Sunday, May 31, 2009
2005: Former FBI official W. Mark Felt is revealed as “Deep Throat,” the secret source who helped reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the Watergate scandal.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
1958: The bodies of two unknown soldiers, killed during World War II and the Korean War, are buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
1431: Joan of Arc is burned at the stake after being tried for heresy.
Friday, May 29, 2009
1942: Bing Crosby records his famous rendition of “White Christmas.” It is featured in the movie Holiday Inn.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
(This review appeared in the May 22, 2009 issue of the Wall Street Journal)
The Pioneer of Special Ops
Frontiersman Robert Rogers and the roots of the U.S. Army Rangers
By ARTHUR HERMAN (See Corrections & Amplifications item below.)
War on the Run By John F. Ross Bantam, 548 pages, $30
People once knew Robert Rogers as the steel-eyed hero played by Spencer Tracy in the film “Northwest Passage” who leads his men, including Robert Young and Walter Brennan, through heartbreak and hardship to victory over Abenake Indians during the French and Indian War. Today Rogers is almost forgotten except by the U.S. Army Rangers, who revere him as their founder and role model. Ft. Ticonderoga Robert Rogers as the artist Thomas Hart imagined him in 1776. John Ross, the executive editor of American Heritage magazine, has taken it upon himself to bring this extraordinary man back to life. He succeeds with “War on the Run,” a lively, evocative and at times moving biography. Rogers is the godfather of modern Special Ops. His spirit still hovers over the elite units who do extraordinary things in Afghanistan and Iraq, from the Rangers to the Navy SEALs, Marine Recon and Delta Force. Rogers was also the original American frontiersman. Born in the wilds of New Hampshire in 1731, he explored the far reaches of the North American wilderness up to the western shores of Lake Michigan. His obsessive hope of finding a land passage to the Pacific made him the “expounder of a realm never made coherent by map or report,” Mr. Ross writes, a realm stretching from the Appalachians to Oregon (a name Rogers coined for the Pacific Northwest Territory) and “so vast and alien in its contours, fauna, botany, and human occupation that it resembled a new planet.” Thirty years later Meriwether Lewis and George Rogers Clark took up the challenge of charting its immensity. Still, it is Robert Rogers, far more than Daniel Boone or Lewis and Clark, who spawned the American idea of going where no one has gone before. Tall, broad and strong, Rogers had trapped, canoed, hunted and fought Indians across the British colonies in America since his early teens. His restless and unstable temperament also landed him in trouble. In 1755 he was actually about to be indicted of counterfeiting when news came of the outbreak of war against the French. For Rogers it meant a pardon, an officer’s commission and an opportunity to apply the crafts he had learned from the Indian tribes, and from the trappers and traders who passed among them, to the art of war. Rogers realized that the American wilderness of swamp, forest, river and mountain, far from imposing a barrier, actually opened a daring opportunity to seize the initiative and carry the war to the French and their native allies. He became the David Petraeus of his time: It took the possibility of defeat to convince others that he was right. Like certain commanders in Iraq, British generals—Edward Braddock comes to mind—were skilled and experienced in conventional European warfare but unable to adapt to their new combat environment. When on July 9, 1755, Braddock was killed and some 900 of his 1,300 men killed or wounded by a smaller French and Indian force, it was a sign that a new approach was needed. An ambush led by Rogers in 1758 during the French and Indian War. Rogers was put in command of a group of irregulars designated the Independent Company of Rangers. What emerged was a new kind of soldier and, in Robert Rogers, a new kind of leader. If Rogers had ever read Sun Tzu’s “Art of War,” he would have heartily approved of one of its core principles: that battle requires fluidity and flexibility in the face of the enemy—in this case, the American wilderness made ambush and the lightning raid the norm. Like Sun Tzu, Rogers understood that victory was as much a matter of psychology as firepower or numbers: In an unconventional war in the wilderness, the general’s job is to overcome his men’s fear of the savage and unknown and impose it on the enemy. He once scalped a captured French soldier in full view of a fort’s French garrison: The French surrendered a short while later. Rogers rapidly transformed his ragtag force of volunteers into American ninjas. He dressed them in green woolen jackets and canvas trousers, allowing them to move virtually unseen through the forest, and gave them moccasins borrowed from the Indians. Instead of wearing the usual tricornered hat, Rogers’s Rangers sported a bonnet of Scottish origin—the distant ancestor of the Ranger beret. Rogers trained his men to be savage fighters but also brothers in adversity. He taught them how to avoid ambush, move silently through miles of underbrush, and how to pursue a retreating enemy through a trackless forest. His men were to be mentally tough and ready to take the initiative if their officers failed. “Every man’s reason and judgment must be his guide,” he wrote at the end of Rogers’s Rules, “according to the particular situation and nature of things.” It was in fact a useful frame of mind for men ready to shoulder the responsibilities of American democracy. “The fir-shaded clearing in front of the small log cabin bustled with even more activity than usual for this characteristically large frontier family. ” Read an excerpt from ‘War on the Run’ Rogers put his entire system to the test in his famous raid on Saint Francois north of Montreal on the Saint Lawrence River in 1759—the raid that inspired the “Northwest Passage” movie. Rogers led his 200 men on a 150-mile trek through uncharted territory to hit the settlement of French Indian allies. The rangers defied starvation, disease and vicious attacks by neighboring Indian tribes. Men had to carry a handful of parched corn in their mouths all day to make it edible by evening. When the corn ran out, they resorted to boiling their leather straps and belts—even the scalps of Indians they had killed along the way and, in the retreat home, even the corpses of their companions. The attack on Saint Francois was a surprise and success: and although the rangers killed far fewer Abenakes than Rogers claimed or the movie suggests, the raid taught Native American tribes in the upper Northwest that they were no longer safe as allies of the French. Rogers’s raid went a long way in demoralizing the French cause in North America, and sent a signal that a new confident power was in charge. Rogers taught that those who exceed the limits of the conventional are going to command