Sunday, August 31, 2008

End of the Summer

It occurred to me at some point this summer that it has been 25 years since I had the opportunity to visit the land of my peoples, France. As I am still heading back from the beach, here's another nostalgia story until the recap appears, trust me, it's worth the wait!

I could recount for you the intimate details about the trip, but as there is nothing worse than other people's vacation stories (or pictures), I won't do that to you. I spent six weeks in France that summer, visiting Paris and its environs for a week on either side of the trip and the middle weeks were spent at the family homestead in Bretagne. There are many memories that to a 15 year-old seemed so much different now to someone approaching 41. Let's just say that I had a really good time and can't wait for the opportunity to go back some day.

Tomorrow will mark the 25th anniversary of the shooting down of Korean Air Lines flight 007 by Russian fighter jets. I have this distinct memory of sitting on the plane coming home reading about the incident and being a little freaked out at being on a plane.

Additionally, tomorrow the United States will observe Labor Day. I am going to try and celebrate by hanging out in a pool somewhere and then perhaps doing some grilling of hot dogs and hamburgers, for that is the best way to celebrate the waning days of summer.

Between tonight and tomorrow, I will likely tune in to watch a little of this. I can't help it. Say what you will about him, but when he closes the telethon with this song, I get a little moist eyed.

Hey, I'm French - does that explain it?

Friday, August 29, 2008

An End of Summer Menu Meme

Written earlier for posting on Friday August 29, 2008

Pinched from C in DC:

Appetizer: When was the last time you had your hair cut/trimmed?
  • Just recently. It was getting pretty mangy. Only problem with the person that currently cuts my hair? I think she used to work for the military. I'm not exactly getting crew cuts, but it's pretty short once she's done with it.
Soup: Name one thing you miss about being a child.
  • Lack of responsibility. As OSG remarks, work is so inconvenient these days, it gets in the way of all the other things we would rather be doing, sleeping, watching TV, you know fun stuff.
Salad: Pick one: butter, margarine, olive oil.
  • Butter all the way baby
Main Course: If you could learn another language, which one would you pick, and why?
  • I took six years of French in high school and another in college. But Spanish would do a lot better for me. But I would also love to at least be able to speak in several languages.
Dessert: Finish this sentence: In 5 years I expect to be…
  • Good Lord, turning 45. Hopefully just as happy as I am now and successful in the endeavors that I have set out in front of me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Much Needed Vacation, Missing a Meeting, and Watching a Convention!

Written earlier for posting on Wednesday August 27, 2008

I've talked about vacation here before. Normally at this time of year, I would be on a "work vacation" at the Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting. This year the meeting is taking place in San Francisco, California. Those of you who are there, I hope you are all having a good time at the baseball game tonight. I'm sad not to be there, but I am making up for it with a few days "R&R" at the beach.

And here's some vacation tips that found their way into my Google reader, from Marginal Revolution, citing this post on this blog:
  1. Start packing early - Doesn't everyone? I have been known to lay out clothes several days in advance of trips.
  2. Keep a list - these tips are clearly for someone else. Who doesn't make lists?
  3. Spend money where it helps - well sure. Duh.
  4. Pack almonds - snacks are an essential with a three year old. He needs them just for a short car ride. But unfortunately, for now, no nuts. Cheerios, raisins, fine. But she recommends the snacks for the grown-ups, which is a good idea as well.
  5. Return a day early - sure it's hateful, but becoming more and more necessary. I would love to stay at the beach through Monday, but we'll be back on Sunday.
  6. Unpack right away - Again, who are these tips for? Mrs. BA, did you get all these?
We are also approaching Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer. This means that school children around the country are running for cover. In New York, where I went to school, the first day of school always took place on the Wednesday after Labor Day (remind me to tell you someday about when I got my first teaching job). Back at the end of June, Time magazine had an article on "A Brief History of Summer Vacation." As a somewhat responsible adult, I long for the days of summer vacation, where one had not a care in the world, and the only worry was to go to the ocean beaches or the ones on Long Island Sound.

Unfortunately, the article points out, summer vacation has not always been around and it may even be endangered yet again. In the days leading up to the Civil War, school operated on two calendars, neither of which had a summer break. This was largely as a result of the agrarian economy, which permitted students to help with the harvests in the fall and the spring plantings. Students living in cities operated under a 48 week school calendar (that's only four short of a full year, people), with a break each quarter. The good thing was that school was not compulsory!

In the United States, school years average 180 days although schools in Asia, specifically South Korea and Japan hold their students in school for 220 and 243 days, respectively. When the "summer break" gathered steam (around the turn of the 20th Century), it was believed that it was in the best interests of the medical and mental health of children. Keeping them out of school in the summer months would cut down on heat-related disease and give their brains a rest. However, that rest has led the United States down a path where we are consistently behind in math skills and graduation rates.

So as we sit back and enjoy the final few days of "summer," think about those lazy, hazy days of summer and remember that we have had it pretty good. I can't complain about not being in San Francisco (I've already done enough of that) and I will relax tonight and tomorrow night while watching the Democratic ticket accept their nominations for Vice President and President. We are under 150 days until we get a new president!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

#34 - Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953-1961

I'm off tonight for a few days of rest and relaxation at the beach. I have a few posts scheduled to keep you up to date while I am away as I am not sure what my connectivity will be at the beach. Happy Labor Day weekend to all and enjoy the Democratic Convention!

