The Gallows!

February 21, 2018

Back in the day of public executions, the deceased were often times “left on display” for all to see.  An early attempt at deterrence, perhaps.  The means/device for doing so actually has a name (which I recently discovered).  “The executions took place on market days on a hill outside the town, the gibbet somewhat resembling a guillotine.”


\ jib-it \, noun;

1.  a gallows with a projecting arm at the top, from which the bodies of criminals were
formerly hung in chains and left suspended after execution. 

verb (used with object)gibbeted, gibbeting.
2.  to hang on a gibbet.
3.  to put to death by hanging on a gibbet.
4.  to hold up to public scorn.
Source: The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrlich, and

What Are the Odds?!

February 20, 2018

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the record for the most siblings born on the same day is five (5).  The Carolyn and Ralph Cummins family (Clintwood, VA, USA) holds this distinction by producing five single children with coincident birthdays (all born on February 20th):

  • Catherine (1952)
  • Carol (1953)
  • Charles (1956)
  • Claudia (1961)
  • Cecilia (1966)

The random odds against five single siblings sharing a birthdate are one in 17,797,577,730 – almost 4 times the world’s population.

College Basketball 2018, Week Fifteen!

February 19, 2018

It is not yet March, but the “madness” has been going on all season as the list of ranked teams losing to unranked teams continued this week.  Following their big win over Purdue last week, the Spartans moved up to #2 in the rankings (in the AP-poll; they are #1 in the Coaches poll) and won easily (30-point margin) on the road at Minnesota on Tuesday but had to rally back from as many as 27 points down in the first half (we were down 22 points at the half) on the road at Northwestern on Saturday!  What a comeback win on the road (the largest comeback in Big Ten history)!  Woot!  After allowing the Wildcats to score 49 in the first half, the Spartans held them to only 11 points in the second half!  The Big Ten conference currently has four teams in the AP top-25: Michigan State [#2], Purdue [#6], Ohio State [#8], and Michigan [#22].

Next up for the Spartans: at home versus Illinois tomorrow (February 20th) and then finishing up the regular season on the road against Wisconsin on Sunday (February 25th).  Go Green!

The upsets this week included:
Villanova (#3) losing to unranked Providence by five (5) points.
Cincinnati (#5) losing to unranked Houston by five (5) points and losing to Wichita State (#19) by four (4) points.
Purdue (#6) losing to unranked Wisconsin by four (4) points.
Texas Tech (#7) losing to unranked Baylor by two (2) points.
Ohio State (#8) losing to unranked Penn State and losing to Michigan (#22).
Auburn (#10) losing to unranked South Carolina.
Clemson (#11) losing to unranked Florida State by two (2) points and losing to Duke (#12).
Rhode Island (#16) losing to unranked St. Bonaventure by three (3) points.
Tennessee (#18) losing to unranked Georgia.
Texas A&M (#21) losing to unranked Missouri by four (4) points and losing to unranked Arkansas.
Oklahoma (#23) losing to unranked Texas.

The close calls this week (won by six points or less [two scores] or in overtime) included:
Michigan State (#2) defeating unranked Northwestern by five (5) points.
Purdue (#6) defeating unranked Penn State by three (3) points.
Kansas (#13) defeating unranked Iowa State by six (6) points.
Tennessee (#18) defeating unranked South Carolina by three (3) points.
Nevada (#24) defeating unranked Boise State by five (5) points and defeating unranked Utah State by six (6) points..

Top-25 match-ups won by the higher-ranked team included:
Villanova (#3) defeating Xavier (#4).
Texas Tech (#7) defeating Oklahoma (#23).
Kansas (#13) defeating West Virginia (#20).
Arizona (#17) defeating Arizona State (#25).

A Song!

February 18, 2018

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

A Song

Miss Nanny, young and innocent,
Last night was made a bride;
But long ere day, in discontent,
She did kind Willie chide.

“Base wretch,” she said, and then she wept,
“Why told you things untrue?
“Would I my maidenhead had kept,
“Or not have given’t to you.

“To honor you have no regard,
“You false, you perjured man;
“You swore that something was a yard,
“When it is scarce a span.”

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.).

Winter Enthusiast!

February 17, 2018

Happy Saturday!  We may be on the downside of the winter season (and spring is officially a little more than a month away), but we are smack dab in the middle of the Winter Olympics so here is a great infographic that shows the number of calories that can be burned by the various Winter Olympic sports.    Hmm, snow shoveling made the list . . . I wasn’t aware that this was an Olympic sport.  Enjoy!

Chart showing how various winter Olympics activities burn calories.

Fun Fact Friday, Number Sixty-Three!

February 16, 2018

The category for today’s trivial imponderable is “biology.”  Do you know where gorillas sleep?

Gorillas sleep in nests which are created by weaving bent branches with soft foliage to form a mattress.  And, while the females (and young) prefer sleeping in the trees above the ground, male gorillas tend to prefer sleeping on the ground.

