Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What to wear (under) on New Year's Eve

Here is a New Year's tradition I had never heard of before. I guess I'll have to go out and buy some new underwear after I decide what I most want in the New Year.

red underwear = luck in love
yellow underwear = luck with money and business
green underwear = health


Nochevieja is the name for New Year's Eve in Spain. People traditionally eat 12 grapes at midnight, one for each strike of the clock.

New Year's Eve in Ecuador

In Ecuador, people make and burn an effigy of someone who has had a negative impact that year. They are called Años Viejos, (Years Old). These are often politicians. I know who I would make one of.

New Years in the Netherlands

Here is a recipe for Olie Bollen which is a Dutch style doughnut that is traditionally eaten in the Netherlands on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. This certainly sounds better than the southern tradition of having blackeyed peas and greens on New years day.
Olie Bollen
2 (.25 ounce) packages active
dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (110
degrees F to 115 degrees F)
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups chopped apple
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 quart vegetable oil for frying
white sugar for decoration
Warm oven on lowest possible temperature setting.
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a small mixing bowl. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add the eggs, yeast mixture, and milk; beat with an electric mixer until blended.
Turn off the oven. Cover the prepared dough with a greased piece of plastic wrap, and place the bowl of dough on the lowest rack of the warmed oven. Allow to rest and rise for 1 hour.
Heat the oil for frying to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) in a heavy bottomed, deep skillet.
Mix the apples and raisins into the dough. Then, carefully slide the dough by heaping teaspoons into the preheated oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the fritters until they are golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. They should turn over on their own when they are ready to brown on the other side, but keep an eye on them and flip them as necessary. Remove them to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with the remaining dough. Dust with sugar while warm.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Texas Bowl 2008

Tonight I went to the Texas Bowl at Reliant Stadium where Rice played Western Michigan University. I went with a group of people from the Rice Library. It was a fun night with beautiful weather and so they left the roof open the entire game. Rice won 38 to 14 so that was nice. I sat next to my friend Keith (aka Kee) not knowing until tonight what a huge and very loud fan he is of football. He was a hoot (pun intended). I took a few pictures just to prove that I was really there.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Everybody is tired after their long walk.

FourDogMom's Dogs

I had dinner with my friend Ginny tonight and when we got back the dogs decided to be extra cute.

The Good Life

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Here is a beautiful batik cloth picture of a market scene that I bought in Kenya many years ago.

Adorable Dogs

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Here is a really fun site where you can create your very own snowflake. My friend Fayrae found it and sent me the link. Thanks Fayrae!

This is only way we will see snow this Christmas in Houston as it is warm and humid outside today.

For some lovely snow pictures you can go to Fayrae's blog:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Official Santa Tracker

For over 50 years, The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been protecting North American airspace from aerial attacks. The same technology that is used to protect us is also used to track the annual Christmas flight of Santa Claus and his reindeer. According to NORAD, a network of 47 radars tell them when Santa's sleigh leaves the North Pole and infrared satellites track his flight. Once the sleigh lands there are "Santa Cams" that can track his deliveries. For more information go to which has videos from last years tracking of Santa, interactive games and activities, information about Santa Claus, information about NORAD, and a link to track Santa in 3D using google earth. There are also daily updates from Santa's staff. Today update: "NORTH Pole staff have advised NORAD that it is the final day to send Santa an email because Santa and the elves will begin loading the sleigh later today. This is such a huge task that they will not have time to check emails!"

This is a pretty fun website!

Monday, December 22, 2008

99 Things (and some more I added)

Here is something fun I found to do on Stephen's Lighthouse.
Copy the list and then:
Things you’ve already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven’t done and don’t want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Played in a band.
4. Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland/world.
8. Climbed a mountain.
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo.
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitch hiked.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb.
26. Gone skinny dipping.
27. Run a marathon.
28. Ridden a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language.
37.Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person.
41. Sung Karaoke.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Gotten flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood.
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.
67. Bounced a check.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.
77. Broken a bone.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a cell phone.
99. Been stung by a bee.

