring it, you are not managing it.

It also means if you are measuring the wrong things you will be managing the wrong way. During the era they were measuring eyeballs or page views, which was worthless, you need to measure what people are buying from you. It makes a difference, Those who stayed with eyeballs went away in the dot.bomb.

For this is will become even worse. The schools have traditionally focused on the middle, which is just fine. The middle is pretty big and the ends can deal with it well enough.

Now they are focusing on the bottom or at least the bubble group near the pass/fail on standardized tests. They will be ignoring the vast majority, even the middle group, because they are so focused on the numbers that bubble group generates. You manage what you measure.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Does Your Spouse Know Where the Money is?

If you Die, Is Your Money Mapped? - Dumb Little Man : "If I died tomorrow I can honestly say that my wife would have a hard time navigating through the spider web of bank accounts, insurance policies, and 401k plans that I'd leave behind. No, it's not because they are worth a lot, it's because I don't have a map telling her where everything is located."

Most people are not well prepared for death in many ways, but this can be very hard for a family.

I am not even sure I know where all our money is sometimes. My wife recently got a statement from an old account her Dad had set up for her.

My family almost died once already when a drunk driver crossed the median of the interstate. You often can't see death coming so it is best to be prepared before hand. When Arafat died there was quite the bedside vigil as they may have been hoping to get the offshore bank number where he had squirreled away so much money.

I am working on this and it is slow work sometimes trying to find it all. But it is worth doing and setting up a way for family to find it after something might happen.

The U.S. Economy: Trying to Guess What Happens Next - New York Times

The U.S. Economy: Trying to Guess What Happens Next - New York Times: "Economists have long intoned that somehow, some day, the United States will be forced to settle up and stop depending upon the largess of foreigners. The basic laws of economics say imbalances are eventually balanced. Some have warned of a worst-case scenario where the foreigners holding American debt get spooked that the value of the dollar is about to plummet and dump the currency in a self-fulfilling prophesy. This would jack up the price of imported goods in the United States, making it harder for Japan, China and Europe to sell their wares, and delivering a global recession. "

Much as I would like to believe that a gradual correction will take place, history doesn't bear it out. History shows us that things tend follow a boom-bust cycle. That is just the way it is. Things have been way up of some time and it is far more prudent to expect a sharp correction then a gentle one.

It is actually rather easy to get in shape for such a correction:

One gather all your income and assets and put it at the top of a spreadsheet or ledger.

Then list your debts and obligations under them.

Starting with your smallest debt pay it off and start on the next one up.

It usually only takes a few years to retire all debts if you aren't incurring new ones.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

We budget our money what about budgeting our time

Scott H Young � Why You Need to Run a Timelog (And How to Do It): "A timelog is a simple device to track where your time is going. Regularly running a timelog allows you to know precisely where your time is going. And in a busy world when commitments are piling up, timelogs can help you understand what to eliminate in order to keep your sanity. "

This is pretty good advice. We spend lots of effort on budgeting and recording our money but what about our time.

As I have said before, we have four major resources in our lives: time, energy, money and knowledge.

Tracking money is easy enough. time is a bit more complex, but doable. Energy tracking I haven't tried yet but can't be much harder then time, we all know we are at peak functioning in the morning after a good nights sleep but not so good after lunch. Tracking knowledge is as easy as looking at your book shelf in many ways.

The other side of the IQ question.

Stop thinking you’ll get by on your high I.Q. Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk: "Parents: Stop pretending that your child’s I.Q. matters more than their social skills. Get treatment for your child as soon as a professional recommends it. Respect that the risk of not being able to transition to the work world is significant, and so is the risk of waiting to see if your child will fail despite being brilliant."

This is significant. Social skills are important. I know mine are less then stellar but I don't see schools as actually helping matters.

Do I worry about our daughter's social skills? Sure I do, but subjecting her to the cruel gauntlet that schools have degenerated into is not going to help her or us. She is shy when starting out in a new place or one she hasn't been to for a long time but after a few minutes she is playing with everyone.

So I try to make sure she has opportunities to lay with others. Is it enough? I am not sure yet. Not enough work has gone into it to see particular results yet.

This is Reality. It doesn't have to make sense!

