Friday, November 30, 2007

Where Has This Blog Been My Whole Life?

I recently created a Google Reader account so that I could keep current with the many blogs I read. While doing so, I subscribed to one of the bundles that Google Reader offers, the Language bundle, which included this blog, ", home of fine hypertext products." It is also an aggregator of sorts, like Google Reader, and it has given me the following:
  • McSweeney's Internet Tendency - "Thirty Illnesses, Sorted According to Whether or Not You Can Eat the Victims" - so stay away from those rabies victims.
  • The Mafia's Ten Commandments - #5 - Always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty - even if your wife's about to give birth.
  • How to win at Monopoly - but what about Scrabble?
  • A link to New York Magazine's vintage NYC videos.
  • A New York University study that showed that 50% of NYU students would give up their right to vote FOREVER for $1 million. That's just wrong.
  • And in honor of the New York Times issuance of their "100 Notable Books of 2007," you will note the addition of my "Library Thing widget" on the sidebar. So you'll know what's on my bookshelves, although possibly not read, but most have been.
  • Finally, I used to be a webmaster and was pretty good with the html tags. But I was at a loss on this one. I'm very rusty. So, ADR, are you up to the task?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Middle Name Meme

I have been tagged by my friend Lana. Here's how it works.

  1. Post these rules before you give the facts.
  2. List one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don't have a middle name make one up or use the one you would have liked to have had.
  3. When you are tagged write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.
  4. At the end of your post, choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

A - is for Alan, my middle name. It is also my son's middle name. It is also my father's first name, who would be unable to play this game because he doesn't have a middle name. It is not, as some have suspected, my last name, nor is it spelled "Allen." It is Alan, like the French, Alain, as that is what my family is.

L - Laughter. There is nothing quite like laughter, especially when it is coming out of either my wife or my son. You know the questionnaire that James Lipton does at the end of "Inside the Actor's Studio"? That's the sound or noise that I love.

A - Archivist is my chosen profession, although I started out as a teacher, but decided this is where the fun is. It was never about the money, either for the teachers or the archivists. I do it because I love it.

N - New York. The state where I grew up. The only other place I have lived before moving to Maryland.

They are not the best answers, but the tooth seems to be draining off my creativity. So work with it. Now I know that I am supposed to tag four other bloggers, but I am going to vary that a little as two of the people I want to tag don't have blogs. So leave them in the comments, ladies.

I tag in the non-blogging world:

  • C in DC
  • NJM

And the bloggers are:

  • ADR (and I love Pearls Before Swine, too)
  • Special K (you won't threaten to leave again)

If you are a blogger friend who comes by regularly, please feel free to tag yourself and head back and enlighten us to the facts associated with your middle moniker.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Mandatory Archival Content Post

Well sure, I could continue to moan about my tooth, which is still bothering me. I have an appointment with the butcher / dentist on Monday morning. So I should be able to get caught up on the TiVO list, as I am not sleeping all that well at night and five days to go before I can get back in the chair.

I could write one of the many posts that I have been thinking about writing, which I will do soon. I think it is fair to say that my postings may become sporadic in 2008, with the arrival of LBA, version 2.0. But for now, I will try and keep up the pace.

This story from CNN caught my eye today. The International Tracing Service, part of the International Red Cross. According to its mission statement, the ITS "serves victims of Nazi persecutions and their families by documenting their fate through the archives it manages." Well they have evidently gotten all the approvals they needed. Eleven countries oversee the archives of the ITS and Greece was the final country to give its approval. (In case you were wondering the other ten countries are: the United States, Britain, Germany, Israel, Poland, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.)

From the CNN article, "the records are unlikely to change the general knowledge of the Holocaust and the Nazi era, probably the most intensely researched 12-year period of the 20th century. But its depth of detail and original documentation will add texture and detail to history's worst genocide, and is likely to fuel a revival of academic interest in the Holocaust.

A few notes in conclusion, recently at work we were discussing books we had to read in high school. "The Diary of Anne Frank" was on most people's list, which was published 60 years ago. It is also noteworthy that Miep Gies celebrated her 98th birthday this year.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Recipe: Stuffed French Toast

Yes, I realize there was no recipe last week. I was a bit busy with the turkey thing. Plus, with the toothache, eating has not been the joy I usually want it to be.

The plumbers visited this morning, having waited until such a time as the $300 fee we incurred would not amount to three times that on the holiday weekend. The clog is gone, Alleluia!

For today's recipe, I found this in this catalog. They have lots of recipes on the site. While I usually stick with pancakes or waffles for the big Sunday breakfasts, this might need to make an appearance.

