Friday, December 29, 2006

160 Year Anniversary

One hundred sixty years ago today the President of the United (James K. Polk) signed annexation legislation, and Texas became the 28th state.

Texas, meaning "those who are friends," was the largest state until Alaska was admitted in 1959. Texas is still a big state, especially in the hearts and minds of Texas residents.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Thank You

Now that gift giving is done, it's time to write thank you cards. Here is one of my favorites:

Cute enough, but that's not the favorite part. Last Christmas I sent my son's three daughters some money. They sent this card. It is the inside that impressed me. On the right inside page, Shelby followed the traditional format of thanking me, saying they like the gift, and ending by repeating the thank you.

They each signed the card (at least the two who could write), and then the names were repeated in cursive, perhaps to ensure I would remember who they were.

Here's the good part. On the left side she drew a picture to illustrate their plans. I see their chosen store and the helpful cashier. Even if I couldn't take them shopping, I could share in the experience. Clever and sweet.

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Monday, December 25, 2006

0 days left -- This is it

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

Children are anxiously awaiting "The Big Day" when they get to open the presents that have been decorating the floor under the tree.


But what about the tradition of naughty kids getting coal in their stockings? With the cost of heating fuel these days, it may be less a threat and more a blessing.

Only 1 day until Christmas.

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Festivus

A Festivus for the Rest of Us
Apparently many people celebrate Festivus after learning about it on the immensely popular Seinfeld TV show. If you are so inclined, decorate your Festivus pole and gather with your family to air your grievances and wrestle with the head of the household.

Read about the beginnings of this great holiday (actually pre-Seinfeld) and enjoy!

If you are not into the anti-materialism message of Festivus, be aware there are only 2 days until Christmas.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Card

We like to personalize our Christmas cards, and we like to design around the Christmas tree. Here is the first one from about 10 years ago. That's me on the Amigo scooter.

A few years later, we found our reflection in the ornaments.

This year we are enjoying the snow-covered 30-ft. pine tree sparkling in the twilight of our back yard. Well, except in real life, this is Texas and the temperature is hovering in the 60s and 70s. Check out our fantasy here. Or go a step further and look at our complete Christmas site.

3 days before Christmas

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Favorite Military Wife

Take another look at one of my favorite military spouses. I wrote about her before, but I just returned from a nice visit to her site and thought it was worth mentioning again. She usually has interesting posts, and she has a wealth of variety in her sidebar.

She links to so many other sites -- some military-related from the perspective of other spouses, mothers, and active duty personnel. But there are sites written by all kinds of people. Besides blogging, she links to quizzes. For example,
What sport are you? She's football
How weird are you? 40%
What planet should you rule? Jupiter

There are links to blog directories, a home-schooling site, and a page offering unique toys -- and that's not all! Read and explore. I'm sure you'll enjoy.

And as long as I'm talking about active duty soldiers and sites I have written about before, visit here and send a Christmas card - for free - to our troops. My granddaughter just did, and said she hopes lots of people do, too. I thought I would pass it along.

6 days before Christmas

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Posing for Pictures

Fireplaces are a favorite background.
Even at parties.

7 days before Christmas

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What Should I Do?

It's easy to see something and say, "I would like to do that . . . one day," but it's another thing to actually do it. Some people think a list of goals is one way to get things done. Michael Green who writes Triplux reminds us that a realistic deadline is one way to beat procrastination and complete the list -- or at least put a dent in it.

Michael has decided to complete 101 things in
1001 days. Quite ambitious. Triplux has hints for setting goals and writing the list. He also has links to other sites that are based on lists, and he is open to other list sites sharing their addresses. I was led to this site by Fifty Things To Do Before I'm 50. This blog by Cathy was made to keep her list and log her progress. She has less than two years, and I think she will make it.

Ellen has been talking about Life Lists on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. She shares her Life List and invites us to share ours.

Here's an idea: Make a New Year's Resolution to make a goal list. 101 or 50 too long? What about ten things to do this month, or maybe this winter? It's your list, make it realistic and creative and ambitious and fun!

11 days before Christmas

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Happy Birthday, National Guard

On December 13, 1636, a militia was formed in Massachusetts Bay, becoming the first military group in the New World. The Militia Act of 1903 organized state militias into the National Guard, the primary organized reserve force.

The Guard can be mobilized by the President to supplement regular forces and to respond to emergencies, like Katrina. Around 40% of the force in the Middle East is reserve forces.

Always Ready, Always There

Guardsmen who have died in service to their country are remembered here, with their names and locations of death. This list starts with 9/11 at the pentagon and New York.

12 days before Christmas

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

National Poinsettia Day

Poinsettias were named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first Ambassador to Mexico who brought the plant back to his plantation from Mexico. An Act of Congress pronounced this Poinsettia Day and declared the poinsettia as the Symbol of Christmas.

Poinsett introduced the flower to the US, but Pepita is credited with the introduction in Mexico. She offered a humble gift that blossomed into the Flores de Noche Buena (Flowers of the Holy Night).

Poinsettias are not necessarily a one-time flower. They can be beautiful for more than one season with the proper care, but it is a challenge. I never succeeded, but maybe you will. Good luck.

13 days before Christmas

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Today is a Big Day

Today celebrates children, recognizes the need for human rights and peace, and even remembers a great poet. It must be a big day to recognize all that.

