Welcome to the first issue of "The Phoenix", AIH's reborn newsletter! As the editor and publisher, I hope that I can bring you a newsletter that is interesting, and entertaining. I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you, who has taken the time and the opportunity to subscribe! If you have not yet subscribed or if you want to unsubscribe, you can do so by following the subscription instructions at the bottom of the page.
To be honest, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to put this out by the Nov 30 deadline that I originally set. The reason is because I've been quite ill lately. It's been a very rough week, and plans to publish this were pretty much out the window, because I was feeling so bad...
Anyway, enough of my ills and tales of woe! I have published the newsletter, and it looks like I did it on time! I hope that those of you in the United States, and elsewhere, that celebrate the tradition of Thanksgiving, had a very happy and pleasant one! May you also have very happy holidays, no matter where you are in the world, and please take a moment to remember those who are less fortunate than you!
Orange Zest Sweet Potato Pie:Sewing: Christmas Dishcloths:
Cookie Sheet Apple Pie:
The principle difference between Christmas in Spain and the version celebrated throughout most of Europe and America is the importance of January 6th. In Spain, this is when presents are given. Also, instead of Santa Claus or Father Christmas giving or bringing the presents, the three "magic" kings - Balthasar, Gaspar, and Melchior - give the presents.
In almost every village there is “la Cabalgata” , a Christmas parade where the magic kings ("los Reyes Magos") are paraded on a float and shower the children with sweets.
At each village's townhall, each child receives a present from the hands of one of the three kings. The townhall itself pays for the presents.
On December 22nd, almost everyone in Spain is frozen to their TV’s to watch “el Gordo” (the fat one), a massive Christmas lottery which is held with a grand prize worth $20 million. As the machine plucks each ball for the lottery, children from the orphanages sing the results.
Most families have a "belén" (nativity scene) on display in their house. Families eat together on Christmas eve ("la nochebuena") and they often eat a stuffed turkey which has the bones removed. This requires the skill of a micro-surgeon to prepare! Afterwards, everyone goes to midnight mass at Church.
Christmas is less commercial in Spain, but they do decorate each town and village copiously. Special villages hold a “pesebre vivant” where the birth of Jesus is portrayed by people, who re-enact the whole scene. The campfires, costumes, and oil lamps take you back through time.
December 28th. is “ el Dia de los Santos Inocentes” (Innocent Saints) and that is Spain’s "April" Fool's Day.
At the years end, at the stroke of twelve, we have “tomar las uvas” ( the taking of the grapes), where at each stroke of the bell, a grape is swallowed for good luck in each month of the coming year.
Wishing you all a ˇFeliz Navidad y Próspero Ańo Nuevo!
ChenryBack to top:
Orange Zest Sweet Potato Pie
1 pound cooked and peeled sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
Directions Without Topping:
Melt 1/4 cup margarine, and pour it in the bowl with the sweet potatoes. Beat with an electric mixer or fork until smooth. Blend in sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, orange zest, vanilla, ginger, and 1 egg. Pour into the unbaked crust. Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 20 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place pie back into oven when 350 degrees has been reached and continue baking for 25 minutes or until set.
*Directions With Topping:
Same as above, except: While the pie is baking, prepare the topping. Mix together 1 egg, corn syrup, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon melted butter, maple flavoring, and pecans. Mix thoroughly. After removing the pie from the oven the first time, while waiting for the oven to reach 350 degrees F (220 degrees C), sprinkle the topping over pie. Place pie back into oven when 350 degrees has been reached and continue baking for 25 minutes or until set.
*I find that this pie is best without the topping although the topping does add a unique flavor combined with the orange zest in the pie.
Cookie Sheet Apple Pie
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
5 medium sized tart apples
Combine all the ingredients for the crust except for the butter and whipping cream. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Blend in the whipping cream to make a firm dough. Chill if necessary until firm. Dust a lightly greased baking sheet with flour, flatten dough out onto the baking sheet. Roll or pat out to 1/4" thickness. Trim to make a 14" square. Roll out the trimmings and cut into strips.
To prepare apples:
Pare, core and slice apples. Turn into bowl, mix with filling ingredients.
To assemble pie:
Arrange apples in rows over crust in pan, leaving 2" empty at edges. Dot with 2 Tblsp of butter. Arrange strips in criss-cross fashion over apples, then fold edges of crust up and over ends of strips, pinch corners to seal. Beat egg and milk, and brush pastry with the mixture. Bake at 400F 30 - 35 minutes or until golden and apples are cooked.
Want to give a little hand made gift this Christmas? If you can knit or figure out how to knit, then here's a simple project that will give you the pleasure of giving.
Using a ball of red/green/white cotton yarn and a pair of 5 mm knitting needles:
Cast on 4 stitches
Row 1: Knit 2, yf (yarn forward to make extra stitch), knit to end
Repeat this row until there are 43 stitches on the needle.
