Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I Have A Cold, Again.

With the return of the wintry weather to the DC area, my head is all congested and I can't seem to shake my latest case of the sniffles. Yesterday's Washington Post Health section offered some timely information, "Anatomy of a Sneeze."

Here's a nice tidbit of information . . . a sneeze can send 2,000 to 5,000 bacteria-filled droplets into the air at 70 to 100 mph.

But what I found interesting in the article is the history of "Gesundheit."
  • The Romans said "Jupiter preserve you" or "Salve," which meant "good health to you."
  • The Greeks wished each other "long life."
  • Pope Gregory the Great coined the phrase "God Bless You" during a bubonic plague epidemic in the 6th Century.
  • "Gesundheit" comes from Germany and means "health."

As well, the superstitions associated with the sneeze. "Ancient superstitions held the sneeze to be dangerous. Some believed it caused the soul to escape the body through the nose. Saying "bless you" would stop the devil from claiming the person's freed soul. Others believed the opposite: that evil spirits used the sneeze to enter a person's body. There was also the misconception that the heart momentarily stops during a sneeze (it doesn't), and that saying "bless you" was a way of welcoming the person back to life.

Well thanks to all who bless me when I sneeze.

It's National Return Your Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month

Tomorrow is February 1. In addition to the month set aside to returning those pesky carts you've had parked in the front yard, we also celebrate the following this month:
  • International Expect Success Month - why am I not surprised this comes in the shortest month?
  • Library Lovers Month - why do we have to contain this to one month, and again, the shortest one at that?
  • National Time Management Month - again short month, what are they saying?
  • North Carolina Sweet Potato Month - but not South Carolina Sweet Potatoes, that's October

If you need to plan more finitely, the following weekly observances will occur in February:

  • February 1-7 - Solo Diners Eat Out Weekend - that's just sad
  • February 4-10 - Dump Your Significant Jerk Week - as opposed to Election Day 2008
  • February 5-9 - Just Say No to PowerPoints Week
  • February 6-10 - Funeral Service Education Week - somewhat appropriate this occurs in the "dead" of winter, huh?
  • February 8-14 - Love Makes the World Go Round; But, Laughter Keeps Us From Getting Dizzy Week - presumably celebrated by those who dumped their jerks the week before.

There are many more celebrations you can observe. Click here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Review: Jitney at Ford's Theatre

I had the opportunity to usher on Opening Night for August Wilson's Jitney at Ford's Theatre last week. If you are in the DC area, I urge you to come out and sample this fine work of drama. Set in 1977 Pittsburgh, it tells the story of several gypsy cab drivers and dealing with the problems afflicting the city in the late 1970s. The interpersonal stories of each of the character weave a wonderful story and the play holds you tight for the full two and a half hours.

Here is the review that appeared in the Washington Post.

Oklahoma! Where the Winner Comes Sweeping Down the Runway

Last night, in Sin City, Las Vegas, Miss Oklahoma was crowned as the new Miss America. Somewhere Bert Parks is twirling in his grave.

The event marked the second year in a row that a Miss Oklahoma won the crown. The new Miss America, Lauren Nelson, 20, is a student at the University of Central Oklahoma and wants to get her degree in . . . wait for it . . . musical theater.

The event was hosted by "Dancing With the Stars" and "Saved by the Bell" actor Mario Lopez, hence the somersaults being undertaken by the late Mr. Parks.

Further insult to the pageant is / are the fact(s) that:
  • it's no longer in Atlantic City - although it started there in 1921 as a publicity stunt.
  • it's not televised by the major networks - last night's telecast was carried by County Music Television.
  • it's not on the weekend - really, who watches "alternative" TV on Monday nights? Isn't everyone watching 24?

This was the pageant's second year at the Aladdin Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. It moved to Vegas in an attempt to find new life for an event that had long moved off of the American pop culture radar screens. It should be further noted, the company that produced last night's show, Mischer Productions, is also producing the halftime show at Sunday's Super Bowl.

The pageant lost its network TV contract in 2004 and CMT (owned by MTV) jettisoned the gimmicks that had crept into the telecast and brought back the Miss Congeniality title, which went to Miss Alabama's Melinda Toole last night. But that was not enough for MTV/CMT. This year featured a new set of gimmicks:

  • A $1 million giveaway for picking the winner
  • A reality TV special to allow viewers to "connect" with the contestants in the days before the crowning
  • A Bert Parks ringtone (OK, if he wasn't dead, this would have killed him).

So here's the question - Who Cares? Not I.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Monday's Recipe: Crepes

This Friday is February 2. Groundhog Day. In France it is known as Candlemas Day. In my family growing up, we ate crepes on Candlemas / Groundhog Day. The tradition was eating crepes would bring you good fortune for the course of the year. Here is my very basic crepe recipe.
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

(the ingredients are incremental - basically 1 egg / 1 tbsp. butter /1/3 cup flour / 1/2 cup milk)

Combine all ingredients to make a thin batter. In a flat pan (I love my new crepe pan and crepe spatula), ladle some batter and coat the bottom of the pan. The pan should be hot (I will often spray some cooking spray on the pan). Cook until the crepe bubbles and begins to slide around the pan easily. Flip and cook for a few more minutes and place on a plate.

Sprinkle some sugar on alternating crepes. Serve warm with a variety of jams, fudge sauce, or your favorite sweet toppings. Enjoy!

Order from Chaos is 100 Posts Old!