Some things I've done that are not on the list:
Watching the sun rise in a hot air balloon over the Serengeti, then landing in an area where wildebeests and zebras had been grazing only moments earlier.
Sitting on a beach in Antarctica surrounded by hundreds of thousands of penguins, some curious enough to come up and investigate.
Swimming with penguins off of an island in the Galapagos.
Sitting on a rock surrounded by many, many, many iguanas.
Petting a rhino and a warthog in Kenya.
Holding a full grown tiger in my lap at a fair in Brenham, TX.
Going over a waterfall on the Devil's River (not recommended)
White water rafting in Costa Rica.
Kayaking in British Columbia.
Seeing millions of monarch butterflies in the mountains of Mexico.

Portland, Oregon is getting an "official city doughnut." The mayor, Tom Potter, is planning to introduce his official doughnut resolution during a meeting of the city council on Christmas Eve day. The lucky doughnut is a chocolate covered, cream filled doughnut with 2 "eyes" called Portland Creme. It is made by Voodoo Doughnuts (the magic is in the hole). Here is a link to the website where you can see some of their other very original creations such as Triple Chocolate Penetration, Dirty Snowball, Nyquil Glazed, and Pepto Bismol: They even have a selection of vegan doughnuts. I wanted to put the picture of the one called Tasty on my blog but decided it might be a little suggestive.

We had Shipley's plain glazed here this morning, always a crowd favorite. Lawrence Shipley, Sr. started making donuts here in Houston in 1936 and they sold for 5 cents a dozen. Today there are over 190 stores, with 86 in the Houston area, and a dozen donuts sells for about 5 dollars a dozen (still a great deal).

Bush and Hanukkah

Since Hanukkah began at sundown last night this seemed like a good time to look at a Hanukkah White House blunder and at a bushism from long ago on the subject.

This year, bush and the missus invited leaders of the Jewish community to a Hanukkah reception at the White House with a card with the image of a Clydesdale horse hauling a Christmas tree. In case you are thinking that no one is that stupid and it must just be a tree or shrub that needs planting, there is a sign on the wagon that reads "White House Christmas Tree 2008."

Back in December of 2001 Bush said "I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama Bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah."
I'm thinking bush doesn't understand Hanukkah either.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"You know we have libraries"

This is from The M word via Stephens Lighthouse : A young producer at NBC pitched a story to Brain Williams about the newest craze- a Netflix system for books , you would simply put in your request for you book, one that had been read by someone else, and it would be delivered to you. Brian Williams responded, "You know we have libraries."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

1,000,000 Shoes for George W. Bush

There is a new group on Facebook that I just joined called "One Million Shoes for George W. Bush" The goal is to have 500,000 members = 1,000,000 shoes for George W. Bush by Jan. 20.

Throw Shoes on Bush (The Game)

The Norwegians have come up with a little game for those of us who would like to throw a shoe at bush. Here is the link:
There are numerous reports that AL-Zaidi, the man who attacked bush with 2 non-lethal shoes is being tortured and his family threatened because of his actions. He may also spend up to 7 years in prison. It's a sad world when a man who is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people and the destruction of a country will get to spend the rest of his life in a luxurious multi-million dollar home in Dallas, supported and protected with America tax dollars, and a man who threw shoes at him in protest for all the lives lost is being treated like a criminal.

Monday, December 15, 2008

One of the things I been doing this year to save energy and money is to use cold water to do my laundry. According to Treehugger: "Just selecting the "cold/cold" cycle has the potential to save as much CO2 emissions each year as thousands of miles driven in a car, or even an airplane flight or two."
I have a gas water heater which is a greener option and I also have a front loading washing machine which is more efficient than a top loader. I'm considering getting a tank less water heater when I have to replace the one I have now. During the summer I turn the temperature to the lowest setting on the hot water heater and then I turn it up in the winter. This year I'm just going to leave it on the lowest setting. I'm also using the heater very sparingly. The house is pretty cold but I'm layering my clothes and am comfortable most of the time. The dogs keep me warm at night and they of course love the cold weather. My water bill this month was under $10.00 and my gas and electric together were around $75 so my efforts are paying off.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hershey Kiss, Pretzel, M&M Treats

I made the pretzel, Hershey, M&M treats that I blogged about earlier. I used plain kisses and mint kisses and plain M&M's and mint M&M so there are 4 different combinations. I should have done the plain kisses and the mint kisses at different times because the mint kisses melted a lot faster but everything turned out ok. I know this because I have tasted them and they are delicious. This would be a fun thing to do with kids.