Dwight David Eisenhower came to the presidency without having held an elective office. A career military man, Eisenhower was Commander of NATO Forces in Europe when Republican party officials came to him in Paris to persuade him to run for President in 1952.

Born in Texas, but raised in Abilene, Kansas, Eisenhower received an appointment to West Point. When World War II broke out, Eisenhower became Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe and oversaw the invasion of North Africa and the D-Day invasion in June 1944. After being elected President, Eisenhower presided over the truce signing in 1953, ending the Korean Conflict.

Domestically, Eisenhower is credited with the establishment of the Interstate Highway System. He also created the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, now divided into the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education. Eisenhower appointed five justices to the Supreme Court, including the nomination of Earl Warren as Chief Justice. During his administration, NASA was also created.

In September 1955, Eisenhower suffered a severe heart attack. He spent several weeks in a hospital and doctors pronounced him healthy enough to return to work in February 1956. He was reelected in November of that year. He retired from the presidency to his farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and died at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC in March 1969.

The Facts
  • Born October 14, 1890 in Denison, Texas
  • Died March 28, 1969 in Washington, DC (age 78)
  • Party: Republican
  • Wife: Mamie Eisenhower
The Election of 1952
The Election of 1956
  • Eisenhower was the first US President born in Texas.
  • Born David Dwight Eisenhower, he was known as Dwight. It is alleged that upon his entrance to West Point, the names were switched to their established order (see also U. S. Grant).
  • Eisenhower's religious background was with the Jehovah's Witnesses. Twelve days after his inauguration, he was baptized into the Presbyterian Church. It was Eisenhower who engineered the addition of "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance and the adoption of "In God We Trust" as the official U.S. motto.
  • Eisenhower reportedly wanted to be a professional baseball player. He did not make the West Point baseball team and said years later, "Not making the baseball team at West Point was one of the greatest disappointments of my life, maybe my greatest."
  • Between his service in Europe during World War II and taking command of NATO forces, Eisenhower was the president of Columbia University.
  • During his 38 years in the Army, he lived in 27 different homes.
  • Eisenhower ordered National Guard troops to escort students into Little Rock (AR) High School to enforce integration laws.
  • During the Eisenhower administration, the 49th and 50th states of Alaska and Hawaii, were admitted to the Union.
  • Eisenhower left office under the regulations of the newly passed 25th Amendment, prohibiting presidents from serving more than two terms. He also was the first beneficiary of the Former President's Act, entitling him to a lifetime pension, staff, and Secret Service protection.
  • Camp David, the presidential retreat, is named for Eisenhower's son.
  • Eisenhower was featured on the silver dollar coin from 1971-1978. His presidential dollar coin will be issued in 2015.
  • A devoted golfer, the Eisenhower Pine at Augusta National Golf Club, is named in his honor. Eisenhower frequently hit the tree when he played there and campaigned to have it moved or taken down. The request was never fulfilled.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Broccoli Stew? Ew.

One of LBA's many books to read is Sandra Boynton's Hey Wake Up! wherein Broccoli Stew is offered to the baby bunny and the hippo's response is, "Ew." (Of course, when the hippo learns the stew is for the baby bunny, he utters, "Whew.") Cracks me up.

My friend Anna over on her blog (normally about stitching) has been trotting out some of her recipes that feature vegetables as she has been benefiting from a vegetable coop this summer. Here is her recipe for Broccoli Casserole. LBA does have a penchant for Mac and Cheese so perhaps this might be a way to get him to eat more vegetables.

Broccoli Casserole
  • 3/4 pound of elbow macaroni
  • a head of broccoli
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 2 c warm milk
  • 1 lb white cheddar, diced (orange cheddar is unnatural, don't use it.)
  • two slices of bread
  • butter
Set the oven to 375. Boil the macaroni to just shy of cooked. It will soften when you bake it. Then boil or steam the broccoli. Using a blender, pulverize the broccoli. Some chunks of stem will remain, but you mostly want broccoli mush because you really don't like eating flowers, do you?
Melt the butter. Brown the flour in the butter, stirring frequently. Slowly whisk in the warm milk. When the sauce begins to thicken, stir in a handful of cheese at a time. Once all the cheese is melted, remove the sauce from the heat.

Butter a casserole dish. Add the broccoli and macaroni. Stir to combine. Slowly add the cheese sauce. You won't need it all. You want the mixture pretty wet, but not soaking. Save the extra cheese for baked potatoes. Mmmmm. Butter the bread. Cut into 1" squares. Sprinkle over the mac and cheese. You really want to do this because the bread will soak up oil from the cheese and it will be very very yummy. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What the Font?

If you are a reader of Amy's blog, you've already seen this. In my defense, I was planning to post about it, but she beat me to it. Enjoy nonetheless, it's very funny.

Kottke got me thinking further about fonts when this post appeared, detailing the new Mencap typeface, designed for those with certain learning disabilities. In that same kottke post, he mentions the new Clearview typeface, which is making its appearance known around the country as road signs are replaced with new, easier to read signs. You'll notice the difference when you see them.

