Thursday, December 3, 2009

How to Play the Party Game "Mennonite Manners"

This crazy game is fun for all ages and is sure to be a hit at your next party.

Like many folk games passed from friend to friend, Mennonite Manners goes by different names. Some call it “Mennonite Madness,” or even “Midnight Madness” (probably because of confusion about the original name). Whatever you call it, this party game will keep you laughing, moving and shouting. Be careful that you don’t disturb the neighbors when you play this game!

Any number can play, but the game works best for 4-12 players. It’s really quite simple. All you need is an 8 ½ by 11-inch sheet of paper for each player, one pencil and one die (that’s singular for dice). Sit or stand around a table and place the pencil in the middle of the table. Clear the space, because it’s going to get crazy.

Everyone takes turns rolling the die. When someone rolls a 6—let’s say it’s John—he grabs the pencil and begins writing numbers from 1 to 100 on his sheet of paper. At the same time, everyone else continues to roll the die as fast as they can, because now the pressure is on.

If Sarah rolls a 6 next, she grabs the pencil from John and begins writing numbers from 1 to 100 on her sheet of paper. But watch out! She may only write one or two numbers before someone else rolls a 6 and grabs the pencil from her. Everyone (except the person with the pencil) keeps trying to roll a 6 and grab the pencil. When John finally gets the pencil back, he picks up writing numbers where he left off, trying desperately to be the first one to get to 100.

By now it’s turning into a frenzy, as fingers are flying and stress builds. John is tempted to just scrawl his letters, but that won’t work. Numbers must be legible for a winner to be declared.

One wonders why this game is called “Mennonite Manners,” since there is nothing mannerly about it, and many Mennonites don’t play games with dice. Perhaps “Midnight Madness” is a better name, because it’s a great game to play late at night, and it often resembles madness, especially when the shouting begins.

But the competition is all in good fun, and though you may feel like enemies while playing, evenings around a game table are the stuff of lifetime memories.

Four Easy and Delicious Ways to Cook Vegetables

Enjoy a variety of vegetables every day with these simple tips.

Everyone knows vegetables are packed with vitamins and fiber. Nutritionists tell us we should eat a variety of different colors and types of veggies to make sure we get appropriate nutrients and disease-fighting benefits, but it can be a challenge to find easy and yet tasty ways to fix them. Here are some simple ways to include veggies in your meal.

Vegetable Stir Fry
Choose fresh, raw veggies such as onions (green, white or yellow), peppers, celery, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, and eggplant. Wash and chop finely. Heat three or four tablespoons of canola oil in wok or large frying pan on high. Test the temperature by dropping a small piece of onion into the oil. When it sizzles, the oil is ready. Drop the vegetables into the oil all at once and stir constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon until tender crisp, about five minutes. Add a few shakes of stir fry sauce. A variety of sauces are available in the Asian food section of the grocery store or in an Asian food store. Stir fry makes a great side dish, or you can combine it with meat and serve with rice for a complete meal.

Oven Roasted Vegetables
Root vegetables, such as turnips, carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, are commonly used for this delicious dish, but you can also use other veggies you commonly keep on hand, such as onions, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Cut veggies into fairly large pieces and place into a large bowl with a lid. In a separate bowl, mix about a half a cup of olive oil and two tablespoons of mixed seasonings. Several spice mixes are available, and you may wish you keep several jars on hand for variety. Drizzle the oil and seasonings over the vegetables, cover bowl, and shake well. Spread the vegetables on a large jelly roll pan or cake pan and bake at 425 degrees F for about 20 minutes.

Vegetable Soup
This is a great way to use up all kinds of vegetables in your fridge. Start this in the morning and let it cook all day, or fix it on the stove in about an hour. Empty one 46-ounce can of tomato or vegetable juice into large cooking pot or crock pot. Fill the can with water and add to the juice. Add a variety of chopped raw veggies, such as potatoes, celery, onions, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, okra, peas, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, or green beans. If you wish, add one-half cup raw barley. If using a stove, bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer for an hour. If using a crock pot, simmer on low for eight hours or high for four hours. NOTE: If frozen vegetables are used, cut cooking time in half and use quick-cooking barley.

Say the word salad, and most people think of iceberg lettuce, grated carrots and chopped tomatoes drenched in dressing. For a healthier alternative, start with Romaine or green leaf lettuce and add a variety of chopped raw vegetables, such as carrots, green onions, celery, green pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, cabbage, spinach, and peas. To further increase your nutritional variety and enhance the taste, add fruit such as apples, raisins, berries, or mandarin oranges, and garnish with nuts or cheese. For a healthy dressing high in Omega-3’s, mix together two parts olive oil with one part lemon juice.

