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Grill This Email

I don't know why, but I stopped wanting to BBQ a few years ago when my house almost burned down. No, it wasn't my fault, it was a nearby forest fire, but somehow after that, the idea of flames close to the old homestead have not been good for the appetite.

So recently when my wife wanted to BBQ, I said, "No, absolutely not, I forbid it," and the next thing I knew we were driving home from the store with a hibachi to BBQ on.

So there we were, surrounded by a yard full of kindling, with a small fire-driven device, sure to spew sparks. And my wife couldn't have been happier. I warned her that if she burned down the neighborhood I was going to chase her down the street brandishing a tire iron. She was amused.

My niece, Ocea, helped me assemble the hibachi. Despite it being only 10" square, it was somehow designed requiring two people for assembly. The instructions involved some badly photocopied line drawings that looked like a schematic of the invention of a square wheel—or instructions showing how to attach a tail to an armadillo, it wasn't clear which.

I immediately did what I do best—put it together wrong, with the feet (small scraps of flammable wood) on sideways so that the thing could fall over, spilling white hot coals onto the flammable wood table my wife had chosen to hold the hibachi on our flammable wood deck.

After all this work, my wife's first words were "It's so small!" She was apparently unable to comprehend that a 10" square box that said "10" grill" would contain a 10" square grill. "I thought it would fold out or something," she informed me. "What about the picture on the box?" I asked. "I didn't think it was 'shown actual size'" she answered, having missed the words "shown actual size" printed on the box.

My wife is, apparently, so imaginative that the contents of boxes don't have to be constrained by the rules of physics in our dimension. In her mind a 4 foot weber grill can somehow emerge from a 10" box, though some combination of a cardboard space time warp, and perhaps shrinkage. Maybe she thought it said, "Just add lighter fluid and the cast iron grill expands to four times it's size!" I would buy a grill like that if it would also shrink back down once it was cool.

At one point my wife had planned on cooking four chicken breasts, four pieces of corn on the cob, and other assorted grilled vegetables—on her imaginary grill. Then it hit her that four chicken breasts by themselves would only fit if the chickens were midgets.

Now that it was assembled I noticed that the grill fit at an angle designed, I guess, to cause anything placed on it to slide off. This didn't seem condusive to cooking something for more than the time it took to slide off. "Can't you bend it?" She asked, as if I was superman and could bend cast iron with my bare hands. "No, but I have a feeling that when we put something on it, it will probably fall off, so don't worry."

Now came time to "fire it up!" We'd bought a bag of Mesquite charcoal so that it would have that natural forest-firey flavor. But when we opened the bag we discovered that they were more like meteorites than briquettes—each piece of charcoal was larger than the entire grill.

"Can't we break them into smaller pieces with the hammer?" she asked, looking at me not as if this was a question but a command. Whenever she says "Can't we do something?" I know it means "Can't you?"

So I took out the hammer and hammered away but only managed to dent the charcoal. The head of the hammer, however, did manage to fly off somewhere into the garden. I was just glad it didn't go through a window.

We had thought the charcoal was the self-lighting kind, but upon closer reading of the bag, it said, "Just drop the whole bag into your grill and light the bag!" If we'd lit the bag our entire deck would have become the grill.

So now we had the charcoal in the dimension-challenged grill. For kindling, my wife used shredded paper from a box that had arrived through an eBay auction, as well as twigs and dried leaves that had fallen onto the deck.

This was when we realized that somehow everything on our deck was flame *retardant*--except, of course, for the deck itself. That's right, twigs and dry leaves, dried rosemary and lavender that should have gone up in smoke just sat there. Even the paper didn't burn.

A half hour went by and the grill was still only warm to the touch. My wife and niece insisted they could see a red glow. I feared it was the hibachi's wooden feet.

And then, after only about an hour and a half and a full lighter of butane, it was somewhat hot. Not white hot, mind you, but at least not cold. So on went the chicken breasts. Without a sizzle. We covered it with the old Weber cover (which could have covered four of these little grills). It was getting dark and cold, but at least we finally heard some sizzling, and the chicken was getting cooked.

