Friday, September 29, 2006

Egg-stroardinary Experience

After pretty much begging some folks to leave comments on my blog (I'm not joking), you wouldn't believe what a shock it was to receive comment after comment on my Sunday, September 24 post titled, "Sunday Night Out in U-City." And, they are hilarious! Cow pun after cow pun started rolling in. I could not believe it when 40....50....60....70 posts were made, and I have laughed so hard this past week. I knew we were nearing the end of the trail soon (even though I suspect a few more will still be submitted in the near future), and that seemed pretty sad to me. So, it was great to receive the following comment from a friend:

Prairie Girl: I have come to realize that there are too many sacred cows when it comes to puns and so I am wondering why you haven't "spread your wings" and moved on to greener pastures, like chicken talk, for example. I decided to ask you this on my blog. Are you feeling buffaloed or just chicken?

And the comments kept rolling in.

Piano Man: It really sticks in my craw that Prairie Girl has taken so long to get involved. Are you trying to shake things up when it looked like we had come up dry?

Sandy-san: Sooo... Is this a shake and bake? Are we scrambling chicken puns into this dialogue? Just egging you on! =D

To which I replied: I think we should poultry people, at the very least, to determine if this is a good idea. I wouldn't want to fowl anything up.

The truth is we don't need to poll anyone. I know this wacky group wants to continue, so we'll start a new thread of egg, chicken, poultry (and whatever else is related) comments right here.

Thanks, friends and family, for the fun. I've heard from so many - even non-participants - who have truly loved reading the cow posts....and most admit that they read them over and over and keep laughing (or groaning), even a few times a day. I do that too! Let the fun continue!!!!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Spider Watch 2006

Directly after making my last post, I sent off an email to Dr. Ken Cramer who is a professor at Monmouth College (a campus I have visited several times) and who seems somewhat of an expert on spiders.

I forwarded two pictures of the spider on Josh's arm along with the following explanation:

When I was visiting Arkansas at the end of August last year, this spider was found in the tall weeds near a fish pond. This is located about an hour east of Fort Smith, AR. Pictured here is my friend holding the spider right near the water's edge. The spider crawled all over him with no problems. I, however, had just put on bug spray...and when my friend tried to transfer the spider to me, the spider tried to get off as quickly as possible. I could immediately sense the "sticky feeling" on the end of its legs, however.

Dr. Cramer wrote back with the following response:

It is not a wolf spider, it is a tarantula, probably in the family Theraphosidae. I'm not sure about their distribution in Arkansas but I know that they are found in the SW US and east to Florida. Tarantulas are a distinct group, far more ancient than the wolf spiders which belong to a more recently evolved sub-group of spiders. They are much slower moving that wolf spiders, and usually much larger (though some wolf spiders can get in the 2-3 inch range). Hope that helps.

Hmmmm...... I don't know what all of you think about his response...but from looking at the pictures, it seems like he's got the right family pegged! A TARANTULA?!?!? I had no idea!

You've Got to be Howling Mad...

...To keep a wolf spider for a pet. Yesterday, a friend of a friend was outside our office for a few moments, waiting on an employee. I went outside to retrieve something from my car, and a few of us who were in the parking lot struck up a conversation. This friend of a friend....well, he looked like real outdoorsy guy, and somehow, we got into the topic of how great camping is in the autumn. This gentleman said he had just been camping in southern Missouri and Arkansas and that he had brought back a "souvenir." I had no idea what he was going to pull out of his car, but I must admit I squealed a little as he quickly shoved a plexiglass and wood box toward me - which was holding a huge, hairy spider (which he called a wolf spider.) I didn't squeal so much because I am afraid of spiders (because I'm not)....but I just didn't have any warning to expect a huge, hairy spider to be coming toward my face. In a box or not, the sight of a wolf spider can be quite shocking! Sadly, I did not have a camera with me to take a picture of the spider, box case, or the friend of a friend.

I have seen a wolf spider only once before, and yesterday's wolf spider looked exactly like one I saw in Arkansas. My friend, Josh, introduced me to these creatures last summer when Asa, Alisha, Josh and I went fishing. Here's a picture of the spider on Josh's arm.

Crazy, huh? (Coincidentally, today is Josh's birthday. Happy Birthday!)

I have no idea of what the expected longevity is for a wolf spider in a plexiglass case with air holes. But, I am hoping he will be released back into nature sometime soon. I'm not a spider lover, but I must admit I am fascinated by their webs and some of their tendencies.