Source: Sorry, Wrong Answer: Trivia Questions That Even Know-It-Alls Get Wrong, by Dr. Rod L. Evans.

Cheesecake of the Month – February 2018!

February 15, 2018

One of my non-U.S. friends (thank you Martha) has forwarded me yet another intriguing cheesecake recipe to add to my files.  Add it does not require baking!  I will definitely be trying this one soon!  I’ll have to break out my metric conversion charts for this one.

Salted Caramel and Popcorn Cheesecake

250 grams of crushed ginger nut biscuits
90 grams of butter, melted

3 cartons (180 grams each) of cream cheese, softened
200 ml of whipping cream
5 Tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Salted Caramel
300 gram container of caramel spread
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt flakes

30 grams of salted caramel popcorn
30 grams of toasted pecans

1. Line the bottom and sides of a 2 cm springform pan with parchment paper.

2. Mix the biscuit crumbs and butter together and press on to the bottom and sides of your springform pan.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes or so to firm up.

3. To make the cheesecake mixture, put the cream cheese into a bowl with the cream, sugar, and vanilla and beat until smooth with an electric hand-held mixer.

4. To make the salted caramel, beat the salt into the caramel until smooth.  Remove the springform pan from the fridge and spread 2/3 of the caramel onto the crust.

5. Add the cheesecake mixture and spread over the top of the caramel mixture.  Refrigerate for at least two hours to set.

6. Once set, remove from the refrigerator and scatter the popcorn and pecans on top before drizzling with the remaining salted caramel.


February 14, 2018

Happy Valentines Day!  As we ponder the day, the day in which we show our “love” to those close to us, the word “loving” is pretty straightforward.  However, according to my copy of The Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate, there are a couple of other synonyms or variants (see below) that could be used to represent the word loving.  Enjoy!


\ luhv-ing \, adjective;

1.  feeling or showing love; warmly affectionate; fond.
Other words you may consider using (depending on your context/usage, of course):

Source: The Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrlich. Definitions courtesy of

Air Force A Cappella!

February 13, 2018

I love a cappella singing (i.e., singing without instrumental accompaniment) — the precision and talent required to pull it off is extensive and when done well, never disappoints.  Here is a group from the Air Force Academy — thank you for your service, and thank you for your wonderful singing!

College Basketball 2018, Week Fourteen!

February 12, 2018

What a season this is turning out to be.  The upsets among the top-25 continue as we rapidly approach March Madness and the Road to the Final Four.  The Spartans eked out yet another tough win on the road at Iowa on Tuesday and followed this up with a great win at home against the Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday (both wins by a mere three points).   The Big Ten conference continues to have four teams in the AP top-25 (and with the new poll, possibly three within the top-10): Purdue [#3], Michigan State [#4], Ohio State [#14], and Michigan [#20].

Next up for the Spartans: on the road to take on Minnesota tomorrow (February 13th), and then on the road against Northwestern on Saturday (February 17th).

The upsets this week included:
Villanova (#1) losing to unranked St. John’s by four (4) points.
Virginia (#2) losing to unranked Virginia Tech by one (1) point in overtime.
Purdue (#3) losing to Ohio State (#14) by one (1) point and losing to Michigan State (#4) by three (3) points.
Auburn (#8) losing to unranked Texas A&M by one (1) point.
Duke (#9) losing to North Carolina (#21) by four (4) points.
Kansas (#10) losing to unranked Baylor.
St. Mary’s (#11) losing to Gonzaga (#12).
Arizona (#13) losing to unranked UCLA.
Tennessee (#15) losing to unranked Alabama.
Oklahoma (#17) losing to West Virginia (#19) by two (2) points and losing to unranked Iowa State.
West Virginia (#19) losing to unranked Oklahoma State by three (3) points.
Michigan (#20) losing to unranked Northwestern.
Nevada (#23) losing to unranked UNLV.
Kentucky (#24) losing to unranked Texas A&M.
Miami (#25) losing to unranked Boston College by two (2) points.

The close calls this week (won by six points or less [two scores] or in overtime) included:
Virginia (#2) defeating unranked Florida State by four (4) points.
Michigan State (#4) defeating unranked Iowa by three (3) points and defeating Purdue (#3) by three (3) points.
Xavier (#5) defeating unranked Butler by five (5) points in overtime and defeating unranked Creighton by one (1) point.
Ohio State (#14) defeating Purdue (#3) by one (1) point.
Tennessee (#15) defeating Kentucky (#24) by two (2) points.
North Carolina (#21) defeating Duke (#9) by four (4) points.
Miami (#25) defeating unranked Wake Forest by six (6) points.

Top-25 match-ups won by the higher-ranked team included:
Tennessee (#15) defeating Kentucky (#24) by two (2) points.