To celebrate my 100th post, here is a list of 100 things. I have attempted to make each one relevant to me, but it's harder than you think. You try it. Thanks to Wikipedia, which has an entry for each number and it helped to jog my memory and help me fill in some of the gaps.
  • 100 - Number of blog entries on Order from Chaos - I'm ready for syndication!
  • 99 - Bottles of beer on the wall. My favorite? I like Dundee's Honey Brown.
  • 98 - Approximate number of times I have seen most, if not all, of Field of Dreams, one of my favorite baseball movies.
  • 97[.1] - The frequency of two radio stations I listen to. In New York, 97.1 is now Hot97 and the play list is not the one of my youth. Here in DC, it is the frequency for WASH-FM, a "soft rock" radio station.
  • [19]96 - The year I received my Masters in Library Science.
  • 95 - My highest recorded Scrabble single word score - exorcise(45 for the word, 50 points for the bingo)
  • 94 - The age at which both of my father's parents passed away. Good genes.
  • 93 - My best eighteen hole golf score, shot at Rock Creek Golf Course, in Washington, DC.
  • 92 - "Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greens keeper, now, about to become the Masters Champion. It looks like a mirac . . It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole! - Caddyshack, quote rank on AFI's 100 movies, 100 quotes. One of my favorites.
  • [19]91 - The start of the first Gulf War. I recall sitting in the parking lot of the Syosset rail road station, waiting to pick up my father, hearing the announcement on the radio that the war had begun.
  • 90 - The Interstate number designated for most of the Mass Pike and the east-west portion of the New York State Thruway and a road I have traveled a fair amount, while working on number #89 and #96.
  • [19]89 - The year I received my undergraduate degree from the University at Albany, B.A. in American History.
  • [19]88 - The first presidential election I voted in. Michael Dukakis, why, why?
  • [19]87 - The year I got my American Express card, the longest serving credit card in my wallet.
  • 86 - "Would you believe . . .?" Agent Maxwell Smart's agent number on Get Smart. One of my favorite shows growing up.
  • [19]85 - The year I graduated high school, as well as my average in high school, placing me 202nd out of a graduating class of 505, slightly above average, that's me.
  • [19]84 - As a senior in high school, I worked on political campaigns as part of my political science elective. I also called results into the networks from my polling place, although I could not yet vote (for Walter Mondale).
  • [19]83 - The year I decided to become a Social Studies teacher, largely through the efforts of my social studies teacher, Bob Gaudino.
  • 82 - The number of games in a standard NHL season. I am a lifelong New York Rangers fan.
  • 81 - The number of squares on a Sudoku puzzle, one of my addictions.
  • 80 - The cross-country Interstate, of which some is found in New Jersey, and a road I have travelled a lot. My father also commuted on I-80 everyday for nearly fifteen years when he took a job in Morristown, NJ and we kept living in Syosset, NY.
  • [19]79 - When in sixth grade, we were all ushered into the all-purpose room at J. Irving Baylis elementary school to watch the signing of the historic Camp David Accords, with President Jimmy Carter, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel.
  • 78 - The total number of gifts that are given in the Twelve Days of Christmas. Christmas is my favorite holiday, as well as the birthday of my son.
  • 77 - My father's age.
  • 76 - The number of trombones at the head of the parade being led by the Music Man. I like Broadway shows and musicals.
  • 75 - The age at which my mother passed away, a year ago next month.
  • [19]74 - The year Richard Nixon resigned the presidency. My family was on vacation and I recall clearly my parents calling me inside to watch Nixon announce he was resigning. Their words to me, "Watch this, you will never see this again."
  • [19]73 - The year I started public school.
  • 72 - My approximate height in inches.
  • 71 - The highest attendance at an SAA-JAL Tour Baseball outing. Two groups went to see the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003, 29 on Wednesday night and 41 on Friday night. The highest single attended event came in 2005 at the New Orleans Zephyrs game at the New Orleans Annual Meeting.
  • 70 - The number of people who came to my second wedding (see #48).
  • [19]69 - The year of the moon landing. The reason for the "Brave Astronaut?" My junior high school athletic team was known as the Astronauts, although named for the three astronauts who were killed in the launchpad fire of 1967, Gus Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chafee.
  • 68 - The eighteen-hole par score for Sligo Creek Golf Course. Still trying to get there (see #45)
  • [19]67 - The year of my birth.
  • 66 - Number of DVDs in my DVD collection.
  • [18]65 - The year when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC. I am a volunteer usher at this historic theater and often tell the history to groups coming to the theater to see the plays.
  • 64 - The number of miles around as well as the year the Washington Beltway (I-495) was completed.
  • [19]63 - The year in which we lost a president by assassination, John F. Kennedy. I am a big fan of the Kennedy family and also applied once for a job at the Kennedy presidential library. My mother would tell stories of that weekend how everything stopped, much the same way, we all stopped thirty-eight years later.
  • 62 - The "age" of the United Nations. In high school, I was in the Model UN club.
  • 61 - The current number of refrigerator magnets on on my fridge. This number does not include the number of magnetic animal pieces for my son's barnyard game.
  • 60 - The current number of books in my inventory. Feel free to browse and find something you like.
  • 59 - Age at which Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross. My wife travels the parkway named in her honor everyday, and I give blood often, in fact coming up this Wednesday.
  • 58 - At age 58, Thomas Jefferson began the practice of shaking people's hands when they met the President. Prior to that, President Washington had started the practice of bowing in salutation. My wife and I were engaged at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC.
  • 57 - The year the Society of American Archivists named its first Fellows. I have the honor and privilege of working alongside one and working for another. I also count several friends in the profession who have attained this distinguished honor.
  • 56 - The ranking of M*A*S*H on the AFI 100 greatest films. I liked the movie, but loved the TV show. It's one of those shows that I will always turn to watch if there is nothing else on.
  • 55 - The federally mandated speed limit that I seem to have trouble maintaining (see #43).
  • 54 - The number of cards in a single playing deck, with the Jokers. I like to play cards.
  • [19]53 - The year my father graduated from Brown University. Kappa Sigma!
  • [19]52 - The year my parents were married, on Flag Day, June 14.
  • [19]51 - The year my mother graduated from Brown University (Pembroke College).
  • 50 - Ways to Leave Your Lover, according to Paul Simon, one of my favorite singers.
  • 49[th St.] - The street in New York City that runs past Rockefeller Center, home to the famous tree at Christmastime. A popular destination whenever I would go to visit New York City.
  • 48 - The number of people the chapel sat in which I got married for the second time (see #70).
  • 47 - The number of one-way miles in my last commute from Syosset to the Rockefeller Archive Center. Mostly a reverse commute, it would take about an hour to complete (see also #11).
  • 46 - Jack Nicklaus became the oldest man to win the Masters at the age of 46.
  • 45 - My all time best golf score for 9 holes, at Sligo Creek Golf Course, in Silver Spring, MD (see also #68).
  • 44 - William Harrison Mitchell was noted as the 44th President in the movie, Dave. I love political movies and this is one of my favorites.
  • 43 - The approximate number of minutes that passed between two speeding tickets I received on the New York State Thruway (see #55).
  • 42 - Bill Clinton was the 42nd President. Proud to have voted for him twice.
  • 41 - Montana is the 41st State in the Union and the desired destination of Vasili Borodin (Sam Neill) in The Hunt for Red October, "I would like to have seen Montana . . ." - another of my favorite movies (and authors, I once saw Tom Clancy drinking and smoking in a DC bar, I know, it's hard to believe).
  • 40 - My wife's current age. I like older women.
  • 39 - My current age.
  • 38 - My current "win rate" percentage on Spider, the solitaire game, that I play on my computer at home, usually while my wife plays on her laptop.
  • 37 - According to Bob Barker, the number of hours that must pass before the "range finder" can be started again once stopped on The Price is Right. We're going to miss you, Bob. I LOVE The Price is Right.
  • 36 - The number of passengers who died on the Hindenburg, when it exploded over Lakehurst, NJ, in 1937. I'm a sucker for the disaster film oeuvre.
  • 35 - The number of icons currently on my desktop, but several are on their way out, because it's a little cluttered.
  • [19]34 - The year the organization I currently work for was established.
  • 33 - The traditional number of racers in the Indianapolis 500. I watch only for the crashes.
  • 32 - Jesus' age when he was crucified. I'm a lapsed Catholic.
  • 31 - The number of Baskin-Robbins flavors. My current favorites? Gold Medal Ribbon and World Class Chocolate.
  • 30 - The last age milestone I hit that I had trouble with. Until I realize I am staring at 40 this December.
  • 29 - The rank of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington on the AFI list. One of Jimmy Stewart's greatest roles, although I am still very fond of George Bailey.
  • 28 - The number of bottles of water currently in the kitchen. I take a bottle of water with my lunch every day. Bottled water is, of course, the craze and I could drink from the tap, but why? (see also #15)
  • 27 - The number of outs in a regulation baseball game. I am a big fan of America's pastime and root for the Yankees (AL) and the Nationals (NL).
  • 26 - Number of the fifty states I have visited, from west to east: CA, AZ, NM, CO, WI, IL, OH, LA, AL, FL, GA, NC, SC, VA, WV, MD, DE, PA, NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, VT, NH, ME
  • 25 - The number of people in my extended family, including in-laws.
  • 24 - The title of one of my most favorite shows on TV. We love Jack Bauer!
  • 23 - The CB Channel used for the Taconic and Sprain parkways in New York, which I used to travel everyday when I worked at the Rockefeller Archive Center and was living in Poughkeepsie, New York.
  • 22 - The periodic number for Titanium, of which many of the shafts of my golf clubs are made.
  • 21 - The number of individuals (estimated) who have declared themselves to be a candidate for President in 2008. A political junkie, I am reveling in what we will get to see over the next year.
  • 20 - The day in December in which I was born.
  • 19 - The day in September that is known as International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Arrggh! At least one Halloween, I dressed up as a pirate. I used to be able to cover my neighborhood in just over two hours and score enough candy that would last me til Thanksgiving.
  • 18 - The number of people in this country (estimated) with my last name, and they're all related to me.
  • 17 - The number of different jobs I have held (I think) since I have been eligible to work (anyone remember getting working papers?).
  • 16 - The number of Rapid Rewards credits it takes (8 round trips) it takes on Southwest Airlines to earn a free ticket. Southwest is my favorite airline and has been since I started taking it as part of my "commute" between Islip, NY and Washington, DC, when I started dating my wife.
  • 15 - The number of bottles of Pellegrino currently in my wine rack. I like to mix it with orange juice or drink it straight as an alternative to "flat" water (see also #28).
  • 14 - The number of years I have been working as a professional archivist.
  • 13 - The number of years I have been playing golf. Coincidentally, also the number of years I have been trying to improve my golf score.
  • 12 - The number of times my wife and I have seen our two favorite artists, Dave Matthews and Billy Joel (DM=7, BJ=5). I have seen Dave once (with her) and she has seen Billy once (with me).
  • 11 - The number of one-way miles in my current commute from home to work. It's a trip that takes about 20 minutes, a little longer with Beltway traffic (see also #47).
  • 10 - The number of nieces and nephews I have.
  • 9 - The number of places I have lived (distinct addresses).
  • 8 - The number of those Super Motels, you know the ones that leave the light on for you. I stayed in one in California when I attended the wedding of a friend in California.
  • 7 - The number of my house growing up in Syosset, New York
  • 6 - The number of cars I have had: A 1982 Mercury Zephyr, a 1994 Nissan Sentra, a 1996 Mazda 626 (bought used), a 2000 Mazda Protege, a 1998 Ford Taurus (thanks, Mom), and my current car, a 2006 Mazda 5.
  • 5 - Number of the month (May) in which I was married, as well as the number of years I will be married in 2007.
  • 4 - The number of years I practiced as a teacher, my first chosen profession.
  • 3 - The number of archival positions I have held. I'm thinking third time's the charm and I will be at this job for a while.
  • 2 - The age of my son.
  • 1 - My one true love, my wife, and soul mate.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Forty Years and Still Going!

