Monday, April 30, 2007

Recipe (for Success)

I'm still drained from watching the Ranger's double overtime win last night and while I am cooking dinner tonight (salmon on the grill, some rice), I encourage everyone to order in tomorrow night so as to not miss a moment of when the Rangers pull even in their series against the Buffalo Sabres. I am sure that C in DC will be happy to share with me her wing recipe, which can certainly be next Monday's recipe (if necessary :), of course).

My recollection of going to Ranger games involves food however. There were the meals either beforehand or post-game at Charley O's (if you have to ask, you've never been there). Then there were the snack grabs in Penn Station waiting for the LIRR to take us home. That usually consisted of perhaps soft-serve or maybe a good NYC pretzel (with mustard, of course).

At the games, I have fond memories of sitting in the blue seats (again, if you have to ask, you've never sat there - it's where the real fans sit), where my fellow Ranger fans would enjoy Italian pastries and whiskey (from a flask). But they made sure not to yell "Potvin Sucks" with their mouths full.

Let's Go Rangers!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tomorrow is Tax Freedom Day

On Monday April 30, the American taxpayer will celebrate. While most of us have filed our tax returns for 2006 already (does it surprise you that many still have not - or never file at all?), on Monday, Tax Freedom Day will be commemorated.

Tax Freedom Day is the day during the calendar year when most Americans have satisfied their "tax bill" for the year and that everything we make from this point on is "ours."

It is noteworthy that Tax Freedom Day arrives two days later this year than last. It is nearly two weeks later than in 2003, when tax cuts made for an early arrival of Tax Freedom Day.

So get out there and buy something. You can now afford it.

And the Red Light Goes On - Finally!

Game 3 of the Buffalo Sabres-New York Rangers series has just concluded and the Rangers have notched their first win of the series, with a goal in double overtime, by a score of 2-1. The series is now 2 games to 1, in favor of the Sabres. Game 4 will be played on Tuesday evening, with game 5 scheduled for Friday back in Buffalo. Things are right on schedule for my prediction of a Rangers series victory (in six games), with game 6 being played in "the world's most famous arena," Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon.

C in DC was supposed to have purchased wings for a victory party scheduled whenever her team is able to win the series, with me prepared to order some New York style Neapolitan pizza to complement the party. If all goes, according to plan, that party will take place next Sunday afternoon!

Let's go Rangers!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

SAA-JAL Tours Visits Wrigley Field

For the past several years, I have organized a group outing to the baseball stadium located in the city where the Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archivists is meeting. This year that city is Chicago, and the team in town is the Cubs. I am in the process of gathering my group together for an outing on either Wednesday or Thursday evening August 29 or 30.

As this blog is "syndicated" on ArchivesBlogs, I am putting it out there to see if there is anyone else out there who might be interested in coming along. Feel free to contact me or leave a comment and I can add you to the list. More details on the outing will follow soon.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Help the David Sarnoff Archives

I usually attempt to incorporate archival content into this blog. After all, it is what I do. While postings of late have been consumed by the march to the Stanley cup, an archival matter has presented itself and I am asking my readers to consider helping out an archives in need. The Northeast United States was recently affected by a late winter storm that brought snow to many areas and heavy rains to parts of the East coast.

The David Sarnoff Library is located in Princeton, New Jersey and its materials were heavily affected from the recent storm. You can read more about it here. Suffice to say, they wound up with about 20 inches of water in their repository. The regional professional organization of which I belong (MARAC, you read about it last week, when we met in Scranton, PA) has pledged money to help with the disaster recovery. The organization is also making a direct appeal to our members to offer their own financial assistance. You can click on "Make a Donation" at the bottom of the story regarding the flood to link directly to PayPal and help them out.

The David Sarnoff Library documents David Sarnoff's life; the history of radio, television, electronics, and communications; and the history of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). It is devoted to the study and understanding of the innovative spirit personified in the greatest technological visionary of the 20th century and realized in the accomplishments of Radio Corporation of America (RCA) employees at laboratories, factories, and offices in New Jersey and around the world. [from the library website]

I hope that you might consider helping them out. Please feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you have any questions.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Did Anybody Get the Number of that Train?



So, game 1 in the books. Not so good for the blueshirts. Yes, but Heart and Tradition still have a chance. But I am afraid that stomach will be dining on wings come Tuesday . . .

Although, I am still planning the New York City victory party and despite suggestions of "air" and "golf balls," I think Reubens on Rye might be a winner. Gonna grab a flight, Archival Trash? We'll pick you up at the airport and everything.

