Showing posts from March, 2018

Fijne Vergaardg! Vincent van Gogh!


Starry night

Paint your palette blue and grey

These are the opening lines to Don McLean’s song 1971 hit, "Vincent."  It is in reference to van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night. This song is just one example of how Vincent Van Gogh has reached a level of notoriety he never achieved in his life time.

Vincent van Gogh was born in the Netherlands on March 30, 1853. His artistic career started in 1883 and, until his death in 1890, he created about 2,100 pieces of artwork, including around 860 oil paintings. Most of his work was completed in the two years before his death. This can be seen in the frantic nature of his work from this period. I learned about all this in college.

I was formally introduced to van Gogh in an art appreciation class in college. It sounded like an easy class and for the most part it was. We sat in a darkened classroom looking at slides of some of the masters of Post-Impressionism. Loved it, but really fell in love when we took a trip to the Prince…

Alternate Seasons

No, I don't mean how when it is winter here, it is summer in Peru. When someone mentions “seasons” (at least here in the northeast US) it is typically understood to be the astronomical calendar, governed by the solstices and equinoxes. Another way of looking at the seasons is the meteorological calendar—same four seasons, but with different (and easy to remember) periods.

One reason for the different record is the ease of record-keeping for climate data. No need to try and remember on what day the relevant solstice or equinox fell, the meteorological seasons start on the first of the appropriate month, and last for 3 months. Therefore, this year spring began on March 1st rather than March 20th (which I had to look up; who actually knows those dates off the top of one’s head?). Summer begins June 1st; autumn, the first of September; and winter begins December 1st. And no, I am not looking up the corresponding dates for the astronomical calendar, just to make that point.

The t…

Getting Into Fitness

For many years, off and on, I have walked during my lunch hour.  It has always been for fitness but, now that I am getting older, I am focusing much more on making sure I get in five workouts per week.  My usual lunchtime walk is three to four miles, depending on the weather and how ambitious I feel that day.  It is much easier to push yourself on a mild spring day than when it is just reaching 32 degrees!

Last January, I decided to get serious about my walking.  I joined the 2017 You Vs. the Year challenge (find 2018’s here) through Under Armour’s MapMyRun app.  This challenge is for runners but it allowed me to easily track my miles while walking.  The goal was to run (walk for me) 1,017 kilometers over the course of the year.  It was great motivation and I hit the goal at the end of September.  So far for 2018, I have walked 113.6 kilometers.  I really enjoy watching the kilometers add up!  Note, Under Armour also runs a Map My Walk website and app.

Going along with my off-and-on-t…

Off the Beaten Track at the Grammy Awards

Everyone is familiar with the big blockbusters that win at the Grammys, like Album of the Year and Record of the Year winner 24K Magicby Bruno Mars.  They are many of the same names that you hear on the radio, or on Spotify, Pandora, iTunes or Apple Music; Ed Sheeran, Childish Gambino, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, Little Big Town, Chris Stapleton, etc. One of the more interesting things is to see (and hear) is the more off-the-beaten track winners that get discovered because this is the year they won a Grammy. Winning a Grammy gives a boost to new groups that have a hard time rising above the noise of the big machine of the major music labels, or gives vindication to musicians that work for years without the recognition they deserve for their hard-earned musicianship.  Here is a list of some out-of-the-ordinary music artists that won a Grammy this year.

Let’s start off with a category that had such tight competition that they could not decide a clear-cut winner, but ended up with a tie…

Happy National Peanut Month!

Happy March and Happy National Peanut Month!  This holiday was created by the National Peanut
Board to coincide with National Nutrition Month…and for good reason, as the unassuming peanut is packed with nutrition. Peanut butter – a product in which more than half of all peanuts in America are used – is also given a shout-out on March 1st with Peanut Butter Lover’s Day.  Peanuts are eaten all over the world and they are, of course, a favorite American snack.  Read on for some fun peanut facts!


Peanuts originated in South America – likely Brazil or Peru – at least 5,000 years ago. When the Spanish and Portuguese began exploring the New World, they took peanuts back with them to Europe and from there they spread to Asia and Africa.  African slaves brought peanuts with them to North America, and peanuts’ nickname of “goober peas” comes from the African word for peanut, nguba.  Today, peanuts are cultivated in almost every area where the climate suits.

Fun Facts!

•Despite their name…

Employee Appreciation Day!

The first Friday in March is designated Employee Appreciation Day.  If there can be a National Boss's Day then employees are entitled to a day that celebrates all the hard work put into a workplace.  This year it falls on Friday, March 2nd.  While it is not an official holiday, it first appeared on the calendar in the mid-1990s.  It is a day for employers to thank their employees for all the hard work they do all year. However, truly appreciating your employees is something that needs to be done on a daily basis.  This results in a rise in morale and productivity.  When an individual feels valued, they continue to take pride in their work and accomplishments. Employees want to work for people who value their efforts and achievements.  Even a simple "thank you" goes a long way. Human beings all want to feel valued in whatever position they hold.  Psychologically speaking, humans need to feel valued from outer sources to validate their own self-worth. When praised for the…

Books To Get You Thinking

Each year March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day and, since 1987, the entire month of March has been designated as Women’s History Month all over the world. In 2018, thirty-one years later, we honor the remarkable achievements of women through the decades  in diverse fields – space, science, math, business, government, sports and the arts - while recognizing the challenges and discrimination that women still face today. Celebrating women’s achievements - integrating and documenting them into the fabric of our history - serves as a catalyst to encourage young girls and young women to reach for their dreams. The theme for the 2018 Women’s History Project is Nevertheless She Persisted: Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination against Women, words that echo and reverberate in many parts of the world today. This month’s column of Books to Get You Thinking includes a selection of books in the Mercer County Library System featuring fascinating narratives of the lives of women …

Somethings to Think About

Every once in a while, someone suggests a really great idea for one of my tech tips blog posts and then I start to do the research and realize, bummer, someone already did a really good post about that.Rather than just shove those ideas aside, I thought I would just do a quick round-up of a few topics that I could try to cover, but why reinvent the wheel when someone already did a pretty bang-up job in the first place.
Let me start with one that may seem to be a bit of a downer, but is really important – your digital legacy.Typically when we think of death and what we may leave behind, we are concerned with appointing someone with power of attorney should we need end of life care and then a will to decide what happens after the inevitable.What most people tend to ignore is their digital legacy, which runs from accessing financial accounts to what happens to your email, social media accounts, and even your digital photos.Lifehacker has a very comprehensive guide on the subject and of…

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

In 1997, the National Education Association created an annual reading holiday, and what better day to celebrate reading than Dr. Seuss’ birthday – March 2nd!  Every year, on this day, teachers, librarians, parents, and everyone who wants to encourage kids to read hold programs and events, or just sit down with a child and pick up a book.  This perfectly reflects the spirit of Dr. Seuss who spent most of his life making reading fun for kids. 

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904 in Massachusetts.  He began his creative career by contributing cartoons to popular magazines including LIFE, Vanity Fair and The Saturday Evening Post.  His first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street was rejected 27 times before finally being published in 1937.  It was The Cat in the Hat that really brought him fame as a children’s author, however.  In 1954, LIFE magazine published an article criticizing children’s reading levels.  Seuss’ response was to write a children’s pr…