Stuffed French Toast
  • 8 slices country bread, each 1 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • zest of 1 orange, finely grated
  • softened butter for cooking, plus more for serving
  • powdered sugar for serving
Cut a pocket into one side of each slice of bread, leaving the other sides of the bread intact. In each pocket, spoon 2 heaping teaspoons of preserves and 2 teaspoons of ricotta. Press the bread back together to encase the filling. Set aside.

Preheat an electric skillet to 350 F, according to manufacturer's instructions.

In a shallow, medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, salt and orange zest until combined. Dip each bread slice into the custard and turn over to thoroughly soak each side. Remove from the custard and let the excess drip back into the bowl. Place bread slices on a plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining slices.

Brush the surface of the electric skillet with softened butter. Arrange the soaked bread slices onto the surface of the electric skillet and cook until golden brown and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes each side. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately. Don't forget the butter!

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Political Quiz

My political blog is getting "reborn" as the presidential race is hitting its stride. In just a little over six weeks, the Iowa caucuses will take place (on January 3). Five days later, the first primary in the nation will take place in New Hampshire. Less than a month later, we will have "Tsunami Tuesday," when more than 20 states will hold contests. It will be likely that both parties will know who their nominees will be after that day.

Also appearing in bookstores this past week was the latest edition of the Almanac of American Politics. Here is a set of questions to test your political acumen and send you in the direction of my political point of view. As always, quiz answers next week.
  1. Which member of Congress is the only one who refuses to disclose his or her date of birth?
  2. Which member of Congress is baseball great Hank Aaron's brother-in-law?
  3. Which member of Congress delivered his 2002 opponent's baby?
  4. Which member of Congress worked for Jerry Springer's 1982 Ohio gubernatorial campaign?
  5. Which member of Congress carried the "nuclear football" for Presidents Carter and Reagan?
  6. Which member of Congress is the only member to list the addresses of all his district's bowling alleys on his congressional website? (Oh, think about this one, it's easy!)
  7. Which member of Congress appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a professional athlete?
  8. How many current governors served in Congress?
  9. How many Senators served in the House?
  10. How many Senators are children of Senators?
  11. How many presidents has Representative John Dingell (D-Mich.) served under since he was sworn in?
  12. Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore failed to win 30 percent of the vote in four states in 2000. Name them.
  13. Which three states switched their presidential vote from 2000 to 2004?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Tale of Two Teams

So it's fairly clear that Glen Hanlon had a crappy Thanksgiving and Bruce Boudreau had much to be thankful for. On Thanksgiving Day, George McPhee, the Washington Capitals GM relieved Hanlon of his coaching duties and named Boudreau as the interim coach. Boudreau comes from behind the bench of the Hershey Bears, where he steered the club to the Calder Cup last year and nearly won it back to back this year.

It was clear to me when ADR and I went to the Caps game on Wednesday night that change was surely coming. ADR had consulted his crystal ball (and the Caps schedule) and believed the coaching change would not come for another week or so. But someone important must have finally heard the "Fire Hanlon" calls echoing around the Verizon Center.

Boudreau brings an impressive record to the Caps bench. And from the Washington Post article announcing the change,
"Though Boudreau has been with the Capitals for only one practice, the contrast between his style and Hanlon's was obvious. The most noticeable difference was Boudreau's constant barking during drills. Known as a players' coach, Hanlon was more reserved.

"Boudreau also demanded that everyone race over to him when he blew his whistle. The last one to the huddle had to skate a lap.

"More importantly, he places a greater emphasis on generating offense, one of the Capitals' biggest problems. As of last night, they ranked 28th in the league in goals per game (2.24)."
Boudreau is currently 2-0 as the new Caps coach. Yesterday afternoon they beat back the inconsistent Philadelphia Flyers and tonight put on an impressive performance against the Carolina Hurricanes. It is only the second time this season they have back to back wins, after winning their first three games of the season.

I will again visit the Verizon Center on December 12, when my team of choice, the New York Rangers will come to the nation's capital. Let's see how that game goes. But for now, the Caps have figured something out.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The 50 Greatest TV Icons