Finally, growing up in the 70s and early 80s, television often turned to PBS standards as Mister Roger's Neighborhood, Sesame Street, Electric Company, or Zoom (and I'm sorry if the theme has now popped into your heads - "Write ZOOM, Z-Double-O-M, Box 3-5-0, Boston, Mass 0-2-1-3-4: send it to ZOOM!". Some enterprising person has posted the various fonts, typefaces, and logos utilized by the Electric Company during its run.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Word smithing

I spotted this on Language Hat, a language blog I like to read. It is an online quiz that asks you to identify the 100 most common English words. I like to think that I am pretty good at these sort of things, but the pressure got to me. I did not even get half of them.

Now I know there is at least one of my readers out there who will do well with this. Isn't that right, Dr. Anna? She has been amusing herself with this website and this one, which Mrs. BA and I will take the random quiz on occasionally.

Fair warning, be prepared to lose a fair bit of time down the rabbit hole of the Interwebs if you click on the links and play the games.

And let us not forget to wish our dear friend OSG a belated happy birthday, his birthday was two days ago. Yesterday marked the anniversary of the birth of blogging friend and budding archivist, Amy. And today marks two birthdays in the Brave Astronaut orbit. My brother turns 55 today and ADR also celebrates his birthday today! Sunday we will note the birthday of C in DC. She may have some issues (well, two small issues) trying to celebrate her birthday quietly . . . Monday will mark the birthday of my niece. A busy month for birthdays! Happy birthday to the whole bunch!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

If Only I Still Had Mine

Some time ago, this story came out. Doing what I do, I was of course immediately riveted. Especially because I also had my fair share of Legos growing up. I always just build houses though, decidedly symmetrical, neat houses. What was the point otherwise?

My son has a set of "Duplo" blocks, but he doesn't seem as interested in them the way I was with my Legos.

The story has also only renewed my desire to visit any one of these destinations. I also remember growing up that a highlight of visiting New York City to see Christmas decorations was to also go to this store and gape in awe at the Lego display.

And now - with the Olympics - here comes the LEGO Olympics!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

#33 - Harry S. Truman, 1945-1953

You will have to wait a few more week's for his entry, but today is the 62nd birthday of our 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton!

Our 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman came into office as the Second World War was coming to a close, just over three months after being inaugurated as Vice President. It is widely reported that after hearing of the death of FDR, Truman went to Eleanor Roosevelt and asked if there was anything he could do for her, to which she replied, "Is there anything we can do for you? For you are the one in trouble now." True enough, for shortly after being sworn in as President, Truman was informed that the army was hard at work on a weapon that would bring the world into a completely new era - the atomic bomb. In likely the hardest decision ever made by a president, Truman ordered the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945, which led to the end of hostilities in World War II. in 1949, the Soviets detonated their first atomic bomb.

Truman also devoted himself to peace and was present at the signing of the United Nations Charter in San Francisco in June 1945. NATO was also established during Truman's presidency. Truman also signed the National Security Act of 1947, which merged the Departments of War and Navy into a new Department of Defense. The act also created the Air Force, the CIA and the National Security Council

Truman started his presidency by continuing the policies of his predecessor. As he grew into the job, FDR's New Deal became Truman's Fair Deal. He continued to excel in foreign affairs, starting the program that became known as the Truman Doctrine, established primarily to protect Greece and Turkey from Russian forces. The Marshall Plan, named for Truman's Secretary of State, George C. Marshall, helped to rebuild the countries of Europe after World War II. Truman again went up against the Russians, when they blockaded West Berlin. Truman responded with the Berlin Airlift. Truman also set a precedent when he made the decision to recognize the new state of Israel in 1948.

In 1948, Truman sought reelection. He was unpopular and his defeat was widely expected and reported. He had also signed an Executive Order to integrate the armed forces of the United States. The Republican candidate, Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York did not campaign as well as Truman's Whistle Stop campaign and Truman was reelected albeit by a narrow margin. In fact, papers in Illinois were late to the results, sending a print run of papers that carried the banner headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman."

As Truman's tenure as President came to a close, he spent the remaining years overseeing the Korean Conflict, working hard to keep the fight localized so as to not provoke the Russians and the Chinese. His popularity suffered its greatest blow when he fired General Douglas MacArthur from his command in Korea. He retired from the presidency in 1953 and returned home to Missouri where he died on the day after Christmas in 1972, nearly twenty years after leaving the presidency.

The Facts
  • born May 8, 1884 in Lamar, Missouri
  • died December 26, 1972 in Independence, Missouri (age 88)
  • married to Bess Truman
  • Party: Democrat
The Election of 1948
  • Harry Truman's middle name was S - although Truman himself used a period after the S, he also advocated for no period.
  • Truman did not graduate from college, the only president after 1897 to serve without holding a college degree.
  • The decision to put Truman on the ticket in 1944 was made after party bosses determined that Henry Wallace was too liberal, and their realization that whoever was the Vice President would soon be president. Truman was the fourth choice of FDR and initially said no.
  • In 1950, Truman survived an assassination attempt, when Puerto Rican nationalists tried to shoot their way into Blair House.
  • In 1996, to honor the only Missourian to become president, Northeast Missouri State University became Truman State University.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Waiter, There's a Spy in my Soup!