What Do Squirrels Eat? A fun experiment that teaches kids observation and the scientific method

Observing what squirrels eat is a fun way to teach even the youngest kids principles of scientific observation; plus, the experiment is perfect for homeschoolers or a school science fair project.

If you’re like many people, you consider squirrels pests and would rather they not take up residence in your yard. Why not take advantage of these backyard residents by creating a fun science experiment for your kids?

For this experiment, kids will answer the question: What kind of food do the squirrels in my yard like the best? Kids learn the basic principles of observing and recording data, and you may discover the best way to keep these furry creatures out of your birdfeeder.

Step One: Research Squirrels’ Eating Habits
Check out books from the library about squirrels and use the internet to research what squirrels like to eat. Make notes from your research in a notebook. List several foods you want to test. Some foods to choose from include peanuts, corn, apples, bread, sunflower seeds, millet, or other grains or fruit. (Note: do not use nuts in the shell, because squirrels will steal these for their cache; use shelled nuts only.) What do squirrels NOT like to eat? Brainstorm some foods that squirrels typically do not eat, such as safflower seed or pure suet.

Step Two: Construct a Hypothesis about Squirrels’ Eating Habits
What do you think the squirrels will like to eat the best? Choose five that you would like to test, and have your child list the foods in order of preference. Then choose one food that squirrels do not like to eat, as a control for your experiment. In your notebook, make a list of the foods in order of what you think the squirrels will prefer, starting with the one you think the squirrels like best and ending with the control.

Step Three: Set up your Squirrel Food Experiment
Fill six identical containers with the foods you want to test and place them outside where squirrels can easily get to them and you can observe clearly from a window. In your notebook, make a chart listing the foods you are testing and leave plenty of space for tally marks.

Step Four: Observe and Record Your Data
For several days, spend about an hour each day by the window. Watch at different times of the day. Whenever you see squirrel, watch to see what it eats and mark a tally mark on your chart. If it eats corn first, then sunflower seeds, and then corn again, you would put two marks by corn and one mark by sunflower seeds.

Step Five: Compile Your Data and Make Conclusions
List the totals in your notebook. You might want to make a bar chart showing your results. Did the results match your hypothesis? Why or why not? Write your conclusions in your notebook. Write down any questions in your notebook. If you repeated the experiment, what would you do differently? What are some other foods you can test? What else would you like to learn about squirrels? Can you think of more experiments about squirrels?

Now that you’ve learned about the scientific method, you can use these principles to create other experiments and discover exciting things about the world around you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Now That's Singing: Our Local Homeschool Choir

These videos will amaze you. Our local homeschool choir sounds more like a college choir. The music they perform is complex and challenging. No pop songs here. My daughter is in the high school choir and performed three awesome songs at a recent concert. Take a few minutes to enjoy good music.

Be Thou My Vision, my favorite hymn (really my favorite song), an old Irish folk melody with meaningful words, arranged by John Ritter:

Gloria Patri, a reverent Renaissance piece, sung in Latin:

Holy Ghost With Light Divine, a beautiful modern classical piece:

To see the entire playlist, including all three choirs, click here.

Our Family Thanksgiving

We spent Thanksgiving at my sister's house. I love the way our family all gets together. In addition to her family and our mother, we had my mother-in-law, my sister's parents-in-law and brother-in-law. The afternoon included traditional Thanksgiving food, a walk through a surprisingly "wild" area in the middle of the city, a rousing game of Taboo, and viewing the space station and shuttle passing overhead.

For pictures, click here.

From Kooser to Buser: Famous People I've Met

Throughout the past year, I've met several famous people - famous to me, at least. It occurred to me that the first person I met was named Kooser and the last one I met was named Buser. Hopefully the fact that the two names rhyme is NOT a sign that my "streak" is over.

