Archive for October, 2013

Happy Halloween, 2013!

October 31, 2013

PumpkinsDo you have a favorite horror/suspense movie?  It is certainly a genre that never goes out of style (in my humble opinion).  Whether you favor a classic horror film by Alfred Hitchcock (e.g., Psycho) or some of the more recent attempts to horrify (e.g., Saw, The Ring), it doesn’t always take blood, gore, and special effects to produce the desired fearful response (but these things certainly help).  All you have to do is google “scariest movies” and you will find numerous lists of the “top” scary movies ever made.  Here is my top-ten list of favorites:

10. The Omen
9. The Silence of the Lambs
8. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
7. The Shining
6. Saw
5. Psycho
4. Halloween
3. The Exorcist
2. Alien
1.  Jaws

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A Different Kind of Fruit Salad!

October 30, 2013

If you are looking for a different kind of fruit salad, here is a recipe I recently ran across that is sure to please (and it has bacon!).  Enjoy!

APPLE AND SMOKED-BACON SALAD WITH LYCHEES AND CHILI NUTS

For Chili Nuts:
1 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

For Salad:
1½ pound Winesap or Gala apples (3-4)
1½ pound Crispin or Golden Delicious apples (3-4)
½ slab of bacon cut crosswise into ½ inch sticks
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
16 canned lychees (from a 20 ounce can) drained and quartered, at warm room temperature
½ cup chopped scallions at room temperature

MAKE CHILI NUTS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in middle.

Stir together all chili nut ingredients in a metal pie plate.  Bake, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and nuts are coated with spice mixture and dry (about 20 minutes).  Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

MAKE SALAD WHILE NUTS BAKE
Warm apples in a large bowl of warm water, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes, then drain and pat dry.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until browned and crisp (about 12 minutes).  Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and reserve about 6 tablespoons fat in skillet.

Slice apples into 1/8 inch slices into a large bowl, rotate the apple ¼ turn each time you reach the core.  Gently toss with lime juice.

Heat fat in skillet over medium heat until hot, then pour over apples and gently toss with bacon and pepper.

Divide into 8 bowls and sprinkle with lychees, scallions, and chili nuts.

NOTES: Chili nuts can be made 1 week ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an air-tight container at room temperature.  Bacon can be cooked 3 hours ahead and chilled in fat, uncovered until cool, then covered.  Reheat over medium heat.

NO Chemicals Added!

October 29, 2013

Organic farming is basically a form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control.  But when it comes to organic foods, are they safer to eat? (Not necessarily.)  Are they more nutritious? (The answer isn’t yet clear.  They are comparable in their nutrient content.)  Here’s an article from the Mayo Clinic that may shed some light on these questions.  Regardless, this month Men’s Health magazine examines and ranks the places that have taken “organic” to heart (and some that haven’t).

Most organic cities:
1. Seattle, WA
2. San Francisco, CA
3. San Jose, CA
4. Oakland, CA
5. Portland, OR
6. Washington, DC
7. San Diego, CA
8. Boston, MA
9. Sacramento, CA
10. Austin, TX

Least organic cities:
91. Buffalo, NY
92. Toledo, OH
93. Fort Wayne, IN
94. Cleveland, OH
95. Des Moines, IA
96. Cheyenne, WY
97. Indianapolis. IN
98. Fargo,ND
99. Charleston, WV
100. Lubbock, TX

Source: Men’s Health magazine, November 2013, metrogrades (www.menshealth.com/metrogrades)

Abandoned But Not Forgotten, Number Twenty-Four!

October 28, 2013

abandoned24Detroit (Michigan) is home to the latest abandoned wonder, the Michigan Central Station (also known as Michigan Central Depot or MCS).  Built in mid-1912 (through 1913) for the Michigan Central Railroad, it was Detroit’s passenger rail depot from its opening in 1913 until the cessation of Amtrak service in 1988.  Constructed in the Beaux-Arts Classical style of architecture, this 500,000-square-foot building was designed by the same firms that designed New York City’s Grand Central Station and cost $15 million to build.  At the time of its construction, it was the tallest rail station in the world (the 18-story tower has a roof height of 230 foot).  Ironically, the tower was never completely utilized; the top floors were never completely furnished and served no function.  Hmm, with the recent press about Detroit (bankruptcy, etc.), this particular abandoned building probably has a lot of company within the City of Detroit.

College Football 2013, Week Nine!

October 27, 2013

127After a wild week last week, fraught with numerous upsets among the top-25, this week seemed a bit more tame, at least in the upset department.  Despite the fewer upsets, there were many more mismatched blowouts (victories by more than 20 points) caused by stingy defenses coupled with wide open offenses (including Michigan State). The Michigan State Spartans traveled to Champaign-Urbana to take on the Fighting Illini of Illinois.  While the Spartan defense was as stellar as usual, but this week, it was finally complimented by a robust offense and Spartans won easily to improve to 7-1 overall.  And, the Spartans remain unbeaten (4-0) and in sole possession of first place in the Legends Division of the Big Ten conference (ahead of both Michigan and Nebraska).   The Big Ten currently has four teams ranked among the AP top-25 (this may change following a Nebraska loss yesterday): Ohio State (#4), Wisconsin (22), Michigan (#24), and Nebraska (#25).  The next test for the Spartans: hosting the ranked Michigan Wolverines.  Go Green!

