Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Neiman Marcus Holiday Catalog

One of the sure signs the holidays are upon us is the release of the Neiman Marcus Holiday catalog. Be sure to look through the book and see the David Yurman necklaces and watch, the Burberry collections for him and her, the Baccarat bird, or perhaps the Mont Blanc diamond pen for $160,930. Perhaps you would prefer the Steuben vases made to look like tree trunks, or from the crystal collection: a wireless mouse ($170), a crystal pet leash ($185), or maybe you can't live without the crystal opera glasses ($150). There is even a section of items under $100 for us peons to choose from.

People around the world await the catalog to see what they cannot afford this year and wonder who it is that is buying these items. The fun part is perusing the big ticket items. Let's take a look:

Starting off the Fantasy Gifts section is the always popular, Virgin Galactic Charter to Outer Space. This too, can be yours, for you and five of your friends for $1,764,000. This is not the highest price item in the book however. That goes to the Club Membership (in perpetuity) at a Tuscan villa, the price tag? $3,800,000.

Perhaps you had your heart set on the Limited Edition 2007 BMW Individual M6 Convertible? Too bad, they all sold in one minute and thirty-two seconds. That is about as long as it took to type this paragraph. So be sure to congratulate your neighbor if he comes home in one. At least you will know what he paid for it - $139,000.

For the bargain shopper among us, the least expensive item in the fantasy gifts section? Not even for you. Limited Edition Pet Homes. Two styles, one priced at $5000 and the other at $7000, will each be signed by the designer and only ten of each will be made. Get yours today.

You may recall that I am an archivist. I take my job seriously. Unfortunately, NM has in its catalog this year the following: the Jacques Fath Archives. Here is the description for the item:

Jacques Fath led a magnificent life. The glamorous, self-taught Frenchman opened his couture salon in Paris in 1937 and became one of the first French designers to export haute couture collection to the United States. By 1947, his sweeping skirts were reshaping a global industry still in its infancy.

In 1949, he earned a Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion. He dressed some of the most elegant celebrities of his time. Fath apprenticeships launched the careers of Hubert de Givenchy and Guy Laroche. Sadly, the magic ended abruptly with his death in 1954. Two years later, his widow closed the couture line. Although his career was cut short, Fath had a profound impact on popular culture. He helped launch the New Look of the late 1940s. And unlike most designers, Fath kept meticulous records of his design sketches. In partnership with Rita Watnick of Lily et Cie, we proudly offer a rare chronicle of historic significance: the only archival record of the House of Fath. This museum-quality collection includes 26 volumes of original sketchbooks from 1948 through 1956, with more than 3,400 couture designs. The collection also includes three exquisite Fath haute couture dresses, each with its accompanying sketch. With this archive, the possibilities are monumental. Endow a wing of your favorite museum with a comprehensive overview of fashion history or launch your own research center to inspire the Faths of tomorrow. For more information about securing and preserving this distinct legacy, please call 1.877.9NM.GIFT.

The price tag to own your own archives? $3,500,000. Quel horreur! Anyone for signed copies of the Declaration of Independence? Perhaps a Picasso unblemished by Steve Wynn? Hey, isn't Interpol still looking for "The Scream"? I guess what I am saying is that like priceless works of art, there can be no price tag placed on items of archival value, especially those that do not exist elsewhere.

Measuring Up Morristown

Having returned from the MARAC Meeting in Morristown, a word about the town where Washington slept. The Westin Governor Morris is located on the outskirts of Morristown, far from the center of town. It is hard to locate, especially when arriving at night. One issue is the problem that occurs all over New Jersey, that being the inability to turn left from most roads. In New Jersey, you are often forced to go right to go left, making use of the infamous "Jersey Jughandles." Also, the hotel is situated in such a way that the back of the hotel faces the road and you can drive right by it and not see it.

The Westin is a very nice hotel, complete with Heavenly beds and Heavenly showers. It also features an excellent restaurant, Copeland's. While I did not partake myself, several of my colleagues sampled the fine cuisine offered and reported it outstanding. One still wonders how a five-star restaurant manages to do well in a hotel on the outskirts of Morristown. This is also a hotel that features a rack rate of more than $300/night. God bless the corporate expense account.

On Wednesday night, upon arriving, a friend and I went in search of a snack, specifically some ice cream. However, the many one way streets and the several times we circled the Morristown Green, along with the late hour, foiled us in that effort. We finally came across a grocery store on the main drag, only to find that it had closed at 10:00pm.

A word on the Morristown Green. While it is very nice to have a green space in the middle of town, with an impressive and long history, the streets that surround the Green are all one way. Roads head off like spokes and it is very easy to get turned around. Also, heading into town, one quickly discovers that you can get to the same spot in several ways, but will not be able to head back the same way.