Somebody go lock the fat lady in her dressing room. We're not ready for her yet.

The Top 1000 Books Owned by Libraries

A friend sent me the following link to the "Top 1000" titles owned by OCLC member libraries—the intellectual works that have been judged to be worth owning by the "purchase vote" of libraries.

Here is the top ten:
  1. The Bible
  2. The Census
  3. Mother Goose
  4. The Divine Comedy, Dante
  5. The Odyssey, Homer
  6. The Iliad, Homer
  7. Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  8. Lord of the Rings (trilogy), J.R.R. Tolkien
  9. Hamlet, William Shakespeare
  10. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
A few observations:
  • The Bible, number 1. Well, um, OK.
  • Lots of "classics" - the Greeks, the Romans, American literature. Again, not surprising.
  • Number 15 on the list - Garfield. Yes, the lasagna eating cat beats out Macbeth (#19), Moby Dick (#34), and Tale of Two Cities (#42), just to name three.
  • No Stephen King. But yes to Michael Crichton, Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, Patricia Cornwell, Tom Clancy, even John Grisham.
  • The definitive work on reference (used by a generation on Albany MLS students and taught by the man, until his death) by Bill Katz (#905).
  • Lots of children's books. I have one (a child) so lots of those titles I know (and the stories by heart).
  • One cookbook (that I found), "The Joy of . . ." and one drug reference (Merck).

It takes a while to navigate the list, but it's an interesting read, no pun intended. How many have you read?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's the Conference Semifinals (Predictions)

Settling in to handicap the second round is a man who is still dealing with snow on the ground, though he is partial to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes (wait, they're not playing), I like him anyway. Archival Trash Man, take it away:

Thanks to BA for having me "guest blog" for the second round of the NHL playoffs. Even though I only have one series going the distance, I think we're in for four very entertaining series and a fun week or two while we get to point and laugh at my picks. So without further ado, here we go...

Let's start out West. Conventional Wisdom says the Red Wings are different enough this year to avoid recent years playoff disasters, that Hasek has another Cup in him, and that these guys (#1 record overall) are somehow underdogs. I don't like Conventional Wisdom, so I'll pick the Sharks. San Jose's up-tempo game and team speed should be the difference in this series, and Wings fans will face another year of "What Happened?" Take that, Mitch Albom! SJ 4, DET 2

On paper at least, the Vancouver-Anaheim matchup looks like a classic. I'll agree. And while the 'Nucks may have a slight advantage up front, I think the Ducks' superior blue line and stellar net play will tell in the end. (Yes, as good as Luongo is, I think Giguere/Bryzgalov can stand up to him for one series at least.) This should be fun to watch. ANA 4, VAN 3

In the East, let's start with Buffalo vs. NY Rangers. I didn't think the Rangers would get past the Thrashers, but they seriously proved me wrong. This time, however, I think their luck runs out. The Sabres are too deep, too fast, and will throw too much for too long at the Rags. So, unless Lundqvist stands on his head every single night, and Jagr scores on every shift, this one will be over in five. Sorry, BA. BUF 4, NYR 1

Man, would I love to see the Devils get swept. Not only was seeing the Hurricanes win the Cup last year fantastic, but they took out the Devils along the way. So you know where my heart lies in this series. My head also says take the Sens, despite their continued woes in the post-season. But they made it past round one this year, and I think they'll take it to the Devils. The Sens are a much deeper team than the Lightning, and if Brodeur slips just a little bit, as he did in the TB series, this one could be over quickly. OTT 4, NJ 2

It's the Conference Semifinals (Recap of Round 1)

Now that the first round of playoffs are over (and the Rangers are well rested after their sweep of the Thrashers - the first sweep by the Rangers since, that's right, 1994!) with the final game played last night and the Canucks emerging victorious over the Dallas Stars (you might recall the Canucks are the team the Rangers defeated for the Cup in 1994!)

