Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Jersey Turnpike Rest Area Answers

As I prepare for the next weekend in New York, here are the answers to the quiz on the New Jersey Turnpike. If you're in Syosset on Saturday, stop by and buy something at the big yard sale!

You'll note, I did not include mile markers for the location of the rest areas. Nor did I ask you who the entire Turnpike is named for. For extra credit, you could have offered the name of a famous New York radio personality who lobbied then Governor Christine Todd Whitman to name one of its plazas for him. He instead got one on Interstate 295, which has since been closed.
  1. Vince Lombardi

  2. Alexander Hamilton

  3. Grover Cleveland

  4. Thomas Edison

  5. Joyce Kilmer

  6. Molly Pitcher (this is a great site!)

  7. Woodrow Wilson

  8. Richard Stockton

  9. James Fenimore Cooper

  10. Walt Whitman

  11. Clara Barton

  12. John Fenwick

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Unfinished Projects

Last week, I wrote about the Long Island Expressway. Living with it so close to home, literally, and now that my daily commute takes me on a portion of the Capital Beltway (also Interstate 495), I have sat in my fair share of traffic and developed some ideas on how to help.

Faithful readers have already read my rants about traffic - here are the solutions we need. Sure it will take millions of dollars and people will scream, but the long term benefits outweigh the short. Something must be done!

Double decker the roads. The freeways and bridges in California are often double decker roads and they have earthquakes! The East Coast is a little more stable, so why not put another road on top of the existing one? For both roads, it would be very simple. Development has made the further widening of the roads impossible, so go UP. The beauty of the plan is to make one of the roads an "express" with limited access. For the Long Island Expressway, there has even been talk of this (look for the "Urban Legend on the LIE" section. For the express road, have exits at the "major" interchanges (and this will mean something only to those who have been there): The BQE, the Grand Central Parkway, The Van Wyck Expressway, the Clearview Expressway, the Cross-Island Parkway, the Northern State Parkway, the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway, Route 110, the Sagitkos Parkway, and at Exit 70.

For the Capital Beltway (as previously noted, also 1-495), the problem becomes a little trickier and definitely more costly, as there are bridges involved not to mention that huge thing we like to call the "mixing bowl." But double decker the road, make it limited access, with exits (again, for locals and exasperated commuters from DC) at I-95 in Maryland, I-270, (somehow over the American Legion Bridge), the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Route 66, I-95 in Virginia, (somehow over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge), I-295, and Route 50.

Alternatively, let's think about this. For years on Long Island, people have suggested building a monorail down the middle of the expressway. Surprisingly, the Long Island Rail Road has been against it! But let's dream here folks. Build some large parking lots on either side of the expressway (as opposed to the parking lot the expressway can be) and make a pedestrian bridge to a station over the expressway where a monorail can run. DC residents can see how this might work while travelling I-66 in Virginia where the Metro runs down the middle of that road. So in DC's case, build a new Metro line around the Beltway (color suggestions for the line?) on the model of the Orange Line that runs out Route 66.

I will be the first to say that if you build more roads, they will just fill up. But these are a couple of pipe dreams that I think could work in a world where community opposition is nil and plenty of funds are readily available. Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, who governed New York State from 1958 to 1973, had a pipe dream of his own. He wanted to build a bridge across Long Island Sound. An outstanding idea, but those pesky community activist people told him they couldn't. I actually would have lived near the terminus of the Long Island side of the bridge (that whole expressway thing again), and loved the idea. People shout about it every now and then, especially when thoughts of how to evacuate Long Island should something happen in New York City. Um, tough noogies, folks, you're all gonna die, for one must go through New York to get off Long Island. Sigh. It wouldn't hurt to think about it some more, huh? Please?

So another bridge in DC? The area is concluding work on a major renovation of the Wilson Bridge, which included the construction of a new span. And, hey, guess what, they envisioned a light rail across the middle. See? Someone has been listening to me. There are often talks about a new crossing across the Potomac also. But I think the problem with all this talk is, the people doing the talking know they will be long dead before any of this would get built. But they will probably die in a traffic jam on the beltway. It would serve them right.

BTW, this gets an archives tag for a couple of reasons. I used to work at the Rockefeller Archive Center, where the biography of Nelson Rockefeller comes from (in fact, I put it on the web when I served as the webmaster) and the plans for the Long Island Sound Bridge come from the archives of the Suffolk County Planning Department.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Notable Birthdays

Three individuals have significant milestones around this time of year. Today would have marked John Fitzgerald Kennedy's 90th birthday. American Movie Classics showed war / patriotic movies all weekend to commemorate Memorial Day. One of the ones I caught part of was PT 109, starring Cliff Robertson. The movie, which came out in 1963, was enjoyed by Kennedy, who screened it at the White House. My father wandered in while I was watching it, and for fun I quizzed him on what the movie was. From generic navy guys on a dock in a tropical setting, he says, its either PT109 or They Were Expendable, but it can't be that, because that was in black and white. My father's a bit of a military movie nerd.