Disclaimer for all entomologists and arachnologists, in particular: If the picture above is not a true wolf spider, I apologize. I have no idea. I am just taking others' word for it. But, to me, besides being a little more hairy, they look pretty close to official pictures of wolf spiders that I've seen....yet not enough alike to know for sure. In the midst of typing this entry, I decided to seek out some professional help (on spiders, that is), and I contacted a spider expert at Monmouth College to receive the official word. I'll try to post an answer when I receive one.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Box Lunch Social

I am excitedly anticipating the first full weekend in October because that is when I hope to travel to Arkansas to visit many friends and attend a Box Lunch Social. The event is being held as a fundraiser for the Wednesday school (for homeschoolers) in the area, and this will be my first time to attend one. I didn't really know what one was until the Green family told me about it a year ago - even though I vaguely remember seeing something about a box social in some older movies.

Sister Lisa and Anna explained that each gal will fix up a meal and place it in a box or basket. Many will decorate the container with a little "flair", and some women may even advertise the contents (like "Award-winning Fried Chicken" or "Grandma's Apple Pie") to spark interest in that box. The boxes are then lined up in an auction-type setting and the men in attendance bid against each other to win a particular box. Then, the traditional conclusion is to have each buyer share the food with the lady who made the lunch box he won. And, the proceeds will go to the organization hosting the event. What fun!

Here's a definition from Wikipedia: A box social is a form of fundraiser, wherein donated lunch boxes are auctioned off for some cause (usually charity or raising money), or, alternatively, a person creates a lunch, which is then auctioned off. Varying depending on the customs, the person would often go on a date with the person who won the lunch they had prepared. The term originated in the early 20th century, when such boxes were more common in workplace settings.

Here's a good definition from the Urban Dictionary: A social get-together that involves the auctioning off of boxed lunches/dinners prepared by the women. A potential sweetheart might let her man of choice know how she had decorated the box she prepared so that he would be the one who would successfully bid on it. He who bought the lunch would share the meal with the one who prepared it. Example: Betsy decorated her boxed lunch with daisies, in hope that Sven would bid on it at the box social.

It has been explained that the weekend in Arkansas will also be filled with performances by the home schoolers, a hymn singing, bluegrass music, a square dance, and lots of fellowship. This is supposed to be a special year - as all of the past graduates from the school have been asked to return. I feel so blessed to be invited and included.

Sister Lisa told me last week that many of the women are attempting to make dresses for the event. I didn't know what kind. She said, "You know, like Little House on the Prairie!" So, I found several great patterns online, but the best one I could find at the sewing store was this dress. I am thankful for the help from Tracy - who knows so much about sewing and who sews the most wonderful dresses and costumes for her little girls and herself. I, on the other hand, know so little...and will be receiving guidance from Tracy at every step.

This past Friday, Tracy and I went to the Jo-Ann Fabrics store together, and it was a fun outing. A little girl time was badly needed. And, I'm afraid I took a long time to pick out the fabric and buttons that I wanted. Since Tracy and I would be putting in a lot of time and effort, I wanted my selections to be "just right." Mom had suggested that I go with a medium blue color, and I agreed...until I arrived at the store. I just couldn't find any blue fabric that I liked. But, right away, Tracy found some beautiful (and unique) pink, maroon, and green paisley/calico fabric that seemed perfect. It sounds like a weird combination of colors, but I love it. There just wasn't enough fabric to make an entire dress, but we soon decided that this would be good for an apron, a bonnet, and some other accents. So, the main part of my dress will be a coordinating plain maroon cotton. It will be accented with greenish grey buttons, and it will be completed with a half apron (not a full one, like in the pattern picture.) I have already cut out the pattern, but we have a lot more to do in a week's time. I'd better get going! If we are able to complete the dress, I will try to post a picture here....along with some pictures of the Box Lunch Social. This will be the first dress I've made and the first box social I've attended. I can't wait!

Cure Your Boredom

Now, mind you, one must be really (and I mean REALLY) bored to have this site cure boredom. But, the site boasts that maybe you should check it out and see if it works for you. The Java Balls are for the artist in all of us....the artist that doesn't exactly know what to draw and/or doesn't have any skill. Oh, and an appreciation for spheres is also an extra bonus.