Click here to see the photos.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Logic Puzzle: Missionaries and Cannibals

This is a great logic puzzle. I keep figuring it out and then forgetting how I did it. But I've been successful several times, so I guess that's a good sign. Have fun:

Click here for the puzzle.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Irish Hard Shoe Dance at Church

Our girls recently participated in a special church service. The entire service celebrated Psalm 150. The story of redemption was told through the arts, including pottery, modern dance, music, and a very moving visual display in which a beautiful picture was covered in black paint to depict our sin. Later the paint was washed away to symbolize the forgiveness we have in Christ. At the end of the program, the worship team played an instrumental version of "Praise Him with the Dance." Our girls were part of a group of Irish hard shoe dancers who praised God with dancing throughout the song. Take a look:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Comments are back

I'm happy to report that the comments are back! My computer nerd husband figured out the problem. Now that you can read the comments, you can see the answers to the riddles (and the incorrect guesses too). And I guess that means I can post riddles again. That means I'll need to find some new riddles. I'd basically depleted my storehouse of riddles and was reaching the bottom of the barrel when the comments mysteriously disappeared. No promises, but I'll consider it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Psalms Coffeehouse

Recently a local church put on a coffeehouse where they encouraged people to sing original songs based on a psalm. Our girls used their talents in a unique way. Carmen composed a piano piece based on Psalm 42. She took the emotions of the psalm and expressed it through music. Here's a video of it:

Monica choreographed a modern dance to the song "Oh God You are My God" by Fernando Ortega. The song's lyrics are taken directly from Psalm 63. The dance expresses the emotions of the psalm. Here it is:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Johan's Visit

My husband's nephew from Sweden came to visit us. We'd never met him before, so it was a special treat to get to know him and show him the sights. We hit the Farmer's Market, Runza, the state capitol, saline wetlands, Sunken Gardens, East Campus, Nine Mile Prairie, a random farm and the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo. We also fixed him some good old Nebraska barbecue, complete with corn on the cob that we bought from the back of a truck, we took him to church, and we met some friends for dinner at Skeeter Barnes, followed by dessert at their house, with group games and much laughter. Although Johan's English was excellent, he didn't understand our idioms, which made some of the games even more interesting.

Here are some pictures from his visit:

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Garden Behind Our House

I love walking in the garden behind our house. It's an experimental garden, where the University of Nebraska tests different kinds of plants to see how well they grow in our climate. Take a look at some of my favorites:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Barns, llamas and kitties

Yesterday, an unusually cool July day, I went for a photo jaunt with my daughter. We drove north of town to take photos of old barns, but got a bit distracted by the animals. Along the way we met some nice farm families. Take a look at our photos:

Monday, June 29, 2009

After meeting in a school for nearly four years, our church is ready to build. We found some land in north Lincoln, right where we wanted to be, and we will be sharing a parking lot with a business complex. On a pleasant June afternoon, we held a ceremonial ground breaking. I took some pictures and my husband took some video and combined it with original music to make this montage:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

No comments! No riddle!

For some reason my blog won't let people comment. I'm still trying to figure out what caused this change. Until I get the problem figured out, I will not be able to post riddles.

My writing blog

I have created a blog to showcase my writing. You can find it at:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Less Spam, and now I know why

Have you noticed that you've been getting less spam e-mail lately? I noticed it and it had me worried. What happened to the spam? If I'm not getting spam, does that mean I'm also not getting some important e-mails? Are my e-mails getting lost in some black hole? As a writer, I depend on e-mail to communicate with editors and clients and I can't afford to miss any e-mails.

A little googling turned up the following article:
It appears there was a takedown of a couple of big name botnets,which has drastically reduced spam.

Now why was this news buried where I had to search for it? This should be big news: to set our minds at ease, if nothing else. Or am I the only one who got worried when I stopped receiving Viagra ads and requests for mystery shoppers?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Videos of Martin Buser's Lecture

If you want to see videos of Martin Buser's lecture, click here.

The videos are divided into 10-minute segments, and there are 11 in all. Martin is a very engaging and entertaining speaker, even if you're not into sled dog racing. And after listening to his presentation, I guarantee you WILL be a sled dog fan. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Meeting Martin Buser

Everyone should have the experience once in their lifetime of meeting someone famous they admire. For some it’s a rock star or politician. For me it’s Martin Buser, four time Iditarod-champion who holds the record for the fastest Iditarod at 8 days, 22 hours, 46 minutes and 2 seconds (but who’s counting?) I never dreamed that I’d ever get to meet him in person, even for a few minutes. After all, Alaska is a long ways away. But this week some other fans and I got to spend an entire evening with him in—of all places—Des Moines, Iowa.

Martin was in Des Moines as the keynote speaker for the Public Works Association Snow Removal Conference, and he needed to borrow some huskies to make a grand entrance. One of the Iditabuddies from the bssd forum let him use her huskies, and she also arranged a special fan gathering for the night before. My favorite Idita-hero only three hours away from me! That was a no-brainer. Although I’m not much of a traveler, this was an opportunity I wouldn’t miss for the world.

