Friday, December 30, 2005

100 Things

BBC News has published their list of "100 things we didn't know this time last year," and they came up with lots of interesting facts. Here are some of them (I took out all the ones I didn't like or were about some person I've never heard of, probably because I'm not British. That reminds me, I made the mistake of letting on at work that I like listening to guys with British accents, so now they have something else to tease me about. Whenever someone says anything about meeting someone, they go, "Is he British?" But I digress.) Here's the list:

2. Mohammed is now one of the 20 most popular names for boys born in England and Wales.
3. While it's an offence to drop litter on the pavement, it's not an offence to throw it over someone's garden wall.
7. Baboons can tell the difference between English and French. Zoo keepers at Port Lympne wild animal park in Kent are having to learn French to communicate with the baboons which had been transferred from Paris zoo.
8. Devout Orthodox Jews are three times as likely to jaywalk as other people, according to an Israeli survey reported in the New Scientist. The researchers say it's possibly because religious people have less fear of death.
12. Until the 1940s rhubarb was considered a vegetable. It became a fruit when US customs officials, baffled by the foreign food, decided it should be classified according to the way it was eaten.
14. It's possible for a human to blow up balloons via the ear. A 55-year-old factory worker from China reportedly discovered 20 years ago that air leaked from his ears, and he can now inflate balloons and blow out candles.
18. If all the Smarties eaten in one year were laid end to end it would equal almost 63,380 miles, more than two-and-a-half times around the Earth's equator.
19. The = sign was invented by 16th Century Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde, who was fed up with writing "is equal to" in his equations. He chose the two lines because "noe 2 thynges can be moare equalle".
20. The Queen has never been on a computer, she told Bill Gates as she awarded him an honorary knighthood.
24. The 71m packets of biscuits sold annually by United Biscuits, owner of McVitie's, generate 127.8 tonnes of crumbs.
28. The British buy the most compact discs in the world - an average of 3.2 per year, compared to 2.8 in the US and 2.1 in France.
29. When faced with danger, the octopus can wrap six of its legs around its head to disguise itself as a fallen coconut shell and escape by walking backwards on the other two legs, scientists discovered.
32. "Restaurant" is the most mis-spelled word in search engines.
35. The name Lego came from two Danish words "leg godt", meaning "play well". It also means "I put together" in Latin.
36. The average employee spends 14 working days a year on personal e-mails, phone calls and web browsing, outside official breaks, according to employment analysts Captor.
37. Cyclist Lance Armstrong's heart is almost a third larger than the average man's.
38. Nasa boss Michael Griffin has seven university degrees: a bachelor's degree, a PhD, and five masters degrees.
39. Australians host barbecues at polling stations on general election days.
42. Britain's smallest church , near Malmesbury, Wiltshire, opens just once a year. It measures 4m by 3.6m and has one pew.
43. The spiciness of sauces is measured in Scoville Units.
44. Rubber gloves could save you from lightning.
51. Parking wardens walk about 15 miles a day.
52. You're 10 times more likely to be bitten by a human than a rat.
53. It takes 75kg of raw materials to make a mobile phone.
56. The Pyruvate Scale measures pungency in onions and garlic. It's named after the acid in onions which makes cooks cry when cutting them.
58. The average guest at a Buckingham Palace garden party scoffs 14 cakes, sandwiches, scones and ice-cream, according to royal accounts.
59. Oliver Twist is very popular in China, where its title is translated as Foggy City Orphan.
60. Newborn dolphins and killer whales don't sleep for a month, according to research carried out by University of California.
63. It takes less energy to import a tomato from Spain than to grow them in this country because of the artificial heat needed, according to Defra.
66. The hotter it is, the more difficult it is for aeroplanes to take off. Air passengers in Nevada, where temperatures have reached 120F, have been told they can't fly.
68. The Very Hungry Caterpillar has sold one copy every minute since its 1969 publication.
73. One in six children think that broccoli is a baby tree.
74. It takes a gallon of oil to make three fake fur coats.
75. Each successive monarch faces in a different direction on British coins.
76. The day when most suicides occurred in the UK between 1993 and 2002 was 1 January, 2000.
83. Britain produces 700 regional cheeses, more even than France.
85. Japanese knotweed can grow from a piece of root the size of pea. And it can flourish anew if disturbed after lying dormant for more than 20 years.
87. Pulling your foot out of quicksand takes a force equivalent to that needed to lift a medium-sized car.
89. Spanish Flu, the epidemic that killed 50 million people in 1918/9, was known as French Flu in Spain.
90. Ordinary - not avian - flu kills about 12,000 people in the UK every winter.
92. You are 176 times more likely to be murdered than to win the National Lottery.
93. Koalas have fingerprints exactly like humans (although obviously smaller).
94. Bill Gates does not have an iPod.
95. The first traffic cones were used in building Preston bypass in the late 1950s, replacing red lantern paraffin burners.
96. Britons buy about one million pumpkins for Halloween, 99% of which are used for lanterns rather than for eating.
100. Musical instrument shops must pay an annual royalty to cover shoppers who perform a recognisable riff before they buy, thereby making a "public performance".


