Friday, August 31, 2007

It's Blog Day

Blog Day 2007

What is BlogDay?
BlogDay was created with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest. On that day Bloggers will recommend other blogs to their blog visitors. With the goal in mind, on this day every blogger will post a recommendation of 5 new blogs. This way, all blog readers will find themselves leaping around and discovering new, previously unknown blogs.

What will happen on BlogDay?
One long moment on August 31st, bloggers from all over the world will post recommendations of 5 new Blogs, preferably Blogs that are different from their own culture, point of view and attitude. On this day, blog readers will find themselves leaping around and discovering new, unknown Blogs, celebrating the discovery of new people and new bloggers.

So here are my five selections. I had to work to find five new ones. But it just goes to show that at any given time, we are only scratching the surface of the "Interwebs." I found a statistic in the issue of Southwest Airlines Spirit Magazine that "a new blog debuts every 1.4 seconds."
  1. In Apprehension. As I am in Chicago this week, I found this blog in Chicago Blogs and his writing style seemed to be a lot like mine. I hope you enjoy it.

  2. Political Wire There are no shortage of political blogs out there. I found this one recently and it looks good.

  3. Nuts About Southwest. Southwest Airlines is the official airline of the Brave Astronaut family. They recently started this blog.

  4. On Frozen Blog. A hockey blog. What can be wrong with that? As the countdown on the site notes, Training Camp opens in two weeks.

  5. 24 Boxes. Found randomly, it's a blog on cooking with natural, organic food. Certainly not my normal delivery. It's a cop out, and the post is late, but here are five blogs to look at
    that are new to me.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

What are all these people doing here?

There are a fair amount of people in the profession who have little, if any, use for the Society of American Archivists. In speaking with a colleague, he related to me there are pockets of "angry archivists" here at the conference, mad at SAA for one reason or another (a dues increase, poor communication, had handling of the archives listserve).

And yet, here we are at the Fairmont Chicago (and several other overflow hotels), filling up session rooms, slowing down the elevators, and clogging up the hallways. While I have not yet heard an attendance figure, it would seem from that perspective the meeting is an overwhelming success.

So what am I doing with myself? The Brave Astronaut family arrived in Chicago on Wednesday morning and we decided to take the "L" from Midway to the hotel. A good plan, which was greatly enjoyed by Little Brave Astronaut, not so much enjoyed by Big Brave Astronaut, when we had to hump all of our bags from the station stop to the hotel.

We arrived at the hotel and then went and had some lunch. From there, we went to Millennium Park (the site of the Friday night reception), where Little Brave Astronaut had the greatest time here. We returned to the hotel to get the first group ready to depart for the Cubs game. For those keeping track, the Cubbies lost. We will see if they can do better tonight. But, by the way, I will point out, because I HAVE been keeping track, the Yankees swept the Red Sox out of New York and the lead is down to five games. That's five, NJM.

The Brave Astronaut family hooked up with some friends to go for dinner. We decided on this place, again with the thought the Little Brave Astronaut would enjoy it. And he did. He certainly knows how to "shake his little tail feather."

Today was spent swapping between session time and some networking meetings and keeping Little Brave Astronaut entertained. That was accomplished by going to this store. Oh, and we are working on finalizing the details so we can purchase our home. It looks like settlement will be on September 12!

While writing up this post, I had the opportunity of meeting face to face with Archival Trash. He was kind enough to score me some souvenirs from the Masters, where we went this past April. We discussed the possibility of a tour outing to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the British Open in 2010, when the tournament will be held at St. Andrews. Anybody want in on that?

Tonight I will lead the second group of baseball fan archivists to the hallowed grounds of Wrigley Field to watch the Cubbies take on the Milwaukee Brewers for the third game. Tomorrow will be more sessions, section meetings, and other delights, followed by a lovely reception at the aforementioned Millennium Park. Now where do I get that drink band? And there won't be any boats in the fountain, right?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Presidential Archivist

I'm off to the Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting this week, in Chicago, Illinois. I recently renewed my membership, but I wonder if this guy renewed his for the final three years of his life?

February 13, 1942

Dr. R. D. W. Connor, President
The Society of American Archivists
Chapel Hill
North Carolina

My dear Dr. Connor:

May I tell you how very much honored I am by my election as an Honorary Member of the Society of American Archivists?

I need not tell you of my lifetime interest in the building up of archives throughout the nation -- especially because of my own personal interest in the naval history phase and the local Dutchess County material.

At this time, and because of the conditions of modern war against which none of us can guess the future, it is my hope that the Society of American Archivists will do all that is possible to build up an American public opinion in favor of what might be called the only form of insurance that will stand the test of time.

I am referring to the duplication of records by modern processes like the microfilm so that if any part of the country original archives are destroyed, a record of them will exist in some other place.

This involves, of course, a vast amount of work because of the volume of federal, state, and local archives of all kinds -- but I think that a broad plan would meet with hearty public support if it could be properly publicized.

The Society can count on my continued support in the fine work which it is doing.