If you have some time to kill, click on the black space in the middle of the screen to start. Then click on the <<>> arrows to change each trait (colour, round, radial, diameter, horizontal light, etc.) of the pattern. (Holding down the buttons will not change any of the traits.) If you really want to mix things up, click on one of the numbers (1-12) at the bottom.

Hopefully, your computer has a fairly recent version of Java software so you will be able to view this.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday Night Out in U-City

After returning from church this afternoon, I began settling in at my house and preparing for a long night at home. Sunday evenings are often they are often filled with that dread of what will come Monday morning: the return to work. However, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from Brother John who asked me what I had planned for this evening. It was simple to report my very exciting answer, "cleaning, laundry, nothing mind blowing." I then was even further surprised to hear John's request to have me go with him to St. meet up with Brother Steve and Sister Susan Woods! I had heard that they attended the Fishing River Association in Independence (where John had been most of the weekend), but I had no idea they intended to head this way for a couple of days. I quickly ditched my plans to scour the kitchen and rushed to get ready so that John could pick me up.

I had a wonderful time visiting with them - especially while walking around University City. We devoured some burgers and toasted ravioli at Blueberry Hill, ate some ice cream at Ben & Jerry's, and enjoyed seeing the many shops in the Loop. We spoke about sermons we had heard, meetings we had attended, and church folks we all love. It was a great time of fellowship, and Brother Steve and Sister Susan are the kind of people to whom I hate to say goodbye. It seems there's never enough time to listen and learn everything I should from them. But, it only makes me look forward to "next time" that much more. We are so thankful that a December date has been set for Brother Steve to be ordained as an elder, and we are praying that God will be richly bless him as a pastor and teacher. I know I sure have been blessed by his (and Susan's) friendship!

Listening to Pat Green on the ride home, John and I talked about how much we enjoyed the evening - away from the boredom of a usual Sunday evening. Stimulating conversation and good friends are always better alternatives.

Below is a picture of the wall in Ben & Jerry's. I teased Brother Steve, Sister Susan, and John about possibly putting a picture of all 3 of them on my blog. Instead, we thought the wall of cows would be a better photo to include.

I was udderly delighted to be able to meet up with them for dinner.
I had no beefs with having to ride with Brother John to St. Louis.
I'm just glad I didn't have to hoof it.
Needless to say, it was a mooving experience.
Later, I'll have to get on the horn and tell some of the church folks about the night.
But, they might have already herd about it.
I know these puns are probably way pasture limit of dumb jokes, but it's my brand of humor. No bull.

My Family's, Hobby

To understand a preoccupation that my family has, you must first understand my family. They love word puzzles, clever comebacks, logic games...and PUNS! We can't get enough PUNS. So, we often spend many hours of our family gatherings trying to out-pun, out-joke, and outsmart one another. You also must understand that many of the cousins, aunts, and uncles almost pride themselves in telling DUMB jokes, so outsmarting each other isn't always such a difficult thing to do.

I don't exactly know when our family's long-running hobby started, but quite a few years ago, I tried to introduce a new game for us to think about. Little did I know that we would continue to think about these to this day, at least 8 years later. Each time I go home, it never fails that I hear a new one of these....or a long re-hashing of some of our favorites we thought of some time ago.

So, you're wondering....what in the world am I talking about? Well, I'll do my best to describe it. The object: Think of a sentence or question that is generally focused on a topic. The end of the sentence must include the specific item of focus. However, the second part of that item must be a person's first name. Confusing, right? The best way to show you what I mean is to just provide a few tried and true examples.

What's that on the front of your cap, Bill? (cap bill)
Can I borrow a dollar, Bill? (dollar bill)
That platypus sure looks like a duck, Bill. (duck bill)
Can I have the program for the play, Bill? (play bill)

I purposely provided a few with Bill so that I wouldn't ruin the fun that you might have in finding other names that will fit into sentences like these. Still don't understand? Here's another oldie and a goodie:

Someone has placed a rug in front of your door, Matt. (door mat)

Hopefully, you get the point. Well, now you see the ridiculousness in our obsession (or hobby, as we like to call it.) But, we're always trying to find sentences that fit into this puzzle.