Also from the pages of Down East Magazine (actually the next story from the one just posted).

There is man from Maine, Don Crisman of Kennebunk, who is one of only five fans who has attended every single Super Bowl, beginning in 1967, before it was even called that. Crisman, a retired executive, almost broke the streak in his second year. The week prior to Super Bowl II in Miami, he was aboard a friend's jet when the plane encountered freezing rain over South Carolina. They landed at an abandoned air force base, where Crisman climbed a fence and went for help. Crisman managed to get aboard a train and he made the game and kept the streak alive.

I have always wanted to attend a Super Bowl game, but now, is there any reason, seeing as I have missed the first forty of them?

Who Needs Google?

From the pages of the February 2007 issue of Down East magazine, an article about Bangor librarians and the reference request they have fielded. The article reports that in 1994, the Bangor Public Library had 29,111 reference requests in 1994, anything from "the population of Chad to the Latin Name for a little-known plant." In 2005, the number had risen to 30,800. One of the reference librarians, Susan Wennrich, offers, "the biggest difference is the way we receive them." While many still come in by phone, nearly 3,000 request arrive via email, where none were received in 1994.

The Bangor Library answers many questions that are not easily answered by search engines. The resolve a lot of questions on Maine history, much of which is not available online. And, Wennrich surprisingly states, "many people still don't have computers and Internet access, although those are becoming fewer and fewer."

While the librarians themselves are known to use Google and the net to answer questions, they are careful to avoid the pitfall, "It must be true, I read it on the Internet." They are careful to avoid Wikipedia, a wise move for many.

So, Archivalist, can you tell me all about the annual regatta that floats down the Kennebec each year?

Friday, January 26, 2007

The World of a Novice Oenophile

Growing up with my father was never dull. He liked wine and always had a glass at the dinner table. He actually had friends with whom he spent a weekend stomping grapes to make his own wine. That would be one vintage I did not need to try.

Watching my father sample a new bottle of wine is a real treat. He has passed on some of his knowledge to me. I like to think that I can taste the differences in wines. At least I am pretty sure to serve white with chicken or fish and red with beef or lamb.

But if you struggle with wine choices, the Internet is here to help. An article in the recent issue of Time Magazine reminds us "the world of wine is complex and global in scope. That makes it a perfect match for the Internet." There are wine websites everywhere, including one that evidently will tell you which wine to serve with lamb. Here are the "less famous wine sites that are also worth savoring:"
  • -This site features Britain's Jancis Robinson, who has been called the Julia Child of wine. Ms. Robinson is also a member of the Royal Household Wine Committee, which chooses the wine drunk by Her Majesty Elizabeth II.
  • - According to the article, the highlight of this site is the weekly email sent to subscribers, the 30-Second Wine Advisor, which sends recommendations three times a week.
  • - This is a neat site. Can't remember what the wine was you had at dinner? Want to know if your favorite liquor store has that Sancerre you like? Check here.
  • - The solution to all your problems. Need to match a wine with your favorite recipe? This site will also list wines, but region, type, price, and ratings.
  • - Just in case you have a hankering to know when the best time is to tour the great estates of Bordeaux.

A votre sante!

Huzzah for the Library of Congress

A little history tidbit for a Friday. On this day in 1802, Congress passed an act calling for a library to be established in the U.S. Capitol. So, today, on January 26, we celebrate the birth of the Library of Congress.

You can read a good history of the Library here. It should be noted (before some of my Library of Congress friends do it for me) that the Library was actually established in 1800, when legislation was approved to buy the first volumes for the library. The books were ordered from England and stored in the U.S. Capitol upon their arrival in 1801. It was the 1802 law that defined the roles and operations of the new library as well as established the office of the Librarian of Congress, making that job a presidential appointment.

The current Librarian of Congress, James Billington, is the 13th Librarian of Congress. He was appointed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Clean Desk is a Sign of a Sick Mind

I must be insane then. I hate clutter. I think part of it comes from my parents. They kept lots of crap and it was everywhere. I tried very hard to keep a neat room. I used to move the furniture around in my room several times a year to get a fresh perspective and make new places to store things. I think it is partly why I became an archivist. Putting things in order soothes me.

