Wednesday, December 31, 2008
You may or may not know this, but there are many internet browsers to choose from. The three most popular commercially available browsers are Internet Explorer (IE) from Microsoft, Firefox from Mozilla, and Chrome from Google.
I am a long-time IE user, so when the new Firefox came out, I thought I would give it a try. It lasted for about a week before I went back to my old IE browser. Firefox has some cool free plug-ins but it was always asking me to update something – the plug-ins, the browser, etc. I did not notice much of a speed difference between IE and Firefox (I know some of you are saying – What? You crazy?). And for what I used it for, I found myself having to go back to use the IE browser because of incompatibilities with certain sites. I know that Mozilla has corrected most of the incompatibilities and it now has an IE plug-in that allows you to view a site as if you were using an IE browser, but when I clicked on it the other day, I was in the middle of surfing when the dreaded popup saying there was a new version available (UGH!!!). I am sure if I decided to install the new version, it would ask me to update my plug-ins. I like the way IE updates the browser behind the scenes.
The Firefox browser navigation was very similar to IE. It had much the same tools and labels. There were some differences, but nothing radical. I would guess that you can doctor up a Firefox browser to look identical to IE browser.
The next browser I wanted to try was Chrome. Chrome was developed by Google. I thought this was a plus because it may be geared more for surfing the web than the other browsers. Google said that Chrome has been in development for 6 years before it released it as a beta. The inside joke about Google is that it only launches betas. It doesn’t convert any of its software to production stable (for those that don’t understand the terminology, you can read up on this common concept here à http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta_version .). Well, to the astonishment of technologist everywhere, one month after the beta release of Chrome, Google launched a production version (Gasp!). I can go on discussing the logic behind this move, but that would be off topic…and I’ve digressed enough.
So, on with my review of Chrome… I downloaded the beta version and was playing around with it when it first came out. It worked fine. Faster than IE or Firefox, but it was missing the parts that made IE and Firefox so familiar right out of the box! Chrome was missing the toolbars and navigational history that both IE and Firefox displayed. Accessing favorite sites was hard as well! It converted your IE favorites, but accessing it was not the familiar toolbar button on the top middle of the browser window. There was some other differences that just made me feel uncomfortable using Chrome.
Since the release of the production version of Chrome, I downloaded and installed it again; which, this time, it didn’t launch. I spent hours trying to find out why it wouldn’t launch – reconfiguring firewalls, turning off spy-ware detectors, turning off anti-virus, patching registry settings. Finally, I discovered that a piece of software (system mechanic) I installed was preventing it from launching. After uninstalling system mechanic, everything worked fine.
The new Chrome browser was just like the beta version, but it seemed faster. Even though history, favorites, and tools were still hard to access, the address bar seemed downright psychic! I would start typing a site and before I typed out many letters, the site address would appear in the drop-down list (even if I never visited the site before). Other features I am still getting accustomed to, but like are
The “most visited sites list on new browser windows”, and
On opening the browser for the first time, it opens all the tabs you had opened on the prior usage.
I still don’t think that Google Chrome is quite ready for primetime, but it has some great possibilities. I can’t seem to get Mrs. Sister or the Sister-kidlets to even try it. I installed it on my wife and kids computers and all-hell broke out. Even though, my son was making up the “Google Chrome” jingle and singing it all through the house (to the annoyance of his big sister), none of them would even try it. It is truly a sad-day at the Sister-house when I can’t get my family to try new technology!
So, to finish, I am not going to cover the other browsers (…and there are quite a few http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_browser !!!), but of the three I mentioned, I would still say that IE eeks out as my favorite, followed very closely by Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. I will bet that by next Christmas, We will be using a different browser and IE will eventually fade away like the HD DVD, VHS-VCR, BetaMax VCR, and the 8-track tape.
I now return control back, once again, to Mrs. Sister. I hope everyone enjoyed this voyage into technology. Join me next time when I review Video over the web (is blockbuster in trouble?)!