There's also the tendency to come up with sentences and questions that don't work at all and don't follow the rules of the game. I've been known to make a loud buzzing sound (Urrrrrh WRONG!) when hearing one of these types, and Uncle Dick gets a real kick out of that. He usually laughs more loudly at me than he does at the sentence puzzles. But there are a few rare occasions when two of my cousins (David and Stephen) will try to so hard to be included in the fun, that their odd suggestions are so off-base that they're just downright funny (at least to my cousins, my uncles and my father.) While these aren't two of the most ridiculous, these are two that will go down in infamy:

What kind of bird is that hooting out in your barn, Al? (barn owl)
How long is that piece of tape, monsieur? (tape measure)

(Clarification: The second sentence above was disqualified because monsieur is not a name. But what make it so funny is that my cousin had no idea how to correctly pronounce the French word. But, he was so excited about thinking of it and was sure it was a "winner" that he called my family's house at 1:00 a.m. because he couldn't wait until we woke up in the morning to share! Regardless of not fitting exactly into the puzzle rules, we sure give him an A for his effort.)

Can you think of any sentences or questions that are like this? BEWARE! If you're the type to like puzzles like us, this can be extremely addictive!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

What is REAL?

The past few weeks have been filled with deep (and not-so-deep) thoughts - specifically about what being in a relationship tends to do to a person and how some individuals experience drastic changes in these circumstances. More specifically, it seems that some become less and less like himself or herself, almost as if wearing a skin that the owner can't help but pull and twist to attempt to ease its restrictions OR so large and cumbersome that it trips and holds one back from keeping up the pace of life ....while others tend to evolve and blossom into the person they have always longed and practiced to be, an example of contentment and grace, settling into a comfortable rhythm with his/her intended, a synchronicity and pattern so unique and so fine-tuned between the two of them that it is evident only God's hand could have woven their lives together.

With the hope of the latter, it is "funny" (both ha-ha and strange) the lengths that some of us will go in search of this blessing while others feel inexplicably locked by fears and fragility that cannot allow them to open up, take risks, and imagine that the happiness of a relationship might be granted to them. I can understand these fears, this baggage, the pleading not to have to be vulnerable. I've been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. But, those have always been short vacations...not places to take up residence. The hope and longing of being with my husband someday has been too great to allow me to consider inactivity and brick walls as options. This is paramount. This is way too important!!!

So, the search continues for so many....not to find someone wonderful (because the world is full of wonderful people), but to find someone (or the one at that time and place) who has the same understanding of the world, who sees the heavens with just as much brightness, who lives his/her life to that same unique, syncopated rhythm that beats in the heart of the seeker. What a magnificent feeling it must be to connect with the one who worries not about what you aren't and what you lack...but sees the beauty in all you've been through, all you seek, and the you you're on the journey to becoming - bumps, bruises, scratches, heartaches, and all.

Today, when reflecting on this, I was reminded of one of my "favorites": a small excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.

********** ********** **********

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nan came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once, " said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real, you can't be ugly except to people who don't understand."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Goodbyes Begin...

This past Sunday, the members of Little Flock Church received quite a shock when they heard the news that Sister Liz and Brother George will soon be moving to Kansas City. Unfortunately for us, the moves will be happening quickly. So, after Wednesday night services, the gang headed to one of our favorite spots, Culver's, so that we could enjoy some fellowship with Liz in the time we have left before her departure.

Here's our gal, Elizabeth J. Despite the mixture of emotions, she seems happy to be here with us and about the blessings that are presenting themselves in K.C. (Then again, she may just be thinking about the signs in the middle of Culver's tables.)

Abigail and Brother Jerry have a heart-to-heart discussion about the situation. Abi shows him how she feels about Liz's planned move.

Sister Sandy, Brother Chris, and Brother Jerry group up for this photo opportunity.

Now, here's a cute couple: Brother Dale and Sister Michele. Awwwww!

And, The Goodbyes Continue...

John, being his usual self... What more can I say?

Here's an accurate depiction of what was most assuredly occurring inside of our heads at the time. Me: blurry. Tracy: crystal clear.

Tressa is receiving careful instructions from her daddy. Unfortunately, her favorite topping, the blue sprinkles, seem to have already disappeared. Hmmmm.

After the fellowship, the next best thing about our visits to Culver's are the cheese curds. Before and after.

My apologies go out to Jeff, whose picture I did not take before the camera started acting up. Also, in trying to respect my elders, I have followed Sister Barb's instructions by not posting the picture of Brother Paul and her. Hopefully, a good picture can be posted soon! I think a nice time was had by all...but we are sad this will be one of the last times we'll all go to Culver's together on Wednesday nights.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Even More Pirates! The Saltiest Kind!

