Archive for July, 2013

Superficial, Indeed!

July 31, 2013

I recently read a blog post from entitled 11 Facts About Education in America.   The eleventh fact stated:

“High schools are not preparing students with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel after graduation. Only 1 in 4 high school students graduate college-ready in the four core subjects of English, reading, math, and science.”

Has our education system become an exercise in sciolism as it continues to churn out ill-prepared graduates?  And how less prepared are the growing percentage of those who never graduate?  Hmm, something to ponder.


\sahyuh-liz-uhm\, noun;

superficial knowledge.

Traverse City Film Festival Begins!

July 30, 2013

In it’s ninth year, the Traverse City Film Festival continues to grow.  The Traverse City Film Festival was founded by Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore in collaboration with photographer John Robert Williams and author Doug Stanton.  The Festival is funded by local and national businesses, community groups, and individuals.

And, how’s this for a great idea: every year all of the films shown during the festival are donated (by the festival) to public libraries in the area so that everyone can see the festival’s great movies for free.  Pretty cool.

Here’s the list of this year’s movies (if you wish to browse through the titles and descriptions).

On my “wishlist” this year . . . in alphabetic order:

  • Bypass
  • Cocknies vs. Zombies
  • Dancing Queen
  • Dragon
  • Erased
  • The English Teacher
  • Fanie Fourie’s Lobola
  • A Highjacking
  • Into the White
  • Kon Tiki
  • Orenthal: the Musical
  • A Royal Affair

So, if you find yourself in the Traverse City area (Michigan) this week, why not take advantage of this opportunity and see a movie (or two, or three, or more)?  With the numerous venues and variety of choices, there is bound to be something of interest.

Abandoned But Not Forgotten, Number Thirteen!

July 29, 2013

Angor-WatThis week’s ruin takes us to Cambodia and the Angkor Wat.  And, despite the hundreds of thousands of tourists who arrive each year, this influx has so far caused relatively little damage (just some minor graffiti), but is helping to fund some of the maintenance and conservation efforts.  Here are some fun facts:

  • A UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • The primary reason more than 50% of international tourists visit Cambodia.
  • The largest religious monument in the world.
  • Constructed in the early 12th century.
  • Faces to the west (a deviation from the norm) — which is typically associated with death in the Hindu culture.
  • Dedicated to Vishnu (a Hindu deity), not the current king.
  • Use shifted from Hindu to Buddhist sometime in the late 13th century.
  • Translation: “City of Temples.”
  • The ruins stretch over an area of more than 248 square miles.

Check out these aerial panoramic photos.

Here’s a brief travel guide, courtesy of National Geographic Traveler.

“Eros C’est la Vie!”

July 28, 2013

English translation: “RroseSelavyEros, such is life.”  Or, the actual pronunciation for “Rrose Sélavy,” AKA Marcel Duchamp . . . a French-American painter, sculptor and writer whose work was primarily associated with Dadaism and conceptual art.   Happy Birthday Marcel!  Ignored throughout most of his lifetime, he didn’t really emerge as master until he was in his 70s, but his attitude toward art (and society) changed the future of visual arts.  He was the first artist to exhibit commonplace objects as art and was considered by many to be one of the most important artists of the 20th century.

“I  don’t believe in art. I believe in artists.”

“I  am interested in ideas, not merely in visual products.”

“The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.”

Fire Up The Grill!

July 27, 2013

It’s summer.  Peaches are in season, and the grill is ready to go.  Here is a wonderful summer recipe to take advantage of both the fresh peaches and the grill.  A bit time-consuming to make the sauce, but from the sounds of it, it should be delicious.  I’m going to have to try this one really soon.


1½ pounds coarsely chopped peeled peaches (about 5 medium)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tablespoons water
½ cup bourbon
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
½ freshly ground black pepper
6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Cooking spray

1.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

2.  Combine the first 3 ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.  Combine peach mixture, bourbon, brown sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt in food processor or blender, and process for 1 minute or until smooth.  Transfer peach mixture to a 13 x 9 inch glass or ceramic baking dish.  Bake at 250 degrees for 2 hours and 15 minutes or until thickened.

3.  Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

4.  Sprinkle remaining ½ teaspoon salt and pepper evenly over chicken.  Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 6 minutes on each side or until done.  Serve with sauce.

What’s So Great?

July 26, 2013

Great_Lakes_from_space_crop_labeled . . . about the Great Lakes?   They make up the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world.  Collectively they contain 5,439 cubic miles of water (22,670 cubic km), or about 20% of all the earth’s fresh water, and cover an area of 94,250 square miles (244,106 square km).  I’ve always used the acronym H-O-M-E-S to remember their names: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.

Interestingly enough, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are actually connected by the Straits of Mackinac, and can be considered a single lake (technically).  Whoa, now that’s a “great” lake!

Here are some fun facts about the “Great Lakes.”

