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Archived letters

Letters to the Editor, December 2003

This a traditional letter column. You are encouraged to write a letter of comment on anything that you find worthy of comment. It will (may) be published in this column along with my reply. As editor I reserve the right to delete material; however I will not alter the undeleted material. E-mail to me that solely references the contents of this site will be assumed to be publishable mail. All other e-mail is assumed to be private. And, of course, anything marked not for publication is not for publication. Oh yes, letters of appreciation for the scholarly resources provided by this site will be handled very discreetly. This page contains the correspondence for December 2003.

Some of it is a little ancient; I’m slowly catching up – very slowly.

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Other Correspondence Pages

From: stephen snyder
Date: 12/9/2003
Subj: south dakota blues-me too

Found your webpage totaly by accident-while surfing and dreaming about going back. I was home in blackhills from july 17-aug 30 this yr. Been back in ohio since then,,trying to start business back there and move._WOW,,,the pain. The rally was awful this yr as far as I”m concerned,,but to me,,it exploits the hills badly- So long and take care-hope you make it back

I did make it back to SD; I have been resident here for the past three years, having lived in Massachusetts for the previous forty. Can you spell culture shock?
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From: Clayton Truman
Date: 12/21/2003
Subj: genetic mutation

Hello Richard;
Have read your articles on the talk origin site, good stuff. I believe that I have found man’s next leap, through a genetic loss. Would you like to discuss it with me? SIncerely Clayton Truman.

Possibly. Why don’t you expand a bit on that thought and we’ll see if the big fish (that’s me) will bite.
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From: Charles Hitchcock
Date: 12/23/2003
Subj: October editorial

wrt watches — not only do you not know where to find red plush velvet, you’re wrong about how much you need; the Dilbert newsletter, after being showered with complaints that an alleged Induhvidual wasn’t, admitted that http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/docs/world_tzones.html

(now that is the sort of thing that for which the web is useful, although I was disappointed to read that the boundaries are approximate.)
shows 37 time zones in recognized use. (I suspect that some of the people I deal with are in unrecognized time zones, like the Douglas Adams character Michael Wednesday Week.) Even if you used primitive (e.g., non-digital (as favored by Douglas Adams) watches, you’d need a score in order to know the score.
Just so. There once was a young lady whose affections I was desirous of obtaining who bluntly told me that she had no time for me. I can only speculate that she always was in a different time zone than I.
Of course, you could do without the box and simply attach all the watches to a greave; instead of simply warning you that you were in a dangerous part of the world, this would provide practical aid in such areas. It might make getting to such areas a little difficult (unless you abandoned plans to fly and took a rowboat) but such minor inconveniences are the price of security….
But if perchance you glanced at the greave and mistakenly read the wrong watch it would be a greavous error.
PS: I know what you’re thinking: how would you distinguish which watch was currently correct. Don’t look at me; surely your new computer language can keep perfect track of pointers?
That would be no solution – my new language is pointless, er, pointerless.
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From: Roger Aldrich
Date: 12/19/2003
Subj: A mistake on your website?

I’ve been reading your site for years now. I’ve enjoyed the wide variety of information you provide, some of it is new to me, some pieces, like the jokes, are often old favorites but your taste runs close enough to my own that I am always entertained.

When I read the trivia questions you posted on December first I was certainly entertained. When I got to this one:

What famous North American landmark is constantly moving backward?
ANS: Niagra Falls, since it worn down daily by nearly 2.5 feet by the rushing water.

I knew the answer so I was smugly congratulating myself but then I read the part about 2.5 feet a day. I couldn’t believe that number, 2.5 feet a day? That’s .17 miles a year! When I visited the falls I could see the power plant at the base. I’m guessing that the basic structure was built 80 years ago or more, although the turbines have been updated. At 2.5 feet a day that power plant would be 13 miles from the falls, maybe 2.5 feet a year is the right number?

Anyway, thank you for the fun website and the mental image of chasing Niagra Falls all the way back to the Great Lakes.

