Has anyone seen my cookie?

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Well, the holidays have come and gone and it’s time to get back into the swing of things. I hope your holidays were as wonderful as mine…and if they weren’t, I’m truly sorry. I know that holidays can be very difficult times for some.

A week before Christmas, we had our son who leaves in this area and his family over for a pre-Christmas get together. Our two youngest granddaughters belong to this son, and grandma decided to have them decorate Christmas cookies. It was hilarious!  Some of the cookies were beautifully decorated and took quite some time….but the 5 year old was more into how much frosting you could get on one cookie…and sprinkles, of course!  In fact, today’s photo is of one of her cookies…but can you see it?  Can you tell what it is?  It’s a candy cane!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1999, after three days of high winds and heavy snow, people in the Great Lakes region began digging out from one of the worst blizzards on record. More than 100 people died in storm-related accidents.

The storm began on January 1, when snow began falling across Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. Most areas saw at least 15 inches of snow before the storm moved on. The hardest hit area was Chicago, where wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour combined with heavy snow to reduce visibility to near zero at times and create huge impassable drifts. O’Hare Airport, one the nation’s busiest, had to shut down, stranding 200,000 people for as much as four days. The weather also made train travel through the area impossible, and mail across the country was delayed because of the blizzard.

The storm caused treacherous road conditions throughout the region. A 60-car pile-up on January 2 in Wisconsin resulted in scores of injuries and one death. In Indiana, a 100-mile stretch of Interstate 65 was closed for a full two days. When the snow finally stopped on January 3, record cold temperatures arrived. In Congerville, Illinois, a state record low of -36 degrees was reached. In the aftermath, President Bill Clinton declared Illinois and Indiana disaster areas and sent federal relief.

As the storm moved east, serious accidents followed in its wake. A 15-car pile-up on I-81 in Virginia killed four people and a 50-car accident in New Jersey injured dozens. There were 200 separate accidents on the New York Thruway alone during the blizzard. When the storm reached Buffalo, it began a two-week period during which the city received a remarkable 60 inches of snow. Still, Buffalo was prepared and able to plow the snow to make streets passable. In Detroit, a shortage of snow plows combined with the subsequent cold weather left some streets blocked for more than a week.

In all, more than 100 deaths–as many as 36 from heart attacks–were attributed to the terrible blizzard of January 1999.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Penguins find all their food in the sea and are carnivores. They eat mostly fish and squid. They also eat crustaceans, such as crabs, shrimp, and krill. A large penguin can collect up to 30 fish in one dive. Penguins (and any animal) that eat only fish are called piscivorous.

 

 

Healthy Teeth and Gums…

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In Charleston, SC, there are many lovely homes from years gone by. Each and every one has stories to tell and I’m sure that most of us will never hear many of them.

When we were there and on our horse-drawn carriage tour, we went by this house. It was painted pink and white…and it has been that way for at least decades, if not over a century. There is a reason, though, for the somewhat unusual color on the home.

You see, this home was owned by a dentist. He decided that he wanted people to know what color healthy gums and teeth should be, so he painted his house pink and white. And now, many years later, they continue the practice to recognize and celebrate the history of the city and the home.

ON THIS DAY IN  HISTORY: General James Doolittle of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), hero of the daring “Doolittle Raid” on mainland Japan and later the unified commander of Allied air forces in Europe in World War II, once offered the following high praise to one of his staff officers in 1944: “Next to a letter from home, Captain Miller, your organization is the greatest morale builder in the European Theater of Operations.” The Captain Miller in question was the trombonist and bandleader Glenn Miller, the biggest star on the American pop-music scene in the years immediately preceding World War II and a man who set aside his brilliant career right at its peak in 1942 to serve his country as leader of the USAAF dance band. It was in that capacity that Captain Glenn Miller boarded a single-engine aircraft at an airfield outside of London on December 15, 1944—an aircraft that would go missing over the English Channel en route to France for a congratulatory performance for American troops that had recently helped to liberate Paris.

It would be difficult to overstate the magnitude of Glenn Miller’s success in the years immediately proceeding America’s entry into World War II. Though he was a relatively unspectacular instrumentalist himself—he’d played the trombone in various prominent orchestras but never distinguished himself as a performer—Miller the bandleader came to dominate the latter portion of the swing era on the strength of his disciplined arrangements and an innovation in orchestration that put the high-pitched clarinet on the melody line doubled by the saxophone section an octave below. This trademark sound helped the Glenn Miller Orchestra earn an unprecedented string of popular hits from 1939 to 1942, including the iconic versions of numbers like “In The Mood” (1939), “Tuxedo Junction” (1939) and “Chattanooga Choo Choo” (1941), as well as Miller’s self-penned signature tune, “Moonlight Serenade” (1939).

