Monday, January 31, 2005

Closed Captioning

I love closed captioning. Growing up, my dad always had it on because with 8 kids, the house was noisy and it was hard to hear the TV. I like it now because when I feed my son in the middle of night, I can read TV without disturbing anyone else. The only thing that makes me a little annoyed is around 4:00 am, the early, early news shows start, but they aren't close captioned. That means I have the choice of 1) silence 2) yesterday's news on PBS or 3) Texas Justice.

I really need to write to CBS and ask them to close caption the news. It doesn't even have to be good closed captioning. I think one of the stations around here uses automated closed captioning for their news.

Friday, January 28, 2005

A scientific question I'm too lazy to google

The other day I had a growth removed from my neck (benign fortunately). Any way the doctor cut it using a scaple that used radio waves (cool!) then cauterized it. I assume when he cauterized it, he put something hot to it.

So my question, does cauterizing a wound give you a burn? If so, what degree?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

More on Family History

Here's my thinking through the problem of verifying information in a GEDCOM. I think I must be making this harder than it is.

So there are 2 problems:
  1. Identifying the ancestors I want to verify. This is neither every one in the GEDCOM nor everyone in the book of remembrance. It would also be nice to verify an ancestor and his/her spouse at the same time. There are around 200 people I'll need to look at.
  2. Correcting the information - this includes birth, death, and marriage dates plus adding in the references where the information came from.
Possible solutions:
  1. In PAF, I could generate a list of ancestors, print it out, and go through it, checking each person and their marriage on the computer as I come to it.
  2. The problem with working off the PAF list on the computer (and not printing it out) is that while I can edit personal information, I can't edit the marriage date. I guess I could go through the list and verify all personal information, then do a second pass and verify marriage information and add in references.
  3. Print out the family group sheets and go through them with a red marker. Then go through and enter the info into the computer. This could use a lot of paper.
  4. Create a GEDCOM of just the people I want to verify, then go through it. The disadvantage with this is that the information will have to be merged back into the original GEDCOM file and I don't know how bad that would be.
  5. Check out other free family history programs. I know there are some that are database backed, so in theory I could do the query and get a useful list of people. The only issue is that I want to make sure that I can get a GEDCOM back out. I can't imagine that I couldn't, but who knows.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Cellular division

I'm beginning to think my husband and I should get a cell phone. They just seem so useful. I have a feeling though that choosing a plan will be as bad as looking for a webhost and much worse than shoe shopping. Having one for long distance calls might be nice, but I spend less than $20 a month on long distance anyway. I'd like to have free local calls and free long distance after a certain time and on weekends. Then I could just use the minutes if I needed to call my husband for some reason and in emergencies.

Let the searching begin!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Family History

My husband and I are in charge of going through his grandparents' book of rememberence and verifying that the information in there is the same as in the GEDCOM. We also need to add in all the references so people looking at the file will be able to tell where the names and dates came from. This is not as easy as it seems. PAF does not seem friendly to doing this.

I'm sure we'll figure out a way someday.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

How to move a Tuff Shed

We succeeded! I am so glad to finally have the Tuff shed we bought from a neighbor in our yard.

The task: move the 1200 - 1300 pound shed from our neighbor's yard, across the street and into our own.

What we used: pry bars, a few pieces of miscellaneous wood, a few 2x4s, 3 big pieces of strong pvc pipe, 4 - 6 people.

Total time: 4.5 hours

What we ended up doing(by we, I mean my husband's grandpa, grandma, father, my husband, plus various other people including neighbors): Used big pry bars to lift the shed. The pry bars were put under the corners of the shed then pushed down to raise it up. This was to get it out of the hole it was in. The hole was because the shed had settled. While the shed was pried up, boards were stuck across underneath it in the direction we wanted the shed to move, then the pvc pipe was put across the boards perpendicular. The wood acted like a road for the pipe to roll on and the pipe acted like wheels for the shed. This was similar to how the Egyptians moved big rocks for the pyramids. There was some concern that the pipe wouldn't be strong enough, but it held. My husband thought it would hold since he and his dad had jumped on it at Home depot to test the pipe's strength.