As to Morristown culinary delights, I sampled a wide variety during my three days. On Thursday evening, I and two other colleagues headed to the Morristown Diner, a true greasy spoon diner. We all sampled from the early bird menu, my two friends opting for the Prime Rib and I had the meatloaf. It's a beautiful thing to have dinner like that for $10. But, please don't get me started on the pudding.

To watch the World Series each evening (Thursday and Friday), I wound up at a local bar, The Office. It featured an impressive beer list, both tap and bottled beers. And the wings were good, too.

On Friday for lunch, my roommate and friend headed for town to grab some lunch between sessions. As previously mentioned the roads in and out of Morristown are tricky so we pulled up short of the Green and wound up at Grasshopper off the Green. An Irish pub, I am happy to report the Fish and Chips were outstanding. I almost went for the Bangers and Mash, but went to the Fish and Chips instead. The wild card was on the specials menu, a Cuban Sandwich, but I couldn't bring myself to order a Cuban in an Irish bar. Friday night, after the reception, as previously mentioned, a large group went to the Famished Frog. We were eighteen total and the staff did an outstanding job with all of us and we all reported that our meals were great.

On both the trip up and back, I stopped at rest areas to get myself some of my favorite comfort, fast food, Roy Rogers Chicken. In a future post, I will report on my one man operation to try and understand why the Roy Rogers restaurants were rapidly disappearing.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Apple Recipes

I missed posting a recipe last week. So this week I am posting two. Both deal with apples, which are definitely in season and are great to eat and cook with. The first is an entree and the second is an apple cake recipe that was discussed at a group dinner the other evening when one of the choices on the menu for dessert was apple crisp. Both recipes came from the Washington Post.

Sparkling Wine Simmered Sausage with Spiced Apples
  • 8 pork or chicken sausages, preferably mild or apple flavored
  • about 2 cups sparkling or white wine
  • 3 green apples, preferably Granny Smith
  • about 3 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice or cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil (optional)
Using the tines of a fork, prick each sausage several times and transfer to a large skillet. Add the wine, place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer gently until cooked through, about 10 minutes. If the liquid evaporates completely, add a bit more wine or water. Drain off any remaining cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, peel and core the apples and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick. In a large skillet, or saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar and the allspice or cinnamon, reduce heat to medium-low and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the apples and toss to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are softened and lightly brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover to keep warm.

If browned sausages are desired, add the oil to the skillet with the sausages and heat, still over medium-high heat, until lightly browned on both sides. To serve, transfer the sausages and apples to a platter or individual plates and serve hot.

Apple Cake

For the filling:
  • 3 pounds apples (mixed varieties)
  • 1 lemon, washed and lightly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
For the crust:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces, plus additional for the pan
  • 2 egg yolks
For the topping:
  • 1 cup reserved crust mixture
  • 2 tbsp. butter, cold, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp. sugar mixed with pinch ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8- to 10-inch springform pan.

For the filling: Peel and cut the apples into 1/2- to 3/4-inch slices. As you slice them, add them to a large pot with some cold water and the lemon slices. When all the apple slices are in the pot, add enough cold water to barely cover them, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Drain the apples, discarding the cooking liquid. Remove and discard the lemon slices. Set the apples aside.

For the crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender, 2 knives held crisscross fashion or a wooden spoon, mix until the crust is crumbly but will stick if pressed together. Add the egg yolks and mix to combine. Transfer 1 cup of the mixture to a bowl and set aside for the topping. Pat the remaining mixture into the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of the springform pan.

Spread the reserved apple slices evenly over the surface of the crust. Set aside.

For the topping: Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture over the apple slices. Sprinkle the butter evenly over the top and then sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture.

Bake the cake for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the pan, until the topping is lightly golden. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Carefully remove the side of the pan and set the cake aside to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

MARAC Morristown - Saturday

On Saturday morning, the MARAC Conference starts with our business meeting. The business meeting is the opportunity to report to the membership about what is going on with the organization. Currently before the organization is a plan to take credit cards and process online transactions. Our organization (and profession for that matter) is somewhat antiquated and as a rule, resistant to change. However, the time has come for us to move into the 20th century, seeing as we are now six years into the 21st.

The business meeting is also an opportunity to reinforce the concept of the "next meeting is the best meeting." If you have done local arrangements for MARAC, we came up with that saying, which is defined as, you go to the next meeting after yours and sit back and watch as the people run around like chicken with their heads cut off and remark, "did I really look like that six months ago?" So at today's business meeting, we got a preview of the next meeting location, which will be held in Scranton, PA. I am already planning to make an endless CD of the Harry Chapin song, "Thirty Thousand Pounds of Bananas."

After the conclusion of the business meeting, attendees headed off to the first of two session blocks. I went to a session titled, "Desperately Seeking Solutions" (which was posted on the hotel announcement board as "Desperately Seeking Susan") and dealt with the topic of electronic records. As a newly minted electronic records archivist, it was the session of the conference for me to attend.