One of the stars of They Were Expendable was John Wayne, who would have turned 100 on May 26. You gotta love the Duke. I think my favorite John Wayne film is Big Jake, where he plays Jacob McCandles. The movie also featured his son Patrick, who plays his Jacob's son. Wayne winds up confronting people who will usually say to him, "Jacob McCandles? I thought you were dead." On Friday June 15 at 11:00pm, at the McGowan Theater in the National Archives, the movie Stagecoach, will be shown. The movie will be repeated Saturday June 16 at noon. John Wayne was one of President Lyndon Johnson's favorite actors. The film is being shown as part of the Presidential Film Favorites series.

Another National Archives event to mark a milestone birthday will be on Wednesday June 20 at noon in the Jefferson Room. To celebrate 200 years since the birth of Robert E. Lee, author Elizabeth Brown Pryor will discuss her book, "Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through his Letters." Using recently uncovered documents and letters, Pryor sheds new light on aspects of Lee's life that are more complex and contradictory—and far more fascinating—than the familiar icon. Pryor contends that "Lee's letters and papers reveal a man who is frequently as confused, passive, and vulnerable as he is conscientious and brave."

Monday, May 28, 2007

Small Town America

Today is Memorial Day in the USA. It is a day that we have set aside to remember our veterans and honor their sacrifice. My family and I went off to the local parade to take in the sights of small town America's take on the Memorial Day parade. This is a parade that I marched in as a little league player, a cub scout, and a boy scout. I didn't play an instrument, so I never got to march in the band.Here is a picture of the Syosset High School Marching Band. The team name for SHS? The Braves. The first of three marching bands in the parade, they get to lead as they are the high school band.

In addition to the little league teams and the aforementioned cub and boy scouts, the parade led off with the veterans (an unfortunately small number), the Knights of Columbus, the local churches, and the Girl Scouts. My mother was a long time girl scout and marched for several years.

This is the third marching band, the Astronauts of Harry B. Thompson Middle School. I was a little disappointed to see the school has done away with the old orange and white uniforms in favor of matching the high school's red and white colors.

When you see the fire trucks you know the parade is over. There were a few parades, where the trucks had to leave early to go fight a fire somewhere.

Astute readers will see in these pictures and descriptions how I came up with my "blog" name.

No recipe this Monday, go barbecue some hamburgers and hot dogs and have some corn on the cob. It's the unofficial start of summer!

For those keeping track, my family's drive north on Friday night was uneventful. We made our layover stop, my sister-in-law's, in Wilmington, DE in just about 2 hours. On Saturday morning, we continued on for NY and made the trip in about 3 and 1/2 hours. Coming home tonight, our trip ranked in our top five for travel time between New York and DC, completing the trip in just about 5 hours.

It's back to work tomorrow, until I head back to NY for the big Yard Sale in Syosset and the closing of the chapter on my family home. Soon, I will share with you some pictures I took of my dad's new digs. It is very . . . interesting.

For those who still care, the Stanley Cup finals start tonight. The Anaheim Ducks face off against the Ottawa Senators. One of the two teams will hoist Lord Stanley's trophy for the first time. I have had guest bloggers offer their takes on the previous series. I tried to persuade one friend, with whom I talk hockey with about a fair deal, despite the fact she is a Boston Bruins fan, to offer her prediction. She is still angry about the recent labor difficulties and firmly believes that hockey should not exist where ice does not "grow" naturally. You would not be surprised with her one word prediction . . . Ottawa.

Friday, May 25, 2007

It's Memorial Day Weekend - Hurry up and Wait!

The Brave Astronaut family are off this weekend to visit with my father. There is sure to be more cleaning (he moves in two weeks) but we are leaving some time for some Memorial Day fun as well. This will include the Syosset Memorial Day Parade, which I will hope to have some pictures to add to my post on Monday. Over the weekend, I will try to post again on how things are progressing with the cleanup.

Meanwhile we are going to join the throngs of people choking the roads heading for various weekend destinations. Wish us luck!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

New Jersey Rest Area Quiz

My weekend road trip to New York took me up and back on the New Jersey Turnpike. It's a 120 miles of toll road that I think I have paid my share by now. The road is monotonous but there are sprinkled along the way several rest areas. Here's a quiz to see how good you are. Answers next week.
  1. The northernmost rest area is named for the man whose name is also on the NFL Super Bowl Trophy. He was born in Brooklyn, but one of his first coaching jobs was in New Jersey. He also worked for the New York Giants, whose stadium can be seen from the rest area. You may also know him better for his coaching tenure in Wisconsin.
  2. This man would probably not be happy to know he has a rest area named for him in New Jersey. He was shot and killed there.
  3. This man is the only man to be elected to two non-consecutive terms as President of the United States. Although raised in New York, he was born in Caldwell and died in the Garden State.
  4. The "Wizard of Menlo Park," you might think his rest area is the most well-lit.
  5. Born in New Brunswick, the poet with a woman's first name wrote the immortal words, "I think that I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree."
  6. During the Battle of Monmouth, she brought water to the soldiers. When her husband was killed, she took over his cannon duties.
  7. Born in Staunton, VA, he served as Governor of New Jersey and President of Princeton University (and taught at Bryn Mawr), before going to the White House.
  8. This man was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Captured by the British during the Revolution, he died a pauper, having lost everything.
  9. More associated with New York, where his most famous novel is set, this 19th century author was born in New Jersey
  10. Also more of a "New York personality" (there is a school named for him in Syosset), he also would be disappointed with his New Jersey landmark. He moved to Camden after suffering a stroke, then his mother died, and he died there.
  11. Known for many other accomplishments, this woman did open a free school in Bordentown.
  12. A Quaker colonist, he secured a large tract of land in southern New Jersey (where the rest area is), only to give it up later to William Penn.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