Part of the fun of a gathering like this is meeting other fans. The Idita-buddies are the best bunch of fans in the world. Right before the meeting I meet three other fans for supper: Cindy, fellow Martin Buser fanatic Diana, and Diana’s husband, Philip. We told the waitress we’d never met each other before, which must have seemed strange to her, since we were talking a mile a minute.

Finally the time we had been waiting for arrived. We walked into the small auditorium and saw Martin Buser “in the flesh.” He noticed our matching Buser Booster T-shirts right away (the best $20 I ever spent), and that got us talking. I thought I’d be starstruck, but he has a way of making everyone feel at home. He spoke for nearly two hours, but it seemed like a few minutes. Afterwards he stayed around and shot the breeze with us fans for a long time, tirelessly signing autographs and posing for pictures. The die-hards stayed until the end. We talked about Switzerland, writing, his family, and of course sled dog racing. His sense of humor was priceless. By the end of the evening, he felt like an old friend.

Truly an unforgettable experience! For more pics, see this link:
And if that wasn’t enough, my picture was even posted on Martin Buser’s blog:

Click here to return to the main blog page.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

No riddle this week

Sorry, no riddle this week. I'm too busy getting ready to be a fan girl. Expect a complete report when I get back. (For those of you who don't know, I'm keeping you in suspense.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Riddle #49: what word?

This riddle is a bit different, but it's fun (besides, I'm running out of the lateral thinking puzzles that I prefer). Here goes:

What word contains all five vowels: a, e, i, o, u -- but only has 7 letters total?

It's not a trick question or anything. There really is such a word -- and it's one I'm pretty sure you know.

NOTE: The correct answer has been guessed. To read it, see the comments section.

Lateral Thinking Puzzlers by Paul Sloane has lots of classic riddles, clues and answers. Click here to order it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Our Church's Tea and Fashion Show

Our church had a new tradition: a spring tea for the ladies. This year we added a fashion show. I hosted a table, pictured here. I used the china I inherited from my grandparents and decorated it with pottery my girls had made.

Believe it or not, I also modeled for the fashion show. The first category was "Fashion Favorites." My favorite outfit? Of course, it's my cap from Martin Buser's Happy Trails Kennels, my jacket that says "Nome, Alaska" on it (complete with an embroidered sled dog team), and my Buser Booster T-shirt, with a picture of Martin Buser and his dog team.

The next category was "Fashion Frugal." I'm all about frugal. I modeled an outfit that came about by accident. My daughter needed a 1920s dress for a melodrama, so we found a sleeveless dress at the Salvation Army, which I was planning on redoing into a dress that fit Monica. But after purchasing it, we decided on a different dress, which left me with a dress that I couldn't return, but one that I didn't feel comfortable wearing alone. About the same time, I was shopping at another one of my favorite stores, Goodwill, when I found a suit consisting of a jacket and slacks. The slacks were too big and needed to be altered, but the jacket fit perfectly. Then I discovered that the jacket matched the dress. I wore the outfit to a production at the performing arts center, where I ended up having dinner with the mayor at a special gathering beforehand. I was glad I had put together this professional outfit just in time for the event.

To see more photos of the event, click here.

Click here to return to the main blog page.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Parody: Hey There You Nav Girls

I'm a big fan of parody poetry and songs. (If you look around my blog, you can find a few parodies I've written.) There's something pleasing about taking a familiar poem or song and tweaking the words a bit. I stumbled on this parody to "Hey there, Delilah," which was performed at a gathering of the Navigators, a Christian college group, which is often called "Nav" for short. Here's a link to the words and a video:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lord of the Dance

Here's a video of a dance that my daughter Monica choreographed and performed with some children at my friend's church. It combines elements of modern and Irish dancing.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Riddle #48 The Graffiti

A teacher found some graffiti written on the wall of her classroom. No one owned up to doing it. How did the teacher find out which student wrote the graffiti?

NOTE: The correct answer has been guessed. To read it, see the comments section.

Lateral Thinking Puzzlers by Paul Sloane has lots of classic riddles, clues and answers. Click here to order it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Audio of Iditarod Finishers Banquet

The power of the fans! It looked like there was no place to listen to the Iditarod finishers banquet this year, but one of my "Idita-buddies" named Sam, who lives in Unalakleet, Alaska, recorded the banquet from the radio, mailed me the tape, and my hubby made an mp3 recording and put it on-line. You can listen to it by left-clicking on the links. You can download it by right-clicking on the links and clicking on "Save Target as" or "Save Link as." Enjoy:

NOTE: If you use Explorer, it may take a while for the audio to load. Firefox usually loads faster.