  • They contain about 20% of the world’s fresh water.
  • The total shoreline of the Great Lakes is 10,900 miles – about the distance from Toledo, Ohio to Perth, Australia!
  • If the contents of all five Great Lakes were suddenly released, the water would cover the lower forty-eight states to a depth of about nine feet.
  • There are about 35,000 islands in the Great Lakes (most of them are in Lake Huron).
  • The world’s largest island in a freshwater lake is Huron’s Manitoulin Island, and it harbors the world’s largest freshwater lake on an island.
  • Lake Ontario is the smallest Great Lake by surface area, but Lake Erie is the smallest by volume. Because of its much greater depth, Ontario could swallow the contents of three Lake Eries.
  • Lake Superior is by far the largest of the Great Lakes. It is the world’s 2nd largest freshwater lake, after Lake Baikal (The Caspian Sea is also larger, but it is brackish). Superior is 1,332 feet deep at its deepest, and it could hold all of the other Great Lakes plus three extra Lake Eries!
  • Lake Erie is the 12th largest freshwater lake in the world and holds 116 cubic miles of water. Its average depth is 62 feet – shallowest of the Great Lakes – and the greatest depth is 210 feet. The lake is 241 miles long, and 57 miles across at its widest point.
  • Because Erie is so shallow, it is prone to developing extremely rough waters very quickly during storms. As a consequence, it is the resting place for about 1,150 shipwrecks – one of the densest concentrations of any water body in the world.

Source of facts: Ohio Department of Natural Resources (

On the Road Again . . . !

July 25, 2013

Historic-66So, how is your summer progressing?  Have you been able to get away for a vacation yet?  If so, congratulations!  If not, then WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!  Of course with gas prices ever in flux, you may think that you can’t afford to take a road trip, but I would hazard to guess that there are plenty of interesting destinations within a reasonable driving distance so that you won’t have to put off getting away for a little rest and relaxation.

And, if you’re having trouble deciding, here is the Rand McNally “Best of the Road” website which has collected 285 different road trips from around the nation.  Still undecided and in need of more motivation?  Then how about a dose of some Willie Nelson . . .  and let’s get “On the Road Again.”  Just do it!

Overwhelming Temptation!

July 24, 2013

Smith_ExhibitBeing an art collector I have always understood that the money will run out long before I deplete my continuously growing “wishlist” of art purchases.  I am constantly putting myself in harm’s way; who can resist the urge to attend another gallery or art show?  Obviously not me.  Besides, this is the best way to “discover” that new up-and-coming artist that you may not have even known existed.  We even have an exhibition gallery where I work (woe is me)!  Every now and then (okay, more frequently than not), there will be an exhibit from an artist that I know and love (and collect) which really tests my will power — not only is it great art, but it is great art that I want to collect and own.  And by virtue of this on-site gallery space, I have daily access to the art to further solidify my yen to purchase.

With one week to go on this current exhibit, I have identified not one, but five pieces that I would not mind owning.  I have already collected one painting (Cast Shadows) by this local artist (Stephen D. Smith) and have now fallen in love with five more . . . yikes!

From the artist: “my paintings are motivated by strong colors and values.  I love the abstract part of painting such as color, line, value and the actual paint application but I still need the subject to make painting truly rewarding.  Up close there is a chaotic meshing of overlapping brushwork but as you step back your eyes soften the effect to create the image such as a landscape.”

I guess these will all go on the wishlist . . . there are a few ahead of these that I really am needing to commit to purchasing (sorry Stephen).

Woof! The “Dog Days” Are Upon Us!

July 23, 2013

So, what exactly are the “dog days?”  This phrase commonly refers to the sultry days of summer (the months of July and August in the Northern Hemisphere, the months of January and February in the Southern Hemisphere) and were commonly thought to be an evil time.  The exact start time (and length) leave room for interpretation, but they are thought to be the period of the heliacal rising of Sirius (the dog star) and the sun.   In Ancient Rome, the Dog Days began on July 23rd and ran through August 23rd (alternatively, July 24th through August 24th).  According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the Dog Days include the 40 days beginning July 3rd and ending August 11th .  So depending on which reference book you consult, you may end up with a slightly different period of time encompassing these dog days.  Either way, the dog days are upon us!

“Dog Days bright and clear
indicate a happy year.
But when accompanied by rain,
for better times our hopes are vain.”

(Source unknown.)

Abandoned But Not Forgotten, Number Twelve!

July 22, 2013

Pegasus-McMurdo“The Pegasus” was a C-121 Lockheed Constellation aircraft which crashed near the McMurdo Station (Antarctica) on Oct 8, 1970, in horrendous weather. None of the 80 people on board were injured. The plane had passed the “PSR” (”Point of Safe Return”). Many of the planes which fly from New Zealand to McMurdo do not have enough fuel to get back to New Zealand if they cannot land at McMurdo, so a decision gets made mid-flight whether or not it is safe to proceed to McMurdo. Because the weather in McMurdo is so changeable, “boomerangs” back to New Zealand are quite common.

And that’s how the ice runway being used at McMurdo is called “Pegasus”, named in honor of this crashed plane.

Here’s a link to more information on this crash.