The Glenn Miller Orchestra played its last-ever concert under Miller’s direction on September 27, 1942, in Passaic, New Jersey, and shortly thereafter, Miller entered the Army. After nearly two years spent stateside broadcasting a weekly radio program called I Sustain The Wings out of New York City, Miller formed a new 50-piece USAAF dance band and departed for England in the summer of 1944, giving hundreds of performances to Allied troops over the next six months before embarking on his fateful trip to France on this day in 1944.

The wreckage of Miller’s plane was never found. His official military status remains Missing in Action.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: burying coffins also means that 90,272 tons of steel, 2,700 tons of copper and bronze, and over 30 million feet of hard wood covered in toxic laminates are also buried per year. However, a British company called “Ecopod” offers coffins made from 100% recycled paper.

Don’t Worry…Big Brother Is Here

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The town of Mt. Pleasant, SC, is across the river/estuary from Charleston, SC. It is a fairly small suburb, containing both the old, historic houses near the waterline and newer structures in other places. It is a blend of old and new…a study, if you will, in contrasts.

I took today’s photo when we were on our way aboard a ship to visit Fort Sumter. The boat left from Mt. Pleasant and headed around the nearby marina to make its way to the fort in the middle of the bay that leads to Charleston.

The ferry started from a dock that was right by the USS Yorktown, a carrier that is retired and is now a floating museum of sorts. It contains aircraft on its flight deck, the Congressional Medal of Honor museum on the hanger deck and various other photographic and video displays about the ship and where she served.

As with any aircraft carrier – it is impressive in size. It isn’t as large as the carriers being built today, but it’s not of a size that you could put it into your bathtub, either!  And so, as we rounded the marina on our way out to the fort, I looked back toward where we’d come from and caught today’s photo. All the smaller boats in the marina stood in start contrast to the sheer size of the Yorktown. I couldn’t help but thinking of a bunch of baby ducklings or goslings swimming along behind a much larger parent…and feeling comforted that big brother was nearby. Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, the other large ship toward the right in the photo is a destroyer…again dwarfed by Big Brother.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: In keeping with today’s photo, on this day in 1941, the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan in perhaps the most memorable speech of his career. The speech, in which he called Japan’s act a “deliberate deception,” received thunderous applause from Congress and, soon after, the United States officially entered the Second World War.

The day before, Japanese pilots had bombed the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, decimating the majority of U.S. warships in the Pacific Fleet along with most of the Air Corps and Navy aircraft stationed on the island of Oahu. The bombing raids killed 2,403 people, including 68 civilians, and wounded almost 1,200.

Although Roosevelt and his advisors had received intelligence reports indicating an imminent attack by Japan days before, he had hoped that Japanese and American diplomats, then negotiating in Washington, would come to a peaceful solution. He was incensed to realize that while American and Japanese diplomats engaged in negotiations (over Japan’s recent military actions in China and elsewhere in the Pacific), Japanese aircraft carriers had been steaming toward Hawaii intent on attack. His words on December 8 relayed his personal indignation and fury.

Roosevelt had already proven his oratorical skills during the Great Depression when his “fireside chats” rallied the nation’s morale. The same president who once said “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” declared with equal conviction that the nation “would never forget the character of [Japan’s] onslaught against us” and vowed that the “unbounding determination of our people… will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God.”

The stirring speech was hardly necessary—Congress and millions of Americans, who had been hearing details of the attack in the news, shared the president’s outrage and commitment to defending the nation. Young men flocked to armed forces recruiting stations the next day and both houses of Congress quickly voted to declare war on Japan, with only one dissenting vote, that of Montanan Jeanette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress and a dedicated lifelong pacifist. She was the only member of Congress to vote against U.S. involvement in both World Wars, having been among those who voted against American entry into World War I nearly a quarter of a century earlier.

Rankin, however, believed that Roosevelt deliberately provoked the Japanese to attack because he wanted to bring the U.S. into the European war against Germany; she was determined not to cooperate with the president’s plan. After a 40-minute debate on the floor of the House, a roll call vote began. When her turn came, Rankin stood and said, “As a woman, I can’t go to war and I refuse to send anyone else.”

Rankin was vilified in the press, accused of disloyalty, and called “Japanette Rankin,” among other impolite names. She stood her ground, however, and never apologized for her vote.

When her term neared completion two years later, Rankin was certain she would not win re-election and chose not to run again. She continued to be an active advocate for pacifism, and led a campaign against the Vietnam War in 1968 when she was 87 years old.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the decapitated head of a dead snake can still bite, even hours after death. These types of bites usually contain huge amounts of venom.

From the Inside Lookin’ Out…

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It isn’t every day that you get to visit what was once a working cotton plantation here in the south. You can’t hardly find any cotton growing in the south anymore because it is being grown more cheaply overseas and there isn’t as much demand for it as there used to be. But the Boone Hall Plantation near Charleston, SC was once a booming cotton plantation.