First up to talk was an archivist from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) who tag-teamed her presentation with a professor from Louisiana State University (LSU). The two of them had conducted a survey of College and University Archivists to see what they were doing in the field of electronic records. The next presentation was by an archivist / records manager from the Kentucky Department of Library and Archives who entertained us with the problems and issues surrounding electronic records at the state level. The final speaker was from the National Archives, who spoke about the ever-widening project at the National Archives, ERA.

I did not attend a session in the final block of sessions, nicknamed the "death slot." There may need to be some discussion about how to better handle this slot as the speakers often get short shrift.

As the conference concluded, we all went off in our separate directions until we meet again in Scranton.

MARAC Morristown - Friday Night

After the end of the second session block in the afternoon, the MARAC Conference focus shifted to the Morristown Public Library for the reception. MARAC holds a Friday evening reception highlighting a local collection and allow attendees a chance to mingle and network.

A word about networking at conferences. Our program committees do an excellent job at organizing sessions for the attendees to go to. I attended two sessions at this particular meeting, the aforementioned session on National Treasure and a session today on working with electronic records at varying levels. I have found in attending these conferences that I will often learn more from talking with my colleagues in smaller groups than in the larger settings of sessions. I think networking is an essential tool for archivists and I look for every opportunity to talk with my colleagues about what is going on in their repositories.

Anyway, after the reception at the library, several of my friends and colleagues headed to the Famished Frog to celebrate the birthday of a friend and colleague. What had begun as a group of 12, grew to a nearly unmanageable 18 (sorry again, Cheryl), but a good time was had by all. We sang (loudly) Happy Birthday to our friend and the restaurant brought a suitably festooned dessert and the restaurant staff joined in, making a loud, happy noise in our corner of the Frog.

After that, several of us headed back to a local establishment that we had gone to the night before to watch what proved to be the final game of the World Series. Detroit really mailed this one in and the team that deserved it the least, the St. Louis Cardinals, the team with the worst record of all the playoff teams, pulled it out in front of an adoring crowd in St. Louis.

Now we can focus our sports attentions on hockey and count the days until pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

Friday, October 27, 2006

MARAC Morristown - Friday

Friday is the only full day of the conference. The day started early with a continental breakfast followed by state caucus meetings. I attended the DC Caucus meeting and listened to a former DC Caucus rep (my wife is the current caucus rep, but is attending a different conference in DC) give some of the highlights from the Steering Committee meeting the night before.

After that, there was a plenary session featuring Paul Israel, Director and General Editor of the [Thomas Alva] Edison Papers. Israel spoke about Edison and his role in the history of technology. The papers comprise more than five million pages detailing the work of the "Wizard of Menlo Park." Menlo Park, where Edison had his labs, is about half an hour from Morristown.

In the afternoon session block, I went for a session that was not directly related to my work. The session title was "Lemon Juice and Hairdryers? The Impact of National Treasure on Archives, Freemasons, and Historic Sites."

If you haven't seen National Treasure, I highly recommend it. In fact, when the movie came out I organized a group outing to see the movie at a private screening in Washington, DC. We had a great time. The movie is fast and free-wheeling and lets archives (and archivists) shine on the silver screen.

Later tonight, I hope, I will recount the second block of the sessions from today and a recap of the reception at the Library of Morristown. However, I warn you, dear reader, there is a plan afoot to head out to another local establishment, the Famished Frog, to celebrate a colleague's birthday. And of course, there is the World Series to contend with.

MARAC Morristown - Thursday

Today is Friday October 27, 2006. It is the first full day of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference Fall 2006 Meeting in Morristown, New Jersey.

I arrived here in Morristown on Wednesday evening in advance of playing in the MARAC Metal Edge Golf Tournament, which was played on Thursday morning at the Flanders Valley Golf Course in nearby Flanders, NJ. Four hearty MARAC members came out to play in temperatures that did not break 45 degrees and a killer wind that chilled us to the bone. Despite the conditions, all had fun and I really want to extend my thanks to Bob Henderson at Metal Edge, who sponsored the tournament.

Thursday evening, back at the hotel, I went to the Steering Committee meeting for the organization. I serve as MARAC's Treasurer and we discussed the issues confronting MARAC, including the possibility of taking credit cards online for membership and registration fees.

After the meeting, I needed a break from the hotel and convinced my friend and MARAC roommate to head out to a local bar to watch the end of World Series Game 4, only to see the St. Louis Cardinals go up three games to one over the Detroit Tigers. Avid readers of my blog will note that I refrained from making a prediction for the series as my baseball predictions have proved to be way off mark. So let me go out on a limb here and say that the Cardinals should wrap it up tonight, ensuring the Tigers will win and head back to Detroit to win the Series in seven games.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

300 Million and Counting

This past week, the population of the United States surpassed the 300 million mark. So now what? We live in a nation that can't support the numbers we have now. I don't have a solution but it makes you wonder when the shortsightedness of the American politician might stop and they begin to realize that ignoring the problems of tomorrow is no longer an option as tomorrow is here.