Monday, December 29, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 large green onion (or 2-3 small) finely chopped
1-3 minced garlic cloves (according to taste)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2-1 tsp. dried)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste
Stir together the yogurt, sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, cucumber, green onion, garlic, feta cheese, oregano, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a bowl .Cover and chill before serving to allow flavors to meld (4-8 hours) Serve with grilled chicken or lamb (marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, fresh oregano and rosemary, salt and pepper), pita bread or fresh veggies. Enjoy!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
The Nativity by Duccio di Buon Insegna, 1308-11
National Gallery, Washington
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
St. Joseph and the Christ Child
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Written by Sarah Batista
CHARLOTTE,NC (WBTV) - An image caught on a security camera at Presbyterian Hospital has everyone talking.
It was taken by the mother of a 14-year-old patient who wasn't expected to survive. She says the image is an angel who brought a miracle into her family.
Chelsea Banton was born 5 weeks premature and has endured chronic health problems her entire life. But this past September, a battle with pneumonia almost ended her life. Doctors at Presbyterian Hospital gave her mom, Colleen, devastating news.
"He said we've done all we can do," said Colleen Banton.
So Colleen made the heart-breaking decision to take her daughter of off life support. An hour later, something caught the hospital staff's attention.
"I was in the waiting room, my sister was inside and she says, you have to come and look," said Banton.
What she wanted her to see was a image on the security camera near Chelsea's hospital room. It shows a bright light in the shape of an angel just outside of the doorway.
"I said oh wow, that's an angel and the nurse practitioner she's standing there and she said I've been working here for 15 years and I've never seen anything like this," said Banton.
While doctors and nurses crowded around the monitor, something else was happening--Chelsea was getting better. "About an hour later, we took the mask off and her stats were higher then they'd ever been, doctors and nurses were amazed," said Banton.
Three months after she arrived at the hospital, Chelsea got to go home. She'll live to see her 15th birthday on Christmas day and Colleen has no doubt what she saw on that monitor saved her daughter's life.
"I've never seen anything so bright, so beautiful," said Banton. "I don't think I would have brought Chelsea home from the hospital if the angel had not appeared."
To see more about "The Angel" click here
Monday, December 22, 2008
On another note, I am feeling some "breathing room" now. We are on break from our home school duties and responsibilities, there is one last choir performance, just a gift or two left to wrap and a dinner to plan. Easy. I can now focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
With that said, this week's focus will be on the biblical teachings about the birth of Jesus. Today's scripture is from Luke 1:26-38...The Annunciation.
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
Image courtesy of St. Peter Canisius Apostolate at http://catholic-teaching.org
Sunday, December 21, 2008
5thsister is tied up (insert evil laugh here) and cannot post today. This is Mr. Sister and I will be your holiday substitute blogger today. Since I don't know anything about cooking, I will continue on with 5thsister's holiday serenades.
But, first, let me blog about one of the electronic items I've been testing this year.... I usually don't buy infomercial items and I actually purchased this before they came out with a bunch of infomercials. I bought a Magic Jack. You ask what a Magic Jack is? This is a dongle that you plug into a USB jack and allows you to make and receive phone calls (with a standard phone) anywhere you have high-speed internet. To test this, I asked a friend who was going over to India, to bring this with him so that he can make calls to his family without paying exorbitant long distance rates. He tried using the company's WAN, but the firewalls blocked that port. So, when he was in the hotel at night, he tried and was able to communicate affectively with his love ones in the US.
There are a number of reasons why I like the Magic Jack..
- The price --- $39.95 for the first YEAR (Not Month) and $20 for each additional year!
- You get a local telephone number. Meaning people can call you and you can be anywhere in the world!
- You use an ordinary telephone to plug into the dongle! No special headsets such as with Skype (which is also quite cool!).
- It comes with call forwarding, three-way calling, and voicemail. How great is that!
Now, before you say, "I'm going to buy one and replace my home telephone!", there are a few things to take into account...