The National Archives made news last week when more than 750,000 pages of material from the formerly secret personnel files of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) were released. The documents, which are maintained at the archives building in College Park, MD, shed light on the lives of many who worked in the field of international espionage. The list included many notables, among them former CIA directors Allen Dulles and William Casey, famed chef Julia Child, Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, Arab/Israeli peace negotiator and civil rights advocate Ralph Bunche, and Hollywood actor Sterling Hayden.

Fellow blogger and neighbor first "broke" the story about Julia Child dealing with codes before souffles over on his blog after the news reports started.

To honor the achievements of Julia McWilliams, who met her husband Paul Child in the OSS, I offer up a random Julia Child recipe.

Le Gateau au Chocolat "Eminence Brune"
Adapted from "Julia Child's Kitchen," Alfred Knopf, 1975
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 7 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup extra fine sugar plus 2 tablespoons
  • 4 ounces soft unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • Filling and frosting (see recipe below)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch cake pans; place wax paper in bottom of each, and then butter and flour.
  2. Blend coffee and water in top of double boiler over simmering water. Remove from heat. Add chocolates; cover and set aside to melt.
  3. Beat yolks and gradually add 1 cup sugar. Continue beating until yolks are thick, pale yellow.
  4. Beat melted chocolate until smooth. Beat in butter, 2 tablespoons at a time; gradually beat chocolate and butter into yolk mixture.
  5. Beat whites until foamy; beat in cream of tartar and salt. Continue beating until whites form soft peaks; gradually beat in 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Sift on 1/4 of cornstarch and scoop on 1/4 of whites; stir with spatula. Scoop rest of whites on top; sift on 2 of remaining cornstarch and fold. Sift half of remaining cornstarch on top and fold in; sift on remaining cornstarch and fold to blend.
  6. Spoon batter into pans and smooth. Bang once on work surface to settle batter, then bake for 15 minutes. A cake tester inserted near the edges should come out clean. Cool pans on racks. Wrap and chill for an hour before unmolding.
Chocolate Filling and Glaze
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  1. Melt chocolates with coffee and water; beat in butter. If mixture is too liquid to spread, beat over cold water until lightly thickened.
  2. Unmold one layer of cake onto serving plate and spread top with 1/4 inch of icing. Unmold second layer on top of first and cover top and sides with remaining frosting. Serve, refrigerate or freeze. Return to room temperature before serving.
Yield: 8 servings.

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's Still the Olympics

While you digest the answers to last week's quiz, here is a map from the New York Times that shows how medals have been awarded in the Summer Olympics. It's kind of cool. And a medal tally to date. Go USA!

And have you all seen what Michael Phelps is eating these days? I think I need to lie down.

Answers to the quiz
  1. The emperor. In China, the dragon is a benevolent, wise, auspicious male power.
  2. Jesus. Hong had chanced upon translated scripture and, in a dream, had visions of himself as the brother of Jesus.
  3. Soong Mei-ling, wife of Chiang Kai-shek.
  4. Diving (nine medals) and shooting (nine).
  5. 171.
  6. Only children, lavished with attention because of China’s one-child-per-couple policy.
  7. 20. But most new releases are available on bootleg DVDs within days.
  8. “Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung,” estimated at 900 million copies (aka the Little Red Book).
  9. 106.
  10. Two-thirds, according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Wild and Crazy Guy

Today is Steve Martin's 63rd birthday. Here is a little nugget I saw here but have seen many other times.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Whither the Research Library?

I am an archivist and I have a library degree. I started my professional career at an archives that contained mostly paper records. I am now an archivist who deals with electronic records. When I saw this link on Random Knowledge, which led to this article in the New York Review of Books, I thought it would make a good post.

The article in the NYRB starts out:
Information is exploding so furiously around us and information technology is changing at such bewildering speed that we face a fundamental problem: How to orient ourselves in the new landscape? What, for example, will become of research libraries in the face of technological marvels such as Google?
I have a friend who is very big on the Web 2.0 tools and there is certainly a facet to all of those applications / platforms / tools that might certainly contribute to the downfall of research libraries.

Back in the "dark ages" when I was getting my library degree, I took a class on reference. One of the classes focused on the use of online resources. Now there are multiple courses in the degree program that deal with online information and retrieval.

When I took my first job in archives, there were two computers (out of approximately 25 for a staff of about 30) that were connected to the Internet - and that was through a dialup connection to the University's servers. Nothing like loading a webpage (in 1994) and getting "[image]" and the text of the page (DOS browsers anyone?)

As mentioned before, I now work primarily with electronic records, having come from previous positions as a paper archivist. The electronic records program at my current employer has been around for more than 35 years and the need for preservation of electronic records is only becoming more and more important as the records continue to be generated in a variety of formats (Presidential email, anyone?)

The article mentions blogs, stating that "more than a million blogs have emerged during the last few years." Blogs are an electronic records as well. How are we preserving them? Where's the archive for them? I have recently been going back over my posts (more than 500 of them) checking them, retagging some, deleting some tags, checking hot links.

The problem here is, as the author points out, "Information has never been stable." There are still no lack of places that a researcher can go to look at information, but is it becoming easier to sit around in your underwear and Google the information you seek?