One interesting sidebar to this story. While note was made of the 300 million mark, I later heard an associated story regarding the impact on transportation. Here in the DC area, they are forecasting that road gridlock will occur in about 25 years. Only with dedicated funds to transportation plans will some breathing room occur.

We have all seen the futuristic movies. Levitating cars and high speed traffic lanes covered with automatic driven vehicles. While that is some time off, something better be done soon. The DC area is trying to do something. Here in Maryland, the Inter-County Connector has been approved and construction may start soon. It is the first step toward what has been termed the "Outer Beltway." The purple line, a new Metro line is also scheduled to be constructed that will alleviate some of the congestion. High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes are being planned for the Beltway in Virginia. HOT lanes allow people to drive in a dedicated lane and pay a graduated toll based on the traffic on the rest of the roadway. Car pools would be allowed to drive in the HOT lanes for a reduced or no cost, driving along would cost you the most, particularly if the road is congested.

Another root problem is the American attachment to their automobile. Until we find a way to make car pooling more palatable to the American commuter, single drivers will still pack the roads every day. My current commute is about fifteen miles. I take the Beltway east (the Inner Loop) in the morning, for the most part without incident. In the afternoon, I go the opposite direction, also usually without delay. The other side however, is usually slammed with traffic. There is usually no reason for the delay, what seasoned commuters simply call, "too many cars, not enough road." Listening to the traffic reports is usually interesting, will you hear about something, or will the traffic stop without explanation.

Another problem with the traffic is there is no good infrastructure for people to take if the Beltway is bad. Surface roads are not capable of handling the increased traffic from people trying to escape the stop and go of the Beltway. It is also noteworthy that "traditional" rush hour has gone the way of the dodo. It used to be that traffic would start at a reasonable hour of 7:00 to 7:30am and be over between 9:00 and 9:30am. But with people moving further and further away from their offices, commuters are hitting the road as early as 4:30-5:00 am and flex time schedules are pushing workday start times to 10:00 or later. Of course this all trickles down to the afternoon rush, which now starts in the 3:00 hour and continues unabated until 8:00pm.

With the increased crush on the roads, a simple car breaking down on the side of the road can cause backups of miles on the Beltway. The other day, I was on my way home and my trip on the Beltway was delayed by nearly 20 minutes because, wait for it, it had rained over Interstate 270 in Rockville, some ten miles from the Beltway. But the traffic to get on I-270 slowed and pushed the delays back onto the Beltway. It is inconceivable how these things occur and somebody better think of something quickly.

In another post, shortly, I'll propose one solution.

Benching "Tag"

I read an item in the paper today, one that I had heard on the radio earlier this week. I didn't believe it. It seems that according to administrators at the Willett Elementary School, south of Boston, recess is dangerous. As a result, the school has cracked down on tag and other "chasing games." The district superintendent, quoted in the Attleboro Sun Chronicle, said "children's energies should be better directed toward good, sound, supervised play."

Outraged parents have risen in protest to the anti-tag policy. One mother suggested she might send her son to school wrapped in bubble wrap and sporting a helmet. Another mother has launched a "Keep Tag in Attleboro" petition drive.

The story has caught national attention and one wonders why the laser focus on such a subject. The problems in the American educational system have little to do if children expend excess energy on the playground at lunchtime. Of course, we have become such a litigious society that the rule enforcement comes up now as the district is afraid of a lawsuit.

As a former teacher, I really object to this. There are more than enough problems IN the classrooms of America that worrying about a half hour on a playground should be far, far down the list. In the wake of so much recent school violence, I am sure there are those that believe that "tag" is surely the first step toward something worse. Please.

Let's try paying our teachers a little more, lower class size, and hey, here's a novel concept, stop letting parents use our schools as depots for their kids. Their responsibilities don't end when the parents drop them at the door. Stay in contact with your kid's teachers, get involved in their educations, make it a priority. Perhaps kids will start to do better if the parents make the effort as well.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Legend of Goatman Hollow

It's that time of year again, when getting the bejeezus scared out of us is expected and sometimes welcome. Last night, I went with our best friends and two other friends to "learn" more about the Goatman.

For those of you not from the DC area and are not aware of the Legend of the Goatman, here is the quick skinny. In Prince George's County, Maryland, a creature supposedly roams, feasting on small animals, causing damage, and in several cases, abducting and murdering several people. Most of the sightings have occurred in the vicinity of the USDA research facility, where a doctor, Stephen Fletcher, worked on some of the first instances of gene splicing in the early part of the 20th Century. His efforts were alleged to be experiments to save his sick and/or dead wife. His experiments went awry, turning his assistant into a half man-half goat creature that quickly escapes and begins his murderous rampage.