- You can only call to US and Canadian numbers for free from anywhere in the world. International calling (that is calling a number in another country) is an extra charge
- The call quality is just as good as your internet connection. If you have a constant 4-5 mb/s rate for your internet connection or better (which I'm jealous!!!), then this should be ok, but sound quality goes down from any traffic that the packets hit.
- You get a lot of places to choose from for your local number, but they may not have a local number available in your area. My first number was based in Cleveland Ohio because they didn't have a local number for where we live (we don't live in Ohio). But, later they acquired local numbers and you are allowed to switch numbers once for free.
- You have to keep the computer on and connected to the internet in order to talk and receive calls. This could be a pain if you lose internet connection; you've lost the use of the Magic Jack.
Hopefully, in future episodes, I can take over the blog again and give some nice technology advice. Afterall, nothing says Christmas like Consumer Electronics!!!And now, back to the task that my wife put me up to.... Here is our daughter doing a selection from Wicked...
I now release...err... return control of the 5thsister blog back to Mrs. Sister. If you liked my rantings above, please comment and maybe I can arrange to come back.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
1st, I'd like to show you the view from the porch. We will wait to put on the screening until after we stain the wood. This will probably occur sometime in March when the weather improves. That is also when we'll install our ceiling fans and lay the outdoor carpeting.
Let's look up, shall we. This is what my pergola, looks like. This will be one of my favorite features.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
ACLU Announces Lawsuit against Santa Claus
by David Bibb
Among the documents presented to the courts today was a memo in which reads, in part:
You better watch out.
You better not cry.
You better not pout.
I'm telling you why.
Santa Claus is coming to town.
He sees you when you are sleeping
He knows when you're awake,
He knows when you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness' sake.
Lawyers for Mr. Claus stated, "The charges of the ACLU are absurd. Mr. Claus is a well known and highly respected figure. His supporters are from around the world and his message of love and respect can, in no way, be taken as a form of "mind control" or a violation of the civil rights of children."
In a brief statement, read by his lawyer, Mr. Claus said, "I find the charges of the ACLU absurd and am confident they will be rejected by the courts. As for any criminal charges, I believe the Justice Department will discover they have no basis."
(The preceding information was unscrupulously lifted from an email currently making the rounds. Original source is unknown at this time)
Thursday, December 11, 2008
With many apologies to Pam I most likely will not tag anyone else, but the idea is intriguing. I've racked my brain trying to come up with 7 things most people, currently in my life, do not know about me. it's actuallly a hard question. I came up with the following list (I'll get the shocker out of the way 1st):
- I used to smoke until I became wise and broke free from the bondage to nicotine. I quit that nasty, stinking, filthy habit many, many years ago. And this, coming from a Respiratory Therapist!
- I was in a beauty pageant when I was 17 years old.
- My secret "super-hero" power is my sense of smell.
- When I was a child I wanted to be a marine biologist, or an artist, when I grew up
- I've always wanted to travel to Greece.
- I am a convert to Catholicism
- My secret fantasy is to be able to belt out a song, in tune, without embarrassing those near and dear to me.
Are any of these the least bit surprising to youSo, what are some of things most people would not know about you? Feel free to leave a comment!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Mascot Bowl! Our halftime entertainment. See Sir Purr and Mini-Mew? (Lame, I know, but WE love them!)
Are we having fun yet? You bet! It's a tradition for my daughter and I to have "girl's night out" for all the home night games. We enjoy every minute of it!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Photo courtesy of Pam-Fried Family Life
Thursday, December 4, 2008
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 lb. frozen shrimp, thawed, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
3 cloves (or more if you like) minced garlic
1 1/2 to 2 cups half and half
2 tomatoes coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 lb. your favorite pasta, prepared al-dente
Basil leaves for garnish
Meanwhile, in large non stick pan melt 2 tbsp. butter over medium-high heat.
When butter is sizzling, add the shrimp, sauteeing until almost done.
Add the rest of the butter to the pan, along with the garlic.
When melted, add flour, salt and pepper forming a roux.
Add 1 1/2 cups half and half stirring constantly. If sauce becomes too thick, you may add an additional 1/2 cup half and half
When thickened to desired consistancy, stir in tomatoes and basil.