William Gibson: The Rolling Stone 40th Anniversary Interview : Rolling Stone: "It has to do with the nature of the present. If one had gone to talk to a publisher in 1977 with a scenario for a science-fiction novel that was in effect the scenario for the year 2007, nobody would buy anything like it. It's too complex, with too many huge sci-fi tropes: global warming; the lethal, sexually transmitted immune-system disease; the United States, attacked by crazy terrorists, invading the wrong country. Any one of these would have been more than adequate for a science-fiction novel. But if you suggested doing them all and presenting that as an imaginary future, they'd not only show you the door, they'd probably call security. "

This is just too sweet as I have been reading SFF for about that long.

Some other SFF writer spoke on how hard it was to write good Scifi since it had to sound plausible. Reality is under no such restriction.

From kottke

TCS Daily - Race, IQ and Education

TCS Daily - Race, IQ and Education: "The concept of IQ works like this: there are tests that one can give a young child which allow that child to be assigned a percentile relative to other children of the same age. Many of these tests seem explicitly designed to measure intelligence. However, other tests, such as the Stanford Marshmallow experiment or tests of reaction time, are not what we would intuitively think of as intelligence tests, and yet results on these tests correlate well with IQ. The main finding is that a child's performance on one test will correlate with his or her performance on another test."

A fascinating article about g and how our educational system is totally screwed up because they are looking at the wrong problem with the wrong solution.

Easy with Eve, the virtual teacher

Eve, a virtual teacher who understands - New Zealand's source for technology news on : "Researchers wanted to create a virtual teacher that could pick up body language and facial expressions like a real teacher, to ensure they are holding the attention of students"

This could be a very interesting development. The desire for something like this has been around for a long time.The Pegasus series by Anne McCarrery had a virtual teacher, but you had to have a special bracelet proving citizenship to use it. But you could learn pretty much anywhere.

This should strike fear into the hearts of teachers unions everywhere. They can be replaced, and they can be used anywhere.

This would be great for homeschoolers who need some help in specific subjects. If they focus on math and science they would corner that market pretty quick. But it would have to be a subscription that is not too expensive.

It is known that girls learn better from women and boys from men. I wonder how hard it would be to "skin" the model for different models of teachers for different subjects and students.

US report says young people reading a lot less - The Boston Globe

US report says young people reading a lot less - The Boston Globe: "Only 30 percent of 13-year-olds read almost every day. The number of 17-year-olds who never read for pleasure increased from 9 percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004. Almost half of Americans between ages 18 and 24 never read books for pleasure. The average person between ages 15 and 24 spends 2 to 2 1/2 hours a day watching TV and 7 minutes reading. "

Are people reading fewer books? Sure they are but I am not sure that means that they aren't reading. Lots of people have the Internet and there is a lot that must be read if you want to do much.

As for college students after reading tons of stuff during the day for school, reading in general is no longer pleasure. My roommate and I read for pleasure after studying but we didn't know anyone else that did.

If you spend hours at work reading on the Internet why would you want to go home and read some more. It is time for some other activity.

Then you have the Amazon Kindle ebook reader. That should be interesting but something they have got to realize is that they HAVE to make it dead easy to load up and read books. Reading a book is easy but people don't do it for various reasons. They have some pretty stiff competition for reading time. They have to make Kindle even easier to use then iTunes/iPod is for music. That will be a challenge all by itself.

I know one person who uses Palm Pilots to read regularly, and that is it. I only know a few families that have large selections of books at home, I don't know if that correlates to how often they read but so it goes. Those families with few books just don;t have much to read eve if they wanted to, unless they go to the library, and that is hardly ever full.

from googlenews.

Update: This article from NPR

Monday, November 19, 2007

One of the signs of the crisis

We dealt with a big debt problem last year. We sold our home and paid off our debts.

This wasn't an easy decision, but it came to the point that selling our home was a better choice for several reasons.

Now, a year ago it was not so obvious that the economy was going to have some troubles, but one thing nagged at me quite a bit. On the way to work there was a new facility opening it. Richie Brothers Auctions was converting a huge field into an auction facility.

The sign that was there before it offered 100+ acres for sale. They put a big fence around and built a couple of buildings that they could drive the equipment through that would be bid on.

The entire facility is designed around auctioning off heavy equipment, like the stuff that is used to build homes. We don't drive past it very often any more but this time it was interesting to see a fire truck and street sweeper on display, next to all the earth moving equipment.

They obviously saw the potential of the housing market crisis and are in a position to make use of it.

What are you seeing in your industries and how they relate to the economy?

Emergency Preparedness Pamphlet #6: Family Reserves

There are a number of family reserves we have been counseled to setup. They are usually talked about separately but I am going to consolidate them for us here.

