Monday, December 31, 2012

Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup is delicious and easy to make.  The advantage of using split peas is that they cook more quickly than regular peas.  Here is a recipe that serves three to four:

one cup dried split peas
eight cups water
1 pound sliced ham
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
one carrot, chopped

In a large pot, cover the peas and soak overnight.    Add the onion, salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer for one hour.  Stir occasionally.  Add the carrots and simmer for another 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender.

You may also wish to add spareribs.  This is an excellent soup for all seasons, but I especially enjoy it in winter.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mate in Fourteen Moves

In a game of speed chess, I mated my opponent in fourteen moves.  My opponent was Robski424 of the USA.  In this game I played black.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 c5
2. f4 d5
3. e5 f6

If black plays exf, I can reply with Nxf6.

4. Bd3 fxe
5. fxe Nc6
6. Nf3 Bg4
7. h3 Bh5

I decide to maintain the pin on the knight.

8. g4 Bg6

White breaks the pin but seriously weakens his kingside.

9. Bxg6+ hxg6

My rook now targets the pawn on h3.

10. 0-0 Qd7

White decides to castle, but his king is very exposed.  In this position, kingside castling is risky.

11. Ng5 0-0-0

The white knight can fork my rooks on the next move, but I decide that white's weakened kingside offers good compensation.

12. e6 Qc7
13. Nf7 Qg3+

White decides to gain material, but he needs to protect his king.

14. Kh1 Rxh3#

White's move is forced.  I mate with my rook.

My opponent decides to play aggressively by breaking the pin on his knight by my bishop and later forking my rooks with his knight.  The problem, though, is that his king is too exposed on g1.  His decision to castle queenside proves to be a serious blunder.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cooking Steak

Unlike pork, beef does not have to be cooked until it is well-done.  Steak can be served with different amounts of cooking time.  The six classifications for steak are blue rare, rare, medium rare, medium, medium well and well-done.

Blue rare is cooked on the outside and completely red on the inside.  Rare is cooked on the outside and about 75% red on the inside.  Medium rare is cooked more so that it is about 50% red on the inside.  Medium is about 25% pink on the inside.  A medium well steak has a little bit of pink on the inside and a well-done steak is cooked until it is 100% brown.

Chefs use their knowledge of how the steak looks and how it feels to determine when it is ready.  A well-done steak is much harder than a blue rare one.  Obviously a blue rare steak needs the least amount of cooking time.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Quotes by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is considered the greatest English writer.  His plays and poems have stood the test of time.  It is not surprising that they are the source of many famous quotes. 

I have chosen ten of my favourite quotes from William Shakespeare's plays.  It was not easy to select ten, but I managed to do so.  Here they are:

1) (Romeo and Juliet)

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.

2) (Romeo and Juliet)  

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

3) (Romeo and Juliet)  

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?  

4) (The Merchant of Venice)  

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

5) (King Lear)

Nothing will come of nothing.

6) (Othello)

T'is neither here nor there.

7) (As You Like It)

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.

8) (Julius Caesar)

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

9) (Hamlet)

To be or not to be:  that is the question.

10) (Twelfth Night)

Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em.

The single lines "To be or not to be: that is the question" and O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" are undoubtedly among the most famous lines written by William Shakespeare.  They are from two of his most popular tragedies, Hamlet  and Romeo and Juliet.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Roman Numerals

Ancient Rome did not use the counting system used throughout the world today.  It used Roman numerals.  They are combinations of letters from the Latin alphabet with different values.

Here is the Roman numeral system:


The number two is II.  The number for four, however, is IV.  Here the number one is subtracted from five.  The number six is VI.  The number one is added to five.

Here are different numbers in the Roman numeral system:

2012 (the current year) MMXII
1789 (the French Revolution) MDCCLXXXIX
2000 (the start of the 21st century) MM
52 (the number of weeks in one year) LII
365 (the number of days in one year) CCCLXV

The Roman numerals were used in the days of Ancient Rome.  Though they no longer enjoy the popularity of former days, they are still used to number sporting events, in clocks and watches, and to number the chapters of books.  This is a testament to their historical significance.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Winning the Queen

In a game of speed chess against Spverma of India, who played black,  he resigned after losing his queen.  Though my queen was threatened, I ignored the threat because I was able to capture his queen with check.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 a6
4. Ba4 Nf6
5. 0-0 h6

I ignore the threat on my e4 pawn because I want to develop.  Black plays a move that ignores development.  A better move for black is Be7.

6. d4 exd

With the black king in the centre, I decide to open the centre of the board.

7. Nxd4 d5

I now attack c6 with two pieces.  Here black needs to play Bd7.

8. Nxc6 bxc6
9. Bxc6+ Bd7
10. Bxa8 dxe

Black's last move closes the centre, but this is only temporary.

11. Bxe4 Nxe4
12. Re1 Qe7

I pin the knight and black decides to protect the pinned knight with his queen.  A better move is Be7.

13. Nc3 Bf5
14. f3 Qc5+

The check presents no danger.

15. Be3 Nxc3

Perhaps black expects an exchange of queens with 16. Bxc5 and ...Nxd1.  However, I can delay the capture of the knight because I have a move that captures with check.

16. Bxc5+

Black must respond to the check by blocking or moving the king.  This allows me to capture his knight on the following move.  With no queen and a miserable position, black decides to resign.

The turning point in this game is my ninth move, Bxd6+.  This fork of the king and rook puts black on the defensive.  My final move, Bxc5+, convinces him that the game is lost because it increases my material advantage.

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