How did our guest blogger do? Let's take a look.
  • Nashville v. San Jose - "Nashville in 7 hard fought games" - Oh, sorry, wrong answer. I will however say I picked this one right, Sharks in 5.
  • Vancouver v. Dallas - "Vancouver in 5" - We'll give him this one, Vancouver should have had it in 5, but needed the 7th game to ice the Stars.
  • Anaheim v. Minnesota - "I think the Wild is the one team that could really create an upset . . . Anaheim in 5, though Minnesota in 6 would not be a big surprise" - DING, on the money, though I thought the Wild would pull it out in the six games as Anaheim shouldn't have a hockey team.
  • Detroit v. Calgary - "Detroit in 5" - They needed six games, but that's 2 more than I thought. I saw sweep.
  • Ottawa v. Pittsburgh - "Ottawa in 6" - I said seven, ADR said 6, the Senators only needed 5 to dispatch the Penguins. All the better, because I missed most of the Ranger games because of this stupid series.
  • Atlanta v. NY Rangers - "Honestly, I don't think Atlanta is ready to win in the playoffs, so I will surprise you - NYR in 6" - Get out the brooms, baby, Rangers did it in 4, first advance to the second round since 1997 and as previously mentioned, first sweep since they hoisted the Cup.
  • New Jersey v. Tampa - "I will use this for my sweep pick. New Jersey in 4" - I hate the Devils though I had them in six games, which is how many they needed to off the Lightning.
  • Buffalo v. NY Isles - "It is hard to pick against talent. Buffalo in 5" - Again, DING, on the money. I guess he knows of what he speaks.

So ADR goes 7-1 on his picks! Great job.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Recipe: Lemon Bundt Cake

I am normally not a big fan of "tart" desserts. But when my wife made this, she had me at the glaze. The lemon flavor is just right, not too overpowering. The recipe comes from Cooks Illustrated, so you know they worked it for a while to get it right. My wife got it right the first time.

Lemon Bundt Cake
Cake
  • Grated zest plus 3 tbsp. juice from 3 lemons
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, preferably low fat
  • 3 large eggs plus 1 large yolk, at room temperature
  • 18 tbsp. (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar

Glaze

  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp buttermilk
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray with flour (alternatively, brush pan with mixture of 1 tbsp. flour and 1 tbsp melted butter). Mince lemon zest to fine paste (you should have about 2 tbsp.). Combine zest and lemon juice in small bowl; set aside to soften, 10 to 15 minutes.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Combine lemon juice mixture, vanilla, and buttermilk in medium bowl. In small bowl, gently whisk eggs and yolk to combine. In standing mixer, fitted with flat beater, cream butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes; scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce to medium speed and add half of eggs, mixing until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with remaining eggs; scrape down bowl again. Reduce to low speed; add about one-third of flour mixture, followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 5 seconds). Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Scrape into prepared pan.

Bake until top is golden brown and wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into center comes out with no crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes.

For the glaze: While the cake is baking, whisk 2 tbsp. lemon juice, buttermilk, and confectioners' sugar until smooth, adding more lemon juic gradually as needed until glaze is thick but still pourable (mixture should leave faint trail across bottom of mixing bowl when drizzled from whisk). Cool cake in pan on wire rack set over baking sheet for 10 minutes, then invert cake directly onto rack. Pour half of glaze over warm cake and let cool for 1 hour, pour remaining glaze evenly over top of cake and continue to cool to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Cut into slices and serve.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

30,000 Pages of Backlog


Today is the final day of the MARAC Spring 2007 Meeting. We start with our business meeting, where the goings on of the organization are reported to the membership. Then we head off into our final two session blocks, while many spend that time checking out of their hotel rooms and getting a head start toward home. As shown by the picture above, we have archivists from all over (although this archivist is believed to work at the Library of Congress in DC - not Minnesota).

At the conclusion of the business meeting, we hear from the next meeting site coordinators, inviting us to that location. In this case, Williamsburg, Virginia in November 2007. There was also a reading of an adaptation of the Harry Chapin song, 30,000 Pounds of Bananas. I present it below for your enjoyment.

My wife and I will leave lovely Scranton and make a stop in Hazleton, Pennsylvania on our way home to do some genealogical research for her family. If time permits, we will make a stop at the outlets in Gettysburg, to do some research into some new fashions at good prices.

With apologies to Harry Chapin . . .

It was Thursday afternoon
When the cars started down the hill
That leads into Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Carrying almost two hundred fifty MARAC archivists.

We’re at thirty five years,
Just out for our Spring meeting.
Carrying the mantle of history’s flame
To everyone in that coal-scarred city.
Where archivists work without despair,
In underground stacks and the rest manage to process
About 30,000 pages of backlog.
Yes, more than 30,000 pages of backlog.

We passed a sign that we didn’t read,
Saying the electric city was still here.
We were thinking perhaps about the ice cold beer,
That was waiting in the hospitality suite.
We started down the two mile drop,
The curving road that wound from the top of the hill.

Just a few more days to go,
Then we’d go home and start a new era,
And the dreams of 400 years in Virginia.
Yes the dreams of 400 years in Virginia.

