Monday, January 08, 2007

The Ears Have It

A mystery sound in Auckland, New Zealand, has made life unbearable for some residents with super ears!
Scientists confirm the presence of an intermittent low-level drone sounding off at a frequency of 56 hertz. Very few people can hear sound waves of that frequency, but those who do report an annoying rumble like an airplane passing overhead. Scientists can't pinpoint the source of the noise, but no who has studied the noise says it's not a geological phenomenon. One man with exceptional ears even tried to intentionally damage his hearing by holding a chainsaw close to his ear in hopes of escaping the drone. I wonder what it is?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Always In Season

Politics: The 2008 political campaign will begin immediately.
BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL campaign is underway.

Within three months - the close of the first quarter of 2007 - all or almost all serious would-be replacements for George Bush will have announced their candidacies and begun raising funds.

The first-tier candidates will have banked approximately $20 million - collected in $2,100 increments - by the first quarterly campaign reports. This is the first leg of the "money primary," and the failure to clear it will be the failure to establish seriousness.

Three figures will put those numbers up easily - Hillary Clinton. John McCain, and Mitt Romney.

Rudy Giuliani may also bank some early dollars i impressive numbers, as may Bill First, the retiring Senate majority leader.

John Kerry, Al Gore, and John Edwards might have an outside shot at hitting $20 million, though Kerry's slur on the American military on Oct. 30, 2006 could well have snuffed out his already damaged appeal to Democrats looking for a winner.

To readers astounded at the prospect of a new campaign so close on the heels of one just completed: Welcome to the realities of American politics, where campaigns last a long time and are rarely uplifting. But ask yourself how much better off Iraq or any other tortured area of the world would be if even smash-mouth politics replaced the violence that now accompanies the hunt for political power?

Politics were always civil in the old Soviet Union. But there was no freedom. Political leaders in Iraq face the daily threat of assassination and reprisal.

We are blessed-blessed-with a political system that is exhausting, sharp-tongued, and, in the end, as peaceful as any in the world.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cookie Swap Party

Tis the Season to Start Cookie Swapping!
What is a cookie swap?
It is a fun way to get together with friends and neighbors during the busy holiday season while reducing the amount of baking you need to do for upcoming holiday parties.
How it works
Each guest bakes their favorite festive cookie, enough for everyone at the party. Everyone swaps cookies and goes home with a variety of tasty holiday treats!
Gathering the crowd
Send invitations to as many people as you can comfortably accommodate. You need enough people to have a nice assortment of cookies and 8-12 is a good size crowd. Based on your group's preferences, ask each person to bring 2-4 dozen cookies. When your guests RSVP, be sure to ask them what kind of cookies they are bringing so you can guarantee an assortment of treats.
To ensure a good turn-out, ask your guests what dates work best before sending out invitations. A Saturday or Sunday afternoon may be the most convenient. Try to holed the Cookie Swap early in the holiday season so that everyone can make use of the cookies by bringing them to holiday parties.
Setting the scene
Clear off a large space for everyone to display their cookies when they arrive (a dining room table or kitchen counter). Make a seasonal music mix ahead of time or set your CD player on shuffle and put your favorite CD's to work. Serve some warming extras, hot cider, cocoa or egg nog, to make your guests feel right at home.
Extra Sprinkles
Encourage your guests to bring 3" x 5" recipe cards with their favorite cookie recipe to swap with others. Give your guests a decorated index-card container to store their new recipes as a 'thank you' for coming.
Offer a prize for the 'most festive cookie' or 'best cookie display' and encourage guests to bake their best! Be sure to announce the contest on the invitation
Visit for more sweet treats perfect for swapping.



Here, guests are greeted with all the trappings: a blazing fire in every hearth, cozy leather chairs, and vintage fishing gear. For many visitors, a weekend at Manka's is the ultimate retreat, the kind of gift you'd like to give yourself. But during Christmas, it's the restaurant that shines.
The dishes served here are sophisticated, yet created from local, organic offerings. In fact, all of what chefs/owners Margaret Grade' and Daniel DeLong make is raised, foraged, and fished within 15 minutes of the inn. Manka's location, between the wilderness and the sea, provides a variety of fish and birds, rabbits, lamb, abalone, and oysters. The greens, fruits, and olives are grown near the lodge's property, and the restaurant hires foragers to gather wild mushrooms and buckets of huckleberries. But beyond the ingredient choices, it is also the quirky manner in which their selections are described that sets this restaurant apart. So while guests will not find "roast pork" on the menu, they will find "Parts of Dr. Pasternak's pig cooked around the clock.
The Manka's property includes eight guest rooms and two cabins nestled into a landscape of misty hills in the village above Inverness. Or guests can stay at water's edge of the blue Tomales Bay in a restored 1911 boathouse with quarters above. Each room is appointed with Margaret's impressive collection of camp antiques. Her maxing of timber-post beds and down comforters, roomy clawfoot tubs, and elegant French fixtures leads to a tactile experience that's both rustic and luxurious.
During the holidays, Margaret brings in touches of the outdoors with boughs of greens and clusters of pinecones. Wool from a nearby sheep farm makes for plenty of knitted stockings, caps, and coverlets to drape about the lodge. "Margaret has always had a hotel fetish, and I thing that comes through in her decorating," says co-manager Sally Dobbins. "She aspires to return the lodge to its former beauty, but she is also committed to outfitting it with fine modern amenities.