Last week, I posted about the list that TV Land and Entertainment Weekly put out promoting the newest list out there, the 50 Greatest TV Icons, listing the runners-up (numbers 51-100). Last Friday, there was a TV special counting down the top 50. Here is the list of #1-50. And let's just get on the record here, I got number one right.
  1. Johnny Carson (was there really ever a doubt?)
  2. Lucille Ball
  3. Oprah Winfrey
  4. Bill Cosby
  5. Walter Cronkite (he is the standard by which all anchors are measured)
  6. Carol Burnett
  7. Mary Tyler Moore
  8. Jerry Seinfeld (not that there's anything wrong with that)
  9. Homer Simpson
  10. Dick Clark
  11. Roseanne Barr
  12. Dick Van Dyke
  13. Jackie Gleason
  14. Ed Sullivan
  15. The "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" (aka, the first SNL crowd)
  16. David Letterman (so much the better choice than Jay Leno, who stole Johnny's crown from Dave)
  17. Bob Newhart
  18. William Shatner
  19. Andy Griffith
  20. Carrol O'Connor
  21. Kermit
  22. Milton Berle (what does it say that he is all the way down at number 22?)
  23. Barbara Walters
  24. Michael Landon (Holy Pa!)
  25. Heather Locklear
  26. Farrah Fawcett (but only for the hair flip . . . )
  27. Regis Philbin
  28. Howard Cosell
  29. John Ritter (another big loss for TV - gone too soon)
  30. Alan Alda
  31. Sarah Jessica Parker
  32. Henry Winkler (the Fonz, and I learned recently, one of Emerson College's most famous alumni)
  33. Ellen DeGeneres
  34. Bob Barker (a legend and an icon)
  35. Michael J. Fox
  36. Diahann Carroll
  37. George Clooney
  38. Bea Arthur (Then there's Maude . . .)
  39. Jennifer Aniston
  40. Sally Field
  41. Jon Stewart
  42. James Gandolfini (EW called him a family man, yes, but also a cold-blooded killer)
  43. Flip Wilson
  44. Susan Lucci
  45. Sarah Michelle Gellar
  46. Lassie
  47. Simon Cowell
  48. Jimmy Smits
  49. Calista Flockhart
  50. Larry Hagman

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Let Us Give Thanks, Part II

Well the clog is still there, but I am not calling a plumber on Thanksgiving so he can be thankful for the time and a half. But we will make the best of it for our family Thanksgiving. Peace to you all. I wish you all a very blessed Thanksgiving. I am thankful for many things this holiday.

I am thankful for my family, although I am not celebrating with any of them this holiday. And a teeny part of me is a little thankful for that, too.

I am thankful to my wife's family, who will be sharing our Thanksgiving bounty in our new home.

I am thankful my extended circle of friends and colleagues who pitched in for the Brave Astronaut family, when we bought our new home. We are happy to have the organizer of that effort at our table today.

I am thankful for all those who I call "friend," whether here in the Internet world, colleagues, friendly acquaintances, and those friends who while I may not see or talk to regularly enough, are still special to me.

I am thankful for my own family. My wife, who is the love of my life and continues to amaze me with her love for me. My son, who is approaching his third birthday and loves to have the three of us in the same room and makes me melt when he demands hugs and kisses before leaving the room where I am. And I am thankful for his brother, who will arrive at the end of next month.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Let us Give Thanks, Part I

Because I didn't have enough to do, I went to the Washington Capitals game tonight with ADR. It was a good time, but bad hockey. The chants of "Fire Hanlon" (the coach) began when the Atlanta Thrashers went ahead. They won the game 5-1. Mrs. BA and I will attend a second Caps game on Saturday night, when they will face off against the Carolina Hurricanes. On December 12, ADR will accompany me to the Capitals-Rangers game, after I received an early birthday gift from Mrs. BA.

Because God has a great sense of humor, I arrived home to find a clogged sink and water in the basement. Much work was done to try and rectify the situation, but I have to admit, Thanksgiving Dinner at the Brave Astronaut home is in danger of cancellation.

While I have several posts that I need to get to, I have lifted the meme below from Anna Van Schurman from her stitching blog. Enjoy your holiday.

Which do you like better: Cooking at your house, or going elsewhere? I would like to say that cooking at home is nice, but this year might not have been that year. But Thanksgiving to me has always been about family and I am glad to have as many of them around for the day (somewhere, my mother is happy with me).
  1. Do you buy a fresh or frozen bird? Butterball, baby, is what I am used to as that was what was on the table growing up. This year, we are having a 19 lb. bird purchased from the organic market. Should be delicious.

  2. What kind of stuffing? My father is always a meat stuffing kind of guy, but I am a plain old Pepperidge Farm or Arnold bread stuffing kind of guy, with the onions and the celery mixed in. And I prefer it in the bird, but that's evidently not allowed anymore.

  3. Sweet potato or pumpkin pie? Um, ick. Desserts are always big, but pumpkin pie usually came out of the freezer and then out of a box at my house growing up. And there was usually another dessert option available. Tomorrow there will be four of them.

  4. Do you believe that turkey leftovers are a curse, or the point of the whole thing? Duh, whole thing. C in DC and I are currently in negotiations about whether she should bring her stockpot so she can take the carcass home to make stock for soup.

