Best Cities for Running!

September 27, 2016

In the October issue of Runner’s World, they analyzed more than 250 cities (populations greater than 160K) with the highest number of households per capita who reportedly participated in some form of running over the last twelve months.  Data was gathered from a variety of sources to create five categories of special importance to runners (presence of sanctioned clubs, races, and running stores; the number of trails, open spaces, running tracks, etc.; ideal running weather; access to healthy food options; and safety [crime and traffic] for pedestrians).   Here’s the list of the top-50.

  1. San Francisco, CA
  2. Seattle, WA
  3. Boston, MA
  4. San Diego, CA
  5. Washington, DC
  6. Portland, OR
  7. Minneapolis, MN
  8. New York, NY
  9. Omaha, NE
  10. Denver, CO
  11. Chicago, IL
  12. Madison, WI
  13. Colorado Springs, CO
  14. San Jose, CA
  15. Los Angeles, CA
  16. Rochester, NY
  17. Pittsburgh, PA
  18. Tucson, AZ
  19. Raleigh, NC
  20. Boise, ID
  21. Oakland, CA
  22. Philadelphia, PA
  23. Sacramento, CA
  24. St. Louis, MO
  25. Buffalo, NY
  26. Virginia Beach, VA
  27. St. Paul, MN
  28. Richmond, VA
  29. Santa Rosa, CA
  30. Charlotte, NC
  31. Las Vegas, NV
  32. Tampa, FL
  33. Lincoln, NE
  34. Albuquerque, NM
  35. Cleveland, OH
  36. Cincinnati, OH
  37. Milwaukee, WI
  38. Atlanta, GA
  39. Des Moines, IA
  40. Irvine, CA
  41. Salt Lake City, UT
  42. Baltimore, MD
  43. Spokane, WA
  44. Honolulu, HI
  45. Indianapolis, IN
  46. Phoenix, AZ
  47. San Antonio, TX
  48. Miami, FL
  49. Oklahoma City, OK
  50. Houston, TX

Source: runnersworld.com/bestcities

College Football 2016, Week Four!

September 26, 2016

Following their excellent win on the road last week (at Notre Dame), the Spartans hosted the Badgers of Wisconsin in their Big Ten Conference opener this week.  And . . . the Spartans did not show up to play (offense or defense) and lost the game.  Bummer.

In the AP rankings, the top seven teams remained the same, but the rest were shaken up a bit.  The Big Ten continues to have five teams in the AP top-25 rankings (four in the top-10):   Ohio State [#2], Michigan [#4], Wisconsin [#8],  Nebraska [#15], and Michigan State [#17].

Next up for the Spartans: on the road to take on the Indiana Hoosiers.   Go Green!

The upsets this week included:
Michigan State (#8) losing to Wisconsin (#11).
Georgia (#12) losing to Ole Miss (#23).
LSU (#18) losing to unranked Auburn by five (5) points.

The close calls this week (games that were won by a touchdown or less) included:
Washington (#9) defeating unranked Arizona by seven (7) points in overtime.
Utah (#24) defeating unranked USC by four (4) points.

Top-25 match-ups won by the higher-ranked team included:
Texas A&M (#10) defeating Arkansas (#17).
Tennessee (#14) defeating Florida (#19).

Do You Know Your Baseball?!

September 25, 2016

I encountered this word while working a New York Times crossword puzzle recently and had no clue as to its meaning or origin.  I had seen the movie Moneyball, but didn’t realize that the team had used sabermetrics to build their successful team.   This word originated in 1980 by utilizing the initials of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) plus    –metrics.

sabermetrics or sabrmetrics, sabermetrician

\ sey-ber-me-triks \, noun;  \‐mi-trishuh n \

1.  (used with a singular verb) the computerized measurement of baseball statistics.

99 Great Ways to Save (Part 4)!

September 24, 2016

In the July /August issue of the AARP Bulletin, several experts offer tips and tricks that will help you save money in a variety of categories: travel, technology, home, finance, style, food, fun, getting there, health, and entertainment.  Part 4 will be the finance category (tips courtesy of Farnoosh Torabi [host of podcast So Money] and Jane Bryant Quinn [AARP financial columnist]).

30. Reduce your auto insurance.
31. Buy more to spend less on life insurance (price bands).
32. Ask for discounts from monthly billers (call customer retention).
33. Take advantage of credit card perks.
34. Say yes (email promotions).
35. Don’t put college tuition on a credit card.
36. Buy like a man (i.e., razors and shampoo — feminine brand, paying for packaging).
37. Shop every year for a new Medicare Part D drug insurance plan.
38. Check the unclaimed property sites (naupa.org).
39. Don’t buy your bank’s overdraft-protection plan.