Next row: Knit 1, Knit 2 tog (together) yf knit 2 tog, knit to end of row
Repeat this row until 4 stitches remain
Sew in ends and your dishcloth is done.
For something extra, wrap a bar of scented soap in the cloth and weave Christmas type ribbon through the holes on the edges. Tie a bow and you have a ready made pouch for the soap. Add a sample bottle of bath oil, bubble bath etc. (available at most drug stores or Wal-Mart) wrap in a small cellophane bag and you have a nice little "minding gift" for someone.Back to top:
"This Apple Didn’t Fall Far"by: Bermbits
One of those rare, wondrous moments that makes a teacher’s day truly special seemed about to happen. I was talking about essay writing to a class of unmotivated high school seniors, when a student, slouched in the back of the room, raised his hand. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the question is "Can I go to the bathroom?" or "Can I go see the nurse?"
Without even waiting for the actual question, I automatically said, "Yes, you may go. Be sure to take a pass." But no. The student shook his head and said he didn’t need to go anywhere. He said he had a question.
"You have a question? A real question?" I perked up.
"Well, go ahead," I said with genuine interest. "Ask away." Any time a student honestly wants to know something, I will help him or her find out the answer no matter what it takes. "What is it?"
This was the moment. High school kids who can’t find Africa on a fully-labeled world map or think the longest-lived land creatures are pine cones ("They live 5,000 years.") often don’t have logical questions. I couldn’t imagine what the question would be.
Sitting up a bit straighter, he leaned a bit forward, screwed up his face, pointed, and asked, "Why do you have a fish sticker on your watch?"
* * *
Even though close to forty years have passed, I vividly remember once going to visit my father at his office. He was a doctor, always had patients in his waiting room, yet invariably made time for me whenever I stopped by. This particular visit was extra special, though.
There, on a small table in the waiting room, to display his business cards, my father had a heavy metal, saucer-sized plate supported by a coiled metal snake. In the plate was a splay of cards. Instead of plain black on white, which was the proper style du jour, the cards were white, but that’s where any resemblance to normalcy ended. The shiny, raised print featured bold red, blue, and gold letters. I know now that to say they were hideous would be an understatement - they were the wild, colorful creation of a 14-year-old who didn’t know any better, let loose in a junior high school printing course. But there they were because I, his Number One Son, made them. Period. My father loved me and was so proud of me, and anything I made or did was special to him. No matter how garish those cards truly were, they were special because they come from me... his Number One Son.
* * *
I looked down at my watch, the face almost totally obscured by a red, orange, and yellow smiling-fish sticker and then looked back at the student. I replied very simply, "Because my daughter put it there."
This is one apple that didn’t fall far from its tree.
XXXBack to top:
Interview with Dilbert!
Dilbert, also known as John, is the owner and operator of Ask-it-Here, our favorite question and answer site! For the inaugural edition of "The Phoenix", it was suggested that I should interview him first! (NOTE: This is a LONG interview!) So here goes:
Wolf: First of all, how did you come up with the idea for AIH?
Dilbert: It became obvious that KnowPost was going down soon. They had huge expenses and no income. I tried to buy KnowPost from Clay, but he told me I wasn't capable of running a site like KnowPost. It was a challenge. Also, a couple of the people that I liked had been kicked off KnowPost or at least asked to leave - Seedy69 and GreyEyes primarily - I was kicking around the idea of a site like KnowPost that was more fun. Brian said he could create something and the basic AIH was born
Wolf: So KnowPost was the inspiration for AIH?
Dilbert: Yes, it was the only site like that that I was on
Wolf: AIH has had some pretty serious growing pains, to the extent that it even shut down for a few months back in February. How did you overcome the setbacks earlier this year, and manage to bring AIH back?
Dilbert: I have always been committed to AIH and the site. The problems that we have had has only made the site better - I once wanted thousands of users, now I just want people who get along and have fun. Additionally I have also come to realize that a site like AIH can't be run by a committee
Wolf: Have you managed to learn any HTML coding and other web based programming to help get the site running?
Dilbert: No, I have avoided learning anything. Brian is my brain. He does a lot of the database stuff and knows HTML. I can make things bold and underlined, but that is about the extent of my expertise. I don't even use emoticons - I'm just a pretty face when it comes to site stuff
Wolf: I've been with AIH now for over a year and a half. A lot of the older AIH functionality that was on the original site is now gone. Do you have plans to bring that back to the AIH site in the future?
Dilbert: We can only add content if we have programming support. Grisson did an incredible job of getting the site back up after "the unpleasantness", but he wasn't a former member and got roped into doing something that had to have overwhelmed him. He only did it as a favor to a friend. We are now without a programmer and until we get one or can afford to hire one, we can't add content. My priorities are, in order of importance, get rid of site errors, change the URL to the direct location to AIH, add a message board, and add more neighborhood themes. After that anything else is gravy.
Wolf: Is Brian able to do programming or is that one of the things he's learning at school?