2.5 feet per year would be much closer to the mark. According to the geologists (see http://www.niagaraparks.com/nfgg/geology.php) the rate varies a good deal over time. The average rate over the life time of the falls was 2.95 feet per year (seven miles in 12,5000 years); however the average rate in the past 560 years 4.5 feet per year, and currently it is about 1 foot per year.

The bit that I like is that in about 25,000 years the falls will get all the way back to lake Erie which will then drain in one big whoosh. Now that will be a tourist attraction.

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From: Al & Abbie
Date: 12/9/2003
Subj: Chocolate chip cookie recipe

On your site, dated June 2003 is a recipe called ” Why engineers don’t write recipes – chocolate chip cookie recipe” I’ve got some of it figured out, but is there a translation to this? I’d love to give to friends who are super cooks. Thanks

I’m afraid that I can’t help you. I suppose I could if I weren’t quite so lazy but there it is – my allergist has informed me that I am seriously allergic to work, and that he cannot answer for my life if I overdo the work thing. It is a firm principle of mine to never trigger an allergy attack.

Be that as it may, I am as much in the dark as you are.

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From: christophine D penka
Date: 12/14/2003
Subj: survivor

hello name Olguy Songolo i want to be in the next survivor please let me know how i can be a contestant on the next show i have the potential and skills please contact me ASAP. thank you

I’m sorry, but I’m not the chap you’re looking for. You might try the CBS home page. On the other hand, there is much to be said for trekking on foot from North Dakota to Chile. It won’t get you on the show but, if you make it, you will definitely be a survivor.
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From: gerry
Date: 12/10/2003
Subj: Your link is online

We had exchanged links earlier.Your link is still online at our site http://www.123greetings.com/links/friendship/thoughts/ However I was unable to find our link at your site Please let us know where our link is.

I don’t recall that we exchanged links – I never exchange links. What never? No, never. What, never? Well, hardly ever! But I digress. See https://richardhartersworld.com/cri/2003/let03mar.html .
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From: Heather Lin Hammond
Date: 12/10/2003
Subj: Permission to Republish

I recently came across your article entitled “How to Argue Effectively” https://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1998/argue.html It is so funny and I would love to post it in an online group I help manage.

May I have permission to post the article, provided proper credit is given to protect your rights of authorship?

Thank you for your consideration.

Go ahead and post it. It’s not mine – it was one of those things that circulated on the internet; I have no idea who the original author was.
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From: Herb Theis
Date: 12/6/2003
Subj: Meeter’s Kraut Juice

I for one, happen to totally disagree with you. I happen to love Meeter’s Sauerkraut Juice! Apparently, you don’t know what to do with it!

Oh, but I do.
If you add 1 part of kraut juice to 8 parts of V-8 Cocktail Juice, you end up with a V-9, which happens to be a fantastic drink. It is great for hangovers and clogged digestive systems (it really dilutes constipation).
Some, not I, would say that this is a case of the cure being worse than the disease.
I am trying to find a way to buy some, but I’m not sure if they are still making it. And if they are, where I can get some.
Apparently they still are, although I don’t know what markets carry it. There are other vendors of kraut juice and, if you really get desparate, you can make your own.
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From: Jason Frey
Date: 12/5/2003
Subj: Everything Quiz – Question 10

“There are seven ways a baseball player can legally reach first base without getting a hit. Taking a base on balls – a walk – is one way. Name the other six.

ANS: Hit by a pitch, passed ball, catcer interferes with the base runner, catcher drops the third strike, fielder’s choice, and being a designated runner.”

How about an error by a fielder?

Seems reasonable to me. That would make it the eight-fold way to getting on base.
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From: Nick Annicchiarico
Date: 12/1/2003
Subj: Random