So I came across this recent article in Time, "Messy is the New Neat." The article talks about a new book, A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder. One of the co-authors, Eric Abrahamson, spouts, "Moderately messy systems outperform extremely orderly systems." HA!

He further alleges that filing away loose papers can be counterproductive. They maintain that those with messy desks often stumble upon serendipitous connections between disparate documents. The authors offer the example of Nobel Prizewinning scientist Earl Sutherland discovered how hormones regulate cells among his desk-paper mess.

Abrahamson and David Freedman, the two authors do offer several suggestions to those (like me) obsessed with order:
  • Make peace with your clutter. They maintain that "people are naturally a little clumsy and messy, and try as we might to cultivate monastery-like sanctuaries, clutter creeps back. Accept that, and you'll stress less." I have been told that I am "clumsy with a can-do attitude" but that doesn't stop me from keeping things orderly.
  • Don't waste time organizing your laptop. I'll give them this one. In the day of powerful search engines as well as Google desktop, you'll find what you are looking for.
  • Be sloppier with your schedule. I keep a calendar on my home computer, my work computer, and carry a datebook in my organizer. Plus a wall calendar and a desk blotter calendar in my office. Keepign them in sync is the issue. They might have something there. They advocate "a less structured date book makes it easier to adapt to inevitable surprises and affords you the freedom to go with the flow."
  • Forget filing. They use the example of people who organize their CD collection alphabetically by artist . . . I wouldn't do that . . . OK, maybe I did. Get over it. But I suppose there are those out there who would remind me of original order. But I put the CDs in that order, so it is my original order. Accept that and we'll be fine. :)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Answers to the Hockey Name Game!

Here are the answers to the Hockey name game, posted here last week.
  1. Anaheim Ducks - E, named for a movie. Granted the "Mighty" has been dropped from the name, but a movie team nonetheless.
  2. Atlanta Thrashers - A, Fan Poll. The Brown Thrasher is the state bird of Georgia, so, also - D, Named for local wildlife.
  3. Boston Bruins - G, Owner. Charles Adams is also responsible for the brown and yellow team colors to match his Brookside grocery store.
  4. Buffalo Sabres - G, Owner. Owners Seymour and Northrop Knox linked the weapon carried by a leader with their team.
  5. Calgary Flames - A, Fan Contest. Originally the Atlanta Flames, the name was chosen to commemorate the burning of Atlanta in the Civil War (no, really), so also, I, An actual historical reason. Runner up name? The Thrashers.
  6. Colorado Avalanche - F, natural disaster.
  7. Columbus Blue Jackets - A, Fan Contest. For a team just six years old, there is some inconsistency as to what the name means. I have one source that reports it to be named for the jackets worn by civil war soldiers.
  8. Carolina Hurricanes - F, natural disaster.
  9. Chicago Blackhawks - I, An actual historical reason. The team honors Chief Black Hawk, a prominent figure in the history of Illinois. In 1986, the one word spelling was recognized as the accepted form, so the answer is not a legendary beast.
  10. Dallas Stars - H, Geography. Originally the Minnesota North Stars, when the team moved to Dallas, they dropped the "North" to honor the "Lone Star State."
  11. Detroit Red Wings - G, Owner. Born as the Detroit Cougars and later the Falcons, new owner James Norris renamed the team in 1932 to honor his amateur team the Montreal Winged Wheelers.
  12. Edmonton Oilers - H, Geography. Edmonton is the leading source of Canada's oil industry.
  13. Florida Panthers - D, Named for local wildlife.
  14. Los Angeles Kings - A, Fan Contest. Who else would have such delusions of grandeur (and royalty)?
  15. Minnesota Wild - A, Fan Contest. And to think the other finalists were: Blue Ox, Freeze, Northern Lights, Voyageurs, and White Bears. Yeah, Wild is better.
  16. Montreal Canadiens - While no explanation is needed, I would identify the answer as H, Geography with a nod to I, An actual historical reason.
  17. Nashville Predators - A, Fan Contest. Named for the fang and bones of a saber-toothed tiger found in a cave below the new arena, the Gaylord Entertainment Center. Therefore a stretch could also be, D, Named for local wildlife.
  18. New Jersey Devils - C, A Legendary Beast. I imagine the Meadowlands Devil sucks and bites, because that is how I usually describe the New Jersey Devils.
  19. New York Islanders - H, Geography. Um, yeah.
  20. New York Rangers - G, Owner. The original owner of the Broadway Blueshirts was G.L. "Tex" Rickard. Sportswriters began calling the team "Tex's Rangers." The name stuck.
  21. Ottawa Senators - J, it's politics. Ottawa is the capital of Canada.
  22. Philadelphia Flyers - A, Fan Contest. We'll overlook that the winning entry actually spelled it "Fliers."
  23. Phoenix Coyotes - A, Fan Contest. Arizonans seem to like their desert-howling dwellers, so, also acceptable, D, Local wildlife.
  24. Pittsburgh Penguins - K, the arena. The Penguins used to play in the Civic Center, nicknamed the Igloo. But, Penguins on skates?
  25. San Jose Sharks - A, Fan Contest. Not surprisingly, there are sharks in the water off the coast of California, so, also correct, D, Local wildlife.
  26. St. Louis Blues - H, Geography. Actually named for a famous song, the city is a Mecca for blues music.
  27. Tampa Bay Lightning - F, natural disaster.
  28. Toronto Maple Leafs - A, Owner and I, History. The estimable Conn Smythe renamed the team in 1926 after the Maple Leaf Regiment of the First World War, and for the emblem on the Canadian flag.
  29. Vancouver Canucks - B, Slang for a country resident. But acceptable for a hockey team.
  30. Washington Capitals - J, it's politics. The U.S. Capital is Washington and the answer is not a natural disaster. There is nothing natural about how the Caps suck some days.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday's Recipe - Making the Best of Leftovers

We had a friend in town Thursday night, in advance of a professional meeting on Friday in Baltimore. We took the opportunity to sharpen the culinary claws and make a leg of lamb, too much for two, and enough leftovers to make one of my favorite dishes from my childhood, what my mother called hash or shepherd's pie.

First of all we simply roasted the lamb with some garlic and lemon and some mustard for the crust. My wife roasted some potatoes around the meat and the dinner was outstanding. As is right and fitting, we had some nice red wine with dinner. Ice cream for dessert with a friend's homemade chocolate fudge sauce capped a wonderful evening.

But now, how to make the hash. Grind the meat (you can use roast beef or any other meat that you have left over) so the meat is finely ground. You can hand chop the meat, but you will want to use an appliance that will facilitate the process. My mother actually had a grinder that made the meat into the consistency of well, ground meat.

Make some whipped potatoes. Boil and mash (whip) the potatoes until smooth.

Put the meat in a casserole dish (you can add peas like my mother did) and add some liquid. Leftover gravy is best or use some beef broth. You should add enough liquid so the meat is moist but not swimming in liquid. Place the whipped potatoes over the top of the meat in the casserole dish and bake in the oven. Add a few pats of butter to the top of the potatoes. Serve when the potatoes have crisped up and just start to brown.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

NHL at Midseason - Standings

In the Eastern Conference, further divided into the Southeast, Atlantic, and Northeast divisions, the best team are the Buffalo Sabres. First place in the Northeast division, they started their season with an astonishing unbeaten streak. Their current record sits at 30 wins, 12 losses, and 8 overtime losses. The second best Eastern team is the New Jersey Devils, with 63 points and first place in the Atlantic Division. They are followed closely by the Atlanta Thrashers with 62 points and first place in the Southeast Division.