Always sincerely,

Franklin D. Roosevelt

NOTE: The National Archives were created in 1934. That same year, Dr. Connor became the first Archivist of the United States. In 1939, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library was opened, the first of the presidential libraries, which are now part of the National Archives Presidential Library System.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Recipe: Fruit Crumble

In honor of Kim Ayres raiding of the bramble bushes of Scotland and that he linked to an awesome recipe for his wife's bramble crumble, I push it forward for this recipe Monday. Kim notes in his post that his wife "cooks without a net," something I tend to do as well. As a result the recipe is very general. Things get added and combined and it gets cooked "until it looks ready." Please note that his measurements are from the "east side of the pond," so convert accordingly.

Don't forget to go and read his blog and listen to his delicious telling of the Great Bramble Hunt of 2007!
  • Rub 4 ounces of butter into 8 ounces of self-raising flour (or a mix of flour and oats), then mix in about 4 ounces of sugar (brown or white – it’s up to you).

  • Place 1 pound of blackberries (or any fruit you want) into an oven-proof dish and sprinkle on sugar (how much sugar gets very vague at this point – “to taste” is my wife’s phrase – as it depends on how sweet or sharp the fruit is – but it could be up to a couple of ounces).

  • Mix it together.

  • Pour the flour/butter/sugar mix onto the top and place into an oven for about 40 minutes (or “until it looks ready…”) at Gas Mark 4 or 5

Kim reports, "serves one to six people, depending on your lifestyle. Serve with thick fresh cream, or good quality vanilla ice cream. Eat until nearly sick and have gained several pounds in weight."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Am I Old? So What!

Looking through my old files, I found the following. The original title was "You're probably aged 25 to 35 if . . . " - but that was about 10 years ago, so the new title is "So I'm turning 40 this year, so are many of my friends, we still sort of remember this stuff." I have annotated some of the items that didn't age well, in my opinion.

And Happy Birthday to C in DC!
  • You wore anything Izod, remember those windbreakers that folded up into a pouch you could wear around your waist.

  • You owned a Jordache anything, or you remember when Jordache jeans were cool. (Someday I can tell you about the entire morning I spent trying to get on WNBC radio (660AM) to win Sasson jeans, which went to my sisters.)

  • In your grade 9 and 10 class pictures, you're wearing an Izod shirt with the collar up.

  • All‑skate, change directions, means something to you.

  • In high school, you and all your friends discussed elaborate plans to get together again at the end of the century and play 1999 by Prince over and over again. (Did we even manage to stay up past midnight?)

  • You rode in the back of the station wagon and you faced the cars behind you in the tail gunner position.

  • Schoolhouse Rock played a HUGE part in how you actually learned the English language. (and American History - "I'm just a bill, yeah, only a bill . . . ")

  • You ever dressed to emulate a person you saw in either a Duran Duran, Madonna, Rick Springfield, or Cyndi Lauper video.

  • You actually know who Rick Springfield is. (but wait wasn't he just on General Hospital again . . . SINGING!?)

  • You're starting to believe (now that it wouldn't affect YOU) that maybe having the kids go to school year‑round wouldn't be such a bad idea after all. (Especially now, if we have kids, right?)

  • You ever wanted to be gagged with a spoon.

  • You remember Bo and Luke Duke. (Though as previously discussed on this blog, I preferred Jon and Ponch.)

  • There was nothing strange about Bert and Ernie living together. (And now that I have a child of my own, I never make up my own words to the stories I read him, nope, not me.)

  • Knickers and leg warmers were cool. (Well, OK, not really.)

  • You learned to swim about the same time Jaws came out and still carry the emotional scars to this day. ("You're gonna need a bigger boat.")

  • You ever wanted to learn to play Stairway to Heaven on the guitar and choreographed Dancing Queen by yourself in your room.

  • You were afraid of the Sleestaks on Land of the Lost. (In the "Everything Old is New Again" - Coming Soon - The Land of the Lost Movie!)

  • The first time you ever kissed someone was at a dance during Crazy for You by Madonna.

  • You ever used the phrase "kiss mah grits" in conversation.

  • You had ringside seats for Luke and Laura's wedding. (Again with the General Hospital - I was a CBS soap watcher, wait, did I just write that down?)

  • You know who shot J.R. (Again, coming soon, Dallas - The Movie, with John Travolta as J.R. Ewing.)

  • This rings a bell: "And my name is, Charlie. They work for me." (We already saw that movie.)

  • You ever had a Dorothy Hamill haircut.

  • You sat with your friends on a Friday night and dialed "8‑6‑7‑5‑3‑0‑9" to see if Jenny would answer. (See Rick Springfield)

  • You owned a pair of Rainbow suspenders just like Mork used to wear. (Um, no, I didn't. I swear.)

  • You remember when your cable TV box had the three rows of numbers and you had to move the selector switch accordingly.

  • You could sing 99 Red Balloons in English and in German. (99 Luft Ballons . . .)

  • Feathered hair.

  • Your jaw would ache by the time you finished those brick‑sized packages of Bazooka gum.

  • The phrase "Where's the beef?" still doubles you over with laughter. (Oh, Clara, how we miss you.)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The World's Hardest Quiz Answers

So? Not that hard? Here are the answers you seek.
  1. Reno, Nevada

  2. 18

  3. dogs

  4. It had no name

  5. The letter "L"

  6. Canada

  7. Spring

  8. "Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed."

