Monday, June 29, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Songs

Summer officially started a few days ago, and if you haven't done so already, then it is time to do as Nat King Cole said in his 1963 hit; "(Roll Out) Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days Of Summer"!

For this post, I decided to create a list of some of my favourite summer songs and link them so that you could hear and view videos of all of them. Originally, I thought I'd post about 20 or 30 songs!

To help compile a list of some of the best summer songs, I sent an email to a bunch of my friends earlier this month and asked them what their favourite summer songs were. It didn't have to be a song that was necessarily a summertime hit, but it had to at least talk about summer or evoke summer feelings and memories. I also went through my own music collection and looked through a number of playlists on various sites.Who knew there was so much great music to choose from! By far the most popular group mentioned was The Beach Boys - I mean really how can you possibly think summer music without thinking of at least a couple of their hits?

Whittling down the list of songs and artists was not easy. Well, by the time I was done, I had over 50 songs on the list and had found some pretty good videos to go with all of them! Some are original footage of the artist performing. Some are slideshows/video of the era and some are actual music videos created by the artist. There are also some very talented music fans out there who have posted some very creative videos of their own as tributes to the song/artist/theme.

So, here then - more or less in chronological order - is my list of great summer songs!

"In The Good Old Summertime" - John Phillip Sussa 1905 (piano roll version)
"Tuxedo Junction" - Glenn Miller and his Orchestra 1940
"Sentimental Journey" - Les Brown 1945
"Mr. Sandman" - Chordettes 1954
"Rock Around The Clock" - Bill Haley and the Comets 1955
"Summertime" - Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald 1957

"Love Letters In The Sand" - Pat Boone 1957
"Summertime Blues" - Eddie Cochran 1958
"A Summer Place" - Percy Faith 1960
"Stand By Me" - Ben E. King 1961 (and again in1987)
"A Summer Place" - Andy Williams 1962
"Sealed With A Kiss" - Brian Hyland 1962
"Wipe Out" - The Surfaris 1963
"Heat Wave" - Martha and the Vandellas 1963
"Don't Worry Baby" - The Beach Boys 1964
"A Summer Song" - Chad and Jeremy 1964
"Under the Boardwalk" - The Drifters 1964
"Saturday Night At The Movies" - The Drifters 1964
"Mr. Tambourine Man" - The Byrds 1965
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" - The Rolling Stones 1965
"California Girls" - The Beach Boys 1965
"Wouldn't It Be Nice" - The Beach Boys 1966
''Summer in the City'' - The Lovin' Spoonful 1966
''Can't Take My Eyes Off You'' - Frankie Valli 1967
"So Happy Together" - The Turtles 1967
"Windy" - The Association 1967
"Born To Be Wild" - Steppenwolf 1968
"Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay" - Otis Redding 1968
"Moody Manitoba Morning" - The Bells 1969
"Hot Fun In The Summertime" - Sly and the Family Stone 1969
"In The Summertime" - Mungo Jerry 1970
"Maggie May" - Rod Stewart 1971
"It's Too Late" - Carole King 1971
"Lean On Me" - Bill Withers 1972
"Take It Easy" - The Eagles 1972
"Summer Breeze" - Seals and Crofts 1972
"Saturday In The Park" - Chicago 1972
"Sunshine On My Shoulders" - John Denver 1973
"I Can See Clearly Now" - Johnny Nash 1973
"Peaceful Easy Feeling" - The Eagles 1973
"Sundown" - Gordon Lightfoot - 1974
"Annie's Song" - John Denver - 1974
"My Love" - Paul McCartney - 1974
"Silly Love Songs" - Paul McCartney - 1976
"Margaritaville" - Jimmy Buffett 1977
"I Love A Rainy Night" - Eddie Rabbitt 1981
"Bette Davis Eyes" - Kim Carnes 1981
"Ebony & Ivory" - Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder 1982
"Every Breath You Take" - The Police 1983
"Walking On Sunshine" - Katrina and the waves 1985
"Kokomo" - The Beach Boys 1988
"If You Don't Know Me By Know" - Simply Red 1989

I hope you enjoy these great songs and also hope that all your summer days will be "Sunny Days" (Lighthouse 1972)!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Today is Father's Day and that means that dad's everywhere will be opening gifts of equipment/accessories for sports, gardening, fishing and BBQ'ing. There will also be various electronics, books, music and ties! Maybe even a few heartfelt cards if dad is lucky. That's assuming that the kids remember the day! Poor dad almost always gets shortchanged in compared to what mom gets for Mother's Day. Dad also tends to get hammered in the humour department as well. That really is too bad, as dad's are a vital part of the equation in most families and rarely get the appreciation that they so richly deserve.

Well, I hope that they DO get the thanks from their spouse and kids, 'cause they aren't going to get it in this post!

Here then is my humourous salute to Father's everywhere!