Source: AARP Bulletin, July/August 2016, p. 23.

Flute, Violin, and Bagpipe!

September 23, 2016

Happy Friday! Here is an “amazing” rendition of Amazing Grace involving Andre Rieu (on violin) and Teun Ramaekers (on piccolo/fife).  Unfortunately, I’m not sure who’s playing the bagpipes so I cannot give her a shout-out at this time.

Good Advice!

September 22, 2016

Here is the next installment of poetry generally attributed to Thomas, the sixth Earl of Harrington (circa 1730).  Enjoy!

Good Advice

Some years ago, a charming dame
In Paris to the regent came.
She was so vexed she scarce could speak,
She trembled, and her voice was weak:
But rage, however closely pent
In a woman’s breast, will find a vent.
Three times she sighed, and thus begun:
“Great Orleans, I am undone;
“Just now the cardinal I saw,
“Told him I had a suit for law,
“That I’d be baffled at the court,
“Unless he did my cause support,m
“Then to him kneeled; as God shall save me,
“The wicked wretch an answer gave me,
“With which I was quite thunder-struck:
“Madam,” said he, “go home and f___.”
“What could the lewd, the rotten brute
“Say to a common prostitute?
“Was this fit language to a maid?”
To this his Highness, smiling said,
“What though Dubois’s a slave to vice,
“Yet, faith, he gave you good advice.”

Note: printed on the page following the title page was the following: “from a collection of poems that have been generally ascribed to Thomas, sixth Earl of Harrington. He was the son of Charles, the fifth Earl, and Margaret Lesslie, Countess of Rothes; and fought on the Royal side at the battle of Shirreffmuir, along with his brother John Lesslie, Earl of Rothes, and his own son, Lord Binning. These poems, according to Pinkerton, were printed about 1730, and have been reprinted in 1753, 1765, 1767, and 1777. He was also the author of Mia treatise on forest trees, which has gone through several editions. He died in 1735.” However, if these dates are correct (and I am by no means an expert historian in such matters), these poems could only have been written by either the first or second Earl of Harrington (William Stanhope and W.S. Jr.).

The Right to Bear Arms!

September 21, 2016

Want to know how your state rates when it comes to the percentage of adults who own guns (data for 2013)?   The September issue of the AARP Bulletin provided a map comparing all of the states (source: Injury Prevention).  I’m not exactly sure how this was measured (Legally owned? Registered/permitted?) , so I’m reticent to totally accept the accuracy of these percentages . . . but for purposes of the conversation, a starting point.  I’m wondering if Illinois’ percentage failed to include the city of Chicago?

Highest to Lowest
1. Alaska (61.7%)
2. Arkansas (57.9%)
3. Idaho (56.9%)
4. West Virginia (54.2%)
5. Wyoming (53.8%)
6. Montana (52.3%)
7. Alabama (48.9%)
8. North Dakota (47.9%)
9.  Hawaii (45.1%)
10. Louisiana (44.5%)
11. South Carolina (44.4%)
12. Mississippi (42.8%)
13. Kentucky (42.4%)
14. Tennessee (39.4%)
15. Nevada (37.5%)
16. Minnesota (36.7%)
17. Texas (35.7%)
18. South Dakota (35.0%)
19. Wisconsin (34.7%)
20. Colorado (34.3%)
21. Iowa (33.8%)
21. Indiana (33.8%)
23. Florida (32.5%)
24. Arizona (32.3%)
25. Kansas (32.2%)
26. Utah (31.9%)
27. Georgia (31.6%)
28. Oklahoma (31.2%)
29. Virginia (29.3%)
30. Michigan (28.8%)
30. Vermont (28.8%)
32. North Carolina (28.7%)
33. Washington (27.7%)
34. Missouri (27.1%)
34. Pennsylvania (27.1%)
36. Oregon (26.6%)
37. Illinois (26.2%)
38. District of Columbia (25.9%)
39. Maine (22.6%)
39. Massachusetts (22.6%)
41. Maryland (20.7%)
42. California (20.1%)
43. Nebraska (19.8%)
44. Ohio (19.6%)
45. Connecticut (16.6%)
46. New Hampshire (14.4%)
47. New Jersey (11.3%)
48. New York (10.3)
49. Rhode Island (5.8%)
50. Delaware (5.2%)

Chocolate, Brownie, and Mousse!