Click here to return to the main blog page.

Riddle #47: Shoe Shops

Here's the latest riddle:

In a small town there are four shoe shops of about the same size, each carrying pretty much the same line in shoes. Each shop is open the same hours. Each shop displays only one of each kind of shoe (not pairs) and keeps all the pairs of shoes in the back room. Yet one shop loses three times as many shoes to theft as each of the other shops. Why?

NOTE: The correct answer has been guessed. To read it, see the comments section.

Click here to return to the main blog page.

Lateral Thinking Puzzlers by Paul Sloane has lots of classic riddles, clues and answers. Click here to order it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

No riddle this week

Sorry, the riddle is on vacation this week. I was too busy last night vicariously attending the Nome finishers banquet in a chat room and frantically typing what I read. (It's hard work being a fan.) Visit this forum thread to read a transcript:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sixteen Dogs

This year I didn't get inspired to write many poems or songs for the Iditarod. But I did write one song: "Sixteen Dogs," a parody on Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons." We even made a family recording, featuring the two girls on vocals and myself on piano. Then my husband added bass guitar and percussion tracks, using the Cakewalk recording studio. Click on the link below to hear the song. If it doesn't work in Explorer, you may need to use Firefox. NOTE: It may talk a while to download the link. (You may also download the mp3, if you wish, by right clicking on the link and clicking on "Save target as" or "save link as.")

Here are the lyrics:

Sixteen DogsSome people say a dog is man’s best friend
Well, a husky is made to race to the end
Race to the end and relish the cold.
A back that’s strong and a heart of gold.

CHORUS: You run 16 dogs and what do you get?
A journey through paradise you’ll never forget.
St. Peter don’t you call me, I don’t want to go home.
Till I get to the arch on Front Street in Nome.

He was born one morning when the sun didn’t rise
And the Northern Lights shone high in the skies
He gathered the team and hitched up the sled
And into the darkness together they sped

He was born one morning, it was blizzarding snow
With ice on his lashes and a frostbitten toe
He was raised in the wilderness, far off the grid
He was mushing as a baby with a pint-sized sled.

So if you see ‘em coming you’d really better go‘
Cause a husky knows “hike” but he doesn’t know “whoa.”
The front paws are lightning and the back paws are steel,
And they’ll never stop running till the end of the trail.

Click here to return to the main blog page.


It's always encouraging when we see the first signs of spring. Yesterday the temps got up to 70 degrees, so I headed to the nearby arboretum. Here are snowdrops, usually the first sign of spring.

These tiny yellow crocuses are cool.

These purple crocuses are in my yard. I didn't even know they were there until I looked.

I also saw several robins. Now I'm just waiting for the screech owls.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Riddle #46: The Bragger

Here's the next riddle. I predict that this one will be easy:

You're at a party, and you hear a man bragging about his recent trip to Africa. He was hunting rhinos, he said. He described in detail several wild animals he saw while exploring Africa, including hippos, tigers, elephants and giraffes. He talked about drinking camel's milk and picking coconuts. He also described how he finally got his rhino. "Well, that man is obviously lying," you tell your friend. How do you know?

NOTE: The correct answer has been guessed. To read it, see the comments section.
Lateral Thinking Puzzlers by Paul Sloane has lots of classic riddles, clues and answers. Click here to order it.

Friday, March 13, 2009


This is really fun! I made it up, so please pass it on and see if it becomes “viral” and spreads all over the internet. Plus I’d love to read your answers.

Copy this into the comment section and change my answers to yours. It will be fun to read what everyone says. Then send it out to all your friends. Enjoy!

What is the weirdest thing in your purse or backpack? – Toe warmers, left over from my trip to Duluth.

What is the weirdest thing in your medicine cabinet? A tranquilizer prescribed to “Sally/feline” Yep, our dear late Sally turned into a monster at the vet, so we were supposed to give her this tranquilizer before the vet visit, but it didn’t help.

What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? – Steak tar tar. Yep, that’s raw steak, and it had a raw egg on top. I didn’t realize what I was ordering and when it came, I was too embarrassed to admit that I thought I’d be getting cooked steak, so I ate it. I don’t know if it’s even legal to serve the stuff anymore.

What is the weirdest thing on your mp3 player (or what is the weirdest recording you have)? – A recording of a thunderstorm. I listen to it to relax.

What is the weirdest thing about you? – Everything, but probably that I like sled dog racing.