"This is a farewell kiss, you dog"

During a surprise visit to Iraq, Bush had not one, but two size 10 shoes thrown at him by Muntadar al-Zeidi, a reporter for Al-Baghdadia television. Unfortunately Bush ducked and wasn't hit by the shoes.
It was also unfortunate that the reporter called Bush a dog, an insult to dogs and dog lovers everywhere. In Iraq, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt. People threw shoes at the statue of Saddam when it was toppled after the 2003 invasion.
Bush should probably stick to giving speeches at A&M, one of the few places where people can still stand him. Two faculty members organized a small protest when he was chosen to deliver a commencement address on Friday, but county Democratic chairwoman Maggie Charleton said his visit wasn't worth making a fuss over. ''I don't like George W. Bush. I don't think he's been a good president," she said. "But, you know, in a little while, he's going to be gone. Not a moment too soon, thank goodness. Why bother?"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hot Hot Santa

Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley

In honor of our beautiful unexpected snow last night, here is a link to a collection of photographs of snowflakes. I didn't have any idea that there was a collection until I found this on The Librarians Internet Index. The pictures were taken by Wilson Alwyn Bentley (1865-1931) who is considered "America's First Cloud Physicist." This collection of over 1000 images has been cataloged by the Schwerdtfeger Library, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Each snow flake is classified by type and can be browsed or searched online. Here is the link:
There is also a web site dedicated to Wilson Alwyn Bentley here:
A quote from Bentley: "Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated., When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Let It Snow

It snowed tonight!

Interesting things about Obama

My friend Jamie sent me this list. Some of these I had heard but some were new to me.
• He collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics
• He was known as "O'Bomber" at high school for his skill at basketball
• His name means "one who is blessed" in Swahili
• His favourite meal is wife Michelle's shrimp linguini
• He won a Grammy in 2006 for the audio version of his memoir, Dreams From My Father
• He is left-handed – the sixth post-war president to be left-handed
• He has read every Harry Potter book
• He owns a set of red boxing gloves autographed by Muhammad Ali
• He worked in a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop as a teenager and now can't stand ice cream
• His favourite snacks are chocolate-peanut protein bars
• He ate dog meat, snake meat, and roasted grasshopper while living in Indonesia
• He can speak Spanish
• While on the campaign trail he refused to watch CNN and had sports channels on instead
• His favourite drink is black forest berry iced tea
• He promised Michelle he would quit smoking before running for president – he didn't
• He kept a pet ape called Tata while in Indonesia
• He can bench press an impressive 200lbs
• He was known as Barry until university when he asked to be addressed by his full name
• His favourite book is Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
• He visited Wokingham, Berks, in 1996 for the stag party of his half-sister' s fiancé, but left when a stripper arrived
• His desk in his Senate office once belonged to Robert Kennedy
• He and Michelle made $4.2 million (£2.7 million) last year, with much coming from sales of his books
• His favourite films are Casablanca and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
• He carries a tiny Madonna and child statue and a bracelet belonging to a soldier in Iraq for good luck
• He applied to appear in a black pin-up calendar while at Harvard but was rejected by the all-female committee.
• His favourite music includes Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Bach and The Fugees
• He took Michelle to see the Spike Lee film Do The Right Thing on their first date
• He enjoys playing Scrabble and poker
• He doesn't drink coffee and rarely drinks alcohol
• He would have liked to have been an architect if he were not a politician
• As a teenager he took drugs including marijuana and cocaine
• His daughters' ambitions are to go to Yale before becoming an actress (Malia, 10) and to sing and dance (Sasha, 7)
• He hates the youth trend for trousers which sag beneath the backside
• He repaid his student loan only four years ago after signing his book deal
• His house in Chicago has four fire places
• Daughter Malia's godmother is Jesse Jackson's daughter Santita
• He says his worst habit is constantly checking his BlackBerry
• He uses an Apple Mac laptop
• He drives a Ford Escape Hybrid, having ditched his gas-guzzling Chrysler 300
• He wears $1,500 (£952) Hart Schaffner Marx suits
• He owns four identical pairs of black size 11 shoes
• He has his hair cut once a week by his Chicago barber, Zariff, who charges $21 (£13)
• His favourite fictional television programmes are Mash and The Wire
• He was given the code name "Renegade" by his Secret Service handlers
• He was nicknamed "Bear" by his late grandmother
• He plans to install a basketball court in the White House grounds
• His favourite artist is Pablo Picasso
• His speciality as a cook is chilli
• He has said many of his friends in Indonesia were "street urchins"
• He keeps on his desk a carving of a wooden hand holding an egg, a Kenyan symbol of the fragility of life
• His late father was a senior economist for the Kenyan government