  9. None, it was Noah and the ark.

  10. No, he's dead

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Roosevelt of Sagamore

Today in History: On this day in 1902, Theodore Roosevelt became the first U.S. President to ride in an automobile.

I grew up on Long Island, not far from Sagamore Hill, home of Theodore Roosevelt. While pursuing my Masters in Social Studies Education, I was tasked to write a paper that conveyed a "sense of history." Having been to Sagamore Hill numerous times on the "tourist loop," I chose to write a paper on the house and its famous resident. The comments I received back from my professor were, "Imaginative! You really know TR & Sagamore!"

The paper is long (six pages). If you are really, really interested in a "behind the scenes tour" of Sagamore Hill, given by the 26th President of the United States, you can read it here.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Recipe: Chocolate-Raspberry Tartlets

A great recipe that puts chocolate and raspberry together. Yummy goodness!

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (optional)
  • 6 tsp. raspberry jam
  • 1 6-ounce container fresh raspberries
Sweetened whipped cream

For the crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter bottoms and sides of six 4 1/2-inch diameter tartlet pans with removable bottoms. Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and creamy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed just until dough forms. Shape dough into 6-inch-long log, then cut log crosswise into 6 equal rounds. Chill for an hour. Roll out each dough round on lightly floured surface to six-inch round. Press 1 round over bottom and up sides of each prepared pan, folding edges to form double-thick sides. Pierce crusts with fork. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes. Bake crust until set around edges, about 8 minutes. Cool in pans on rack.

For filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift sugar and cornstarch into small bowl. Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Stir in cornstarch mixture. Whisk eggs and egg yolks to blend in medium bowl; stir into chocolate mixture. Mix in Grand Marnier, if desired.

Spoon 1 tsp. jam into center of each prepared crust. Arrange raspberries in crusts dividing equally and spacing evenly. Spoon chocolate mixture over berries. Bake until filling puffs around edges, about 28 minutes. Cool 10 minutes.

Carefully remove pan sides from tartlets. Place tartlets on plates. Spoon sweetened whipped cream along side each tartlet and serve warm.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bad Boys of Baseball

From the Washington Post this past Sunday, this list to help you feel a little better about Barry Bonds. He's not the first villain in baseball and by no stretch, the worst.
  • Pete Rose (played from 1963-1686) holds the record for most career hits at 4,256. Nicknamed "Charlie Hustle," people were both surprised and disappointed when it was revealed that he had bet on baseball games he played in and managed. He was banned from baseball, locking him out of the Hall of Fame, where many feel he belongs.

  • Jose Canseco (played from 1985-2001) was the first player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a season (1988). He also was arrested several times for assault and domestic violence, and has been in jail. There there is the book, where he admitted steroid use and painted baseball with a wide brush and splattered many players. Hall of Fame? Eligible, but received only 6 votes in the last election.

  • The 1919 Chicago "Black" Sox won the American League Pennant in 1919. Eight of the White Sox players admitted to working with gamblers to throw the 1919 World Series. They were acquitted from the charges but still banned from baseball. Was Shoeless Joe guilty? Watch this movie or this one.

  • Cap Anson is considered by many to be the greatest player of the 19th century. Only problem is he was also an overt racist. While he is in the Hall of Fame, his plaque forgets to note that he was instrumental in keeping black players out of baseball.

  • Ty Cobb holds another hallowed record, highest career batting average, .367. The Post notes that "compared to Cobb, Bonds is Mister Rogers." Cobb is alleged to have attacked a night watchman, an umpire, a groundskeeper and his wife, a would-be mugger, and a disabled hecklers. Despite his charming personality, Cobb made it into the Hall in the inaugural class, getting more votes than Babe Ruth.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The IMAX of the Gilded Age

Hey, that's what the Post calls it. The Gettysburg Cyclorama is making a comeback. What is the cyclorama you might ask? It is a 360 degree oil painting depicting Pickett's Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg. The cyclorama is one of the last surviving cycloramas in the United States. It is being restored and will be the showpiece in a new multi-million dollar building at Gettysburg National Military Park. The cyclorama used to hang in a 1960s building, where it was on display for more than 40 years. It had been painted in 1884 by French artist Paul Philippoteaux.

One of the pieces of the cyclorama is 26 feet long and weighs more than 950 pounds. It was hoisted into place that past week. When completed the new visitor's center will resemble a Pennsylvania farmhouse and will be far from the battlefield. The current visitor (read: not there during the battle) structures will be torn down. The cyclorama is not expected to be shown again until fall of 2008.

Cycloramas used to be all the rage. There were at least two in Washington, DC. One was on 15th Street NW, near the Treasury Building and featured cycloramas of the battles of Gettysburg, Shiloh, and Bull Run. There were nine Gettysburg cycloramas touring the country. Philippoteaux made four of them. And here is your MAC (mandatory archival content): When hired Philippoteaux hired a photographer to take pictures of the battlefield to ensure the accuracy; then he came to Washington and did research on the battle and examined maps.

