Archive for April, 2011

Type-A?

April 30, 2011

Oh yeah, guilty as charged.  I am definitely a burnout-prone, stressed-out, overachieving Type A personality! I’ve been burning my candle at both ends for quite some time now (or so it seems).  Here’s a short quatrain by Edna St. Vincent Millay (titled First Fig) that sums up this experience quite nicely.

“My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends —
It gives a lovely light!”

Here are some of the more common traits/characteristics of the Type-A personality.

  • Time urgency and impatience.
  • Free-floating hostility or aggressiveness.
  • Competitiveness.
  • Strong achievement orientation.

Some of the physical characteristics that accompany Type-A personality include:

  • Facial tension.
  • Tongue clicking or teeth grinding.
  • Dark circles under the eyes.
  • Facial sweating.

Some of the negative effects of Type-A behavior include:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Heart disease.
  • Job stress.
  • Social isolation.

I would not characterize my life as being at the most extreme end of the Type-A continuum, but I’m sure I fall on the line somewhere.  Hopefully, my healthy lifestyle (exercise, proper diet and nutrition, etc.) will help to mitigate the negative health consequences of this type of behavior.

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Cheesecake of the Month — April 2011!

April 29, 2011

I tried out a new cheesecake recipe this week, Tiny Peanut Butter Cheesecakes, and I will definitely be making these again.  They were quick and easy and the perfect “individually sized” treat that will allow you to satisfy your craving for dessert without the guilt of consuming too large a portion.  Delicious!

Tiny Peanut Butter Cheesecakes

Ingredients
3/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
12 chocolate kisses
2 packages of cream cheese (8-ounce), softened
1/3 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 cup of chunky peanut butter
1/2 square unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspoon butter
1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions
1. Preheat over to 325 degrees. Line twelve 2-1/2 inch muffin cups with foil bake cups and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the cookie crumbs and 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Stir in the melted butter and mix. Press the mixture onto the bottoms of the foil bake cups. Place chocolate kisses (with their points up) in the middle of each cup.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1/3 cup of sugar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla; beat on low speed until just combined. Beat in the peanut butter until combined.

3. Carefully spoon about 1/4 cup of the cream cheese mixture into each cup (the cups should be full); be sure to keep the “kiss” centered in the cup. Bake about 25 minutes or until set. Cool in the pn on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

4. In a small pan, over low heat, cook the unsweetened chocolate and the butter until melted. Whisk in the powdered sugar and add up to 1 Tablespoon of hot water (to achieve desired consistency). REmove the cheesecakes from the foil bake cups and drizzle the chocolate sauce over the tops. Chill for about an hour (or until the chocolate has set).

Royal Succession in Britain!

April 28, 2011

As the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton rapidly approaches, if  you were curious about who’s in line to succeed to the throne, here is the list.  The wedding ceremony is scheduled to begin in the wee hours of the morning (CDT – six time zones behind London) and TV analysts are predicting that about 29% of the world’s population (about 2 billion) will watch the live broadcast of the wedding.

In terms of “notable events” (and to put this in perspective a bit), here are the numbers for a few other historic live television audiences for significant world events (source: Guinness World Records).

2.5 billion people, or 41 percent of the world’s population at the time, watched the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997.

750 million people, or 16 percent of the world’s population at the time, watched Prince Charles marry Diana in 1981.

600 million people, or 20 percent of the world’s population at the time, watched the first moon landing in 1969.

4.7 billion people, or 70 percent of the world’s population, watched at least part of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, making it the most-watched sporting event in history.

Never Quit!

April 27, 2011

As I was growing up, my parents were constantly extolling the value and/or virtue of perseverance . . . from the proverb “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” to the dogged tenacity of simple sticktoitiveness, quitting never seemed to be an option.  I daresay that this attitude or approach to life has held me in good stead.  Here is a wonderful quotation that accurately (and humorously) compares and contrasts perseverance and obstinancy with a single phrase — simply brilliant!

“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is, that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.”  — Henry Ward Beecher

That’s A Lot of Bytes!