One evening a little girl and her parents were sitting around the table eating supper. The little girl said, "Daddy, you're the boss, aren't you?" Her Daddy smiled, pleased, and said yes. The little girl continued "That's because Mummy put you in charge, right?"
New and Improved
The little girl was sitting in her grandfather's lap as he read her a story. From time to time, she would take her eye's off the book and reach up to touch his wrinkled cheek. By and by she was alternately stroking her own cheek, then his again.
Finally she spoke, "Granddaddy, did God make you?"
"Yes, sweetheart" he answered, "God made me a long time ago."
"Oh she said," then "Granddaddy, did God make me too?"
"Yes, indeed honey" he assured her. "God made you just a little while ago."
"Oh" she said. Feeling their respective faces again, she observed, "God's getting better at it now isn't he?"
Penny Trick
After tucking their three-year-old child Sammy in for bed one night, his parents heard sobbing coming from his room.

Rushing back in, they found him crying hysterically. He managed to tell them that he had swallowed a penny and he was sure he was going to die. No amount of talking was helping.

His father, in an attempt to calm him down, palmed a penny from his pocket and pretended to pull it from Sammy's ear. Sammy was delighted.

In a flash, he snatched it from his father's hand, swallowed, and then cheerfully demanded, "Do it again, Dad!"
"Fathers are the geniuses of the house because only a person as intelligent as we could fake such stupidity. Think about your father: He doesn't know where anything is. You ask him to do something, he messes it up and your mother sends you: "Go down and see what your father's doing before he blows up the house." He's a genius at work because he doesn't want to do it, and he knows someone will be coming soon to stop him." -- Bill Cosby
Did You Know? There are more collect calls on Father's Day than any other day of the year. An estimated $1 billion is spent each year in the United States for Father's Day gfts, but Dad is still paying the bill when it comes to telephone calls from the kids
"Son, don't ever get married. And tell that to your kids."
"We’ll do it the right way. My way."
"Don't ask me, ask your mother."
"Do what I say, not what I do."
"When I was your age.... "
I found all of the following cartoons on a site that makes T-Shirts, Mugs and other items with slogans on them.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

dn's Pork Chops With Mango And Apple

A couple of months ago, I was in one of those creative cooking moods. I wanted to try something different. I had set out pork chops for supper, but didn't know what I wanted to do with them. I had lots of fresh mango on hand, as I'd gotten them on sale a few days earlier. I searched the net, but didn't find anything that really combined the two in a way that appealed to me, so I decided to invent my own recipe.

I've made this three times now and have kept track of all the changes in ingredients and quantities. As I noted in the recipe, I have even made this with chicken breasts rather than pork chops! Both are delicious! I even had a good friend try making the pork version. She loved it!

"dn's Pork Chops With Mango And Apple"

2 pork chops (boneless)
2/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1Tbsp minced garlic (bottled type)
1 medium mango peeled, pitted and diced (about 1 1/4 cup)
1 medium apple, cored and diced ( about 1 1/4 cup)
1/3 cup orange juice or 5 Alive Mango
1 Tablespoon Cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 teaspoon low sodium Soya sauce
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger root
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning

- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Prepare the onions and red pepper then set aside.
- Prepare the mango and apple (toss the chopped apple in a Tablespoon of the orange juice to prevent discoloration), then set aside.
- In a fry pan, brown the pork chops using a little bit of oil and margarine. Remove the pork chops to a 1 1/2 Liter baking dish that has been sprayed with Pam.
- Add the onions and red pepper to the pan that you browned the chops in. Sauté lightly for a minute or two then add the garlic. Sauté another minute.
- Add the apple and mango and stir.
- Reduce heat to low.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and stir over low heat just until all the pan drippings are lifted from the pan then pour the entire contents on top of the pork chops.
- Cover and bake in a 375F oven for about 40 minutes.

Serve over brown rice with a green veg or salad on the side.

- This recipe also works well with boneless/skinless chicken breasts.
- This recipe could easily be doubles and baked in a 9"x13"x2" baking dish covered with foil.
- Start a casserole of brown rice in the oven while the chops are browning. Spray a 2 Liter casserole dish with Pam. Add one cup of brown rice, 3 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons margarine or oil. Cover and bake for about 55 minutes in a 375F oven. Leftover rice can be frozen in individual portions for future use.



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lilac Time

Let me start by saying that I am not a flower person. Yes, I grew up on a farm, but as I have said in previous posts, I have a brown thumb. I can't grow plants to save my life! Nor can I identify most varieties of plants, bushes and trees. Except for some of the most obvious flowers, like a tulip - and a few others - I really couldn't tell you what flowers were in a bouquet or a flower bed.