It is sort of the way I feel about newspapers. While I receive the RSS feeds for two newspapers that publish in areas where I used to live, I still like to READ the Washington Post everyday. I like the feel of actual paper in my hands. Mrs. BA is content to read the paper online, but I don't get the same out of that experience. Plus no funnies.

I used to work in a public library (long ago and far away). I was a page, and one of my responsibilities was periodically retrieving old magazines from the stacks downstairs based on a reference request from a patron. I also used to shelve books (you remember books, right? Hard things, paper inside, words on the paper?) and shelf read the library shelves (Hey, don't laugh, it was mind numbing, but you didn't necessarily get yelled at if you fell asleep).

The author of the article (nor am I prepared to) makes no stunning pronouncements. And yet, the question is out there. What will happen to the world's research libraries if we move toward an environment where everything is available online? Would all of the world's archives become like that dusty room where I used to fish out old issues of Consumer Reports? Let's hope not or we are all going to be in a lot of trouble.

I look forward to hearing your comments on this intriguing topic.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

#32 - Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933-1945

One might presume that the entry for the only president to serve more than two terms will be quite lengthy. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our 32nd President, holds the distinction of being the only man to serve more than two terms as President of the United States.

Roosevelt became a public servant partially as a result of his cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, although he took his seat on the other side of the political aisle. In 1910, Roosevelt became a State Senator in New York. He served in the Wilson administration as Assistant Secretary of the Navy (1913-1920) and was the vice presidential nominee for the Democrats in 1920.

Tragedy struck in 1921, when Roosevelt contracted polio, losing the full use of his legs for the remainder of his life. Roosevelt persevered, gaining limited mobility, and appeared at the 1924 Democratic Convention on crutches to nominate his friend, New York Governor Al Smith for the presidency. Four years later, Roosevelt was elected as Governor of the Empire State.

Coming to the presidency at the height of the Great Depression, Roosevelt assured us in his inaugural address, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." He then launched sweeping reform to combat the Depression during his first 100 days in office, creating several "alphabet agencies" and many federal programs to deal with extraordinary unemployment and poverty. It was during these "Hundred Days" that the Tennessee Valley Authority was also established. Roosevelt's legacy in battling the Depression is most clear in the Social Security System.

Roosevelt won his first reelection in 1936 and, armed with what he felt was a popular mandate, he set out to broaden the scope of the presidency. He suffered a major political failure when his plan to expand the Supreme Court was beaten back by Congress, although Roosevelt was victorious in changing the shape of the Court as a result. Over his tenure, Roosevelt appointed nine justices to the Court, only two less than George Washington.

With the Second World War getting under way, Roosevelt steered the nation away from domestic issues, transforming it to a foreign policy / war power. He was reelected in 1940 as the nation prepared for war, which would come in December 1941, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Much has been made that Roosevelt knew the attack was coming but let it happen to get the US into the war. There is also evidence that Roosevelt knew about the Holocaust in Germany and was powerless to do anything until the US joined the fight. To aid Great Britain and other allies, FDR started the Lend-Lease plan as a temporary measure. In 1942, Roosevelt took the controversial step of ordering the internment of Japanese-Americans in the United States.

As the Second World War drew to a close, Roosevelt was becoming increasingly frail and sick. He had been elected to his fourth term in November 1944. In April 1945, a few months after returning from a conference in Yalta, Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia. He was laid to rest in his rose garden on the grounds of his estate in Hyde Park.

Despite being universally loved and revered by the American public and the world, Roosevelt was not the most faithful of husbands. Almost immediately after marrying Eleanor, he began the first of several affairs, with Lucy Mercer, Eleanor's secretary. It was Mercer who was with Roosevelt when he died, despite the fact that he had sworn to Eleanor to not see her again after she discovered the affair. From that point on, Eleanor and Franklin enjoyed a "marriage of convenience."

The Facts
  • Born January 30, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York
  • Died April 12, 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia (age 63)
  • Party: Democrat
  • Wife: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
The Election of 1932
  • Franklin Roosevelt / John Nance Garner (D) - 22,821,277 (57%) / 472 EVs
  • Herbert Hoover / Charles Curtis (R) - 15,761,254 (40%) / 59 EVs
The Election of 1936
The Election of 1940
The Election of 1944
  • Roosevelt became the first presidential nominee to attend a presidential nominating convention and accept the nomination in person.
  • A month before taking office, Roosevelt was nearly killed in an assassination attempt, which took the life of the Mayor of Miami.
  • Prohibition was repealed during the Roosevelt administration.
  • Roosevelt was the first President to appoint a woman to his cabinet. Frances Perkins became Secretary of Labor, and the Department of Labor building in Washington is named in her honor.
  • A Democrat living in predominantly Republican Dutchess County, Roosevelt never won his home district in his four presidential elections.
  • In addition to Theodore Roosevelt, FDR is also related to several other presidents by blood or marriage, including George Washington, the Adamses, Ulysses Grant, the Harrisons, James Madison, William Howard Taft, Zachary Taylor, and Martin Van Buren.
  • Theodore Roosevelt gave Eleanor away at her marriage to Franklin.
  • As President, Roosevelt used his influence to found the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, now knows as the March of Dimes. It is one of the reasons that FDR is depicted on the dime.
  • Roosevelt was a strong supporter of the Boy Scouts of America and hosted the first national jamboree in Washington, DC in 1937. In 1930, Roosevelt was honored by the Boy Scouts with their highest adult award, the Silver Buffalo.
  • I would be remiss if I did not mention that it is partially because of Franklin Roosevelt that I have a job today. It was Roosevelt who established the National Archives and created the Presidential Library system.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Coffee Popsicles to fight the Dog Days of August

The dog days of August are surely upon us. What better way to combat them than with these yummy popsicles. It also makes me think of my mother, who would often use the morning coffee to make iced coffee to have with dinner. I used to think that was a little icky, but then Starbucks got into the act, and I have come around.

