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Journal Journal: Bringing a little taste of Louisiana to the midwest... 1

I've been out of town for a long weekend, helping my hubby host a shrimp boil for some clients in the midwest.

We shipped 75 pounds of jumbo shrimp up to Milwaukee. That's 3 pots worth - large, outdoor pots that hold about 25 pounds of shrimp each, on propane burners.

I was the prep cook. (My husband is one lucky man!) That means I washed about 75 potatoes, peeled about 75 onions, washed 9 pounds of mushrooms, and washed and halved 4 bags of lemons. Besides all that, 1-2 bags of Louisiana Seafood crab boil seasoning, 2 dozen ears of frozen corn, and a pound of brats went into each pot. Let me tell you, cher, it was goo-oood! Mais, oui! Sixty midwesterners went home happy and full Saturday night.

Unfortunately, there were thunderstorms in the southeast yesterday. Apparently, something - probably lightening - got to one of my air conditioning units here at home. I didn't notice it last night, since I got in late and the unit in the bedroom wing is working. By 10 o'clock this morning, though, there was no question that the unit in the living area was kaput. It was 85 degrees outside here today - and 85 degress INSIDE, too! The repairman promised to be here tomorrow afternoon...

That's near disaster in south Louisiana any time except maybe January or February. But to make matters worse, for some insane reason I spent the day in the kitchen with both the oven, the indoor grill and the range going full blast...

It's called "productive procrastination." I have a lot of email to catch up on by virtue of being gone for 3 days, plus a couple of business projects that really need attention. I'm rebelling against doing any of that, so - in spite of the heat - I went INTO the kitchen.

First I grilled some eggplant, then stuffed it with a mixture of ricotta cheese seasoned with oregano and parmesan and topped with a mushroom and black olive tomato sauce. And a little whole wheat fettucine to put it all on. I got the idea from a restaurant I ate at last week, and mine was just as good even if I do say so myself.

Next, I made rosemary chicken with onion. With a nice side of rosemary potatoes to go with.

Finally, I made about 6 dozen homemade dolmas (stuffed grape leaves). This is only the second time I've tried these, and they were OK the first time, but I put a lot more allspice and mint this time and expect them to be even better. They are still simmering at 11 p.m. CDT. I'll serve them with a homemade cucumber and dill yogurt dip. Yummy!

Both my daughters are coming in Thursday night so I'm cooking up a storm to get ready for their visit. They have good jobs and active social lives and live far, far away. So having a visit is a major event. Having both visit at once is akin to a royal audience.

Somewhere along the way, when I wasn't looking, I got old. But I can still surprise everyone, including myself, with an inspired solution to a tech problem every now and then. And I can still cook an inspired dinner or two when I'm avoiding doing other things!

(I'll post recipes, if anyone is interested...)

Christmas Cheer

Journal Journal: Have a Sneaker-Napster Christmas 4

The music industry is hoping that some big hits in the last quarter will help them salvage what has been a disastrous year for sales. They are counting on the Christmas season to take them home for the holidays, back to the good old days when they had the customer, who only wanted one favorite song, by the short hairs.

I would never, of course, advocate, encourage, or commit piracy. I have been a long-time defender of the concept of intellectual property rights and respect for copyright laws, speaking and writing about it in local media. To this day I've never downloaded music illegally, nor participated in sharing ripped music.

But I couldn't sleep last night and my mind just wouldn't stop chewing on the RIAA lawsuits. Will the outrage about the bullying RIAA actions last? Can people resist buying the latest release by their favorite groups? In the name of principle must we suffer through a silent Christmas? Is it time for even law-abiding citizens like me to engage in a few symbolic acts of civil disobedience? Could that be fun?

The following is just insomnia-induced musical musing. Purely fictional, and I'm not (cough...) suggesting that people should do this.

For years, we granny-types have been having cookie-exchange parties at Christmas time. What if a new trend sprang up and swept the nation this holiday season? Sneaker-Napster Parties. Each person pledges to buy one and only one CD from now through January. Groups of friends have a Halloween party to decide amongst themselves which CDs the group as a whole is interested in, so as to have no wasted duplication. They even make it a costume party and invite each person to dress as his favorite RIAA ghoul.

During November, each person buys his assigned CD and burns one copy for each of the friends, plus one for the RIAA. He labels each CD "Burned in a deliberate act of civil disobedience. Merry Christmas 2003."

The big event is the first week of December - the first (and hopefully last) annual Sneaker-Napster's Merry Music Christmas Party. Dress is, of course, casual - with sneakers being the preferred footwear.

Each friend brings his copied CDs, one Christmas card, and one dollar per friend. Santa distributes one of each CD to each of the civilly disobedient party-goers. One complete set of the ripped CDs goes into a bag or box and is mailed to the RIAA. (Whoever does that is careful to wear gloves and wipe all fingerprints off each CD first, and to drive at least 100 miles away to drop it into a public mailbox. And he makes sure no one see him. Sounds like another job for Santa.)

The merry-makers address one Christmas card to each artist, and enclose $1 per copy burned. They write in the card, "Merry Christmas from the Sneaker-Napsters! We burned some copies of your CD in order to burn the RIAA. But we love you and hope you'll accept the enclosed payment for your valuable work. According to Courtney's math, it should be almost 3 times what you normally pocket per CD."

Sigh. Just a fantasy...

Journal Journal: Transcendental Karma 2

From the Slashdot FAQ: "Karma used to be a number, now it is a word, this sucks!"

Good grief. It's karma, not your "Interpolated Parabolic Interest Metric." Can you for one minute pretend like you are not an engineer?