April 26, 2011

I ran across this wonderful infographic that may help put some perspective on the explosion of information and data (courtesy of James S. Huggins’ Refrigerator Door).  Boy, “yotta” is a lotta bytes!  It will be interesting to see what comes next (after the yottabyte), and who actually comes up with these terms?  Apparently, it is not haphazard at all . . . according to Merriam-Webster, “yotta” is a septillion (10 to the 24th power) and originates from the International Scientific Vocabulary (perhaps an alteration of Italian “otto” [eight]; from the fact that 10 to the 24th is the eighth power of 10 to the 3rd).

And In Addition . . . !

April 25, 2011

The English language is a very humbling language.  No matter how well developed you may think your vocabulary is, you occasionally run across a new word that makes you scramble for a dictionary.  And, as often as this lately seems to occur (to me), I’m beginning to question the extent of my vocabulary.

adscititious

\ad-si-tishuhs\; adjective,

1.  added or derived from an external source; additionally.

Grasshopper Pie!

April 24, 2011

Happy Easter one and all!  Here’s a quick and easy dessert that is sure to please.  Light, minty, and chocolaty — what a wonderful combination!

Grasshopper Pie

Crust:
1-1/2 cups crushed chocolate cookie crumbs
1/4 cup of butter, melted

Combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press onto the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan and bake for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Cool.

Filling:
32 large marshmallows (or 3 cups of miniature marshmallows)
1/2 cup of milk
1/4 cup of creme de menthe
3 Tablespoons of white creme de cacao
1-1/2 cups of chilled whipping cream
Few drops of green food coloring (if desired)

Heat marshmallows and milk over medium heat, stirring constantly (just until marshmallows are melted). Refrigerate until until the mixture thickens. Sitr in the liqueurs.

Beat the whipping cream in a chilled bowl until stiff. Fold the marshmallow mixture into the whipped cream; fold in the food coloring; pour into your crust and refrigerate until set (at least 3 hours). Garnish with grated semi-sweet chocolate shavings if desired.

That Sinking Feeling!

April 23, 2011

Guatemala City, 2010

I’ve always been intrigued by the destructive power of nature (tornados, hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, wildfires, etc.)

Sinkholes are yet another one of the world’s devastating natural phenomena.

In the strictly geologic use of the word, a sinkhole happens when water erodes solid bedrock, carving an underground cavity that can then collapse.

Graphic courtesy of the South Florida Water Management District

Many parts of the United States are at risk for this type of event.  And, while many sinkholes occur naturally, some are the result of human intervention (broken pipes with leaking water can erode otherwise stable subterranean sediments).

As seen above, urban sinkholes, up to hundreds of feet deep, have formed and consumed parts of city blocks, sidewalks and even entire buildings.

Happy Earth Day!

April 22, 2011

Graphic courtesy of Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal.

So, what are we doing to protect the health of our planet?  Check out the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) Billion Tree Campaign here.  And, while we’re on the topic, here is a wonderful list of facts and figures (compiled by Betsy Towner) from the April AARP Bulletin that provide some wonderful food for thought. 

Our Stomping Grounds:
1. The planet is 4.5 billion years old.
2. Global warming followed each of several ice ages starting in the Precambrian time more than 600 million years ago.
3. 1.75 million years ago, ice covered all of Europe and most of North America.
4. 18,000 years ago, winter temperatures were 27 to 36 degrees cooler. Ice Age Florida was like Quebec.
5. As the India tectonic place pressures the Eurasian plate, Mount Everest is rising at 3 cm. a year.
6. Earth tilts 23.5 degrees on its axis, causing our seasonal weather variations.
7. More than 11 million species live on the planet.
8. Humans have named about 1.7 million.
9. Oceans cover 70% of Earth’s surface.
10. Forests harbor 80% of Earth’s biodiversity.