We were picking up speed as the hotel grew closer,
But we paid no heed as the delicious thoughts of the reception’s
Delights went through us.
Our feet nudged the brakes to slow us down,
But the pedal floored easy without a sound.
We said, “Schellenberg!”
It was funny how we had named the only man who could save us now.

We were trapped under an incredible backlog,
Trying to get it off our backs,
Was every one of those 30,000 pages of backlog.
Yes, there were 30,000 pages of backlog.

We barely made the sweeping curve that led into the hotel lot,
We missed the governor going by at ninety miles an hour.
And we said “God, get me a drink!”
As we drove into the parking lot.
And we said “God, get me a drink!”
As we drove into the parking lot.
And we drove past nineteen corporate archivists,
Called to thirteen academic colleagues,
Saw two valets, entered eight doors,
And waited for the elevators . . .
It was then we lost our cool,
Not to mention our way before we stopped.
And we looked at the signs,
That adorned the hotel that is here in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
All those two hundred fifty MARAC archivists.

You know the man who told me about it at Trax,
As we drank in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
He shrugged his shoulders, he shook his head,
And he said (and this is exactly what he said),
“Boy it sure must have been something.
Just imagine, thirty thousand pages of backlog,
Yes there were two hundred fifty MARAC archivists,
And backlog, just backlog, thirty thousand pages,
Of backlog, not no processing now, just backlog.

Friday, April 20, 2007

But do the trains run on time?


Oh, wait there are no trains that come here. It has arrived at Friday evening during the MARAC meeting here at the Radisson Lackawanna Hotel, which is a former railroad station (thanks to ADR for the flickr picture). The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel has a lot of charm and some good food, including as described on the website, "The best Happy Hour in the Electric City."

However, with a really old building, there have been some "issues." Chief among them have been the problem of the elevators. Out of service last night, and spottily working today, I walked up the stairs to my floor to find technicians talking to someone stuck in the elevator. If nothing else, we MARACians are getting our exercise at this meeting.


Speaking of electricity and trains, I am off to the reception, which is being held at the Electric City Trolley Museum. Scranton is known as the Electric City because it is the first U.S. city to have a electric street car system.

We will see what the rest of the evening and tomorrow brings. Yankees vs. Red Sox tonight from Fenway, which is celebrating an anniversary today. Fenway Park opened on this day in 1912, along with Navin Field, home of the Detroit Tigers (later Tiger Stadium). Go Yankees!

Welcome to MARAC - Friday

It's Friday morning at 9:15am and many of my colleagues are gathering to hear the plenary address of Thomas Dublin, professor at Binghamton University. (Go to Albany! - private joke there, when prospective students tour Binghamton, students will often yell at them to go to Albany, while at Albany, the call is to go to Binghamton, both schools are university centers in the State University of New York system. I went to Albany.) Professor Dublin is speaking on his recent book, The Face of Decline: The Pennsylvania Anthracite Region in the Twentieth Century, and focusing on his archival research and oral histories he conducted in documenting the coal industry.

I have chosen to check in with the outside world and let you all know what is happening here in lovely Scranton, PA. Driving into town yesterday afternoon, I was at first struck by the SNOW that still sat on the sides of Interstate 81 as we travelled through Pennsylvania. It is mid-April, yes, but the weather is still unseasonable and the area was hit with some snow in the past two weeks. Someday, spring weather will arrive. It is a little more mild here today with temperatures nearing 60 degrees.

Thursday at MARAC meetings for me is consumed by meetings. As an officer in the organization, I chair one committee, serve as ex-officio to two others, and go to Steering Committee meetings in the evening. So I was busy yesterday. The Steering Committee meeting turned out to be a very "romantic" affair as evidenced by the picture below. There is a good account of what happens at Steering Committee meetings (sans the secret handshake) at my good friend Geof Huth's blog.


One of the highlights for those who come to MARAC meetings is not an organized event. The Hospitality Suite, which Geof also refers to on his blog, is where members can go to unwind (drink) and relax (drink) and talk about the conference (drink). My wife and I went off to the Hospitality Suite to confer (drink) with our friends before retiring. It was here that we learned an exciting piece of news. Two good friends, archivists themselves, got engaged yesterday! We are very happy for them. My wife and I also met at a professional meeting and we happily pass the mantle of the official couple of MARAC to them with all our best wishes.