I discovered your website today while looking for gambling advice. Out of all the websites I’ve ever seen, it’s one of the few I’ve ever wanted to read. Your a very interesting person with a lot of experience. Although I just browsed through your website, I respect and trust your judgement.(If what you’ve written in your website has been written honestly.) Let me ask your opinion of a situation I am trying to figure out. I’m pretty sure I’ve got a solid grasp on what’s going on, but I’m 23, and no one my age has a solid grasp of what’s going on, we just think we do.(I’m going to start writing freely, don’t mind the poor grammar) Alright, since I was the age of seventeen all I’ve longed for was the freedom of travel. Until recently I didn’t have the nerve to do anything. I skipped out on college, so I figured I’d have to work my way up in a company to pay for not going to college. And I have; I have the trust of my boss , the second best job in the place waiting for me when I am older, and a great work environment, with people I genuinely consider to be my family. So I’ve decided to move to New Orleans( I live in New Jersey). Since I’ve decided to move to N.O. my poker playing has gotten a whole lot better, and I’m trying to decipher if it’s possible to make an average living off of poker, at least for the few months to year that I’ll be in N.O. I think it is. I’m curious what you think. F.Y.I, the big flaw in my game, which I am slowly curing( due to lack of experience), is betting into hands that I know I have lost, even if I catch my card. I more just want to see what they have, even if I know what they. I always second-guess myself, because you never know what they have. Either way keep up the good work. If you respond, thank you. If you don’t, thank you anyway.

To be honest, I can’t recommend taking up poker playing as a profession. Playing in the casinos is marginal at best – you are fighting the rake and the other pros who often, ah, cooperate. Playing in private games means being good at finding games and insinuating yourself into them. Either way you’ve got to have a lot of hustle and the ability to dispassionately prey on your fellow players.

The besides of which you have to play good poker. If you are still chasing second best hands, you’ve got a ways to go.

Mind you, I understand the temptation – I’ve felt it myself.

The gambler sat at cards all night
And quit his game by morning light.
When his mind by sleep was dimmed
He dreamed of suckers he had trimmed.

To that man that game is life,
Child and home, parent and wife.
When his backword day is done
He reckons life by what he’s won.

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From: MILDOG199
Date: 12/7/2003
Subj: Where do you find it?

I have moved to Southern Nevada and cannot find Meeter’s Kraut Juice anywhere in Las Vegas. Can you give me an idea as to which stores handle this product? Customer Service people in Vons, Smith’s, Albertson’s, etc., all have never heard of the product nor know where to purchase it. I even took the last can that I have, a 10 ounce can, purchased in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. Calls to those chains, (some of them are on strike and trying getting any information out of them), has developed zero results.

Please respond if you know of any vendors here in Vegas selling that product….

This is a tough one – I don’t know of a web site for Meeter’s even though they apparently still exist. However there are other companies that sell Kraut Juice. Try looking up Kraut Juice on google. At worst you can always make it yourself.
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From: Patty Harter
Date: 12/6/2003
Subj: I’m a Harter

I’m not sure what your site is all about but I’m a Harter in California and yes we come from a very interesting line, a celebrated few I would say.

Please tell me more about what it is that you are looking for and if I can help.

A correspondent, Julia Harter, is looking for info on her grandfather, Virgil Harter, who moved from SD to Southern CA in the 1920’s. Apparently she doesn’t have much more information than that. Does this strike a bell?

PS: Harters are the best people, aren’t they? I always thought so.

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From: David Windsor
Date: 12/1/2003
Subj: Good Quizzes

Good quizzes Richard. I did moderately well on both of them, and learned a few things in the process.

Some comments on The Everything Quiz:

#4: Yes, cricket counts. See usa.cricket.org for an explanation of the game. Specifically: http://www-usa.cricket.org/db/ABOUT_CRICKET/EXPLANATION/

#10: How about reaching first base on an error? I’ve seen plays where a ground ball is hit to an infielder who then muffs the play: drops the ball, or throws it over the first baseman’s head into the stands, or something similarly disastrous. These occurrences have been scored as errors, not hits.

#12: How about socks? I know people whose mindsets differentiate between stockings and socks (or sox for some of them). This differentiation is usually based on length, material (transparent nylon or rayon vs more solid materials), or gender of the wearer, although exceptions do abound for these folks. BTW, you have a typo in your list. You have “clippers” where you want “slippers.”

Oops. Slippers it is. You are right about socks; more right than you might have supposed. According to my dictionary:

(1) A short stocking usually reaching to the calf or just above the ankle.

(2) A light weight shoe worn by ancient Greek and Roman actors.

It seems to me that you’re right about errors being an eighth way. That’s sort of catchy – the eight fold way to getting to first base.

