Friday, July 26, 2013

National Ice Cream Month

You've GOT to be kidding me.

July is National Ice Cream Month, and no one told me????
July 21, 2013 was National Ice Cream Day, and no one told me????

Well, if this isn't worth a major pout, I don't know what is.  I love ice cream, and always have. When I first moved to Massachusetts in 1980, I was delighted to learn that most ice cream shops are open year-round, instead of just in the summer.  I was also delighted to learn that Massachusetts had the highest per capita consumption of ice cream in the U.S....  but apparently that's a claim that is open to debate, as every year there are several states and a number of cities that claim that honor.  Hmmmm... well, that's ok, because that just means I'll have to work harder to do my bit to move Massachusetts into spot #1!

It's bad enough that I've missed National Ice Cream Day 2013, I just can't let National Ice Cream Month pass by, without a mention.

All right... first let's take a look at those 'greatest consumption' stats...  AHA!  well it's certainly easy to see why there's a lot of confusion.  First, several of the 'studies' based their numbers on credit card transactions.  
Really?  Credit cards?  I know that ice cream can be pretty expensive, but ---  Credit Cards?
So, the first thing to note is that NONE of these studies have included MY ice cream consumption.

Next, the 'studies' are looking at the amount of money spent on ice cream.  Which means that those who buy a half gallon at the grocery store get almost no credit for eating ice cream.  That hardly seems fair.

And then there's the issue of size.  I'm not sure how that plays into the statistics, but while the ice cream shops are making their sizes larger and larger and larger, I've been adjusting my order, accordingly.  So when I first moved out here, I would order a medium, or sometimes a large.  Over time, I changed my order to a small.  These days, I typically order a kiddie size, and last night  (yes, I had ice cream last night... wanna make something of it?) I ordered a baby size.  No, the size of my dish of ice cream hasn't changed, it's the name of that size that has changed.

There's certainly lots of trivia out there about ice cream.... favorite flavors, and most flavors, and most bizarre flavors, and the month when the most ice cream is produced, and the history of ice cream... I'm not going to bore you with any of that.  And I'm certainly not going to waste your time talking about ice cream cones, since I don't ever bother with those.  But in case you're feeling a tad guilty when you eat ice cream, I will tell you that I found a list on Listverse that said ice cream has a low glycemic index...  it is a low sugar release food, so you're less likely to binge after eating ice cream.  
Hmmm.. less likely than what...  eating carrots?  Ok, I'll buy that.  I would agree that I'm less likely to binge after eating ice cream, than I am after eating carrots... especially if I 'mistakenly' (wink, wink) order a medium instead of a kiddie!!!

By the way, I'm not going to tell you my favorite flavor of ice cream, because I don't want to hurt the feelings of the other flavors.  I will tell you that most tea-flavored ice cream is actually green tea --- I don't drink green tea, so I don't eat green-tea flavored ice cream.

So, while I pout because I missed National Ice Cream Day (in 2014, the date will be July 20th... put it on your calendar), and I breathe a big sigh of relief because at least I didn't miss National Ice Cream Month....  I'm going to sit here and drink my tea.  And when I'm done with my tea...  well where do you THINK I'm going???!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dog days of summer

I'm not a dog person.  That doesn't mean to say I don't like dogs... I've known some wonderful dogs... but I prefer cats, and I certainly wouldn't want to own a dog.

Having said that, I do have to admit that there is something about a dog hanging its head outside a car window that just brings a smile to my face.  Big dog, little dog, cute dog, ugly dog ... doesn't matter. A dog with its head out the window = Smile on my face.
And while dogs seem willing to put their heads out the window just about any time, obviously the window has to be rolled down.  Most drivers don't like to roll their windows down if it's cold outside, so you mostly see dog-heads outside car windows in the summer.

So today, when I heard the phrase 'dog days of summer',  it made me wonder just what the phrase means.  Without looking it up, I think of the dog days of summer as meaning the last half of the summer. Not quite sure where I got that idea... I don't know, maybe something about a dog wagging its tail, and the tail end of the summer...but there it is.  So I went to wikipedia, and discovered that dog days referred to the hot and humid days of the summer.  In ancient Rome, the actual calendar dates assigned to the dogs were July 24-August 24... so the dog days officially begin tomorrow.  It certainly has been hot and humid, here in New England... over 17 days in July with temperatures over 90 degrees, so perhaps we've just got a jump start on things.

Ok, so while I had the reasoning wrong , I had the time of year right.