the future. It was the lesson taken up by American strategists in their rebellion against the British Crown 15 years later. The image of Americans sniping at redcoats from behind rocks and trees and using the contours of the land to disrupt British plans was an emblem of what Americans had learned from Rogers and his ranger tactics. They almost had the guru himself show them how to do it. Although a retired officer still in the king’s pay, Rogers approached George Washington to offer his services. Washington, however, was deeply suspicious and discouraged the Continental Congress from taking up the offer. Perhaps Washington realized that the American Revolution would only have room for one military legend at a time. So Rogers fought instead for the British, and formed the Queens Rangers. He also captured the American spy Nathan Hale, and one of his last successes was surprising and capturing the American garrison at Mamaroneck during General Howe’s advance on New York. By then, however, his British superiors were having doubts about an irregular force made up of “Negroes, Indians, Mulattoes, Sailor and Rebel Prisoners,” and relieved Rogers of command. He wound up back in England, a broken bitter man without a command or a purpose. Rogers died a penniless alcoholic in 1795, while the fame he craved and deserved as North America’s greatest soldier, was never his. Still, as Mr. Ross notes, Robert Rogers had forced his fellow Americans to rethink their continent and their place in it. He is the godfather not only of Special Ops but of Manifest Destiny. Roger’s kind of unconventional warfare, which halted al Qaeda in Iraq and may still rescue us in Afghanistan, is also one, Mr. Ross would argue, ideally suited to the American temperament. Members of the SAS and Royal Marines might disagree. But there is no denying that thanks to Robert Rogers it’s still the Americans, and the Rangers, who lead the way. Mr. Herman’s most recent book, “Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age,” was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and has just been released in paperback.
Corrections & Amplifications: William Clark went on an expedition with Meriwether Lewis. This article incorrectly says his brother George Rogers Clark went on the expedition.
Screenshot by Peter May
A great app can make your life easier and more fun at the same time. Urbanspoon solves a problem that has vexed mankind throughout the ages: where to eat.
Urbanspoon uses a creative, clever interface, combined with an extensive database, to suggest restaurants that meet your criteria for type of food, location and cost. Or, if you're completely undecided, just give it a shake and see what comes up.
Urbanspoon uses the iPhone's GPS capability to determine your current location. If you prefer, you can also enter a city manually. Fire it up and you'll find a main screen that looks like a slot machine with three tumblers. On the left is a list of local cities. In the center, various restaurant styles such as Italian, Chinese or American. Or you can choose categories such as fast food, sandwiches or pizza. The right tumbler provides a guide to the expected cost using a scale of one to four dollar signs.
Shake your iPhone and the tumblers begin to spin, stopping on a random item in each column. You can also freeze any column to limit the choices. When the tumblers stop, a restaurant suggestion appears at the bottom. Tap the name and you will see a page describing the facility and, when available, showing an actual menu. You can call the restaurant with a single tap or view a map showing its location. Google Maps is available to provide driving directions.
Other cool features enable you to share information with friends via e-mail or on Facebook. You can also browse the local database or search for a specific restaurant. No matter which restaurant you choose, however, the bill is still on you.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
It is customary, near the end of the reception, for the
single female guests to gather around the bride who will
throw her bouquet over her shoulder for one of them to
catch. Originally, the bride would actually throw one of
her shoes over her shoulder during this ritual. Tradition
says that whoever catches the bouquet shall be the next to
It is believed that an unmarried male guest who keeps a
piece of wedding cake under his pillow as he sleeps will
increase his chances of finding a mate. An unmarried
bridesmaid who does the same will dream of her future
The custom of throwing rice at the newlywed couple was to
symbolize fertility. In some cultures, it was not rice
which was thrown, but rather small cakes or pieces of a
In old England it was traditional to bake a ring into the
wedding cake as a symbol of bliss and happiness. The guest
whose piece of cake contained the ring, it was said, could
look forward to a full year of uninterrupted happiness.
Another old English custom was to throw a plate with a
piece of wedding cake out of a window on the occasion of
the bride's first return to her family home after the
wedding. If the plate broke she could expect a happy
future with her husband - but if the plate remained intact,
prospects for the future became grim.
Cutting the wedding cake together, still a predominant
ritual at weddings, symbolizes the couple's unity, their
shared future, and their life together as one.
As much fun to make as it is to eat!
Popcorn has been an American staple since Native Americans brought it to the first Thanksgiving. It grew in popularity throughout the country as street vendors hawked it and eventually became a staple at movie theaters in the 1900s. Once television came into being and attendance at movie theaters waned, so did the popularity of popcorn-- that is, until marketers began tying home television watching with the fluffy snack. And presto! There was once again a niche for
Looking for an inexpensive, easy and convenient way to make fresh popcorn for snacking on in front of the TV, Fred Mennen created Jiffy Pop in 1958, after 5 years of experimentation with a special yellow hulless hybrid corn which grew near his home in La Porte, Indiana. He began marketing his product in Natural and Butter flavors, starting in 1959. By 1960, the tasty treat had major distribution in every US market.
The idea behind Jiffy Pop is very simple – a popping pan, corn and seasoning in one self-contained package. One only needed a heat source and the ability to shake the handled pan to have a giant bowl of flavorful, homemade tasting popcorn.
As kids, it was always fun hanging out in our jammies in the kitchen waiting for the popcorn to be ready. Mom would never let us young ones touch it. It’s kind of amazing to watch as you hear, one by one, the little pops get faster as the small package starts to expand into a gigantic foil bubble! Careful though – if you don’t keep shaking that pan it won’t cook evenly and will no doubt burn the corn. In fact, many who reminisce about this snack remember fondly-- and frustratedly-- the smell of burned corn and scavenging for the few edible kernels.
