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Blu-Ray DVD Players

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Lisa 
To: Phaedrus, Uncle 
Sent: Friday, December 26, 2008 3:43 AM
Subject: It didn't come for Christmas

Dear Uncle,

I need some basic info on Blu-Ray disc. What's the difference between blu-ray and DVD? 
Can a blu-ray player play a DVD? Basic stuff like that. 

Can you help?



P.S. Hope you had a great Christmas. No one deserves it more than you. And Happy New Year.

Hi Lisa,

Thanks, hope you had a Great Christmas, too, and have a Happy 2009!

We bought a Blu-Ray player this last year, so I can give you some personal knowledge. Wikipedia ( can give you details, but basically, the facts are:

Back in 1998, when High-Definition TVs went on sale, there was no inexpensive method of recording video and playing it back in High Definition. Regular DVDs could not hold enough data to store a High Definition video.( HD requires a lot more data than regular video.) So, a group of manufacturers, headed by Toshiba, came up with something called HD-DVD, which used a blue laser to read and write to the disc. Because of the blue beam's shorter wavelength (405 nanometres), a lot more data can be stored on a Blu-Ray Disc than on the regular DVD format, which uses a red beam (650 nm) laser. They then developed a player using the first version of this format called HD DVD.

Meanwhile, another group of manufacturers called the "Blu-Ray Disc Association" continued working on High - Definition storage, and they came up with Blu-Ray, which in some ways is superior to Toshiba's HD-DVD. Blu-Ray soon became the more popular format in terms of sales, and manufacturers began dropping HD-DVD in favor of Blu-Ray. Blu-Ray is now the industry standard for High-Definition video players. Even Toshiba eventually dropped the HD DVD format in favor of Blu-Ray. The difference between plain DVD and Blu-Ray is as apparent as the difference between regular TV and HD. Yes, you can play all of your regular DVDs on a Blu-Ray player. Most Blu-Ray machines can also play the dropped HD-DVD format, but not vice-versa - an HD-DVD format player cannot play Blu-Ray discs. A regular DVD player cannot play Blu-Ray discs. The only problem we have ever noticed is that the Blu-Ray player will occasionally "freeze" - just stop - as if we had paused it. The first Blu-Ray player we had was a Panasonic, and we thought that the reason this happened was that the player was defective, so we took it back and swapped it for a Sony player. That wasn't the real problem, as it turned out. It doesn't happen with the Sony as often, but it does still occur. It appears to be a problem with the particular disc instead of with the player. The frustrating thing is that, when it freezes, usually the only way to get it going again is to turn off the player and restart the disc, fast forwarding to where you were in the movie and a little past it. If you don't go a little past the spot where it froze, then it will freeze again at the same spot. Another frustration is that sometimes when it's frozen, the controls won't work, either on the remote or on the player itself. It's like when a computer freezes up, and the only way you can get it going again is to turn it off and then boot up again. Sometimes you have to unplug the Blu-Ray player to turn it off. Then you plug it back in, turn it back on, and go from there. I think this problem may be caused by a data error or a physical flaw on the disc rather than a problem with the player itself. Else, why would it occur in the same spots on the disc every time? It never happens at all with some discs, and it happens every time a certain point is reached on other discs. Hopefully, disc technology will fix this little bug soon. I hope I haven't made this sound too bad - even with this flaw, we still wouldn't go back to a regular DVD player.

The Panasonic and Sony Blu-Ray players are rated the top two, I believe. For the best possible video, you should use a special type of cable, called an HDMI cable, to connect between your player and your High-Definition TV set. Hope this helps. Phaed

Pike's Peak Donuts

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Michael" 
Sent: Saturday, December 27, 2008 7:55 AM
Subject: Request: Pike's Peak Summit House Doughnuts

> Hi Phaed,
> The previous owners of the Summit House up on Pike's Peak (Colorado)  used 
> to sell a doughnut that they made.  It had a spice like cinnamon  in it 
> that made it really good.  I read in the paper a while back,  that the new 
> owners don't sell the doughnuts, tho I don't know if that  is really true 
> or not.  I'm looking for that recipe if possible.
> Thanks,
> Mike.

Hello Mike,

Sorry, no luck with the recipe. According to everything that I read about it, the Summit House recipe wouldn't work below 10,000 to 15,000 feet above sea level, anyhow. It's specifically formulated for high-altitude cooking. I know, it's the spices that you want. I couldn't find anything about the spices, though. Looks like no one has created a copycat recipe.

The good news is that I found no mention at all anywhere that the donuts have been discontinued. All of the Pike's Peak websites still mention the donuts. One even has a discount coupon for them. See: Visit Pike's Peak

I also found people's personal descriptions of their trip to Summit House from July, 2008, in which they talked about eating the donuts.

If you want further verification, call & ask at: 800-318-9505 or 719-385-PEAK


Update 2013:There is a brief article about these and a recipe for "High Altitude Donuts" here:

Palitos de Jacob

I saw that there had been several searches for this Puerto Rican pastry:

Palitos de Jacob (Jacob's Sticks)

25 sticks

1 cup water		Caramel
1/2 cup butter		1/2 cup water
1 cup flour		2 cups sugar
4 eggs			guava jelly

Boil water and butter and add flour at once. Stir constantly to prevent lumps.
When mixture clings to spoon, remove from heat. Add the eggs, one at a time; 
and beat vigorously after each one. Drop by spoonfuls on greased baking sheet, 
and with the help of a knife, extend each blob of dough into an oblong shape.
Bake at a temperature of 375 F for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Split and fill each stick with guava jelly. Prepare caramel from water and 
sugar and pour over each stick.

Yocco's Hot Dog Sauce

I saw that there had been several searches for this:

Yocco's Hot Dog Sauce

1 pound ground meat
1 medium onion 
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt 
3/4 teaspoon oregano 
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
2 cups water

Brown meat(breaking up pieces) and onions; drain. (At this point you can chop it if you 
want smaller pieces of meat). Add spices; mix well. Add water and simmer one hour. Can be frozen.

More Hot Dog, Chili Dog & Coney recipes

The Mystery Chef's Swiss Steak

I've received requests for recipes from the Great Depression, and for budget recipes for these trying times. Keep an eye on this section for such recipes. This is the first.

Back in 1934, there was a radio cooking program called "The Mystery Chef". The "Mystery Chef" was John MacPherson, and this recipe is from his cookbook, "The Mystery Chef's Own Cookbook: Presenting Marvelous Meals at Lower Cost".

The Mystery Chef's Swiss Steak

2 lbs (1 kg) round, flank, or sirloin steak (any less than premium cut will do, as long as it's 
 about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) thick)
1 small can tomatoes
3 Tbs (45 ml) olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 (250 ml) cup water
1/2 cup (125 ml) flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Coat the steak with as much flour as will adhere. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over 
high heat and brown the steak on both sides. Place the steak in a large ovenproof baking pan 
with a lid. (Some cooks prefer to wrap the steak and remaining ingredients in aluminum foil.) 
Add the cup of water to the skillet you browned the steak in and dissolve all the brown bits 
in the skillet. Add this liquid to the baking dish with the steak, along with the other ingredients. 
Cover and cook on top of the stove over low heat for 2 hours. Or bake in a 325F (160C) oven for 
2 hours. Serves 4 to 6.

"HAPPY 2009!"

Copyright (c) 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 Phaedrus