Using 4 - 6 people, we were able to rotate the shed 90 degrees and roll it across the street into our yard. We would lay the wood down, with part of the wood coming out from the front of the shed in the direction we wanted to move it. We put 3 pipes underneath, one at the front, one at the middle and one towards the end. Then we pushed really hard. They pushed until the shed rolled off the front rollers and the wood and stopped rolling. Then they used the pry bars to pick the shed up and put the wood and rollers back in place

To turn it, we put the wood and pipes at an angle and pushed the way we wanted it to go. Some people pushed at the front and some people at the back.

We didn't need the wood on the r oad.

Important: push on the corners. Also, wear long shirts or you may suffer from "plumber syndrom".

At some point I may post pictures of this.

Other resources:
Here's how somebody moved a shed. We didn't need cross bracing because the Tuff shed was well built.
Here's a news group thread about moving sheds.
Also check out Sheds: The Do-It-Yourself Guide for Backyard Builders at Search inside the book for "moving sheds".

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Cookie Beans

Some background: As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are encouraged to have a year's supply of food stored. The reason for this is in case of emergency whether natural disaster or job loss, we would have food. We store things like wheat, beans, oil, powdered milk, etc. I have about a 1 month's supply. One of my New Year's resolutions was to learn how to cook with these basic ingredients.

What I did: I had read that you can substitute cooked, mashed, white beans for shortening, and I've been dying to try it out. So I did. I used this recipe and substituted 1 cup of cooked, mashed white beans for the 1 cup of shortening. Then I refrigerated the dough for a while (I don't know if this was necessary or not, one of the recipes I saw did this). Then I cooked them same as usual.

The result: cookies, sort of. The cookies didn't spread much, which I guess you would expect since they had no shortening. They were more like cookie balls. The texture is a little heavier, more like pumpkin cookies. The taste was slightly different (don't worry, they don't taste like beans). They were also more filling than normal.

The verdict: I think I'd only make cookies this way again if I had to. Although, now I can call them reduced fat. Also, cooking the beans took a while, about 3 hours.

What I'd do differently: Next time, I plan to use 1/2 cup beans and 1/2 cup shortening. I think that would make the cookies more like normal.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Healthier oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

You know you're going to eat the cookies anyway, why not make them slightly better for you?

Healthier oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

1-1/4 c all pupose flour
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1 c oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c shortening
1/2 c granulated sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 c chocolate chips

Mix ingredients together. Cook at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes. Makes about 24 cookies.

Tip: cookies made with whole wheat look darker. To see if they are done check to see if the edges are browned.

Tip: My mom says you can reduce the sugar in a recipe by 1/3 and not notice too much. This recipe is already sugar reduced, although you can change the 3/4 c brown sugar to be 1/2 c brown sugar.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Recpie

These cookies are amazingly good:

2 c all pupose flour
1 c oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c shortening
3/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 c chocolate chips

cook at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Computer coercion tool, or in other words just beat it into submission

Here's a link to a program my husband wrote. What better way to take out frustrations with your computer than beating it with a large (virtual) mallet? It makes a satisfying whack and makes the screen shake too.

Noise and Toys

This morning on the news I saw this article:
An excerpt:

So we took a decibel meter to the Wilcox toybox to see how loud these toys really are.

Her piano pegged the meter at 90+ decibels. The Sesame Street gang, also pegged at 90+. A Leapfrog pad registered at 86, but other tests have some to exceed 100 decibels.

That means these toys register somewhere along the noise level of a vacuum cleaner, a rock concert and a power drill.

The article says that some children's toys exceed 80 decibels (that's the threshold for causing hearing loss). Almost 15% of children show signs of sound-induced hearing loss. I do wonder if they tested the toys on the loudest volume setting or just the normal one. It makes me want to get a decibel meter to see how loud my daughter's toys are. My husband is hoping some of the more annoying toys are too loud, so he can have an excuse to dump them.

The article also states that it takes multiple, long exposure to the sounds to cause hearing loss. This offers litte comfort since what does a two-year-old do? Listen to the same thing over and over every day.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Colors reloaded

Here is a great site I found for color palates: (Be sure to use IE) You pick a color you like, and it tells you six other colors that go along with it.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

A dynamite movie?

Yesterday my husband and I watched "Napoleon Dynamite". It's the story about a teenage boy growing up in Preston, Idaho. The people I know who have seen it are divided on whether it is the funniest movie ever or really stupid.