The Eastern Conference losers are the Philadelphia Flyers, last place in the Conference with a measly 27 points and a record of 11-31-5. Even Kate Smith can't help them now (and you are a real hockey fan if you know what that means!). There are still seven teams fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference. Let's go Rangers!

Out West, the Conference is led by the Central Division Nashville Predators. The Pacific Division first place team is the Anaheim Ducks. Don't get me started on hockey teams where ice is not naturally found. Leading the Northwest Division are the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames, both with 56 points. There are at least ten teams that are within striking distance of the playoffs. Likely to miss them are the Los Angeles Kings, with the worst record of the Western Conference at 16-27-6.

Remember to watch the All-Star Game on Wednesday night and enjoy a really great sport.

The NHL at Midseason

The National Hockey League will hold its 55th All-Star Game Wednesday evening at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. What is now a contest between the Eastern and Western Conferences has a long history. Starting lineups are voted on by the fans and the coaches are those individuals whose teams lead in point percentage in each conference. The game will be preceded by the All-Star Skills Competition, a competition showing the various talents of the all-stars, and the Young Stars Game, an exhibition game exclusively featuring rookies, playing under slightly modified rules.

First, a bit of history (information from Wikipedia). . .

The first official All-Star Game did not begin until the 1947-48 NHL season, but there have been several occasions in the NHL where benefit games and All-Star teams were created. The first All-Star game in hockey, predated the creation of the NHL, when the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association held a game on January 2, 1908 in memory of Montreal Wanderers player Hod Stuart, who had drowned three months after the Wanderers won the Stanley Cup. The proceeds of that game, which was won by the Wanderers 10-7 over a team of All-Stars from the rest of the league, went to Stuart's family.

The first NHL All-Star Game, albeit an unofficial one, was held in 1934 to benefit Toronto Maple Leafs player Ace Bailey, who had suffered from a career-ending injury in December 1933. Bailey had been tripped from behind by a Boston Bruins defenseman in retaliation for a check to a Toronto player earlier in the game. Bailey was not the intended target and while Bailey regained consciousness, he later passed out and lapsed into convulsions. While not expected to live, he recovered, but his hockey career was finished.

The game was proposed by the sports editor of the Journal in Montreal, and became a reality at the NHL Board of Governors meeting in 1934. On February 14, 1934, the game took place and during the game a ceremony to retire Bailey's number occurred (the first such occasion in the NHL). The Maple Leafs took on an All-Star team made of players from the other seven teams, which the Leafs won 7-3.

In January 1937, Howie Morenz lost his life after a game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Black Hawks. Morenz was checked into the boards and he shattered his leg in five separate places. He was taken to the hospital and died March 8, despite the continuing efforts of his teammates, who held parties in his room every night, complete with whiskey and beer. Morenz's #7 was retired and raised to the rafters of the Forum.

While Morenz was in the hospital, plans for a benefit game for Morenz were already under way. The game was not as successful as Bailey's game, primarily because it took place in November, eight months after Morenz's death. There were two All-Star teams, the first being a team of stars from the Canadiens and the Montreal Maroons, the second being an All-Star team made of players from the other teams, with the latter team winning 6-5.

Finally, during the 1947-48 season, the All-Star game became a reality. It has been played every year, except in 1966, when the All-Star Game was moved from the start of the season to its current position in the middle of the season; in 1979 when the 1979 Challenge Cup took its place, in 1987 when Rendez-vous '87 was played. In 1987 the season was shorted by a lockout and again in 2005 when the season was cancelled altogether because of another lockout. Part of the new collective bargaining agreement ending this lockout called for the the NHL would not hold an All-Star Game during Winter Olympic years, so there was no All-Star game during the 2005-2006 NHL season.

For the first twenty years, the All-Star game would feature the defending Stanley Cup Champions against a selection of players from the other five teams. The games were ultimately quite one-sided and many fans and hockey insiders considered options on how to make the All-Star Game more balanced, including one where the All-Star Game was eliminated altogether in favour of a best-of-nine Stanley Cup Final with the proceeds of two of the games going to the players' pension fund, and one which saw a Canadian Teams vs. American Teams format (a somewhat-flawed concept in that nearly all NHL players of the era, whether playing for teams representing U.S. or Canadian cities, were Canadians).

Ultimately, the 5th NHL All-Star Game saw the First NHL All-Star team battle the Second, with the players filling out the First team being from American teams and the Second team being filled with either Hab or Leaf players. The game ended in a 2-2 tie, leaving many fans upset for the second straight year. The same format of First vs. Second with the First team being augmented by players from American teams and the Second being augmented by Leaf or Hab players continued the next year, but the 6th All-Star Game proved to be 60 minutes of boring hockey as the teams skated to a 1-1 tie.

Criticisms of this new format, as well as the boring hockey, was what made the NHL revert the format of the All-Star Game to its original incarnation. Some of the criticisms included the fact that teammates often opposed each other in the All-Star Game under the new format, and some stated that the early date of the game was detrimental to the exposure of the NHL in the States, being held at the same time as the World Series and the National Football League season. In what would be later a reality, a newspaper columnist suggested the game should be played mid-season and that fans should choose their starting lineup.

I urge you to watch the NHL All-Star Game this week as nobody is really watching hockey and they need a break. So barring contraction of the league (don't get me started), we are stuck with what we got and we need to support it. Go Rangers!

Who Needs Fantasy Football?

I have to admit I don't understand fantasy sports leagues. While I can hold my own in a conversation about most sports, the intricacies of the fantasy sports player are lost on me. In today's Washington Post, I found a new option, several actually.

I have signed up to take part in the new 110th Fantasy Congress. Coming soon, I will be able to draft my political team of four senators and twelve representatives) and watch as I accrue points as those players do . . . something.

Other options in the article are:
  • Fantasy Fashion League - I could not get this site to load, perhaps I have no fashion sense.
  • Fantasy Moguls - This is similar to something I used to be a part of years ago, the Hollywood Stock Exchange, where, I have learned, my account is still valid.
  • Fantasy Music League - $70 million in virtual cash and if you are lucky, no one shouting "I'm a Golden God" from somebody's rooftop.
  • Fantasy Television - pick twelve characters and amass points based on screen time. Here's to the guy who had Curtis Manning for this season.
  • Tabloid Fantasy League - The drawback? You have to check the covers of US Weekly, InTouch, Star, and People to see who makes the cover.

You have fun now and remember, the Internet is only part reality.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Do You Wear Your Sunglasses at Night?

Recently on VH1, there was a program that highlighted the "50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever." Here for your enjoyment and critique is the list. You can see the list at and hear clips of the songs you love to hate. Some comments follow a particular song that may or may not deserve to be on the list.

