Archive for January, 2011

Itsy-Bitsy, Teenie-Weenie!

January 31, 2011

No, not a yellow polka-dot bikini, but the smallest “framed” item in my art collection (2-3/8″ wide x 3″ tall — framed dimensions).  It really isn’t art (aside from the fact that it is framed), but rather a $0.20 cent postage stamp:  “America’s Libraries: Legacies to Mankind.”

A first day of issue ceremony for the America’s Libraries Stamp was held on July 13, 1982, at the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in Philadelphia.

A second $0.20 cent “library” stamp issued in 1982 (which I do not own — framed or unframed) was the Library of Congress stamp which was was issued on April 21, during National Library Week. 

Then in 2009, the Special Libraries Association (SLA) introduced a $0.42 cent stamp to celebrate and commemorate their Centennial Anniversary as an Association.  I used these Centennial stamps for the entire year on all of my letters and correspondence.  One of these days I will probably transition to electronic bill pay, but for now, I still use stamps and rely on the U.S. Postal Service.

Let’s Be Charitable!

January 30, 2011

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics . . . there are

  • 1,569,572 tax-exempt organizations (in the United States), including:
    • 997,579 public charities
    • 118,423 private foundations
    • 453,570 other types of nonprofit organizations, including chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations and civic leagues.
  • In 2006, nonprofits accounted for 8.11% of all wages and salaries paid in the United States.
  • There are an estimated 377,640 congregations in the United States.
  • In 2007, public charities reported over $1.4 trillion in total revenues and nearly $1.3 trillion in total expenses.  Of the revenue:
    • 22% came from contributions, gifts and grants.
    • 67% came from program service revenues, which include government fees and contracts.
    • 11% came from “other” sources including dues, rental income, special event income, and gains or losses from goods sold.
  • Public charities reported nearly $2.6 trillion in total assets in 2007.

These numbers seem staggering and would certainly support the assertion that we are an eleemosynary nation.  Why then does there continue to be so many poor and homeles in our midst?

eleemosynary

\el-uh-mos-uh-ner-ee\, adjective;
1. Of or for charity; charitable.
2. Given in charity; having the nature of alms.
3. Supported by or dependent upon charity.

Sources: 
NCCS Business Master File (10/09)
Nonprofit Almanac (2008)
American Church Lists (2006)
NCCS Core Files (2007)

A Weakness for Dessert!

January 29, 2011

Following a wonderful meal (or any meal for that matter), who doesn’t like to have a little bit of dessert?   Desserts traditionally end a meal so as to leave the palate feeling sweetly refreshed.  The name derives from the French “desservir,” which means “to clear the table.”  If you are looking for something a little different, give this cream puff recipe a try — simply delicious!

Cream Puffs

Shell Ingredients
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat water and butter to a rolling boil in a saucepan. Stir in flour and stir vigorously over low heat until the mixture forms a ball (about 1 minute); remove from heat. Beat in the eggs (all at once) and continue beating until smooth. Drop dough by scant 1/4 cup spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet (about 3 inches apart).

Bake until puffed and golden, 35-40 minutes. Cool away from a draft. Cut off tops and pull out any fillaments of soft dough. Fill puffs with cream filling, replace tops, and either dust with powdered sugar, or drizzle with chocolate frosting. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cream Filling Ingredients
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in 2-quart saucepan. Stir in milk gradually. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir one minute. Stir at least half the mixture gradually into the beaten egg yolks. Blend the egg mixture back into the hot mixture. Boil and stir one minute more. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla and cool.

Chocolate Frosting
Heat 1/2 square (1/2 ounce) of unsweetened chocolate and 1/2 teaspoon of butter over low heat until melted. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 cup powdered sugar and about 1 tablespoon of hot water. Beat until smooth.

No Regrets?

January 28, 2011
Courtesy of http://www.despair.com

It has been a little more than a month since I’ve posted a demotivator from www.despair.com, so without further delay, Happy Friday one and all!   I don’t know if it is possible to get through life completely free of regret or not (we are all human after all).  I certainly feel that I’ve been fortunate enough to not have had too many regrets in my life.  The few regrets that I have experienced, have been neither too big (in my humble opinion), nor too frequent.  Of course, I may live to “regret” having made this bold assertion, but what is life without a little risk every now and then?  I’d like to think that I’ve learned to be content in life (and I do continuously count my many blessings).  Perhaps true contentedness diminishes regret.  If that is the case, then I have no worries whatsoever!

Research and Knowledge!

January 27, 2011

Here’s a wonderful quotation that I ran across on the SLA (Special Libraries Association) Future Ready 365 blog (courtesy of Ian Palmer of the European Chapter).

“What is research, but a blind date with knowledge.”  (William J. Henry)

Read Ian’s entire post here.

And, according to my Cynic’s Dictionary, research is . . .
“What I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.”  (Wernher von Braun)

Or,
“The process of going up alleys to see if they’re blind.” (Marston Bates)

Knowledge is . . .
“Power . . . if you know it about the right person.” (Ethel Watts Mumford)

Natural AND Phenomenal!