Dasn't mess wi' this fierce captain o' th' sea, Tressa the Terrible. She`ll avast at nothin' t' make sure she gets yer fortunes! Just to prove it, she's givin' ye her best and most snarly ARRRRRRRHHH!

This buccanneer may be th' most feared. She be searchin' through ever' chest t' take inventory o' th' lass' riches.

OH NAY! This one be empty. Who dared t' steal from this crazy jill? Beware! Abigail th' One Tooth be comin' after ye!

She taunts, "Will YE be walkin' th' plank fer takin' me booty?"

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

International Talk Like A Pirate Day

A few years ago, my friend Jeff forwarded me an email that he had received at work. It was from some crazy guy who wanted to tell everyone about a special event coming up: Talk Like A Pirate Day! He even told everyone on the distribution list to stop by his desk because he'd be distributing eye patches throughout the day. We thought, 'What a nut! But, what fun!'

Little did we know, this "holiday" had caught on around the world. There's even an
official web site for it. So, for the last few years, I've told my co-workers and friends about it. And, of course, (I admit it!) now I'm one of the crazy ones distributing eye patches.

To successfully carry out the purpose of Talk Like A Pirate Day, it is essential that you include a few of these key phrases into your day: Ahoy! Blow Me Down! Shiver Me Timbers! Walk the Plank! Aye, Aye Captain! And, the ever popular Aaarrrrrrrggggh!

Below are some outstanding pictures from today at the office. Hope you'll spread the word to your friends, family, and co-workers!

International Talk Like A Pirate Day, Part Two

Monday, September 18, 2006

How Much Is My Blog Worth?

I ran across this site which is supposed to figure the worth of anyone's blog. How much is mine worth? A big whopping $564.54 at the moment. (Actually, I could use that right now!)

Like most things, I don't have a clue about the factors that are used to help figure this worth. But, I am determined to understand it.

My blog is worth $564.54.
How much is your blog worth?

How much is your blog worth?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

2006 Illinois Sacred Harp Convention

I could not wait for I had hoped I would be setting out for the Illinois Sacred Harp Convention. Even though I had touched base with the St. Louis group just weeks ago and I had not yet been able to attend a singing, I felt brave enough to head to Taylorsville, IL and give it a try. I was blessed to have Brother Chris agree to go with me, and we listened to a Sacred Harp CD all of the way there. To make the day even better, my parents also decided to attend for the first time and meet us there. The event started at 10:00 a.m. at the Christian County Historical Museum, and we quickly tried to find a seat in our correct sections. I would estimate that there were between 50 and 60 people in attendance today, and here are a few pictures of the group sitting in the hollow square. Great acoustics!

After singlng for a couple of hours (with a few breaks), we headed outside for "dinner on the grounds". Delicious food, and wonderful conversations. There were no other Primitive Baptists in attendance...yet, we met many Sacred Harp singers who know church folks from across the country. We became acquainted with some great families, and Dad even became reconnected with some individuals whose piano he had tuned in the past. It seemed that everyone went out of their way to make us feel so welcome. Here's just part of the line at lunch.

2006 Illinois Sacred Harp Convention, Part Two

Here's Chris, Dad, & Mom on the museum grounds at lunch.
Here's Dad, me, & Mom. My funny look is aimed at Chris - for insisting I be in a picture.

Here's Dad, finding his place, while sitting in the back row of the bass section.

Here's Chris, Mom, and their many new friends in the tenor (lead) section waiting for their entrance.

In short, the day was wonderful. All four of us jumped right in, tried to do our best, and came away with extremely happy hearts and somewhat hoarse voices. I wish we had a recording of the day, as the singing was so beautiful! The convention will continue tomorrow, and many asked us to return...but we explained we must attend worship services with our fellow church members. However, we cannot wait to reconnect with these new friends at the next convention. (And, we hope to put in a lot of practice before then!)

My Brother's Pez Collection

Tonight, while doing some late night grocery shopping, I was happy to catch my brother on the phone. We had a good chat while catching up on house repairs and family goings-on....when all of a sudden I gasped. There before me was a big display of one of Aaron's favorite items: PEZ! I could not believe it. I can't even begin to estimate how many Pez dispensers he has. I just know he has plastic tubs full of them, and he is trying to find a creative way of displaying them.