A group of locals have decided to inform a new generation of residents about the Goatman. I'm still waiting. I love a good scare, I would have liked one last night. The show continues through Halloween and by all means, go and see it. You might get scared, but you'll certainly enjoy yourself.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Don't Pick on the Twins!

Having been sick, I have had the advantage of some "quality" television watching. In the past two days I have now seen two baseball movies that besmirch the Minnesota Twins. Yesterday, by far the worse of the two movies, I watched Major League: Back to the Minors, featuring Scott Bakula, Ted McGinley, Corbin Bernsen, who appears in the previous Major League movies, as prima donna Roger Dorn (and now owner/GM of the Twins), and a pre-24 Dennis Haysbert, also reprising his role from the earlier Major League moves, as Pedro Cerrano. The basic premise is Dorn hires an aging minor league pitcher named Gus Cantrell (Bakula) to be the manager of the Salt Lake City Buzz, the Twins AAA minor league team. Cantrell takes to his new role to get the players to act as a team and not for themselves and finds himself at odds with Leonard Huff, the snobby, arrogant manager of the twins (McGinley). A challenge is issued and the minor league Buzz take on the Twins for one game. As the Buzz hold their own against the Twins, the game ends in a tie even though Huff has the lights turned off rather than have the Buzz seem like they are doing better than his big leaguers. The Buzz continue to excel in the minors, winning a division title, when Cantrell issues another challenge to Huff and the Twins. Play the Buzz again in Buzz Stadium. If the Twins win, he will give his salary to Huff, if the Buzz wins, Cantrell gets to manage the Twins.

Today's feature was Little Big League, featuring Timothy Busfield in another great role and many others in good roles. When the owner of the Minnesota Twins dies suddenly (Jason Robards), his will bequeaths the team to his grandson Billy (Luke Edwards), a devotee of baseball who, although only 12, has devoured voluminous lore, knows the team intimately, and has shown an uncanny sixth sense of what they need to improve. So he appoints himself as manager after firing the unloved current one (Dennis Farina). But how will Billy convince a gang of proud, tough men to stick around and take orders from a kid? In an attempt to get the players effort's into the game, he dedicates the season to his Grandfather, and vows to win the Championship with the Minnesota Twins and almost pulls it off.

Watch them if you they come by the dial on a rainy day. Stop if its Little Big League, only pause if its the Buzz.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Major League Update

I used to write sports. When I was in college at the University at Albany, I wrote articles about the college hockey team. It was a pretty good team, Division III. I used to sit rink side watch all the action and then go back to my room and type out my article on my Smith-Corona word processing typewriter. For road games, a member of the team would bring me home the score sheets so I could recreate the game for the readers.

I say this because my performance in recapping the past seem to be a hell of a lot better than my predicting sports future. Let us briefly recap my predictions for the respective Championship series:
  • Mets in five
  • Athletics in seven
So, how we doin'? Well, the Athletics got swept aside in four games by the Detroit Tigers. One of the first casualties came today when the Oakland manager, Ken Macha, was relieved of his duties. So the Tigers get to sit in wait in Detroit for the start of the World Series on Saturday. Detroit will be in the Series as a wild-card team, marking the fifth year in a row the wild card team has made it to the World Series. Why the Series starts in Detroit you ask? Thanks, Bud Selig, for his "rule change" that made the All-Star game "mean something" (i.e., home field advantage for the winning league).

Over on the National League field, the Mets jumped out to an impressive game one victory, a game that took place a day after the tragic death of Yankee pitcher (and former Met, along with many other teams) Cory Lidle. The Cardinals then came back with two impressive victories to lead the series 2-1. Last night, the Mets struck back, hard, routing the Cards and knotting the series at two games a piece. Game 5, scheduled for tonight, has been postponed by rain (as was Game 1) and will be played tomorrow. Although I said Mets in 4, they've played 4 and I say its anybody's series.

In other baseball coaching news, the Chicago Cubs have announced the Lou Pinella will coach the club next year, replacing the fired Dusty Baker. Pinella is currently one of the commentators on the Fox television broadcasts. That still leaves the top spot here in Washington, although Joe Girardi is evidently been sniffing around that job as well, along with Baker. Now with Oakland looking for a new skipper, and Alou out in San Francisco, there are a number of vacancies in the West, with several here in the East. And again, my prediction that Joe Torre would be out? Even George Steinbrenner let me down.