Return shrimp to pan and allow to finish cooking (another 2-3 minutes)
Serve over warm pasta and garnish with basil leaves.
Eat and enjoy!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Animated plush ice skating Peanuts characters and Storytime Bear (The Night Before Christmas) courtesy of the kids' Great Aunts Mary and Irene. :)
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
D-day has arrived. My dear old deck is going down! It's 24 degrees outside with a high expected in the 40's. I think I'll go make them some hot chocolate.
This is Tom Stanford (on the far right). He is my contractor and owner of Precision Framing, Inc. He does both commercial and residential framing. If you live in North or South Carolina and are needing some work done, he comes highly recommended:
Monday, December 1, 2008
Advent: A time of preparation
The traditional color of Advent is purple or violet which symbolizes the penitential spirit. Religious traditions associated with Advent express all these themes.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Normally, I cook very healthy meals. Thanksgiving is a different story. It's the one day of the year where we celebrate our abundant blessings! I will show you you how, just today, over a pound of butter made it's way into just 3 dishes (more planned for later!)
The first dish I prepared was my Simply Tasty Stuffing. I gathered all my ingredients: Dried bread cubes from homemade bread, 1 full onion finely chopped, 1/2 cup mushrooms chopped, 1 bunch of celery sliced, 1/4 lb. butter, fresh herbs (my preference is rosemary and sage), my Signature Spice Blend, kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, chicken broth and lots and lots of garlic!
Saute your veggies in a full stick of butter until tender. Add your seasonings and cook a little longer. Mix with your bread cubes and add a full can of chicken broth. Add more for moister stuffing, less for drier. Tomorrow I will bake, covered in a 350 oven for about 30 minute, uncovering the last 10 minutes so the top will be slightly toasty. Here's what it looks like today, though.
Our next 2 1/2 sticks of butter are used to make what I call Herbed Butter Medallions. I simply soften the butter and add the following: garlic (lots and lots!) , a couple of tablespoons of fresh herbs (any combination of rosemary, sage and basil), kosher salt, pepper and several dashes of My Signature Spice blend. Once blended, spoon out onto some plastic wrap and roll up into a "tube". Place the butter log into the freezer to harden. After about 1/2 to 1 hour remove from freezer and slice. These will be used to place between the skin and meat of your bird. It gives a very lumpy look to the bird but your turkey will be very juicy indeed after roasting. You should have plenty medallions left over to rub on the outside of the bird and to place within the cavity, along with some celery and onion wedges.
Get your roaster ready by placing, in the roasting pan, celery and carrot sticks, onion wedges and the giblets. Place the bird in the rack, cover with foil and refrigerate until you are ready to roast that baby! Just before placing the turkey into the oven, I pour about 1/2 bottle of beer and 1 cup or so of chicken broth to the pan. I use this, along with the juices from the roasting bird to baste every 20 or 30 minutes. Trust me...this is the BEST bird we have ever had! And the drippings make for a very special gravy!
The last half stick of butter goes in my Ever So Slightly Sweet Potato Cashew Bake. An unusual signature Thanksgiving dish of mine.
The asparagus has been rinsed and placed in a large baggie and coated with olive oil. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper was added. These will be grilled to perfection, just prior to dinner being served, tomorrow.
My job is practically done! Dear daughter will make the cranberry relish. We will prep Pioneer Woman's Crashed Potatoes tomorrow, along with tossing the salad, and the sweet potato pie just needs defrosting. Thanksgiving couldn't be easier!
A simple table presentation and you're ready for a simple Thanksgiving feast indeed!
Give Thanks to the Lord Who is good...Whose Love endures forever!
Links to recipes mentioned in this post:
My Signature Spice Blend: http://www.grouprecipes.com/68537/pollys-signature-spice-blend-in-haiku-format.html
Ever So Slightly Sweet Potato and Cashew Bake: http://www.grouprecipes.com/70124/ever-so-slightly-sweet-potato-cashew-bake.html
Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potatoes: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/06/crash-hot-potatoes/