  5. Which side dish would provoke a riot if you left it off the menu? I have to lobby for vegetables, so tomorrow we are having three different ones. My mother always said you had to have pearled onions because her grandmother did, and she hated them. They are one of the three tomorrow. I have no problem with more sides than people, but I am not sure which one I would agree to throw under the bus, except maybe for sweet potatoes, because they are icky, but I won't take away someone else's desire to eat them.

  6. Do you save the carcass to make soup or stock? Stock then soup, see number 5.

  7. What do you wish you had that would make preparing Thanksgiving dinner easier? I'm actually looking forward to the prep this year, as I have a real kitchen and an opportunity to use the good china. But it would be nice to not have to crush the final prep moments into a blur of time. So the ability to slow down time would be nice.

  8. Do you get up at the crack of dawn to have dinner ready in the early afternoon, or do you eat at your normal dinner hour? We are aiming for 3:00pm tomorrow, which means 4:00. You have to eat in the middle of the day so the 9:00pm turkey sandwich tastes that much better. And don't even get me started on my brother-in-law who plans dinner around the Cowboys game each year.

  9. If you go to somebody else's house, what's your favorite dish to bring? I like to cook, so I don't know. But I would usually bring wine, too. Then there was the year that friends were invited to another friends for the family Thanksgiving and when asked what the friend could bring, the hostess (the friend's mother) said, "Oh yes, could you bring this? And here's the recipe I'd like you to use . . . "

  10. What do you wish one of your guests wouldn't bring to your house? I'm on the fence with this one. I like when people bring things along to contribute, but when it's something I don't like, I feel some sort of obligation to try it. Yes, I know, I'm weird, but we've already established that.

  11. Does your usual mix of guests result in drama, or is it a group you're happy to see? Hi, I'm Brave Astronaut, have we met? Drama in families? Never happens [snicker].

  12. What's your absolute favorite thing on the menu? Tomorrow? I think it's my mom's cheesecake, followed by the mashed potatoes.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Beating the Zero Curse

A few weeks ago, I watched a television program that broke down the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981. I can't remember the show, but it used interviews from eyewitnesses and footage from the event to give a minute-by-minute account of the event.

Then, I noted the release last week of Arthur Bremer. UPDATE: The local section of the Washington Post noted the other day that the Laurel Museum received new items related to Bremer's assassination attempt on George Wallace. The memorabilia includes Wallace campaign swag, a Life Magazine issue, signed by Wallace, and news reports of the incident,

Finally, with my recent trip to President's Park (and thanks for the magnet "That is what I said," we put it on the fridge and my son looks at it daily to proclaim "GIANT HEADS!"), I was reminded of the Zero Curse that Reagan beat. So take your seats, kids, the history lesson is about to begin.

Beginning in 1840, every president until Reagan's election in 1980, has died in office. The Zero factor is linked also to the "Curse of Tecumseh," who allegedly stated that William Henry Harrison would die in office, despite the fact that no president had died in office before that point.

The election of 1840 saw William Henry Harrison win the presidency. On Inauguration Day, March 4, 1841, Harrison gave a lengthy speech, in the cold, without his coat. He caught pneumonia and succumbed a month later. John Tyler became the first vice president to rise to the presidency as a result of the president's death.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President on the eve of the United States Civil War. In 1865, as the Civil War was coming to a conclusion, Lincoln decided to go to Ford's Theater for a production of "Our American Cousin." John Wilkes Booth, an actor, shot Lincoln in the back of the head. Lincoln died the next morning.

The third victim of the Zero Factor Curse was James A. Garfield. While walking to a train in July 1881, less than three months after his inauguration, he was approached by Charles Guiteau, a disappointed office seeker, who shot him at point blank range. Garfield lingered for more than two months, before dying in September, making Chester A. Arthur, the President of the United States.

In 1900, William McKinley was greeting people in Buffalo, New York in 1901, when Leon Czolgosz, a deranged anarchist, shot the President in the chest. McKinley lasted for a week, but Theodore Roosevelt had already been sworn in as President.

When Warren G. Harding died in 1923, it was later alleged at the time that his wife had poisoned him. Was she just trying to keep the curse alive? Harding's wife refused to let them autopsy the President's body. Harding was embroiled in several political scandals as well as rumors of extramarital affairs.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to his third term in 1940, much to the chagrin of John Nance Garner, his vice president, who believed he would run at the end of the second term of FDR, but FDR liked it so much he broke the tradition of only two terms. He died in April 1945, a year into his unprecedented fourth term of a cerebral hemorrhage.