This particular painting has had a hard life. First installed in Boston in 1890, it was cut into pieces, crated, and left in a vacant lot in Boston. It was set on fire twice, and exposed to the elements. In the early 1900s, it was acquired by a department store owner, who installed most of the pieces in his Newark, NJ store. In 1913, for the 50th anniversary of the battle, an unheated, tile-covered building on the battlefield was constructed and the painting was put on display. Finally in 1942, the National Park Service acquired the painting and built a cyclorama building in time for the 100th anniversary of the battle in 1963.

And now, the cyclorama is, ahem, coming around again. A new building for an old painting.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"How is Elvis? And Have you Seen Him Lately?"

First up, name the movie the above line comes from.

So today we mark the 30th anniversary of the "passing" of Elvis Presley. One could go on for hours on whether he is really dead, but I'm not going down that road.

I will however, focus on one event that offers some MAC (that's mandatory archival content for you newcomers).

When Elvis Met Nixon.

On December 21, 1970, Richard Nixon met with the "King" in the Oval Office. Presley had written to the President asking to be named a "deputy" on the federal war on drugs. (Now stop laughing, he was probably just trying to get better junk.)

After the meeting and a sit-down lunch with Secret Service agents, Elvis received his badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

The question is, would these then be considered dangerous? And these just seem wrong.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The World's Hardest Quiz

I used to be a teacher. Part of that time I spent as the "In-School Suspension" teacher. (If you have to ask, you were never there - and that's good.) I accumulated over my teaching time a number of quizzes that I could give to students who were without something to do. I've kept them and am now sharing them with you. Here's another oldie, but a goodie. Answers next week.
  1. Which is further west: Reno, Nevada or Los Angeles, California?

  2. How many mules are on a 20-mule team?

  3. For what kind of animal are the Canary Islands named?

  4. In Mary Shelley's book, Frankenstein, what was the name of the monster?

  5. Len has it before, Paul takes it after, Bryan does not take it. Girls only get in once, boys don't want it. The old must have it, the young can do without it. Mrs. Mulligan had it twice in succession, Dr. Lowell of Harvard has it twice as bad as at the end as the beginning. What is it?

  6. If you travel directly south from Detroit, Michigan, what is the first foreign country you hit?

  7. In what season does Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" take place?

  8. What were the first words spoken when man landed on the moon?

  9. How many of each species did Moses take on the ark?

  10. Can a man in Texas marry his widow's sister?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Sad Day for New York

A very sad day for New York today. First is the loss of the legend that was Phil Rizzuto. I could go on for hours about the Scooter, but if he talked first, everyone would have left by now. His Hall of Fame induction speech in 1994 is a classic. And of course, he will be forever memorialized with his words here. You can go watch the video here. An interesting fact I learned today, Rizzuto was the oldest hall of fame member still living. His loss leaves only Yogi Berra as one of the last members of the Yankee dynasty that won seven World Series in nine years.

I hate to mention that the Orioles were mean to the Yankees tonight, pummeling the boys from the Bronx, 12-0, while in Boston the Red Sox came back in the ninth inning to beat the Devil Rays, 2-1. The gap is back to 5 games.

Secondly, as an archivist who worked for the Rockefeller family, I noted with sadness the passing of Brooke Astor. At 105, she had become a recluse and was still in the news recently with allegations of elder abuse by her son. And for some mandatory archival content, her obituary in the New York Times, noted the following.
"Mrs. Astor kept the diaries, letters and drawings from her childhood travels squirreled away in Briarcliff Manor in a closet that she called her “archive room.” Some of her early drawings, poems and plays were reproduced in an illustrated edition of “Patchwork Child: Early Memories,” published in 1993."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Recipe: Creamy Potato Gratin

My mother-in-law was in town this weekend, to make dinner for Mrs. Brave Astronaut and for OSG and his new family. We had the great summer meal, flank steak, a tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad, and an outstanding scalloped potatoes. This recipe will most definitely appear again, but it is not on the heart-healthy menu. But, oh well.

Creamy Potato Gratin Drizzled with Truffle Oil
(serves 8 - I won't mention that the five of us ate the whole dish)
  • 1/2 tbsp. butter for greasing baking dish
  • 8 oz. Italian Fontina cheese, well chilled
  • 3 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups creme fraiche (see note)
  • 1 tbsp. truffle oil, optional (see note)
  • 1 tbsp. chopped rosemary
Butter a 9x13 inch oven to table baking dish.

Remove rind and grate cheese using a hand grater. (Since Fontina cheese is a soft cheese, it is easier to grate with a hand grater than in a food processor.)

Place half the potatoes, overlapping slightly, in prepared dish. Salt and pepper slices generously. With a rubber spatula, spread half the creme fraiche over the potatoes. Then sprinkle half the cheese over the creme fraiche. Make a second layer in the same way using the remaining potatoes, creme fraiche and cheese.

Bake gratin on center rack of a preheated 400-degree oven, uncovered, 30 minutes. Then, lower heat to 350 degrees and bake until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife and a golden brown crust has formed on top, about 30 minutes more. Check occasionally, and cover with a sheet of foil if potatoes become too brown.

Remove gratin from oven and let stand 10 minutes. (Gratin can be prepared 4 hours ahead; cool, cover loosely with foil and leave at room temperature. Reheat, uncovered, in a preheated 350-degree oven until hot, about 15 minutes.) Drizzle potato gratin with truffle oil and sprinkle with rosemary.

