Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. Since I forgot to send the newsletter last week, I hope that you accept my apologies and in lieu of todays newsletter, here's the one that I owe you from last week. Or, as Wimpy used to say, "I'll gladly pay you on Friday for a newsletter today." Or something like that... ;)
It's been over a week since my surgery and I'm still having some problems. Last Monday I had a sore throat, but didn't think much of it, and then on Tuesday when I started running a fever (103.6) I called my Dr. and she prescribed a "Z-pac", 5-day course of antibiotics. The first dose was 2 pills and within a 1/2 hour of taking them I got nauseaus, but because of the surgery I'm incapable of vomiting. What a dilemma! Once things settled down I called back and the answering service put me in touch with the on-call Dr. He immediately told me not to take any more antibiotics and called in a prescription for anti-nausea medication.
Since Dad had left for dinner at my sister, Marta's, and Anne was frantically trying to put the finishing touches on her contribution to dinner at her son's before she had to leave, I called Brett (a friend that lives near by) and asked if he'd give me a ride to the pharmacy. When he arrived he took one look at me and said "Why don't I just pick it up and you can stay here?", obviously noting my condition.
After taking my meds I was still feeling pretty sick and was worried about what I'd do all alone if there were more problems. So I shuffled across the street to Dan's and rang the doorbell, but they weren't home. So I went down the street and asked Brett and Karen if they'd mind if I "just hang around" for a while. Brett's father was over for X-mas Eve dinner, but they didn't hesitate to invite me in. I explained my situation and they allowed me to watch TV in the Family Room while they ate. About 8pm the nausea had passed and I thanked them for their kindness and headed home where I took a nap until Anne arrived.
Christmas morning Brett came over to check on me and give Anne a bottle of wine in thanks for the cookie platter we'd delivered the day before. This is something that has become a tradition at our home; Anne makes hundreds of cookies and fudge, fixing them all into platters for our family, friends and neighbors. It's wonderful to see the look on someone's face when they are totally caught off-guard by this delicious gift. (Anne's sugar cookies are SO good that my daughter, Tara, will eat a whole platter of them by herself!)
Christmas dinner was held at Barb's house (my sister) because we just weren't ready to have guests yet. Anne, again, cooked for hours to prepare what she'd bring to the pot-luck dinner. Mashed potatoes, brown gravy, turkey gravy, 2 green bean casseroles and a large ham. That's right, HAM. As most of you know, we're vegetarians. But it doesn't bother us to fix flesh for those who aren't. In fact Anne cooks meat for Dad on occasion since he's moved in and she cooked a nice turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. Dad loves turkey sandwiches and everyone enjoys home-made turkey noodle soup!
Josh and his girl-friend, Lily, arrived from L.A. about 3pm. They were staying at Tara's so he just called to let us know he'd be seeing us at Barb's. At 3:20pm the meat thermometer said that the ham was only 130 degrees when Anne pulled it out and covered it in tin foil. I called Barb and told her we'd be late, since I didn't want to pull it out of the oven until it hit 140.
When we arrived everyone was ready to eat. Afterwards, there wasn't but a small bowl of mashed potatoes left. Needless to say, we glommed onto it and brought it home. Anne also cleaned Barbie's turkey carcass (she only eats the white meat) and brought the bones home to make soup. Dad LOVES turkey noodle soup!
The highlight of the evening was the White Elephant "gift exchange", which isn't really a gift exchange. Instead it's just a bunch of stuff that people want to get rid of, so they wrap it in plain paper (I use brown paper bags) and stick it under the tree. Then everyone draws a number and the fun begins! This year there were several items that were fought over: Anne's blue-glass cake plate, Dad's blue star sapphire ring, Tara's "Dicken's Village" church and house ceramics and a couple of cute stuffed toys. Oh, lordy, what a fray!

Signed,
Co-Conspirator To Make The World A Better Place

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GRINS & GIGGLES:
Two farmers at the feed store were discussing the local election for tax collector. One of the candidates was named Harkins, who was also the operator of the drawbridge over the local river.

"You gonna vote for Harkins?" the first farmer asked.

"No, I don't think so," the other replied.

"Why not?" the first farmer asked.

"Well, you remember that prize bull I used to have? One day I looked in the barn and there's that bull lying down actin' strange. So I asked the vet and he gave me some medicine, and he said it had to be put in the bull's rectum.

"I took the medicine home but I couldn't find a funnel. So I seen this old army bugle hangin' on a nail in the barn and I used that.

"Only problem was that before I could get that bugle out, my bull passed some gas and made a loud toot on that bugle.

"Well sir, that scared my bull somethin' awful and he busted out of the stall, made another toot, then busted through the fence and went runnin' down the road.

"He went down the road, runnin' and tootin' towards the bridge that Harkins runs. That fool old man opened the bridge and my bull ran across it, fell in the river and drowned.

"Now," the farmer said, "Do you think I could vote for a man that's run that bridge for years but don't know the difference between a boat whistle and a bull blowin' a bugle out his butt?"