Sick, Sick, Sick

Well dear reader, I'm back from the precipice. Wednesday evening I came home with a fever and flu-like symptoms. By Saturday and no signs of improvement, it was time to seek professional help. Off to an urgent care facility (places my father, who used to work in the pharmaceutical industry, refers to as a "Doc in a Box") where it was determined that I had managed to severely dehydrate myself. Three liters of saline later, I was sent home feeling somewhat better. By today, Monday, I had taken myself to another doctor (my newly assigned Primary Care Physician - but more on that later) for the as yet unstoppable fever and congestion that I was suffering from. I seem to have turned the corner and might live for a while.

I will be the first one to admit that I am a lousy patient (most men are). However, over the weekend I was too sick to even be a problem patient. It got me thinking about being sick growing up. In school, I was, what my mother called, a mollygrubber. My mother and the school nurse were on a first name basis. Years later, my mother admitted to conversations she had with the school nurse where the nurse gave the lowdown to my mother and my mother told the nurse to let me lie down for an hour or so and then send me back to class. Probably all I wanted anyway.

There were several occasions when I scored the big win, getting to stay home from school. First, the set up. I got to move from my bedroom to the den sofa (hello, home from school and no TV, I don't think so). Then of, course, clear the coffee table of only the essentials:

  • The cable box (back in the stone age, cable television on Long Island actually came with a cable box (about the size of a cigar box), where you depressed the buttons for the channels you wanted to watch). The box was connected to another box on the television, BY A WIRE!
  • The TV Guide for planning the day's watching.
  • A box of tissues - my usual complaints involved my nose A tray for food to be brought to me by my loving mother
  • A drink - orange juice, ginger ale, maybe a coke, but always in a glass, and yes there has to be a flexible straw (so you don't have to exert yourself to drink)

Bring my pillow from my bedroom and a good blanket and settle in. Maybe if you were particularly unlucky, school work might arrive, but usually, is meant morning game shows:

  • Wheel of Fortune - remember when contestants actually bought things?
  • Password Card Sharks and, of course -
  • The Price is Right

Afternoons brought soaps and, hey, I'll admit it. I used to watch. My mother was a CBS gal, starting with the starting off with Search for Tomorrow, then the Young and the Restless, followed by As the World Turns. At three o'clock, it was Guiding Light and the endless feuds between the Bauers, the Marlers, and the Spauldings. There are times when I come across one of these and I swear I can tell you exactly what is happening. It's because the characters were doing (or not doing) the same thing ten years ago or that time never changes on soap operas. There is even an affliction known as SORAS, or Soap Opera Rapid Aging System, where a character is sent away and returns a few years later, but the character is now fifteen years older.

4:00 and the soaps over, my mother would usually head off to start on dinner and I was returned to my own television choices. That usually meant a couple of choices. CBS was fond of the detective genre showing such classics as The Rockford Files or Barnaby Jones (loved Buddy Ebsen). One could usually find an episode of CHiPS, or in later years, Magnum, PI.

Being sick is never fun, but somehow, being sick in your own place makes it just a little bit better. There was at least one point over this past weekend, when I managed to find myself on the living room couch with a glass of ginger ale in my hands, plastic straw to my lips. Right then, there was hope.

Monday's Recipe - Beans and Nuts!

Today's recipe is a personal favorite of my wife. She will often make this as her dinner, although they are a very tasty appetizer for parties. The recipe comes from Bon Appetit, February 2003.
I love pistachios but not too keen on the garbanzo, but have come to love this spicy combo. We find the raw pistachio meats most readily at Trader Joes. You can play with the heat if you like and my wife uses dried thyme instead of fresh.

Spicy Toasted Garbanzo Beans and Pistachios

  • 2 15 1/2-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1/4 cup corn oil
  • 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

  • 1 cup shelled raw pistachios
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss garbanzo beans with next five ingredients in a medium bowl. Transfer mixture to rimmed baking sheet. Bake until garbanzos are golden and crisp, stirring occasionally with a metal spatula, about 20 minutes. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Keep at room temperature.) Stir pistachios and thyme into garbanzo mixture. Bake until beans and pistachios are crunchy, about 12 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl and serve warm.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I am an Archivist

That's what I do. If you have visited this blog, you have noticed two of the links that I have placed under the links section. The first is a link to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, a regional professional organization of approximately 1000 members stretching from New York to Virginia. The second link is for the Society of American Archivists, the national professional organization of which I am a member.

This is Archives Week in the USA. Today to commemorate Archives Week in New York City, members of the Archivists Roundtable of New York got to ring the Opening Bell on the Stock Exchange. Tomorrow, here in Washington, DC, the 10th Annual Washington, DC Archives Fair will be held at the National Archives.

Archives are great things. I used to be a Social Studies teacher and when I was in college, I had a professor who offered us a cryptic piece of advice. He told us (a group of students learning how to be teachers), "As a teacher, you must decide whether to teach history to students or teach students history." He didn't elaborate on his words, only to give us the caveat to decide which way we wanted to teach. When we figured out the right way, we would be successful. I have often thought of those words as I taught, deciding the right way was to teach history to students by involving them in the process.