Note: Creme fraiche is available in many groceries, but if you can't find it, you can make your own by whisking together 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream and 1/2 cup sour cream in a medium non-reactive bowl. Let stand at room temperature until thickened, 6 hours or overnight. Cover and refrigerate. (Creme fraiche can be stored up to 1 week, covered, in refrigerator.) Makes about 1 3/4 cups. Truffle oil is available in specialty food stores and some markets.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hey! What's all the shouting about?

Looking on while writing this post, I found this list of the Top 20 Protest Songs. Review and discuss. As with the lyrics list, you can click here and and listen to the songs. It also list "who" or what the song was rebelling against.

I will say this is a good site, with lots of good lists. Including a "worst lyrics ever," the "saddest songs," the 20 "Killer B-Sides" and lots of others.
  1. "What's Going On" - Marvin Gaye (1971)

  2. "Fight the Power" - Public Enemy (1989)

  3. "Take This Job and Shove It" - Johnny Paycheck (1977)

  4. "War" - Edwin Starr (1970) (HUH! WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR!)

  5. "Strange Fruit" - Billie Holiday (1939)

  6. "Boom!" - System of a Down (2002)

  7. "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud" - James Brown (1968)

  8. "Maggie's Farm" - Bob Dylan (1965)

  9. "World Wide Suicide" - Pearl Jam (2006)

  10. "Allentown" - Billy Joel (1982) (you betcha!)

  11. "F*** tha Police" - N.W.A. (1988)

  12. "Little Boxes" - Malvina Reynolds (1962)

  13. "California Uber Alles" - Dead Kennedys (1980)

  14. "Clampdown" - The Clash (1979)

  15. "I Ain't Marching Anymore" - Phil Ochs (1965)

  16. "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" - Kanye West (2005)

  17. "We're Not Gonna Take It" - Twisted Sister (gotta love that Dee Snider!)

  18. "We Shall Be Free" - Garth Brooks (1992)

  19. "Minority" - Green Day (2000)

  20. "Get Up, Stand Up" - Bob Marley and the Wailers (1973)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Mrs. Brave Astronaut

Tomorrow is my wife's birthday. I won't divulge her age here, but we'll leave it at that I prefer older women. Since she came into my life, I have not wanted for anything. Yeah it's sappy, but she truly completes me. I don't know how I lived my life before her and I don't want to contemplate life without her. I truly love her without reservation.

She is the mother of my son and the as yet unborn child, which will make its appearance later this year. She is an outstanding mother and a wonderful wife and I wanted to make sure that everyone knows that she is the best and is celebrating a birthday today.

To celebrate, she is starting her day at the Motor Vehicle Administration to renew her drivers license. Once she escapes that circle of hell, we are going here. Meat on a stick, anyone? Funnel cake? Soft Serve!

Mrs. Brave Astronaut, I love you. Happy Birthday.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I Miss Vacation

When I was young, the family would all pile into the family truckster and head off to one of our two vacations. Vacation one was usually to Maine, where my grandmother had a house in Owl's Head. My parents, my three siblings and I, along with the family dog and usually a few cats (yep, litter boxes on the floor of the back seat and a dog on tranquilizers that usually wore off on Buttermilk Lane - where he would promptly throw up) crowded into an Oldsmobile sedan for the in excess of eight-hour trip to coastal Maine. Lunch was sandwiches my mother would have made the night before (we usually left at 0 dark 30), eaten on the side of the road, usually somewhere in Massachusetts. It was always nice to eat your tuna sandwich with the car exhaust assaulting your nose as you tried to eat your lunch. We would arrive in Maine in the middle of the afternoon for at least a week's stay in our own little paradise.

Our second vacation was often to Amagansett, a little town on the eastern end of Long Island, where my father would have secured a rental property from a colleague in "the industry." Another week of sun and surf in the Hamptons playground. I could start with stories of vacations that would populate this blog for weeks and perhaps will throw in a nugget here and there in the future.

Once out on my own, I managed to get away now and then, but never for the full two weeks a summer that I used to have. There just isn't the time (or the resources) anymore. And now that I work for the government, annual leave comes in a slow trickle. But we manage the long weekend now and then. Now our vacations often coincide with professional meetings (Chicago in a few weeks and Williamsburg, VA in the fall).

I spotted this article in the New York Times Magazine this past Sunday. It just made me sad. The article starts off with the statistic that "roughly 50 percent of working Americans won't take warm-weather getaways this year." Hey, I'm in the majority! WooHoo!

The article continues that we have that statistic because we are "a nation whose glob-gripping federal government is the only one in the whole industrialized world not to legally require generous periods of paid kick-back-and-hang time." Further we are "a nation that's socially screwed up, particularly in comparison with European countries like France, which orders its citizens outside to play for the entire month in August." I was in France for the summer of 1983 and they aren't kidding, you have to go to the country because there is no one left in Paris to help you.

There is an argument to be made that we are, as a society, not taking vacations because we are too in touch with our work. The other 50% of people that will take vacations, will likely bring laptops, blackberries and cellphones to make sure they stay in touch with their offices. As my wife and I like to say, at least we work in a profession where "there are no archival emergencies. Unless the records are wet or on fire, don't call me."