50 - Sunglasses at Night - Corey Hart
49 - I'll Be Missing You - Various Artists
48 - Can I Touch You . . . There (Album Version) - Michael Bolton
47 - Something in Common - Bobby Brown
46 - Two Princes - Spin Doctors
45 - Sorry 2004 - Ruben Studdard
44 - We Didn't Start the Fire - Billy Joel
(When I was a teacher, I used this song to help teach history. Billy Joel had made an accompanying tape to be used in lesson planning, but this snappy tune, is really more than a big list of people and events from the latter part of the 20th Century.)

43 - Make Em Say Ugh, Pt. 2 - Master P
42 - Cotton Eye Joe - Various Artists
41 - Some Girls (Dance with Women) - JC Chasez
40 - What's Up? - 4 Non Blondes
39 - Informer - Snow
38 - Mesmerize - Ja Rule
37 - From a Distance - Bette Midler
(not one of the worst songs ever - but the sappy ballad is just too much some days.)

36 - I Wanna Sex You Up - Color Me Badd
35 - Heartbeat - Don Johnson
(It would be nice if somebody would tell actors they can't sing. Hear that Patrick Swayze?)

34 - Butterfly - Crazy Town
33 - Jenny from the Block - Jennifer Lopez
(Would somebody tell some singers they should just be actors?)

32 - Broken Wings - Mr. Mister
31 - You Remind Me of Something - R. Kelly
(is it . . . crap?)

30 - Pimp Juice - Nelly
29 - I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That) - Meat Loaf
(And yet you still made this song . . . )

28 - Never Gonna Give You Up - Rick Astley
27 - Rump Shaker - Wreckx n Effect
26 - The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You - Bryan Adams
(What no "Theme from Robin Hood"?)

25 - You Rock My World - Michael Jackson
24 - Sussudio - Phil Collins
23 - Thong Song - Sisqo
22 - Dancing on the Ceiling - Lionel Richie
(Hello? Hello?)

21 - I'll Be There for You (Theme from Friends) - Various Artists
20 - Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American) - Toby Keith
19 - You're the Inspiration - Chicago
18 - Pumps and a Bump - Hammer
17 - I'm Too Sexy - Right Said Fred
16 - The Final Countdown - Europe
15 - MMM, MMM, MMM, MMM - Crash Test Dummies
(What no MMM, Bop?)

14 - Will 2K (featuring K-Ci) - Will Smith
(see Jennifer Lopez)

13 - Barbie Girl - Aqua
12 - Hangin' Tough - New Kids on the Block
11 - Rico Suave - Gerardo
10 - The Heart of Rock & Roll - Huey Lewis
(CHARGE to 300! CLEAR! Oh Well, you better call it, Doctor)

9 - Don't Worry, Be Happy - Various Artists
8 - She Bangs - Ricky Martin
(Is this really just William Hong's fault? Probably not)

7 - Party All the Time - Eddie Murphy
(see Johnson, Swayze, etc.)

6 - Breakfast at Tiffany's - Deep Blue Something
(oh it's something alright, but I don't think it is blue)

5 - Ice Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice
4 - Rollin' (Urban Assault Vehicle) - Limp Bizkit
3 - Everybody Have Fun Tonight - Wang Chung
2 - Achy Breaky Heart - Billy Ray Cyrus
1 - We Built this City - Starship
(. . . and blew up our careers)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hockey - Name that Team

While in New York this past weekend, the Newsday sports section featured the origins of the NHL team names. For an added twist, the names are presented here first, with the answers following. See how well you do. I make no claims for the validity of the answers, the article notes the sources as "Team Web sites, Wikipedia, media guides, and various Internet sites. Further, there are fewer answers than teams as some answers are valid for more than one team.
  1. Anaheim Ducks
  2. Atlanta Thrashers
  3. Boston Bruins
  4. Buffalo Sabres
  5. Calgary Flames
  6. Colorado Avalanche
  7. Columbus Blue Jackets
  8. Carolina Hurricanes
  9. Chicago Black Hawks
  10. Dallas Stars
  11. Detroit Red Wings
  12. Edmonton Oilers
  13. Florida Panthers
  14. Los Angeles Kings
  15. Minnesota Wild
  16. Montreal Canadiens
  17. Nashville Predators
  18. New Jersey Devils
  19. New York Islanders
  20. New York Rangers
  21. Ottawa Senators
  22. Philadelphia Flyers
  23. Phoenix Coyotes
  24. Pittsburgh Penguins
  25. San Jose Sharks
  26. St. Louis Blues
  27. Tampa Bay Lightning
  28. Toronto Maple Leafs
  29. Vancouver Canucks
  30. Washington Capitals


A. Fan Contest - applies to nine teams, bonus points for identifying why the choice was made.

B. Slang for a county resident

C. Named for a legendary beast

D. Named for "local" wildlife - applies to four different teams.

E. Named for a movie

F. Named for natural disasters that are prevalent in the area - applies to three teams.

G. Its the Owner's fault - applies to four teams.

H. The Geography made the case for the name - applies to four teams.

I. An actual historical reason.

J. It's the politics - two teams

K. The arena lent itself to the team name, although it's a stretch.

Good Luck!

Monday's Recipe on Tuesday

Another Monday, another holiday. I was traveling yesterday and did not get to the Monday recipe. This recipe is a good one for a day late, as it requires the use of bananas that are overripe. It comes from Cooking Light.

Classic Banana Bread
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3-4 bananas)
  • 1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, and vanilla, beat until blended. Add flour mixture, beat at low speed just until moist. Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack, remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Arrivederci, Fynnette

Yesterday, I was honored to be a part of a retirement party for a good friend and colleague, Fynnette Eaton, who retired from the National Archives after a long and storied career. I hope to have more details from the party here soon, so you too can feel like you were there.

I also wanted to share with all of you some excerpts of my remarks from yesterday:

Once word leaked out about Fynnette’s retirement and the profession learned that she was trying to get away unnoticed, people sent me stories to share about her. Granted, I did ask for the stories, but that’s not the point. I want to share with you some anecdotes that were sent to me. As you may have heard, Fynnette doesn’t like being the center of attention . . .

One of my favorite stories I received comes from Tom Soapes, the Acting Director of the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Those of us who know Fynnette will note that
we very rarely see her in the cafeteria; she often eats her lunch at her desk, though it is more likely to see her darting about the halls, rushing from one meeting to another. Evidently, this was not always the case. She used to make the most of her lunch hour. Tom writes, “She returned from lunch a little later than usual and seemed, for her, rather quiet. When asked what she had done over lunch, she replied, ‘I had a root canal.’ On another occasion, when asked the same question, she replied, ‘I got married . . .’"

Lauren Brown, who works nearby at the University of Maryland, offered this story: In 1980, Lauren and Fynnette participated in the MARAC / Society of Southwest Archivists softball game at the SAA Meeting in Cincinnati. Lauren was pitching for SSA and the first MARAC batter hit a home run. He was immediately pulled from the mound and sent to the outfield for the rest of the game – and it was the only such game played between MARAC and the SSA. Consequently, his lifetime Earned Run Average in this series was – infinity! Lauren is very proud of this accomplishment and believes that he has Fynnette on the MARAC team to thank for this very arcane softball statistic . . .