Who is your most famous Facebook/MySpace or e-mail friend? – I guess it depends on who you are. If you’re a Nebraskan, then it’s probably Tom Osborne. If you’re an American Idol fan, then it’s probably either Andrew Cook (David Cook’s brother) or Chris Sligh. If you’re a sled dog fan, take your pick. I’ve got lots.

Who is the most famous person’s autograph that you have? -- Three famous sled dog mushers: Martin Buser, Jeff King, and Mitch Seavey. Now I just need Lance Mackey’s.

Who is the most famous person you have ever met? -- Stephen Lawhead, a writer. I actually was in his home when he lived in Lincoln and we talked about writing.

What is your most famous moment (your “15 minutes of fame”)? -- Our family made a radio drama, and the girls and I were interviewed on Focus on the Family weekend, a national radio program. (They also played part of the drama.)

What is the most homeschool-y thing you’ve done (even if you’re not a homeschooler)? -- Rang a stranger’s doorbell and asked him what kind of trees he had in his yard. It turned out he worked at a nursery. The trees? Oakleaf mountainash and tricolor beech – very unusual trees indeed.

What is the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done? White water rafting – I fell out of the raft and actually thought I was going to die.

What is your earliest memory? I remember my mother rocking me to sleep, but I couldn’t sleep, so I just pretended to sleep, not to hurt her feelings. She put me to bed and I got out of bed right away, and she was surprised. I also remember playing with a paper circle and making it bounce up and down along the wall. Then it went behind the baseboard and I couldn’t get it out and I felt such a great sense of loss.

What was your favorite toy as a child? I remember something called “Silly Sand” where you could make castles and such out of this wet sand that was in some sort of machine. When I was a little older I loved my microscope.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Riddle #45: The new addition

Here's the latest riddle. I'm thinking it may be a bit more difficult, but I may be wrong. Here goes:

A woman spends thousands of dollars to have an addition built onto her house. Yet after she addition is built, she never goes into it. Why?

NOTE: The correct answer has been guessed. To read it, see the comments section.

Lateral Thinking Puzzlers by Paul Sloane has lots of classic riddles, clues and answers. Click here to order it.

Post Modern Toilet Paper Deconstruction

As if it wasn't already hard enough to keep my house clean . . .

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Riddle #44: The dead body

This riddle is a classic. I realized that I've never posted it. Here goes:

You come across a dead body--a man lying face-down with a backpack on his back. Immediately you know how he died. How did the man die?

NOTE: The correct answer has been guessed. To read it, see the comments section.

Lateral Thinking Puzzlers by Paul Sloane has lots of classic riddles, clues and answers. Click here to order it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Riddle #43: Closer to Home

Yes, the riddle took a break last week, but it's back now. Here it is:

A company in a large city had 60 employees. The company was fairly centrally located, and the employees lived in all different directions: north, south, east and west. Their homes were located all over the city, and some even lived in the surrounding small towns.

The CEO decided to relocate all 60 employees to another single new corporate headquarters location. After the move, all of the employees were closer to home. How could this be?

NOTE: The correct answer has been guessed. To read it, see the comments section.

Lateral Thinking Puzzlers by Paul Sloane has lots of classic riddles, clues and answers. Click here to order it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Beargrease Part 5: Cold Weather Tips

The race we attended was the second coldest Beargrease race ever. The low the night before was 17 below; the high was 3. Then there were the windchills. Cold is bearable IF you're prepared. Here are some cold weather tips I learned from my experience:

Dress in layers. You'll need more layers than you think. I had a snowmobile suit, and under that I wore long johns, fleece pants, a turtleneck, pullover sweater and fleece jacket. Fleece is my friend. On my feet I had two pairs of wool socks, chemical foot warmers and good waterproof boots. On my hands I had wool glove liners, plus Thinsulate mittens and chemical hand warmers. Some people like the mittens that you can flip open when you want to use your camera. On my head I had a ski mask, neck warmer, scarf, fleece lined cap and ear muffs. Even so I got cold from time to time and had to step into the warming tent or get close to the fire.

Stay hydrated. You don't think about drinking water when you're cold, but it's just as important, if not more important, to stay hydrated in the cold as it is in the heat. Keep a water bottle with you. At the race, they gave away free coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.

Protect your skin. The first day I put on a moisturizer with sunscreen. It wasn't enough. The second day I put on regular sunscreen and Aquaphor, a petroleum based product similar to Vaseline. It felt weird putting something that greasy on my face, but I needed it.

