January 18, 1999 - Newsletter #11

By Joe Burns

G O O D I E S T O G O ! (tm)
January 18, 1999 - Newsletter #11

Please visit http://www.htmlgoodies.com.

Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors...

You know I am still getting letters from people who are trying to think of a rhyme for "purpose"? (See the January 4, 1999 Goodies To Go!) To all of you who suggested "purpose-shmurpose", I ain't buyin' it!

Am I long winded? I got a letter asking if I can talk as much as I write in a weekly newsletter. Madam, you have no concept. When I lecture, smoke rises off of the pencils of the students attempting to take notes. I'm joking, of course. They don't take notes.

Okay, on to this week's newsletter. I don't know about the weather where you are, but here in Pennsylvania the temperature is well below freezing and the roads are awful. It's a good time to stay at home and bake something. With that in mind, I offer the following Internet-related Urban Legend.

First off, what's an Urban Legend? A bad movie from 1998 starring the woman from the Noxzema ads? Yes, but that's not what I mean. An Urban Legend is a story that always seems to have happened to someone's brother's cousin or some such distant relationship that it just has to be true.

The most famous legend is the one about the Mikey kid from the Life cereal ads who supposedly ate Pop Rocks and drank a Coke (some say Pepsi) and blew up his stomach. It's not true, but it seems plausible. Another is the one where a woman gets on an elevator with a gruff-looking man and his huge, scary dog. She is nervous to begin with, but then the dog starts barking. The man yells, "Sit!" ...and she does. A friend of mine absolutely believes that famous people die in groups of three. Furthermore, he believes that the three who die all have some cosmic connection. He's actually been keeping track since his teen years and he's now in his 30s.

As soon as the Internet started becoming mainstream, new and better Urban Legends began. I loved the one that Microsoft actually bought the Catholic religion from the Pope. I wanted to believe it until I read that they were going to call their new operating system "Stained Glass Windows." Ha! That's great.

Have you received emails warning you about the "Good Times" virus that doesn't really exist? Or that AOL had built a package into their new browser version allowing them to spy on every computer in the country whenever they wanted? How about the one that Bill Gates did the same with MSIE to be able to invade everyone's hard drive and corrupt the latest Windows version so he could sell fixes and updates? Ha!

Now the biggest and best-known of them all: The Neiman-Marcus cookie story. I still have my original copy of the recipe from an email dated November 11, 1995, and now you're going to get it from me.

If you've read my tutorial on Cookies:


then you've already been made aware of this Internet legend. The story goes that a guy went to Neiman-Marcus with his daughter to buy a hat and a scarf. (Stories differ, but this is what mine says.) They both ordered salad and a dessert. The dessert was the famous Neiman-Marcus cookie. They're still served, by the way.

When the waitress came with check, the father asked if he could get the recipe. The waitress said no. He then asked if he could buy the recipe. She said yes and that it would be "two-fifty." Well, he thought she meant $2.50. Surely she didn't mean $250.00!! Yes, she did, and don't call me Shirley. When his bill arrived a month later (this is where I think this really breaks down--didn't he look at the credit bill before he signed it at the restaurant??), he was upset. He called Neiman-Marcus and said they'd misrepresented the price, they'd scammed him, yadda yadda yadda. In the end, Neiman-Marcus refused to take the cost off of his credit card. So this guy decided to get even by posting the recipe all over Internet newsgroups and sending it out as a chain letter to anyone who would listen.

So, is the story true? I doubt it, but it makes a good cookie. Every time I teach a computer class, I make these cookies for the final day. The students enjoy the story and love the cookie. It is rich. So here we go. Enjoy it!

>>>>>>>>>>The Urban Legend Neiman-Marcus Cookie Recipe

(Recipe may be halved)

2 cups butter

4 cups flour

2 cups sugar

5 cups blended oatmeal (I make oatmeal dust in a coffee grinder)

24 oz. chocolate chips

2 cups brown sugar

1 8 oz. Hershey Bar

4 eggs

3 cups chopped nuts (I use pecans)

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. soda

1 tsp. salt

**Measure oatmeal and blend to a fine powder. Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, broken-up Hershey bar, and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 100 cookies.

As Homer Simpson would say... "Mmmmmm, cookies."


That's that. I tried not to be too long winded! See you next week.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: According to the U.S. Navy, the difference between a ship and a boat is that a boat can be carried by a ship.

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