In fact, the current system of adjectives to describe karma (Terrible, Bad, Neutral, Positive, Good, and Excellent) is distressingly un-karmalike. They should have consulted a seasoned geek who was more than a twinkle in his Daddy's eye during the 1960s and 1970s. I have some suggestions that are way better.

The worst karma is simply Gross. Gross means dirty, nasty, disgusting, untouchable. Snot is gross. So is pus. And so are trolls on message boards.

Bad karma is a Bummer. A bummer is something that drags everyone down, like a script kiddie or a flame war on Slashdot. And, pray tell, what could be a bummer bummer than a first post post?

Neutral karma is Mellow. When you're mellow, you're laid back, just truckin' along, minding your own business. According to Merriam-Webster, "mellow" has a long (since 1690 - not 1960, mind you, but 1690!) history of meaning slightly and pleasantly intoxicated. You can imagine what makes you mellow and keeps you mellow. (Hint: It's not Jolt.)

Positive karma is Groovy. Why has this word been so maligned? It perfectly describes a decent poster on Slashdot - someone who is "in the groove."

Good karma is Far Out. In the mid-1960s, both James Brown and Little Stevie Wonder popularized the term in song lyrics, and it became an ultimate accolade in youth slang." The hippies quickly took it over but used it the same way.

Excellent karma is Transcendental. Not in the mathematical, irrational sense. Forget "e" - think hippi-"e". Transcendental is, well, transcendent. Surpassing all others, beyond common thought or experience. Transcendental posters have presumably meditated upon their words before clicking the submit button.

So, by whatever Slashdot gods there be, make my karma Gross and Bummer and Mellow and Groovy and Far Out and Transcendental. Ohm...

Journal Journal: Musings of a new Slash-daughter 1

Some observations after participating on Slashdot for 4 days, after years of reading an occasional article someone sent me a link to...

First, it's a hoot. I've laughed more in any single half hour reading Slashdot comments than during any TV sitcom of the last 10 years. Who are these people? I get the impression they are mostly younger than me. Wait, that's true just about everywhere... Also mostly way smarter than me. Wait...

Speaking of humor, for some reason moderators keep thinking I'm joking in my comments. I'm not. No one has ever accused me of being funny - until now. Now, I see several of my posts rated "5, Funny." Huh? I was dead serious! Is it just funny any time an older lady opens her mouth?

Then there's this karma stuff. No, it's not some kinky sex thing. I vaguely remember from my hippie days that we all wanted good karma. Well, now I have it and I'm not sure what to do with it. Nor how I got it. I didn't have to smoke anything. Can I give it away? Will I notice if I lose it? Do I want/need more? Nah - I wouldn't think greed and karma go together well. The FAQ is disappointingly analytical in its explanation. I prefer to think that I send out good, good, good, good vibrations through my keyboard into the Slashdot world and it comes back to me as good, good, good, go-ood karma. Love and peace.

I started out on Slashdot lonely and invisible. After 4 days I'm still lonely but no longer invisible. I have a fan. Holy smokes! I don't know whether to be flattered or creeped out. Why would anyone want to list me as a friend? Since the Baton Rouge serial killer lived and killed within 3 miles of my home, I'm a little nervous about strangers following me around, even in a virtual world. Especially one who calls himself/herself/itself "357 Magnum." But I'll give my fan the benefit of the doubt and assume it's meant as flattery or respect or something that promotes good karma. By the way, did I mention that I keep a real Smith & Wesson 357 Magnum revolver in my bedside table, along with hollow-nose cartridges?

Finally, so far I'm finding Slashdot more valuable as entertainment than as an information source. I've usually seen most of the stories that interest me at least 5 or 6 hours before they show up on Slashdot. But the entertainment value is priceless.


Journal Journal: Luddite lugs 4

What is it with people who are proud of not using computers? "I don't do email," they smugly announce. People who can't read are ashamed for anyone to know it, but people who don't compute glibly broadcast it to the world as though it's an accomplishment.

Too many of my middle-aged and post-middle-aged friends just won't step over the threshold into the 21st century. Hell, many of them pretend the last two decades of the 20th century never happened! Cell phone? PDA? Digital camera? DVD player? Playstation? Suggest they use any of these and you'd think you'd asked them to become rocket scientists overnight.

I've totally had it with these Luddites! Twice in the last 2 months, I've lost it publicly when "mature" women friends gleefully informed me that they don't have email addresses.

They remind me of my late mother and late mother-in-law. These ladies came of age during the 30s and 40s. To the everlasting mortification of their children and grandchildren, they never learned to drive. "My mother doesn't drive," I'd mumble as I begged for a ride home from someone else's mother.

The person who doesn't "do email" is the modern equivalent of the non-driver of the 1960s! An anomaly, a relic, an incomprehensible throwback to the dark ages who is a bit of a source of shame for her family. What are they thinking? Do they think they are too stupid to learn? Do they think the rest of the world should just accommodate their insistence on the old ways? Do they imagine the world should have hit the 'pause' button on technology back in 1980?

I just don't get it. My husband and I are in our mid-50s but life is still awfully busy. We both still work; we live in different cities from one another during the work week; we travel; we belong to organizations; we volunteer in our communities. Our twenty-something daughters live in different time zones and have even busier lives than ours. How could we communicate without email???? Synchronous communication is out of the question. We each have maybe 1-2 hours a day that's not scheduled, and it's not likely any two of us have the same unscheduled time on any given day. Thank God for email!

Ladies, get an email address or forget about that recipe you asked me for. You're not too old to use a computer; you're too old because you don't use a computer.

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"If you can, help others. If you can't, at least don't hurt others." -- the Dalai Lama