The sessions scheduled for today are wide ranging and interesting. I however, am finding it difficult to find something that is relevant to my work. This is something that I struggle with when I come to conferences, finding sessions that are appropriate to go to. I do like to go to sessions that are fun, but I sometimes feel guilty. I have another problem. I evidently like to sleep and must be really, really tired. I can be in the most exciting session but the eyelids will become heavy and I have to stop myself from snoring all too often. But anyway, I hope to get to a couple of sessions today and will try to report on them this evening.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Off to MARAC in lovely Scranton

Today marks the 232nd anniversary of Paul Revere's ride from Charlestown to Lexington, MA, warning American colonists that the British were coming. Here is a link to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's famous poem about the famous ride.

I'm leaving tomorrow for the Spring Meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Wish me luck. I will be bringing my wife's laptop and hope to blog from the meeting. Stay tuned!

He Who Dies With the Most Toys Wins!

My son has developed a rather large cache of "stuff." He has a toy chest in the living room that is full. My son and I are both rather organized so the various drawers, cabinets and main compartments are arranged by type of toy. (You laugh, though my son is but 2 years old, give him a pile of matchbox cars and he will line them up perfectly. I love my child. He also will help clean - run the swiffer around the room, pick up with the dustpan, wipe the table where he has been eating, makes me proud). But I digress.

There was a recent article in the new Life Magazine supplement that comes in the paper. I know, I know, I have already disparaged this attempt at reviving a great magazine and how Luce is surely rolling over in his grave. Nonetheless, it provides good blog fodder. The article talked about the explosion of toys for America's youth. A New York City photographer documented the phenomenon in the "Pink and Blue Project."

The article also had a side piece on the "Brief History of Toy World's Citizens."
  • the View Master, 1939 - Had one of those. I remember reels littering the room and as noted in the description, the View Master really took off, when Disney adapted its films for it. The Aristocats! Over 1.5 billion reels have been produced.
  • the Slinky, 1945 - Started out to help stabilize nautical equipment. But when they saw it "walk down stairs, alone or in pairs - everyone knows its Slinky." I have one of these now but had a couple growing up as well, contributing to the more than 300 million that have been sold.
  • Mr. Potato Head, 1952 - I don't remember having one, but I do remember having the poor-man's version - a real potato. Of course, it is now forever linked with Don Rickles and the Toy Story movies.
  • Frisbee, 1957 - The pie plate turned toy, I remember in high school and college, the "Ultimate Frisbee Tournaments," which evidently still is around. I can still bounce a Frisbee off the pavement with panache. More than 200 million have been sold in its 50 years.
  • Hot Wheels, 1968 - I still have Matchbox cars that my brother played with and he is 14 years older than. My big thing growing up was going to Williams Variety and spending a portion of my allowance on a new Matchbox car. My son has a bunch, but the ones of my youth are up on a high shelf for display for the time being. In 2006, more that 60 million cars were bought - nearly FIVE TIMES the number of real cars sold in the US last year.
  • Rubik's Cube, 1980 - Getting close to the end of my high school days now and I had one, but I believe it still exists somewhere, unsolved, sigh. More than 300 million are out there, but how many are done?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tax Day in the USA

Yes well, April 15 was Sunday, so we got until Monday. Yesterday was Emancipation Day in DC, so we got until today. File your taxes yet? You have until midnight tonight to get them in. For the first time in several years, I am getting a refund! WooHoo!

Here are several quotes that appeared on the Washington Post Op-Ed page yesterday to celebrate the annual ritual of tax preparation and filing. The quotes were supplied by Fred R. Shapiro, who edited the Yale Book of Quotations and serves as the associate librarian for collections and access at Yale Law School. Enjoy.

"Tis impossible to be sure of any thing but Death and Taxes." Christopher Bullock, The Cobler of Preston (1716).

"Taxation without representation is tyranny." Attributed to James Otis in a letter by John Adams to William Tudor, March 29, 1818 (see also DC Emancipation Day).

"The income tax is just. It simply intends to put the burdens of government justly on the backs of the people." William Jennings Bryan, speech at the Democratic National Convention, Chicago, July 8, 1896.

What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin." Mark Twain, notebooks, December 30, 1902.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Monday's Recipe: Mom's Beefaroni

I often find myself talking with friends about our mother's cooking. My mother was not the most "exotic" cook, shall we say. Yes, she baked well, she could do nice dinner parties, but the everyday meal was often routine. It wasn't until I went to college that vegetables could have texture and were not served limp and from a can or a box from the freezer.

As I learned to cook for myself, there were some things my mother made that I would make for myself. Some I improved upon and some I would make "just the way that mom made" because that's how I wanted it.

My son has taken to my mother's recipe for Beefaroni (not Seinfeld beef-a-reeno, mind you). It's very simple and I like it and still make the dish, just the way mom did.