September 20, 2016

What’s not to like?  This sounds like a truly decadent dessert that I will just have to give a whirl one of these days.   I don’t remember where I ran across this recipe (so my apologies for not  providing proper attribution).

Triple Chocolate Brownie-Mousse

BROWNIES
Cooking spray
¾ cup of butter
1 (4-oz) bittersweet dark chocolate baking bar, chopped
1-1/2 cups OF sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup of all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of salt

MILK CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
1/2 a package (12-oz) of milk chocolate morsels (1 cup)
¼ cup of creamy peanut butter
1 cup of heavy cream

WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
1 cup of white chocolate morsels
1-1/4 cup of heavy cream, divided

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS
8 large paper clips
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
Garnish: shaved chocolate

DIRECTIONS
1. To prepare the brownies: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and the sides of a 13×9-inch pan with aluminum foil (allowing 2-3 inches to extend over the sides); lightly grease the foil with cooking spray. Microwave the butter and the bittersweet chocolate in a large bowl on high for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or just until melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.  Whisk in the sugar and vanilla.  Add the eggs, one at a time whisking just until blended after each addition.  Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Whisk the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until blended.  Pour mixture into your prepared pan.

2. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour).  Lift the brownies from the pan using the foil handles.  Cut 8 circles using a 3” round cutter.

3. To prepare the milk chocolate mousse: microwave the milk chocolate morsels and the peanut butter in a small glass bowl on medium power for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.  Cool 5 minutes.

4. Beat 1 cup of heavy cream at medium speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; fold the whipped cream into the milk chocolate mixture. Chill while you make the white chocolate mousse.

5. To prepare the white chocolate mousse: microwave the white chocolate morsels and ¼ a cup of cream in a small glass bowl on medium power for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.  Cool 5 minutes.

6. Beat the remaining 1 cup of cream at medium speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; fold the whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture. Chill while you prepare the foil molds for step 7.

7. To assemble the stacks: wash and dry your paper clips.  Cut heavy-duty aluminum foil into 8 strips (6 x 10-inch each) .  Fold each piece in half to form a 3 x 10-inch strip.  Wrap each strip around a 3-inch diameter can (this helps create a smooth curve).  Wrap 1 curved strip around each brownie and secure with a large paper clip.  Immediately spoon the milk chocolate mousse into a ziplock bag (do not seal).  Snip 1 corner of bag to make a small hole (about ½ inch).  Pipe the mousse onto brownies, dividing the mixture evenly.  Use a small spoon to gently level them.  Repeat the procedure with the white chocolate mousse.  Chill for at least 2 hours before removing the foil and serving.

Amazing Adjectives, Number Six!

September 19, 2016

Happy Monday!  Here’s a new word for my vocabulary . . . “The star’s splendid, coruscant gown reflected the brilliant lights of Oscar night and brought rounds of applause as she made her way into the theater.”

coruscant

\ kuhruhs-kuh nt, kawruh s-, kor– \, adjective;

  1. sparkling or gleaming; scintillating; coruscating.

Related words: coruscate (verb) and coruscation (noun).

College Football 2016, Week Three!

September 18, 2016

block_sWoohoo!  This week the Spartans traveled to Notre Dame where they were the prohibitive underdogs yet they still managed to find a way to win!  Congratulations Sparty on an excellent victory!  Here it is only the third week of the season and there are already three teams in the top-25 who have two losses (Oklahoma, Ole Miss, and Notre Dame — all three have lost all of their games to currently ranked opponents).  The Big Ten Conference has five teams in the AP top-25 rankings (three in the top-10):   Ohio State [#3], Michigan [#4], Wisconsin [#9],  Michigan State [#12], and Iowa [#13].

Next up for the Spartans: at home against the Wisconsin Badgers (#9).   Go Green!

The upsets this week included:
Florida State (#2) losing to Louisville (#10).
Texas (#11) losing to unranked California.
Iowa (#13) losing to unranked North Dakota State by two (2) points.
Oregon (#22) losing to unranked Nebraska by three (3) points.

The close calls this week (games that were won by a touchdown or less) included:
Alabama (#1) defeating Ole Miss (#19) by five (5) points.
Wisconsin (#9) defeating unranked Georgia State by only six (6) points.
Georgia (#16) defeating  unranked Missouri by one (1) point.
LSU (#20) defeating unranked Mississippi State by three (3) points.

Top-25 match-ups won by the higher-ranked team included:
Alabama (#1) defeating Ole Miss (#19) by five (5) points.
Ohio State (#3) defeating Oklahoma (#14).
Michigan State (#12) defeating Notre Dame (#18).