So What's Your Exit, Honey?

I grew up in the shadow of the Long Island Expressway. When my parents were considering buying the house, they drove over at various times to sit in front of the house to listen to the new "superhighway" that had been recently completed just steps from their new home. They determined the new road was not that loud.

When people would visit, especially during the summer, when windows would be open in our un-air conditioned home, they would come down in the morning, asking, "How do you sleep with that noise?" We would usually respond, "What noise?" The road noise was part of the background and we didn't even hear it anymore.

Going to one of the university centers of the State University of New York, especially one that was frequented by residents of Long Island, one would often introduce yourself by telling what exit you lived off of. I remember one weekend, visiting a friend who was at Oswego State, bumping into a guy several times at a party. We would greet each other with "32!" and "43!"

Living near the expressway gave us some exciting moments as well. I remember a trucker's strike in the late 1970s or early 1980s, when many truckers staged a demonstration on the LIE that slowed the road beyond its normal rush hour crawl. There were the jackknifed tractor trailers (I remember one particularly, a truck carrying canned applesauce) that brought gawkers to look and the inevitable "rubber necking" delays. The LIE was also the scene of the final exits for musician Harry Chapin and director Alan J. Pakula.

On Monday, when I left to return home, I got on the road by about 6:40am, knowing that I needed to be out that early if I had any chance to beat some of the traffic. However, an overnight accident on the Northern State Parkway, which parallels the expressway, changed my plans.

What I had expected to be about a one-hour commute to the George Washington Bridge, took me an hour and a half. And I never even got on the LIE, I road what is known in CB lingo as the "balcony" or the service road that parallels the main road. While I am not in the picture at right (those poor suckers were on the Northern State), everybody else did go over to the LIE causing major backups all morning.

In a future post (which I've already written), I will share with you, my visions for helping the traffic issues on Long Island and in DC as well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Ice Cream Man

I was on a momentary breather this weekend and the familiar tones of the ice cream truck came down the street. If you grew up in the suburbs, really anywhere, I think, you know about the ice cream man. You may also reference the ice cream man from an Eddie Murphy skit on his "Delirious" performance. It has some obscenities in it, but it's very funny.

There were several ice cream trucks that used to come through our neighborhood, including one that you could go inside of. Somehow, I'm not surprised these trucks don't exist anymore. So you would get your ice cream (I got my favorite, the ice cream candy bar (not the same one, but you can get the concept), on Sunday) and then if you had extra change, you had to buy candy. The ice cream man of my youth had Fortune Bubble, but no more. I did buy some gum cigarettes, because I had to.

The ice cream man also reminded me of the mailman we had growing up. Vinnie, delivered our mail faithfully every day, and on your birthday, you got a lollipop with your mail. He had all of the birthdays of the kids in the neighborhood on the roof of his mail jeep.

Today, after picking up my son, he got to get a treat from the ice cream man, who came around the neighborhood here. He enjoyed his popsicle very much. He is still a little young for the ice cream candy bar.

Monday, May 21, 2007

It's Nostalgia Week on Order from Chaos

I returned home today from a weekend of packing and pitching. I put a six pack of beer out front for the garbage men this morning as I drove away. Next weekend is the rest of the models and whatever else is left to pack in the rest of the house. I thought it might be harder to pack up the house I grew up in but it went much more smoothly than I thought.

As it is Monday, it must be recipe day. Before I get to that, ten hours in the car by oneself (five hours up on Friday and five hours home today), I came up with lots of good blog entry ideas. So this week is likely to be all about me and my exploits growing up in the Long Island suburbs.

First, a bit of background to today's recipe. As I will usually do when I visit my father, I will take over the cooking for him. He has to do it all the time (and he and I actually had a conversation about this) and usually winds up with something bad for him (prepared foods) or he will attempt to burn the house down by flambeing something. I left him with several sheets of paper that I had made him the last time I had this conversation with him (shortly after my mother's death) but he did not take to it then. Hopefully I got to him this time. I made him a "menu sheet," where he can write down what he is going to eat for the week, room to add items to a shopping list, even a space to note what's on sale at the various grocery stores (he likes to buy on sale * especially when it's lobster). I also left him several sheets where he can record the inventories of his freezer and pantry (not currently located near the kitchen (but will be in the new place he's going). He tends to be a bit forgetful, so this will help him not buy something he already has too much of. We'll see how he does. I will report back next week.