There is no greater joy for a teacher than when a student "gets it." As an archivist, I have "it" and there are lots of people out there "looking for it." The best part of my job now is when I have the opportunity to share the knowledge of history with those who seek it.

In a few weeks, I will attend the Fall meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference in Morristown, New Jersey. I will be sure to let everyone know about the meeting, because what I do is fun and everyone should have a fun job.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Cardinals vs. Mets - Wednesday Night

Another prediction by the wayside. The baseball game has just ended and the Cardinals have sent the Padres down to defeat 3 games to 1. The Cards will travel to New York to take on the Mets in the National League Championship Series.

The Cardinals were trying very hard to miss the playoffs and managed to squeak in the back door. As with the Yankees, the Padres were the better team and it just proves that a good season record don't mean squat against a few bad nights in the postseason.

Down to four teams: The Cardinals and the Mets in the National League / The Tigers and the Athletics in the American League. First predictions (see how well I have been doing?):
  • Mets in five
  • Athletics in seven
World Series winner? You heard it here first: Mets

Monday's Recipe - Lemon and Oregano-Rubbed Grilled Chicken

It's late on Sunday night - so it's almost Monday and time for a new recipe. My lovely wife made this tonight. We have had it several times. It is very easy and delicious with rice and a nice salad. The recipe came from the Washington Post Food Section under the "Dinner in 25 minutes" category. It is very quick and very easy.

Lemon and Oregano-rubbed Grilled Chicken (4 servings)

Flattening chicken breast halves serves two purposes: it provides more surface area to rub in the Greek-influenced seasoning, and it ensures that the chicken cooks quickly. Serve with rice or parsleyed orzo and a tomato-feta salad.
  • 5 tablespoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (5 to 6 oz. each), pounded to 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
  • 2 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
If using a gas grill, preheat the grill to medium. If using a charcoal grill, start the charcoal grill or wood briquettes. When the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area for direct heat. Oil the grate.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, add the lemon rind, oil, oregano, salt, pepper, water, and garlic - mix to combine. Rub the mixture evenly over both sides of the chicken. Grill for 3 minutes on each side or until cooked through (the juices should run clear, without a hint of pink). Transfer to a serving platter. Squeeze a lemon wedge over each piece of chicken and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

At least there's Hockey!

The New York Rangers are off to a great start. Seconds after anointing Jaromir Jagr as Rangers captain, he immediately scored a goal in the opening game against his former team, the Washington Capitals. The goal came just 29 seconds into the game, however, not a record for the fastest goal. That records stands at 12 seconds.

Following up a 5-2 thrashing of the Caps, the Rangers headed into Philly to take on the Flyers. Two games, two victories. However, it is MUCH too early to talk about anything, especially given the previous post about the Yankees. But things are looking good, for now, they lead the Atlantic division.

I will be at the game on November 11, when the Rangers come to Washington to take on the Caps again. Be sure to check back for a game recap.

There is no Joy in Mudville

Sigh. Why does one root for a team that has such high expectations and then becomes a disappointment in the post-season? Yesterday was a good news-bad news day for New York sports fans. It was a good day if you root for the Mets, who swept away the LA Dodgers in three games to go to the NLCS for the first time since 2000. It was a bad day for Yankee fans who could not put away the pesky Tigers and lost the ALDS three games to one.

As of today, I am 1 and 2 for my predictions. Only the Padres can save me from going .500 in this first round. The Minnesota Twins (sorry, Kent) were mugged by the Oakland Athletics, getting brushed aside in three games. The Athletics will now face off against the Yankee killing Tigers. The ALCS will get underway on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday night, the NLCS will begin in New York at Shea Stadium. The Mets await their opponent as the Padres and the Cardinals are battling it out for that right. Yesterday the Padres staved off elimination by beating the Cards. However, the Cardinals are one win away from heading to New York. However, my original prediction stands, Pads in five.

The Yanks were feeble in this series and they really beat themselves. Tomorrow is Columbus Day and many people are off. I only hope the Yankees will be able to get a last minute tee time.
It will be interesting to see if this finally costs Joe Torre his job. Big George has been very happy with Joe, as have most Yankee fans, but something has got to give for a team that flirts with disaster so often and recently, has been burned by it more than avoiding it.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

I'm not Lost. Are You?

So last night was the season premiere of Lost. The show continues to get creepier and creepier. My wife mentioned to me as we watched last night that she is not sure if she could take an entire season of watching Jack, Kate, and Sawyer get tortured. However, I don't think that is what will happen. I don't envision the three of them spending much longer with the "Others."

