Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mary Kay Took the Wife Away

. . . and sorta-daughter's singing in the choir.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Taste From the Big Easy

The in-laws drove down into New Orleans recently on a two-week trip and returned with some treats available only there. They followed my recommendation to the Cafe du Monde and returned with some chicory coffee, some pralines, a bit of fudge, some beignet mix, and a six-pack of Abita for yours truly and wife. Now how you gonna top that, huh? What a haul! I even picked up some true LARD to fry the beignet in for that true taste, so if my arteries suddenly clog up, you'll know why. The mother-in-law learned the lard secret from beignet gurus in the big city, so it should be good.

Goodbye, Old Paint

All things must pass. My old Dell computer has served me well in my office for a half-dozen years or so, plugging away long before I got my little Gateway Tablet. But when a recycling offer came along, I realized it was time to let the old machine go. After all, I had two other computers I could use in the office, and each one takes up space, so I had it toted off to be piled in with the other machines on campus.

Several students in past years have written about computer recycling, and I've read some on my own, and the news isn't always good; although some companies do offer programs to extract key polluting elements from cast-off electronics, some just get the offending electronics out of the country. Check the EPA for a list of contacts for electronics recycling.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Public Libraries and Free Stuff

I envy New Yorkers who can drop by the New York Public Library, entering through its doors into the vast holdings of books, publications, and other artifacts. But a comment elsewhere sent me looking at their online site and I discovered a wealth of material that I (and you) can get at for free, legally, online. You can stream movies, download audio books, watch animated talking picture books, and listen to webcasts, among other things. I suspect other libraries offer the same options. I'd still like to climb the steps past the big lions and check the place out for myself, but for now their online presence will have to do.

An article that I read recently, leading me into other available free stuff, was on Business Week, "World Wide Web: Land of Free Stuff." Check out the slide show available there.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Fox Hunting Success

Some things in life can still be had for free, and despite pressure from some cable TV lovers I know, we're still off the grid in terms of TV channels. We've been making do with a pair of rabbit ears that brought in CBS, ABC, NBC, and a fuzzy PBS, but I had brought the big antenna from the old house. It had been sitting in the attic since we moved, not hooked up. It took Super Bowl weekend to get me up there with the gear to get the antenna in the air and the signal to the TV. It's done, and channel 17, FOX, host of Super Bowl XLII, is coming in dandy. We're having a game!
Our other old channels are also coming in clear and bright, and we're picking up something called the CW, which I thought might be the country western channel, but when "Will and Grace" came on, I decided otherwise. Who knows, maybe someday I'll wonder how I got along without "Gossip Girls," "Aliens in America," or "Friday Night Smackdown." For now, I'm happy to have the fox and a clear signal from PBS.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Shanghai Surpise: Snow!

Our friends in Shanghai are reporting on their experiences with the recent heavy snows in China. From Chun (in blue):

Just came back from a one-week trip to Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province,which is one of the most renowned national parks and world relics in China. Danyan, Songmei, and Zhaobei went there too. We had even more snow there than in Shanghai. The blizzard, which was reported to be the heaviest in 50 years, blocked the highway and most flights were cancelled. We're lucky enough to catch a midnight flight to flee back home during the interval of two snowfalls. My heart is still fluttering with fear when I see how terrible the situation now in Hunan is from TV newsreports. The local government had to turn to the Army for help with the relief work and Mr.Premier flew there to investigate the situation.

The heavy snow, the falling stock price... we really need something nice to boost our spirits for the coming new year :) . Kids are quite happy with the snow. They rarely see so much snow in Shanghai. We made a snowman yesterday.

And from Bei (in white):

Yes, we did have a lot of snow this year in Shanghai as well as in the other parts of China.It causes many trouble since the traditional Chinese New Year is around the corner. Many people can't go back to their hometown to have family reunions.
I always like snowing because actually I was brought up in the northern part of China with my grandparents.

And from Cuiping: There is a lot of snow in Shanghai and the other peripheral cities this winter, which is rare in meteorological history in China. Maybe you know that the Chinese traditional Spring Festival (Feb. 7.) is approaching now, so millions of poeple working outside their hometown are eager to go back for their family reunion. They are now hindered by the heavy snow on the way home for several days. Despite a lot of snow these days, it melts quickly as soon as it falls down. So it is muddy on the roads and people here somewhat hate the snow.

So there you have it, a variety of responses, with commentary. It's clear that this area of China isn't accustomed to snow, with many people relying on bicycles to go to work. It comes at a bad time as well, with a big percentage of people on the road. I wish them well. My friends who plan to go to China this summer wish that some of the snow could be kept for summer, when its cold would be welcome.