Monday, January 31, 2011



Chasing the ghost of Bullitt
At the very top of Taylor and Vallejo streets here on Sunday morning, I stopped to take in the view. Idling in a 2011 Ford Mustang V6, I looked down through the windshield at the impossibly steep hill below, immortalized in the 1968 film "Bullitt" starring Steve McQueen. (more after the break)




Bill Gates sets goal of wiping out polio — forever
‘I’m betting money, reputation, energy, everything’ on ending it
   Half a century after the March of Dimes put the 20th century’s most feared childhood disease on the road to eradication, Bill Gates today declares polio his top priority and challenges world leaders to finish the job before the disease roars back.
   “We are on the threshold of eliminating polio once and for all,” the Microsoft billionaire and philanthropist says in his 2011 annual letter, given in advance to USA TODAY and slated for public release today.(more after the break)


"I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don't even invite me."-Dave Barry


1961:Ham the chimp becomes the first primate in space after he is successfully launched and recovered in a forerunner to the United States’ first manned Mercury mission. Exactly three years earlier, America entered the space race with the launch of the Explorer 1 satellite. Exactly a decade later, astronauts Alan B. Shepard Jr., Edgar D. Mitchell and Stuart A. Roosa blast off on Apollo 14, the third successful manned mission to the moon.

1945: U.S. Army Pvt. Eddie Slovik is shot and killed by a firing squad near Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, France, during World War II, becoming the first American soldier executed for desertion since the Civil War.

1990: A McDonald’s fast food restaurant opens for the first time in Moscow, bringing an iconic symbol of American capitalism to the Soviet Union.

Sunday, January 30, 2011



1972:Thirteen people are killed in Derry, Northern Ireland, when British paratroopers open fire on a group of unarmed Catholic demonstrators. The day will become known as Bloody Sunday.

1948: Indian spiritual and nonviolent resistance leader Mohandas K. Gandhi is assassinated on the way to a prayer session in New Delhi by Nathuram Vinayak Godse, a Hindu extremist angered by Gandhi’s attempts to promote tolerance between Hindus and Muslims in India.

1969: Accompanied by Billy Preston on the keyboard, the Beatles perform their last concert together, playing for 42 minutes on the roof of the Apple Corps building in London. The unannounced lunchtime performance will be featured as the climax of the film Let It Be.

Saturday, January 29, 2011



1845:Edgar Allen Poe’s macabre poem “The Raven” is first published in the New York Evening Mirror. Depicting the haunting interaction between a grieving man and a prophetic raven who says only “Nevermore,” Poe’s poem will bring him great popularity and remains one of the most famous in American literature.

1936: The Baseball Writers’ Association of America elects five baseball superstars, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson, to be the first members of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. They will be formally inducted when the museum is dedicated on June 12, 1939.

Friday, January 28, 2011

50-50 ROLLS



Girl Scout Thin Mint cookiesImage via WikipediaCookie Cutters: Girl Scouts Trim Their Lineup for Lean Times

Fewer in the Package, Less Packaging; No More Thank U Berry Munch

The stale economy is teaching Girl Scouts a new lesson: the way the cookies crumble.
As the annual selling season gets under way for the organization's iconic cookies, Girl Scouts councils are beginning to say adios to Dulce de Leche, no thanks to Thank U Berry Munch and farewell to a whole slew of other varieties added in recent years. (more after the break)


ABC World NewsImage via Wikipedia
Dear Friends:
This is a quick note to let you know that you might want to watch ABC World News Tonight this Friday, 28 January (check local listings).  In November, Rotary International’s sent three Rotarians to Delhi to participate in polio nation immunization day activities.  The group was joined by Dr. Richard Besser, and an ABC news crew, to film Rotarians in action and to tell the story of Rotary’s 25 year effort to eradicate of polio.  It is our understanding that this Friday night, on ABC World News Tonight, the story will air (assuming that the world news of the day does not pre-empt regular programming.)
Also there will be a webcast featuring Bill Gates, Jr. and Diane Sawyer, talking about polio eradication on Monday, January 31, 9:30 a.m. ET at  Finally, it is our understanding that Good Morning America may also pick up this story, but we have yet to be notified when or if it will be done.
This is a great story for Rotary, and should help to let the world know about our efforts to eradicate this disease.   For the Rotarians who are receiving this message, please feel free to share this message as I think it will make people proud about our organization.
I was lucky enough to be one of the three on the trip.  Assuming my luck still holds, you might be able to catch a glimpse of me on this news programming.
Enjoy the newscast.
Bradford R. Howard
Rotary District 5170
Governor, 2002-2003
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1908:Julia Ward Howe becomes the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Howe, a lifelong activist and public servant, wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in 1861 as a patriotic hymn set to the tune of "John Brown's Body," a popular marching song among Union troops during the Civil War.

1916: Louis Brandeis, known during his law career as the "people's attorney" for his tireless and often pro bono work for social causes, is nominated to the Supreme Court by President Woodrow Wilson. After bitter opposition from many conservative Republicans concerned about Brandeis' antiestablishment radicalism, Brandeis will be confirmed by a vote of 47 to 22, becoming the first Jewish justice to sit on the nation's highest court.

1986: The space shuttle Challenger disintegrates 73 seconds after lifting off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., killing all seven crew members: mission commander Dick Scobee; pilot Michael J. Smith; mission specialists Judith A. Resnik, Ronald E. McNair and Ellison S. Onizuka; and payload specialists Gregory B. Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe, a high school social studies teacher.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


The guest speaker at the January 27th meeting was Mr. Brendan McKee. He is a member of the committee that is advocating that the three school districts covering East Alton, Wood River and Hartford be consolidated into a unit district. If you were unable to join us, please take a look below at the two part video presentation.