The episode started with a glimpse into the everyday life of the Others on the day that Flight 815 crashed on the island. We learned that "Ben," the head of the others directed Goodwin and Ethan to infiltrate the two groups of survivors. And we all know how that turned out. The thing I thought most amusing was the book club that was meeting in the opening scene. If you were paying attention, you noticed they were reading a Stephen King book. I am sure they were reading "The Langoliers" - a short story that appears in Four Past Midnight.

In the promo we saw for next week, we see that Sayid is going to mount a plan to free the three. It however, also showed Sun falling off the boat, which would be bad. But the season is underway and there are still lots of questions for which we have no answers. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Time for the Fall Classic

The baseball season ended yesterday and its time for the post season. Here in Washington, Nationals fans celebrated the end of Frank Robinson's tenure as coach of the Nationals. The legendary Hall of Famer, Frank spent 51 years in a baseball uniform and spent the last two years as the skipper of the Nationals. The team did their best, yet posted a losing record. Like many Cubs fans, we are left wanting and uttering, Wait Til Next Year. I hope the Nationals find something for him in the front office. There is too much baseball knowledge in that man to let him get away.

However, let us turn to the arrival of the playoffs. The AL East Champions are ready, and as expected, it is the New York Yankees. All is right with the world. Making the world spin off its axis however, are the boys who play in that purple stadium, the New York Mets, who posted an identical record as the Yankees (99-65) and dominated the NL East all season. More on the boys from New York in a minute.

Across the coast, the AL West title went to the Oakland Athletics. The AL Central saw an epic battle between the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers. The defending World Series Champions, the Chicago White Sox even managed to stay in the mix until the waning days of the season. On the final day of the season, the Twins beat the White Sox, 5-1 to capture the AL Central, but only after the Tigers lost to the last place Kansas City Royals in twelve innings. As a result the Tigers nabbed the Wild Card spot in the AL, "winning" the chance to take on the Yankees in the first round.

In the National League, only the aforementioned Mets had locked up their playoff spot early on. The NL Central and NL West featured different first place teams almost every day. When the dust finally settled, the St. Louis Cardinals managed to avoid the biggest September collapse in baseball history. With less than two weeks to go in the season, the Cards had a seven game lead in the division, which dwindled to a half game lead over the Houston Astros. I am sure that manager Tony LaRussa is wandering around the clubhouse saying, "Let Us Never Speak of This Again." Out west, the division lead alternated between the Padres and the Dodgers. In the end, both teams finished with identical records (88-74) but the Padres won the division with a better record over the Dodgers in head-to-head play. That gave the NL Wild Card spot to the Dodgers and plane tickets to Shea Stadium to face the Mets.

Here's the schedule and the predictions. All series are best of five.
  • New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers
    • Tuesday, 8:19pm, in New York
    • Wednesday, 8:09pm, in New York
    • Friday, 8:09pm, in Detroit
    • Saturday, tba, in Detroit (if necessary)
    • Sunday, tba, in New York (if necessary)
If necessary? Nah. Yanks in three.
  • Minnesota Twins vs. Oakland Athletics
    • Tuesday, 1:09pm, in Minnesota
    • Wednesday, 1:09pm, in Minnesota
    • Friday, 4:09pm, in Oakland
    • Saturday, tba, in Oakland (if necessary)
    • Sunday, tba, in Minnesota (if necessary)
The Twins have guts and Johann Santana. But Oakland will not go quietly. Twins in four.
  • New York Mets vs. LA Dodgers
    • Wednesday, 4:09pm, in New York
    • Thursday, 8:19pm, in New York
    • Saturday, tba, in Los Angeles
    • Sunday, tba, in Los Angeles (if necessary)
    • Monday, tba, in New York (if necessary)
Never been a Mets fan (well maybe occasionally, if the tickets were free and I was feeling a little depressed). But you have got to give them credit. The Mets have an amazin' team this year and the Dodgers are beat up. Mets in four.
  • San Diego Padres vs. St. Louis Cardinals
    • Tuesday, 4:09pm, in San Diego
    • Wednesday, 4:09pm, in San Diego
    • Saturday, tba, in St. Louis
    • Sunday, tba, in St. Louis (if necessary)
    • Monday, tba, in San Diego (if necessary)
These guys are tired. Both teams. I foresee the Cards continuing their losing ways. Padres in five. Watch here for results and see how I did with my projections.

Monday's Recipe - Artichoke Souffle

I discovered this recipe when I was working at a conference center. It is provided by the caterer that made all the food for the center. It is outstanding! Enjoy

Artichoke Souffle
  • 1 can (or jar) of artichoke hearts, well drained (approx. 10 oz.)
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
Blend all ingredients in a food processor (don't puree). Place in a small oven-proof dish and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until golden on top and bubbly. Serve with crackers or your favorite dipper (bagel flats work really good or water crackers hold up well)