Archive for September, 2015

Timing is Everything!

September 30, 2015

Last weekend, the movie A Walk in the Woods was released in theaters throughout the country.  The movie is based upon the 1998 book by the same title by travel writer Bill Bryson that described his attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail (2,189 miles) from Georgia to Maine.  A very entertaining movie that got me thinking  . . . perhaps I might want to add this activity to my “bucket list.”  Ironically enough, when I opened the October issue of Runner’s World magazine, there was a column (The Latest) that reported upon the new world record on traversing the Appalachian Trail — Scott Jurek (ultrarunner) completed the distance (including the 515,000 feet of elevation change) in 46 days, eight hours, and seven minutes!  Wow, I’m exhausted just thinking about this blistering pace.  Below I will compare the new numbers versus the old record holder’s numbers, but before I get to that, here are some “fun” statistics about Jurek’s trek:

  • Fifty days without shaving
  • 8 showers taken (longest stretch between showers: 38 days)
  • 26 bear sightings
  • 3 injuries (endured)
  • 12 ticks removed
  • 4,000 bars/gels consumed

Jurek set the record at 2:03 PM on July 12th.  Here’s the head-to-head comparison.

Statistic / New Record Holder / Old Record Holder
Name / Scott Jurek / Pharr Davis
Age at the time of the record / 41 / 28
Direction of travel / North-to-South / South-to-North
Average hours of sleep per day / 4.5 / 6
Average daily calorie burn / 6,500 / 6,000
Highest mileage in a day / 59 / 60
Warmest day / 95 degrees / 101 degrees
Pairs of shoes worn / 8 / 7
Average pace per mile / 18:30 / 20:00

Source: Runner’s World magazine, October 2015

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Is Your State Bicycle Friendly?

September 29, 2015

Here are the rankings for 2015 (the best and the worst).  I’m not sure what criteria were used in these rankings, so read ’em and weep.  Hmm, Oklahoma made the bottom ten.

Friendliest states:
1.  Washington
2.  Minnesota
3.  Delaware
4.  Massachusetts
5.  Utah
6.  Oregon
7.  Colorado
8.  California
9.  Wisconsin
10. Maryland

Least-friendly states:
41.  Alaska
42.  West Virginia
43.  Hawaii
44.  South Carolina
45.  Oklahoma
46.  Montana
47.  Nebraska
48.  Kansas
49.  Kentucky
50.  Alabama

Source: AARP Bulletin (September 2015), League of American Bicyclists

Try This Thai!

September 28, 2015

When I saw the title of this particular recipe (Thai Peanut Soup with Grilled Peanut Butter Croutons, courtesy of Tieghan Gerard, http://www.halfbakedharvest.com), little did I know the breadth of ingredients (besides peanuts) that would be involved.  I never would have guessed that sweet potatoes, jalapeños, and coconut milk would be among them.  Regardless, this recipe sounds positively delicious and super easy.  I can’t wait to try this one out, especially the peanut butter croutons.

Here’s the recipe from Tieghan’s blog.

College Football 2015, Week Four!

September 27, 2015

127This week the Spartans hosted the Chippewas of Central Michigan.  Michigan State was able to survive a sluggish start (by scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter) to defeat the Chippewas, but they lost another key defensive player (Jack Conklin) to an injury.   There were a couple of top-twenty-five upsets this weekend and 3 more teams in the top twenty-five were given their first losses of the season as the march to the playoff continues. 19 of the top-25 teams remain unbeaten.  In last week’s AP poll the Big Ten Conference had four (4) teams listed in the top twenty-five: Ohio State (#1), Michigan State (#2), Northwestern (#17), and Wisconsin (#22); this week there are five: Ohio State (#1), Michigan State (#2), Northwestern (#16), Wisconsin (#19), and Michigan (#22).

Next up for the Spartans: the Boilermakers of Purdue University.  Go Green!

The upsets this week included:
Oregon (#13) losing to Utah (#18).
Georgia Tech (#20) losing to unranked Duke.
BYU (#22) losing to unranked Michigan.
Missouri (#25) losing to unranked Kentucky.