Family Reserves:
Food Storage

Food Storage Reserve
Food Storage is the one everyone thinks of first. A year's supply of food, water and where possible fuel is the standard line given. We ought not to forget household commodities like toilet paper, soap, shampoo and the like. Every day we use things up that need to be replaced often. It is very inconvenient when you don't have any toilet paper. Disasters can come without prior warning and having food in your house is better then having food in a warehouse somewhere in the state. A year's supply for one person is 1095 meals for that 1 person, or a 9 month supply for a family of 4, or 1 meal for 1095 people. One of the major things sent to disaster area by the Church are hygiene kits: Soap & small towel, toothbrush & toothpaste, razor and other small but very useful things.

Financial Reserve
We have been told many times to get out of debt and to build up a reserve. This reserve can start out being $100, can be built up to $1000, the standard size of emergency fund in many books. At this point, you should throw all your effort into getting out of debt. Pay off the smallest debt first then move to then next largest and in just a few short years you can be debt free.
Then you can built your reserve to where it should be able to sustain your family if you become unemployed. The LDS Employment Center has found it takes on average 1 month per $10,000 per year of salary/wages to find another comparable job.
While keeping this reserve in the bank is fine most of the time, a major disaster will shut down banks for a while. Having a small cash reserve on hand at home is important too. Pay the Lord first with a full tithe and generous offerings, pay yourself second, minimize your expenses, eliminate debt and maximize your income.

Spiritual Reserve
The Parable of the Ten Virgins is about the members of the Church. We have been warned that we must have testimonies of our own as we cannot survive what is to come on borrowed light.
As individuals and as families we can build these reserves by:
Daily Prayer
Daily Scripture Study
Weekly Family Home Evening
Weekly Church Meeting Attendance
Regular Temple Attendance

Emotional Reserves
Paul taught that without charity we are nothing. Charity helps us as we help others. As we help others our own hurts are healed. Charity begins at home.When was the last time you spent some good quantity time with your spouse or just one of your children? Do you really know them? Do they really know you? Hopes, dreams, goals, progress? When it comes to relationships love is spelled T-I-M-E. Time spent in the same room watching the same thing doesn't count. This is not about face time this is about knee to knee time. Talk time counts, particularly if they are doing most of the talking.

Intellectual Reserves
The brethren have taught mainly the sisters that they should get all the education they can. Just because you have left school doesn't mean you can stop learning. Yet 77% of college graduates never read another book from beginning to end the rest of their lives. The way the employment market goes you need to constantly improve yourself just to stay in place, much less advance. Brian Tracy, a motivational speaker, has studied successful people for many years and has found that they spend at least 3% of their income on their own continuing education. Have you spent anything on your own education? And what about your spouse, have you encouraged them or helped them to learn something new? If they are a stay-at-home parent they need it more then you do. Even teaching your children at home will allow your brain to go to flab if you don't do something to challenge it from time to time.

On Starting a Long-Term Company

On Starting a Long-Term Company: "A lot of what goes into starting companies is turning nothing into something. Starting with a blank slate, and just inventing all kinds of stuff. You'll never know if it's ultimately correct. You just have to use your judgement, make decisions, and move on. To some people, that's pretty scary. Not to have any answers to look up in the back of the book. Just to do stuff."

This is good advice. I am keeping it here and the link for near-future reference.

Aid pours into Bangladesh after cyclone |

Aid pours into Bangladesh after cyclone | "Survivors are scrambling for food as rescue workers struggle to reach remote villages three days after cyclone Sidr battered Bangladesh, leaving more than 2,200 dead and thousands homeless."

The aftereffects of a major disaster take a while to dissipate. You have to have something for yourself. It just takes too long for others to come help.

One thing to notice is that there are a couple of Marine dock landing ships racing to help. Know your friends.

Forty Acres and a Gap in Wealth - New York Times

Forty Acres and a Gap in Wealth - New York Times: "15 of the 20 descend from at least one line of former slaves who managed to obtain property by 1920 — a time when only 25 percent of all African-American families owned property."

As a point in the argument of to rent vs buy, this is fascinating.

Admittedly, his study sample size is very small and not randomly selected but since he is backtracking it ends up being very large He is looking back 5+ generations, that is a lot of people, and they all started out pretty much in the same place, as former slaves.

Property ownership seems to be one of those things that changes a person quite radically. Just about everyone who buys their first home says they feel different about things afterward.

The effects of property ownership also obviously echo down through the generations. The attitudes that you have you pass to your children and then to their children and maybe further.