Expect problems with your camera. Digital cameras do not operate well in the cold. Take extra batteries and keep them with a chemical hand warmer or in a pocket close to your skin. Keep your camera in an inside pocket close to your skin and/or with a chemical hand warmer, and only get your camera out when you need to use it. My lens cap kept getting stuck closed, and I'd have to warm it up with a hand warmer, take a few shots, and then put it back in my pocket. Some of my videos have dark shadows where the lens didn't come open all the way. You may want to bring along a disposable camera or team up with a friend, to make sure you don't miss any good shots.

Click here to see more Beargrease photos.

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Beargrease Part 4: The Race!

We could hear the dogs barking from blocks away. They knew what was to come, and they were eager to get started. It was fun to watch them tug at their lines, wanting to GO!!

If you've never seen a dogsled race, there's no way to describe it. The sights, the sounds, the chill in the air, the excitement. It's amazing to imagine what the team is about to do.

The first racers were the mid-distance mushers, with eight-dog teams. Here are some videos I took of the mid-distance racers:

Montage of several racers:
Tom Benson start:
Rhonda Hendry O'Hearn start:

After the mid-distance came the marathoners, with their 14-dog teams. An amazing amount of power in those dogs. Above is Jason Barron's team. (Jason won the race.)

It took at least a dozen people to hold the dogs back. Here's a picture of the team moving to the start line. Here's a video of the same thing:

After watching most of the start, we headed north of Duluth to a spot where the dog teams crossed the road. Pete had invited us to come join his family, friends, and the race officials.

It was a great way to experience the race: shivering in the birch forest, waiting for a team to emerge from around the bend, almost silent, except for an occasional "ching ching ching" from the gangline and the musher's "on by" to keep the dogs from stopping to taste our chili. We stood close enough to talk to the mushers as they sped by. Some would ask how close they were to the next checkpoint or comment on how good our food smelled or thank us for our support. We'd call out encouraging words, knowing that for some of them it was their first race. It was great to be away from the crowds and the hype, seeing what it really was like for the racers.

Here is a video clip of the teams at the road crossing:

Click here to see more Beargrease photos.

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Beargrease, Part 3: Opening Ceremonies

Another great time to be a fan is at the Opening Ceremonies and mushers' banquet and bib draw. This was held at Grandmother's Sports Garden, the same place as the mushers' registration.
First we enjoyed some traditional Native American music. The race is named for John Beargrease, a Native American who delivered mail between Two Harbors and Grand Marais, Minnesota, in the 1800s. In the winter he often used a dogsled, and today's mushers use the same trail for part of the race.
You can hear the music on my YouTube page here.
It was another great opportunity to be a fan girl. I was able to get autographs of several mushers. Here are Harmony and Jason Barron signing my program. Harmony has raced the Iditarod three times, and the first time my daughters and I followed the race, we particularly followed Harmony because we liked her name. So it was a special treat to meet her.
After the meal and entertainment, each musher went forward and drew their bib number, which determines their start position. Here, Cindy Gallea looks over her race instructions.
Click here to see more Beargrease photos.
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Beargrease Part 2: Being a Fan Girl

The day before a sled dog race is a great time to be a fan. Marcy and I woke up early, put on as many layers as we could, and headed out to vet checks. We were earlier than most of the mushers, and it didn't take us long in the sub-zero air to realize we needed more layers, so we headed to Minnesota Surplus Outfitters to buy more stuff. Armed with new ski masks and mittens, we headed back to the vet checks.

It was then my long-time dream of meeting an Iditarod musher was finally fulfilled four times over. The first Iditarod musher I met was Cindy Gallea. She gladly posed for a picture with me.

The second Iditarod musher I met was Jason Barron. He's quite famous, and I really wanted to meet him. When I saw his truck with lots of handlers milling around, I asked one of the guys which one was Jason. "I am," he replied. I'd seen him on TV, but somehow he didn't look the same in person. "Can I help you with something?" he asked. "Oh, I'm just a fan," I replied. "Of me, or of the race?" "The race--oh, and you too." I'm surprised he still talked to me after that, but he was very sweet and posed for a photo with me.

Most of the dogs that race are Alaskan huskies, another name for a high-tech mutt bred for racing. Most people comment that they are smaller and skinnier than they expected. I guess they are kind of like marathon runners--lean and made for running.

Inside the bar, where the mushers registered before vet check, I got to meet two more Iditarod mushers: Blake and Jen Freking. I recognized them right away. I even confessed to Blake that up until the week before the race, I thought they were from the country of Finland. (They're actually from a town in Minnesota called Finland.) The word "sauna" appropriately appears behind our photo. (Saunas originated in Finland--the country--and the Frekings like saunas too.)