The close calls this week (games that were won by a touchdown or less) included:
TCU (#3) defeating unranked Texas Tech by only three (3) points.
Mississippi (#3) defeating unranked Vanderbilt by four (4) points.
Texas A&M (#14) defeating unranked Arkansas by seven (7) points in overtime.
Northwestern (#17) defeating unranked Ball State by five (5) points.
Oklahoma State (#24) defeating unranked Texas by only three (3) points.

Top-25 match-ups won by the higher-ranked team included:
UCLA (#9) defeating Arizona (#16).

Trivia in the Kitchen, Number Fifty-Six!

September 26, 2015

Have you ever had to create a roux?  Chances are you have, you just didn’t know it at the time.  Roux is actually quite simple to make and involves two ingredients: flour and fat.  These items are cooked together and are oftentimes used as a thickening agent in many sauces.  Butter, of course, is the preferred “fat,” but lard, vegetable oil, or bacon grease (my personal favorite) can also be used.  The secret to a good rue is to add your flour into your melted fat and then stirred until fully incorporated.

When adding your roux to other liquids (such as broth or milk, when making gravies and sauces), it is important to not allow these liquids to get too hot. To avoid lumps, you should add room temperature or warm roux to a moderately hot liquid, or vice versa. Adding in small quantities while stirring seems to be the recommended practice; you can even allow the mixture to boil, but only briefly. Some authorities suggest that if you make a proper roux, your resulting sauces will never be lumpy.

Hospitality!

September 24, 2015

Here’s the next installment of manners and etiquette (courtesy of the Goops)?

Hospitality,
When a person visits you, remember he’s your guest
Receive him very kindly, and be sure he has the best;
Make  him very comfortable and show him all your toys,
An only play the games you’re very sure that he enjoys.

When you pay a visit, never  grumble or complain,
Try to be so affable they’ll want you there again;
Don’t forget the older ones, your hostess  least of all,
When you’re leaving  tell her you have had a pleasant call.

Source: Goops and How to Be Them: a Manual of Manners for Polite Infants Inculcating Many Juvenile Virtues Both by Precept and Example by Gelett Burgess.

Old Age?

September 23, 2015

I would hazard to guess that any definition of “old age” would have to take into consideration the definer’s age. So. I decided to consult my copy of The Cynic’s Dictionary (by Aubrey Dillon-Malone) to see what whimsical definitions were contained therein.  Here’s are the definitions I found.

“A lot of crossed-off names in an address book.”  (Ronald Blythe)

“A very high price to pay for maturity.”  (Tom Stoppard)

“Always 15 years older than I what am.”  (Bernard Baruch) — I like this one a lot.

“Not so bad when you consider the alternative.”  (Maurice Chevalier)

“Life’s parody.”  (Simone de Beauvoir)

“When you try to straighten the wrinkles on your socks and discover you’re not wearing any.”  (Leonard Knott)

“The period in life in which we compensate for the vices that remain by reviling those we have no longer the vigour to commit.”  (Ambrose Bierce)

A Little Man!

September 22, 2015

As I was perusing my copy of The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinary Literate, I ran across a word that I will probably never ever use, but a new word for me nonetheless.  Enjoy!

homunculus

\ huhmuhng-kyuh-luh s, hoh- \, noun;

1.  an artificially made dwarf, supposedly produced in a flask by an alchemist.
2.  a fully formed, miniature human body believed, according to some medical theories of the16th and 17th centuries, to be contained in the spermatozoon.
3.  a diminutive human being.
4.  the human fetus.
Source: The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinary Literate, by Eugene Ehrlich, and, http://www.dictionary.com

A Truly Awesome View!

September 21, 2015

Boskydel_FieldofDreamsMy appreciation for the beauty of northern lower Michigan is renewed on an annual basis during my brief vacations back to the area to visit family and friends.    Various local artists have become quite adept at capturing this beauty on their canvases.  During my trip last summer, I was made aware of one artist in particular, Carolyn Damstra, who had painted the westward looking view from the parking lot of our family business (Boskydel Vineyards and Winery).  Simply breathtaking and a very accurate representation of the view.  You have part of the vineyard in the foreground, the chestnut trees just beyond the vineyard, our barn to the right, and a glimpse of Lake Leelanau. The artist: Carolyn Damstra, the medium: acrylic, the title: “Boskydel Vineyard’s Field of Dreams,” the enjoyment: I reminisce on a daily basis.