Because of its location, there were no roads that they could use to get the cotton to the docks in Charleston. Instead, there were waterways that were plied by barges and boats that would carry the product from the cotton fields to the mills or ships for shipping.

I took today’s photo from inside the re-built cotton warehouse where they would store the cotton before carrying it out on the dock and loading it into the boats. As I stood inside the warehouse looking out through the window to the end of the dock, I could imagine how it would have looked to have a boat tied up there, I imagined the heat inside the warehouse and how even the slightest breeze coming through the windows would grant welcom relief to those laboring inside the wooden building. Sometimes, I think that I can almost imagine something so clearly that it is as if I were there. I had that feeling when I shot a series of pictures from inside the place.

I think that those working inside the building on those hot southern days were envious of those who were outside in the breeze, loading cotton onto the barge.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1964, the first Medal of Honor awarded to a U.S. serviceman for action in Vietnam was presented to Capt. Roger Donlon of Saugerties, New York, for his heroic action earlier in the year.

Captain Donlon and his Special Forces team were manning Camp Nam Dong, a mountain outpost near the borders of Laos and North Vietnam. Just before two o’clock in the morning on July 6, 1964, hordes of Viet Cong attacked the camp. He was shot in the stomach, but Donlon stuffed a handkerchief into the wound, cinched up his belt, and kept fighting. He was wounded three more times, but he continued fighting–manning a mortar, throwing grenades at the enemy, and refusing medical attention.

The battle ended in early morning; 154 Viet Cong were killed during the battle. Two Americans died and seven were wounded. Over 50 South Vietnamese soldiers and Nung mercenaries were also killed during the action. Once the battle was over, Donlon allowed himself to be evacuated to a hospital in Saigon. He spent over a month there before rejoining the surviving members of his Special Forces team; they completed their six-month tour in Vietnam in November and flew home together. In a White House ceremony, with Donlon’s nine surviving team members watching, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented him with the Medal of Honor for “conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism and intrepidity at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty.” Donlon, justifiably proud of his team, told the president, “The medal belongs to them, too.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Brains are unhealthy to eat because they are high in cholesterol and fat. For example, a single serving of a 140 g. can of “pork brains in milk gravy” contains 3,500 mg. of cholesterol, 1170% of the USRDA.

 

Catchin’ some SERIOUS Air

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Down here in Georgia, there is a fun-house for kids called Catch Air. My grand daughters love to go there. There are all kinds of bounce house-like thingies, slides, places to climb, and it’s all fun all the time for the kiddos. 

Well, today’s picture shows that you don’t have to be in a bounce house to catch some serious air. When the grand daughters came over for Thanksgiving, we made that huge pile of leaves that I wrote about before. In today’s photo, my 8-year old grand daughter (who is truly a gifted young athletic kid) was running toward the pile of leaves that was originally up to about her chest, if not her shoulders, and with wild abandon she launched herself into the air to crash into the pile with all the exuberance she could muster in her 8-year old self. That’s her style, though…she doesn’t hold back on much of anything! I think she could leap a tall building in a single bound if she chose to do so. Of course, today she’d get covered in red Georgia clay-mud as it’s cold, wet and cloudy, so I’m glad she didn’t try this today!

When is the last time you launched yourself into a huge pile of leaves? Isn’t it about time?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1952, heavy smog begas to hover over London, England. It would persist for 4 days, leading to the deaths of at least 4000 persons. 

It was a Thursday afternoon when a high-pressure air mass stalled over the Thames River Valley. When cold air arrived suddenly from the west, the air over London became trapped in place. The problem was exacerbated by low temperatures, which caused residents to burn extra coal in their furnaces. The smoke, soot and sulfur dioxide from the area’s industries along with that from cars and consumer energy usage caused extraordinarily heavy smog to smother the city. By the morning of December 5, there was a visible pall cast over hundreds of square miles.

The smog became so thick and dense that by December 7 there was virtually no sunlight and visibility was reduced to five yards in many places. Eventually, all transportation in the region was halted, but not before the smog caused several rail accidents, including a collision between two trains near London Bridge. The worst effect of the smog, however, was the respiratory distress it caused in humans and animals, including difficulty breathing and the vomiting of phlegm. One of the first noted victims was a prize cow that suffocated on December 5. An unusually high number of people in the area, numbering in the thousands, died in their sleep that weekend. (Galen: I hope this isn’t giving you nightmares!)

It is difficult to calculate exactly how many deaths and injuries were caused by the smog. As with heat waves, experts compare death totals during the smog to the number of people who have died during the same period in previous years. The period between December 4 and December 8 saw such a marked increase in death in the London metropolitan area that the most conservative estimates place the death toll at 4,000, with some estimating that the smog killed as many as 8,000 people.