At first, I thought it was OK. It's a movie that has a plot, but the plot isn't the point of the movie. As I watched it, I kept expecting something dramatic would happen, but it never did. But as I looked back on the movie, I kept remembering funny quotes or funny scenes and laughing about it.

My verdict: I think it is a lot like "Monte Python and the Holy Grail" in the sense that it isn't that funny when you are watching it, but it is really funny to remember and quote afterwards.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Scheming for colors

Cascading Style Sheets are cool. I have no color matching ability. Colors I think look OK together, my husband does not. With css I can pick out colors I think look ok, get the pages like I want them, then change the colors easily later.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Weird Stuff - Attack of the Cloned Turkeys

Since this is about turkeys, maybe I should have called it weird stuffing. Anyway, I enjoy reading the straight dope It has no end of odd information. The most unusual thing I read there was about turkeys.

So, there are animals that can have parthenogenesis, or virgin births, but most of these are very simple creatures. One exception to this is the turkey. In some breeds, the virgin birth rate approaches 40%.

I must have not been paying attention during junior high biology, because I don't remember hearing anything about this unique characteristic of turkeys. Maybe it's a plot to hide the truth until an army of turkey clones can be released on an unsuspecting world.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

More on web hosting

I've decided to try out 1&1. I'll register a domain and forward it to my current web space. This should get interesting.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

On the curious problem of choosing a web host

It is next to impossible to choose a web host.

I've been looking for a host for a little website I want to put up. I don't want to pay much for it because I'm cheap, and because I'm trying to sell a computer program that I'm not sure has a market. I've found a few hosts that seem like good deals, but it's hard to make sure 1) they are reliable 2) they really exist 3) they have the features I want.

The more expensive one seem to show up on the Better Business Bureau's Site which I guess is as good a indication as any. I liked Host Excellence at first, but I've seen some stuff that implies it may be a scam. Since they aren't listed with the BBB, I guess I'll steer clear.

The other 2 I've looked are 1&1 and Lunar Pages. Both are on the BBB and seem to get OK reviews. It's hard to tell who to trust because web hosts have paid advertising, so if someone registers with them through a specific website, the referring website gets a commision. There are some trade groups, but how do you know if the trade groups are legit or just made up to give sites credibility?

Ah, the joys of the information age.

I may just register a domain for $6 and point it at the web space my husband and I have at our ISP.

O say what is sleep

My son hasn't been sleeping through the night. If this post makes no sense, I'll blame it sleep deprivation. If my other posts make no sense, I'll blame it on rain.

One of my baby books claims if your baby suddenly stops sleeping through the night, it probably means he or she is about to make a great developmental leap forward. This seems to be true for my kids. The last time he was up night, the next day he learned to roll over onto his back. Hmm... maybe he'll learn to roll over the other way. He's been trying for a while now with no success. We shall see.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Another llama limerick

A llama is an excellent mammal
related to the Arabian camel
You mustn't forget,
it gets even with spit,
As it endures its work as a hamal.

(a hamal is a porter in some Muslim country, as per

Dictionary Limericks

Here's a great website that defines words in limericks:
(Thanks to my aunt for sending the link my way)

Here's my contribution
define - a llama

A llama is a creature of note
famous for its excellent coat.
It can carry a pack
on the top of its back
To locations quite remote.

I should have included something about spitting, but I couldn't get it to rhyme.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

O Brother (a lame Christmas joke)

background: It's day after Thanksgiving, setting up the Christmas tree. Also, my husband's brother served a mission in Germany.

me: Wow, the Christmas Tree really looks beautiful, or handsome... I don't know if it's a boy tree or a girl tree.

husband: We'll have to ask my brother if it is der, die, or das

me: I think it's O.

A colon pun

A colon exam is punctuated by many exclamations.

A Lame Lawyer Joke

What is a lawyer's favorite part of a taco?
The tort-illa

Friday, January 07, 2005

Review: Amana SofSound Dishwasher

About 6 months ago I bought an Amana SofSound Dishwashwer (model ADB2200AWB) because my old dishwasher didn't clean dishes. I had to wash the dishes, then put them in the dishwasher, then wash them again because they were still dirty. As my friend's husband said, "What do you think this is, some sort of magical machine that you put dirty dishes in and they come out clean?"