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TRUE STORY:
Little Story from the Big Apple
by Lindalee Brownstein
Ohio, USA

In 1995 my husband, son Daniel, and I were on Ellis Island viewing immigrant photos and hearing their stories. We saw teenagers traveling alone across the ocean, heading for their hopes as everything they'd known faded behind them. We saw parents waiting to hear if they would be admitted to the USA to build a good life; if not for themselves, at least for the child holding their hand and the baby in the blanket.

Eyes looking out from the sepia photographs sometimes appeared frightened, but, no matter, they had done what they thought needed doing.

Visiting Ellis Island was an opportunity for our 14-year-old Daniel, who'd grown up in the 1990s, to see real courage and character. Too often, we felt, he was subjected to disappointing stories of his fellow man -- in the land that these people had risked all to join.

It was now time to take the ferry back, head for the New York airport, and return to Ohio. On the subway I had my camera, my carry-on bag, and my ...ah, my PURSE was still on the ferry!

I glanced at my husband. This would not be easy.

After my confession, we decided we had no time to turn back. We'd continue to the airport and catch our flight. Phoning the ferry confirmed that the purse hadn't been turned in: "If it turns up, we'll let you know."

Back in Ohio, I was told repeatedly that purses lost in New York don't get returned. Everyone agreed that New Yorkers don't care, the crime rate is high, and you're more likely to have a purse *snatched*
than returned.

I was resigned to getting a new driver's license, keys, photos, etc.

That was before the UPS driver dropped off the package with my purse and all of its contents, including a substantial amount of cash, still in it. It was turned in by an anonymous ferry passenger, and shipped by an anonymous ferry service employee. Two people just doing the right thing in the Big Apple, for someone they would never meet.

My son had assumed that someone would take the money and throw away everything else. He was surprised that someone used their own money to mail it, and recalls that this incident proved to him that good, honest people exist today.

Seven years later, Daniel, now 21 and finishing college, found a wallet in a deli in our home town. After eyeing the thick wad of bills it contained -- a fortune to a college student like himself -- he turned it in.

Perhaps the anonymous ferry passenger and employee showed the way for Daniel to overcome temptation and do the right thing. And perhaps the owner of this wallet, or their child, will one day be faced with the same choice. Perhaps they will follow the example set by an anonymous person who did the right thing in Ohio in 2002.

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FUN SITE:
The Pressures of X-mas Future

So, you think that you can just sit on your laurels, chewing your cud, now that Christmas is over, eh? I got news for you. As of right now you are in training! There are only 11 months to get your venison into top shape. If you expect to be on the team next Christmas Eve, then you'd better head over to the training grounds right now! Double time!!

http://christmas.dialmediagroup.com/reindeer.html

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SOFTWARE:
Neverwinter Nights

Best Role-Playing Game on PC
RPG of the Year award!

The title of this year's PC role-playing game of the year was actually derived from a classic SSI game that ran on America Online's online gaming service for some seven years before it finally went dark. But make no mistake, veteran RPG developer BioWare made sure that Neverwinter Nights was ready to make the jump to 2002.

Neverwinter Nights is among the first computer games to use Wizards of the Coast's 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons rule sets, and while it takes a few liberties with the system, it does a good enough job of translating the occasionally labyrinthine Dungeons & Dragons rules into a surprisingly accessible role-playing game. This accessibility is one of Neverwinter Nights' most remarkable features, and although it belies the game's hidden depth--Neverwinter Nights lets you create many different kinds of characters in the single-player game and also features a full editor to let you build your own adventures--just about anyone with any interest in role-playing games can pick it up and start playing.

Of course, if you happen to be a more-serious fan of role-playing games, you can use the game's complicated but powerful editing tools to create your own adventures and even host them online. Neverwinter Nights' online play seemed a bit lacking at launch, since it could be difficult to coordinate party members' actions, but a very strong player base has developed around the game and its editing tools--more than 1,000 different fan-made modules have already been released for public consumption. Despite its technical issues, and despite the fact that there were so many other worthy contenders for the title of PC RPG of the year, Neverwinter Nights ended up being the role-playing game for just about anyone, and it ends up with our vote for best computer role-playing game of 2002. 

http://gamespot.com/gamespot/features/all/bestof2002/pc20.html [RPG of the Year page]
http://gamespot.com/gamespot/filters/products/0,11114,188666,00.html [demo, Player's Guide, FAQ and more]
http://gamespot.com/gamespot/filters/editorschoice/0,15105,,00.html [all Editor's Choice games list]

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GREAT UTIL:
Carnie Digital

Carnie Digital.com is uniquely poised to capture a portion of Internet's 2.6 billion monthly music downloads and give back to musicians and music programs. 

Founded by musicians and music lovers, http://www.carniedigital.com is an exciting new dot-com that enhances the distribution of music in a secure, copy-protected environment with superior benefits for both listeners and artists. The site offers fast, reliable, copy-protected, encrypted legal downloads to users and provides artists with the resources to distribute their work with state-of-the-art encryption technology designed to defeat music piracy. 