Monday, December 8, 2008

Here is an account of the "accident" where Laura Bush killed her classmate and ex-boyfriend Michael Douglas. It has been covered up for years and even now most people haven't heard about it or don't believe it. It took an episode of Family Guy to bring it out in the open. Can you imagine the outrage if Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton had run a stop sign and killed someone?

At about 7:30 p.m. on November 6, 1963, Laura Welch [now Bush] left her family home at 2500 Humble Ave. in Midland, Texas, after some sort of incident. She headed north on Lanham St. and, after four blocks, turned right and stopped to pick up her girlfriend, Judy Dykes, at 2409 Neely Ave. A couple of blocks east, Laura headed north again on North Garfield St. and headed out of town in the direction of her boyfriend's house. Michael Dutton Douglas, also 17 and also a senior at Lee High School, left his home before Laura got into the vicinity. He left with his dad close behind, perhaps in pursuit. At the north edge of town, Laura turned her big new Chevrolet Impala left again, heading east on farm-to-market (FM) road FM 868. Meanwhile, Michael was leaving his home on Solomon Drive, heading east toward the highway, state route 349, a couple hundred yards away. From here, he would turn right, south, on 349 toward the fateful meeting at FM 868. If Laura or Judy was watching, they could see Michael's car, or at least its headlights, on his street, Solomon Dr., which paralleled FM 868 and was the first street to the north. Later, Laura reported she didn't even see his headlights even as he, headed south, approached the intersection with FM 868. In the 1000 yards to the intersection, he had time to accelerate to the legal speed limit of 65 mph. The police report said it was dark but that, otherwise, driving conditions were ideal. It is easy to overlook a car in daytime, but on a dark night, it is hard not to notice the headlights of an approaching car, about the only light around, except for what one's headlights illuminate. That night, Laura didn't see the headlights of Michael's Corvair. As she approached the state highway doing 50-something miles per hour, according to the police report, she didn't see the stop sign either, she said. Michaels little Corvair was no match for Laura's new land barge. The collision swung his car around fully three-quarters of a turn and set it skidding 50 feet to the east, in the same direction as Laura's car was heading. It was like a billiard ball approaching from your left, and you hit it and it goes more or less straight away from you. Michael died of a broken neck, at the scene. His father, who was following him, arrived seconds after the wreck. Laura was unhurt and Judy had insignificant injuries. The police report noted that Laura committed two violations of traffic laws that contributed to the wreck: "Disregard stop sign or signal" and "[illegible]" In the box labeled "Is investigation complete?", the police officer checked "No." The officer went through all the proper motions: measured the skid marks, diagrammed the wreck, went to the hospital to check on the dead (Michael) and others (Laura and Judy). He took statements from the survivors and photos of the wreckage. The next day, he filed his report. He did not issue a citation to Laura Welch. The investigation apparently was never completed. No grand jury was convened. Laura had killed the most popular boy at school, more popular than Tommy Franks, who later would become an Army general and lead US forces into the invasion of Iraq. She stayed home until about Christmas. Outside of that, she has never missed a beat, certainly not a class reunion, where she still shows up and dances with all comers as First Lady of the United States. Less than two years later, the heartbroken Douglas family - mother, father, and sister of Michael - moved out of town. It is not known whether they received any compensation for Michael's death. Certainly Laura's parents, Laura and Jenna H. Welch could afford to pay it, not to mention their insurance company. Welch built five of Midlands housing developments, which made him a wealthy man by small-town standards. To this day residents of Midland talk of the wreck in hushed tones. Laura Bush's mother has expressed thankfulness that it was not her daughter that was killed, since the Welches only had one child. Laura Bush has never, never acknowledged what the police report noted: Her violation of law had contributed to a young man's death. Never. Media reports have appeared in "Reader's Digest" and other places with incorrect facts that would seem to be ameliorating circumstances. For example: Michel Douglas was driving an open Jeep, from which he could easily be thrown. The wreck happened right after a thunderstorm, which would imply that the pavement was wet and slick. The fact is, Michael was driving a closed sedan that was very small and no match for Laura's much larger car. The pavement was dry, as the officer check the box on the police report form. Laura never bothered to correct these and other misstatements, including the one that she was not Michael's girlfriend. She will not acknowledge the accident or even her relationship with the victim even to this day. The true facts came out when the police report was released in 2000, 37 years after the fact, also after the Midland city attorney refused to release the report. The Texas attorney general compelled the release of the report after a newspaper in another Texas town, Odessa, filed a Freedom of Information Act request.