The article advances the notion that another reason we are hesitant to take vacations is that we are afraid of losing our jobs to the young guy down the hall (hey, he has no leave and evidently no life, so let's pay him less and jettison the dead weight, who wants to spend more time with his family).

So where are you going this summer? Do you need someone to carry your bags?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Best Opening Lyrics

It must have been a slow news day in Washington. Perhaps it was too hot for anything to happen. I caught a piece on WTOP radio on my way to work describing the "Top Opening Song Lyrics" according to Here for your enjoyment is the list. You can click here and start at number 25 and click your way through the list and hear the first line sung by the artist.

I think there's a few missing, but I will leave this to the collected group to discuss.
  1. "She's a very kinky girl" - Rick James, "Superfreak"
  2. "I was born in a cross-fire hurricane" - The Rolling Stones, "Jumpin' Jack Flash"
  3. "Hey, ho, let's go!" - The Ramones, "Blitzkrieg Bop"
  4. "Well, she was just seventeen - you know what I mean" - The Beatles, "I Saw Her Standing There"
  5. "Don't call it a comeback" - LL Cool J, "Mama Said Knock You Out!"
  6. "Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?" - The Carpenters, "Close to You"
  7. "In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey" - Beck, "Loser"
  8. "Well, it's one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go, cat, go!" - Carl Perkins, "Blue Suede Shoes"
  9. "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine" - Patti Smith, "Gloria"
  10. "Tommy used to work on the docks" - Bon Jovi, "Livin' on a Prayer"
  11. "Oh, I just don't know where to begin" - Elvis Costello, "Accidents Will Happen"
  12. "A candy-colored clown they call the sandman tiptoes to my room every night" - Roy Orbison, "In Dreams"
  13. "What's with these homies dissin' my girl?" - Weezer, "Buddy Holly"
  14. "There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief" - Jimi Hendrix, "All Along the Watchtower"
  15. "She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene" - Michael Jackson, "Billie Jean"
  16. "Pigs, they tend to wiggle when they walk" - Pavement, "Stereo"
  17. "I was dreaming when I wrote this" - Prince, "1999"
  18. "We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee" - Merle Haggard, "Okie From Muskokee"
  19. "Well, I guess it would be nice if I could touch your body" - George Michael, "Faith"
  20. "I am an Antichrist" - Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"
  21. "Hello, Darkness, my old friend" - Simon and Garfunkel, "The Sound of Silence"
  22. "Go, shorty. It's your birthday" - 50 Cent, "In Da Club"
  23. "You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips" - The Righteous Brothers, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin"
  24. "I've been a bad, bad girl" - Fiona Apple, "Criminal"
  25. "You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar" - Human League, "Don't You Want Me"

A Record for the Ages - Part III

So it's done. I couldn't help watching. For a while, I thought my watching was preventing it from happening, but then 755 happened. A man can dream that Juiceman will come to his senses and perhaps walk away tied. So, on a cool night in San Francisco, off a Washington Nationals pitcher, Barry Bonds finds himself in sole possession of one of the greatest baseball records ever, most career homeruns. And, by the way, how about that rookie John Lannan?!

I have stayed up late the past week to watch the games from the West Coast. It's sort of like a train wreck, I just can't look away. Perhaps my love of disaster flicks is moving me, for Bonds is a true disaster to the game of baseball. I watched the ceremonies unfold on the field and the jumbotron message from Hank Aaron. Willie Mays was there, as he is Barry Bond's Godfather. I will even give you that what Barry said sounded almost sincere.

I don't like that he now holds the record. I will point out that on the same day that Bonds hit 755, a very young former shortstop, now third baseman for the New York Yankees, became the youngest player to reach 500 home runs. God willing, Bonds will become a footnote in a few years and A-Rod will assume the mantle of most home runs ever.

This has been a banner year for records in major league baseball. Tom Galvine's 300th, now Bonds, A-Rod's 500, Frank Thomas hitting his 500th earlier this year. There will be other records to fall and someday, someone will eclipse them and we will once again pause and celebrate. For now, I'll give Bonds his moment. Now, I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A Bittersweet Anniversary

I noted today on my employee intranet page that August 7, 1974 was the date that French stuntman, Phillipe Petit, walked a tightrope strung between the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center. He didn't do it just once, either. He did it a dozen times in succession.

The following account comes from the "American Experience: The Center of the World - New York."
"In the course of a single morning, the unexpected - and illegal - actions of a daring young Frenchman and a few of his confederates would do more to change public opinion about the troubled billion-dollar project than anything else in its first years of existence.

"The episode originated six years earlier, in 1968, when an eighteen-year-old street performer named Philippe Petit, waiting in a dentist's office in Paris with a toothache, came across an article about the twin towers, along with an illustration of the project in model form. Suddenly, a daring, almost inconceivable thought came into his head.

"'They called me,' he later explained. "I didn't choose them. Anything that is giant and manmade strikes me in an awesome way and calls me. I could secretly . . . put my wire . . . between the highest towers in the world. It was something that had to be done, and I couldn't explain it . . . it was a calling of the romantic type."

