Archive for November, 2011

Wonder-ful Wednesday!

November 30, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I started a series of the newest natural wonders (the Amazon Rainforest was the original posting).  Today I will be highlighting the next wonder on my list . . . Halong Bay, Vietnam.

“The best way to experience impossibly scenic Halong Bay is by boat.  Hop on a junk and poke around the 2,000 rocky monoliths emerging dramatically from the water.  Some of the limestone karsts are hollowed out and feature caves and grottos perfect for exploring.  The bay, whose name tranlates as “descending dragon,” was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, honoring its unique geologic and aesthetic value.”  (Bing Travel editors; photo editing by Connie Ricca.)

I do hope to someday make a visit to many of these places . . . the travel bucket list continues to grow.

So Many Words . . . !

November 29, 2011

. . . that I don’t know!  But then again, perhaps I’m an emerging philomath (especially when it comes to words) for it delights me tremendously when I’m able to expand my vocabulary (not that this is the only form of learning I enjoy, but it is my favorite).   Every day I am provided opportunities to learn new things . . . every day I seize these opportunities . . . every day I continue to learn . . . and every day, life somehow provides a reminder that I have so much more to learn.


\FILuh-math\ , noun;

A lover of learning; a scholar.

How To Rate Your Christmas Cards!

November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving weekend has now come and gone, so it is time to turn our attention to the Christmas season (have you found the radio station playing Christmas music 24/7 yet?).  And, since I have already received my first Christmas card for 2011 (thank you Linda), why not share this humorous rating system that I ran across last year for “scoring” your cards.  I found this amusing and quite enjoyable; please keep these rules in mind as you prepare to send out your cards this year.

  • Card received (+5)
  • Card received before December 1st (-1)
  • Card received after December 25th (-1)
  • Card is pretty and looks nice when displayed (+3)
  • Card is glittery (+1)
  • Card does not contain a “card,” but only a letter (-3)
  • Card is an e-card (-5)
  • Card includes a photo or is a photo-card (+5)
  • More than one photo (+2 for each additional photo)
  • Photo is non-Christmassy so it will look good on fridge all year (+1)
  • Photo is Christmassy so it increases the holiday feeling of the card (+1)
  • Red-eye causes family to appear possessed by evil Christmas spirit (-1)
  • Photo was taken on beach this past summer in summer clothing, so family looks chilly against winter pattern of card (-1)
  • Card includes a lettter (+5)
  • Letter is informative and interesting (+3)
  • Letter describes child as “amazing” or “already an avid reader at age 3!” (-3 each)
  • Letter is so braggy and saccharine-cheery, I wonder why I associate with these people (-3)
  • Letter is so very braggy and saccharine-cheery that it crosses over into comical and becomes fun to read aloud in an unkind tone of voice (+2)
  • Letter is a sermon disguised as  a Christmas letter, and contains pious hopes for our country, for mankind, and for me personally (-5)
  • Letter mentions details of gross surgery (-1 or +1, depending on the entertainment value)
  • Letter contains thinly-veiled family gossip (+3)
  • Letter contains information that should have been told earlier (-2)
  • Letter contains a handwritten note (+5)
  • Card is hand-addressed (+5)
  • Card used pre-printed labels instead of being hand-addressed (-5)
  • Card includes a check (+5)
  • A large check (+10)

Feel free to make up your own criteria and expand/add to this list!

Source: unfortunately, unknown (sorry).

College Football — Week Thirteen!

November 27, 2011

Well, believe it or not, there were no upsets in college football this week.  And, for the second season in a row, the Michigan State Spartans reached the 10-win mark.  The Spartans finished the regular season by defeating the Wildcats of Northwestern and head into the inaugural Big Ten Championship game next Saturday on a four-game win streak where they will face the Badgers of Wisconsin (also riding a four-game win streak).  Having defeated the Badgers already once this season, the Spartans should know what to expect.  But, this is college football and there are no guaranteed outcomes; the winner on Saturday earns a trip to the Rose Bowl.  So good luck Sparty, Go Green!

The upsets this week included: none, nada, zip, zilch, zero!

Other top-25 losses that weren’t really upsets included:
Arkansas (#3) losing to LSU (#1).
Clemson (#17) losing to South Carolina (#12).
Penn State (#19) losing to Wisconsin (#16).
Notre Dame (#22) losing to Stanford (#6).
Georgia Tech (#23) losing to Georgia (#13).
Auburn (#24) losing to Alabama (#2).

The close calls included:
Michigan (#15) beating unranked Ohio State by six points.
Texas (#25) beating unranked Texas A&M by two points.

Night Harbor!

November 26, 2011

On my cruise last month I had the opportunity to attend numerous art auctions while at sea.  And, while there were many paintings that I really would have loved to have purchased, I showed extremely marvelous control by only purchasing this one original . . . and what a beauty it is.  The stark night backdrop, the lights around the harbor, the reflections on the water, c’est magnifique!  The title: Night Harbor.  The artist: Duaiv (born in France and now living in the U.S.).  The medium: oil on canvas (palette knife).  The style: expressionism and impressionism.  The effect: simply gorgeous!  The dilemma: 1) so many wonderful artists; 2) so little disposable income; and 3) seriously dwindling wall space (I’m now hanging paintings on doors, both sides).   Despite these dilemmas, I continue to collect (they haven’t slowed me down yet).  Hi, my name is Tom Rink, and I’m an art-oholic!