If all is fair in love and war, this might be the most forgivable of the big lies. When the Trojan Paris absconded with Helen, wife of the Spartan king, war exploded. It had been raging for 10 long years when the Trojans believed they had finally overcome the Greeks. Little did they know, the Greeks had another trick up their sleeves. In a stroke of genius, the Greeks built an enormous wooden horse with a hollow belly in which men could hide. After the Greeks convinced their foes that this structure was a peace offering, the Trojans happily accepted it and brought the horse within their fortified city. That night, as the Trojans slept, Greeks hidden inside snuck out the trap door. Then, they proceeded to slaughter and decisively defeat the Trojans. This was unquestionably one of the biggest and most successful tricks known to history -- that is, if it's true. Homer mentions the occurrence in "The Iliad," and Virgil extrapolates the story in "The Aeneid." Evidence suggests that Troy itself existed, giving some validity to Homer's tales, and scholars have long been investigating how historically accurate these details are. One theory behind the Trojan horse comes from historian Michael Wood, who proposes that it was merely a battering ram in the shape of a horse that infiltrated the city [source: Haughton]. In any case, the story has won a permanent place in the Western imagination as a warning to beware of enemies bearing gifts.
1942: Dorie Miller becomes the first African American to receive a Navy Cross. He is honored for heroism at Pearl Harbor.
1958: Ernest Green, one of nine African American students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., becomes the first to graduate from it.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The 11 May release of former Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar and U.S. journalist Roxana Saberi, imprisoned in Iran on charges of spying, brought elation and relief to people worldwide, especially to Rotarians of Fargo, North Dakota. Saberi, a Fargo native, was arrested in January and initially accused of working with expired press credentials, but authorities later charged her with espionage. Her release came after an Iranian appeals court reduced her eight-year prison sentence to a suspended two-year sentence. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Fargo, Saberi was selected as a 1999-2000 Ambassadorial Scholar to attend the University of Cambridge, where she studied journalism. Fargo club president Joel Fremstad wrote a letter to Mohammad Khazaee, permanent representatitive of Iran to the United Nations, and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, explaining Saberi's connection to Rotary and its mission and requesting her release. Fremstad, who worked on Capitol Hill in 2003-04 for U.S. Representative Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota, contacted his former boss to express concern on behalf of all Rotarians in the state. Pomeroy, who was a Rotary Scholar in 1975-76 at Durham University in England, got involved and worked closely with the U.S. State Department on Saberi's release. Days before she was freed, he contacted Khazaee for an update on her situation. "A lot of people, including Iranian officials, coordinated together so that the proper diplomacy [could] take action in Saberi's release," says Fremstad. "Everyone was excited and relieved to hear the good news." "In North Dakota, when a friend or neighbor is in trouble, we come together and lend a hand," says Pomeroy. "That was especially true in Roxana's case, where countless individuals and groups came forward to offer their support. "As a fellow Rotary Scholar, I am especially proud of the work Rotarians did on Roxana's behalf throughout this ordeal," he says. "We don't know what ultimately led to Roxana's release, but I am confident that the rallies, letters, and countless displays of support for Roxana back home played no small part." Gary Nolte, past governor of District 5580, who helped select Saberi for the Ambassadorial Scholarships program, rejoiced after hearing the news of her release. "It was an absolute rush when I heard," says Nolte, a member of the Rotary Club of Moorhead, Minnesota, USA. "Saberi is extremely intelligent and confident. During the scholarship interview process, it actually seemed like she was interviewing us. She had everything going for her." Saberi, whose father was born in Iran, holds dual U.S.-Iranian citizenship. She moved to Iran in 2003, where she worked as a freelance journalist for the BBC and National Public Radio. She plans to return to Fargo, where her family lives. "We're all very much looking forward to her coming home," says Fremstad. "I'm sure there will be a great celebration upon her return." Follow the comments on Rotary International's Facebook page .
- "I always wanted a happy ending... Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity."-Gilda Radner
1994: Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, secretly marries Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of the King of Rock-and-Roll.
Monday, May 25, 2009
The incredibly lifelike scene is actually huge works of art, painted on the side of a perfectly intact building. Even that woman peering into the ruin above is not real. The painting, which has fooled many, was created by John Pugh, who specializes in trompe l'oeil - or 'trick of the eye' - art. He uses his skills to delude the viewer into seeing 3D scenes painted on flat surfaces. The Californian-born artist said: 'It seems almost universal that people take delight in being visually tricked.'
Steve Baroch, Rotary Club of Castle Rock High Noon, Colorado, USA. "The writing on the wall has everything to do with what makes this photo. And each of the kids has a different emotion going on. A lot of the kids in this school are orphans, and some came from an orphanage that was burned to the ground in the postelection violence in 2008. Our club is supporting the school with books through a nonprofit called Transafrika Cultural Institutes." Giboux: "I like the composition, the way the children are in it. 'Peace wanted alive' is very dramatic, yet the picture is very peaceful."
If you ever plan to motor west
Just take my way that's the highway that's best
Get your kicks on Route 66
It’s the road of many names, likely the most famous in the world. Its historic value is unquestionable and extensive. It has been immortalized through song, film, literature and television. And in its heyday, Route 66 literally transformed and paved the landscape of a nation. The brainchild of Cyrus Avery and John T. Woodruff, Route 66 was their answer to the growing need for a federal highway that would link East and West. Or, more specifically, Chicago and Los Angeles. Construction began in 1927 and incorporated a number of preexisting roads and highways throughout the country. From Chicago, the road made its way through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and concluded near the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, California. Its course was far from linear, however, as it attempted to link a number of rural areas that had no other method of interstate travel. By doing so, it joined a number of agricultural communities and made the transportation of produce and grains far easier for local truckers who welcomed its diagonal course, which offered milder climates than the northern routes. During the 1930s, thousands of unemployed men from across the country were employed to work on the highway, which was finished around 1938. Considering that this was during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, Route 66 was a road of opportunity if there ever was one, helping people relocate en masse to California in the hopes of escaping their grim living conditions. It offered a potential oasis for those willing to pack up their belongings and make a new life for themselves.
As Route 66 gained popularity, so did the numerous neon-illuminated roadside establishments along its path. The motel (originally known as a motor court or motor lodge) originated as a place of rest for its steady stream of weary travelers. The gas stations - notably Phillips 66 (no coincidence,) mom-and-pop restaurants, and the ever-popular and quirky roadside attractions might never have materialized without this famed automobile artery. It was awfully hard to avoid stopping at such colorful places as the Cadillac Ranch in Texas, The Blue Whale in Oklahoma, or the Cozy Drive-in, in Springfield, Illinois, reputed home of the corn dog. Route 66 launched the fledgling tourism industry that would eventually grow into the behemoth it is today. Thousands of jobs became available as people were needed to run each establishment. The utility of Route 66, however, was never more evident, never more vital, than when the nation went to war in 1941. The road provided an efficient way of moving troops and supplies to various locations, and it made travel easier to a number of new military bases and training facilities along the West Coast. When you consider the migrations of the 30s and the war in the 40s, California owes much of its development to Route 66. And as the war ended, thousands of families looked towards the Southwestern states, with their inviting climate and employment opportunities, as the ideal place to raise a family. In the 1950s, President Eisenhower, who had been impressed with the road’s capabilities during the war, became even more impressed with the German Autobahn, and his vision for a new system of roads led to the Federal Highway Act in 1956. The eventual spiderweb of interstate highways began construction soon after, and the days of leisurely travel on Route 66 were numbered. Many portions of the historical highway were made obsolete in the process by the interconnected multi-lane system, much to the dismay of the business owners along the route. In recent years, substantial efforts have been made to preserve as much of the historic route as possible, although there are many abandoned stretches of the former thoroughfare dotting the landscape across the country. It may have been erased from many a map over the years, but in the past couple of decades, sections along the road have received historical designations. Its reappearance on road maps and atlases has certainly pleased fans and historians.
And thanks to popular culture, it likely never will be forgotten. Its first publicity came from American humorist, Will Rogers, who, in the early days was instrumental in popularizing the route. As a result, it was officially named the Will Rogers Highway in 1952, and numerous plaques exist along its route to commemorate its namesake.
It has since been immortalized in just about every form of media, from literature to movies, music to television. Of course, there is the enormously popular tune, “(Get your Kicks on) Route 66,” written by Bobby Troupe (who later starred in the TV series, Emergency) and performed by Nat King Cole (as well as Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, and countless others.) As far back as 1939, American author John Steinbeck made notable mention of the route in The Grapes of Wrath, referring to it as the “Mother Road.” In the 1960s, Martin Milner and George Maharis brought the famed road to the television screen in the series, Route 66. The show followed the duo’s meandering travels in their snazzy corvette, as they stopped at various locales along the way and tried to make nice with the locals. The entire series was filmed on location - a huge undertaking in the day. More recently, the Walt Disney film, Cars, paid homage to the famed interstate and many of the roadside attractions along its route. It has even been reported that the original name of this animated feature was to have been Route 66.
The Mother Road's following and its cultural impact-- not to mention the trove of resources available about the highway and its history-- affirms its significance, its iconic stature. Lewis and Clarke may have discovered the West Coast, but Route 66 is what brought the people there in droves through the first half of the 20th century. It allowed anyone with an automobile the chance to explore this great nation, and anyone along its route to create businesses and support their families. In terms of historical significance, Route 66 has few peers. Disneyland may have a land called “Main Street USA,” but this beloved stretch of road is, in all honesty, far more deserving of the title.
The daughter of a Rotarian is greeted by children during a trip to Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, in November. She traveled with U.S. Rotarians to visit several Rotary club projects and assist in two public health efforts. Photo by Robert Thompson, Rotary Club of Gardner, Kansas
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Duncan Hines - While working as a traveling sales
representative for a Chicago printing company during the
1930s and 40s, Duncan Hines kept a diary of the restaurants
where he’d dined along the way. He and his wife compiled a
list of 167 restaurant reviews, which eventually caught the
eye of a manufacturer of pre-packaged foods who decided to
use Hines' name on their products.
Chef Boyardee - As Head Chef at Cleveland’s Hotel Winton,
“Hector” Boiardi featured a menu that emphasized the
traditional Italian cuisine he so loved, and it wasn't long
before people were asking for his spaghetti sauce recipe,
which he refused to share. He opened his own restaurant in
1924, and due to the large numbers of take-out orders, he
opened a separate factory that packaged his products for
sale in retail outlets. He decided on the phonetic spelling
of his name so there was no confusion as to how it was
CliffsNotes - The "Cliff" behind those yellow study guides
known as CliffsNotes is Clifton Hillegass, a graduate of
the University of Nebraska and an Army Air Corps veteran.
Hillegass published his first Cliff’s Notes in the basement
of his Lincoln home with the intent of enriching the
reader’s experience and pointing out plot subtleties, not
providing a “cheat sheet.”
Oscar Mayer - Oscar Ferdinand Mayer and his brother
Gottfried leased the Kolling Meat Market in Chicago in 1883.
Their homemade liverwurst, bratwurst and weisswurst soon
gained popularity, and by 1900, they had expanded to include
delivery service throughout the city. When the brothers
found out that Chicagoland residents were purchasing their
products and sending them to relatives outside of Illinois,
they began branding their meats.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
In the world of toys, there is the neat, the cool, the trendy, and the classic. But every once in a while, sometimes once in a generation, comes a toy that defines the decade. Ray Lohr probably had no inkling of it when he first invented and developed the Big Wheel for Louis Marx and Company Toys in 1969, but his plastic tricycle became an icon of the seventies and eighties. It’s look – mimicking the choppers of the open road – was indescribably cool. More than that, a toy with no built in noise-maker nevertheless had an distinctive sound. The clatter of plastic grinding on pavement announced to the neighborhood more than the coming of a child and his/her toy. It announced the coming of a star. Although the design promised (and in theory delivered) increased safety over traditional metal tricycles, there was no denying the aesthetic appeal of the Big Wheel. Big Wheel riders rode low to the ground, hands extended to grip the high handlebars that swept over each side of the toy’s namesake. Big Wheel riders rode with their legs sticking out in front of them, feet clawing at the pedals. Big Wheel riders rode with their head back, wind roaring through their hair, laughter blowing back in their face. Colorful and clamorous, the Big Wheel was named for the large plastic wheel that dominated the front of the assembly, big and bold and utterly beautiful. It sat back on two smaller wheels and featured a sliding seat that could adjust for the growing tricyclist. Some models even featured a hand brake located to the side, but if anyone ever rode a Big Wheel with the intention of braking, history and legend have both thankfully chosen to ignore the fact. One of the basic tenets of Big Wheel’s awesomeness was not only its durability, but it’s adaptability. One could ride the Big Wheel down the hall, through the kitchen, and into the family cat as easily as cruising down the sidewalk. Figure-eights were at the top of their game during the age of the Big Wheel. Potted plants knew no malice like the Big Wheel who hungrily circled the living room while waiting for the words, “RIDE THAT THING OUTSIDE!” Ride outside they did. Big Wheelers often rode in packs, looking to the locals like any intrepid band bound for Sturgiss. Part of a toy’s worth is measured by how many dares one can make with it. The Big Wheel knew no limits. I dare you to ride down that hill curvy with, touch your brakes and you lose. I dare you to play chicken with Louis, whoever swerves first loses. I dare you to ride down those stairs, bail out or fall off and you lose. I dare you to race with double passengers, anyone who falls off automatically loses. I dare you to ride to the end of the lane and do a 180 degree drift, 179 doesn’t count. And who refused? No one. Big Wheel was not built for fear. It was built for the driveway, the sidewalk, the open road. It was built for the living room, the dining room, the back patio. It was built for safety, for speed, for fun.
Singing the ABCs of Wine
By DOROTHY J. GAITER AND JOHN BRECHER
It's time for a new, improved, updated A-Z glossary. What we've done here is include fresh items that we wouldn't have included just a few years ago (our last glossary ran in 2003). In previous glossaries, for instance, P stood for Robert Parker, but, looking forward, D and V are the new P. These are words and people whose names are good to know right now for some reason, if only because they are symbols of something larger. We have made tough choices to get each of these down to a single listing. This sometimes entailed arguments, threats and compromise, and in the long run we just couldn't agree on R, which is why there are two.
[Albarino] Jeff Bush
Albariño. Signature white wine from Spain -- sunny, peachy, floral and mouthwatering. Spanish wines -- red, white, rosé and its sparkling Cava -- tend to be excellent values these days.
Bronco Wine Co. California-based Bronco grew into one of the biggest wine companies in the U.S. thanks to "Two-Buck Chuck" and other lower-priced brands. Now its CEO, Fred Franzia, has become increasingly visible as an advocate for inexpensive wine that's an everyday pleasure. (Fred Franzia does not produce Franzia boxed wines, which are made by another giant company known for inexpensive wines, the Wine Group.)
Celebrity wines. This replaces critter wines, the fading fad in which the cute animal on the label was a bigger selling point than the wine inside the bottle. Now anybody who's anybody, living or dead, from golfers to rock stars to actors, has his or her own wine label. In tastings, we have preferred celebrity to critter wines, so far, but we're not sure how long that will be true.
Dr. Vino. The world is awash in wine bloggers -- and we figure the more people who read and write about wine the better -- and one good example is drvino.com, which is well-written, well-researched, calm and, dare we use the word, sober.
Extracted. It's hard to avoid this word in any discussion of wines these days. Essentially it means just what it sounds like: a wine that's concentrated and intense. Even normal people these days like to argue about whether various wines are overly extracted.
Tastings columnists Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher update their wine glossary with the new terms and names every wine drinker should know.
Flights. Not long ago, only wine geeks talked about "flights" of wine -- that is, several wines tasted against each other because of some common trait, such as Sauvignon Blancs from around the world. Now, because of the explosion of wine bars, flights have taken off.
Grüner Veltliner. Austria's signature white, far more widely available now than just a short time ago. It's so trendy that some people, unfortunately, call it GrünVelt, GrünV, GV or even GrüV, but we'd stick with GROO-ner felt-LEE-ner.
Haw River Valley (North Carolina). New official wine appellation (known as an AVA, or American Viticultural Area), simply one example of the extraordinary growth of wineries all across the U.S. There are now more than 3,000 wineries that are not in California, including about 80 in North Carolina.
Interstate shipping. Thanks to the Internet and a 2005 Supreme Court ruling, the amount of wine moving among states has grown tremendously. While some states still do not allow interstate (or, in some cases, in-state) shipping, most Americans now can order wine from stores and wineries in other states.
Jerk. Because of the increasing confidence and sophistication of wine drinkers all over the world, more and more people hear an insufferable wine bore and say, "Wow, that guy [it's always a guy] is a jerk," instead of saying, "I guess I don't know anything about wine." In terms of wine, we think jerk is a term you will be hearing more in the next few years.
[Kabinett] Jeff Bush
Kabinett. We know it's probably just wishful thinking, but we think maybe Riesling really is about to turn a corner as consumers realize what a beautiful, food-friendly wine it is. If they do, they are sure to discover lighter German Rieslings that are classified as Kabinett.
Languedoc. Productive region in southern France that produces an ocean of wine, some of it good. Producers are working hard to improve quality; there is a new, official Languedoc regional appellation as of 2007; and its solid wines are affordable in a time of economic strain, so Languedoc's profile might rise in the next few years.
Malbec. Argentina's signature red. Earthy yet easy to drink, this is very much the red wine of the moment.
[Four Vines] Jeff Bush
Naked. Unoaked wines, sometimes called naked, have become trendy because the overuse of oak (or oak chips, or oak staves, or oak flavorings) has become epidemic. Our feeling is that oak itself isn't really the villain, that lazy winemaking and inferior grapes are. Still, a little bit of over-reaction isn't a bad thing in this case and some naked wines are tasty.
[Badger] Jeff Bush
Organic. All things organic are hot these days and wines made from organically grown grapes are no exception, along with wines grown with biodynamic or sustainable agriculture. They are also improving in quality.
Prosecco. Delightful bubbly from the Veneto region of Italy that has surged in popularity recently because of its charm and low price.
[Quincy] Jeff Bush
Quincy. White wine made from Sauvignon Blanc in the Loire Valley of France. As consumers look for alternatives to Chardonnay and other big whites, they are increasingly discovering wines like this.
Reduction. Word often used in the heated debate between cork and screw-cap camps, in which some argue that this complex reaction causes off smells (at least briefly) in wines closed with screw caps.
Resveratrol. A compound in red wine that researchers believe has positive health effects, in far larger doses than a single bottle of wine.
"Sideways." The 2004 movie that boosted Pinot Noir and the Santa Barbara County wine industry and helped make a joke of Merlot.
[Tannat] Jeff Bush
Tannat. Signature red of Uruguay, one example of the many interesting wines now fighting for shelf space from all over the world.
Urban wineries. Places in cities, from Denver to Brooklyn, N.Y., to Hong Kong, where vintners are making wine far from the actual vineyard.
Vaynerchuk, Gary. Wine geek of the moment. His upbeat, charming commentary at tv.winelibrary.com has made him a star and brought him a huge book deal. His many followers are called Vayniacs.
Wine doggy bags. Most states now allow diners to leave a restaurant with an unfinished bottle of wine, though they generally require that the wine be placed in a sealed container, which has inevitably come to be known as a "wine doggy bag." (For a listing of state laws, see winedoggybag.com.)
Xinomavro. Indigenous red grape of Greece, pronounced Ksee-NO-ma-vro, according to the Web site allaboutgreekwine.com, where you can hear it pronounced. Greek wines are interesting, well-made and often bargain priced.
Yarra Valley. Australian wine region known for its cooler climate. Australia produced lakes of bad wine over the past few years -- especially Chardonnay and Shiraz -- and, as a result, saw its industry suffer. But there is too much commitment, too much money and too much history for the bad times to last forever. We'd guess that Australia's quality comeback will be led by lesser-known regions, such as the Yarra Valley, and, separately, by its lesser-known varietals, such as Riesling.
Zweigelt. Austria's most widely planted red grape, sometimes seen as a rosé. The red is fun, charming and a little peppery.
Friday, May 22, 2009
GM touts new crash severity-predicting OnStar technology
OnStar has been working with the CDC for a few years now in an effort to deliver real-time crash information to first responders, and it looks like it has now finally come up with something that's ready to be put to use. That comes in the form of OnStar's new Injury Severity Prediction technology, which apparently takes some recent CDC findings into account, and uses a whole range of sensors in the vehicle (along with other crash data) to predict whether a crash is likely to have caused severe injury to the people in the vehicle. That information can then be relayed to first responders with a simple severity prediction of "normal" or "high," which OnStar says should be especially helpful in cases where crash victims cannot speak for themselves. While there's no exact date for a rollout just yet, OnStar says it should be available to OnStar advisors "early next year," and that it'll be available on all vehicles equipped with OnStar's Automatic Crash Response system.
“Heroism is latent in every human soul - However
humble or unknown, they (the veterans) have renounced what
are accounted pleasures and cheerfully undertaken all the
self-denials - privations, toils, dangers, sufferings,
sicknesses, mutilations, life..."-Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.
Memorial day was first celebrated on May 30, 1868. It was
observed by placing flowers on the graves of Union and
Confederate soldiers during the first national celebration.
Gen. James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National
Cemetery, after which around 5,000 participants helped to
decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and
Confederate soldiers who were buried there.
Since the late 1950’s on the Thursday just before Memorial
day, around 1200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place
small American flags at each of the more than 260,000
gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery.
Moina Michael came up with an idea of wearing red poppies
on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the
nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold
poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going
to benefit servicemen in need.
In the year 2000 the National Moment of Remembrance
Resolution passed. At 3pm on Memorial Day all Americans
are asked to voluntarily and informally observe in their
own way a moment of remembrance and respect by pausing
from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or
listening to Taps.
The south refused to honor the dead on Memorial Day until
after World War I when the meaning of Memorial Day changed
from honoring civil war dead to honoring Americans who died
fighting in any war.
1980: The dot-eating Pacman makes his debut in Japan.
1977: Janet Guthrie, a former physicist, becomes the first woman to qualify for the Indy 500. She thanks her parents for “not bringing me up thinking I couldn’t do something because I was a woman.”
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Three out of 4 American households own a grill and they use
it on average of 5 times per month.
Lexington, North Carolina is known as the Barbecue Capital
of the World. October is Barbecue Month there, with a month-
long Annual Barbecue Festival. The city's first barbecue
restaurant opened in 1919; there are currently over 20
People in the Northeast U.S. are the heaviest barbecuers in
the nation. The next most frequent barbecues are in the
North Central region of the U.S., followed by the South and
then the Western U.S.
The word "barbecue" may have come from the French phrase
"barbe a queue" (from whiskers to tail-The term refers to
the original method in which a whole animal was cooked on
a spit over an open fire), or the Taino Indian word for
their method of cooking fish over a pit of coals (barbacoa).
(Review appeared in the May 15, 2009 issue of the Wall Street Journal)
Even Coach Was Nice
Recalling an airline era when the skies really were friendly "Flying Across America: The Airline Passenger Experience" By Daniel L. Rust University of Oklahoma, 259 pages, $45
Once upon a time, traveling by air was fun. Passengers dressed in their Sunday finery. They were able to board their flights without disrobing at security checkpoints, and meals were still served on china with real silverware, including knives. In "Flying Across America: The Airline Passenger Experience," Daniel L. Rust traces transcontinental airline travel from its earliest days, when hopping into an airplane was considered a feat of bravery. Mr. Rust has assembled an impressive collection of illustrations, photographs and vintage airline advertisements, as well as first-hand accounts of passengers, to give readers a taste of airline travel through its evolution from being a novelty for a select few to a necessary nuisance for millions. During the glory years of airline travel, from roughly the mid-1940s until well into the 1970s, planes were filled with well-dressed passengers who could count on amenities such as sleeping berths with fresh white linens on long flights. The first attempts at flying passengers on transcontinental routes, though, were more focused on pushing the bounds of technology than they were about providing comfortable service. The U.S. government was interested in speeding up the mail by loading the most urgent parcels onto airplanes; passengers were largely an afterthought. Western Air Express, a predecessor of what would become Trans World Airlines, was among the first to start flying passengers on a regular basis. "Seated on two removable seats or on mail sacks in an open cockpit, hardy passengers braved deafening noise and whatever Mother Nature served up," Mr. Rust writes of the first 200 or so "intrepid souls" who flew in 1926. During the early years, the biggest obstacle to air transportation was fear and suspicion. Fledgling airlines turned to influential passengers, such as humorist Will Rogers, to bolster public confidence. Rogers wrote a two-part article in 1928 for the Saturday Evening Post, detailing his adventures on a trip from Los Angeles to New York and back that required multiple airplanes and multiple stops. During his flight, the pilot passed notes back to Rogers, pointing out landmarks along the way. One of Rogers's favorite moments was flying over a big city after sundown. "Daytime is like slumming compared to seeing a big, lighted city from the air at night," he wrote. (Rogers would die in 1935 in the crash of a small airplane while flying in Alaska with his friend, adventurer Wiley Post.) “What was once available to only the wealthiest adventure seekers has now become affordable to most Americans, who now give as much thought to riding an airplane across the continent as they once did to taking a subway or bus ride downtown.” Read an excerpt of "Flying Across America" Some of the most compelling anecdotes in "Flying Across America" are accounts from the early days of transcontinental travel, when propeller-driven airplanes plied low-altitude routes through all types of weather. One passenger, Marcia Davenport, wrote about a notoriously rough flight over the deserts of Southern California: "When a plane drops like a bullet, sometimes a hundred feet, your eyes google, you clutch the arm of your chair, and if you have time to watch your fellow passengers, you see them doing the same." Mr. Rust notes that in the early days, roughly 80% of the passengers on TWA flights over the Southwest suffered from air sickness. In addition to tracing the development of air travel, Mr. Rust includes brief histories of the airlines and companies such as Boeing Co., Lockheed and Douglas Aircraft, which spent 40 years in battle to develop a series of airplanes that eventually resulted in those used today. While the advent of the jet age in the 1950s brought the comfort of high-altitude travel and reduced a cross-country flight from 36 hours to around five hours, it also took away some of the romance. Landscapes that prompted passengers to rush from one side of the plane to the other for a glimpse became pastel blurs that, often as not, were obscured by low-level clouds. With the reduced flying time afforded by jet travel, airlines did not abandon their custom of providing food for passengers -- a practice that had begun when a long-distance journey meant several stops and many hours in the air. In fact, in the 1960s and into the 1970s, airlines competed to provide the highest quality meals. It was an era of high-altitude dining, the author writes, that culminated "in first-class, with flight attendants carving slices of hot roast beef right before the passengers' eyes." The book reprints a photo from the 1970s showing dinner being served to two couples -- the men in suits, the women in dresses -- at a round-top table covered in a white tablecloth on a TWA Lockheed L-1011 Tristar jetliner. A smiling stewardess stands beside them holding a wicker basket filled with bottles of wine. But as Mr. Rust notes, "the scene soon succumbed to the installation of additional seats to earn the airline more revenue." Done in a coffee-table format, "Flying Across America" is best read in short sections. In his efforts to pile several years of research into one place, Mr. Rust has thrown in everything from the history of air mail to details on the evolution of food and baggage service. After more than a few minutes, the information begins to feel unwieldy and a bit disorganized. Readers may also notice that Mr. Rust devotes little of his attention toward more recent events in air travel. For example, he doesn't introduce the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 -- and the flourishing of competition that it prompted -- until just a few pages before the end of the book. The rise of Europe's Airbus (which now builds the A380, the largest passenger jet in history) and of Southwest Airlines, which played a major role in bringing cross-country travel to the masses over the past 30 years, are relegated almost to footnote status. Mr. Rust concludes his history with a quick nod toward the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the resulting effects on air travel. Noting that "much of the glamour, the mystique, and the innocent excitement of air travel has been lost," he reiterates that transcontinental air travel has become "smoother than trips taken in most cars." But at least on a car trip, you're not forced beforehand to remove your shoes in the driveway.
Ginsu Steak Knives-When the Ginsu infomercial premiered in the late '70s, audiences were entranced by the miraculous Japanese knife that could cut through a tin can then slice through a ripe tomato like butter. But Ginsu wasn't miraculous. It wasn't even Japanese. It was instead the brainchild of marketing whizzes Ed Valenti and Barry Becher, who were trying to increase sales of an ordinary kitchen knife called Eversharp. They changed the name to "Ginsu," added a Japanese chef to the infomercial and launched a television icon. Years later, Valenti proclaimed Ginsu his "greatest advertising success" [source: Associated Press].
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
iTunes as a vector for fraud isn't really new. According to a thread on independent customer-service Web site Get Satisfaction, incidents stretch back over the past year, with a number of people having found bogus charges to their credit cards purporting to be from the iTunes Store. Others, however, report having been contacted by their credit card companies because of $1 iTunes charges—some fraudsters use the small charge to test the waters, then start making larger purchases if they aren’t caught.
By caught, however, we simply mean whether or not your credit card company notifies you and you cancel the card. Nobody seems to know exactly who’s behind the scheme, though it’s becoming more and more common to find illicit sites reselling iTunes gift certificates for less than their face value, paid for with stolen credit card numbers. It’s instant profit for identity thieves. In the meantime, the best approach is to make sure that your iTunes account and credit card information is as safe as you can reasonably make it and to check your statements regularly.
1932: Amelia Earhart takes off from Newfoundland and heads to Ireland to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
1993: The last episode of NBC’s Cheers airs. More than 93 million tune in.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
You've probably heard that keeping your refrigerator and freezer fully stocked is a simple way to keep them running efficiently. But what if you happen to lack for food, or want to optimize even further? If you're willing to do a little re-thinking of food storage, you're in luck. The New York Times' Science Times write-in question this week details supplements and alternatives to having a freezer full of Hungry Mans and a fridge stuffed with fruit and leftovers. Containers of water, for instance, can serve as a buffer in either the freezer or fridge: If there is not enough food to fill the freezer, many suggest putting in more ice trays or some containers of water ... Some extra water containers in the cooling section will also minimize the amount of inrushing warm air that has to be cooled when the door opens and shuts.Along with the stuff your handy dad or uncle will tell you about keeping the condenser coils and making sure they have enough room, there's also some Thermodynamics 101 knowledge you can implement to reduce the amount of cooling work the fridge has to do: It is permissible to let hot food cool somewhat before refrigerating it, as long as the cooling period is not long enough to permit bacterial growth. Never use warm or hot water to make ice cubes. Cover moist food, so the refrigerator does not waste energy evaporating the moisture.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Australian termites have been known to build mounds twenty
feet high and at least 100 feet wide.
When ants find food, they lay down a chemical trail, called
a pheromone, so that other ants can find their way from the
nest to the food source.
Only female mosquitoes bite. Females need the protein from
blood to produce their eggs.
Mosquitoes dislike citronella because it irritates their
feet. There are more than 2,500 varieties of mosquitoes.
The world's smallest winged insect, the Tanzanian parasitic
wasp, is smaller than the eye of a housefly.
- New Year's Day - January 1
- Martin Luther King Day - Third Monday in January
- Lincoln's Birthday - February 12
- Washington's Birthday - February 22
- Presidents' Day - Third Monday in February
- Peace Officers Memorial Day (half-staff) - May 15
- Armed Forces Day - Third Saturday in May
- Memorial Day (half-staff until noon) - Last Monday in May
- Flag Day and Army Day - June 14
- Independence Day - July 4
- Korean War Veterans Day (half-staff) - July 27
- Labor Day - First Monday in September
- V-J Day - September 2
- Patriots Day - September 11
- Citizenship Day, Air Force Day, and Constitution Day - September 17
- POW/MIA Recognition Day - September 21
- Columbus Day - October 12
- Navy Day - October 27
- Marine Corps Day - November 10
- Veterans Day - November 11
- National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (half-staff) - December 7
1980: More than 50 people are dead after Mount St. Helens explodes. President Carter tells reporters: “Somebody said it looked like the moon. But the moon looks like a golf course compared to this.”
1933: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill creating the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
In a personal conversation with CSRYEC Treasurer Dan Milligan last Monday night in Springfield, he informed me how proud he was of District 6460. He told me that of the $5000.00 he received from the 13 districts that belong to CSRYE, District 6460 gave half of all the money donated! Congratulations fellow members of District 6460; once again you have stepped up and given support to a cause over and beyond other districts in our area. Thank You Very Much! I, too, am very proud of all of you.
District Governor Dick
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
He is putting together an East Alton gift basket. If you can make a contribution, let him know ASAP. Here are the details.Once again the Rotary Clubs of District 6460 are being asked
to participate in one of the really fun aspects of District
Conference. Gift baskets have been a very popular activity
during District Conference in the past. This year's 2008-2009
District Conference will be held in Macomb at the Western
Illinois University's Student Union on May 29 and 30, 2009
Each club in our district is being asked to donate a gift basket
representative of its area. For instance Collinsville is known
for Brook's Catsup; Bushnell for Kitchen Cooked Potato Chips;
Macomb for WIU; and I'm sure there are others. The gift
basket should be valued at no more than fifty dollars. This
has been popular to include a bottle of wine or other types of
treats. These gift baskets will be auctioned off in a silent
auction. The baskets will be placed in an area that is quite
trafficked so that you will have ample opportunity to bid as
the Conference winds down.