The Frekings race Siberian huskies--beautiful dogs that are what most people think of when they think of sled dogs.

To see my video of vet checks, click here.

To see more Beargrease photos, click here.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon - Part 1: Getting There

As you might imagine, I have a dream of attending the Iditarod. But a trip like that is just not in the budget. Plus I have this strange fear of traveling. No, it's not a fear of flying. It's just a fear of being away from home and being out of control.

But when I heard about the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, I thought, "That I can afford. And if I can handle traveling there, and if my budget allows, maybe I CAN go to the Iditarod in the future." My friend Jackie and her two sons (who are all big Iditarod fans) agreed to go with me, and the plans were set. I booked a hotel room on-line for myself. It so happened that the only non-smoking room available had two beds, and somehow I managed to make nonrefundable reservations (still getting used to doing things on-line), but I was set.

Then a few days before we were to leave, Jackie's plans changed and she was unable to go. Now I was experiencing my pre-trip stress out, so if those motel reservations had been refundable, I would have cancelled the reservations with a sigh of relief. But they were nonrefundable, so I found another friend to go with me. Miraculously, my friend Marcy was able to clear her schedule at the last minute, and we made plans to go. Now, I was glad I had those nonrefundable reservations, AND that the room had two beds.

Highlights of our trip out there: Staying with Marcy's friends in Austin, Minnesota, and seeing the pens that her friend made out of cast off wood.

Having lunch with my old friend Barb in Minneapolis

Having pizza with an Idita-buddy from the forum named Pete and his daughter, Faith, on Friday evening.
Click here to see more photos from the trip. (Click on the first photo to make it larger, then you can click "next" to see each photo.)
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Monday, February 9, 2009

Riddle #42: over thirty foreign countries

Here's the next riddle:

An ordinary American citizen, with no passport, visits over thirty foreign countries in one day. He is welcomed in each country and leaves each one of his own accord.

The correct answer has been guessed. To read it, see the comments section.

Lateral Thinking Puzzlers by Paul Sloane has lots of classic riddles, clues and answers. Click here to order it.

Lateral Thinking Puzzlers by Paul Sloane has lots of classic riddles, clues and answers. Click here to order it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Riddle #41: Two Pigs

This is something that really happened: A man had two pigs that were identical twins from the same litter. However, when he sold them, he got 100 times more for one pig than the other one. Why?

The correct answer to this riddle has been guessed. To read it, see the comments section.

Lateral Thinking Puzzlers by Paul Sloane has lots of classic riddles, clues and answers. Click here to order it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Riddle #40: The stories

Here's another riddle from Carmen:

We are the stories that everyone creates but few remember. What are we?

The correct answer has been guessed. To read it, see the comments section.

Lateral Thinking Puzzlers by Paul Sloane has lots of classic riddles, clues and answers. Click here to order it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Riddle #39: What am I?

This riddle was written by my daughter Carmen. It's a little different from the lateral thinking type riddles I usually post. Here it is:

When I am born, I create destruction for my parent and everyone I meet. I die when everyone I have met believes that I don't exist. What am I?

The correct answer has been guessed. To read it, see the comments section.
Lateral Thinking Puzzlers by Paul Sloane has lots of classic riddles, clues and answers. Click here to order it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Making Dog Booties

I've joined the "Bootie Brigade." Sled dogs wear booties to protect their feet. But the booties wear out quickly, and a musher might use up to 2500 booties for the Iditarod. The Bootie Brigade is a group of volunteers who sews dog booties and donates them to specific mushers, who sign up in advance. My booties will be going to Kim Darst and Ramey Smyth. It's a labor of love--a way for fans to be involved. It's pretty cool to think that my booties will be going on the trail. A lot of friends have wondered just what these booties are like and how we make them. Here is a step-by-step report.

First we cut the Velcro and Velstretch and put them together. It really helps to have all your supplies at hand before you start sewing.

The booties are made out of Cordura, a special fabric I purchased from Another volunteer sent me the pattern. I used a pinking shears for the top to keep the bootie from fraying (although it's not much of a concern, because the bootie will wear out before it frays).
Then I sew down the right side of the bootie.

Then I sew on the Velcro and Velstretch.

Last, I sew the left side of the bootie, always making sure the seam allowances are correct.
This is a completed bootie. The Velstretch (the white strip) wraps around the dog's leg and hooks on to the Velcro (The blue strip). The letter "M" stands for Medium.

I made 65 booties in all -- that's enough for one dog team, plus one.