"Mom's Beefaroni"
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • a few cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup elbow pasta

Put the onions and garlic in a large pot to cook (with a little olive oil). Add the ground beef and brown, until all the pink is gone. Season to taste (I add a little salt and pepper, some oregano).

Add the tomatoes and mix together, breaking up the tomatoes (you can use diced tomatoes, but I like the bigger chunks of tomatoes).

When mixture begins to simmer, add the elbows and stir well. (You can use another small pasta, if you like, but Mom always used elbows.) Cover and set on low heat for about 10-15 minutes until pasta is soft and tender. Serve. (I freeze small containers for my son to eat at mealtimes.)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Now at the Plate, Number 42, Jackie Robinson

Today marks the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's first game, for the Brooklyn Dodgers in Ebbetts Field. Around the league, several players will don the retired number 42 for games today to commemorate the event. An "official" ceremony will take place at Dodger Stadium tonight at 8:00.

Robinson's number was retired across the league ten years ago on the 50th anniversary of Robinson's entry to the league. However, Commissioner Bud Selig responded to a request by Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr. to wear the number, granting at least one member of every team to wear number 42 for today. Only New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera wears the number everyday, as he was already wearing it when the number was retired in 1997.

Jackie Robinson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. Today his legacy lives on in the Jackie Robinson Foundation, helping minority youth get into college. There is certainly more to say about this pioneer and amazing baseball player. We have however missed our chance to thank him personally as Jackie left us in 1972. Anyway, today, Thanks, Jackie, you did good.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Remembering Kurt, 1922-2007

Word out today that Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse Five, among others, had died of brain trauma after a fall several weeks ago. Vonnegut may be remembered most for words he never uttered. Ten years ago, a "speech" allegedly delivered at MIT's graduation, surfaced on the Internet. The words were in Vonnegut's style and with his humor. But he never gave the speech. A new urban legend was born.

Nonetheless, I print the "speech" here. His words or not, it's good stuff and full of good advice.

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97:

Wear sunscreen.If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind.You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Quest for the Cup begins

Tomorrow night begins the NHL Playoffs and the road to the Stanley Cup. One thing is certain. With the absence of both the Edmonton Oilers and the defending champion Carolina Hurricanes (sorry, Archival Trash), there will be a new team skating with Lord Stanley's hardware.

To prevent me the embarrassment that accompanied my baseball picks last fall, frequent Order from Chaos reader and commenter, ADR offers his predictions for the first round of playoff hockey. I will state up front (I know, it's the kiss of death) that I agree with his choices. Let's see how he does.

So, for all of our mutual friends - and to see if I really know anything, here is a NHL playoff preview. We'll start out West, if only to force C in DC to read until the end to see what I really think about Buffalo.

Nashville v. San Jose - This series will be the one that I will probably watch the most. I like the way both teams play and think all the games will be close. Nashville has made plenty of progress over the last couple of years - and their gamble that Peter Forsberg will make the difference for them was a bold stroke. San Jose has great chemistry and always seem to make the big play when they need. Nashville in 7 hard fought games.

Vancouver v. Dallas - Roberto Luongo has made all the difference for Vancouver. I have been very impressed watching him (when I can stay up that is) and really have to wonder why Florida let him go. Though Dallas has a style that lends itself to playoff hockey, I do think that Luongo will outplay Marty Turco. Vancouver in 5.

Anaheim v. Minnesota - I think the Wild is the one team that could really create an upset. Head Coach Jacques Lemaire knows how to win in the post-season. The thing is, Anaheim has been the consensus pick to win the West since the middle of the season. I don't think they have been playing as well as they could - but it's difficult to pick against a team with offense (Selanne's 48 goals) and two outstanding defensemen - Pronger and Niedermayer. Anaheim in 5, though Minnesota in 6 would not be a big surprise.

Detroit v. Calgary - Full disclosure: I find Dominik Hasek annoying and a bit of a bore. However, his talent is undeniable. I think Calgary is lucky to be in the post-season and won't stay for long. Detroit in 5.

Trivia factoid for the East - This is only the third time ever (1990, 1994) when all 3 New York metropolitan-area teams have made the postseason.

Ottawa v. Pittsburgh - This is the one series that the Canadian media will focus on with the relentless hype between Sid the Kid and Ottawa's history of being star-crossed in the playoffs. I actually like the way Ottawa will be looked at as the underdog in this series. I'm also not convinced that Marc-Andre Fluery is as good as his press. The less I say about Crosby, Malkin, and the rest of the Pens – the better for everyone. Ottawa in 6.