1960's presidential election was very close, with John F. Kennedy defeating Richard Nixon by a very close margin. In order to try and solidify support for his reelection bid in 1964, Kennedy traveled to Texas in November 1963. While riding in a convertible limousine, shots rang out from the Texas School Book Depository. As the car sped away, Kennedy lay mortally wounded in the back of the limo. The 35th President had become the final president to die by an assassin's bullet.

That's all for today. Class dismissed.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

To Dream the Impossible Dream

I have a number of posts ready to roll out the gates, but I had a disturbing dream last night. Normally, my sleep is uninterrupted by dreams, or at least I don't normally remember them. It must be the meds the dentist put me on. Here's last night's dream. And yes, I know I'm weird. But what do you think?

I am in the water under a large bridge (I think it's the Throgs Neck Bridge). There's a storm coming and I have climbed up onto the metal ladder to try and reach the roadway far above. There is a young boy with me (who might be me at a younger age). He has been in the water a long time, having drifted in Long Island Sound attached to something (it wasn't clear).

The dream "camera" shifts and I see that the current Governor of Maryland has organized a search for me and the boy. I realize that being on a metal ladder underneath a bridge during a thunderstorm is not the place to be, so the boy and I jump back into the water and swim for shore.

Yes it rained heavily here last night and my acute lack of sleep made me feel like I was walking in water most of the afternoon.

What is that about?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This Better Not Affect My Turkey Eating

I learned a few things today. One, I am no longer in college, when I could pull all-nighters with abandon and make it through the daylight hours without nodding off. Two, I hate tooth number 19.

That is the tooth I had root canal in approximately a month ago. This was after having a root canal performed on it nearly four years ago. The past two evenings / early mornings, I have woken up at 4:00am in pain (coming from tooth number 19 - that's a molar on the lower left part of your mouth, if you're playing along at home). Yesterday morning, I managed to grab a handful of Advil and got back to sleep for a few more hours.

This morning, I again woke up in pain, and the Advil did not work so good. So I got up, did some work at home and then headed off to work, getting there about 7:00am. I was not the only one surprised to see me at the office that early.

So I called the doctor of destruction (aka the dentist who did the root canal last month) and got an appointment to see her this afternoon. So off I went. She did some filing of the tooth to cut down on the bite and prescribed some anti-biotics and an anti-inflammatory. I am supposed to see her again in February.

Goody, soft food for dinner tonight! And presumably going to be early. By mid-afternoon, I felt like I was walking through water. It's a funny feeling. I definitely should not be operating heavy machinery in this condition.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The 50 Greatest TV Icons

On Friday night, on TV Land, the "50 Greatest TV Icons" will be reveled. Pictured in the ad from Entertainment Weekly are:
  • Jerry Seinfeld
  • Ed Sullivan
  • Barbara Walters
  • Calista Flockhart
  • Jon Stewart
  • Sarah Jessica Parker
  • Bill Cosby
  • Jennifer Aniston
  • George Clooney
  • Heather Locklear
  • Lucille Ball
  • Jackie Gleason
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Johnny Carson
I'm going on record to say, I think Johnny should be number one, but my predictions are usually heart over head anyway.

On the EW site, you can see the runners-up, numbers 51-100. See what you think and tune in to see who makes the top 50! Here's the list:
100. Marcia Cross (for going crazy on Melrose Place, and keeping it going on Desperate Housewives)
99. Delta Burke
98. Merideth Baxter
97. In Living Color
96. Shannon Doherty
95. Richard Dawson (95? He was robbed!)
94. Melissa Gilbert (Half-pint!)
93. Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie!)
92. Judge Judy (?! - Wapner better make the top 50)
91. Dennis Franz
90. John Stamos
89. Robert Guillaume
88. Gavin Macleod ("The Love Boat . . . Soon will be making another run")
87. Phil Hartman (I think had he lived longer, he would be much higher on this list)
86. Jerry Mathers (The Beave!)
85. Rod Serling ("You've entered a new dimension . . .")
84. Cartman (he's from South Park, for those of us with brains)
83. Isabel Sanford (Weezy!)
82. Ted Knight (and yes, he is still dead)
81. Dick Cavett
80. Adam West (Batman!)
79. Angela Lansbury
78. Art Carney
77. James Garner ("You've reached Jim Rockford, I used to be Maverick")
76. Candice Bergen
75. Peter Falk (Columbo!)
74. Joan Rivers ("OH, PUHLEEEZE!")
73. Tony Danza (for me, only from Taxi)
72. Cher (does this mean the Osmonds will be on the list somewhere?)
71. Rosie O'Donnell
70. Bob Denver (Gilligan!)
69. Barbara Eden (Jeannie!)
68. Don Cornelius (of Soul Train)
67. Tom Selleck
66. Kelsey Grammer
65. Pamela Anderson (I always forget she was the first Tool Time Girl)
64. Phil Donahue (That's Mr. Marlo Thomas to you. And Mike Douglas better show up somewhere on the list, too.)
63. Ed Asner (he hates spunk)
62. Redd Foxx (he's comin', Elizabeth)
61. Paul Ruebens (Pee Wee!)
60. Merv Griffin (he should so be higher on this list, too)
59. Ted Danson (but what number is his hair?)
58. Don Knotts
57. Charlie Brown
56. Betty White
55. Fred Rogers
54. Florence Henderson
53. Ed McMahon
52. Ron Howard (Opie, but for me, always Richie Cunningham)
51. Bob Hope