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Memorable Sayings

I’ve decided it would be fun to collect memorable quotes I hear around my house. I hope I don’t get in too much trouble with my family for this! Here’s what I have so far.

"You better get out of here, Seth! I’m gonna take my shirt off!" -Becca, trying to get Seth out of the bathroom.

"Your gift hurts my Adam’s apple." –John, with a gift from our grandparents. It was a Galileo thermometer, a liquid filled glass tube with little globes inside that go up and down as the temperature changes. John had the tube inside his shirt hoping to warm it up enough to get the globes to move.

"I need music!" -Anna, twirling around the house in a new skirt.

"You look like you’re singing to a firing squad." –Ok, that was me telling John what I thought of his unfestive expression during the church choir concert.

"Laura, get out of the manger!" -Becca, during the impromptu dress rehearsal for the family Christmas play.

"You look like an Israeli clown." –Anna, commenting on Seth’s first try at his costume during the above-mentioned dress rehearsal.

Stay tuned for more words of wisdom and family love to be published at some undetermined future date, such as after I get out of the doghouse.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Family Christmas Play

My family has the tradition of acting out the Christmas story each year. We're always up for any excuse to put costumes on! It's a lot of fun, and a good way to remind ourselves that Christmas isn't just about pigging out on rich foods. We expanded the play this year to include two acts. Act 1 was the manger and shepherds story, and Act 2 was the wise men story.

From Act 2, here is the pompous Herod and his trusty servant/bodyguard: The sweet (and slightly silly) Mary (It took a bit of doing for her to look reflective for the part about Mary "pondering all these things in her heart."):
Shepherds don't come much cuter than this:
The angelic screenwriter/director/stage manager/producer/boss/chief...

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Hey, It's Christmas Day!

Stop reading blogs and go spend time with your family!


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Have a Wonderful Christmas, Everybody!!

May God richly bless you as you celebrate Christ's birth.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

While on the Subject of Music...

I just got this CD and have really been enjoying it. It has also been quite a conversation starter at work. I guess I don’t come across as a Johnny Cash fan! I now have something in common with my fifty-something-year-old boss (yikes!?) because he loves Johnny Cash music too. I’m trying to decide on my favorite song, and I’m having trouble deciding between “I Walk the Line” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Five Days of Christmas Music

One of the local Christian radio stations, KHCB, is currently playing five days of Christmas music. I'm listening at work via the internet, and really enjoying it. It's all Christian Christmas music, and mostly very peaceful, mellow music. It's very nice, but I hope I don't fall asleep at my desk!

KSBJ is also playing Christmas music (their "Christmas Open House"), but they've been doing it all month, and I think I'm tired of all their Christmas songs. They've been playing a lot of secular music too, which I think stinks. I mean really, does anyone like "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire"??! And can you listen to "Jingle Bell Rock" more than once without going crazy? And for another thing, what's the point of "Let It Snow" and "White Christmas" in Houston?! Besides, WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE CELEBRATING THE BIRTH OF CHRIST HERE!!!!!!!

So, take my word for it, listen to KHCB for the next five days, and you're sure to get in a good Christmasy mood.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Amazing Tale of Survival...And Love

Check out this remarkable story, published by World magazine.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Where do They Get These Ideas?

Larry's mother??
The Jolly Green Granny??

These are the questions I had when I came home and saw this character.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Million-Dollar Problems

I read this story in the latest Way of the Master newsletter and thought it was great. I've given these tracts away before, and they're a lot of fun. It's especially fun to give them to the workers at fast food drive-throughs.
"Two of our employees, Jaylene and Trish, decided to stay a bit late at the ministry. As they drove home through a rather high-crime area, they took a few moments to slow down and hand some Million Dollar Bill tracts through their car window to some youths on the side of the road.
Suddenly, a police car pulled up behind them and flashed its headlights. The women pulled over and waited. They realized that they had approached youths at night in a gang-infested area (which isn't the wisest thing for two females to do). But they also realized that it doesn't exactly look good when money is passed out of a car in a drug-ridden area.

"When the officer came to the window, Trish said, "It might not be what you think it looks like! You're probably going to think that we're crazy." Jaylene added, "Those guys need to hear about Jesus. We were giving them gospel tracts!"

"When they gave the officer a Million Dollar Bill tract and showed him the pink and blue Curved Illusion tracts, he smiled and said, "You're showing the wrong person. I'm already saved." He was a brother in Christ, and he didn't stop them because of what they were doing, but because their license plate light wasn't working. The women then gave him a stack of tracts, encouraging him to witness."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What Do the Kids Do When the Parents Are Out of Town?