On a personal note, as many of you may know, Fynnette is a lover of baseball. In fact, her husband, Jim Miller, wrote a book about it. Fynnette told me of listening to Orioles games on the radio in her kitchen growing up. As a lifelong Yankees fan, I liked her anyway. [I wished that I had included a remark about how fitting it was to have the party on the same day it was announced that Cal Ripken was going to the Hall of Fame] Fynnette and I cemented our friendship at baseball games as she often attended group outings that I have organized at several SAA meetings. In fact, she laments the fact that she was unable to attend the game JAL Tours attended in New Orleans (she sent her husband in her place) and missed me throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the game. So here, today, I give Fynnette that ball, with the hopes she will return soon to enjoy “America’s pastime” with all of us . . .

Next, I have here a letter from Richard Pearce-Moses, the past-president of SAA, who “always appreciated her passion and enthusiasm mixed with thoughtfulness and serious commitment to the issues facing the profession.” Richard continues, “She has been an outstanding mentor, helping many archivists make the transition from the analog to the digital era.” In fact, if we were to let everyone speak for whom Fynnette had been a mentor, we might never get out of here. Her “Working Together” workshop helped many of us, including Richard, learn to be more effective. Richard closes his letter with a personal note regarding Fynnette and a piece of advice offered on a warm day outside the Smithsonian Castle, where she was giving Richard a crash course in electronic records. They are words that have become a foundation for Richard’s career and in his own personal life and while he “can’t remember her exact words, but they were in essence, ‘Whatever we do, we may fail; but it we do nothing, failure is guaranteed.’" We would all be better were we to take those words to heart as Richard has . . .

A second letter comes from Luciana Duranti, also a former SAA President and current Director of the InterPARES Project, and I will add parenthetically, Fynnette’s husband’s current landlord. Luciana remarks, quite obviously, that Fynnette “is one of the most dedicated all around professionals” she has ever known. “In her quiet, understated way, she has provided key contributions to every aspect of our profession. Her commitment . . . is characterized by a remarkable intuitive capacity and sharp intellect as well as by a sunny unpretentious and warm personality that makes it such a joy to have her around and work with her.”

More Words for Fynnette

At my request, I asked the Chair of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference to pen something for Fynnette's retirement. Upon receiving the following, I told him that when I retire, he better come and speak at my party. The words were perfect and I hoped that I was adequately able to convey them in the manner in which they were written.

Words on the Retirement of Fynnette Eaton
9 January 2007

When we retire at the end of a long and industrious career, our colleagues remember us (as if we were not in the room) for our many accomplishments, but in the case of Fynnette there may be too many accomplishments to catalog given the imminence of her retirement. Still, we may as well give it a try.

Those of us in the MARAC owe Fynnette a huge debt of gratitude for all she has done to keep our organization thriving. Our records first note her arrival in the organization in the 1978 membership directory, and from that point on she’s been active in MARAC. She served as a member and then chair of the Arline Custer Award Committee before serving in many other capacities, including as a member or chair of many committees and as DC Caucus chair from 1992 to 1994. Most importantly, she served as chair of MARAC from 1995 to 1997, yet she didn’t even stop serving us at that point. She probably never considered it.

Fynnette’s service to MARAC barely begins the story of her contributions to the profession. Her service to the Society of American Archivists is just as extensive. She served on the Government Records and the Aural and Graphics sections of SAA. She served on SAA Council for many years, and she only recently completed her tenure as a very visible treasurer for SAA.

Much of her professional life has focused on the management of archival electronic records, one of the most important and perplexing issues facing the profession over the past few decades—and we were lucky to have her on this detail. For at least the past twenty years, she has toiled in this particular archival niche, first at NARA’s Machine Readable Branch, then the Center for Electronic Records. She is ending her career as the Change Management Officer for the Electronic Records Archives, one of the most important projects our profession has ever seen.

Over the years, Fynnette’s colleagues have put aside a little bit of time to recognize her accomplishments—maybe not as much as she deserved but certainly enough to illuminate her unique talents. One of these honors came in 1995 when she was named a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists, the rarest of honors bestowed by the Society. Two years later, she received the Posner Award for a special issue of The American Archivist presenting cases studies on electronic records issues in archives.

We cannot, however, reduce Fynnette’s life to a series of accomplishments. As remarkable and impressive as these are, they do not capture the person who she is. Accomplishments are simply clothing, and we’re actually interested in the person herself. When I think of Fynnette, I think of a dazzling ball of energy, her quick eyes piercing through the lenses of her glasses, a smile on her face. I think of her enthusiasm, because she loved her work, loved archives, loved the difference she could make in our world. She knew the work of archivists was important, and she relished her part in advancing that profession. When I think of Fynnette, I think of a person who was truly herself: natural, open, real. Even in formal presentations, her charisma shone through. She was merely a genuine individual conversing with friends about what excited her. I found her always to be exhilarated by her work, and she is constantly aglow with that excitement.

I am told that Fynnette is retiring to Italy, a place all of us should be lucky enough to retire to. The country is entirely magical. Each of its big cities is unique, filled with art and architecture and history, and the countryside is dotted with millions of castles. The food enchants, the drivers are crazy, and the people veer from wonderful kindness to downright weirdness. It is a magical place and one that befits her, because, when I consider what she’s done over the years, I wonder if hers was merely a life or was simply the most satisfying of dreams.

Geof Huth, Chair

Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference

Monday, January 8, 2007

Monday's Recipe Returns!

With the holidays the previous two Monday's, I skipped the recipe posting. Here's one of the recipes retained from the recent weeding. It's a recipe from my mother for a hearty dish, good for if it ever gets cold again.

Chicken Stew
  • 4 small chicken cutlets (boneless breasts work fine)
  • 4 carrots chopped into 1" pieces
  • 2 to 3 medium potatoes in 2" chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 14.5 to 16 oz can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 pkg. frozen peas

Cut chicken in 2" chunks, cook in 2 tsp. olive oil until chicken is browned. Remove chicken from frying pan. Using the remaining drippings, add 1 more tsp. olive oil, carrots, potatoes and onion, and brown. Stir in red wine, stewed tomatoes, bouillon, thyme, and 1 and 1/4 cup water. Bring to boil and then simmer 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Mix 1 tbsp. flour and 2 tbsp. water and thicken juice and add peas and chicken. Cook 5 to 6 minutes until thickened and all is heated through.

The OED Needs Our Help!

I spotted an article in the Washington Post the other day. It seems the venerable Oxford English Dictionary is branching out. In cooperation with the publisher of the OED, Oxford University Press, a wordhunt has been instituted to discover the etymologies of several words in the OED.

From the article, "According to the august Oxford English Dictionary, going bananas was simply not done before 1968, nobody went bonkers before 1957, and no one went to the loo before 1940 . . . So they are asking language-loving British television viewers to help them trace the murky etymological roots of 40 common English-language expressions, from "wolf whistle" to "regime change" to "sick puppy" . . . BBC officials said viewers sent in about 7000 e-mails about the 47 words on last year's list . . . and 35 entries in the dictionary were changed."

The dictionary is currently being revised, with an anticipated publication in another 20 years. The process has already been underway for more than ten years. Think you have the right (write?) stuff.

More Cleaning!