Monday, November 12, 2007

Call for Recipes: What are you having?

In a little more than a week's time, the Brave Astronaut family will open their home for Thanksgiving. Expected through the door at the Brave Astronaut in-laws along with C in DC and Mr. C in DC. And, if she gets called for a case, NJM, which would keep her from being with her family on Thanksgiving. My mother would not let me know of people being by themselves on a holiday, she would come down from wherever she is and haunt me endlessly.

But as of this evening, we will be eleven adults and five children (one of whom isn't on solid food yet, so she doesn't count). So much time is being devoted to menu planning for Thanksgiving dinner. So while I pull my recipes together, here's a preview of what is being planned. If you have a particularly good recipe or suggestion, let me know.

Appetizers (overeating is every American's God-given right on Thanksgiving, so we are sure to get started early with some munchies)
  • Crudites (and C in DC is bringing her own black olives, I am given to understand)
  • Cheese and crackers (Costco yesterday, big box of crackers and some really good cheeses)
  • Artichoke Dip
  • Turkey (already ordered, a 16-18 lb. bird, fresh, free-range)
  • Honey baked ham (this will allow me to make Ham and Turkey pie - ahh, leftovers)
  • Stuffing (likely to be made out of bird, to cut down on cooking time)
  • Mashed potatoes (well, whipped, but potatoes nonetheless)
  • Sweet potato casserole (being made by my MIL. I don't like them but others do.)
  • Green beans (I have a good skillet recipe with lemon and garlic)
  • Pearled Onions (my mother always had to have them on her table, even though she didn't like them. I have come to like them and my MIL has a good recipe that she is trying.)
  • A possible third vegetable to be named later (I'm thinking brussel sprouts).
  • Cranberry (fresh and from the can - as my sister-in-law, who normally eschews such things, "it's like candy, you just have to have it." And it's good with the 10:00 turkey sandwich).
  • Pecan Pie (C in DC, with her college fund raiser pecans is on this)
  • Apple cake (I voted for this one, but my other sister-in-law's in-laws are coming and evidently, her MIL makes a good one.)
  • Cheesecake (My mother's recipe. Some have said it's too heavy, but my mother's is not. And I want it, so I'm making it.)
  • Pumpkin Pie (Again something I don't like at all, but others do, so my MIL is on this as well.)
  • Wine (My sister-in-law (of the canned cranberry) is on choosing the wine for the evening. I am thinking a few bottles of both white and red.)
  • Champagne (C in DC has offered to bring a bottle or two to allow us to toast the holiday in our new home)
  • Beer (I'll need some)
  • Soda (I'll need some of that, too.)
  • Pellegrino (just bought a new case at Costco), maybe we will mix up some Crystal Light to serve with it (the official drink of the Brave Astronaut in-laws).
So, what am I missing? What has to be on your table at Thanksgiving? Recipe sound good? Want to come? Hey, what's one more?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Flag is Out

Today was Veteran's Day in the United States. Tomorrow, the federal government will mark the day by being closed for the day. Stores everywhere will proclaim their Veteran's Day sales. And it marks the day that you can now discuss Christmas plans with Mrs. Brave Astronaut. But wherever you are, I hope you took a moment to remember and say thank you to those who have kept this nation free and safe.

Here from the Center for Military History is a history of Veteran's Day, originally known as Armistice Day.

World War I ended with the implementation of an armistice [temporary cessation of hostilities—in this case until the final peace treaty, the infamous Treaty of Versailles, was signed in 1919] between the Allies and Germany at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of November, 1918.

November 11, 1919
President Woodrow Wilson proclaims the first Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…" The original concept for the celebration was for the suspension of business for a two minute period beginning at 11 A.M., with the day also marked by parades and public meetings.