Carnie Digital makes it good business for artists and good sense for consumers to join together in the fight against Internet piracy. On the artist side, Carnie Digital is an asset to the recording industry and individual artists in the distribution and protection of their music. Record labels can increase their visibility and revenues using Carnie Digital to distribute and advertise their music online in a quality environment and musicians pay no sign-up fees and no hidden charges to be part of Carnie Digital, and are able to alter their music portfolio around the clock, with changes made in just 24 hours. In contrast to competitors, at Carnie Digital an unprecedented 70% of the net proceeds from each download go to the artist or label, contributing a higher level of support to the industry than was previously the norm, and setting a new benchmark for artist compensation. 

Loren Weisman, CEO and President of W.A.M. Management Inc.(Weisman Abbott Music), is the visionary professional at the heart of Carnie Digital. A renowned professional studio drummer who has recorded, performed and taught music all over the world, Weisman has over 100 recording credits and numerous tours under his belt. His experience gives him a remarkable insight into every facet of the music industry and an "artist-side" perspective on compensation. 

"Consumers can enjoy incredible music and feel good about the fact that their fees are going to the artist, as well as to support local music programs," says Weisman. Carnie Digital is deeply committed to fostering music education at a grass roots level and will donate 5% of the net proceeds from each download to scholastic programs, music charities and local music initiatives. "Kids need the arts and the arts need kids," explains Weisman. "We need to work actively and aggressively to bring music education to the next generation." 

To learn more about the Carnie Digital Download Difference, visit the site at http://www.carniedigital.com or call 413-587-3775. 

http://www.carniedigital.com 

===
WEATHER:
Do you want to know what it really feels like outside this winter? 

AccuWeather, Inc., the world's best-known commercial weather service, has the only real answer: the exclusive AccuWeather RealFeel Temperature(tm). It replaces the misleading Wind Chill factor available from the government's National Weather Service. 

AccuWeather's leading meteorologists have spent the past 20 years researching a more accurate indicator of how weather phenomena conspire to make us feel miserable, comfortable or just bearable. The resulting RealFeel Temperature is a patent-pending formula that calculates the first index to provide a true measure of how a person will perceive the temperature and weather, given appropriate dress and activity. 

"AccuWeather's RealFeel Temperature is unique in that it accounts for the effects of seven different weather phenomena," says Dr. Joel N. Myers, president and founder of AccuWeather, Inc. "Unlike the Wind Chill index, the RealFeel Temperature measures how the weather really feels by factoring in not just ambient temperature and wind speed, but also solar intensity, humidity, precipitation, elevation and cloudiness." 

According to Dr. Myers, part of the problem with the Wind Chill factor is that it is based on concepts developed some 50 years ago by a team of geologists interested in arctic weather. Their measure was based on studies of how quickly water froze in an outdoor container. 

"Meteorology has advanced greatly since that time," says Myers. "Yet, each day, millions of Americans rely on an outmoded measure and make bad decisions based on it. While the National Weather Service has updated their Wind Chill index recently, it still often overstates how cold it feels, and thus needlessly discourages outdoor activities in the winter. That hurts a variety of businesses." 

As an example, consider a winter day with a temperature of 30 degrees, no wind, and a clear, sunny sky. The RealFeel Temperature accounts for the sunshine and correctly indicates that it will feel like a more temperate 44 degrees. Since the Wind Chill index ignores the sunshine, it only reports the apparent temperature as a cold and discouraging 30 degrees. Add a 10 mph wind to the scenario, and the Wind Chill estimate of perceived temperature drops from 30 to 21. The RealFeel Temperature properly balances the offsetting effects of wind and sun and correctly estimates the perceived temperature as a more moderate 26 degrees.

Dr. Myers is so confident of his new measure that AccuWeather.com, his firm's industry-leading weather Web site, now offers it with every forecast, and AccuWeather TV and radio weather casters across the country are adopting this new, more accurate measure as a way of expressing how cold and warmth actually feel.

"Our goal is to set the record straight and provide average Americans more accurate information which can help them live better lives," says Dr. Myers. "If in five years, no one remembers the Wind Chill, all the better. It's time to retire this antiquated index, and the RealFeel Temperature is the best indicator yet for measuring how warm or cold it really feels." 

The RealFeel Temperature Index was developed in cooperation between Dr. Myers and AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologists Elliot Abrams, Dr. Joseph Sobel, Michael Steinberg and Evan Myers. The exclusive AccuWeather RealFeel Temperature is available for free by logging onto AccuWeather's Web site at www.accuweather.com. 

About AccuWeather and AccuWeather.com AccuWeather, Simply The Most Accurate(, provides a portfolio of products and services through the airwaves, via the Internet, in print, and behind the scenes that benefit hundreds of millions of people worldwide. AccuWeather services 16,000 paying customers in media, business, government and institutions, and millions more through AccuWeather.com. AccuWeather also provides content onto more than 600 Internet sites including CNN Interactive, ABC's owned and operated stations, The Associated Press(, The Washington Post and The New York Times.

For more information:
AccuWeather, Inc.
385 Science Park Road
State College, PA 16803
Contact: Lee Rainey
(814) 235-8636
rainey@accuwx.com

http://www.accuweather.com 

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QUICK WIT:

A person writing at night may put out the lamp, but the words he has written will remain. It is the same with the destiny we create for ourselves in this world
_