This summer, my brother, sister-in-law, cousins, aunt, uncle and I went to Wisconsin Dells for a camping trip. One afternoon, we decided to venture downtown, and our favorite stop was the candy store. (For most of us, it was because we liked the homemade candy: saltwater taffy, creamy fudge, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate mints, etc. For Aaron, it was because he found some Pez that he did not yet have in his collection. That's a rare occasion!)

So, as I started rattling off the Pez dispensers that were available at the ol' Shop 'n Save tonight, Aaron didn't seem all that excited after the initial shock of me finding it was extremely unlikely that they were going to have a Pez that my brother didn't already own. To both of our surprise, they had 3 Chicken Little characters that he doesn't have!!!! I was happy and very willing to put up the $1.29 a piece for Chicken Little, Ugly Duckling, and Fish out of Water. The night got even better for my brother when he realized the dispensers were mounted on a cardboard backing instead of packaged inside a plastic bag how you will find some. (I guess the cardboard versions may be worth a little more money down the road.)

My brother also collects anything that is related to The Simpsons. I think he could win almost any trivia contest about them. Once again, I can't even begin to estimate how much he has or what he has....board games, coasters, candy....all of it having to do with The Simpsons. Whenever we want to buy him something with Pez or the Simpsons we have to check with his wife or him first. And, as you might guess, his collections have come together so wonderfully with this item.

I've collected all sorts of things in my life. Koalas, dolphins, crazy socks, stationery, unique pens, CDs/music, World's Fair memorabilia and picture books, children's readers, (books of all kinds, really), and pansies are coming to mind at the moment. In fact, in one way or another, I guess I am still actively collecting all of these except the first three I listed. Pansies cover the shelves, nooks, and crannies of my kitchen, and I built a little library corner to store my books in my upstairs room I'm renovating. My co-workers love to bring me pens they've found on trips, and they know I especially love the rollerball kind. But, my favorite "collectables" of all are my letters. I have almost every letter or card that has been sent to me since I was about 11. These are very precious gifts to me, and I can't bear the thought of throwing them away. Thankfully, I (like my brother) have good plastic storage tubs to keep them in.

What do you collect?

P.S. Despite my best efforts, I also unwillingly collect dust and cat hair. Therefore, I've added a new item to collect: lint rollers.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Presidents' Views on the Bible

After reading Lincoln's Melancholy, I was motivated to start another book which I bought on the same trip to the bookstore - yet another book about Lincoln: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. This 944-pager (gulp!) was written by historian and Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin. I've seen her in many documentaries, and she's often seen providing perspective during any large political event on NBC and MSNBC. I'll post updates on how the reading is going. It is a large enough task to lug the book around from place to place.

Reading so much about how Lincoln's spiritual understanding effected his political stance made me want to revisit what other presidents have said about scripture and the Bible. Here are some quotes for you to consider. No matter if you agree with them or not, it is interesting to read their thoughts.

It is impossible to cover the world without God and the Bible. George Washington

The whole inspiration of our civiliaation springs from the teachings of Christ and the lessons of the prophets. To read the Bible for these fundamentals is a necessity of American Life. Herbert Hoover

In regard to this great book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man's welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it. Abraham Lincoln

A man has deprived himself of the best there is in the world who has deprived himself of this, a knowledge of the Bible. When you have read the Bible, you will know that it is the Word of God, because you will have found it the key to your own heart, your own happiness, and your own duty. Woodrow Wilson

Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet-anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your hearts and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future. Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people. Ulysses S. Grant

The meaning of the Bible must be known and understood if it is to make a difference in our lives, and I urge all Americans to read and study the Scriptures. The rewards of such efforts will help preserve our heritage of freedom and signal the message of liberty to people in all lands. Ronald Reagan

Every thinking man, when he thinks, realizes that the teachings of the Bible are so interwoven with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally impossible for us to figure what life would be if those teachings were removed. We would lose almost all the standards by which we now judge both public and private morals; all the standards toward which we, with more or less resolution, strive to raise ourselves. Theodore Roosevelt

So great is my veneration of the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society. John Adams

America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the Holy Scriptures. Woodrow Wilson

Thursday, September 14, 2006

To-Do Lists

I was sitting at my desk, writing out my to-do list for the rest of the week, when I was reminded of a funny to-do list that made me laugh out loud.

