Monday, March 24, 2008

Just another day at the office

Just thought you'all would like a view from my office...this last trip took me to Sacramento where everything was in bloom to Eagle/Vail, Colorado where everything was beautiful and snowy. These are some airport pictures as we made our way on and off the aircraft. It was pretty warm there, sunny, and the mountains are always beautiful! We had about 19 hours in a small mountain town where we each walked around and enjoyed being in the sunshine. Most of our trips aren't that way, we often stay right by the highway in areas that are frankly not safe to walk in, or sometimes right at the airport where there is nowhere to walk even if you'd felt safe enough.
The flight between Denver and Eagle is less than a half hour so there is no service for us to do, we're there for safety only...a nice break every now and again.
We flew in on an Airbus A320 and this is it sitting on the ramp. I just love those airports which don't yet have jetways, it reminds me of when I started flying, going to all those neat smaller cities that the commuter planes now serve. I would much rather go to small towns than the big cities even now.
It's very unusual to be able to be on the ramp so we took full advantage of enjoying it, though we were "escorted" and watched by the ground personnel. I wasn't a criminal when I started my career 22+ years ago but I understand the reasons for being watchful.
On the way back home we had a 4 leg/flight day but we got to stop for about 30 minutes in one of my favorite towns, Jackson, Wyoming. This is a beautiful mountain community, though the town is quite a way from the airport.
The airport here is actually within the Grand Teton National Park, and I was glad to meet the superintendant of the park on the airplane going in. There is an elk preserve between the airport and the town right along the main highway, and on layovers in the past I'd seen the herds of elk coming down the mountains to graze on some of the hay left for them.
The information that the pilots have in their manuals for arrivals and departures in this beautiful place warn them to be careful of Elk on the runway. I've never seen any in the times I've been here, but that doesn't mean they can't find their way to the runways.
I thought this last one was very beautiful of the snow on the mountain, it looked like it was snowing on the ski area, though it was beautiful and sunny where we were. Yup, just another day at the office. Of course, we had a nearly 14 hour duty day that day with the 4 legs getting home, but sometimes all that work is worth it. :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hamantaschen recipe :)

2/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons stick margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces block-style fat-free cream cheese (1/4 cup)
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces dried figs (2 cups)
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons boiling water
1 tablespoon light-colored corn syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Cooking spray

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat at high speed 1 minute or until the mixture is very smooth. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, and add to sugar mixture, beating at low speed just until flour mixture is moist. Divide dough in half, and gently shape each portion into a ball. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and chill 8 hours or overnight.
Place figs in a food processor, and pulse 6 times or until chopped. With processor on, slowly add 3 tablespoons sugar, water, corn syrup, and lemon juice through food chute, and process until smooth, scraping sides of processor bowl twice. Spoon the fig mixture into a bowl; cover and chill 8 hours or overnight.

Shape each ball of dough into a 10-inch log. Remove plastic wrap; cut each log into 10 (1-inch) slices. Quickly shape slices into 20 balls; place on a tray lined with wax paper. Chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place each ball of dough between 2 sheets of wax paper, and flatten to a 3 1/2-inch circle. Spoon 1 level tablespoon fig mixture into the center of each circle. With floured hands, fold dough over filling to form a triangle, and pinch edges together to seal. Place triangles 2 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray, and bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until pastries are lightly browned. Remove from pans, and cool on a wire rack.

20 pastries

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 163(22% from fat); FAT 4g (sat 0.8g,mono 1.7g,poly 1.3g); PROTEIN 2.6g; CHOLESTEROL 12mg; CALCIUM 57mg; SODIUM 93mg; FIBER 3.2g; IRON 1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 30.3g

Cooking Light, OCTOBER 1997

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Purim! Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

Happy Purim to Everyone! Purim is one of my favorite holidays. Kids dress up in festive costumes, there is food and family everywhere, spring is in the air, and it's an atmosphere of celebration that the earth is coming to life again! There is an emphasis on charity works as well, and lets not forget the hamentaschen which is a definite favorite of mine! These slightly sweet pastries really make me think spring even more than jelly beans and chocolate bunnies! I had to go "procure" a few today now that the urge has struck, but don't worry, they're only 3 Weight Watchers points per yummy pastry! My personal favorite is prune, but raspberry, apple, poppyseed, chocolate, and others are generally available. YUM!