But of course this raises the next question.. why are these hot and humid days called dog days?  Maybe because that's when dogs are most likely to stick their heads out of car windows?  But that can't be it...  ancient Romans had chariots rather than cars, and chariots didn't have windows, and riding in a chariot ... well, obviously that's not the right answer.  

So.. back to wiki... and now this starts to make sense...  these days were called the dog days, because of the astrological location of Sirius, the dog star.   

But then I read on, and discovered that an Englishman named John Brady published an analysis of the calendar, back in 1814.  According to Brady, the Dog Days were an evil time, when "the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid".   Oh dear.  Well, the sea has been a bit rough lately.  And I suppose the dogs who hear this might get a big angry at this undeserved bad reputation when all they want to do is hang their heads out the window.  And I certainly do become languid when it gets this hot and humid.

And as for the wine turning sour?  Well, you know my solution to that...I'll go have a cup of tea, of course.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Liebster part 2

I've delayed more than enough, I think... so I'm going to complete the final part of my Liebster obligations.  (for those who missed it... this is the first part...  Liebster Blog Award - part 1)

I'm supposed to list my nominees, as well as a set of questions they're supposed to answer.  One of the things that made this difficult was that the Liebster Award has been around for some time. So while I found Michael Holley worthy  (see his blog in the list of those I follow), as was Jon Jefferson's  Misadventures in Strange Places...  technically, they were ineligible, as they've recently received Liebsters.

I decided to not include a blog I follow that's really a diary, as I'd never follow it myself except that I know the writer.  And  I came across something, somewhere, that said the blogs nominated for the Liebster should be blogs that have new posts at least a couple times a month. So, while I certainly enjoy Cathy's Mid-Life Meandering (see her blog in the list of those I follow)... that also scratches her off the list.

So -- here's the list.

Kat Gentian's Kat's Rambles  ...  rather an eclectic assortment of short posts (she's not nearly as long-winded as I am!)... she talks about current events, and nature, and books, and stuff, and she makes a nice use of photos in her posts.

April Haller's What I'm Thinking Today...... I like her posts, even though she apparently prefers coffee to tea (!)

Wicked Cozy Authors ..  is a blog written by a group of 6 female New England Mystery authors...while they do talk about writing,  they also talk about a lot of other things as well.

And then I have an odd one, where the blog provides information, but there's no discussion.  But I checked Wiki, which defined blog as, a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web and consisting of discrete entries ("posts") and while there certainly is an 'author', my guess is he won't respond to the Liebster, but I'm going to list him, anyway, because you might want to take a look at this.

John Rickards has started this really cool blog called No Names No Jackets. Whether you're interested in writing or not, I'm guessing that the readers of Teapot Musings are all avid readers.  If you go to this blog, you'll find single chapters from a wide variety of books.  No book names, no author names, no info other than genre.  IF you like what you read, then you can click on a link at the bottom, which will take you to Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, or wherever, where you can buy the book if you wish.   John gets nothing, whether you buy the book or not.  And he's not the author of these books, so it's not a marketing thing on his part.  He just thinks it's a great way to let you read a chapter, and decide if you want to read the rest of the book.

I was going to include, but even after reading Wiki's definition, and reading listverse's 'about' page, I can't decide if it's a blog or not, so I'm not listing it, but you might want to check it out.

Oh yeah, now for the final part... I'm supposed to list 11 questions for Kat, April, the WC Authors (or their delegate) and John to answer.  And I'm not sure whether to go for serious, or silly, or something in between.. so I'll do a combination.

1.  What's your favorite color?  (silly, I know, but ever since Monty Python first asked this question, I just can't resist this one)

2.  Why do you blog?

3.  How long have you been blogging?

4.  Are you a cat person, or a dog person?

5.  What was your favorite picture book as a child?

6.  What is your favorite book as an adult?

7.  Are you a fan of Big Bang Theory?  If so, what's your favorite Sheldonism?

8.  If you could time travel, would you?  And if yes, would you go back, or forward?

9.  List all of the computers/devices you presently use.

10.  What's your favorite number?

11.  What's your favorite tea?

There you go, Liebsterites.  Don't forget, you need to answer these questions, you need to provide 11 random facts about yourself, and you need to inflict   award the Liebster to others.

To readers of Teapot Musings.. you might want to take a look at these blogs.. if nothing else, to see what their answers are!