Quasimodo's "To-Do" List for Nov. 15, 1482
by Oscar Martinez
1. Ring bells
2. Take calcium
3. Save Gypsy girl from gallows
4. Ring bells more

This then prompted me to go back to the literary site where I found it: McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Some of my friends have received McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, a quarterly collection of fiction from some of today's up-and-coming writers. I've enjoyed reading many of the stories from the quarterly and many of the features on the web site, but most of the submissions definitely lean (if not completely fall over) toward the liberal view...and are not very spiritual. Therefore, I try to be extremely careful in picking out what to read or suggest. Proceed with caution. But, my favorite contributions to the site - which are usually safe - are the lists. The lists range from what people have observed, researched, heard, or simply just made up. I thought I would provide a few other examples of posted lists right here.

Ways To Offer Coffee Refills At A Diner
(If You Are Working At The Diner)
By Adam McGill
1. Can I top that off for you?
2. Want a shot?
3. Freshen her up?
4. Still thirsty?
5. Cap off your cup?
6. Help me finish the pot?
7. Mo' Joe for your mojo?
8. More coffee?

Names of Squash That Also Make Good
Terms of Endearment
By Laura Belous
Golden Nugget
Large Turban
Mini Turban
Pumpkin Pie
Sugar Loaf
Sweet Dumpling

Schoolyard Games for Unpopular Children
By Greg Knauss
Hide 'n Be Lonely
Goose Goose Goose
Kick the Can, Over and Over Again, Angrily
Studio Apartment
Very Easy Tag

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Pandora/Music Genome Project

Many of you might have already heard of the Music Genome Project. It was heavily advertised on many music specials over the last few years. For those not familiar with it: A group came together in early 2000 to attempt a deep study of music in an effort to break down all songs into their components - or GENES. These are categories for types of lyrics, instruments played, and harmonies used, just to name a few. Now, a huge catalog has been created to log these genes, and music artists' creations - from well-known to obscure - are continually being added to the project.

Another great result of this project is Pandora. Ever love a CD or an artist so much that you wish you knew where you could find others that are similar? Reap the benefits of this team's hard work by typing in an artist or song that you like...and the site will do the rest - leading you to music you may have long forgotten or music you may never have found otherwise. You can create station after station to satisfy your love for various styles, and this music will play on and on. But, don't think that the site will make all of the choices and lock you into music that you can't stand! Each time a new song/artist is suggested, you may choose if you like it or don't like it....and that will help the site make choices (based on the genes) that will better match your tastes in the future. This is a great site to visit right before you want to head out the CD store....or if you're going to be on your computer for hours. (It will keep running, even if you are using other programs.)

After creating a few stations, you'll be asked to create an account. You may join for free (with a few ads that will post every so often) or pay a small fee for an upgraded account. Either way, the process is extremely simple and well worth the small effort. If you're on the site and don't understand exactly what is going on, be sure to check out the FAQ page or contact me. Hope you enjoy the tunes!!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Riddle Fun #1

Every once in a while, I'll try to post a few riddles for you. From the 1999 edition of "MENSA Riddles and Conundrums"...

A) Sid always moans that if only people told the truth he would sell more goods. What does he make?

B) Albert Coley is a fishmonger. He stands 6ft. 6 in. (2 meters) in his socks, wears size XXL in clothes, and wears size 14 shoes. What do you think he weighs?

C) A man and his wife were driving rapidly through town late at night. Suddenly the car broke down. The man had to get help but was nervous about leaving his wife alone at that hour. However, there was absolutely no question of her coming too. Eventually, he told her to lock all the doors, keep the windows shut, and wait for him to return. Under no circumstances whatsoever was she to let anyone else into the car. The wife did as she was told, but, even so, when the man returned to the locked car, his wife was entertaining two strangers. What happened?

D) In Dead Men's Gulch, Colorado, there was a barber who had a hold over the local mayor. The mayor was manipulated into passing a law that no man might shave himself and no man might grow a beard. This was all very well and the barber did well out of it but, nevertheless, even one so rich was not above the law. Who shaved the barber?

Now, many of these are old and fairly simple to figure out. So, it is likely that you determine the answers right away. However, please use the comment feature to write in your guesses to one of the puzzles by noting the letter that goes with the riddle. (Maybe we should limit submitting answers for just one at a time at first.) I'll be sure to confirm when a correct answer has been guessed. Go get 'em!