Since the various religions' holidays were "borrowed" from pagan celebration of naturally occuring occasions such as spring, yule, autumn, etc, Purim falls at about the same time as the other big religious spring holiday, Easter, though because of the Hebrew calendar and the Julian one having differences in the way dates rotate, they don't always fall at the same time. Nonetheless, they're both holidays of springtime renewal, and I hope all my friends enjoy the springtime and are enjoying seeing the plants and earth come alive again with beautiful flowers and buds. :)

More information on Purim: This information is from Wikipedia: Purim (Hebrew: פורים Pûrîm "lots", related to Akkadian pūru) is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people of the ancient Persian Empire from Haman's plot to annihilate them, as recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther (Megillat Esther). According to the story, Haman cast lots to determine the day upon which to exterminate the Jews.

Purim is celebrated annually according to the Hebrew calendar on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar, the day following the victory of the Jews over their enemies; as with all Jewish holidays, Purim begins at sundown on the previous secular day. In cities that were protected by a surrounding wall at the time of Joshua, including Shushan (Susa) and Jerusalem, Purim is celebrated on the 15th of the month, known as Shushan Purim. Purim is characterized by public recitation of the Book of Esther (keriat ha-megilla), giving mutual gifts of food and drink (mishloach manot), giving charity to the poor (mattanot la-evyonim), and a celebratory meal (se'udat Purim);[1] other customs include drinking wine, wearing of masks and costumes, and public celebration.

Jewish exiles from the Kingdom of Judah who had been living in the Babylonian captivity (6th Century BCE) found themselves under Persian rule after Babylonia was in turn conquered by the Persian Empire. According to the Book of Esther, Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus / Xerxes,[2] planned to kill the Jews, but his plans were foiled by Esther, who was made queen after Xerxes kicked out his previous queen, Vashti, and Mordechai, the palace gatekeeper for Xerxes who raised Esther when her parents died, though he was her cousin. This was evidence of divine intervention on behalf of the Jews. The Jews were delivered from being the victims of an evil decree against them and were instead allowed by the King to destroy their enemies, and the day after the battle was designated as a day of feasting and rejoicing.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm at it again

Well, this weekend saw me get to a Weight Watcher's meeting again, I'm tired of losing and gaining the same 20 or so pounds back and forth. First I have to lose it again, but this time I am planning on hiding so it can't find me again. I know I have to really watch the eating out choices I make...I was looking at a certain Italian resteraunt's Spaghetti and Meatballs with Meat sauce entree from their own nutritional informatin it was over 50 points! without a salad or a glass of wine. Now I get 22 points a day with 35 extra to use during the week. So that would completely eat through a couple of days food calories for me. Yikes! I'd ask to be wished luck, but it's all in my own motivation. I can have anything I want but I need to remember portions and moderation. Every great journey starts with just one step.

Monday, March 03, 2008

11 Rules of life (directed to "entitled" young people)

A friend of mine was discussing this with me this morning and I wanted to look it up because the advice sounded really good for those younger folks (and some older) that seem to think the world should hand things to them that their parents have had to work for. Turns out that Bill Gates didn't write it, it was from an earlier book and the email that was circulating on the internet that attributes the whole thing to Gates was false (I don't pass along urban legend emails and I generally try to let those that do know that they are false so they won't pass them along as truth either)...but the information and advice in the speech is good information for kids starting out in this world. Here's a look at that email that was circulating on the internet:

(Oh, and you can verify the emails you get at, or at

----------Whether you like Bill Gates or not...this is pretty
cool. Here's some advice Bill Gates recently dished out
at a high school speech about 11 things they did not
learn in school. He talks about how feel-good,
politically correct teaching has created a full
generation of kids with no concept of reality and how
this concept sets them up for failure in the real

Life is not fair - get used to it.