I first saw this recipe on ChvChick, the companion to my good friends at ChvBlog.


  • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup freshly ground espresso coffee
  1. Brew the coffee to a strong robust flavor. Using a French press, it takes approximately 10 minutes. I love French press but any other coffee brewing method would also work.
  2. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a separate bowl.
  3. Slowly pour the hot coffee into the bowl with the sweetened condense milk. Stir.
  4. Chill coffee and sweetened condensed milk mixture in the refrigerator until cool.
  5. Strain the coffee, if needed.
  6. Fill popsicle forms and place in freezer.
  7. Once frozen, pop out of the form and enjoy!
Makes four popsicles.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

On the subject of loving a good woman

Back in June, two (one here, and the other here) friends and fellow bloggers posted on "What I am Grateful for." Both, while grateful for more than one thing, started with their husbands. In two days, my wife will celebrate her birthday. I like to say that we will be entering the period when she is two years older than I.

I am extremely grateful for my wife. She is the person that I can most depend upon. I met her more than twelve years ago, she was leading a workshop in which I was an attendee. I have the clearest memories of talking with her during one of the breaks in the workshop and greatly enjoying her company. At the time, we were both married to other people. Our friendship continued to grow and we would see each other at conferences and other professional situations. Her marriage dissolved in 1999, mine in 2000. It was not that our first spouses were bad people, they just weren't the right people for us. So it was at a meeting in the fall of 2000 that we started dating. We took our friendship to the next level.

We started a long distance relationship, greatly aided by our friends at Southwest Airlines, whose service between Islip and BWI airports greatly aided our courtship. In the fall of 2001, we decided that it was time to take our relationship one step further. Her sister was getting married in January of 2002 and I came down to Washington right after Christmas, with a ring in my pocket. My trips to Washington during our courtship usually involved a great deal of what had been referred to as "social aerobics" by our friends. How many people could we get to see while I was down for a long weekend. On this particular weekend, we went out to dinner to celebrate my birthday and while I spent much of the evening fingering the ring in my jacket pocket it stayed in there. It was later determined by one of her friends that it might have been in poor taste to propose at a dinner for which I was not paying. :)

Another of the events that weekend was a friend's holiday open house. This event was attended by many of our friends in the DC area and I remember ferrying people upstairs to a bedroom to show off the ring that I was planning to give her. It was decided that I would propose after the party at one of our favorite spots, the Jefferson Memorial. So on the steps of the memorial on a cold December evening, I took to one knee and asked the woman I loved to join me in a lifetime of happiness. As we had both been married before, she likes to say, "Any idiot can get married, it's staying married that's the challenge," we made our plans and were married in May of 2002. It was a lovely day with a beautiful woman and many of our friends there to celebrate with us. Wanna see the DVD?

And here we are six years later, with two boys and our love is still strong and vibrant. We've had some downs, but they are significantly less than the ups that we have had. I remember remarking at the rehearsal dinner the night before we were married that getting married late in life might mean we would not make the milestone of 50 years that my parents made, but our love will certainly last as long as we do.

So here, two days before she celebrates her birthday, I publicly wish my wife, my love, my soul mate the happiest and warmest of birthday wishes. As we look to the near future and some challenges that lie ahead, I know that we will get by and get through whatever life throws at us as long as we do it together.

Happy Birthday my love. You are everything to me.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Football and Food Surrender

It's just after 11:30 and I survived a night of being the sole parent in the house, with Mrs. BA off to spend her sister's birthday with her. Her husband very nicely threw her a surprise party. She will be back later this afternoon, likely in time for me to head to a pre-season Redskins game. I still don't have a date, so I don't know if I will go.

The other day, I received my "Food Surrender" package from Stinkypaw in Montreal. Here's a photo:
There were lots of good treats in the box, and the chocolate survived the multi-day trip across the border. LBA was very interested in the box and items were shared with him. But the Coffee Crisp (in the front of the photo) was reserved by me for my consumption. It may have been the best thing in the box! My reciprocal box is on its way to her and she should have it before long.

This morning, I was blessed to have both of my children sleep until almost 8:00. Although SoBA was up overnight, a quick bottle and a diaper change and he went right back to sleep. He woke up again at 6:00 but I brought him into bed with me and slept for another hour or so, until LBA came in. We watched a show (or two) before getting up to have some breakfast.

We watched a little of the Olympics. LBA was very interested in Women's Volleyball. SoBA is napping right now and LBA took a rest for a few minutes, allowing me to get this post done. Now it seems we are going to head outside for "a little baseball."

When is Mrs. BA coming home?