My wife said, "When this is done you're going to tell me this was the best chicken you've ever eaten." I replied, "I've certainly worked up an appetite," as I hosed the deck off again.

Once we took the chicken off the grill my wife was going to douse the coals with the hose. I said, "Let me move away so I don't get covered with ash," and she said, "There won't be any ash," just as the ash exploded in a small mushroom cloud.

I made sure the grill was sitting in water, so there was no chance of a tragedy during dinner. And the result? It was the best chicken I've ever had—I guess there's something to be said for low-tech.

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Bitmotion Universal Component System

http://www.bitmotion.com/ucs/

Now that Fusion's future is secure, BitMotion introduces a whole new concept for adding features to Fusion. The Universal Component System is an integrated subscription system that gives you a continuous supply of new features downloaded right inside of Fusion.

These features use large controls that make them easier to configure and use. Choose dates using the built-in calendar and see images previewed right in the properties dialog, even animated GIF images display with their animations!

The annual subscription entitles you to freely download all the modules that are released within the year, plus get free email and newsgroup support, and receive free upgrades to the product.

Plus, if you have a basic understanding of JavaScript, you can create your own new features! Fusion has never been so easily to customize for yourself and your clients.

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Make Your Web Graphics Load Faster

I still go to sites and wait for graphics that take forever to load—when they don't have to.

The most basic reason? Someone chose the wrong file format. Here's the simple way to figure out the best file format:

GIF: Think "GIF IF FEW." If your graphic has few colors, GIF will be most compact. This is the right choice for things like text, or flat areas of color. GIF files can only contain 256 colors so photos won't look as good and will also be much larger and slower to download.

JPG: Think "JUST PHOTO GRAPHICS." If your image has a lot of colors, the way photos do, then use JPG. Don't use JPG on text, because it will make it look wavy or blurry. JPG lets you control the amount of compression in an image. Too little and the files are too big. Too much and the graphics look blotchy. It can take trial and error to find the best compromise between fast downloads and good image quality.

If you're not sure which ones to use—save the graphic in both formats and see which one is smaller.

For more details on graphic file formats, read:

http://www.efuse.com/Design/web_graphics_basics.htm l

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Got fusion? Need help?

Looking for support for Fusion? Your first stop should be http://www.GotFusion.com , created by "Team NetObjects" (those smart men and women who volunteer their time and talents to make a significant contribution to the NetObjects Fusion Technical Support Newsgroups).

http://www.GotFusion.com contains the resources and the expanded knowledge of the most experienced Fusion users that has ever been assembled at one single location in the world today. It's a vital resource anyone who uses NOF.

At http://www.GotFusion.com you will find all of the resources that were available at NetObjects.com; things like Fusion program Updates, Site styles, Components, Links, Tips and tricks from the pros, plus more.

There's even a German version at http://www.gotfusion.com/Germany/ and links to Fusion-related sites around the world.

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Add Photo Realism To Your Site—Save $10

Speaking of photos, if you want to inexpensively add high-quality photos to your site, I can personally recommend Hemera Photo-Objects. Each 8-CD set contains 50,000 special photos where the objects and people are cleanly cut out of their background.

These photos cover every conceivable subject, letting you illustrate your site without having your graphics all boxed in. They come with easy to use software that saves the photos in the best format for the web, or office.

Save $10 now by going to

http://www.hemera.com/jumppages/fuseletter/jp-fusele tter.htm

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DO GOOD

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One More Thing: Plug, Plug, Plug

There are only 53 days until Christmas. Meanwhile, my unique watches and computer clocks make great gifts.

Buy online to avoid having to pack and ship!

The watches: http://www.projects-us.com/html/mystery-watches.ht ml

The clocks: http://www.elementoftime.com Stop by and get a free computer clock or screensaver.

And if you know a publisher or agent who would be interested in publishing my stories, please email me - Thanks!

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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2005, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.