Modern Footprints:
11. The last decade had the highest average temperatures on record.
12. Global temperatures may rise as much as 10.4 degrees by 2100.
13. More than 70 million barrels of crude oil are produced a day.
14. The 806 million cars and light trucks in the world burn 260 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel a year.
15. 1.6 degrees: the rise in average temperature between 1970 and 2010.
16. Every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of plastic trash.
17. Extreme weather may force relocation of 150-200 million people by 2050.
18. Known species extinctions since 1500: 869.
19. Known species at risk for extinction today: 18,351.
20. Sea levels are predicted to be 3 feet higher in 2100.
21. Ocean temperatures have risen 1.4 degrees since 1970.
22. One-third of the oceans’ rise is because of higher ocean temperature.
23. In the last 8,000 years Earth has lost 11,000 square miles of forest.
24. Renewable energy provides 8% of total U.S. energy. Other sources: petroleum (37%), natural gas (25%), coal (21%), and nuclear (9%).
25. Sources of greenhouse gasses: electric power (35%), transportation (27%), industry (20%), agriculture (7%), commercial (6%), residential (5%).

In the Last 50 Years:
26. Since 1960, world automobile production has increased by 370%.
27. The U.S. share of auto production dropped from 47.9% to 4.6%, China’s grew from 1% to 21.7%.
28. The average price of a gallon of gas grew from 25 cents to $3.51.
29. The acverage cost of a new car rose from $2,600 to $27,958.
30. World oil consumption grew 401% from 21.3 million to 85.8 million barrels a day. U.S. consumption rose (up 198%), so did China’s (up 458%), Japan’s (724%), India’s (1,850%), and Germany’s (409%).
31. Average U.S. house size grew from 983 sq. ft. in 1950 to 2,377 sq. ft. in 2010.
32. Home size peaked in 2007 at 2,521 sq. ft.

Steps in the Right Direction:
33. The ozone hole is at it smallest since 2004, due to reduced chlorofluorocarbon usage.
34. It is predicted to disappear altoghether by 2050.
35. The average American accounted for 17.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2009, down from 20.3 metric tons in 2005 (although still 4 times the world average).
36. Soot reduction, easy and cheap to do, could halt warming enough to preserve Earth’s polar ice cap.
37. Since 2001, the bald eagle and nine other U.S. wildlife species have bounced back from endangered status.
38. U.S. investment in solar power lowered the cost of clean, renewable energy.
39. Offshore wind farms: same story.
40. Biofuel could soon be used in jets fitted to fly on this lower-carbon source.

Easy Ways to Tread Lightly:
41. Buy better meat, but less often. Opting for cuts from sustainably raised animals and decreasing meat consumption will ease environmental stress.
42. Set your water heater at 120 degrees. Many are set at 140 degrees, which is both wasteful and hazardous.
43. Use your wood-burning stove or fireplace only on special occasions; the smoke pollutes both inside and outside air.
44. Reduce your time in the shower by 5 minutes and save 25 gallons of water a day.
45. Loading dirty dishes without rinsing saves up to 20 gallons or water per dishwasher load.
46. Add native plants to your garden; they need less water and fertilizer.
47. 90%: the amount of energy saved if you wash clothes with cold water.
48. If rain is coming, don’t water or fertilize your garden. Water will go to waste and fertilizer will travel down storm drains, polluting waterways.
49. Bank online to save paper. You’ll do it once then wonder what took you so long.
50. Check out the Department of Energy’s tips on maximizing energy efficiency while saving money: go to energysavers.gov.

Sources: BBC, Census Bureau, Dartmouth, Dept. of Energy, EPA, Fish and Wildlife Service, IUCN, NASA, National Geographic, New York Times, NOAA, NOVA, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Popular Science, Wired.

Individuality!

April 21, 2011

When I ran across the following quotation, my instant reaction was “take charge of your life . . . don’t be a pawn.”   

“Avoid the crowd.  Do your own thinking independently.  Be the chess player, not the chess piece.”  (Ralph Charell)

Then I found this wonderful demotivator (from www.despair.com) utilizing another quotation on uniqueness . . .

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique.  Just like everyone else.”   (Margaret Mead)