So, last night, after having gone to the grocery store, I made dinner for the two of us. Unlike my wife, who likes to follow recipes exactly, I like to "cook without a net." I think it comes from my father, just without the mold, which I found on a couple of items in the fridge. I bought a small roast chicken, some salad, and a bag of egg noodles. So here's how dinner got made.

Sunday Dinner
  • 1 small roast chicken
  • Egg noodles
  • Salad
  • Lemons
  • White Wine
  • Butter
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Flour / corn starch

This is the entire ingredient list I needed. I know, really hard.

After rinsing out the chicken insides and then seasoned it with salt and pepper inside and out. I put several pats of butter underneath the skin. I then cut a lemon in half and put the two halves in the cavity of the chicken. I roasted it in the oven for 30 minutes at 425 degrees and then lowered it to 375 degrees for another 45 minutes or so until the temperature thermometer registered 185 degrees internally (cooking directions from the chicken wrapper). Periodically, I basted the chicken with a little water and some white wine. Once I removed the chicken from the pan to carve, I made gravy with the pan juices, adding a little flour to thicken it.

I cooked the egg noodles and tossed them in a bowl with a little butter and some cheese. I opened the salad bag and put some in a bowl (I know it was really hard). (Remind me that next week's recipe should be the family dressing, which I didn't make last night). I served the meal with a nice bottle of white wine (if my father has too many models, he also has too much wine, including the two cases that just arrived and now have to be moved to the new place. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

To the Victor Come the Spoils

Today started around 9:00am. My father is a model builder. So that meant that packing started in the basement, as any good horror movie should. Basements are scary places in most circumstances . . . the ancestral home, particularly so at this point in time. My father the model builder has (very rough count) approximately 250 models in the basement. Some are "commission" work, i.e., he has been given the model by someone to build for them and they will then pay him. There are two entire shelving units (about 100 models) for "Garcia." The problem is that my father has not talked to Garcia in a few years and my father is afraid to call him. If the man is not dead, he may want to know where his models are. Many of Garcia's models are going into the sale pile tomorrow. So Garcia, if you read this blog, give us a call.

The other models were delicately packed (as my father opens nearly every one when he gets it, regardless of when he plans to build it) and carefully labelled in larger boxes. My father is currently in an "armor" phase, meaning he has every different style and maker of Sherman and Tiger tank models there are (trust me on this). I did manage to get him to part with several opened and half built models.

Then there are the books. Oh, and the magazines. "Reference" my father says. It would be hard to use them for reference given the dust that had accumulated on many of them. However, I did get him to part with about 1/3 of the book collection and all of the "Fine Scale Modeler" magazines. The books went for the sale, the magazines went to the curb.

The rest of the basement was filled with some old mattresses (to the curb) and the collection of family Christmas paraphernalia. 1/3 sale, 2/3 with him to be dispensed at a later date. I have already taken the stuff I want. It's in the car. The basement is almost ready (with the exception of the rest of the models and some old paint cans that can't be put on the curb (evidently they frown on old paint, labeling them as "hazardous materials").

My sister arrived shortly thereafter and the party moved upstairs. We packed the dining room and the living room (the family china and crystal is coming with me and the silver went with my sister). Several items were left on the tables in the living room as that room has now become the "indoor showroom" for the yard sale. Works of art were taken off the wall and will be dispersed to me and my siblings, either now or at some future point. I am taking some stuff now.

My mother's desk (which was her father's) was emptied and put in my car for the trip home. A note here. I have three other siblings and you may be noticing that I am getting a fair amount of "stuff." It was decided early on, "I was here, the others were not," so I only had to fight my sister for things. And she and I are the youngest. But to be fair, my siblings and I had divvied up stuff years ago. It's just nice to still have my father around to say "Take it."

At some point today we ran out of packing tape and need to order more boxes. Tomorrow, my father, sister, and I are going shopping for new furniture for his new house. And to buy more tape. And trashbags. Have I mentioned the curb is full?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

No, Dad, That's the Pile for the Dumpster

A phrase I am sure to be repeating many times over the course of the next three weekends. I am leaving tomorrow afternoon for New York to help my father. You see, my father has finally sold the house I grew up in and forty years of accumulated crap, um, treasures, needs to be dealt with. My father is moving to a smaller house and lots of stuff has to go.

I will try and report over the weekend some of the better finds and a status report of the packing. Finally, he got DSL. I can't do dialup anymore, but that's a rant of a different color.

I'll be back Monday. Have a good weekend all.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

All About Art

I had two different people in the past week send me links to articles about art. The first was from a friend who is seeking to raise the level of discussion about archives and is doing it very well here. She sent me a link to an article about the Renoir archive. Her comment to me, which I concur with was, "I don't know quite what I'd say about this news story--it's just kind of sad and bizarre . . . "

To summarize (go read the article), the Renoir archive was purchased by a gallery in Arizona. The gallery then produced a business plan to market souvenirs featuring the work of Renoir (yes, you to can own a Renoir sculpture toilet paper holder). The business plan, quoted in the Art Newspaper article, stated that the merchandise would be aimed at “the most Neanderthal of art fans.”