On the second anniversary of the armistice, France and the United Kingdom hold ceremonies honoring their unknown dead from the war. In America, at the suggestion of church groups, President Wilson names the Sunday nearest Armistice Day Sunday, on which should be held services in the interest of international peace.

Congress passes legislation approving the establishment of a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. November 11 is chosen for the date of the ceremony. According on October 20, Congress declares November 11, 1921 a legal Federal holiday to honor all those who participated in the war. The ceremony was conducted with great success.

Congress adopts a resolution directing the President to issue an annual proclamation calling on the observance of Armistice Day. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, most states establish November 11 as a legal holiday and at the Federal level, an annual proclamation is issued by the President.

May 13, 1938
Congress passes legislation making November 11 a legal Federal holiday, Armistice Day.

June 1, 1954
President Dwight Eisenhower signs legislation changing the name of the legal holiday from Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day.

Congress passes the Monday Holiday Law which established the fourth Monday in October as the new date for the observance of Veteran’s Day. The law took effect in 1971.

Legislation passed to return the Federal observance of Veteran’s Day to November 11, based on popular support throughout the nation. The law took effect in 1978.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

This Blog Post is Brought to you by the Letter B and A

Today marks the 38th anniversary of the debut of Sesame Street. Now, with a child of my own (who is closing in on his third birthday!), I am reacquainting myself with the characters I grew up with as well as a whole new crowd.

On this date in 1969, the children's television program, Sesame Street, appeared on the airwaves for the first time. We met Gordon, Bob, Mr. Hooper and a few other "grownups" that interacted with the new Muppet characters. Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch (who didn't start out green), Bert and Ernie, Kermit, and Cookie Monster all appeared on this first episode.

Thankfully, no Elmo. While he is one of the mainstays of today's Sesame Street, he did not appear until later. It is unfortunate that while my son has seen Sesame Street, he also knows of Elmo, who I find to be grating. Even more disturbing was my son looking at a drink glass that he uses in the bathroom, exclaiming "Mickey Mouse!" which is depicted on the cup. We have sheltered him from the Mouse. How did he find out about it? Does this mean a trip to the Magic Kingdom can be far behind?

May God Help Me.

Friday, November 9, 2007

"I want to be famous"

The title statement is supposedly what set Arthur Bremer on the road to trying to kill Richard Nixon in 1972. It may be noted with interest that today, Arthur Bremer, the man who shot George Wallace in 1968 when the Alabama Governor was running for President, was released from prison after serving 35 years. It is expected that Bremer will return to his home state of Wisconsin, but the state will likely bar him from interacting with politicians and attending political rallies. Bremer decided to shoot one of the candidates in the 1968 Presidential election. His top choice was President Richard Nixon, then George McGovern, before realizing that he would have an easier time getting to George Wallace.

So, on May 15, 1972, a sunny day in Laurel, Maryland (it is hard to understand why a presidential candidate would ever campaign in Maryland, but that's a story for a different day) Bremer approached Wallace in the Laurel Shopping Center parking lot with a snub-nosed revolver and opened fire. Wallace spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair but also corresponded with Bremer in prison, forgiving Bremer for his actions. Wallace died in 1998.

Three others were also hit by gunfire. Nick Zarvos, a Secret Service agent protecting Wallace was shot in the throat. The bullet just missed his carotid artery and voice box by less than an inch. An Alabama state trooper, also part of the security detail and a Maryland campaign volunteer were also wounded.

It was alleged that the Nixon White House may have tried to capitalize on the event. Charles Colson reportedly wanted to dispatch an operative to Bremer's apartment to plant pro-McGovern literature there. Colson denies the allegation.

There is no marker at the shopping center to commemorate what happened there thirty-five years ago. In fact the spokesman for the city of Laurel remarked to the Washington Post, "To be honest with you, a lot of people in Laurel don't know about the shooting or could tell you who George Wallace is." Well that's just sad.

Here's an article from the Washington Post Archives that recounts the shooting. Maybe that will help.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Recipe for History and Warmth

In honor of my return from Williamsburg and that I had to wear a turtleneck and a heavy coat today, here is a recipe for Brunswick Stew, enjoyed by the Brave Astronaut behind Chownings Tavern last week. The recipe comes from here.

"The argument will never be settled as to whether this tasty dish came from Brunswick County, Virginia; Brunswick, Georgia; or Brunswick County, North Carolina, although Virginia's claim is the best documented. The recipe is now made with stewed chicken, corn, lima beans, and tomatoes and omits the squirrel, which was originally used. Southern cooks prize okra for its distinctive flavor and texture. the vegetable came to the new world from Africa via the slave trade. Serves 8-10

  • 2 chickens (about 3 pounds each), cut into 6 or 8 pieces
  • 4-5 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 2 (16-ounce) cans, drained, seeded, and chopped
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 3 medium all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen lima beans
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen sliced okra
  • 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
In a large pot, place the chickens and add enough water to cover, 2-3 quarts. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is falling off the bones and the broth is well flavored, 2-3 hours. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a bowl and cool.