The second Sunday in December is International Children's Day. However, there are many children's days around the globe spread around the calendar. We can handle that fact by observing ALL of them, or by picking one or more and celebrating children everywhere all year long.

In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and marks that day on December 10. It states that "All human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms." This year Human Rights Day is focused on fighting poverty.

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today to Bangladeshi economist Muhammed Yunus who called poverty a fundamental threat to peace. His Grameen Bank fights poverty by giving micro-credit loans to millions of poor people in Bangladesh, especially women. The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to 94 individuals and 19 organizations since 1901.

Oh, and it is Emily Dickinson's birthday. Ms. Dickinson wrote almost 600 poems and is regarded as a a quintessential American poet along with Walt Whitman.

15 days before Christmas

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Business and Christmas

Building a business, especially a service business, takes a lot of work and effort. At Christmas, when time is at a premium, it takes only a small effort to strengthen loyalty in your customer base.

There are many heat and air-conditioning services around, and when we need one, I think of the one who sends me Christmas cards. (It also helps that he responds quickly and does a good job, but the cards are a nice touch.)

A standard card is nice, but an industry-specific card sends a stronger message. Time is at a premium for the customer, too, so send a card that says Christmas in a way that reminds the customer of your business.

It is still 16 days before Christmas.

Breathe Easier with Christmas Seals

It began in Denmark. A postal worker came up with the idea that a large amount of money could be raised without costing anyone too much. In 1904 the Danes bought four million seal stamps and the funds were used to build two hospitals for children with tuberculosis. It was the beginning of ordinary citizens taking part in the fight against a deadly infectious disease.

Norway and Sweden were impressed and started their own Christmas seal programs.

The United States was impressed and took up the cause. Some officials, however, did not help because they did not like Christmas being associated with such a horrible disease. Support in the US did not come easily, but through perseverance the program took off starting this day in 1907. Canada soon followed suit.

Read the whole story here.

Today, Christmas Seals fight more than tuberculosis , expanding to support the fight against all respiratory diseases. Support the cause, and check out the American Lung Association or browse the designs in the Canadian Lung Association Christmas Seal Gallery beginning in the 1920's.

16 days before Christmas

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Peace on Earth

Twenty-five years ago this week, I was in Hawaii presenting at a trade show. Many old men were there, too, but not to visit the trade show. Rather, to observe the 40th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

This year, we remember Pearl Harbor 65 years ago, but we add the memory of 9/11 five years ago.

Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth.

18 days before Christmas.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

NaNoWriMo Update

Early in November, I wrote about the NaNoWriMo contest.

As I was browsing through some blogs this week, I ran across two participants in the National Novel Writers Month contest. First was LA Scene who claimed over 73,000 words in a second year of successful writing. Then tonight I found another, an udge and a wink who won the habit of writing. That is, after all, the stated purpose of the contest.

982, 564, 701 words were logged this year by 79, 813 writers. A Statistics Wrap-up breaks down the results and compares them with last year. It also includes a list of the top 10 regions by word count. It appears the NaNoWriMo contest was a big success.

Curious about what participants wrote? Take a peek.

20 days before Christmas

20 20 days before Christmas

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Albert Camus Quotes

Albert Camus (1913-1960) was a favorite author when I was in high school. He was a Nobel Prize winning French author and philosopher who cared more about people than ideology. My favorite book was The Fall.

Some quotes:

“’Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.”

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”

“We are all special cases.”

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”

And, for the writer in those of us who blog:
“Those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators.”

21 days before Christmas

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Preparing for Christmas

Time to get ready for Christmas. Of course you know that because it's everywhere -- advertisements for gifts to buy, decorations for the house, inside and out, Christmas specials on TV, Santa in the mall, charities asking for help, and children saying, "I want that."

December, apprpriately, is Stress-Free Family Holiday Month. Here is an article suggestion ways parents can minimize stress during the hectic holidays. Scroll down to Related Articles, especially Tips for a stress-free holiday which talks about setting priorities and controlling your time. Below those links are related topics for suggested activities, games, shopping hints, and more.

When all of the holiday chaos is all around you, don't let it infect your family. Take a deep breath or two, relax, and enjoy the season.

It is 22 days before Christmas.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Apples and Pie

It is Eat a Red Apple Day and National Pie Day. But I have conflicting information. I find these days listed as Dec. 1 and again on Dec. 2. I am so confused.

For Eat a Red Apple Day, I find a reference to the apple page, but that has apple crafts, and the apple doesn't seem too appetizing after being dipped in paint. Hmmm . . .

For National Pie Day, I find a reference to a home cooking page linking to 50 exotic pie recipes, from Abracadaquiri Strawberry Pie to Yoghurt Pie. But the Honey Apple Pie is not even made with red apples.

To add to my confusion, the American Pie Council says National Pie Day is not until January 23rd! So I don't know what special day it is today.

I do know it is 23 days until Christmas.

I think I'll go eat an apple.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Day 1 -- Christmas Month

Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line was held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell, the line was held.
Peace, peace, and farewell. . .

Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine, donates 5000 wreaths yearly since 1992. Merrill
Worcester, the company owner, provides the wreaths and covers the trucking expenses. Most years, Maine school kids help with this event and enjoy an educational trip to the nation's capitol. Harrington is in one of the poorest parts of the state.

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