Atlanta v. NY Rangers - Probably of most interest to the Brave Astronaut himself, the Rangers have managed to cobble together over-the-hill veterans and a moody Czech superstar around a very talented young goaltender. The matchup of Bobby Holik against Jagr will be fascinating to watch - especially given Holik's previous history in NY. Honestly, I don't think Atlanta is ready to win in the playoffs, so I will surprise you - NYR in 6.

New Jersey v. Tampa - The only thing I will say about this series is that I will not watch a second of it. Since two weeks ago, I thought Tampa would not make the playoffs at all - I will use this for my sweep pick. New Jersey in 4.

And finally, Buffalo v. NY Isles. The thing is, Buffalo is the team that my team should most strive to emulate. They have built a great team, full of young talent that can skate like there is no tomorrow. Now, they do have serious shortcoming - mostly because they have some of the most whiny/dirty players (Briere) and coaches (Ruff) and fans in the league. But, it is hard to pick against talent. Buffalo in 5.


Monday, April 9, 2007

Today in Space News

Brave Astronaut notes today's "This Day in History" from the work website:

On this day in 1959, NASA announced the selection of America's first seven astronauts: Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Donald Slayton.

Immortalized later in the 1983 film, "The Right Stuff," from the book by Tom Wolfe, these seven men helped to birth the American Space Program.

Of the seven, only three survive. Carpenter is retired and lives mostly in Colorado. John Glenn, of course, had an distinguished career as Senator from Ohio, and returned to space in 1998, becoming the oldest man to go into space. Wally Schirra holds the distinction of being the only one of the original seven to fly in all of the first three space programs, Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.

Gordon Cooper died in 2004 at the age of 77. Grissom perished in the launchpad fire in 1967, which also killed Ed White and Roger Chafee. Alan Shepard died in 1978. Slayton died in 1993.

Easter Recipe: Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie in Toaster Pecan Crust

Yes, Easter Sunday was yesterday. I was forwarded this recipe by C in DC who was planning to make it, so we will hope she comments on how well it was received. I think it sounds great! The recipe comes from Bon App├ętit, April 2007 issue.

Lemon curd
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
  • Pinch of salt

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

3 cups vanilla ice cream, slightly softened, divided

Meringue

  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 6 tablespoons sugar

For lemon curd: Whisk eggs and egg yolks in medium bowl. Melt butter in medium metal bowl set over large saucepan of simmering water. Whisk in sugar, lemon juice, lemon peel, and salt; gradually whisk in egg mixture. Whisk until thick and thermometer inserted into curd registers 178°F to 180°F, about 8 minutes. Transfer to small bowl. Press plastic wrap on top of curd; chill 4 hours. Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For crust: Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix pecans, sugar, and butter in medium bowl until moistened. Press pecan mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish (mixture will be crumbly). Bake until crust is lightly toasted, about 12 minutes (crust will slip down sides of dish). Use back of spoon to press crust back into place. Cool crust on rack. Freeze crust 30 minutes.

Dollop 1 1/2 cups ice cream over crust; spread into even layer. Spread lemon curd over ice cream; freeze until firm, about 2 hours. Dollop 1 1/2 cups softened ice cream over lemon curd; spread into even layer. Cover and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

For meringue: Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in medium bowl until frothy. Beat in cream of tartar. With mixer running, gradually add sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Spoon meringue over pie, spreading to seal at edges and swirling decoratively. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Freeze pie. Using kitchen butane torch, toast meringue until golden in spots or place pie in a preheated 500°F oven until meringue is golden in spots, watching to prevent burning, about 3 minutes. Cut pie into wedges; serve immediately.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

So Long, Farewell, and Good Night

Another hopping Saturday night here in Brave Astronaut land. My wife and I are babysitting my sister-in-law's daughter and she and my son are fast asleep in his room. We have been reduced (though by choice) The Sound of Music, which is being played on TV, sadly with commercials. I recall growing up that the Sound of Music was often on TV at Easter and it felt right to stop and watch Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews go to the hills.

And here is your archival content for the evening. The records of the Von Trapp family's immigration into the United States are held at the National Archives, here in Washington, DC. I am assuming that cannot be said for the other big Easter flick, being played over on the ABC network, The Ten Commandments.

I spent a very lazy Saturday watching the Masters on television. It is the one golf tournament that I try not to miss. Today is traditionally referred to as "Moving Day" and today everybody took a few steps backwards. There is no player in the field that is above par. The scoring average for today hovered nearly 4 over par (72). I hope that the "Archival Trash" talker bundled up for his excursion to Augusta for it has been mighty cold there in Georgia. But then again, it snowed here this morning.