And now -- once I notify each of these people of their nomination,--  it's time for tea

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The lesson I've learned from John Irving

Recently, I was reading something online and followed a link in the story to something else, and then found another link I followed, and then had a question that I googled... oh come on, you've done the same thing too, I'm sure you have.
John Irving (photo from his website)
In any event, I apologize to the sources of the first few stories ... I can't quite remember how many links there were...  but I ended up reading a Q&A in the Economist from last summer, with John Irving.  You know, the author of The World According to Garp, and The Cider House Rules, and Hotel New Hampshire,  and a bunch of other novels.  
And I'll stop here with a confession... although I certainly know who John Irving is, and I was familiar with the titles of some of his books, I've never read any of them.  But back to my on-line wanderings... from the Economist site, I googled Mr. Irving, and went to his website.. nothing like the horse's mouth, and all that.. and I found the following:
WHOA!  He ALWAYS begins with the END????  That can't be right.  Maybe it's a figure of speech, or a euphemism, or a typo or something.
So I finished reading that page of his website, and discovered that it was none of those things.  Irving meant exactly what he said.  He went on to say that he often has several ideas bouncing around in his head.  He decides which one to use - not based on trends, or book sales, or even which idea has been bouncing around for the longest, but - based on which one has the most clear ending.
Those who know me, or follow my blog, know that I dabble in writing, mostly by taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) each November.  I've only been doing this for a few years, I have nothing published, I'm not sure I care about ever being published, but I like to think I'm getting a bit better at it each year, and most importantly, I enjoy doing it.  Last year, as usual, I began tossing around some ideas in advance of November, so that when November 1 rolled around, I could jump right in.  Without warning, on a pre-November day, the ENDING popped into my head.  And I couldn't get it out of my head.  This is NOT how I do things.  I don't write everything in order, but I begin with the beginning, and I discover the end, near the end.
As I started writing the beginning last year and worked my way through the middle, I  tried to change direction... I truly did...  but no matter what I tried, I was clearly heading for the ending that had occurred to me, before I started the beginning.
So I pouted.
But I still couldn't get the ending out of my head.  And finally, I gave in, and used that ending.
Now, I read John Irving's comments, and I wonder if I've had it wrong, all along.  Maybe I'm SUPPOSED to begin with the end.  Maybe last year was the first time I did it right.
So I've added a couple of his books to my 'to-read' list, and I'll try to get to at least one of them, before I begin preparations for NaNoWriMo 2013.  And I'm open to the possibility that I've been doing it wrong all this time.
Thank you Mr. Irving.  You've given me a lot to think about, as I drink my tea this morning.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


I know I've missed flag day, and it's not yet July 4th, but I wanted to talk about flags.

I am a HUGE  fan of the comedy series  Big Bang Theory...  or as I affectionately call it, BBT.

No -- WAIT!!  Don't wander off... this really IS about flags.  You see, over the years, I've learned a lot from BBT... I've learned about Schroedinger's cat, I've learned about quantum mechanics and string theory...  AND ... I've learned about flags.

Nope, BBT isn't intended to be educational...  it is most definitely a comedy...  but they keep throwing in these interesting little tidbits, and somehow they stick with me.  Recently, I was watching a re-run in which Sheldon (one of the main characters)  was doing an educational youtube series about flags. Trust me, if you knew Sheldon, you'd realize the 'funny-potential', and for those of you who are fellow BBT fans, I'm sure you're remembering the episode, and laughing even while you read on.

Comedy is not really my strong suit  (well, actually, I think it is, but that opinion is not shared by many)... but sharing bits of trivia certainly is.  So here's your trivia.

(insert drum roll)
 Lichtenstein and Haiti used to have the same flag, which looked like this...

Now, I'm not really sure how most countries go about having their flag designed, and I'm sure there are a lot of political things and such that go into designing a flag... but this design -- that two different countries decided was the flag to have -- I hate to be critical, but it's not much of a design.  Lichtenstein came up with their flag in 1921 (no, I don't know what they used before that.. but I can look it up for you, if you wish), and Haiti -- well, that's actually a bit more complicated.  Haiti has one flag used for civil purposes, and a slightly different flag used for national and military purposes.  Why?  Beats me. But the picture above is the civil version of the flag.  The national/military flag has the Haitian coat of arms in the middle.

In any event, at the 1936 Olympics, it was discovered that the two countries had the same flag  (gee, you'd think  that someone would be checking this stuff, wouldn't you?), so the following year, Lichtenstein added a crown in the upper left hand corner.

The official Lichtenstein flag is now

 and the national/military flag of Haiti is

Wow!!... amazing what a difference those very small modifications make.  All in all, I think these versions are actually more interesting.

Oh, speaking of interesting, I have two more things to share, before I get to the cup of tea waiting for me.
The flag of Andorra has two cows on it..... and the study of flags is called vexillology.  Again, courtesy of Big Bang Theory.

And now, to my tea.