Skim the broth. Add the tomatoes, corn, potatoes, onions, lima beans, and okra. Season with the salt, pepper, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring often, until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pull the chicken off the bones. Add the chicken to the vegetables and taste the stew for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper, or sugar as desired. Serve hot in warmed bowls.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Back from the Burg of William

The Brave Astronaut family has returned from the Fall 2007 MARAC Meeting in Williamsburg. You can see some of the "business" highlights here on this blog (now that he has finally updated it!). Of course, for the lighter side of things, you can go to ADR's blog.

Since my last post, I had my session on Friday afternoon. It was well attended and I think it went rather well. The other sessions I went to were good as well. I attended several sessions at this meeting on the strength of a really good program with a wide variety of topics covered. I am on the Program Committee for the next two meetings, to be held in May 2008 in Chautauqua, New York and in November 2008, right here in Silver Spring, Maryland. For the Chautauqua meeting, I am responsible for getting two sessions off the ground. Stay tuned to see how they develop.

Friday night's reception took place at the Swem Library at the College of William and Mary and a good time was had by all, including Little Brave Astronaut and my MIL, who was a great help during the meeting so Mrs. Brave Astronaut and I could fulfill our professional duties. After the reception, we accompanied Ralph and Alice (you know, the Honeymooners) to their new favorite Williamsburg haunt, the Blue Talon Bistro. This evening marked the fourth night in a row for them visiting the restaurant and the second time for ADR. At several people's urging, I kept the number of our group low (Lord knows I have a problem doing that), but we got bumped up by ADR and his party of four. So we were ten for dinner and we got split into two tables of five. But the meal was amazing, from the escargot to start, the braised beef entree, and the burnt sugar ice cream for dessert.

Saturday, the final day of the conference was more sessions, the morning business meeting, discussed on Geof's blog, and once the conference wrapped up, it was once more into the pool of the time share. After a brief dip (I will say here, that the pool was very nice, but it was an indoor pool, not necessarily a heated one), we met up with the Honeymooners yet again and the Sweetest archivist and her family for a take out dinner at the recommended Pierce's BBQ.

Sunday morning dawned early and we checked out of the time share and enjoyed one last meal with the Honeymooners at one of Williamsburg's many pancake houses. Then we hit the road, eschewing the outlets for a direct trip home. We opted for a different route, avoiding I-95 and the anticipated Washington Beltway traffic around the Wilson Bridge. The route took us through the Virginia countryside and through the middle of Fort A.P. Hill. We also traveled backwards up the escape route of John Wilkes Booth, passing first the Garrett Farm, then the Mudd Home. We crossed the Potomac over the Nice Bridge (easier than Booth did), and then up through Southern Maryland. We also had the opportunity to visit the birthplace of George Washington, which we also passed on. The batteries in my camera were dead. We will have to return with a plan next time.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Friday in Billsburg

Here we are at Williamsburg - Fall 2007 MARAC Meeting. Currently the plenary session has just gotten underway and I have pushed MARAC and getting involved to the members of the Pennsylvania caucus. The organization is also rolling out a new fundraising plan at this meeting, "35 for 35." MARAC is celebrating its 35th anniversary at this meeting and the Development Committee has decided to start this campaign with a push to double the MARAC endowment. Watch this space for more news!

So on Tuesday evening, the Brave Astronaut family passed an uneventful trip traveling to Williamsburg, checking into our time share. Wednesday, as previously discussed, I played 18 holes of golf at Williamsburg National Golf Club. J in PA and I had a great time on a great course and posted scores that we were not ashamed of. After that we met up with our respective spouses for a lunch at Chowinings Tavern in the historic area. After that the Brave Astronaut family went back to the time share for some pool time. Little Brave Astronaut likes the water.

On Thursday morning, we decided to go see the "Giant Heads!" at President's Park. I might have to post some pictures when the film comes back. We taught little brave astronaut to say "Giant Heads" so he spent much of the time looking at the "Giant Heads." Thursday afternoon was consumed with meetings, culminating with the marathon steering committee meeting. Mrs. Brave Astronaut and I got back to our time share about 11:00pm, heading to be in time to be back here at the hotel (in the lobby with the free wi-fi) for our 8:00 meetings.

My session is this afternoon and hopefully there will be more to report later!