Laura Bush Killed a Guy

Oh Christmas Tree

I've been decorating ever since I got home today and am finally finished. I even managed to walk the dogs too. See if you can find the little Democratic Donkey on the tree with a flag on his back. He's a new ornament my neighbor gave me.

This is from the article "Bush by the Numbers" by Kristen Jones in the Huffington Post.

National Debt on Election Day
$7.1 trillion
$10.6 trillion
Adjusted to 2008 dollars. Source: Treasury Department.

Percentage of Americans without health insurance
Source: Census Bureau

Average high school graduation rate
2007-08 number is projected. Source: Department of Education

U.S. funding for global HIV/AIDS
$1 billion
$6 billion
Fiscal years. Adjusted to 2008 dollars. Source: President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief

Average number of endangered species listed per year
Source: Fish and Wildlife Service

Average number of Superfund clean-ups completed per year
Fiscal years. Source: Environmental Protection Agency

Percentage of federal contracts with open competition
Fiscal years. Source: OMBWatch

FDA letters citing violations of pharmaceutical ad rules
Source: FDA

Illegal immigrants deported
Fiscal years. Rounded to the nearest 10,000. Sources: Justice Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and USA Today

FBI agents investigating white-collar crimes
Source: The New York Times

Number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests
2.2 million
21.8 million
Fiscal years. Source: Department of Justice

Number of personnel who process FOIA requests
Fiscal years. Source: Department of Justice

Unemployment rate
2008 number is as of November. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pounds of meat and poultry inspected per full-time employee of the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
10.1 million
11.4 million
Fiscal years. Source: White House Office of Management and Budget, FY 2009 and FY 2003 budgets

Percentage of new Army enlistees with a high school diploma or higher
Fiscal years. Includes only active-duty enlistees. Sources: Department of Defense; National Priorities Project

Days in office the president spent at his ranch
Ronald Reagan
George W. Bush
Bush's ranch is in Crawford, Tex.; Reagan's was in Santa Barbara, Ca. Bush's number is as of Election Day, 2008. Source: Mark Knoller, CBS News Radio; Associated Press


I was cataloging a new biography of John Lennon by Philip Norman when I realized that today is the anniversary of his death. He was killed on December 8th, 1980 outside of the apartment he shared with Yoko Ono and their son Sean.
Here is a link to one of my favorite songs:

Friday, December 5, 2008

I'm so glad OJ will finally be spending some time in jail even if it isn't for the vicious murders he committed in 1994. Ron Goldman and Denise Brown were in court when the sentence was handed down and finally got to hear OJ say he was sorry even if it wasn't for the crime he should have been convicted of. He was sentenced to 33 years and may have to serve at least 9 years. He was also not allowed bail while awaiting his appeal. Finally some justice. Now if we can just get bush, dick, rove...