January 26, 2011

Inquiring minds want to know . . . but some things are simply unexplainable.  Take for example the “Sailing Stones.”  Found on the packed-mud desert of Death Valley, these mysterious moving stones have sparked quite the scientific controversy (for many years).

These “stones” are not neccesarily small (some weigh up to hundreds of pounds) and they do not always “move” small distances (some move up to hundreds of yards at a time).  How do they move?  A combination of strong winds coupled with surface ice?  If this were the case, then how do you explain the movement of separate rocks (side by side) moving in different directions and at different speeds?  And, for the size of some of these stones, the winds would have to be extremely strong (hundreds of miles per hour).

Perplexing indeed!

New Dali Museum!

January 25, 2011

Traitors Against Their Hosts

I have long been a fan of Salvador Dali and I would have loved to have visited the Dali Museum on my last trip to the Tampa area.  Unfortunately, it did not work out.  Due to poor planning on my part, I did not have sufficient time.   Now that a new museum has been built, I’m going to have to make a more concerted effort to get down to St. Petersburg to visit — they had their grand opening of the new museum at 11:11 AM on 1/11/11.  Here’s a repost of a Dali print — one of my favorites — from my collection.

Check out the full article here.

“Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.” (Salvador Dali)

Bad Week for the Spartans!

January 24, 2011

After coming from behind in both games last week to win in overtime, the luck ran out for the Michigan State Spartans who lost two games on the road this week (to #22 Illinois on Tuesday and to #13 Purdue on Saturday) and now have a 12-7 record (4-3 in the Big Ten).  I keep hoping that the Final Four team from last year shows up to play one of these days . . . especially since we are entering the final third of the season.  Next up: home against the Wolverines of Michigan on Thursday.  Go Green!   Texas (#11) on the other hand, (who defeated the Spartans back in late December @ East Lansing), had an extremely great week and defeated two more top-ten teams.

The Spartans were not the only top-25 team to run into trouble though.  Others notable upsets this week included:
Kansas (#2) losing to Texas (#11).
Syracuse (#3) losing to Villanova (#7).
Texas A&M (#10) losing to Texas (#11).
Kentucky (#12) losing to unranked Alabama.
Louisville (#15) losing to unranked Providence.
Saint Mary’s (#21) losing to unranked Vanderbilt.

Close calls included:
Ohio State (#1) hanging on to beat Illinois (#22).
Purdue (#13) squeaking by unranked Penn State.
Arizona (#25) barely escaping unranked Washington State.

Following this week’s upsets, only two teams remain undefeated at this point in the season: the Ohio State Buckeyes, and the San Diego State Aztecs.

March Madness is just around the corner!

Favorite Way to Go!

January 23, 2011

When it comes to vacationing, my favorite getaways are cruises (my next cruise is scheduled for Fall 2011 — the Hawaiian Islands).  What’s not to like?  Great food, great service, a host of onboard activities, multiple ports of call (without having to pack and unpack all of the time), and pre-planned shore excursions (if you are so inclined).   According to the Condé Nast Traveler, thirteen million people (70% of them Americans) boarded cruise ships in 2010.  The Condé Nast Traveler’s annual list of the very best passenger ships (based upon their Readers’ Choice Survey) has been tabulated and reported . . . here are the top five in each category.

Small ships (less than 500 passengers)
1. Seabourn Odyssey (best cabins, best activities, best design/layout)
2. Seabourn Spirit
3. Seabourn Legend (highest score for food/dining, best service, best itineraries)
4. Paul Gauguin
5. Seabourn Pride
Note: at #15 was the National Geographic Endeavor (best shore excursions)

River ships (generally under 200 passengers)
1. River Beatrice (best shore excursions, best cabins, best food, best activities)
2. River Duchess (best design/layout)
3. River Concerto
4. Provence (perfect score of “100” for itineraries and service)
5. River Countess

Large ships (between 500 and 2,500 passengers)
1. Seven Seas Voyager (best itineraries, best service, best cabins)
2. Crystal Serenity (best shore excursions, best design/layout)
3. Crystal Symphony
4. Seven Seas Mariner
5. Queen Victoria (best activities)
Note: the #6 Regatta had the best food and the #8 Prisendam had the best itineraries.

Mega ships (more than 2,500 passengers)
1. Disney Magic (best itineraries, best shore excursions, best service, best activities, best design/layout)
2. Disney Wonder
3. Celebrity Solstice (best service)
4. Celebrity Equinox (best food)
5. Independence of the Seas

Strive for Excellence!

January 22, 2011

My perfectionistic tendencies have been the subject of many a post.  As has been my love for, and collecting of, art.    So, when I ran across these quotations (thank you Maurie), it is only natural that I would find a way to repost them.  Perhaps someday I will find a way to let go of (or at least ease) these perfectionistic tendencies that seem to have me firmly within their grasp!  If not, it is why I will always be a collector of art instead of a creator or art.

“Perfectionism is the enemy of art. It has nothing to do with getting it right. It has nothing to do with fixing things. It has nothing to do with standards. Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead. It is a loop – an obsessive, debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details of what you are writing or paintint or making to lose sight of the whole.”  From “Meditations from the Artists’s Way.”

“I strive for excellence and leave perfection to God.”  (Michael J. Fox)