Drape doorways, mantels, and rails with garlands. Hang a wreath over your bed and a branch bearing mistletoe in the bathroom for an unexpected touch. Display woven wool stockings, mittens, and hats on doorknobs and hooks. Stock your guest bath with fluffy white towels and woven straw slippers. Make your bed with layer of down, quilts, and throw. Pack a variety of snacks and leave them at your guest's door.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Heart of Christmas

Have you ever noticed that we spend most of the Christmas season searching - searching for the perfect gift,searching for bargains, searching for just the right decoration . . . around and around for a place to park?
It certainly gives a different spin to the biblical concept, "Seek and you will find"!
And what is it that we really want to find?
I think most of us are looking for that perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas, where we find the world-and our cranky relatives-perfect and peaceful and pain-free. But I'll let you in on a simple little secret that your heart suspects but your head is struggling to understand: No matter how special you want Christmas to be, something will always go wrong.

Prepare for Surprises
You can plan for the best, but it just doesn't happen: The gift you ordered doesn't arrive on time; your late-night Santa follows the directions and still can't get the bicycle put together; Grandma's fruitcake doesn't taste like fruit or cake. And I know, when Christmas doesn't meet your expectations, life gets messy.
That's why I want you to look at Christmas differently this year. This season is not about how your plans get messed up; rather it's about what God will do with your messy plans.
Three years ago, Kay and her husband Rick had some perfect plans for Christmas. As a pastor, it is Kay's husband, Rick's favorite time of year, but there was a dreaded diagnosis: breast cancer. Talk about having your plans messed up-Kay and Rick were forced to fall fully on their faith, trusting that God could bring good even out of the bad situations of life.
In the cancer ward of the hospital, there was a plaque with words that underscored Rick's faith in God. It read, "Cancer is so limited. It cannot cripple love. It cannot shatter hope. It cannot corrode faith. It cannot destroy peace. Cancer cannot kill friendships. It cannot suppress memories. It cannot silence courage. It cannot invade the soul. It cannot steal eternal life. And it cannot conquer the spirit." To that I would add, "It cannot defeat you if you trust Jesus Christ to work all things together for good in your life."
This Christmas you may feel discouraged. Or lonely. Or stressed out by too many plans or by plans that have fallen through. Perhaps this is your first Christmas after a bad divorce. Or a death. Or a disability. Maybe you're concerned or feeling hopeless about your finances or your future.
Answer to Your Search
What should you do? Do what the Wise Men did that very first Christmas: Seek God. Focus on Him. God promises in the Bible, "You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart."
What have you been seeking? Has it been happiness or fulfillment or peace of mind or love or a purpose to living? During Christmastime people have a tendency to turn up the volume on whatever is going on in their lives. But you can know, even if your holiday plans are messy, that God is working His plan in your life in ways you cannot even imagine: "No one has ever seen or heard or even imagined what wonderful things that God has ready for those who love Him."

This Christmas Holiday

This Holiday give our forests a gift. Bring home a real tree. The fun of going into the crisp outdoors to find the perfect tree. The beauty of real branches opening to hold our favorite ornaments. The subtle scent of evergreen that says the holidays are here.

For generations, real Christmas trees have stood at the center of our most beautiful holiday traditions. But did you know that when you choose a real tree, you're also doing something beautiful for our forests?

Christmas trees are grown on managed forestland, most of which are family owned. In managed forests, a balance is carefully maintained between our need for wood and paper products and the needs of the forest environment to remain healthy and abundant.

That's why for every Christmas tree harvested in a managed forest, up to three more are planted each spring. And these millions of new trees help to keep the air and water clean, provide habitat for all kinds of wildlife and prevent soil erosion.

When the holiday are over, give your tree a new life.
Visit to download ten environmentally positive things you can do with your Christmas tree after the holidays--from reusing the wood to making a wildlife feeding station. Each tip is easy and fun for families to do together. It's all part of Plant it Forward - things we can do today at home, at work and in our communities to help our forests remain abundant for the future.

What's your E-IQ? Find out at

Were you surprised to learn that real Christmas trees are a good environmental choice? Take the E-IQ quiz and see how your environmental knowledge and practices stack up against the rest of America. It only takes a few minutes, gut it could help us all learn ways to Renew, Reuse and Respect a most remarkable, sustainable resource - our forests.