As I long for the return of warm weather, I have turned to another archival colleague, who has headed to Florida for a family vacation. I highly recommend reading his virtual postcards on his "Mission to the Dry Tortugas." We can all live vicariously through him.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

New York Rangers Make the Playoffs!

With a win tonight over the Montreal Canadiens, the New York Rangers will play in the postseason, clinching a playoff spot. Their opponent will be determined after the season ends on Sunday, but likely to be the New Jersey Devils. They aren't the best team in the playoffs, nor can I honestly believe they can win the Cup. But a boy can dream.

Tickets go on sale on Tuesday morning. Who's in for a road trip to NYC and the "world's most famous arena?" ADR, what do you think?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

It's the Masters!

To hear Jim Nantz talk about it . . . "it's a tradition like no other." The Masters always takes place on the first weekend in April. About 15 minutes ago, four-time Masters winner Arnold Palmer served as honorary starter for the tournament. Here's a good history of the tournament, from the Masters website.

I will be glued to the TV this weekend as the best in the game demonstrate their talents in what I refer to as the "Cathedral of Golf." I would like to see Phil Mickelson win (again - he is the defending champion).

Stay tuned.

And by the way, in case you missed it, Florida beat Ohio State for the championship in NCAA basketball. I've chosen not to report about it, as the sting of Georgetown's loss still hurts. Oh, well, better luck next year.

And after dropping their first two games of the season, the Nationals came back to win in dramatic fashion yesterday, loading the bases in the bottom of the ninth and winning the game with a walk-off single.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

When Jesse James Caught His Last Ride

(read in the March 2007 issue of Spirit Magazine, the magazine of Southwest Airlines)

Today is the 125th anniversary of the death of Jesse James, or is it? It was on this date that Jesse James was shot and (presumed) killed at the age of 34. James, who had been living under an alias in St. Joseph, Missouri, took off his gun belt (mistake #1) and stood on a chair (mistake #2) to straighten a picture. He was then shot from behind by his houseguest, Robert Ford.

It has been alleged that James survived, skipped his funeral and went on to live to a ripe old age. Rumors of Jesse James's survival proliferated. Some said that Ford did not kill James, but someone else, in an elaborate plot to allow him to escape justice. Will Davis, a historical interpreter at the Jesse James Farm and Museum in Kearney, Missouri, offers the story that some believe the body buried was Wood Hite, a cousin of Jesse's, who had died a few weeks earlier. According to Wikipedia, some stories say he lived in Guthrie, Oklahoma, as late as 1948, and a man named J. Frank Dalton, who claimed to be Jesse James, died in Granbury, Texas, in 1951 at the age of 103. The body buried in Missouri as Jesse James was exhumed in 1995 and, according to a report, it is believed that the remains were of Jesse James. A court order was granted in 2000 to exhume and test Dalton's body, but the wrong body was exhumed. (A-HA!)

The James home, where Jesse met his maker, in St. Joseph, Missouri, offers a wide variety of artifacts from James. In nearby Kearney, the James farm still stands and tours can be had of the farm and museum. On April 7, the farm will mark the anniversary with a "Black Powder Shooting Contest."

Monday, April 2, 2007

Recipe - Flank Steak

Today was Opening Day for baseball! I was able to go to the Nationals home opener, their third season here in DC. I have been to all three. While the outcome was not to my liking (the Nats got creamed 9-2 by the Florida Marlins), it was a beautiful day for baseball. Blue skies, nice little breeze, and a good time was had by all.

It must mean that summer is just around the corner and it's time to dust off the grill and char some meat. To that end, here is my wife's marinade for flank steak. Bake some potatoes and have a nice salad and you are enjoying a great meal. We will be having ours on Wednesday night.

Garlic-Marinated Flank Steak
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and flattened
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 - 2 pound flank or sirloin steak

Peel garlic and flatten by pressing down with the flat side of a broad knife, place in jar with tight fitting lid. Add remaining ingredients except steak. Secure top and shake vigorously to blend dressing.

Score the steak at right angles to the grain of the meat, about 1/4 inch deep on both sides. Pour dressing over steak. (We will often put the steak in a ziploc bag to marinate.)

Allow to marinate at least 20 mins. (up to 2 days in refrigerator).

Broil steak about 3 inches from heat, 3 minutes on each side, or until done to desired taste. Carve by slicing 1/4 inch thick across the grain.