The upsets this week included:
Missouri (#5) losing to South Carolina (#21) by three points in double overtime.
Texas Tech (#10) losing to Oklahoma (#15).
Virginia Tech (#14) losing to unranked Duke by only three points.
Nebraska (#24) losing to unranked Minnesota.

The close calls this week (games that were won by a touchdown or less) included:
Miami (#7) defeated unranked Wake Forest by only three points.
Fresno State (#17) defeated unranked San Diego State by only seven points in overtime.

Top-25 matchups won by the higher-ranked team included:
Oregon (#3) defeating UCLA (#12).
Stanford (#6) defeating Oregon State (#25).

Taking The Bull By The Horns!

October 26, 2013

cautiondemotivatorTo “take a bull by the horns” means to confront a problem head-on and deal with it openly and is based on the idea that holding a bull (male cow) by its horns is a brave and direct action.  Well, as you can see from this demotivator (courtesy of http://www.despair.com), taking an idiomatic expression and applying it literally could end very badly for you.   You should never throw too much caution to the wind.

If I Only Had A Brain . . . !

October 25, 2013

This interactive infographic of the brain (courtesy of Open Colleges) is pretty neat.  And, it got me thinking about . . . the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz . . . enjoy!

(Scarecrow)
I could wile away the hours
Conferrin’ with the flowers
Consultin’ with the rain
And my head I’d be scratchin’
While my thoughts were busy hatchin’
If I only had a brain

I’d unravel any riddle
For any individ’le
In trouble or in pain

(Dorothy)
With the thoughts you’d be thinkin’
You could be another Lincoln
If you only had a brain

(Scarecrow)
Oh, I would tell you why
The ocean’s near the shore
I could think of things I never thunk before
And then I’d sit and think some more

I would not be just a nuffin’
My head all full of stuffin’
My heart all full of pain
I would dance and be merry
Life would be a ding-a-derry
If I only had a brain

Open Colleges Presents Your Brain Map: 84 Strategies for Accelerated Learning

An interactive infographic by Open Colleges

What’s Done Is Done!

October 24, 2013

Living in the present is sometimes easier said than done.  But, it is the key to happiness (in  my humble opinion).  There are scores of articles, blogs, and other information available, but here are some of the things that make sense for me:

  1. Breathe (deeply)
  2. Smile (just because)
  3. Simplify your life (be a minimalist)
  4. Do one thing at a time (no multi-tasking)
  5. Forgive the past (no grudges)
  6. Dream big (but work hard today)
  7. Love your job (it won’t be “work”)
  8. Stop worrying
  9. Spread the love (pay it forward)
  10. Conquer addictions

Here are a couple of quotations that sum this up nicely.  Enjoy the now!

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” — L.M. Montgomery

Or, check out this article on the challenge of living in the present from Psychology Today.

Only The Half Of It!

October 23, 2013

On occasion I have been afforded the opportunity to purchase works of art on layaway (or a similar arrangement of payments over the course of multiple months).  There was even a point in time (several years ago during one of my more prolific collecting phases) where I was making a monthly art payment at one of the local galleries (much like most people would have a car or mortgage payment).  Imagine my delight when I realize that of the original sum only $300 now remains, the other moiety having been paid in the previous month(s).

moiety

\MOI-i-tee\, noun;

1.  a half.
2.  an indefinite portion, part, or share.
3.  Anthropology . one of two units into which a tribe or community is divided on the basis of unilineal descent.

 

Total Escapism!

October 22, 2013

The_Far_PavilionsFor me, reading (and going to the movies) are all about escapism.  In The Far Pavilions I discovered a unique combination of romance and adventure in an epic tale about cultural identity, belonging, and love.  This book was published a couple of years after I had graduated from high school and I was captured from the very beginning.  As a matter of fact, I find this book so enthralling that it is the one book I find myself returning to every few years to re-read and enjoy again.  I just love it.  After finishing my most recent re-read (earlier this week), I am going to share a wonderful prayer that our hero (Ashok, aka Ashton Hillary Akbar Pelham-Martyn) voices early on in the book:

“Oh Lord, forgive three sins that are due to my human limitations.
Thou are everywhere, but I worship thee here;
Thou art without form, but I worship thee in these forms;
Thou needest no praise, yet I offer thee these prayers and salutations.
Lord, forgive three sins that are due to my human limitations.”

Thank you M. M. (Mary Margaret) Kaye, The Far Pavilions never disappoints.