The holidays are over. The tree(s) are coming down this week. The warm weather (73 degrees in Washington on Saturday!) has led me to a bout of "spring cleaning." The homestead contents have reached critical mass and I have been on a tear. It has also led my wife and I to begin revisiting the idea of finding a home. But more on that soon.

Within our home is a small storage area under the stairs. It is home to the family "archives" as well as our Christmas "stuff." Some work in that closet led to some more room and a more compact storage of the items contained therein.

I returned to the kitchen and cleaned out the remaining cupboards that had not yet been cleaned, organized, and weeded. I then cleaned the kitchen where one could eat safely off just about any surface.

There is something invigorating about cleaning, although emotional attachment (or the possibility of financial gain) leads to the retention of items and the issue of finding a temporary place to put them before they get their new lease on life.

Remaining to be done, the pantry in the laundry room (do we really need some old cans of sterno?) and my wife and my closets. My son's closet has also become a catchall for items needing a home and that closet is on the list (but he needs to be not sleeping in his room at the time).

All this cleaning is in a way, preparing me for this coming weekend. My father's home (the house I grew up in) is on the market. Anybody want to buy a house? There is A LOT of crap in that house. I come by the pack rat thing honestly. My sister who lives in North Carolina and I are heading home this weekend to clean, weed, and dispose of items both large and small. I am sure there will be less in that house when my sister and I are done this weekend.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Remembering Gerald R. Ford, 1913-2006

By now there is likely no one who is not aware that former President Gerald Ford died December 26, 2006, at his home in Rancho Mirage, California. He was 93 years old and in November 2006, became the oldest ex-president ever, surpassing the record set by Ronald Reagan in 2004.

Ford held many titles and distinctions in his long life and career in public service. He was the only president to be adopted, born Leslie Lynch King, Jr. When his mother moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, after Leslie, Sr. walked out, she met and married Gerald R. Ford, Sr., who gave the future president his name. Ford was the only Eagle Scout to become President, but wouldn't it be nice to have more of those in the Oval Office?

Ford went to the University of Michigan and became a star football player for the school. He turned down offers from the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions to play professional football to attend Yale Law School.

When war came, Ford joined the Navy, seeing service in the Pacific aboard the USS Monterrey. Ford's closest brush with death came not from enemy fire, but during a typhoon, when he was nearly swept overboard.

Ford returned home to Grand Rapids and in 1948, did two major things. He got married to Elizabeth "Betty" Bloomer and was elected to Congress from Michigan's 5th District. "The Gentleman from Michigan" was likely the title he liked best, although he coveted the position of Speaker of the House. Ford served 12 terms in the House, rising within the leadership of the Republican minority.

When Ford arrived for the convening of the 81st Congress in 1948, his office was next to another young congressman from Massachusetts, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. In that Congress were four future presidents, Ford and Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon.

In 1963, as a stunned nation mourned the loss of their president, Gerald Ford was selected to serve on the Warren Commission. Ford was the last surviving member of the Warren Commission.

Shortly after Richard Nixon's landslide victory in 1972 (over George McGovern - see below), scandal came calling at the White House. Nixon accepted the resignation of his vice president, Spiro Agnew, who left office under several clouds of financial impropriety. Nixon's first choice to replace Agnew was his Secretary of the Treasury, John Connally. However, conservatives in Congress threatened Nixon, as Connally was a former Democrat, and they would not support him. They pressured him to turn to the "Gentleman from Michigan." Although Nixon's second choice, Ford became Vice President of the United States on December 6, 1973 after an extensive and exhaustive investigation.

Less than a year later, as Nixon sank deeper into the Watergate scandal, Nixon stunned the nation when he announced that he would resign the presidency. On August 9, 1974, Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as the nation's 38th President, a position he was never elected to, becoming the only President to have never been elected as part of a national ticket.

In separate trips to California in September 1975, Ford set another record, surviving two assassination attempts on his life. In the first, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme attempted to shoot Ford, but the gun did not fire. Later that month, Sarah Jane Moore, did manage to fire her gun, but the shot was deflected and Ford was not in danger.

Ford would serve out the remainder of Nixon's term and lost his election bid in 1976 to Democrat Jimmy Carter. His decision to pardon Richard Nixon was a huge factor in his defeat coupled with his decision to drop Vice President Nelson Rockefeller from the ticket in favor of Senator Bob Dole.

In retirement, Ford enjoyed life as an elder statesman. He and Jimmy Carter became very close, and being an ex-president began to look pretty good to a lot of people. Ford is one of the first presidents I remember. I remember watching Nixon announce he was resigning. I remember the bicentennial celebrations in 1976 with President Ford watching the Tall Ships in New York Harbor. Jerry Ford was an everyman. The Gentleman from Michigan was just that a gentleman in every sense of the word. The world is a little worse off with his absence.

A postscript to all of the accolades showered on Ford and his family (from the Washington Post): "George McGovern, the liberal 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, dropped a little bombshell to Larry King the other night. He voted Republican in 1976, for Gerald Ford. McGovern said he finally told his wife, Eleanor, that Thanksgiving. Her reply: So did I."

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

I've Been Cleaning

With the holidays, just about passed (including a National Day of Mourning for our 38th President - but more about that in the next post), I realized the contents of our small home had reached critical mass. And since the weather continues to act like Spring, I started on a spring cleaning tear around the house.

I liberally applied the cleaning "rule" - "If you haven't touched it in six months or more, you don't need it anymore." I also "weeded" the home collection of items that were only gathering dust and not necessarily adding value or utility to the home.

Our half bath was the first and easiest target. I disposed of a "decorative" bar of soap that was steadily becoming more dust than soap. I removed a "nightlight" that was a gift (and I apologize in advance to the people who gave it to me) depicting a lighthouse scene. The main problem with the picture? Two words, one man - Thomas Kinkade. It went well with the lighthouse theme throughout the bath, but I opted for the "Less is More" approach - another rule applied frequently during this cleaning spurt.

In the hall, I went through the bookcase and removed some cookbooks and placed them on I even went through our recipe box and deaccessioned several individual recipes. I know, I know, it's minutiae, but it made me feel better. By the way, there are items that are exempted from the six-month rule, books being one of them. I cleaned out the hall closet, getting items ready for a charity clothing pickup early next month. I use Vietnam Veterans of America, but there are lots of organizations out there that need donations.

I also attacked the living room, trying to contain the multitudinous items maintained by a two year old. As you can see by the picture, there is still a large tree in the living room and had to work around that, but still managed to get things neat(er) and tidy(ier). I also deferred two tasks to a later date - photo organization and personal phone book consolidation (we own four of them).

I then moved onto the kitchen. Here of course, there was the weeding of kitchen items and some food stuffs. Gone now are the extraneous travel coffee mugs waiting for a chance to be used again, the kiddie cups that leak, or suffer from poor design. Also departed is the cheese dip mix, the trial size packets of some spread, the opened jar (and most likely stale) bottle of cayenne pepper bought at the dollar store. There was much reorganizing to be done here, allowing for better use of the limited space available in the kitchen. Not yet complete is a good cleaning of the refrigerator, which is sorely needed (not that there is any health dangers in there, it just would benefit from a good wipe down) or the "exterior" surfaces. Floors, cabinets, windows, etc. - you have been notified, expect a good cleaning in the next week.