Toastmasters time of transition

I recently completed my Toastmasters Advanced Communicator Silver (ACS). I’m pleased with having achieved that. I somewhat accelerated my reaching that goal, as Toastmasters is moving to a new program called Pathways. As vice president for education at my club I felt that I needed to be leading by example with respect to Pathways, but I wanted my ACS first.

At the same time we are moving our physical location. The church where we had been meeting has sold its property and is downsizing to a leased facility. We are moving with them, for just two weeks until we move to our permanent home at the bank up the street.

It’s a liminal time and perhaps time to think about where I want to go with my Toastmasters experience.

It is to be determined.

Advanced Communicator Silver certificate

skillet red beans and rice

red bean sand riceThis recipe for skillet red beans and rice appeared in Cooking Light last September. It’s by Robin Bashinsky who has a great track record with recipes, from my perspective at least.

This one is simple, straightforward, and tasty. I omitted the broth and that worked out well. I also omitted salt and the green onion garnish. The store didn’t have trinity blend, so I used a bit of celery and a single bell pepper, yellow rather than red.

This was an easy, flavorful recipe for a Friday evening. And very filling, to be sure. There was plenty leftover to freeze for another supper.

baseball returns

baseballI wrote on Valentine’s Day that it was also Ash Wednesday and that the Dodgers pitchers and catchers had their first workout after reporting the day before. The full squad is now in camp (actually I read that most of the position players showed up with the pitchers and catchers), and the first spring training game was on Friday.

We have baseball. With all the issues and concerns in our world today, having baseball back is a Good Thing.

Sacred Music Friday: Let There Be Peace on Earth

The song speaks (sings) for itself, but this selection was inspired by the Prickly City comic strip.

Prickly City comic



basil, chicken, and veggies

basil chicken stir fryThis recipe for basil, chicken, and veggies in coconut-curry sauce appeared in Coastal Living in 2013. It is a stir fry recipe that is not at all complex. I halved the recipe for just Terry and me, and made it even simpler by not removing the chicken, but leaving it in the wok as I added the other ingredients. I omitted sea salt from the sauce as well as the cashews. Neither was missed.

A straightforward, simple weeknight stir fry.

American Top 40

I haven’t discussed it for a while, but those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time know that I’m really a 1970s kind of guy. I have more of a nostalgia for the seventies than for the eighties and I much prefer seventies music to eighties music. The default radio station on my SiriusXM car radio is The Bridge, which plays music of James Taylor, Carly Simon, Gordon Lightfoot and the like.

70s on 7 logoThat seventies vibe informs my Saturday morning routine. While waiting to hear from my brother or sister-in-law as to where Terry and I going to have breakfast with them, my dad, nephew, and great niece I have my internet radio on the Sirius XM channel 70 on 7, which plays reruns of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 from the 70s. When we get in the car I switch over to 70s on 7.

I look at the date on the display and remember where I was and what I was doing at the time. Some of the songs were not part of my world then, but many bring back memories.

I really am a 1970s kind of guy.

What Einstein Got Wrong

EinsteinWhat Einstein Got Wrong
Professor Dan Hooper, Ph.D.
The Great Courses
Audio download $19.95 when on sale
If the course is not on sale, check back– the sale price will come around again

I generally buy twenty-four and thirty-six lecture courses from The Great Courses, but the material in this course looked fascinating so I purchased this twelve lecture set.

Professor Hooper makes clear that he is not critical of Einstein nor does he in any way intend to diminish Einstein’s monumental accomplishments. His point is every scientist gets some things wrong: even Einstein.

Sometimes Einstein was just stubborn. He refused to believe that black holes could exist physically, even though his own theory of relativity and the mathematics predict they should. Unfortunately, the first black holes weren’t discovered until long after his death. His choices were sometimes based on philosophical or aesthetic preferences. For example, he simply preferred to believe that the universe was neither expanding or collapsing. However, when Edwin Hubble showed him solid evidence that the universe was expanding he accepted it.

Einstein never would accept the conclusions of quantum mechanics. Again, the mathematics could not be disputed, but Einstein preferred to believe that the theory was incomplete. He spent years trying to find a way to prove a deterministic subatomic universe rather than the random one that quantum theory predicts. He never did succeed.

If you enjoy science, physics, and astronomy you will find this course fascinating.

homemade burritos

I had spinach wraps on hand, since I had tried my hand at making wraps. I thought, how about homemade burritos?

burritoI pressure cooked black and pinto beans with chipotle and ancho seasoning. I cooked brown rice with medium hot chili powder. I fried marinated flap meat. I pulled out the spinach wraps and layered everything on them. I added shredded cheddar. On Terry’s I added olives. On mine I added chopped tomato and onion along with guacamole.

It was a really tasty, very filling dinner.

Sacred Music Friday: In the Lord I’ll Be Ever Thankful

First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska,  Ariel Merivil, conductor.

The Gang That Wouldn’t Write Straight

The Gang That Wouldn't Write StraightThe Gang That Wouldn’t Write Straight
Marc Weingarten
Three Rivers Press, March 25, 2010, 338 pages
Amazon Kindle edition $4.99

I learned of this book in another book that included it in its references and bibliography. It was a fun and entertaining read.

The bulk of the book is about the new journalism of the sixties and seventies. The author goes into detail about writers such as Tom Wolfe and Hunter Thompson (friends and rivals) as well as the editor/publishers, such as Clay Felker and Jann Wenner, who bankrolled and supported them. Fascinating stuff.

But in the beginning of the book Weingarten takes pains to point out that Tom Wolf and his generation did not invent the new journalism, a methodology in which the writer inserts him or her self into the story rather that trying to remain objective. He describes how Charles Dickens did it in the nineteenth century and George Orwell did the same in the first half of the twentieth century.

At the end of the book the author describes how Felker for the most part, though not entirely, abandoned new journalism in New York magazine in favor of lifestyle stories catering to the Manhattan wealthy, and then in his overreach lost the magazine to Rupert Murdoch.

This is a fascinating read for anyone interested in twentieth century American journalism.