Another effect that can be in operation is compound interest. Over the long term compound interest is vastly powerful. By keeping property in your family for a long time it generally appreciates and can by used later to powerful effect.

We may be renting right now as we re-establish ourselves but our goal is another home of our own. Because it is important to us and it will be important to our children and their children.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nov. 16, 1904: Vacuum Tube Heralds Birth of Modern Electronics

Nov. 16, 1904: Vacuum Tube Heralds Birth of Modern Electronics : "1904: British engineer John Ambrose Fleming invents and patents the thermionic valve, the first vacuum tube. With this advance, the age of modern wireless electronics is born."

I almost missed this
Via Neetorama

Anchor Optics - Educational Documents

Anchor Optics - Educational Documents: "Educational Documents"

Way cool! Those will be great projects when my daughter is a bit older.

via MeFi

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ratatouille Movie Mistakes

I've watched Ratatouille several times now and have noticed a couple of mistakes.

The Disappearing jar
The first is when Linguini lets Remy out of the jar. Remy runs off and Linguini stands up. Remy looks back and the jar is at Linguini's feet. Then as Linguini turns to his bicycle the jar has vanished.

Jumping Physics
This one is more subtle. In the big chase scene as Skinner and Remy are jumping from boat to boat on the Seine. When Skinner does the screaming jump from the No Smoking Boat to the boat with the couple in love, we see most of his jump from the point of view of a camera on the deck on the Love Boat and he approaches it in a straight line toward the camera.
The mistake is that Skinner flight is directly toward the Love Boat in a straight line. The two boats are in motion relative to one another. Skinner would be moving at the speed of the boat he left and not the speed of the boat he is jumping onto. So from the Love Boat point of view he would be moving in a curve that would have had to start behind the man for him to end up grabbing the tablecloth.
Admittedly that might not have been as dramatic as what was put on screen but physics errors in movies are slightly bothersome to me.
This was something we ended up spending a lot of time on in my high school physics class. Several students couldn't figure out that the path of a falling object that was moving sideways was a curve. They kept saying it was a straight line. It turned out to be an optical illusion. The first experiment we tried was to have the teacher walk along and drop his keys. The optical illusion was that the keys were falling down beside his leg which looks like a straight line. Legs are straight and therefore the keys are falling in a straight line. After arguing about it a while I devised a plan to make it more obvious. I have the teacher stop and have the keys slide off his hand, then it was very obvious that the keys were traveling in a curve.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stir-fried Popcorn

We wanted some popcorn to watch Monsters, Inc. with but all we had was popcorn kernels. The popcorn popper is buried in a box somewhere and we don't have any paper bags for doing it in the microwave. Obviously, popping it in a pop is a good way of doing it but tends to be a bit soggy and not very crisp like good popcorn should be.

Well, I know the problem is that the lid on the pot will keep all the steam in, and trying to keep the lid slightly open while shaking a big pot of popping corn on the stovetop without letting popcorn blast its way across the kitchen is just a really hard thing to do easily.

So I thought about how to solve this problem of letting the steam out without also letting the popcorn out and not burning myself. The big colander was hanging in the pantry and that solved the steam problem but it didn't fit well on any of the pots. But then I remembered the wok. It was about the same size as the colander, and trying it out it fit perfectly.

I now had a stovetop popcorn popper. Now to popping the popcorn itself. Preheat the wok on medium heat. Have a landing container ready. Add a tablespoon of corn oil and butter and allow the water from the butter to boil off and add 1/4 cup popping corn. Shake leisurely until they start popping then continuously until things start slowing down. When they reducing popping to 1 a second or so, remove from heat and into your landing container and season immediately. Serve with a good movie.

Ham Radio Amateur Extra License

I passed the test for my Amateur Extra class license so I have full privileges to the Amateur Radio bands. My wife was just short on her General test but she wants to try again after a bit more studying. She never studied electronics or anything like this as an elementary education major and this has been a struggle to hook the theory on to something in her mind. She keeps complaining about the material not sticking.

The problem seems to be that the material in the Ham study guide really expects you to have some science background in your education, like a high school physics class or something like it.

That is a big thing. There are all kinds of things you learn in school that are just not related to anything else but in the real world everything is mixed together and recognizing that is a big deal. Like during the fox-hunt a couple of people walked right past the transmitter box a half-dozen times but since they were looking at the readings on their radios rather then the world around them they just didn't see it.

Relating new concepts to things that are familiar is a really important thing to do. Wave theory can and should start by taking you back to the bathtub and splashing around.