P.S. Just a reminder that you can comment on any posts at any time, so PLEASE do so!!!

Monday, September 11, 2006

5 Years Later...

God bless America. Please pray for our leaders, our service men and women, and the community members who work to protect us every day.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Bubble Day at Work

After making my bubble post a few weeks ago, I immediately got together with some of my fun work friends, and we organized "Bubble Day" here at our site. The event was held today during our lunch hour. And, even though we took many pictures, only one turned out well. We had bubbles of all sizes, and we used all sorts of wands and toys to "bubble up" the parking lot. It was a great break from the regular routine, and I think everyone who participated had fun. The bubble solution formulas on the link within my 8/22/06 post worked out really well!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


"Coincidences" are odd in general. But, some are really odd.

All last week, my jaw was hurting so badly. I was actually wincing in pain sometimes. Of course, I knew this probably had to do with the fact that the left side of my jaw was popping out of place more than ever. But, I couldn't find anything to make it feel better. (This has been happening every so often since high school, but I am 99% sure I don't grind my teeth in my sleep - which I was told is the main cause of this problem, otherwise known as TMJ. It had also never hurt this badly before.)

I was planning to see a specialist this past weekend. But first, I decided to mention it to my chiropractor who has been treating me since I was in a car wreck earlier this summer. I wondered if his adjustments to the highest region of my neck/spine could be affecting a change in my jaw. Better yet, I was wondering if he could do anything to help my jaw and make the pain go away.

He looked at me intently. Touched my face. Touched my neck. Put his ear up to my jaw to hear it pop. Actually, put on latex gloves to touch inside my cheek. It was all pretty I told him that I had no idea why this was happening. But, he quickly diagnosed that the jaw/cheek muscle (maybe called a masticator?) on my right side is much larger and tighter than the muscle on my left. Therefore, because the right one is so tight, the left side has basically no other choice than to pop out of place to open up as widely as the rest of my mouth is telling it to do so.

He gave me some exercises to do to try and relax the right side. And, did them throughout the weekend. While the pain has diminished, the popping has not.

This morning, I rushed around the office and to some meetings so that I could try to get a lot accomplished before leaving for my regular appointment with my chiropractor. Before heading out the door, I also attempted to read all of my email from the morning, and I saw that I had received an email from my church friend, Liz. Along with the reply to my email from the day before, she also included a note stating that her mom (Sister Karen Anderson) had sent her a "word of the day" from the day before...and told Liz that she was "thinking of her". Liz knows how I love learning new vocabulary words, so I was thankful she shared. The word was BRUXISM. I had no idea what that was...and I didn't have time to look it up before running out the door to my appointment. But, my only guess was that it had to do with comforting someone or something to do with a difficult situation Liz has been handling (incredibly well) lately. Either way, I had to rush to make my appointment on time. would have to wait.

So, I saw the doctor, and he asked for an update on my jaw. I told him the current status, but I tried to press him on what in the world could be causing me to have this problem...since I don't grind my teeth. He said that, whether I knew it or not, I was most probably clenching my jaw/teeth in my sleep every night. He rattled off a bunch of information, but added, "This is also called bruxism."

You should have seen my face - JAW WIDE OPEN - then! Who would have thought?

From the American Heritage Dictionary:
The habitual, involuntary grinding or clenching of the teeth, usually during sleep, as from anger, tension, fear, or frustration.

From Merriam-Webster's Dictionary:
the habit of unconsciously gritting or grinding the teeth especially in situations of stress or during sleep

From Luke 13:28, KJV Bible:
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.

Friday, September 01, 2006

My Job

Various folks have been writing in to see how things are going with my job, and many are still very confused about what my company does. For information, please check out Givaudan's web site or information listed on Wikipedia's Givaudan entry. I was pleasantly surprised to read that it is noted as the world's largest producer of flavors and fragrances. Givaudan is a Swiss-owned company that was founded in 1796, and we are in 100 countries all over the world. Our international headquarters are in Vernier, Switzerland, and our national headquarters are in Cincinnati, Ohio.
I work at the St. Louis (Bridgeton, MO) site, and we make many delicious flavors for ice creams, fruit drinks, egg nogs, and chocolate milk products. On most days, the offices and the surrounding area outside our plant smell like brownies. This site was formerly both Consolidated Flavors and Tastemaker.