Well, we've kept busy, that's for sure. Our parents went to Washington D.C. for a long weekend, so we're holding down the fort. They'll be back this afternoon. Other than ordinary things like making sure everyone is fed and clothed, we've played outside, gone to the church choir concert, gone out to eat, and put the Christmas lights up on the house. It was fun, and we even remembered to test the strings of lights before we put them up this year. It turned out very nicely, if I do say so myself: We also had a fascinating activity last night: making torches!! John helped everyone wire old rags to ends of sticks. They even had to trek down to Lowe's to get more wire! I think it's noteworthy that this project was thought up and carried out during the day while I was at work. Hmmmm. That evening, we soaked the rags with Coleman fuel and set them ablaze. It was very exciting. They hadn't made a torch for me (go figure), so I was the designated photographer. For those of you who may be on the verge of heart failure, be assured that we had a pail of water nearby. We also had a preparatory speech about not setting each other on fire or standing too close to the bushes. (Laura's not as close to the bush as it looks, by the way.)

Monday, December 12, 2005

X-mas Tree Psychology

No, I didn't write this. I came across it and thought it was a very amusing Christmas-tree-problem solver.

If your Christmas tree is: Then you:
A metal pole.........................................need to watch less television
A menorah............................................are confused
From your neighbor’s yard................should refit it to the stump in January
A 20-foot Fraser fir.............................have too much money
A four-inch fungus...............................have too little money
Singing...................................................should call the cops
One in a million.....................................are in a forest
Already tossed......................................are impatient
On fire....................................................should run too much yoga
Needle-less............................................deserve it
Pre-decorated.......................................need more spirit
The fourth you’ve bought....................need less spirit
Stolen......................................................need therapy
A couch, upended, with a star on top....will need extra seating
Brown......................................................should water it
Made of
Surrounded by fake at Crate & Barrel

Friday, December 09, 2005

Out With the Old, In With the New

I love calendars, and always have fun picking out new ones at this time of year. I'm actually famous for having too many calendars, but I say hey, there are worse things. Last year, my boss told me I could only have two calendars, one daily calendar on my desk, and one wall calendar, and that one had to be in a frame! (I'm such a difficult employee.) That's how I ended up with five calendars in my bedroom.

Well, now it's time to say goodbye to The Lord of the Rings, Dilbert, Castles, Lighthouses, and Bouquets with Bible Verses. Here's what I've gotten so far for next year:

For my desk at home: For my desk at work:
??? I'm not sure where I'll put this one. It's a mini one.
For my frame-on-the-wall at work (Hey, back view!):

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Chinese "Food"

Whoever wrote this menu must feel the same way about Chinese food that I do.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


It has been cold here in Houston for the past several days. Part of me thinks it’s terrific because it feels so much more like Christmas when it’s cold. The other part of me is freezing to death. I start shivering from head to toe the second I step outside! I’m avoiding all unnecessary errands because I don’t want to have to go in and out in such cold weather.

I’m wondering when I became such a wimp. The endless Texas summers have done something to my body, and now it thinks it’s going to freeze solid at 40 degrees. What happened to the girl who went sledding with no coat, and delivered newspapers on foot at 5:30 AM in minus 20 degree weather? I’d like to know.

I have a theory that cold weather here is much more ferocious than cold weather up north because the air is so damp. The damp chill goes right to the bones, or at least it seems to in my case.

I think it’s funny to see how differently people respond to the weather here. I saw a man riding his motorcycle with no jacket at all, and then I saw two teenage boys walking down the street with hats, gloves, coats, scarves…and umbrellas!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Merry Holidays, Happy Christmas

I think it's frustrating that "Merry Christmas" seems to be going out of popularity. "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings" are so watered down and generic. Everybody tries so hard to be politically correct, and something gets lost whenever that happens. We've gotten one Christmas card so far this year at work, and it's blue with foil snowflakes and the words, "Season's Greetings." I hope we get some more soon that aren't so lifeless.

On the other hand, I must admit that I actually bought Christmas cards this year that don't say "Merry Christmas." They look like this: and on the inside, they say, "Hathy Holidayth." They were just too cute and funny to pass up. I was laughing out loud in the bookstore when I saw them! I guess I'll just have to write "Merry Christmas" inside.

Hey, how about that! I just posted a Christmas card on my blog for everyone to see. I could save a lot of stamps this way! OK, so maybe that's a little tacky.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Office Plants

OK, it's officially December now, so I think it's high time to decorate for Christmas. In keeping with the season, I believe I'll get a poinsettia to put on my desk, maybe one with a little more green than this one: I actually have a plant on my desk right now, but it's starting to look a little like this:
I have a hard time keeping plants alive in my office. I might have to give up and get a fake one. I've had two, and they've both caught some sort of terminal disease. It's a little depressing.