It's not that I can't appreciate the beauty of flowers, it's just that I really am not that interested in them. My parents were both avid gardeners and loved to try new varieties and colours in the various flower beds. They planted over a thousand plants every spring, as well as countless bulbs. They also had dozens of perennials such as peonies that would bloom every summer.

Dad often picked bouquets of fresh flowers for mom to display in the house alongside her dozens of house plants. She always said that "her boyfriend" brought the flowers to her! I would occasionally pick some flowers, but watching them gradually wilt and die in a vase really didn't appeal to me. I also wasn't too crazy about some of the littlle bugs that used to tag along on the flowers when you brought them indoors.

I don't hate flowers. There are some that I do like such as; tulips, lilies, brown eyed susan's and gladiolas. I just prefer them in their natural settings rather than in a vase.

I am also not a fan of floral scents - in fact most of them, I find rather overpowering. Allergies make most scents a problem for me, so I tend to stay out of flower gardens and away from flower displays. I can handle a few roses or something that isn't too strong, but for the most part I'd rather leave flowers in their natural environment.

So given that, it may seem a bit odd for me to say this, but I love lilacs! Especially the ones that are actually a lilac shade or even the darker shades of purple. Lilacs come in a wide variety of colours from a creamy white, to yellow to shades of pinks and the traditional purples. I'll take the purples any day!

I even love the smell of the lilacs - not in a perfume or anything like that - I'm talking just the natural smell that comes right from the flower. It isn't too strong but it takes me back to my childhood. I'd sit on the steps or a blanket on the grass and read a book or listen to a portable radio. I'd contemplate life and wonder what the future would hold.

When I was a kid, we had a lot of lilac trees on the farm. We actually had a hedge of them, as a wind row, near the house that bloomed in various shades of purple every spring. It was a sea of purples on a leafy green backdrop. I loved sitting outside and admiring their beauty and breathing in the soft scent. Most of them were cut down when my parents remodeled and expanded the house in the late 60's. There were still several lilacs on the property, but it just wasn't the same.

Living here in the city, I don't get to see and smell the lilacs like I used to. There are lilacs here too, you just don't tend to find whole rows or hedges of them!

When I do see lilacs - or I guess it would be more accurate to say when I smell lilacs now - it takes me right back to the peace and solitude of living on the farm. To a time of innocence and dreams of what lay ahead. I didn't always see the first leaves on the trees or the first tulips of spring, but the scent of lilacs were my link to spring. New beginnings!

We have had such a long cold winter and this spring has been slow in coming. The lilacs are late this year too. The lilacs are coming now and that makes me happy. I just wish they stayed longer. Their season is short, but I love them while they are here.

So if you see me standing at my window or outside and I seem lost in a dream or deep in thought - don't worry - I'm probably smelling lilacs!

I wonder if anyone would notice a blind woman picking a few lilac stems.....


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Email Account Closed - Access Denied! Part 2

In my last post, I explained that in late April, one of my Hotmail accounts was closed supposedly due to "violations of therms of use" and my frustrating labyrinth like journey to find the proper support form to fill out and submit. I was starting to wonder if I'd ever get into the account again. Then, on Sunday, May 17 I finally found a post that might be the path to the mysterious support form that people in my situation are supposed to fill out. Here is the information that I found:

To anyone that reads this, I think I have found a solution for those who have Hotmail accounts that have been suddenly closed due to violation of terms and conditions. Please follow instructions below.
1. Go to the log in page where it shows the statement that you have violated terms and conditions.
2. Go towards the bottom and look on the right hand side where it states help central, click on this.
3. You will see that it will change to "Welcome to Windows Live ID and Account Management Help"
4. Look on the left hand side and scroll down FAQ section to question "why can't I log in" (12th question down). Press on this link.
5. This has now changed the box on the right hand. Look at the bottom of the box where it states "get more help", press this link
6. It will now change to say "Additional help options for Windows Live ID" press on the link that states "Get Support" this will then take you to a form that you need to fill in . Fill in all information with a red asterisk next to it and send. Explain that you have tried tech support and abuse team and have had no reply.
7. You should receive a reply within 24 hours

Well, I did try this and received a response less than 6 hours later, stating that my request for assistance would be passed on to "Windows Live Hotmail Abuse Support Group". My initial thought was; "Oh great! Here we go again!", but this time I also had a ticket/tracking number to reference for any future response. I hadn't gotten that before. I was still skeptical, but also hopeful.

Friday morning, May 22, I was greeted with an email from the Microsoft Customer Support Team. My account had been closed as a precaution against spam activity. They didn't give specifics, but I still believe that it was due to my problems seeing the HIP tests. The good news was that the account had been reopened! I finally had access to all of my emails and stored files again.

Of course, before I could completely log in to my account, I had to do another HIP! I couldn't read the first one and got the second one wrong but the third one I got right. I was IN!