Happy Black Friday!

November 25, 2011

Here’s an infographic from on the history, facts, and myths surrounding Black Friday.  Happy shopping one and all (especially those of you who headed out at midnight [or before] to take advantage of the early bird specials) . . . personally, I’m going to avoid the stores completely.  I actually finished all of my shopping several weeks ago (I’m really ahead of the game this year) and can now devote more time to baking, and sending out cards . . . or anything else that strikes my fancy during this chaotic time of year.

A Day For Giving Thanks!

November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving one and all!  My life is blessed and I have so much to be thankful for (today and everyday) . . . my faith, my family, my friends, and my health (to name a few).

Thanks!  Gracias!  Wado!  Merci!  Danke!  Mahalo!  Grazie!  Arigato!  Gratias ago!  Obrigado!  Spasiba!  Hvala!  Ahsante!

Here is a wonderful rendition of David Hass’s “We Give You Thanks.”

Give Me A Pizza That!

November 23, 2011

Tonight I will be trying out a new, but tested recipe (an award-winning recipe from the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 2008)!   This is a different take on pizza, but it sounds positively delicious (I’m already anticipating dinner).   And to give credit, where credit is due, my thanks to Sherrie Reid for this fabulous recipe (I’ll post my official review in the comments of this post tomorrow).

Creamy Chicken Marsala Pizza

1 can (13.5 ounce) Pillsbury refrigerated pizza crust
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound uncooked chicked breast tenders (not breaded)
2 Tablespoons butter
1-1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
1 package (8 ounce) sliced Portabella mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup sweet Marsala wine (or chicken broth)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons chopped Italian parsley (fresh)
1/4 teaspoon salt, if desired
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1-1/2 cups shredded mozarella cheese (6 ounces)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 13×9 pan with no-stick cooking spray. Unroll pizza crust dough in pan; press dough to edges of pan. Bake 11 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in 10″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook about 7 minutes, turning frequently, until lightly browned. Remove chicken from skillet; cut into 1/4″ pieces and set aside.

3. To same skillet add remaining 1 Tablespoon of oil and the butter. Add the onions and the mushrooms and cook over medium-high heat for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in wine and cook 4-5 minutes; stirring occasionally, until wine is reduced by half (about 6 Tablespoons). Stir in whipping cream, parsley, salt, pepper, and chicken. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and creamy.

4. Sprinkle pizza crust with 3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Spoon chicken mixture evenly over the cheeses. Top with remaining cheeses. Bake 10-12 minutes longer or until cheeses are melted and crust is golden brown.


How Sad Is Your Town?

November 22, 2011

This month, Men’s Health magazine ranked America’s cities based upon how depressing a place they were to live.  They calculated suicide rates (CDC) and unemployment rates (Bureau of Labor Statistics) and then used SimplyMap to determine the percentage of households that used antidepressants as well as the number of people who reported feeling blue all or most of the time.  And the results were very interesting. Tulsa ranked #41 on the list while Oklahoma City was #27.

The Saddest Cities:
100. St. Petersburg, FL
99. Detroit, MI
98. Memphis, TN
97. Tampa, FL
96. Louisville, KY
95. St. Loius, MO
94. Birmingham, AL
93. Miami, FL
92. Reno, NV
91. Las Vegas, NV

The Happiest Cities:
10. Plano, TX
9. Burlington, VT
8. St. Paul, MN
7. Sioux Falls, SD
6. Madison, WI
5. Boston, MA
4. Omaha, NE
3. Fargo, ND
2. Manchester, NH
1. Honolulu, HI

Source: Men’s Health magazine’s metrogrades (

“Gladiators Violante”

November 21, 2011

Below is an excerpt from one of my all-time favorite movies (Gladiator).  This particular portion of the dialogue fits perfectly with the new word I learned this week (ochlocracy).  In addition to discovering this word, I also found the complete movie script online (I really hadn’t looked for it before) . . . I can now find all of my favorite quotations and excepts quickly and easily.  Happy Monday!

GAIUS: Games.  150 days of games!

GRACCHUS: He’s cleverer than I thought.

GAIUS: Clever?  The whole of Rome would be laughing at him if they weren’t so afraid of his Praetorian.

GRACCHUS: Fear and wonder.  A powerful combination.

GAIUS: You really think the people will be seduced by that?

GRACCHUS: I think he knows what Rome is.  Rome is the mob.  He will conjure magic for them and they will be distracted.  He will take away their freedom, and still they will roar.  The beating heart of Rome is not the marble floor of the Senate; it is the sand of the Colosseum.  He will give them death, and they will love him for it.


\ok-lok-ruh-see\, noun;

Government by the mob; mob rule; mobocracy.

Source for the definition:, and, The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate.