Friday, October 31, 2008

537 Votes

That was the difference in Florida in 2000. So don't vote, it surely won't matter, will it?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

#43 - George W. Bush, 2001-2009

Unfortunately, this is not a post about this man.
"I know that everyone is excited about the reopening of Ford's Theatre in February 2009.
Laura and I are very excited as well. Just send the pictures down to Crawford."
(applause and laughter)
- George W. Bush, at the Ford's Theatre Gala, June 1, 2008
The "reign" of George W. Bush will not officially come to an end until January 20, 2009. But his successor will be elected next Tuesday when the most historic election of a generation will take place.

Born into privilege, the eldest son of George H.W. and Barbara Bush, went to Phillips Academy at Andover and then graduated from Yale University. To avoid being sent to Vietnam, Bush reported for duty to the Texas Air National Guard. In 1978, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the House of Representatives, an election he lost by more than 6,000 votes.

Prior to becoming one of the owners of the Texas Rangers baseball team, Bush went into the family (oil) business in Texas. He sold his company and went to Washington to help his father in his campaign for the presidency. In 1994, he was elected Governor of Texas in the same year his brother, Jeb, was elected Governor of Florida.

Bush declared himself a candidate for President in 1999, proclaiming himself as a "Compassionate Conservative." I could surely go on and on about the election of 2000, but I will only use the words of the late Tim Russert, "Florida, Florida, Florida." And, of course, here is the document that allowed Bush to become President.

On September 11, 2001, the Bush presidency was transformed by the terrorist attacks on our nation. Bush sent the United States into war in Afghanistan and in 2003, he took the campaign to Iraq. Despite mounting opposition to the war, Bush was reelected in 2004. He will likely leave office with the lowest approval rating of any president in history.

The Facts
  • born July 9, 1946 in New Haven, Connecticut (age 62)
  • Party: Republican
  • Wife: Laura Welch Bush
The Election of 2000
The Election of 2004
  • With his election as Governor of Texas, he became the first child of a President to be elected to the office of Governor.
  • When he was reelected Governor in 1998, he became the first Governor of Texas to be elected to two consecutive four-year terms.
  • Bush is one of three Presidents to be elected without winning a plurality of the popular vote.
  • The Bushes and the Adams are the only father-son combination to serve as President.
When Michael Moore came out with Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004, it swayed some people to vote differently in that presidential election. Will Oliver Stone's new movie make a difference? I know that I want to see it but I already know who I am voting for.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Recipe: Citrus Beef with Scallions

This recipe came from C in DC via email. The subject line was simply, yum. I would tend to agree. The recipe appears here.

Citrus Beef with Scallions
  • 1 lb of sirloin cut into strips
  • the zest of 1 orange and juice of 2 oranges
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • the white of scallions, sliced thinly
Combine this all into a small bowl and marinated the beef for about two hours in the fridge.

Heat a large skillet with a little oil. I added the beef (keep the marinade) and cook for about five minutes. Remove the beef to a plate.

  • the greens of a bunch of scallions, cut into about 1 1/2 inches
  • a handful of shredded carrots
  • sliced zucchini
Cook for about two minutes, until the scallions are wilted. Remove the veggies to a the plate with the beef. Add the marinade to the pan and boil, reduce by half. Add about a tablespoon of brown sugar. Throw everything back in the skillet and cook for about a minute. Serve over the rice.

Friday, October 24, 2008

United Nations Day

Today is October 24, known as United Nations Day for it was on this day in 1945 that the United Nations Charter was signed in San Francisco, California at the conclusion of the Conference that founded the international organization.

I have a fairly strong affinity for the United Nations. When I worked for the Rockefeller Archive Center, I solidified that connection when I was working on the papers of Nelson Rockefeller, whose diplomatic career involved his work at the San Francisco Conference. The Archive Center commemorated the centennial of Nelson's birth this year. in addition to Nelson's contributions, his father, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., gave the land on which the United Nations headquarters now sits.

In high school, I was a member of the Model United Nations. This allowed me to travel to several conferences to represent my school. One conference, I traveled to Yale University, where I and another student were representing the Soviet Union on the Security Council. Unfortunately, we both returned late from lunch during the conference and in the interim, the rest of the Security Council had drafted a resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan (it was the early 80s). Without us there to veto, the resolution passed. It was not the finest moment. That conference featured a scenario the year before where our representatives to the Security Council were awakened in the middle of the night to deal with an international crisis - Germany had reunified and was preparing its forces to march on the rest of Western Europe. At another meeting, held in Washington DC (at the Hinckley Hilton, where I would later spend time at a number of other professional meetings), I bailed out on the awards ceremony (we weren't winning any awards anyway) to go to the National Zoo. Yes, those were the days.

As I have mentioned here before (I think), my mother was very involved in Girl Scouting and that presented me with the opportunity to help show girl scouts and girl guides from around the world around Manhattan (it also helped my social life, but that's a different post). We would often visit the United Nations, so I could often do the tour just as well as the docents that were giving it. Given my exposure to people from around the world, I had started a postcard collection and had accumulated an extensive set of cards from all corners. When I would visit the United Nations, I would often buy a postcard from the gift shop that featured the flag of a nation that I had in the collection (it's OK, I know that I'm a bit of a nerd). We would also take the opportunity to mail ourselves cards or letters from the UN Post Office, which is in International Territory, despite its physical location in New York City.

When I went to work for the International Monetary Fund Archives, one of the things I undertook was to plan an exhibition to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Bretton Woods Conference, from which the IMF and the World Bank were created. The Bretton Woods Conference took place a year before the UN Conference and served as a model for running that meeting. Some of the same issues arose (representation for Latin America chief among them) and these men (and a few women) forged these two organizations to create a firm foundation for rebuilding the international economic system. There have even been some calls recently that we need another Bretton Woods Conference to deal with the deepening financial crisis.

Happy United Nations Day to everyone!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

#42 - William Jefferson Clinton, 1993-2001

[I was admonished for not including a link to Chevy Chase lampooning President Ford. So let's get this out of the way right up front. Here is the late Phil Hartman in one of my favorite Bill Clinton sketches. Enjoy.]

For a long time I had kept the newspapers proclaiming Bill Clinton's win in 1992. I was teaching at the time and I had been talking with my students over the course of the term about how this nobody from Arkansas was not going to win anything. But of course, William Jefferson Clinton became the first Democrat since Franklin Roosevelt to win a second term.

Clinton met President John F. Kennedy in the White House Rose Garden as a delegate to Boys Nation in 1963, which pushed him in the direction of public service. That same year, Martin Luther King's speech at the Lincoln Memorial had a profound effect on him. He settled in Arkansas, lost an election for Congress, was elected Attorney General of the state, and ultimately served five terms as Governor of Arkansas. When he was elected in 1978, he was the youngest Governor in the country.

As President, Clinton brought the federal budget under control, balancing it and creating a budget surplus. Despite an early failure in the area of health care reform, the country enjoyed a great period of economic prosperity and peace under the Clinton administration. Clinton also instituted the controversial "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy on homosexuals in the military as well as pushing for and signing into law the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Clinton's controversial policies led to the Democrats losing control of Congress in the off-year elections in 1994, the first time the Democrats had not controlled Congress in more than forty years. After being reelected in 1996, the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke wide open and Clinton became the second president in history to be impeached. He was acquitted on all charges in a widely televised trial.

In the area of foreign policy, Clinton undertook three major military offensives. The first was a limited military engagement against Iraqi forces, while also returning sanctions against Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Second, Clinton ordered forces into Somalia, which resulted in the downing of American helicopters and the deaths of many Somali civilians and American soldiers. Finally, Clinton oversaw the involvement of American troops under the NATO flag to stop ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, specifically Kosovo.

The Facts
The Election of 1992
  • Bill Clinton / Al Gore (D) - 44,909,806 (43%) / 370 EVs
  • George Bush / Dan Quayle (R) - 39,104,550 (37.5%) / 168 EVs
The Election of 1996
  • Clinton is yet another president to have been born with a different name. Born William Jefferson Blythe III, his father was killed in an automobile accident three months before his birth. When he was four, Clinton's mother married Roger Clinton. Clinton took the name when he was in high school.
  • Clinton was the second president to be impeached.
  • On October 21, 1994, the first version of the White House website went online.
  • In November of 2000, Clinton became the first sitting U.S. President to visit Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam Conflict.
  • Clinton is the third youngest President, older than Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. He is also regarded as the first "Baby Boomer" President.
  • At 6' 2", Clinton is one of the tallest presidents.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Angel Food Cake with Honey Ice Cream

God, doesn't that sound good? I found this recipe here at this foodie blog. Now where did I put that Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker?

Josh Short’s Angelfood Cake

  • 1 c egg whites
  • 1 1/2 t cream of tartar
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 3/4 t lemon zest
  • 3 oz cake flour
  • 1 1/2 oz powdered sugar
  • 1/8 t salt
Instructions: Let egg whites stand for 30 min outside to come up to room temperature. This will help them develop more volume. Meanwhile, sift confectioners’ sugar and flour together; set aside. Add cream of tartar, lemon zest and salt to egg whites; beat on high speed. Gradually add sugar, beating until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form. Fold in flour mixture, a little at a time. Gently spoon into an ungreased 10-in. tube pan. Cut through batter with a knife to remove air pockets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert pan; cool completely before removing cake from pan.

Honey Ice Cream

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 c milk
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 vanilla bean
Instructions: Bring milk and vanilla bean to a simmer. Temper into egg yolks and honey. Stir for 30 sec, remove from heat, strain and cool. Stir in heavy cream and freeze according to machine directions.

Friday, October 17, 2008

In and Out - Same Day

The Brave Astronaut family are off for a quick weekend to visit with friends in Charlottesville. But I wanted to share with you this item I saw in the news recently. From the Rapid City Journal in Rapid City, South Dakota:
An elderly Sioux Falls, S.D. couple died together Saturday, side by side, of separate illnesses, reports the Argus Leader.

Diana Kraft and her husband, Kent, had been married for about 43 years, both born on the same day: Sept. 2, 1941, the report says. Diana Kraft had battled Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and Kent had a brief illness.

According to the Argus Leader, Police spokesman Loren McManus said the deaths of the Krafts were not suspicious or criminal. He said Kent Kraft had a heart condition.

It was a unique situation, reminiscent of the movie “The Notebook,” he said.

“It’s kind of like that. They’ve been together forever and she was very, very sick and she died,” McManus said. “Whatever effect that had on him, that was it.”
This was followed in due course by a list of individuals who checked in and out of this world on the same day, that is they all died on the anniversary of their birth.
  • Raphael - April 6, 1483-April 6, 1520
  • √Čtienne Dolet, French printer - August 3, 1509-August 3, 1546
  • William Shakespeare - April 23, 1564-April 23, 1616 (the exact date of Shakespeare's birth is not known, although his baptismal date (April 26) is often used to estimate)
  • Sir Thomas Browne, author - October 19, 1605-October 19, 1682
  • Levi Morton, US Vice President - May 16, 1824-May 16, 1920
  • George Washington Carver, US agricultural chemist - January 5, 1864-January 05, 1903 (as a former slave, Carver's exact date of birth is not known, but is celebrated on the 5th of January)
  • Lawrence Oates, Arctic Explorer - March 17, 1880-March 17, 1912 (Oates walked off from the rest of his party to try and get help and froze to death. It is believed he perished on his birthday but could have died before or after that date)
  • Bidhan Chandra Roy, Indian politician - July 1, 1882-July 1, 1962
  • Alfred Kazin, US writer and critic - June 5, 1915-June 5, 1998
  • Ingrid Bergman, actress - August 29, 1915-August 29, 1982
  • Betty Friedan, feminist writer - April 2, 1921-April 2, 2006

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Archives Family Feud

Two stories off the radar scope today regarding archives.

The first involves the children of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King. Dexter King, who is the executor of his father's estate, is seeking control over his mother's papers, which are currently in the possession of his sister, Bernice. At the root of the issue is a book deal, which Bernice maintains her mother did not want to be a part of, leading to her reluctance to turn over the materials. The judge named to mediate the dispute has postponed his decision until an inventory of the materials can be made (we archivists call that a finding aid!). Dexter is at odds with his sister and his brother, Martin III, and the three communicate only through lawyers. Bernice and Martin III released a statement after the latest court appearance that read:
"We are saddened that we are forced to make public statements about family matters that should be handled privately. However, as our father taught us, we must respond to unjust criticism ... Our stand against the publication of the memoirs of our mother ... is not merely a family feud but rather our ongoing attempt to protect and maintain the integrity of our mother's legacy. Although she is no longer here to speak for herself, it is important that the integrity and validity of her voice be reflected."
In this particular situation, what would normally be a private matter is being played out in the national media. It is an interesting issue regarding the right of private citizens (although in this case, the King children are themselves public figures) to do what they wish with their archival materials. If the archival materials belong to a significant historical figure, what responsibility to the public do the descendants have?

The second story appeared in the Washington Post and concerns the papers of scientist Wernher von Braun. A series of articles he wrote were published in Collier's Magazine between 1952 and 1954, long before the creation of NASA, and concerned space travel. Collier's ceased publication in 1957 and the articles, notes, and illustrations went into private hands. An auction was held today and sold for $132,000.

von Braun, who defected to the United States from Germany during World War II, was involved in the creation of NASA [which celebrated its 50th Anniversary on October 1] and headed the Marshall Space Flight Center from 1960 to 1970. von Braun died in 1977.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

#41 - George H. W. Bush, 1989-1993

[Presidential factoid of the day - On this day in 1890, the 34th President, Dwight Eisenhower was born.]

You almost can feel sorry for 41. Almost. But "not gonna do it, wouldn't be prudent."

A naval aviator in World War II, he was shot down (one of the reasons he jumps out of a plane every year to celebrate his birthday), he and Barbara lost a child to leukemia at the age of 4 (and, of course, another child that is a completely different story that you'll get in two weeks). Bush 41 (as he is now known) came from a family that was dedicated to public service. His father was Prescott Bush, who was a Senator from the state of Connecticut. Seeking to continue the family tradition, H.W. was elected to the House of Representatives, twice lost elections for the U.S. Senate, and only entered higher office at the federal level through a series of appointments (U.N. Ambassador, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Chair of the Republican National Committee). He lost the race for the Republican nomination in 1980 to Ronald Reagan, who threw Bush the bone of the vice presidency. He could never be elected on his own, right?

But elected the 41st President he was. Despite Dan Quayle (who thought that was a good idea), Bush 41 rode a wave of Reagan popularity into the White House. He scored a foreign policy success when he ordered troops into Panama to overthrow the dictator Manual Noriega. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991, sparking the first Gulf War, Bush sent troops to the region along with a multinational force to repel Hussein and the Iraqis. Bush also presided over the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Despite those successes in the foreign policy arena, Bush presided over a degrading U.S. economy and he was defeated for reelection by Bill Clinton (see you next week!).

The Facts
  • born June 12, 1924 in Milton, Massachusetts (Bush is the current oldest former President)
  • party: Republican
  • wife: Barbara Pierce
The Election of1988
The Election of 1992
  • Bill Clinton / Al Gore (D) - 44,909,806 (43%) / 370 EVs
  • George Bush / Dan Quayle (R) - 39,104,550 (37.5%) / 168 EVs
  • Bush was a fairly proficient left-handed first baseman and played on the Yale Baseball team and participated in the first two College World Series.
  • In 1979, once he had decided to run for president in 1980, he attended more than 850 political events and traveled more than 250,000 miles.
  • Bush's convention speech in 1988 was known as the "Thousand Points of Light" speech, but contained the more memorable line, "Read my Lips, No New Taxes," which he was forced to break early in his presidency.
  • Upon his election, Bush became the first sitting vice president to be elected president since Martin van Buren in 1836.
  • Though President for only one term, Bush had two appointments to the United States Supreme Court, David Souter and Clarence Thomas.
  • Bush received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II, the third U.S. President to be honored. The other two were Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wait - I Ate Here - How can that be?

America's hot new restaurant has been identified. I ate lunch here shortly after it opened. Now I want to go back. In honor of the restaurant's new honorific, here is a recipe I searched for on the Interwebs as its website does not feature any recipes. Harrumph. From Gothamist.

Mustard Dusted Skate with blood orange reduction, toasted sesame seeds
This is a relatively simple dish that you can get together in less than a half hour. Add a simple side salad, vegetable or maybe some rice or couscous and you’ll have a great meal without a lot of stress. Recipe serves two people.

Ingredient Shopping List
  • 1.5 lb of skate fillet (on the bone is a good thing, see below)
  • olive oil
  • 2 blood oranges
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup of orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • bag of toasted sesame seeds
Notes on Buying Skate
You’ll most likely get a whole skate wing for two people. You can fillet it by slicing into two pieces very easily. This is also simple to do if you buy the skate with a bone. Your knife can easily cut right through it when making the fillets. It’s actually very easy and enjoyable to eat it off the bone as well.

Make Blood Orange Sauce
With a sharp pairing knife, slice the orange in quarters. Segment about half of the whole fruit and set aside for garnish. Peel the rest of the oranges and chop into small pieces.

Add chopped oranges, juices and a few of the remaining rinds to a small pan. Add ½ cup of orange juice to pan and bring to a boil. Add one tbsp of sugar, stir and reduce on medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Reduce to half its original volume. The liquid should still be viscous and loose. Strain into a small bowl with a strainer. Set aside.

Make the Skate
Slice your skate into two fillets. Dry both pieces with paper towels thoroughly. Season one side of the fillets with salt, pepper and one tablespoon of the mustard powder per fillet. Spread and cover each evenly with the seasoning. Do the same for the other side of the fish.

Add about 1 tbsp of olive oil to a non stick pan. Place heat on high. Add a small pat of butter. After about a minute when the butter begins to foam, add the skate to the pan. Brown on one side for about 2 minutes, until charred and brown but not burned. Do the same for the other side.

Put oven on broil.

Add ¼ cup of orange juice to the hot pan and turn down the heat to medium. After two minutes, take the pan off the heat and place into the oven under the broiler. Let skate broil for 3-4 minutes. Turn the oven off and put a cover on the skate, letting it rest for another two minutes.

Finish the Dish
Rough chop the remaining blood orange segments, leaving a few whole. While you wait for the skate to finish cooking, place a few tablespoon of the warm sauce on the plate. Place blood orange pieces around the plate. Take the skate out of the oven and place on top of the sauce. Sprinkle sesame seeds on the fillets. Salt and pepper the skate again. Add more of the sauce on the skate and serve immediately.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ooh! Look! Ripple!

"They always buy the ten cent wine" - Ernest Gallo

In honor of my father's visit, here is a post on wine. While he is here, I am sure to be eating out a fair amount and if my father is around there is sure to be alcohol. We are off to Jerry's Seafood tonight (get the Mariner's Platter!) and so far all is well with the visit.

My father likes wine and orders it by the case through the mail. Unfortunately that is not an option for those of us here in Maryland. There was a bill in the legislature earlier this year, but it was never voted on. My friend ADR reported on its progress when it first started out. I make mention of this as shortly after the Brave Astronaut family moved into our new home (just over a year now!), my father was going to send us some wine, but couldn't ship to us. Wine wasn't what we really needed, but that's a different story.

Anyway, I spotted this story some time ago and have been holding it in the queue for posting. Having been in my fair share of liquor stores, it makes perfect sense that the good stuff is always up and the cheaper stuff is down (high price up, low price down - see? makes sense). However studies are now showing that may all be merchandising hooey. One study looked at the brain waves of people who sampled a $90 bottle of wine and a $10 bottle of wine and the higher priced bottle of wine fared better, even though the wine was exactly the same. People believed that because it cost more, it must be better.

A second survey from the American Association of Wine Economists (you a member of this, ADR?), titled, "Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better?" found no correlation between price and enjoyment. The original article avers that price is, in most cases, the single determining factor in buying a bottle of wine, once you get past red vs. white, region, type of grape, etc. Now, I am not proposing that we all switch to box wines, although some of them are OK, but we are certainly falling into the merchandising trap of retailers who will put that bottle of wine they want us to buy right at eye level, knowing that we will believe it is the right wine for us. But there might be a better one on the next shelf down and a bad one on the next shelf up.

See how not being able to ship wine to Maryland is hurting me? Maybe I should go with the Time Magazine guys, who recently embarked on a journey to try a bottle of wine from every one of the fifty states (now that every state produces at least one - North Dakota was the last one to join, in 2002). Here are their findings. Stay away from Wyoming wines.

Now, where did I put my drink?

Friday, October 10, 2008

The 100 Greatest Movie Posters of All-Time

I am of course, in the middle of entertaining my father and his new girlfriend. Maybe I can get him to go to a movie - but he would probably want to sit in the balcony, if you catch my drift. But we are getting a sitter and at least are having a nice dinner out. So here's a discussion item to keep you occupied.

Do you go and see a movie based on the poster? Well, maybe sometimes. Then again, going out to movies these days is a rare treat. So for that matter, I am impressed that I have seen 22 of the films, but many of them are from the days when I went to the movies once a week.

The list was seen first on, of course, kottke. How many of them have you seen? Do you agree with the list? Comment away.

The 100 Greatest Movie Posters.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dad's Got a Girlfriend

My father arrives tonight for a visit. He's not coming alone. My mother died in February 2006. One of the more scarring memories of my mother is her telling me "what a passionate man" my father was and that he would surely miss the companionship. Within a year or so of my mother's death, he started looking again. He found a few matches on some "senior singles" websites and went out on a few dates. As Mrs. BA says, say it with me, "Women Grieve, Men Replace."

From the outset I had adopted a strict "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy with my father. If he wanted to date, that was fine, but I didn't need to hear about it. My father does not have a very good filter shall we say - so my sisters got an earful of my father's exploits - yes, all of them.

My sisters complained to me, but I wasn't having it. I wasn't interested. Now there's a new one. Her name is Rose and he has been seeing her for a few months. There was talk of marriage but that has been taken off the table. My siblings and I (as well as her children) all persuaded them they didn't need to get married. They are however planning to move in together.

Rose bears a striking resemblance to my mother. It is a bit jarring. But I will have to see for myself. Let me state for the record that I have no problem with my father seeing someone. She seems to make him happy, my sister reports that he has lost some weight because she is making him eat better, and he has found someone to go out with. He had been in a funk and was not doing anything and now he is at least doing something. The family grapevine has informed me that my father is a little nervous about Rose meeting me and my other sister, who lives in Wilmington. He is taking her there after they come to see me. I am sure that it is going to be fine.

Given my mother's position on my father's "passion," I do wonder what she thinks about this. It is for her that I will make the best of this and see how the visit goes. I will note that as I wrote this I was reminded of the family story about the worst fight (and one of the only) my parents ever had. It was over a plant that my father accidentally killed. It was one of my mother's favorites. She cried and he went out and bought a new one. The plant? A rose bush.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

#40 - Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1981-1989

Dr. Brown: "Then tell me, future boy, who's President of the United States in 1985?" Marty McFly: "Ronald Reagan!"
Dr. Brown: "Ronald Reagan? The actor?"
- Back to the Future
Our 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, broke new ground in his rise to the presidency as well as during his administration. A Hollywood actor, Reagan was President of the Screen Actors Guild, when Hollywood began to look through its ranks for Communists. This helped to sharpen Reagan's conservatism that would define his political career. In 1966, he was elected Governor of California, and reelected in 1970.

Reagan sought the Republican presidential nomination twice (1968 and 1976) before finally securing it in 1980. In that election, Reagan buried incumbent Jimmy Carter in an electoral landslide. Four years later, Reagan was reelected with the highest number of electoral votes ever received by a candidate.

His presidency was defined by a series of domestic achievements supported by his policies of "Reaganomics." He is also remembered for firing the nation's air traffic controllers when they went on strike, which Reagan believed to be in violation of the Taft-Hartley Act. At the end of his eight years in office, Reagan had presided over the longest period of peacetime prosperity without economic recession or depression. Reagan made history when he appointed the first woman to the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O'Connor. Reagan also elevated William Rehnquist to Chief Justice and appointed Antonin Scalia to replace him.

In the foreign policy arena, Reagan ordered a withdrawal of American forces from Lebanon shortly after the deaths of 241 Americans in a bombing at the US barracks in Beirut. Two days after the bombing, Reagan sent US forces into Grenada to help sustain a pro-Western government in the Caribbean. Reagan also escalated the Cold War, which in turn helped to bring about its end. Part of his Cold War strategy was the development of the Strategic Defense Initiative, more derisively known as "Star Wars." The Iran-Contra affair also left a stain on the Reagan legacy, despite Reagan's denials that he was not aware of what was going on.

The Facts
  • born February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois
  • died June 5, 2004 in Bel Air, California (age 93)
  • party: Republican
  • wife: Nancy Davis Reagan (Reagan was also married to the actress Jane Wyman)
The Election of1980
The Election of 1984 (this was the first election in which I was eligible to vote - and the first time out, I voted for the guy who lost.)
  • Ronald Reagan / George H.W. Bush (R) - 54,455,472 (58.8%) / 525 EVs
  • Walter Mondale / Geraldine Ferraro (D) - 37,577,352 (40.6%) / 13 EVs
  • On March 30, 1981, Reagan broke the Curse of Tecumseh, when he survived an assassination attempt outside the Washington Hilton in Washington DC.
  • As of today, Ronald Reagan is the oldest man to be elected President. Let's make sure he holds on to that record, OK?
  • Reagan is also the only President to have been divorced. Let's give him that one to hold onto, also?
  • At his marriage to Nancy, the actor William Holden served as Reagan's best man.
  • Reagan succeeded Edmund G. Brown, Sr. (Pat Brown) as Governor of California. Reagan was in turn succeeded by Edmund G. Brown, Jr. (Jerry Brown), likely one of the only cases of gubernatorial succession of father to son interrupted by an actor.
  • During Reagan's presidency, the first use of the "acting president" clause of the 25th Amendment was invoked, when Reagan underwent surgery to remove polyps from his colon in July 1985.
  • Reagan's state funeral in 2004 was the first since Lyndon Johnson in 1973.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Salmon and Feta Quiche

Update: I know that you are all waiting with bated breath to hear how I made out at the dentist. It would seem that a crown I had put in back in June has gone to crap. The metal casing is still intact but the porcelain covering is what shattered in my mouth on Saturday. So I have an appointment for next week to pop off the old, busted crown. Then the tooth will be checked (in June there was some question if the tooth was still alive) for vitality. If it is still "alive" it will be recrowned. If the tooth has died, it's off for another root canal. Get your prayer books out, people, I need some divine intervention to save the tooth!

I made meatloaf for dinner tonight with some baked potatoes and a veggie, but I'm going to ask Mrs. BA to make quiche for us for this week. To that end, I've posted salmon recipes here before, including one with salmon and bacon. Now from one of my new friends across the sea comes a recipe to put those salmon into a quiche! Enjoy!

Here's my recipe for hot smoked salmon and feta quiche (I know it's not really quiche if it doesn't contain bacon and Gruyere for the purists out there, but it's delicious nonetheless). This fills a dish 28X18X5cm, but you can shrink or expand the quantities to fit your own dish without any harm, it's not an exact science:
  • 2 fillets of hot smoked salmon
  • 1 packet of feta cheese (I use organic)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 600ml of double cream (ish)
For the pastry
  • 300g of Italian 00 flour (this doesn't need to be sifted like ordinary plain and is much lighter)
  • 170g of unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon of yoghurt
  • a few tablespoons of iced water with half a teaspoon of salt stirred into it
I make the pastry in my food processor a la Miss Lawson's recipe in How to Eat. Measure out the flour and butter, cut butter into small dice, put both in a bowl and stash in the freezer for ten minutes. Once they have had their chilling, put them in a food processor and whizz till they look like fine oatmeal (you can do the rubbing in by hand if you so wish). Add your teaspoon of yoghurt and pulse for a second, then with the machine running add the iced water very slowly through the funnel until the pastry is just about to come together but hasn't quite. Switch off and turn the dough onto a surface, squish it into a ball, wrap in plastic and put it in the fridge to rest for at least twenty minutes.

Once the pastry is rested bring it out, roll it to size and line your, buttered, dish. Put it back in the fridge, put the oven onto gas mark 6, and gather all the other ingredients. Flake the salmon, beat the eggs with the cream and crumble the feta. Bring the pastry lined dish out of the fridge once the oven is up to temperature and get on with building the quiche. Put the salmon in the dish, pour in the eggy cream, arrange the feta all over and put in the oven for about an hour. You may need to turn the temperature down after about forty five minutes, but ovens vary so much, so just have a look and see what you think: if it's getting rather brown but is still very wobbly turn it down a notch.

I really like this eaten hot with salad and a baked spud, but it's great ice cold the next day too. This size will easily feed eight people but I like to make a lot so there is plenty left over, it freezes very well and it's great to have the odd wodge stashed in the freezer for unexpected feedings.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Why Me?

I feel like crap. About ten days ago, my tongue started to feel funny. It felt like it was coated in wallpaper paste. The next day, while at work, I couldn't figure out why my left contact lens wouldn't stay on my eye. It kept drying out and falling off my eye. That afternoon, I was sitting with NJM and OSG, when they both realized that my left eye was not blinking with my right one. There was a noticeable droop to my face and when I would smile, only the right side of my face went up. OSG knew what it was right away, as he had it a few years ago - Bell's Palsy. I called the doctor and went over to see him right away. He confirmed [Dr.] OSG's diagnosis and put me on steroids and anti-viral medication to deal with my affliction.

I stayed home from work the next day, which was last Friday, and tried to do as little as possible. Other than the left side of my face being inoperative, I felt OK. So I didn't do a lot that day except sit around and watch TV. I passed an uneventful weekend and called the doctor on Monday to make a follow up appointment. I asked when I would see any improvement. He told me that he had seen me early on and that it might get worse before it gets better. Oh joy. This would be when the depression and exhaustion started to set it. And the beginnings of a chest cold. I guess the anti-virals I was on didn't deal with the common cold.

Yesterday, my wife [who I love enormously!] let me sleep in, while she got up with the boys. I didn't get out of bed until 11. We then went off to her sister's for a party with her family. Something I may have referred to on my Facebook status update as "enforced family fun." In my defense, this was a term coined by Mrs. BA's father and I was just using it. I was very much looking forward to the party despite my condition. I even accepted a few good natured needles, in response to my wearing an eye patch (as I can't close my left eye), I got a few ARRs from people.

After a wonderful dinner, we moved onto birthday cake. An ice cream cake - one of my favorites. About halfway through my second piece I bit down and crrunnch! Well that's odd I thought to myself, this is ice cream cake - but there are chocolate chips in it, maybe one was just really frozen. I reached into my mouth and pulled out - wait for it . . .

A piece of one of my teeth. I had just been to the dentist on Wednesday. Wednesday! (Parenthetically, the highlight of the week came after the dentist when I went to play nine holes of golf - in the rain, unable to wear my contacts, glasses fogging up, but damn it I was going to play - and managed to shoot my best round 9-hole score ever!) So I cracked a tooth, of course on the right side - not the side that's already numb, no, why be that lucky. So is another root canal in my future or just a crown. Wait until tomorrow kids. I'll keep you posted. But now, I really feel like crawling back into my bed, but then again, there's always something to do to keep me from some more slumber.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Crazy Eights

Another meme, borrowed from Daryl:

Eight Books I Have Read Recently
  1. The Lobster Coast
  2. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
  3. The Code
  4. I'm impressed I got through three books recently. But I could include that lobster and crab book that I have read endlessly to a 3 1/2 year old.
  5. But I do have several on my nightstand, really I do.
Eight Movies I Have Seen Eight Times
  1. Good Morning Vietnam
  2. The Towering Inferno
  3. The Princess Bride
  4. National Treasure
  5. Field of Dreams
  6. It's A Wonderful Life
  7. 1776
  8. The Poseidon Adventure
Eight Things I Have a Passion For
  1. My wife
  2. My children
  3. My family
  4. My friends
  5. My profession
  6. My job
  7. Really good potato chips
  8. This election, it's just too important
Eight things I say a lot
  1. "Hey!" or "Step!" - when LBA needs a time out (he has to sit on the step)
  2. When he sometimes says "hey, daddy" to me as the start of some long monologue, I will sometimes respond, "Hay is for horses, sometimes for cows, pigs they don't eat it, cause they don't know how." (It's from a movie, but the name escapes me)
  3. "Brave Astronaut, May I Help You?" - when I answer the phone at work (of course I do use my real name)
  4. "What's for dinner?" (most often a rhetorical question, because of scheduling, I'm the one making it.)
  5. "Gopher?" (inside joke)
  6. "I'm out and up" (indicating the day is at an end and I am heading upstairs to bed. Sort of a reversal of the morning goal of being up and out - get it?)
  7. "Really" (can be said as a question, "Really?" / exclamation, "Really!" / confirmation, "Really, it's true."

Eight Things I Would Like to do Before I Die
  1. Travel the world
  2. Be financially secure (now, stop laughing, it's going to be fine)
  3. Play baseball professionally, at least try out for it (hey if we're talking pipe dreams, that's one of mine)
  4. Play golf and score consistently in the double digits, that is under 100 (hey, I played the other day after visiting the dentist (a good checkup!) and scored the best round for nine holes I ever had.)
  5. Have season tickets to my favorite sports, baseball and hockey.
  6. Publish
  7. Make a difference
  8. um, not die?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Please, It Means too Much - VOTE!

So please, don't make me beg. They are all doing the begging for me. Please, make sure you're registered and vote on November 4.

The Boys of Summer Get Ready for the Fall Classic

Today is the first day of the baseball postseason. Yes, my beloved Yankees are not in it this year. But Joe Torre is, so I've got that going for me. The Yankees tried valiantly to make the playoffs, but it was not in the Cards. As a result, the hallowed halls of Yankee Stadium will go silent and the team will move across the street to its new stadium next season.

I will get to predictions in a moment (because I'm so good at it), but first I wanted to share a few things about baseball. First, the boys over at YanksFan vs. SoxFan took note of the "Worst Seat in the House" that Home Run Derby put out in August. If you click on the link you can get some pictures, but here's the list in no particular order:
  • Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs - I've been there, sure there are metal girders in your view at time, but hey, you're at Wrigley, suck it up.
  • Petco Park, San Diego Padres - OK, that's a pretty bad seat.
  • Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox - again, it's an old stadium, but it's Fenway.
  • Minute Maid Park, Houston Astros - um, I have to pay for this seat?
  • Shea Stadium, New York Mets - well they are tearing that stadium down, too.
  • AT&T Park, San Francisco Giants - The views of the bay sort of make up for having to look at the camerman's melon for nine innings.
With both New York teams moving into new stadiums next year (not that either of them deserve it, especially those choker boys from the purple stadium - again this year, really?), it begs the question what do you do with the old stuff? I'm glad you asked. New York magazine posed the question as to how much stuff is worth at an old stadium, and the Village Voice also chimed in. Bleacher seats from Shea, evidently can be had for $869 a pair.

Some of the items being contemplated for sale at Yankee Stadium actually might be worth owning. Feel free to pick up anything on the list for your favorite Brave Astronaut. However, no determination has yet been made as to what will be made available. An online auction may take place in November, in plenty of time for anyone you know of with a December birthday.
  • "I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee" - Joe DiMaggio - the sign that hangs in the hallway from the dugout to the locker room is expected to fetch nearly $10,000.
  • Old style Ticket booth - $25,000
  • Press box lineup board - $500
  • Outfield wall panel with distance marker - $10,000
  • Urinal - $200
  • Seat - $1000 (Penny Marshall owns one of the original seats from the old Yankee Stadium, when contacted by New York magazine for the article, commented, "that seems high, since they're f**king plastic.")
  • Facade lettering $50,000
So how will the teams fare in the postseason this year? Let's see.
ALDS #1 - Tampa Bay vs. Chicago White Sox
  • Tampa Bay, really? The Yankees have to sit out for friggin' Tampa Bay?! Whatever. I gotta go with the AL Easters. I was really rooting for the Twins, though, the Cinderella Story of the playoffs. Oh, and sorry there, White Sox. Better luck next time, but I was rooting for an all-Chicago World Series, it would have been interesting to see Chicago implode.
ALDS #2 - Los Angeles Angels vs. Boston Red Sox
  • Hey, this is mostly a family blog so I will restrain myself from talking about the Beantown Bozos. But nobody's getting past the Angels this year. Sorry there, NJM.
NLDS #1 - Milwaukee Brewers vs. Philadelphia Phillies
  • Possibly one of the best matchups. Both teams sort of back doored their way into the playoffs. A series of mediocrity. I like the Brewers over the Phils. Sorry, Philly Girl.
NLDS #2 - Los Angeles Dodgers vs. the Chicago Cubs
  • As much as the lovable Cubs deserve a break, I gotta go with Torre, even if he is wearing Dodger blue.