Friday, August 8, 2008

It's the Olympics!

Time Magazine has put forth yet another list of the Top 100 athletes to watch in Beijing. Will there be any other option? Aren't the Olympics going to be on like forever?

To honor the opening of the Olympics, happening tonight (08.08.08 @ 8:08:08pm) here's a sampling of a quiz on China that appeared in the New York Times Education Life section on July 27, 2008. Answers next week.
  1. In Imperial China, what did the dragon symbolize?
  2. In the mid-1800s, Hong Xiuquan sought to overthrow the Qing Dynasty in a revolt that cost more than 20 million lives. Hong believed his mandate to rule stemmed from his relation to which holy figure?
  3. Name the Wellesley graduate who married a Chinese leader, became an important player in World War II politics and died in New York City in 2003 at age 105.
  4. Which Olympic events won China the most medals in the last Summer Games, in Athens?
  5. Nine cities in the United States have a population of more than one million. How many Chinese cities have at least one million?
  6. Chinese people call them "little emperors." To whom are they referring?
  7. How many foreign films does the government allow in China each year?
  8. What was the most widely published book in China during the 20th Century?
  9. The Hurun Report, which tracks the wealthy, counted three billionaires in China in 2004. How many were there in 2007?
  10. How much of 2007's increase in global carbon emissions came from China?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What's on my iPod? - Volume II

Another blog that I frequent is David McMahon's authorblog. And this week he asked in his "Weekend Wandering," "What song brings you the best memories?" There are many answers, here are the first four that come to mind:
  • Nancy by Frank Sinatra will always make me think of my mother as that was her name.
  • Let's Go Crazy by Prince will always make me think of high school as it was the anthem for our football team during senior year. That and Purple Rain, for it was the song theme for the one prom I went to, where you know, prom things happened. Wink, wink.
  • Save the Last Dance for Me by the Drifters was a song that I had wanted to have played at my sister's wedding because I wanted to dance with her before she left. OK, I was 11.
  • Thank You by Dido will always make me think of Mrs. BA. That and At Last by Etta James. If I were making a mix tape for her, those two would lead it off.
So for that reason (to answer David's question above) and because the post that was supposed to be ready for today is not . . . here is volume II of "what's on my iPod" - first twenty songs, set on shuffle, songs that appeared previously discarded, although there were none! Duplicate artists are noted where they appeared:
  1. Thunder Road - Bruce Springsteen (now that I know this song meant so much to Tim Russert, it will forever remind me of him)
  2. Non Dimenticar - Natalie Cole (what? it's a big album, got lots of songs on it.)
  3. Workin' in the Car Wash Blues - Jim Croce (although my personal favorite of his is "You don't mess around with Jim")
  4. Car Crash - Matt Nathanson (another iTunes free song of the week, great sound)
  5. Take it Easy - the Eagles (song number 21 was another Eagles tune, After the Thrill is Gone)
  6. The Night Chicago Died - Paper Lace (um, I might have bought this song on iTunes. "Daddy was a cop, on the east side of Chicago . . . when a man named Al Capone, tried to make that town his own . . . ")
  7. Never Did No Wanderin' - The New Main Street Singers (from "A Mighty Wind" soundtrack. After the movie came out, Mrs. BA and I, with several others, went to the 9:30 Club to see the "concert" featuring the "bands" from the movie. It was awesome.
  8. Jacqueline - James Hunter (this one might have been a Starbucks free song of the week)
  9. Tears from a Gun - The Black Ghosts (also a free song from iTunes)
  10. Bye, Bye Love - Ray Charles (at least it's not "Hit the Road Jack," which is a personal favorite of LBA, who often will ask for it to be played over and over and over and over in the car)
  11. Crocodile Rock (live) - Elton John (someday I'll tell you about my concert experience of Billy Joel and Elton John, but not today)
  12. Sister Rosetta (Capture the Spirit) - The Noisettes (another freebie - man this is a good set of music!)
  13. A Pirate Looks at Forty (live) - Jimmy Buffett
  14. Fly Me to the Moon - Frank Sinatra
  15. A Most Peculiar Man (live) - Simon and Garfunkel
  16. Day Tripper - The Beatles (Soul Revolver does it better. Number 20 was another Beatles song, Penny Lane, which will always make me think of Kate Hudson in Almost Famous)
  17. Baby I'm A Want You - Bread (remember that comment about the iPod spontaneously combusting?)
  18. Mustang Sally - The Commitments (from the movie soundtrack)
  19. With Plenty of Money and You - Count Basie and Tony Bennett
  20. Leaving on a Jet Plane - John Colorado

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

#31 - Herbert Hoover, 1929-1933

They say that events that take place during one's presidency will usually shape the man. In the case of Herbert Hoover, he really got the shaft. Hoover took office in March 1929 just seven months before the stock market crash and the onset of the Great Depression.

Hoover had graduated from Stanford University in California as a mining engineer. He married his college girlfriend, Lou Henry and they left the United States for China. While there, the Hoovers were caught up in the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. From China, the Hoovers went to Europe, where Germany soon declared war on France, marking the beginning of the First World War. The Hoovers spent the early days of the conflict helping to get Americans out of Europe and then working to feed Belgium, which had been overrun by the Germans. Once the United States entered the war, President Wilson appointed Hoover to head the Food Administration, which spent the days following the First World War, feeding those in need throughout Europe.