The Only Complete Swiss Army Knife at Hammacher Schlemmer

The Only Complete Swiss Army Knife at Hammacher Schlemmer: " is the largest Swiss Army knife in the world, holder of the Guinness World Record for The Most Multifunctional Penknife, with 87 precision-engineered tools spanning 112 functions."

I love Swiss Army knives as much as anyone but, this is so over the top it is hilarious, unless you have the hands of King Kong this is just not going to be useful.

You survival tools need to be simple and effective. This is neither.

A good tool should be good at what it does. The thing about a Swiss Army knife is that it does many thing pretty well, and it is very small and light. Which is important too if you are carrying it around all the time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

U.S. Army Survival Manual FM 21-76 - EQUIPPED TO SURVIVE (tm)

U.S. Army Survival Manual FM 21-76 - EQUIPPED TO SURVIVE (tm): "U.S. Army Survival Manual FM 21-76"

You can download the whole thing from that site.
From Instapunbit

After Fires, Homeowners Feel an Insurance Pinch - New York Times

After Fires, Homeowners Feel an Insurance Pinch - New York Times: "Most Americans still think that full coverage means full coverage, but insurance companies know otherwise,” said Douglas Heller, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, an advocacy organization"

Reviewing insurance and reassessing our spending plans is one of those things that need to be done from time to time.

Insurance is becoming crazy expensive but it is still something to have.

Reviewing it whenever a major change occurs is probably the best time, a new home or renovation, or other major purchase, a job change, a new child or a child leaving home.

My brother in law went though some of his papers recently and found his will, it didn't even mention he youngest child who is in college now.

At the very least review these thing on years ending on 0.

Monday, November 12, 2007

MAKE: Blog: Programming AVR MCUs on a Mac

MAKE: Blog: Programming AVR MCUs on a Mac: "Programming AVR MCUs on a Mac"

This can come in useful for ham radio tinkering.

Fired after 30 years and taking bullets for the store

Shilson rose rapidly, working 60-hour weeks and becoming general manager at the W. 7th Street store and, later, at the Richfield Taco Bell. She was robbed at gunpoint twice, including the time she was shot while opening the W. 7th restaurant one morning in 1998.

A gunman made her open a safe, but there was a 10-minute delay on the lock. The impatient robber started shooting the safe. A ricocheting bullet hit Shilson, wounding her in the left knee.

When the cops came, she was in shock and called Doug, asking him to bring her a clean uniform. Why, he asked. "Because the one I'm wearing has holes in it and there's blood all over."

Paramedics intervened and took her to the hospital. She had two operations, but the knee still hurts. Other than a severe car accident that required a year's recovery, nothing kept her from work again.

"Border Foods was very good to me," she says, referring back to the days of her convalescence from the car accident. "They paid me disability until I went back to work, and they spent a lot of money on me. At that time, I thought there was no better company to work for."

This is not really new news, company loyalty left the coop long ago.

We can't afford to keep all our eggs in one basket. They say that about you investments in stocks and bonds and the like, but we forget that it is vitally important in our biggest investment: our career.

Having a side-business or possible income producing career is far more important now then it was when it was more popular years ago.

From The Simple Dollar

In Flanders Field

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Simple Chicken Soup From Scratch Recipe

We are a bit sick so I spent the day making chicken soup to help everyone out. I made this from scratch since all the ones at the store have way to much salt and preservatives. I roasted the vegetables and the chicken bones to improve flavors. This step is optional but tasty.

Chicken Soup from Scratch
1 whole fryer chicken
4 stalks celery
4 carrots
2 medium onions
1 head garlic
2 Tbsp peppercorns
2 bay leaves
About 1/2 lbs of small pasta like rotinni or elbow noodles
enough water to cover ingredients

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Finely chop the narrow ends of celery, you want about 1/2 cup of celery and reserve for the soup. Coarsely chop the rest of the celery for the stock.

Finely chop one of the carrots for about 1/2 cup of carrot and reserve for the soup. Coarsely chop the rest for the stock.

Finely chop enough of the onion for about 1 cup of onion and reserve for the soup, and coarsely chop the rest for the stock.

Finely chop 4-6 cloves of garlic for the soup, and break up the rest of the head for the stock.

Cut up the chicken, into wings, legs, back and breasts. Remove the skin and ribs from the breast. Dice the breast and reserve for the soup. Put it in a plastic bag and refrigerate until we are ready to make the soup.

The Stock

Put the chicken, and vegetables on a roasting pan and cook until the vegetables begin to brown. About 20 minutes. This step is optional but it does provide an extra flavorful stock in the end.