The sale of the archive was made with the blessing of one of Renoir's grandsons, who is named in the business plan. Unfortunately, the "Renoir archive includes letters from Rodin, Monet and Manet, the artist’s Légion d’Honneur medal as well as hundreds of photographs and letters, and even a dossier on fake Renoirs."

The second article came from today's Wall Street Journal. You have to register with the WSJ to read the article, but again, I will summarize. The article was titled, "Perishable Art: Investing
In Works That May Not Last Collectors Struggle to Preserve, Insure Contemporary Pieces; Replacing the Dead Shark." Many works of art are now being questioned about their "staying power. From the obvious "Puppy" discussed in the article, made from fresh flowers, to works of art by "established" artists who may have used materials that may not stand up to the test of time. It hasn't seemed to bother the collectors, from the article, "Aging and wear affect all art, but the ephemeral nature of some contemporary art has become more problematic as values have soared. Prices of contemporary and postwar art shot up 44% in 2006 and 19% annually over the past five years, while art prices overall rose nearly 12% a year from 2001 to 2006, according to"

The article continues, discussing the even more problematic use of electronic mediums in art, video, audio, computer, etc. What is it we say in our profession? Migrate, Migrate, Migrate. So insure the work of art, right? Uh, no. "Fine-arts policies also often contain a provision for "loss of value" that occurs when a piece cannot be completely restored to pristine condition after a covered claim. If a $2 million painting is worth just $1.5 million after a tear in the canvas, the insurer pays for the repair plus the $500,000 difference in price. Some fine-arts policies also cover up to 150% of the insured value to allow for appreciation." Put your elbow through your Picasso at your own risk, there, Mr. Wynn.

Art is nice, and I would like to own more of it. But as is once again painfully clear, I can't afford it. Well, maybe the art, just not the insurance.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"Have Your Pets Spayed or Neutered"

With those words, Bob Barker will leave television this week. After thirty-five years as host of the highest-rated daytime, and longest-running, game show, The Price is Right, Barker is retiring. I suppose it's time. The man is 83! It however makes me sad that I never got to "come on down" and then get to kiss Bob on the cheek. Sorry, folks, the man is a legend, I really might have had to give him a little peck. The closest I came was in two trips to California, unfortunately scheduled at times when the show was not taping - damn Summer break!

CBS will celebrate the man tomorrow night, on May 17, with a prime time show. Be sure to watch, you know you want to.

VH1's show, "Best Week Ever" has posted its "Top 10 Things We'll Miss About Bob Barker." I include them here as well. And I'll point out they want to kiss him, too (#7).
10. The $100 bill he kept in his pocket. When someone in the opening game bid the exact right price, Bob would reach into his pocket and produce a reward of 100 bucks. So Grandfatherly, so warm. We imagine the bill smells like Werther’s Originals and pipe tobacco.

9. The Most Feminine Microphone in the Biz. It takes a real man to use a long, skinny mic like that.

8. The Ol’ “Let’s Check If You’re A Winner Fake-Out” Trick. Bob waits until the height of anticipation, leans in the hit the revealing button to see if the contestant is a winner, then takes this opportunity to find out where the player is from, how many kids he/she has, etc. The audience groans, and fantastic television is made. This trick is most often employed during “The Dice Game” and “Spelling Bee.”

7. Female contestants kissing Bob on the cheek. We long to feel the leathery creviced surface of his face brush against our quivering lips.

6. His laugh. Sure, most of the time it’s done politely. But ever once in a while, a contestant would catch him off guard, and he would genuinely crack-up.

5. Bob and his Plinko Stick. Back before “modern technology” created a clog-free Plinko board, every now and again one of the oversized purple chips would get stuck between the pegs. Such an emergency forced Bob to retrieve his Unclogging Stick (a long white baton), and finagle the chip from its Plinko prison. And he did it with ease, folks.

4. His G.I. Joe Helmet Hair.

3. Bob losing his patience. Sure, he’s a game show host, but he’s also a game show proctor. He’s the captain of the pricing ship! Meaning sometimes he has to hurry people along and ends up losing his patience. Often seen when people have difficulty coming up with a bid during the Showcase Showdown (”James, we need your bid.”)

2. The Creepy Old Grandpa You’re Glad Isn’t Your Grandpa. You couldn’t compile a list of Bob Barker related memories without bringing up the famous sexual harassment suit brought about by one of his Barker’s Beauties. In a way, it kinda made us love the creepy old dirty bastard, though we were always grateful to keep our Barker-related fantasies filed under “Imaginations Only.”

1. Bob’s Signature Sign-Off. We hate to think of what the future holds for animal population control without Bob’s trademarked sign-off, “Have Your Pets Spayed or Neutered.” Will the new host adopt this phrase? And if so, will it feel completely phony? But what of the animals? Is anybody thinking of the animals?!?!
The Washington Post had a big article in last week's paper about the "cult" of Bob Barker. I would join that cult. As the article talks about, there is a whole generation of Americans who don't know television without him. How many days did you stay home sick from school, making sure that you managed to find yourself on the couch by 11:00am to hear those immortal words, COME ON DOWN!

Oh, did you want archival content? Did I mention he's 83!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Monday's Recipe: Hoecakes

My wife and I have enjoyed trips to the South with our best friends, one of who hails from Savannah, Georgia. One cannot travel to Savannah without enjoying the great Southern cuisine that can be found there. This cuisine is personified in the concoctions of Paula Deen. Her restaurant in Savannah offers a spectacular lunch buffet. As noted here before, I like to eat and will often do so to a point where I inflict pain upon myself. However, during one visit to Lady and Sons, it was the hoecakes that did in our best friend. Later, it was the Krispy Kreme that did in my wife. Pepto, anyone?

Enjoy this recipe from Paula for hoecakes, but please, eat responsibly.


  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 cup self-rising cornmeal, or from a mix (recommended: Aunt Jemima's)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or bacon grease
  • Oil, butter, or clarified margarine, for frying

Mix well all ingredients, except for the frying oil. Heat the frying oil or butter in a medium or large skillet over medium heat. Drop the batter, by full tablespoons, into the hot skillet. Use about 2 tablespoons of batter per hoecake. Fry each hoecake until brown and crisp; turn each hoecake with a spatula, and then brown the other side. With a slotted spoon, remove each hoecake to drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Leftover batter will keep in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Weekend Wrapup

A couple of random observations from the weekend.

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to usher at Ford's Theatre again. Devoted readers will recall that I volunteer there during the year. Saturday was a special treat in that while the play season is coming to a close, Ford's has, for the second year, presented a 40-minute play dramatizing the events of April 14, 1865, called "One Destiny." Two actors take to the stage, one playing John Ford, owner of the theater, and the second playing Harry Hawk, an actor who was on stage when John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln. The two interact with one another taking on the personalities of individuals who were at the theater that fateful day. It was very well done.

Two sporting events went late into the Sunday morning, both after beginning on Saturday night. On the ice, the Buffalo Sabres fell again to the Ottawa Senators in game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, in double overtime. While I will point out for C in DC's benefit that the Sabres were up two games to none over the Rangers in the last series, she shouldn't get her hopes up. As I write this, the Ducks and the Red Wings are skating in the third period tied at 3. Another overtime game, anyone?

The Washington Nationals are having a tough season. There are few that will debate that. However, if the Nats could manage to play the Florida Marlins for the rest of the season, things might turn around for them. The Nats concluded a weekend series with the Marlins, taking all three games. Saturday night's game was delayed for several hours as thunderstorms crossed the DC area, concluding the game around 2:00am Sunday morning. The Nationals are now 12 and 25 with the Atlanta Braves coming to town this week. The Orioles will come to DC for interleague play next weekend also. One assumes that reality will return to RFK. On a related note about losing, the Washington Post reported about the President's race that is featured at every home game. Basically, the four presidents featured on Mount Rushmore (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt), have a race in RFK. Teddy Roosevelt has never won. Will he ever?

I got to watch some Tiger-free golf this weekend. The Players Championship, played at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedre Beach, Florida, was won by one of my favorites, Phil Mickelson. Tiger finished tied for 37th place. I don't feel bad for him. I don't like him. Sawgrass contains what most agree is the most terrifying shot in golf, the 17th. Kids, don't try this at home. I have had the opportunity to "play" this hole twice before, once at the World Golf Village and then at Renditions Golf Course, where the hole is replicated. If the pros put it in the water with great regularity, do you really need to ask what I did?

I also broke out the sticks today and got to hit my first golf balls of the season. Yes, I know it's Mother's Day, but my wife is wonderful and she allowed me the opportunity to play nine holes today. It is but one of the countless reasons I love her.

Which, brings me to today, Mother's Day. My mother passed away last year, this is my second mother's day without her. I miss her a lot. Wherever you are, Mom, Happy Mother's Day. I am very happy to be able to celebrate Mother's Day with my wife, who is the best mother around. My son and I are very lucky to have her and for everything she does I say thank you on his behalf. We love you very much.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Once Again into the Hockey Breach!

I know, I know. I promised no more hockey. As my faithful readers will note, I have given up on the hockey season, with the departure of the Rangers in the semi-finals. I can now pick up my golf clubs and join the Rangers on the course (still waiting for the first "thwack" of the season) and look after the Yankees and Nationals as they try not to suck. Well at least the Yankees have managed to pull their butts out of the cellar.

But anyway, C in DC asked for an opportunity to let you all know that, in her world, hockey continues. Here is her take on the Eastern Conference finals. As she notes, she doesn't really care about the West, if only to note she wants the team that Buffalo can more easily beat.

C, take it away . . .
Hello, hockey fans. Despite Brave Astronaut’s lack of interest in this subject, he has kindly allowed me to guest blog about the Eastern Conference finals. Readers of his blog will know that I am a Sabres fan, and so will not be surprised that I predict – going against the common wisdom – that the Sabres will win, in 7.

I think that this will be a hard fought series. Ottawa and Buffalo have a history. Buffalo knocked the then President’s Trophy winning Ottawa out of the running in last year’s playoffs. Ottawa is still bitter about it. They played each other 8 times this season, with Ottawa taking 5 of them. There’s also that small matter of the brawl in February, which is fueling both teams.

In my mind, this series will come down to three factors.
  • Control. Who will play their own game better? These teams have similar styles, which promises for some interesting hockey. Whoever takes control of the game sooner will have the advantage.
  • Endurance. In the playoffs so far, Buffalo has noticeably lost energy towards the end of the game. If they can keep their energy, they will pull this off.
  • Hunger. Lindy Ruff has already begun trying to position Buffalo as the underdogs, despite being the number 1 team going into this series. Plus, any team from Buffalo is always the underdog. And they’re still smarting from last year’s loss to the ‘Canes. Ottawa has a history of being the underdog. Which one of these junkyard dogs has been starving longer?

As for the Western Conference finals, I just want the team to win that Buffalo will have better odds against in the finals. Brave Astronaut and ADR seem to think this would be the Red Wings. I have to agree, mostly because I can’t stand the idea of the Ducks winning.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A Profile in Courage

In Social Studies class back in junior high school, I remember watching a black and white film that dramatized the John F. Kennedy book, Profiles in Courage. One of those profiles was of Edmund G. Ross, a Senator from Kansas. Ross was elected to fill the seat of James H. Lane, serving from 1866 to 1871, when he was defeated for reelection. Ross died on this date (May 7) 100 years ago.

One of the likely reasons he was defeated for reelection was his involvement in the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson. Ross's papers are held at the University of New Mexico, which is where Ross died in 1907. In 1882, he was appointed by President Grover Cleveland as Governor of the New Mexico Territory. During the impeachment trial, Ross, a Republican, sided with those for acquittal of President Johnson. Johnson was acquitted by one vote.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Recipe for a Queen

In honor of Her Majesty Elizabeth II's visit to the colonies, I was doing some poking around and found this recipe, created for her jubilee in 2002. Tonight, the Windsors and the Bushes are breaking bread at a white-tie dinner at the White House. I hope somebody tells George which fork to use.

The recipe comes from the following website. God Save the Queen.

"Fifty years ago, Coronation chicken was invented by chefs Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume of Le Cordon Bleu School in London as a delicacy to mark the celebrations of 1953. This year, to mark The Queen's Golden Jubilee, Royal chefs at Buckingham Palace have created a new chicken dish which The Queen has tasted and approved.

The dish combines pieces of lightly cooked cold chicken with a fresh, tangy dressing. The delicious concoction was included in picnic baskets given to guests at the two Queen's Concerts at Buckingham Palace on 1 and 3 June."


Preparation time: 20 min, plus 2-3 hours marinating.
Cooking time: 25 min. Serves: 4.

  • 4 chicken breast fillets, about 18 oz (500g) in total
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 lime quartered

For marinade:

  • Half lime, juiced and zest grated
  • 3cm fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For dressing:

  • 3fl oz (100ml) creme fraiche
  • 6 tbsp mayonnaise
  • Half lime, juice and zest grated
  • 2in (5cm) piece fresh root ginger

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a shallow dish. Add the chicken and turn to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

To make dressing, place creme fraiche, mayonnaise, lime juice and zest in a bowl. Peel and grate the ginger, then twist in a piece of muslin, or press through a sieve to extract the juice. Add 2 tsp of the juice to the dressing. Stir, cover and chill to allow the flavours to develop.

Scrape marinade from the chicken and pat dry with kitchen paper. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and place in a roasting tin. Drizzle over olive oil.

Roast in oven (pre-heated to 190 degrees Celsius / 375 degrees Fahrenheit / Gas Mark 5) for 25 minutes, baste occasionally until the chicken is cooked through. Leave to cool completely, then cut into bite-sized pieces.

Combine the chicken and dressing, adjust the seasoning, and refrigerate. Serve with a pasta salad, lime quarters and chopped flat leaf parsley.

If you wish to recreate the banquet held at Buckingham Palace after the Coronation in 1953, you may be interested in the menu:

  • Consommé Royale (Chicken consommé garnished with cubes of royale)
  • Filet de Boeuf Mascotte (Fillet of beef garnished with quarters of artichoke bottom tossed in butter with cocotte potatoes and slices of truffle)
  • Salade
  • Glace à la Mangue (Mango ice cream)

Sunday, May 6, 2007

And now we return you to your regularly scheduled blog

I had said all along the Rangers-Sabres series would only go six games. I just had the wrong team on the winning side. The Rangers went down to defeat to the Buffalo Sabres today at Madison Square Garden, losing the series 4 games to 2. Buffalo advances to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they will face off against the Ottawa Senators. The Senators dispatched the Devils in five games, finishing off the Devils yesterday.

There is but one series left to be determined. The Red Wings cruised to victory yesterday and lead their series against the San Jose Sharks 3-2. The winner of that series will face off against the Anaheim Ducks.

In conclusion, while I might report briefly on the conclusion of the "Quest for the Cup," please be advised I no longer am interested in the outcome. Except to say, NO Ducks. My money (and hopes) is on a Senators-Red Wings final.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Typing from my knees

Too weak to stand. Luckily, HEART can handle it I hope

Statistic I like at 56 minutes: When tied 2-2, the team that wins game 5 wins the series 80% of the time.

Statistic I hate after 60 minutes of hockey: See above.

And so, to Sunday . . .

Five Years Today

Today is my wedding anniversary. Taking a page from Restaurant Gal, who just wrote a beautiful post about her son graduating from college, I wanted to take a moment to thank the woman I love for five wonderful years together.

I met my wife eleven years ago this month at a professional meeting (we both do the same kind of work). At the time, I had no idea my life would turn out the way it did. At that meeting, she led a workshop in which I was participating. We became friends and would see each other at meetings, finally getting together at a meeting in Fall of 2000. I moved to the DC area in February 2002 and we were married in May (hence the anniversary today).

Both my wife and I were married before. We say that anyone can get married, the challenge is staying married. I remember very clearly at the family dinner the night before we were married saying to the assembled group how happy I was. We were also taking the opportunity to celebrate my parent's 50 years together and I said that I hoped to be able to make that same mark. It was greeted with laughs, but my meaning was only that reaching 50 years would largely be a factor of time not of desire. The mind is willing but the bodies may not hold up. When you jump back into the wedding pool later in life, reaching such milestones become more challenging, but I'm committed to giving it a go.

As a guy, I used to find it difficult to define "love." The two of us were walking down a street one day and she stopped me, turned me toward her and told me, "Love is caring more about someone else, than you do yourself." I used to say, "I love you" in a previous life and not sure if I meant it, but no more. I love my wife more and more every day for her and my life is complete with her as a part of it. We have brought a new life into the world and he is a wonderful product of our love for each other. The fact that he looks a lot like her makes me love her all the more.

There are times when she and I will encounter other couples squabbling, bickering, or the like. My wife and I don't fight. She will say that we bicker occasionally, but I'll say she's wrong :) I will look at those other couples and think to myself, why are they doing that? Don't they know how great it is to be in love? Why can't everyone feel the way we do. It helps that neither my wife nor I can be mad at each other, the love is too strong.

So, today, as we celebrate one-tenth of my parent's mark, I thank my wife for her love, friendship, support, personality, and character. I am a very lucky man and I don't care who knows it, so that's why I'm sharing her with you.

Oh, and by the way, tonight is Game 5 for the Rangers and the Sabres. There's that heart and tradition thing again. Let's go Rangers.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

More Issues for Archives

Last week, I posted about the flood that hit the David Sarnoff Archives in Princeton, NJ. On Monday, Washington DC was struck by two three-alarm fires in one day. The first struck the historic Eastern Market, gutting a building designed by renowned DC architect Adolph Cluss. This press release discusses the city's plans to rebuild and how you can help. New DC Mayor Adrian Fenty has promised, "Eastern Market will be restored to 100% of its architectural and historic splendor." Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's representative to Congress has also promised to seek federal funding to help bring back the Eastern Market. The outdoor flea market will be open this weekend.

The second fire on Monday ravaged the Georgetown Public Library, a branch of the DC Public Library system. The building was under renovation at the time. The library is home to the Peabody Room, which contains a large collection of archival materials pertaining to Georgetown and early DC History. The DC Public Library Foundation has created a special fund to help restore the building and save the materials from the Peabody Room. Please read more about it here and help if you can.

Please contact me if you have any questions and I can answer them or point you in the direction of someone who can.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Mark Your Calendars

Brave Astronaut said it all along . . .

Rangers in six

See you Sunday!

A Date to Reach New Heights

As I write this, the New York Rangers and the Buffalo Sabres are between the second and third periods. The Rangers lead 1-0. Versus just had a brief piece on the Stanley Cup, the New York Rangers, and Madison Square Garden. It is alleged that one of the reasons the Rangers were so cursed between Cup wins (1940-1994) was that when the Rangers won the cup in 1940, the team burned the mortgage for the Garden in the bowl of the Cup. But heart and tradition are still doing it for me. I will admit here publicly, something I mentioned to a friend this afternoon, that in each occasion when the Rangers won the cup, they also won the President's Trophy, given to the team with the best record. You may note the Rangers are currently playing the 2007 President's Trophy winners. But, still, Rangers in 6!

Today also marks the 76th anniversary of the dedication of the Empire State Building in New York City. Once again the tallest building in the city, the 102-story tower has had a long and storied history in New York. It too, has heart and tradition.

Let's go Rangers!