Over the next few days, I spent several hours going through the various folders - copying, forwarding saved emails to another account and deleting items. I don't know exactly how many emails I had saved over the previous year but I think it must have been about 1500 or so. There is less than 400 on that account now and all are either backed up or replicable. I'll gradually remove most of them.

I'll still use the account for a few things, but my friends that I email on a regular basis have been given a new address to contact me.

Finding the correct form and submitting it, was like finding a needle in a haystack.Who knows how long I would have had to wait without it - or if I ever would have regained access to my account without this form. I have no idea why this information seems to be so difficult to obtain and why we are forced to jump through hoops and search for clues to find the correct information. Maybe it is to prove we REALLY are human, but it also proves that technology and all of it's advances can be VERY frustrating.

I hope you never encounter this type of problem, but you never know when something like this can happen to you ...

.... so PLEASE


Better safe than sorry.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Email Account Closed - Access Denied! Part 1

Thursday morning, April 23, I tried to log into my Hotmail accounts and discovered that one of my accounts was closed sometime after the last time I had checked the account - about 9:30PM on April 22.

For some reason, my account had been closed due to violations of terms of use! For the life of me I have no idea what I could possibly have done, as the account is used for updates from a half dozen web sites and emails between a dozen or so on-line friends. I delete old addresses before forwarding, use BCC for multiple forwards, and only send to a few friends who actually want me to send them stuff.

The only real problem I have had with this account is that I have trouble reading the HIP tests. "What's a HIP test?", you ask. Human Interface Proof - HIP - are those really annoying, distorted letter/number combos that are used to supposedly distinguish a human from an auto generated account.

I suspected HIP, because I have so much trouble doing those damned tests. The distorted text is impossible on some, so it can take me 5 or 6 tries to find one that I think I can read AND do it correctly! It may be possible that the system had mistaken my numerous attempts as an automated account and labeled it as spam. In retrospect, I had actually been getting several of those tests over the previous few weeks.

Granted, there is an audio version available on most sites as an alternative for those of us with low vision - BUT, have you ever tried listening to any of those? They are insane if they think that it can be understood! The best way I can describe it is to think back to the old days when you would call certain phone numbers and you'd hear a busy signal but also hear several conversations in the background. Every few seconds, you'd hear someone trying to scream their personal phone number into the mix. Well, those were easier to understand as the audio HIP is even more garbled!
The error message that I get when I try to sign in says that I have to submit an email support form. I tried countless times to find the correct way to submit an email support form, but I COULD NOT find it!! I was so frustrated that I could not find the form or get the help to get this corrected. Every time I hit the "HELP" button at the bottom of the "account closed" page, it took me back to rather than to an email support form!

I made three requests to correct and reopen the incorrect closure of my account during the first five days. Two were sent to mhtml:%7B800FCD44-2A56-4965-93F0-6E8FA148951D%7Dmid://00000090/! and one through feedback on an FAQ page that I found on MSN. The only response I got was from the abuse section and that was yet another of those charming auto generated responses that says it will be looked into. ARGH!!

I contacted my service provider to help me set up another email account through their system and also explained the Hotmail problem to the tech. He offered to try and find the support form for me, so I gave him the necessary info. He couldn't find it either, so suggested I write directly to Microsoft. I made two requests to Microsoft, but just get directed to post my problem through

I set up an account and posted a request for help including a very detailed list of what I had already done. The response from the support team was to send a note to the abuse team! Are you kidding me? They obviously hadn't bothered reading my full request and I politely said as much in my reply. Again, an apology for inconvenience, but only the abuse team had the power to reopen accounts. They were backlogged but would eventually get to everyone. Yeah right!

I also read several other posts regarding the incorrect closure of accounts and found that all are directed through the abuse section BUT some people were still waiting for responses two, three five or more weeks later!! This is first come first serve so even if you have a business account, you still have to wait till they get to you!

I felt like the hamster on it's wheel and I had no way of getting off!!
I just wanted to get the personal messages and other info from my account that could not be replaced. Luckily, I had other accounts through other systems and I had some email addresses from the closed account saved, but not all.

Another part of the problem for me, was that when I set up the Hotmail account in early 2008, I was running low on space on my old PC. Therefore, I didn't always save everything to my PC. The Hotmail account provided 5gig of FREE space so I took full advantage of it. When I did get a new PC last November, I did transfer a few things, but never got around to sorting and transferring everything. I was too busy doing Christmas baking and getting used to using Vista. I pretty much forgot how much was stored there until I couldn't get to it. That was when I really realized how much was on there.

Was I ever going to get access to that account again? I checked the comments on various threads in the Solution Center several times over the next couple of weeks. I certainly wasn't alone with my problem and frustration but I still wanted to find the stupid support form that the error message says to fill out.

It took awhile, but finally on Sunday, May 17. I found a post that gave me a glimmer of hope. My next post (June 6, 2009) will explain what I found and how I got my account back.