Transfer everything to a large pot, about 8 qt sized, and add the peppercorns and bay leaves. Add enough water to cover by about an inch. Up here in Colorado a lot of water will evaporate, by if you are in someplace with lots of humidity, like Georgia, you probably won't need so much.

Simmer on low until the wish bone or other small bone like the wing become brittle, about 4 hours. That means much of the gelatin in the bones has been liberated.

Remove the bones vegetables and herbs and discard they have given all they have to the stock. Now you have chicken stock. You can strain it through a fine mesh strainer or a colander with some cheese cloth in it, but that is not necessary for this application.

The Soup

In a new pot, about 2 qt sized, place the diced chicken and vegetables, and the noodles. Add enough stock to cover and a little bit more as the pasta will absorb quite a bit. Cook until the pasta is tender and chicken is cooked through. Salt and Pepper to taste. If you are sick you'll want more seasoning then usually, as you can't smell very well.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ratatouile DVD Review

We really enjoyed this movie when it first came out.

Our daughter loved it so much we watched the podcasts most evening before bed. So, of course, we had to get it as soon as it came out. It is still a great movie. It has lots of replay value, way more then Dora the Explorer.

The best part about it is that it had heart. Colette is annoyed about being handed Linguini when she stood up for him in the first place. He was so eager to please her, well it was obvious that he was smitten by her, that it soften her toward him as she continued to teach Linguini and Remy. She was really hurt when she thought Linguini had used her teachings to blow past her. Not the case but that is how it looked.

Colette had been used before by some other rising chef, and she had loved him too. We see that and it is heart rending as she expresses that. She is in that kitchen because she has something to prove. She beat that other guy, she is in the finest resturaunt in the world and he is in some lesser
place, but it still hurts her.

These characters have real pain in their backgrounds. The look on everyone's face as Colette challenges Skinner to keep Linguini because, "Anyone can cook" is priceless, Skinner and Colette were the only ones to come to cooking the conventional way. Each of the others had met Gusteau somewhere and had been taken under his ample wing.

Horst is a key character, whatever his management style it alllows the chefs to work smoothly even with iron-fisted Skinner in charge. Horst is actually doing most of the work as Skinner dreams up his next batch of frozen entrees. It is his decision to leave at the big revelation that let everyone else leave, but he is almost in tears, he doesn't want to leave but he cannot stay and that tears at his soul.

This is a great movie because they don't have to tell you all the backstory of everything, but you can create it yourself easily.

I am wondering where Disney/Pixar will go after Wall-E and Toy Story 3. I am pretty sure they want to move animation out of the action-comedy genre. I hope they make a drama that is still rated G but is not really for kids. I would never expect them to make a "My Dinner with Andre" but they do need to tell people that just because it is animated doesn't mean it is kids stuff.

Mrs. du Toit Something to Live and Die For

Mrs. du Toit: "Our civilization will be lost to those who at least pay lip service to loveliness. Our cities, our great institutions, are full of those on the ideological left with the ideaological right locked in our houses or scattered into the woods… and when a young mind is given the choice between the ugly emptiness, selfishness, and simplisme of the right, or the elegant pseudo-sophistication of the left, what do you think they will choose? They will choose lovliness, in whatever guise it is offered. "

There is great beauty in simplicity and it takes some work to achieve simplicity and that is a work to itself.

There needs to be more emphasis on beauty and too often things that drive me the most crazy are things that are designed badly, things that don't work well are ugly no matter how much lipstick was put on that pig.

That is one of the main reasons why I like using Macs. They work, they work well and are good looking too.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

American kids, dumber than dirt / Warning: The next generation might just be the biggest pile of idiots in U.S. history

American kids, dumber than dirt / Warning: The next generation might just be the biggest pile of idiots in U.S. history: "because of all the insidious mandatory testing teachers are now forced to incorporate into the curriculum, of the 182 school days in a year, there are 110 when such testing is going on somewhere at Oakland High. As one of his colleagues put it, 'It's like weighing a calf twice a day, but never feeding it.' "

That is a interesting way of putting it. Testing seems to be making it worse rather then better, but the system has been in trouble for a lot longer then that.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Seth's Blog: We accidentally marketed ourselves into a corner

Seth's Blog: We accidentally marketed ourselves into a corner: "There's no question that a Harvard degree helps (or is even required) in a few fields. There's also no doubt that spending four years at Yale is a mind-changing experience. The question isn't, 'are they wonderful?' The question is, 'Is it worth it?' "