"For the next six years, Petit patiently nurtured his dream, perfecting his skills as a high-wire artist and learning everything he could about the World Trade Center. In January 1974, now twenty-four years old, he flew to New York City for the first time in his life to put his daring plan into action. After months scouting the towers, including posing as a journalist to interview Port Authority executive Guy Tozzoli, he set to work on the evening of Tuesday, August 6. While one group of colleagues made its way up the north tower, Petit and two friends slipped up to the top of the south tower, carrying their concealed equipment, including a disassembled balancing pole, wire for rigging, 250 feet of one-inch braided steel cable, and a bow and arrow.

"It took all night to complete the rigging, securing the steel cable a quarter of a mile in the sky across the 130-foot gap separating the towers. Wall Street was just beginning to come to life when, at a little past seven on the morning of August 7, 1974, Philippe Petit stepped onto the wire stretched out across the void.

"On the street below, people stopped in their tracks - first by the tens, then by the hundreds and thousands - staring up in wonder and disbelief at the tiny figure walking on air between the towers. Sgt. Charles Daniels of the Port Authority Police Department, dispatched to the roof to bring Petit down, looked on in helpless amazement. "I observed the tightrope 'dancer' - because you couldn't call him a 'walker' - approximately halfway between the two towers," he later reported. "And upon seeing us he started to smile and laugh and he started going into a dancing routine on the high wire . . . And when he got to the building we asked him to get off the high wire but instead he turned around and ran back out into the middle . . . He was bouncing up and down. His feet were actually leaving the wire and then he would resettle back on the wire again... Unbelievable really.... [E]verybody was spellbound in the watching of it."

"To the delight of the Port Authority, the exploit made front-page news around the world, and Petit himself became an instant folk hero. Thanks to the immense outpouring of public adulation for his performance, all formal charges against him were dropped, and the 24 year old was "sentenced" to perform his high-wire act for a group of children in Central Park.

"Soon after his walk, the Port Authority presented him with a free lifetime pass to the observation deck atop the south tower -- where he was asked to sign his name
on a steel beam overlooking the vast canyon where he had danced among the clouds. In the years to come, he would often return to the breathtaking perch where he had captured the attention of the entire world, and, in the space of just forty-five minutes, accomplished a seemingly impossible feat: making two of the tallest, largest and most imposing structures in the world seem suddenly endearing and friendly."

Philippe Petit's book "To Reach The Clouds" was released in August 2002.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Recipes from a box in a Jiffy

I grew up with cake mix out of a box. My wife did not. When she bakes, she likes to do it from scratch. When I met her she would diligently make scratch brownies. Then we discovered these and we compromised that some box mixes are OK. Recently, I read with interest an article in the Food section of the Washington Post about Jiffy Mix.

Skeptical, I read on and found that another convert had been born. She spirited several boxes of the mix into her home and began to whip up muffins, cakes, pancakes, waffles, all sorts of starchy goodness. I am a fan of the corn muffin so here is the corn muffin mix recipe. But I urge all of you to feel free to make muffins and have me sample them. I am a big fan of the sweet bread breakfast food item.

(Yield: 18 large muffins)
  • 2 pkgs. "JIFFY" Corn Muffin Mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can (12 oz.) cream style corn
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Grease one large muffin pan well, or use paper liners.

  2. Mix all ingredients together, blending well.

  3. Pour into prepared muffin pan, filling about 1/2 full.

  4. Bake for 22-28 minutes.

  5. Let cool before removing from pan.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Long Live the Candy Desk

The Washington Post reported this week that in addition to being the senior Senator from Ohio, George Voinovich (R), has a new title, the Candy Man. After Senator Craig Thomas died in June, the Senate's famous candy desk was given to the Ohio Senator. The owner of the candy desk is required to fill it with candy for the other Senators. Here's the hitch. There were no major candy manufacturers in Wyoming that Thomas could patronize. Senate ethic rules (really, even for candy?) prohibit accepting candy from other states.

The Senate historian reports that tradition was started by Senator George Murphy of California more than 42 years ago. The desk, located in the back row of the Republican side of the Senate, is now the official candy desk. The historian relates the desk has been assigned over the years to John McCain (R-AZ), Slade Gorton (R-OR), Robert Bennett (R-UT), and Rick Santorum (R-PA).

Possibly one of the few redeeming qualities of Santorum is that while keeper of the candy desk, is that he kept is fully stocked with one of Pennsylvania's greatest exports. Currently, Voinovich has stocked the desk with candy from Spangler (maker of the dum-dum - insert appropriate joke here), Mars, and Harry London, maker of the Buckeye, an Ohio tradition.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Tag, You're It!

Having already blogged about the dangers of Tag on the playground (it was one of my first posts), I shall not inflict this upon my readers, unless you are feeling particularly charitable. (Please know that I know that you know that I know who I would be send this to, so feel free to jump in if you thought you might have been tagged with this).

I was perusing one of the many other blogs I have started reading recently and in her words, "if you're reading silently, tag, you're it." Crap! So now I need to boil down blogging philosophy to a pithy statement. So here goes. I will avoid "Blogito, Ergo Sum" (I Blog, Therefore I Am), as it is on a T-Shirt I just bought and that would be copyright infringement and we wouldn't want to do that. No, never.

