Mary, Your observations and anecdotes are terrific!
Dan and everyone,
Thanks for repeating what Rob has said; I can save your e-mail and use it as reference. Olympus WS and DS series record to WMA files, not to MP3. But, as you know, to use them in a podcast, they have to be converted to MP3; maybe some day we can have lossless formats where nothing is lost and where file size can be dealt with quickly and easily. But I suspect it is a way in the future.
Ah, chocolate! Did I mention one of my fondest traditions between Christmas and New Year's is to obtain at least two pounds of chocolates, preferably cream centers but I'll take anything, and just nibble and try to stretch it into the new year? I love milk chocolate but will take dark also. In fact I've been trying the various hot chocolate mixes and keep coming back to Swiss Miss milk chocolate with an extra tablespoon of Ghirardelli ground chocolate in for good measure. If the day seems extra cold, I add a second tablespoon full to overflowing!
There was an article in Matilda Ziegler magazine about chocolate, which stated that raw chocolate is far different from what we know and love. The inhabitants of central and south America, who used it as a ceremonial drink, certainly didn't sweeten it to the extent that we've become accustomed to.
Speaking of ceremonies, I think various cultures have just finished their autumn or harvest festivals and celebrations. My friend Carl married into a Vietnamese household and once gave me a lotus paste cake. My friend, Ruth, did the same in September when the Chinese celebrate their autumn harvest. I love the taste, but could only eat one bite. It was much richer than I was used to. I suppose people from other places who try our cakes that are lighter in texture, don't think there's much to eat. I guess it all depends on what people are used to eating, and what they grow up with. As they say, variety is the spice of life! It sure makes life more fun! I recall another article that described what diplomats from other countries think of our food. Reading what the French think of our chocolate was really funny! They couldn't stand it!