So I went Home Depot, RC Wiley, and the Maytag Store. I ended up buying from the Maytag Store because they had the best price and free delivery and installation, too.

I love my new dishwasher.
Description: The dishwasher has 2 shelves, a movable silverware tray, fold down flaps so you can stack 2 rows of cups on top of each other, room for a cookie tray or 9 x 13 pan along the edge, and special fold down tines so you can fit in big bowels. It has many wash options. I use automatic, it uses a sensor to tell when the dishes are clean. It will wash the average load in about 2 hours. It also has three different sprayers to clean the dishes

  • My dishes are clean (I use Cascade Complete dish soap)
  • It has a food grinder, so I don't have to pre-rinse
  • My mother-in-law says it is very quiet
  • I can fit all kinds of baking dishes in there

  • There is an area under where the closes door, on the inside, that gets gross stuff in it. Basically, moisture gets under there are sits. I think it is a design flaw because the rest of the dishwasher stays spotless.
  • There are way more options than I will ever use: crystal, sanitize, etc.
  • Tomato-based products will stain it pink (this is true of most dishwashers)

Review: Noodles and Company

What we ate (in order of how we liked it) :
  • Japanese Pan Noodles - spicy, very good
  • Sweet Chili Chicken - Good, not worth the price
  • Pad Thai - very gross, tasted like that smell when you walk into a new building
Pros: Nice atmosphere, very friendly staff, a place you can take vegetarian relatives, food seems healthy
Cons: a little pricey, portions are small or rather portions are what they should be but seems small compared to other restaurants

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Watermelon (a pun in progress)

I met him again at the fruit stand. He was a seedy looking fellow. Our hatred stemmed from the time he assaulted me. I was only trying to root out the truth. He told me to leaf him alone or he'd slice me up, but the threat sounded hollow. I told him to use his melon, he was too green to know what he was getting into. Guys of his stripe always have yellow bellies, so he left town and returned to Green River.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A Hare-raising pun

Here's a summary of a funny pun I read yesterday on the 100 hour board (I'd link to it directly, but the site is down):

Q: Why hunters eat cotton tail rabbits, but not jack rabbits.

A1: It has to do with the jack rabbits being hares and that there are many superstitions associated with hares.

A2: Hunters aren't the only ones who don't eat hares. If you found a hare in your soup, what would you do? That's right, send it back to kitchen.

Brown rice tips - add 1/4 tsp baking soda

Don't worry, I have no intention of turning this into a cooking blog, but here's another thing I've learned:

I've always had problems cooking brown rice. It never cooks in the time I think it should. I've let it cook for 2 hours and it was still crunchy. Yesterday, my sister and I were talking about beans and she mentioned that you need to add 1/4 tsp baking soda to the water when soaking beans if you have hard water, otherwise the beans don't soften correctly. I decided to try it with the brown rice. I put in 3 c water to 1 c rice and 1/4 tsp baking soda. The rice was tender in 45 minutes. I was very happy.

The one unknown in the whole process is that I've gotten a new range since the last time I cooked brown rice, so it is possible it is somehow cooking different. I think I'll stick to adding baking soda though. I'm not scientific enough to cook rice for an hour to see if it come out all right without the soda.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Here's a photo of my 2 children. My son is 4 months old and my daughter is 2 1/2.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Random baking tip

If your cookies come out too crunchy, put themovernight in an air tight container with a piece of bread. (I recommend putting the bread on a napkin, so it doesn't touch the cookies.) This will soften up the cookies.

Great Brownie recipe with mint frosting

I'm starting a series of my favorite recipes so that I will have them when I need them. This is an excellent recipe for "fudge type" brownies.

Lori O'Neal's Brownies

melt together:
1 c butter
3/4 c coco

stir in and beat until fluffy:
2 c sugar
4 eggs
2 or 3 tsp vanilla

stir in:
1-1/2 c flour
nuts (optional)

pour in greased 9x13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 mins.

Mint frosting

2/3 c butter
5 c powdered sugar
12 drops green food coloring
1 tsp pepermint extract
1/2 tsp vanilla
2-4 Tbsp Water
mix together. Add water until it reaches desired consistancy