"It’s very simple.When this is passed on to you, copy the whole thing, skim the list and put a * star beside those that you like. (Check out especially the * starred ones.)Add the next number (1. 2. 3. 4. 5., etc.) and write your own blogging tip for other bloggers."

  1. Look, read, and learn. ****** -

  2. Be, EXCELLENT to each other. ****** -

  3. Don’t let money change ya! **** -

  4. Always reply to your comments.** -

  5. Develop your own "voice" don't "borrow" someone else's**** - Mizmouthy

  6. If you don't have something to say, don't worry your loyal readers will wait** - Oldfashionmomma

  7. Be yourself, don't be afraid to share who you really are **** -

  8. Figure out what you stand for, then try to master it.** -

  9. Post pictures when you can* -

  10. Talk about your boobs a lot.* -

  11. If you must choose between living and blogging, choose wisely. * -

  12. If you blog it, they will comment . . . sometimes. -

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Big Train Makes His Debut

100 years ago today, the pitcher from Idaho, Walter Johnson, strode to the mound to face the Detroit Tigers, who were playing the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium. Johnson, a Hall of Famer, is regarded as one of the greatest pitchers to ever play the game. His legacy is somewhat murky as he played his entire career for the Washington Senators (first in our hearts, last in the American League), a team that fled the nation's capital, not once, but twice. There used to be a statue of Johnson outside of Griffith Stadium, but the stadium is no more and the statue is long gone.

Your mandatory archival content comes here: The only reason we know as much as we do about The Big Train, the nickname by which Johnson was known, were 30 scrapbooks that were kept in a cupboard of a built-in bookcase of the home of Carolyn Thomas, Walter Johnson's daughter. The scrapbooks were created by Johnson's wife, Hazel, and document the 417 wins, the 531 complete games, and the 110 shutouts. (And I agree with ADR, easily records that will not go by the wayside).

It is interesting to note that on that very first game against Detroit, August 2, 1907, Johnson faced off against Ty Cobb and the rest of the powerful Tigers lineup (Powerful Tigers lineup - isn't that an oxymoron?) . While the Senators and Johnson lost the game (Johnson had 279 career losses), Cobb later remarked about Johnson,
"I watched him take that easy windup - and then something went past me that made me flinch. I hardly saw the pitch, but I heard it. The thing just hissed with danger. Every one of us knew we'd met the most powerful arm ever turned loose in a ballpark."
Twenty-nine years later, Cobb and Johnson were two of the five inaugural members of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Hey, anybody wanna try for the other three (no googling! - one of them is easy, the other two are tougher).

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Quiz: As Seen in DC

Following on the heels of the DC Movie post from last week, here is a quiz to check your knowledge of DC television. This "PopQuiz" appears in the current TV Week from the Washington Post. Answers, as always, next week.

From the White House to the Pentagon, the Metro to the monuments, Washington's distinctive look, historic significance and essence of importance have made the region an irresistible television backdrop. Check your knowledge of how the District plays out in prime time with this quiz.
  1. Name the NBC drama that took place in the District's most famous home and whose nine Emmys in its freshman season set a record for most won by a TV series in one year (1999-2006).
  2. Paula Korologos, the real-life daughter of a longtime Republican lobbyist, had a guest role as a conservative TV reporter in what CBS series (1988-1998)?
  3. Name the NBC drama starring Benjamin Bratt and Dennis Hopper whose title referred to the offices along the outer edge of the Pentagon (2005-2006).
  4. Identify the semi-improvised HBO series that boasted cameos from real-life political figures but lasted just 10 episodes. (Hint: It was named after an iconic DC thoroughfare.) (2003).
  5. This stand-up comedian and former DC-area resident played a panelist on a fictional political talk show in what Fox sitcom (2003)?
  6. In Disney Channel's "Cory in the House," Victor Baxter (the father from "That's So Raven") works at the White House in what capacity (2007)?
  7. Kate Jackson played an Arlington housewife turned reluctant secret operative for the CIA-like "Agency" in which CBS series (1983-1987)?
  8. Name the ABC Oval Office series that featured the first recent president (fictional or otherwise) to send the kids to DC public schools (2005-2006).
  9. Name the spoof series (airing first on NBC, then on CBS) in which the District played host to a bumbling secret agent armed with gizmos such as a shoe phone (1965-1970).
  10. Patty Duke rant the nation while dealing with a group of zany Cabinet members and a two-timing hubby in what short-lived ABC comedy (1985)?
  11. CBS's forensic drama "NCIS" is based on a real-life agency whose offices are closest to which Metro station in the District (2003-present)?
  12. Name the Fox forensic drama whose crime scenes have included such local sites as Arlington National Cemetery and the Chesapeake Bay (2005-present).
  13. Which CBS drama starring Craig T. Nelson and Jonathan LaPaglia portrayed youth violence, political corruption, gang warfare and other gritty aspects of life in the nation's capital (2000-2004)?
  14. A pair of FBI agents, one working strictly by the book and the other drawn to paranormal conclusions, made Washington seem eerie and exciting in which Fox series (1993-2002)?
  15. Fox's animated series "American Dad," featuring a CIA dad and his wannabe-suave son, is set in a fictional town whose title combines which two real-life Fairfax County place names (2005-present)?