When he returned to the United States, Hoover served as Commerce Secretary for Presidents Harding and Coolidge and became the Republican presidential nominee in 1928. As President he spent his term trying to combat the Depression, but the crisis only deepened and Hoover quickly became the scapegoat. Hoover's presidency was further tarnished by his championing of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act and his sending Douglas MacArthur to remove the Bonus Army from Washington DC, where they had come to protest. He was badly defeated in 1932 by Franklin Roosevelt. In 1947, he was appointed by President Truman to head a commission to reorganize the Executive Branch. He was appointed to a similar position by President Eisenhower in 1953. Hoover lived for another thirty years, with the specter of the Depression forever hanging over him. When he died in 1964 at the age of ninety, he was the oldest surviving president, a record he held until Ronald Reagan passed him.

The Facts
  • born August 10, 1874 in West Branch, Iowa
  • died October 20, 1964 in New York, New York (age 90)
  • married to Lou Henry Hoover
  • party: Republican
The Election of 1928
The Election of 1932
  • Franklin Roosevelt / John Nance Garner - 22,821,277 (57.4%) / 472 EVs
  • Herbert Hoover / Charles Curtis - 15,761,254 (39.7%) / 59 EVs
  • Hoover is the first President to be born west of the Mississippi River.
  • The Star Spangled Banner was adopted as the national anthem during his presidency.
  • Hoover did not accept a salary as President.
  • Hoover outlived his wife, Lou, by twenty years. At the time of his death, he was the last member of both the Harding and Coolidge administrations.
  • Hoover had the longest retirement of any president.
  • His state funeral in 1964 was the last in a series of three that took place in a twelve-month period, following the funerals of John F. Kennedy and Douglas MacArthur.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Chocolate Cake in a Cup

I am often derided by Mrs. BA about my Starbucks need for "a candy bar in a cup." But here is a recipe for a chocolate cake made in a mug. It's just too interesting to not give it a try. Seen on Buzzfeed.

  • 4 Tablespoons cake flour
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 Egg
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 3 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 Mug
  • Mix flour, sugar and cocoa
  • Spoon in 1 egg
  • Pour in milk and oil, and mix well
  • Put in microwave for 3 minutes on maximum power (1000watt)
  • Wait until it stops rising and sets in the mug
  • Tip contents out of mug onto saucer and enjoy!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Road Rage - It's Sticky

True confession time:
Many years ago, I was leaving work after a particularly crappy day. As I was moving up the aisle of the parking lot, a car came cutting across the lot (where there were no cars parked) and nearly broadsided me. I snapped. I took off after the car and pulled up behind her at a traffic light. I slammed the car into park and got out of the car and went up to the other car and began to berate the driver. The girl behind the wheel would not even turn to look at me. It is fairly safe to say that I scared the bejeezus out of her. My tirade was so pronounced that someone coming out of a restaurant next to the traffic light encouraged me to get back into my car. Which I did. It was not one of my finer moments. I don't remember if her car had any bumper stickers.
Flash forward to the present and I read this article in the Washington Post, recounting a study put out by Colorado State University about aggressive drivers. Evidently there is a link between the number of stickers you put on one's car and how aggressive a driver you can be. The study does maintain that the unstuck do get angry as well, but there was a definite correlation to bumper stickers and incidents of road rage.

The study, which appeared in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, reported that drivers used the stickers to mark their territory (their cars) and they were more likely to defend that territory when they felt is was threatened.

An interesting side bar to this. As a federal employee, I work under the provisions of the Hatch Act, one of the provisions being (from an online training I took recently) that I may not have more than one partisan election sticker on my car. That's nice of them to look out for me in that way.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Here's Another List, List, List

The Brave Astronauts and the OSGs are off to Annapolis this evening to enjoy the Annapolis Rotary's Annual Crabfeast. Here's another list / meme to amuse you in my absence. Tomorrow will prove to be a busy day as well as LBA's daycare class will descend upon Mission Control for an end of the year summer party in the backyard.

From Random Knowledge:

Three favorites . . .
  • Three artists: (This is sure to get me in trouble with Mrs. BA if I choose wrong), Wyeth, Homer, and Hopper (but I could easily go a whole different direction)
  • Three cities: (that I would live in and have visited?) Chicago, New York, Paris
  • Three colors: blue, charcoal gray, maroon
  • Three countries: (that I would live in given another choice and there were no obstacles - money, language, etc.?) Spain, France, Bermuda (OK, not a country, but my meme, my rules)
  • Three fiction books: The Stand, Stephen King / Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger / and a third book that I can't think of . . .
  • Three flowers: roses, black-eyed Susans (one of my Mom's favorites), forsythia (always means Spring to me)
  • Three fruits: pineapple, watermelon, a really good peach
  • Three graphic novels: Not my thing, I wouldn't know where to begin
  • Three movies: Good Morning Vietnam / Field of Dreams / It's a Wonderful Life
  • Three non-fiction books: Fatal Vision, Joe McGinnis (the first non-fiction book I ever read by choice) / A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson / Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, Ulysses S. Grant.
  • Three sports: Golf, Baseball, and Swimming