Also thanks about the cricket info.

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From: Roger Saunders
Date: 12/3/2003
Subj: Do you have a quick mind

The answer you give to question two:

Answer: If you answered second-last, once again you’re completely wrong. Think about it. How can you over take the person coming last? If you’re behind them then they can’t be last. The answer is impossible! It would appear that thinking is not one of your strong points

Is actually incorrect, it is possible to over take the last runner. Think about it, you are on a circuit race, you are in the lead, you come up on the last runner and over take him (lap him) you are still running first. In fact, therefore, you could be any one of the runners ahead of, and lapping the last runner and still be in the same position in the race!!

This is an interesting proposition because it depends on precisely what is meant by “overtake”. If one means “passing by” then lapping is overtaking; if one means “pulling ahead of in position” then lapping is not overtaking. I’m prepared to defend the answer as it stands but it were better if it were reworded.
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From: Niklas Dahlin
Date: 12/1/2003
Subj: Janssons

Hey, you have a pretty good recipe for Jansson’s Temptation – or Janssons Frestelse, as it’s called in swedish.

It’s actually one of my favourite things to eat, preferably on a summer evening, with a cold beer, and perhaps a snaps. (That would be something on the order of a “shot”, only with clear liquor (brännvin), and it’s very traditional of course.) Mmm, salty!

I could claim that it is an old family recipe – I’m part swede on my mother’s side, she being born a Hanson – but it’s not. I came across it somewhere, place and time unknown, and it struck my fancy. I haven’t tried it yet, nor have I tried the package of lutefisk that I have stashed in the freezer. My nearest and dearest has rather rudely suggested that lutefisk would do nicely as a replacement for the suet I feed to the resident woodpecker. (Whe didn’t actually say that, but I’m sure that she would have if she had thought of it.)
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From: Kenneth Dakin
Date: 11/27/2003
Subj: fossilization

Could you please explain how rapid sedimentation and uniformitarian processes go hand-in-hand. The way I understood it was that layers of sediment gradually build up like the layers in a river bed just as the way Lyell proposed in the 1800’s. Layers of sediment then uniformly built up over time or eroded uniformly over time. If there was ever a “rapid” build up of any sediment, this would defeat the whole uniform process would it not and then calculating the “age” would almost become impossible because who knows if one layer was rapid or not.

Your understanding is somewhat off the mark. It is not now, and, if I am not mistaken, it was never assumed that sediment layers were laid down at a uniform rate or that they were eroded at a uniform rate, either by Lyell or by any other geologist. Before the development of radiometric dating, the dating of the ages of the Earth was a chancy business. If I may, I would like to quote from my page, https://richardhartersworld.com/cri/1998/geohist.html:
There was no single estimate of the Earth’s age in the mid 1800’s and no good way to arrive at one. There were various attempts to estimate the Earth’s age, working back from sedimentation rates and other geophysical phenomena. The attempts produced estimates from about 100 million years up to several billion years. There were two major problems with such efforts. The first is that the geological history was still being reconstructed. The second is that the rates of the physical processes in question are variable and knowledge of them was incomplete.
I hope this helps.
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From: Julia Harter
Date: 11/19/2003
Subj: relative?

Hello Richard, this might be a shot in the dark, but my name is Julia Harter, my grand father and Grand Mother both died a long time ago. My father was not to close to them, hence I don’t know much about my family, however I do remember being told that some of the South Dakota Harters moved to Southern Ca in the mid 1920’s, this being my grand father Virgil Harter. If you have any info I would be forever in debt to you. Thank You for your time.

I’m sorry, Julia, but I can’t be of much help to you. My particular branch of Harters came from Nebraska; I’m the only South Dakota representative of our branch. It turns out that there are quite a few Harters in SD. For some reason Harters like the midwest – there are more Harters in SD than there were in Massachusetts. If there is any chance at all you could recall the name of a town it would help.

If you are really serious about tracking down your long lost distant relatives I could run off a listing of the Harters in the central SD phone books. You could write letters to said Harters and inquire of them. That might turn up a connection.

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This page was last updated December 24, 2003.
It was reformatted and moved February 20, 2006

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