The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice president with a car and phone, until you earn both.

If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure.

Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping they called it Opportunity.

If you mess up,it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Your school may have done away with winners and losers,but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

A Busy Weekend

Mark and I drove to North Carolina on Friday evening to see Jonathan who has moved to Greensboro. We got there in time to have supper with Jon and his girlfriend Michelle. They're both in College in the town, and we hadn't yet seen Jon's first apartment. After we ate, we went back and met his cat and their 2 birds and got the grand tour. He has a nice apartment but we were tired and went over to the hotel where we were staying and got a good night's sleep. I've been dealing with some IBS issues too lately, but of course, that didn't keep me from eating well on this trip. lol After a humongous breakfast, Jon met us and we went exploring, driving all over the place to look at everything. We went to the Guilford Courthouse National Historic Site which was where a Revoluntionary War battle was fought and lost, and then headed over to a "roadfood" BBQ place for lunch.
After we had our BBQ we did some more exploring, hitting the local Scout Store and office (I got an adorable Scout shirt for Aidan) and then off to a hobby shop and a quilting shop. Then we drove by the Greensboro Natural Science Center and decided to take a look. They had a small zoo there with tigers and a lot of small animals and big snakes. It was a beautiful day with fairly warm temperatures so it was perfect to be outside.
They had a wallaby area where you actually got to walk through areas where the wallabys could come look at you or let you pet them if they wanted. There was one that was being touched by a little girl but he hopped away so Jon was very disappointed. They are grass eaters, and they did have an enclosure where people couldn't bother them, so they were happy just letting us look at them.
There was also a great meercat enclosure. Since we were there so late in the day, they were getting ready to be afraid of the hawks that usually fly in sometime in the evening. These two were up on the top of their enclosure (the volunteer told Jon that the zoo had to build a staircase for them to get up to the top so they would feel better about having a vantage point). They were really cute.
But cute as they are, the volunteer told the crowd that they could bring down and kill a much larger animal and the zoo had to be sure they couldn't get out because they would cause so much damage to the zoo and the other animals. After the zoo, we went back and picked Michelle up and had supper at PFChangs at the nearby shopping area.
Sunday morning was bright and warm and beautiful for our ride back. Along the way back, we stopped at Petersburg National Battleground National Park which consists of quite a large area of land and included several sites, a driving trail where you could see the earthworks and a couple of visitor centers. What was disappointing was that so many significant things were simply marked by signs on the side of the road. Even the famous crater is gone, it was not preserved. The armies and citizens of Petersburg, in southern Virginia, were under seige for about 9 months during 1864-1865 and there were earthen forts and bunkers dug all around the city. The local armies were trying to defend their city against the invading Union forces that were trying to take them over and were starving them out. This beautiful house was in a small town on the end of the City point where the James and Appomattox rivers come together. It was part of a very large plantation and was taken over by the Union troops during the seige.
This is another view of the River right off the banks on the property of the house. It was beautiful out and there were plenty of people out walking, playing with their dogs, and just generally enjoying the weather.
This guy was the first robin of spring that I was able to get a picture of. I know that it's going to get cold again at least a few more times before winter is over, but it was nice to see the Robins had come back and that spring was in the air.
This house was on a bluff overlooking city point park. The park sits on the site of where the Union built a huge complex of docks, wharf areas, and receiving areas for the food and weapons that they had come in on a daily basis during the seige. While the people of the town were starving (even the civilians), tons of supplies came in and were transported from the river to the troops via vast railroad lines that were built up in this area. After the war the area became a small town again. There are signs on the houses in the area of what they were during the war.
This was a nice shot of the park with a seagull in the foreground. Although it was a tad breezy there were plenty of people out enjoying the day. After we left Petersburg we stopped for food at one of the Cracker Barrels we love so much, and then off we went back home to Baltimore. It was a great weekend!