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Mexican redknee tarantulaImage via Wikipedia
(Reuters) - A German national who shipped hundreds of live tarantulas into the United States through the mail has pleaded guilty to a federal smuggling charge, prosecutors said.
In pleading guilty on Tuesday, 37-year-old Sven Koppler admitted mailing some 247 live tarantulas to federal agents in Los Angeles, who were posing as buyers as part of an investigation dubbed "Operation Spiderman."
Koppler further admitted sending the agents 22 Mexican red-kneed tarantulas, a species of spider formally known as Brachypelma smithi that is protected under an international treaty.
Koppler, who lives in Wachtberg, Germany, faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on April 11, U.S. Attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek said.
Authorities say the investigation into Koppler began in March, when a routine inspection turned up about 300 live tarantulas in a package he mailed to Los Angeles.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents ordered more spiders from Koppler and were sent a total of five packages containing dozens of live and dead tarantulas.
He was arrested on December 2 after arriving in Los Angeles to meet with an associate.
Koppler received about $300,000 as a result of tarantula sales to spider fanciers in dozens of countries, including nine in the United States, according to court documents.
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I just know there is a "In Russia...." joke to be made here. The photo shows the elaborate transport of a U.S. owned Eclipse private jet. The plane was being transported from the airport to a convention center where it was scheduled to be put on display.

According to the story, during transport, the truck hit the nose of the plane which messed up the entire plan. Originally, the plane was supposed to be driven several miles to a river, and be barged up the river to the convention center. But because of the damage, the truck was delayed, and the barge left, forcing the truck to make its delivery entirely by road.
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1967:Astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward H. White and Roger B. Chaffee are killed by a flash fire inside the command module of their Apollo I spacecraft during a prelaunch test at Cape Kennedy, Fla. The precise cause of the fire has never been officially determined, but investigations have pointed to the highly pressurized, 100 percent oxygen environment inside the module as contributing to the tragedy.

1888: The National Geographic Society is officially incorporated in Washington, D.C., with lawyer and philanthropist Gardiner Greene Hubbard as its first president. Nine months after its founding, the society will begin publishing National Geographic magazine, today a leading publication on the natural world.

1945: After advancing deep into southern Poland, the Soviet Red Army enters the concentration camps at Auschwitz, liberating more than 7,000 prisoners who have survived the atrocities perpetrated there by the Nazis. It is estimated that 1.3 million people perished there, most of them Jews, along with thousands of others.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


The Quadrantid Meteor Shower is an annual event for planet Earth's northern hemisphere skygazers. It usually peaks briefly in the cold, early morning hours of January 4. The shower is named for its radiant point on the sky within the old, astronomically obsolete constellation Quadrans Muralis. That position is situated near the boundaries of the modern constellations Hercules, Bootes, and Draco. In this haunting time exposure, two quadrantid meteor streaks are captured crossing trails left by rising stars of the constellations Virgo and Corvus, but Saturn leaves the brightest "star" trail. The meteor streaks, one bright and one faint, are nearly parallel above and right of center in the frame. Fittingly, the old cistern structure in the foreground lies above the now buried city of Qumis. Known as a city of many gates, Qumis (in Greek history Hecatompylos), was founded 2300 years ago in ancient Persia.


"Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth."-Lillian Hellman


Rotary districts in Brazil are mobilizing to bring emergency relief to thousands of victims after heavy rains 12-13 January caused deadly floods and mudslides in mountain communities north of Rio de Janeiro.
The death toll from Brazil's worst natural disaster in decades has exceeded 740 and could reach 1,000, according to government officials. Rivers of mud and rock ripped through towns, causing widespread devastation and leaving more than 14,000 people homeless. Hundreds remain missing or trapped on mountain slopes and riverbanks.
Districts 4600, 4650, and 4750 are initiating collection campaigns. Food, water, clothing, milk powder, mattresses, and bed linens are among the relief goods needed. 
Updates will be posted at as they become available. Please send any questions or concerns regarding this disaster to
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1924:American skater Charles Jewtraw wins the 500-meter speed skating event and takes home the first gold medal of the inaugural Winter Olympic Games, held in Chamonix, France.

1950: Rajendra Prasad is sworn in as the first president of the newly proclaimed Republic of India, ending nearly a century of British colonial rule.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011



First of all - yes, we are serious. And stop calling us Shirley! AMC Theaters is bringing the best aviation slapstick comedy back to the big screen - but only for two days!

On Saturday January 29 and Tuesday February 1, select AMC theaters will bring pilot Clarence Oveur (R.I.P), flight attendant Elaine Dickinson and Ted Striker to almost 100 different locations. Show times are listed on the special AMC Airplane! page, along with the theaters.

Oh, and if you arrive on time, you'll be able to claim a full-size commemorative Airplane! poster at your theater. We'll close with one of the funnier parts of the movie - and a segment I'm pretty sure wouldn't go down to well in today's society...


Hippos live their lives in the sweltering African heat.   They cool off by spending as much as sixteen hours a day in rivers, lakes, streams, etc.  But while this time in the water may be effective against high temperatures, it does nothing to prevent of exposure to UV rays -- sunlight which, at that volume, should lead to a lot of hippos with sunburns.  Yet the hippos rarely if burn.  How do they do that? (more after the break)