Dilbert: The school doesn't offer ASPNET and I don't want anyone who’s not totally familiar with the language messing with the code
Wolf: Ah, I see. How soon do you hope to be able to do this?
Dilbert: Some of it might be done fairly quickly I have a programmer in Washington that can tackle the error codes and add a few things within a short period of time. At $75 an hour he had better be very quick and very good
Wolf: Most of us are aware that you plan to eventually purchase a full time server to host AIH other than money, is there anything others can do to help you achieve this goal?
Dilbert: If people know anyone who is an excellent SQL technician or ASPNET programmer then they can help by getting us the programming help that can add content to the site. We already have the graphics people on the site that can create stunning graphic content
Wolf: I must admit, I certainly like the newer graphics of the new AIH, over the graphics of the older AIH.
Dilbert: Rami did a great job adding graphics to the site He is an amazing guy It's mostly all his work Let me tell you a little bit about Rami he wrote to me complaining about some of the HTML errors and the graphics I wrote him back telling him about our limited abilities and told him if he wanted things fixed he could do it himself He did I was shocked when I saw the first rough draft of what he was doing
Wolf: Have you looked at other hosting services outside of your ISP or 2CoolWeb?
Dilbert: It has to be some place close because if the server goes down it is up to us to go fix it. I currently store a lot of equipment for the guy who owns my ISP. I currently get free internet service. It's a symbiotic relationship - I can get cheap hosting services in exchange for 3 barns filled with movie film and other equipment that is not computer/internet related stuff
Wolf: What about a managed server, where someone else is responsible for making sure the server stays up? I suppose that that costs an arm and a leg
Dilbert: 2Coolweb was offering that at $375 a month I can't afford that
Wolf: What is your future vision for AIH?
Dilbert: We have an incredible potential, but I'm not all that interested in exploring it I would like to add a computer area to the site, something strictly for tech and people looking for help. We have many incredibly talented people on the site and they need their own area so things don't get mixed up with questions about cat food and makeup. We could have many thousands of members and at one time we had nearly 4000 members
Wolf: No kidding! Wouldn't the ability to filter the questions by topic help in that area though?
Dilbert: The problem is that with more members, the greater the chance for conflict and after watching a few wars, I love the site just the way it is
Wolf: I've seen quite a few of those wars myself - and almost gotten mixed up in one or two of them!
Dilbert: We aren't going to solve world hunger or bring peace to the Middle East, but we are going to have some fun and solve a few personal crises along the way. They aren't fun and they often start over small things and escalate into full fledge warfare. It was one of the problems with the Membership Committee with the old AIH
Wolf: Yes, I remember that one well
Dilbert: Instead of solving problems, they intensified them
Wolf: That's what brought the whole site down the first (and hopefully last) time
Dilbert: The Membership Committee took on a life of it's own and began looking for problems to solve
Wolf: So, now, the only people that make the decisions are you and Brian?
Dilbert: It's pretty much just me I often ask Brian for his input just to get a dissenting opinion then I ignore it. He is just a punk assed kid and what does he know anyway?
Wolf: LOL! Going back to an earlier question you stated that you'd like to have a section just for computer type questions. Wouldn't being able to filter the questions by category be the same? Or is there a specific reason you want to have a separate computer help section?
Dilbert: That is something I want also. Being able to subscribe to the question area that you want to see, forcing people to pick categories a little better than they do now
Wolf: That's really great! A lot of people love (and I dare say, are even addicted to) the site
Dilbert: I also want to go from 10 to 20 questions on the main page.
Wolf: Yes, I'd like to see that too or how about the user being able to select how many questions they see at any time? Say give them an option between 10, 20, and 50? Other sites do this all the time have you considered that?
Dilbert: Yes I have, that’s the way KnowPost was and it worked very well
Wolf: So, if you could get someone who could program it, you wouldn't be adverse to that?
Dilbert: Not at all. I have me screen set to 1200 by 1000 and I want to see more, while others are at 640 X 480 and don't want to see more.
Wolf: Is there anything that you'd like to add before we conclude the interview?
Dilbert: We have gotten some amazing contributions to AIH.
Wolf: Such as?
Dilbert: We have had a donation of $200 and 3 of $100. I think this pretty much covers just about everything
Pier - by: MelDell
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Please state whether you want the HTML or the Plain Text version!Back to top:
I realize that there are some of you who have submitted stuff for consideration and publication in this newsletter. Unfortunately, due to space, I felt that adding more at this time, than I allready have, would only make the newsletter too much of a burden to read.
Rest assured, I hope to be able to publish more of what you have provided to me, in future issues.
If you would like to submit articles, artwork, photos, graphics, recipies, or other original work for consideration and publication, or if you have comments, suggestions, gripes, or complaints, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The Phoenix" is a work in progress... Like AIH, it's going to take some time for it to grow! Please be patient, if it doesn't meet your expectations!
Thank you, and God Bless!
WolfBack to top: