Monday, July 30, 2007

Recipe for a Rat: Ratatouille

My mother-in-law is in town, helping the Brave Astronaut family out as our nanny is on vacation this week. This is also the week our air conditioning unit has decided to die [GASP!]. So we now are seeking options to find cool all week. One of the summer movies out this year features a rat who really wants to be a chef. I resisted a ratatouille recipe because I have had it before (my French heritage and all) and was never all that impressed. Also, summer is not the time to be posting stew recipes, but here it is nonetheless. I think my mother-in-law is taking SoBA (Son of Brave Astronaut) to see Remy the Rat tomorrow.

A recent issue of the Washington Post Food section contained an article on the French staple. A search for "ratatouille" on yields 15 hits, but the article points out, there is no limit to the variety of vegetables you can throw into the pot.

This recipe is also a good option for my vegetarian friends and as the article points out, is cheap and good for college kids or anyone looking to whip something up for not a lot of money or preparation time.

Have fun in the kitchen - but please wait for the weather to break? Please?

Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille
(The author says that overcooking the tomato sauce is better than undercooking it. The finished ratatouille keeps well in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 4 to 5 days. It can be served hot, warm or cold. 6 side-dish servings or 4 main-course servings)

  • 1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into very thin strips (julienne)
  • 1 small, skin-on eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 15 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/3 cup capers or chopped kalamata olives
  • 4 sprigs thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
In a large bowl, toss the zucchini or squash, fennel, eggplant and cherry tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the oil, salt to taste and the black pepper. Spread on the baking sheet in a single layer and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until softened and golden brown.

Meanwhile, char the peppers over a stovetop flame until they are black on all sides. Place in a bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap for 15 minutes. Peel and seed the peppers, then cut into 1/2-inch strips. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 7 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the diced tomatoes, the capers or olives and the thyme leaves, stirring to combine. Cook over medium-low heat for about 35 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the roasted vegetables and peppers, stirring gently to combine. Adjust the seasoning as necessary. Serve hot, warm or cold.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Record for the Ages - Part II

Last night I went to the Orioles-Yankees game. Despite a rally in the ninth inning, the Yankees could not squeeze out a victory. Roger Clemens, a guaranteed first ballot Hall of Famer, was outpitched by a rookie Orioles pitcher. The Orioles have now won four straight. During the game, the jumbotron in Camden Yards featured highlights of Cal Ripken who will head to Cooperstown today to join the immortals.

So, today is Induction Sunday. For fans of baseball, you all know what that means. It is the day that the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will bring two more greats into the Hall of Fame. This year Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, Jr., will attain legendary status.

Gwynn, "Mr. Padre," who spent his entire career with the San Diego Padres, enters the hall on his first year of eligibility, named on 97.6% of the ballots, the first player to join the hall wearing the interlocking SD on the cap. (Players elected to the hall may choose what cap to wear, if they have played for more than one team.) Gwynn amassed 3,141 hits over his 20-year career. He was named to 15 All-Star teams, won eight batting titles, and boasts a .338 lifetime batting average. In the strike-shortened 1984 season, Gwynn average was .394 and may believe he may have broken Ted William's record had the season been complete.

The Baltimore Orioles "Iron Man," Cal Ripken received 537 votes of the 545 ballots (98.5%). He is most know for "The Streak." Ripken broke the record of most consecutive games held by Lou Gehrig (2130) playing in 2632 games for the Baltimore Orioles. The Streak took sixteen years, from his first game on May 30, 1982 until his finally said stop on September 20, 1998. Ripken is also a 19-time All-Star and holds a lifetime average of .276 and 431 career home runs.

Another Oriole was the only one closest to taking a shot at the Streak. Miguel Tejada, until he was injured earlier this season, had played in 1152 consecutive games. He would have had to play every single game for the next nine years to catch Ripken. The next closest now is Juan Pierre of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who better pace himself - he would need fourteen more seasons to surpass Ripken.

There are other records in baseball that will likely never be broken, but Ripken's tops the list. Here are two others that I think (and others agree) will likely be untouched for years to come. I am leaving off a few to get your brain juices flowing to see if you have other thoughts.
  • Cy Young's 511 wins (not in this day and age - pitchers are now considered "too delicate" to last that long)

  • Joe DiMaggio's 56 game consecutive hit streak (you hear about players coming close, and this would be the one that might fall)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Shark Week on the Discovery Channel!

"You're gonna need a bigger boat." By far one of the greatest movie lines ever. It appears in Jaws, spoken by Roy Scheider. Later in the movie, Robert Shaw's character, Quint, relates the story of the USS Indianapolis [This is a really good site dedicated to the story of the ill-fated boat and crew]. The story is the first entry in the 20th Anniversary "Shark Week" festivities on the Discovery Channel. The documentary is narrated by Richard Dreyfuss, who also appeared in Jaws. One of the best things about the story that Quint relates, is that is was revealed later that Robert Shaw was drunk most of the time, including when he did this scene, and improvised most of the dialogue. The soliloquy appears below.

The story of the Indianapolis was also documented in a book, In Harm's Way, which I read and highly recommend. And here's your mandatory archival content. A few years ago, a twelve-year old boy from Pensacola, Florida, began to look into the incident. He had seen Jaws and wanted to know more about the Indianapolis. As it turned out the captain of the Indianapolis, Charles McVay, was found to be negligent and tried for "hazarding his ship by failing to zigzag." He never recovered professionally and personally, and took his life in 1970. The 12-year old, Hunter Scott, took up the cause of McVay, and was instrumental in getting the captain's name cleared in 2001.
"Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian to Leyte... just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes.

Didn't see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that when you're in the water, Chief? You tell by looking from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn't know, was our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn't even list us overdue for a week.

Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin', so we formed ourselves into tight groups. You know, it was kinda like old squares in the battle like you see in the calendar named "The Battle of Waterloo" and the idea was: shark comes to the nearest man, that man he starts poundin' and hollerin' and screamin' and sometimes the shark go away. . . but sometimes he wouldn't go away. Sometimes that shark he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about a shark . . . he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living . . . until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then . . . ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'.

The ocean turns red, and despite all the poundin' and the hollerin', they all come in and they. . . rip you to pieces. You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don't know how many sharks, maybe a thousand. I know how many men, they averaged six an hour.

On Thursday morning, Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from
Cleveland. Baseball player. Boatswain's mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. Bobbed up, down in the water just like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he'd been bitten in half below the waist.

Noon, the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us. He swung in low and he saw us. . . he was a young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper. Anyway, he saw us and he come in low and three hours later a big fat PBY comes down and starts to pick us up.

You know that was the time I was most frightened . . . waitin' for my turn. I'll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went in the water; 316 men come out and the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Record for the Ages - Part I

While [some] people wait for the Steroid King to break the Home Run King's record, sure to happen soon, another milestone was surpassed in the past week. Since the Philadelphia Phillies began play in 1883, they have lost a lot of games. Last week, they lost their 10,000th. So far, no team has sucked more, yet.

The Phillies have only one World Series Championship, which they won in 1980, although they have been to the series five other times (losing to the Red Sox in 1915, the Yankees in 1950, the Orioles in 1983, and the Blue Jays in 1993).

Closing in on the Phillies, albeit with some room to breathe, the Braves with 9,681 defeats. Over their history in three cities (Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta) the Braves have lost a lot of games all across the county. At least the Phillies never left Philly. Third place goes to the longtime bridesmaid, the Chicago Cubs, at 9,425.

If you are wondering, considering the season the Nationals are having, they have a ways to go before they reach the heights of the venerable Phillies. They hover around 7,400 losses. From 1886 to 1899, four DC teams (Nats, Senators, Statesmen) racked up 1,241 losses in three different leagues. The American League Washington Senators (1901-1960) ("first in our hearts, last in the American League") lost 4,864 before leaving for Minnesota. The expansion Senators (see: the Texas Rangers) lost just over 1,000 games before running for Texas. Losses by the current Nationals sits around 230 since the team arrived from Montreal. So we've got that going for us.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An Internet Quiz for the Rest of Us

I found this quiz on another library/archives blog I read. The first time I took it I came out as "Les Miserables," by Victor Hugo. Man, you change one answer and this is what you get? There are evidently 64 different options. Meredith, the owner/author of the above blog came out as Howard Zinn's "A Peoples History of the US."

You're Catch-22!
by Joseph Heller

Incredibly witty and funny, you have a taste for irony in all that you see. It seems that life has put you in perpetually untenable situations, and your sense of humor is all that gets you through them. These experiences have also made you an ardent pacifist, though you present your message with tongue sewn into cheek. You could coin a phrase that replaces the word "paradox" for millions of people.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Recipe: Carrot Cake

This recipe comes from and is in the "cakes" section of our homemade cookbook. I like carrot cake and have a fair amount of carrots in the crisper. Maybe I should whip up a cake. But first I have to deal with some overripe bananas.

Carrot Cake with Maple-Cream Cheese Icing

For the cake:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups grated peeled carrots
  • 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger

For the icing

  • 10 ounces cream cheese (such as Philadelphia), room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 12 walnut halves (for garnish)

Preparation for the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans. Line bottom of pans with waxed paper. Butter and flour paper; tap out excess flour. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and ginger. Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Peel off waxed paper; cool cakes completely.

For the icing: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat at low speed until well blended. Beat in maple syrup. Chill until just firm enough to spread, 30 minutes.

Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread with 3/4 cup icing. Top with second layer. Spread remaining icing over entire cake. Arrange walnut halves around top edge. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I'm Back - What Did You Do?

I am back home after another fun-filled weekend. On Thursday night, I attended a Washington Nationals baseball game, where the Nats pulled out a victory in the bottom of the 10th inning. This coming on the heels of the extra inning victory of the O's last weekend, I have been getting my money's worth of baseball games. There are a few baseball posts coming up soon (Barry Bonds-related and 10,000 losses for the Phillies) and they will appear soon. Of course, next weekend with be the Yanks and the O's at Camden Yards, always a good time.

Friday night, my family traveled to Wilmington, Delaware to spend the weekend with my sister-in-law's family. My wife and sister-in-law were going on to their family reunion on Saturday and the boys were playing golf at Bulle Rock, recently home to the LPGA Championship. My sister-in-law's husband and I were being treated to a gift certificate from my mother-in-law for a round of golf at the first-rate course. While we both agreed our games were nowhere near the caliber of the ladies who had recently played there, we had an outstanding time. I would like to say I scored well, but let's just say I scored more than the temperature and less than it normally costs to play there. The highlight for me was chipping into the hole on two holes. It's funny how you can post a lower score when you don't have to use your putter.

Today we spent part of a lazy Sunday before heading home (avoiding at all costs the toll in Delaware and the traffic that comes with it) and making a stop at the home of OSG, checking in on LSG. He is very cute. My son got to meet him for the first time and was very good with him. This certainly bodes well for the sibling that is on the way, although he isn't aware of that, nor for that matter are many of the readers of this blog. Do you read all the way to the end of my posts? I guess I will find out shortly.

Back to work tomorrow and I need to find a recipe to post. Perhaps a good cake recipe? I'll have to go looking.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

So Did You Vote?

In March, I pointed you all to a website and asked you to go and vote for your favorite "new" Wonders of the World. Well the results are in.

Here are the "New" Seven Wonders of the World:
  1. The Great Wall of China

  2. Petra (Jordan)

  3. Christ Redeemer (Brazil)

  4. Machu Picchu (Peru)

  5. Chichén Itzá, Mexico

  6. The Roman Colosseum (Italy)

  7. The Taj Mahal (India)
And the voting continues. The site is now devoted to nominating candidates for the "New 7 Wonders of Nature." Nominations will be taken until August 8, 2008, (08/08/08) at which time a panel of experts will come up with a list of 21 wonders to vote and elect the 7 wonders of nature. You may not nominate the Northern Lights or the Gulf Stream, but Kilimanjaro and the Great Barrier Reef are fine. It has to "exist." So get out there and pick your favorite "nature thing."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"The Movies Go to Washington"

On Friday, the Washington Post Weekend section had an article about movies about our Nation's Capital. The article discussed briefly the National Treasure movies, including the upcoming sequel, "National Treasure: Book of Secrets." You can see the trailer here - and there will be an outing when the movie opens in late December. If you want a seat, you let me know. I arranged an outing for about 100 people for the first film, so I am certainly looking forward to doing it a second time.

This blog and others have been discussing movies a lot lately, although the focus has been on comedies. The article had a list of the "The DC Dozen: 12 Films to Catch." Here's the list and my take on them.
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) - I love this movie. But I am a sucker for Capra movies and Jimmy Stewart. The movie premiered at DAR Constitution Hall, with many members of Congress and the press in attendance. Some walked out in the middle of the movie. Interestingly enough, some Members of Congress took offense at the depiction of corrupt.
  • All the President's Men (1976) - The movie that told the story of taking down a President is just really good, gritty drama. I love how Dustin Hoffman smokes throughout the movie, including walking into someone's house and helping himself to cigarettes on the coffee table, like they're mints.

  • The American President (1995) - Precursor to "The West Wing," Aaron Sorkin puts Michael Douglas in the Oval Office and Annette Bening in his bed. Nothing wrong with that at all. Except it bugs Mrs. Brave Astronaut to no end when Annette Bening "gets stuck on DuPont Circle" coming from Capitol Hill to the White House. If you live here, it probably bugs you, too.

  • The Exorcist (1973) - Never a fan of this movie, but I used to drive past the steps on my way home from work. I could see where that would hurt.

  • Born Yesterday (1950) - Never saw this one.

  • Advise & Consent (1962) - It's a great book (by Allen Drury) and a really good movie.

  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) - Do you think if this were to happen today . . . and we were given a choice of "world peace or obliteration," what do you think a certain someone would choose?

  • Dr. Strangelove (1964) - "There's no fighting in the War Room!" - it's a great quote, but not really a Washington movie (not filmed here).

  • Broadcast News (1987) - Taking place in the Washington bureau of a major network - it's not really like that - is it?

  • No Way Out (1987) - Before I moved to Washington, I had no problem with a Metro stop in Georgetown - hey, it made sense, why wouldn't there be? And hey, I might have a little thing for Sean Young.

  • Being There (1979) - Hey, Peter Sellers gets two movies on the list? What's up with that?

  • Slam (1998) - A very hard look at the African-American experience in Washington, DC - it also features Marion Barry as a judge, now there's a twist.

Missing from the list is one of my favorites (and a really great comedy!), Dave. Filmed in Washington and around the region, it's a great movie! There's also the Clint Eastwood movie "In the Line of Fire," where Eastwood's character plays the piano in the bar of the Old Ebbitt Grill. Then there is Wedding Crashers (again, funny) and another good drama, Enemy of the State.

Thoughts? Comments?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Recipe: Pistachio Shortbreads

Here's a cookie recipe from the new issue of Bon Appetit. You gotta love the pistachio nut. The recipe makes lots, so send extras home (if there are any) with guests.
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup natural unsalted pistachios, lightly toasted, chopped (you can get them at Trader Joes)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix flour, powdered sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter, pistachios, egg yolk, and vanilla. Using on/off turns, mix until moist ball forms. Transfer dough to work surface. Form each dough half into 8x1 1/4 inch log (if dough is too soft, chill until firm, about 30 minutes). Wrap logs in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. (This can be made 5 days ahead, keep chilled.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Slice logs into 1/4-inch thick rounds, rolling log after every few slices to retain round shape. Place rounds on ungreased baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Bake shortbread until barely golden, about 18 minutes. Cool shortbread on baking sheets. (Shortbread can be made up to 4 days ahead. Store shortbread in airtight container at room temperature.)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Baseball with Anna

I went to my first Orioles game of the season yesterday. It was an opportunity to help out a fellow blogger, Anna von Schurman, who has an extensive list of things she wishes to accomplish. So this Brave Astronaut got tickets for me and Mrs. Brave Astronaut and Anna and the Dude for a game at Camden Yards (number 19 on her list).

We started off our day with a visit to see OSG and Mrs. OSG, who brought LSG into this world on Thursday. My goodness, what a cute baby! From there, we traveled to Baltimore to meet Anna and the Dude. Once there, I left two extra tickets at Will Call for a nice girl who bought them from me on eBay (Thanks sparklineyes!) and then the four of us took the Water Taxi over to Fells Point for a great dinner at Bertha's Mussels.

We took the water taxi back and settled into our seats in left field. These seats are a favorite of mine and we were in the second row and had two home run balls land near us. The game was mostly White Sox until the ninth inning, when the Birds managed to tie it up on a few gritty singles and a wild pitch. Off to "Free Baseball!" In the bottom of the tenth, the O's managed to pull it out with a few more singles and won the game 7-6.

I will return to the Yard in two weeks to see the Yankees take on the Orioles. An interesting trivia note - a capacity crowd at Camden Yards is just over 48,000 people. When the Yankees come to town, the Birds have set attendance records in Camden Yards, putting more than 50,000 people there, including those standing out on the Flag Court. "It's 'cause the other teams can't stop staring at those damn pinstripes."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tanned, Rested, and Ready

[you can read the full press release about this event here.]

In 1968, Richard Nixon returned from the political wilderness, declaring himself a candidate for the presidency. Of course, he buried Hubert Humphrey in November, reelected in 1972, until he was forced to resign the office in August 1974, amid the Watergate scandal. The 38th President of the United States began a long rehabilitation after leaving the White House. He even became a respected elder statesman, prior to his death in 1994.

Yesterday, July 12, 2007 (34 years after the last Presidential conversation recorded on the secret taping system took place - and the anniversary of the fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis), the National Archives and Records Administration took formal control of the Richard M. Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, California. The Richard Nixon Library and Museum joins the other 11 presidential libraries in the National Archives system.

The ceremony yesterday also allowed staff to highlight 11 1/2 hours of newly-released tape-recorded conversations revealing Nixon's thoughts on the 1972 Presidential and Congressional elections and his plans for the reorganization of his administration in its second term. The materials in the library are available due to a deed of gift from the private Nixon Foundation to the National Archives.

So, love him or hate him, Nixon's been given a new place to continue to work on his image, even from beyond the grave. To paraphrase New York City's energetic mayor, Ed Koch, "How's He Doin'?"

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lady Bird Johnson, 1912-2007

[There is no shortage of testimonials about Lady Bird Johnson. The majority of the biographical information below comes from the Lady Bird Johnson Final Tribute page, being hosted on the website for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.]

A significant loss for our country this week. With the passing of Lady Bird Johnson, America is down a first lady, and a real lady at that. Lady Bird Johnson died this week at her home in Austin, Texas. In failing health for several years, she was 94 years old, but that does not earn her the record as the longest-lived First Lady. That record is held by Bess Truman, who died in 1982 at the age of 97. Lady Bird lived nearly 25 years longer than her husband, who died of a heart attack in 1973.

Lady Bird inspired the passage of the Beautification Act of 1965, which made environmentalism a top priority in the United States. The Johnsons had a true political marriage, serving as Lyndon Johnson's closest advisor as he rose from Congressman to Senator to Vice President to President.

Claudia Alta Taylor's mother died when she was five years old. She graduated high school and enrolled in the University of Texas at Austin, graduating with two Bachelor's degrees, one in journalism and the second in History.

Lady Bird met a tall, ambitious man when Lyndon Johnson was a Congressional secretary visiting Austin on official business. They were engaged just seven weeks after their first date and married in November 1934. Mrs. Johnson recalled that “sometimes Lyndon simply [took] your breath away.” Her life with Lyndon Johnson was one of such achievement in politics, business and philanthropy it left those around them breathless, too.

Lady Bird was a tireless campaigner and political "operative." While Lyndon served in World War II, she ran his Congressional office singlehandedly. In 1960, she covered 35,000 miles for the Kennedy/Johnson ticket. When Lyndon ran for election in his own right in 1964, she campaigned independently on a whistle-stop train throughout the South for the ticket.

There is the indelible image of a grim-faced Lady Bird Johnson standing next to her husband on the fateful November day in 1963 when Lyndon Johnson became the 36th President of the United States after the assassination of John Kennedy. There was a recent exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, DC, "Eyewitness to History," in which Lady Bird captured her thoughts on the days events. You can read them here. You can hear her words here.

There has been a fair amount of archival content in the news this week. More to come tomorrow. For now, rest well, Lady Bird.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Update on the All-Star Game

Yes, so the American League won again. Yawn. Now only if I had read this blog yesterday. It would have made the game so much more exciting.

The All-Star Game Drinking Game
Separate into two teams, National League and American League. If you can't decide, the older drinkers are the National League and the younger ones are the junior circuit.
Team Rules (only drink when these apply to your team)
  • Two drinks for every time a new player enters the game.
  • One drink every time your team gets an out.
  • Three drinks if it's a double play. Six if it's a triple play.
  • Two drinks for every nice catch. (Multiple replays)
  • Two drinks every time your pitcher strikes out a batter.
  • Two drinks if your pitcher tops 100mph on the radar gun.
  • Two drinks if your pitcher doesn't reach 60mph on the radar gun.
  • One drink when your pitcher gets ahead in the count. (0-1,1-2)
  • One drink when your pitcher throws to a base instead of pitching. Double the amount of drinks if he throws over twice in a row. Keep doubling per throw until the pitcher throws home.
  • One drink every time a batter on your team walks.
  • One drink for each pitch above six a batter on your team sees in at-bat.
  • Two drinks if a batter on your team gets hit.
  • Two drinks for every opposing player's error.
  • Two drinks when your team steals a base. Five drinks if it's home plate.
  • One drink every time your team gets a hit equal to the amount of bases the hitter advances. Add a drink if they get any RBIs on the hit. Add a drink if it's an infield hit.
    Four drinks if your team hits a home run. Eight if it's a Splash home run. 12 if It's Barry Bonds. Finish your drink if Willie McCovey catches the ball.

Universal (everyone drinks for these)

  • Two drinks every time someone on TV mentions home field advantage.
  • One drinks every time someone on TV mentions Barry Bonds chasing Aaron's home run record.
  • Two drinks if someone states an opinion on whether Bud Selig or Hank Aaron should be in attendance when Bonds breaks/ties the record.
  • Two drinks if a fan makes a great catch on a foul (or fair) ball.
  • One drink every time they show a non-baseball celebrity in the crowd.
  • One drink for every replay of a close play at the base.
  • One drink per commercial.(Just to keep the drinks flowing)
  • One drink for every shot of the San Francisco area that doesn't include the ballpark. Two drinks if they show McAfee Coliseum.
  • One drink for every clip of a past All-Star Game.
We may need to tailor these for a World Series Party.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It's the Mid-Summer Classic

It is nearly 10:00pm here in the East and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is in the bottom of the third inning. I could go on to rant how there are millions of children who will never know about All-Star Games and World Series games until they are older and are allowed to stay up late. But I won't go down that road. Just know that I could.

I will say that I like baseball. I love the spectacle and tonight's opening ceremony with Willie Mays was one to remember. Ted Williams is reported to have said they created the All-Star game for Willie Mays. He played in 24 of them. He is a legend in the game and should be celebrated at a time when the game is poised to honor a player who will break Hank Aaron's homerun record. Wouldn't it be nice if pitchers refused to pitch to Barry Bonds for the remainder of the season?

On Saturday, I will attend my first Baltimore Orioles game of the season, when the Birds will face off against the Chicago White Sox. I am doing my part to help Anna Von Schurman with her list of 1001 Things To Do (see #19). The following week, I will return to RFK Stadium to see the hapless Washington Nationals.

This is all in preparation for my trip to Chicago in late August, where I will attend a Chicago Cubs game with a large group of archivists when we converge on the Windy City for the Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting. It should be a good time for all!

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Toast to the Bubbly!

At the end of June, one had the opportunity to celebrate the invention? discovery? of champagne by the Benedictine monk, Dom Perignon in 1682. I have just the recipe to do just that. And with our recipe this week, a bonus quote. Lord John Maynard Keynes, the British economist, is reputed to have said on his deathbed in 1946, "My only regret in life is that I did not drink more champagne."

Bon Appétit, June 1997
  • Ice cubes
  • 12 tablespoons framboise
  • 8 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 750-ml bottles (about) chilled Brut champagne
  • Garnish: 3/4 cup fresh raspberries (about 24)
Fill 8 champagne flutes with ice cubes. Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons framboise into each flute. Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice to each. Fill flutes with champagne. Garnish with raspberries and serve.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Plan for a Plan

I was recently going through my "archives" and found this little nugget in my "humor" files. I thought I would share.

The Plan

In the beginning was the plan.

And then came the Assumptions.

And the Assumptions were without form.

And the Plan without substance.

And darkness was upon the face of the Workers.

And they spoke among themselves, saying, "It is a crock of shit and it stinketh."

And the Workers went unto their Supervisors and said, "It is a pail of dung, and none may abide the odor thereof."

And the Supervisors went unto their Managers, saying, "It is a container of excrement, and it is very strong, such that none may abide by it."

And the Managers went unto their Directors, saying, "It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength."

And the Directors spoke amongst themselves, saying to one another, "It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong."

And the Directors went unto the Vice Presidents, saying unto them, "It promotes growth, and it is very powerful."

And the Vice Presidents went unto the President, saying unto him, "This new plan will actively promote the growth and vigor of the company, with powerful effects."

And the President looked upon the Plan, and saw that it was good.

And the Plan became Policy.

This is how Shit Happens.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A. to the I. Q. (Answers to the Initials Quiz)

So how'd you do? Here are the answers. And if you liked it, don't worry, I've got more. It seems that people have been able to get most of them, with the exception of number 9.

  1. 366 D. in a L. Y. - 366 Days in a Leap Year
  2. 5 T. on a F. - 5 Toes on a Foot
  3. 3 S. (S., M., and L.) - 3 Sizes (Small, Medium, and Large)
  4. 100 Y. on a F. F. - 100 Yards on a Football Field
  5. 360 D. in a C. - 360 Degrees in a Circle
  6. 2000 P. in a T. - 2000 Pounds in a Ton
  7. 7 B. for S. B. - 7 Brides for Seven Brothers
  8. 3 L. P. - 3 Little Pigs
  9. 144 I. in a G. - 144 Items in a Gross
  10. 26 L. of the A. - 26 Letters of the Alphabet
  11. 12 S. of the Z. - 12 Signs of the Zodiac
  12. 54 C. in a D. (with the J.) - 54 Cards in a Deck (with the Jokers)
  13. 88 P. K. - 88 Piano Keys
  14. 13 S. on the A. F. - 13 Stripes on the American Flag
  15. 3 S. Y. O. at the O. B. G. (3 Strikes, Your Out at the Old Ball Game)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

For God's Sake, John, Sit Down!

It's the Fourth of July. Independence Day. A day to celebrate the 231st year of our independence from King George. No, not that one, this one. I will celebrate by attending a parade where our friend (known on other blogs as OSG) will march with his fife group. There may be an opportunity for typical 4th food (barbeque, anyone), and if my toddler will cooperate, fireworks.

I, of course will look forward to the yearly viewing of this.

Happy Fourth Everyone!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Getting More Out of It For More Than 80 Years

Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.

Gil: Oh?

Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!

Gil: What a great story.

Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.

The above comes from another great comedy, Parenthood. It is a good lead in to remembering that on June 26, a famous roller coaster celebrated its 80th birthday. There was an article in the Washington Post last week that talked all about Coney Island and its most famous structure, one that will likely be the only one there soon. The Cyclone in Coney Island was declared a historic landmark in 1988, so it is protected. But the rest of Astroland is threatened by, what else?, development - housing and shopping.

I have a Cyclone story. When Mrs. Brave Astronaut and I were dating, we went to Coney Island for the day. At the attendant's suggestion, we removed our sunglasses and I put them into my jacket pocket. They were fine until a turn at the top of the coaster sent them careening off into the air, never to be seen again. For me it was OK, as my sunglasses were cheap street versions, but Mrs. Brave Astronaut lost her prescription sunglasses. Luckily, she had her regular glasses, which I then fetched for her, so she could see.

I like roller coasters. This was even a topic of conversation at the lunch table the other day. I declared it to be a good blog post topic. The conversation moved to people's first loop roller coaster. Mine was the Super Dooper Looper in Hershey Park, PA. I got the opportunity to ride on a trip with my parents from our home in New York to Chagrin Falls, OH.

Recently, another amusement park of my youth crossed my radar screen. While watching Music and Lyrics, Hugh Grant's character gets a "gig" at Adventureland, "the biggest small amusement park east of Rye Playland." My Adventureland story takes place in June of 1985. I went with three friends to the park for an afternoon of fun. One of the first rides we went on was the "deadly" Flower Jet. A small circular roller coaster with a train of cars. I went up to the front of the train, trying to secure the front car. The attendant yelled to me and as I turned, I fell from one platform next to the cars to a second one about three or four feet below me. My right leg went under me and I heard a distinct crack. The attendant then said something to me of the effect of "that's why you shouldn't be up there." He finished filling up the ride and then came over to ask me if I was alright. I looked up at him and told him, "No, I think I broke my leg." Now thinking he was in trouble, he left the ride (unattended) to go and get help.

Enter the VP of Adventureland, who arrives with two or three burly security guards. He asks the same question posed by the attendant. He gets the same answer. To which he says, "I'm sure you're fine, let's get him up." The burly security guards stand me up and I collapse again. So VP has the burly security guards carry me off to a park bench (in a hand chair, with my right leg dangling unsupported). They put me on the bench and VP sends one of the guards to fetch me a Coke. VP examines my legs and again diagnoses, "I am sure you're fine, but you should go to the hospital anyway. Do you want an ambulance?" As I am now feeling the full effects of the break and a little woozy, I decline, saying I have my mother's car and my friends can drive me to the hospital. VP is of course, pleased at this, so no screaming emergency vehicle will arrive at his park. They put me in a golf cart (in the front seat, leg still bent) and drive me out to the car (over the speed bumps). They put me in the FRONT seat and my friend drives us off to the hospital.

Upon arriving, my friends go into the emergency room and return with a nurse who brings a wheelchair. She asks what I am doing in the front seat, and I reply, this is where they put me. She gets me into the wheelchair and moves to straighten my leg (which has now been bent for about 45 minutes). She may have said something to me along the lines of, "this might hurt a little" and straightens my leg out. I nearly pass out from the pain. She rolls me into the wheelchair.

Now the story gets fun. As I start the paperwork, it becomes evident (well I already knew) that my sister is in charge of me (I am not yet 18) and my parents are in Hawaii and, wait for it . . . they have not given my sister medical power for my care. The on-call orthopedist refuses to even come to the hospital without parental consent. Finally, another orthopedist, who was there repairing a girl's knee cap, which she had fractured in a soccer game, takes pity on us and slaps the x-ray up and tells my sister, who has since arrived, "it's a simple break, want me to do it?" My sister says please.

Several hours later (did I mention it was a Sunday afternoon in June), we are released with the recommendation to go to the drug store and get some crutches. Problem is, in those days, drug stores closed at a reasonable hour on Sundays and there were no crutches to be had. Luckily, a neighbor saw us arrive home and brought us a pair he had in his basement. We called my parents in Hawaii to let them know what had happened.

In the end, VP got his and I got mine. We sued Adventureland for negligence and I got my first car out of the deal. So beware the Flower Jet, but I will still ride the rails every chance I get.

Monday, July 2, 2007

It's Gotta Be Flag Cake

When choosing a recipe for this week, it's got to be one that works for Independence Day. This is one that I had nearly every year growing up on the Fourth. The cake usually came compliments of one of my mother's friends. There was usually a party at our house as the Fourth is also my father's birthday. One year, I even staged a small fireworks display in the lot across from my house. Other years, we would often gather up the street at the homes of two families that would often stop at South of the Border and buy fireworks for the neighborhood display. This of course, in the days before people got "concerned" about hands getting blown off and stuff.

But anyway, here is one recipe. You can alter to your taste, but you got to get the fruit placed right.
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cake (get a yellow cake mix, or make from scratch, if you're devoted)
  • Whipped cream icing

Make two rectangular cakes (13x9). Let cool. Slice strawberries lengthwise from the stem. On top of one layer of cake place strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream. Place second layer of cake on top and frost with whipped cream icing. Decorate with blueberries in a star field (upper left) and use strawberries slices to make stripes. Serve. I prefer stripes over stars. Enjoy.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Weekend Wrapup

So my father leaves tomorrow. After a stop in the morning at the College Park Aviation Museum, I will take him to the airport for his trip back to NY. We had a very nice weekend. On Friday, we went to the National Building Museum to take in the exhibitions there. My father has a model, architecture thing. From there we had lunch at Gordon Biersch (which my father remembers we went to before - and I remembered as well, but we were already sitting down), I do love those garlic fries. After that it was off to the National Archives and the Charters of Freedom and the Public Vaults. Everybody should go - and there were lots of you there on Friday. Thanks. Go on Wednesday, it will be a great time.

Saturday we got an early start (well, sort of) and went over to Arlington National Cemetery. It had been years since either my father or I had been there and I learned that Mrs. Brave Astronaut had never been there! Well. There was even something for her there as the Arlington House was celebrating the 176th wedding anniversary of Robert E. Lee and Mary Custis. Mrs. BA has a thing for weddings.

Saturday night was the highlight of my father's visit. A trip to Wolf Trap for a concert by the Kingston Trio and the Smothers Brothers. (I've already asked you to stop laughing at me). I went willingly and really enjoyed it. You have to understand, growing up in my parents house, it was the "Make Believe Ballroom" and the "Sounds of Sinatra" rather than classic rock or god forbid, WLIR. While I expected to be the youngest in the house, I was not. Two rows behind me sat to pre-teens who looked absolutely miserable. Earlier I had spotted two late teenagers and constructed a whole back story for them. (Their parents had died tragically, but in order to receive their inheritance, they had to attend every Kingston Trio concert until they turn 25).

Today, we did a little house hunting, with the hopes of crossing off one of those items on the list at right. Then we had a nice dinner in Bethesda, again at a place my father swears he has been too, but he's old and he forgets. Now there is some lounging going on until we head off to bed. See you all tomorrow!