On December 9, the smog finally blew away. In the aftermath of this incident, the British government passed more stringent regulations on air pollution and encouraged people to stop using coal to heat their homes. Despite these measures, a similar smog 10 years later killed approximately 100 Londoners.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: body language is a strange thing, yet the study of it is a scientific discipline of it’s own. For example, in Asia, kissing is considered such an intimate act that it is not permissible in public, even as a social greeting. A woman has a wider-ranging peripheral vision, which allows her to check out a man’s body from head to toe without getting caught. A male’s peripheral vision is poorer, which is why a man will move his gaze up and down a woman’s body in a very obvious way. Men do not “ogle” more than women—their tunnel vision means they just get caught more easily.

Near the Glorious End

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I took this photo of a butterfly in a greenhouse near Charleston, SC at a place called Boone Hall Plantation. It was in early November and the warmth of the summer and fall were about to pass from memory as cooler temperatures set in.

We’d been told that there were still some plants worth looking at in the greenhouse, and some butterflies, too, though the latter were almost all gone – they don’t live long once cooler temps come rolling around.

Still, I was happy to get this photo before there were no butterflies at all left. Now that this one has been captured, its glory is preserved forever.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1991, a massive car and truck collision in Coalinga, California, killed 17 people. More than 100 vehicles were involved in the accident on Interstate 5, which was caused by a dust storm.

Interstate 5 runs north and south between Southern California and Northern California. On Saturday, November 29, there was considerable traffic on the highway as people were returning home after Thanksgiving. The area of the highway near Coalinga in the San Joaquin Valley is usually prime farmland. However, in 1991 many farmers had decided not to plant their fields because of severe drought conditions, leaving long stretches of dusty soil near the highway.

As the winds strengthened to nearly 40 miles per hour on November 29, dust swept over the highway, severely hampering visibility. Suddenly, a chain reaction of collisions developed over a mile-long stretch of the highway. One hundred and four vehicles, including 11 large trucks, were involved in the massive collision. It took hours for the rescuers to find all the victims in the continuing dust storm. Seventeen people lost their lives and 150 more suffered serious injuries. Meanwhile, thousands of people were trapped in their cars for the nearly an entire day until the highway could be cleared enough for traffic to pass.

The same stretch of highway was the scene of a similar, but smaller, incident in December 1978 when seven people died and 47 were injured in a large chain collision. Another storm in December 1977 caused residents to develop a flu-like respiratory infection, known as Valley Fever, from breathing in large quantities of dust.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The first written account of a shark attack is found in Herodotus’ (c. 484–425 B.C.) description of hordes of “monsters” devouring the shipwrecked sailors of the Persian fleet.

The Joy of Leaves

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I like to photograph leaves in the autumn. I haven’t really done that this year and it is really too late now. Alas. I love the way they change colors and how a single leaf can break out in a flurry of various colors and shades. They are amazing and it delights me to see them.

But, perhaps there is no greater joy of leaves than that which comes to a child who can run and jump into a big pile of leaves!

On Thanksgiving day, our youngest son and his family came to our house for the Thanksgiving celebration. Prior to their arrival, my wife and I had raked up a HUGE pile of leaves for the purpose of letting their kids have some fun with the leaf pile. Fortunately, we have NO shortage of leaves as our home is surrounded by tree and backs right up to the Dawson forest with no fence in the back yard. So the leaves were plentiful!

I shot over 200 pictures of the little girls giggling, running, jumping, leaping, turning somersaults and messing up the pile of leaves we’d worked so hard to create. Did I mind that the pile got destroyed? Absolutely not! That was the point, after all!

And then this morning after church, our youngest grand daughter crawled up in my lap and said, “Pop-pop, it was SO MUCH FUN playing in the leaves at your house the other day!”  (I have one sequence of shots when she was running to the pile, jumped in, got twisted around, and at one point, only her rear end and shoes were sticking out of the leaves…but she emerged with a huge grin and laugh! I laughed so hard when I saw the pictures of that sequence!!!

Guess what? I’ll rake up a big pile again next year and let them destroy it again – laughing all the time!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1703, an unusual storm system finally dissipated over England after wreaking havoc on the country for nearly two weeks. Featuring hurricane strength winds, the storm killed somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 people. Hundreds of Royal Navy ships were lost to the storm, the worst in Britain’s history.

The unusual weather began on November 14 as strong winds from the Atlantic Ocean battered the south of Britain and Wales. Many homes and other buildings were damaged by the pounding winds, but the hurricane-like storm only began doing serious damage on November 26. With winds estimated at over 80 miles per hour, bricks were blown from some buildings and embedded in others. Wood beams, separated from buildings, flew through the air and killed hundreds across the south of the country. Towns such as Plymouth, Hull, Cowes, Portsmouth and Bristol were devastated.

However, the death toll really mounted when 300 Royal Navy ships anchored off the country’s southern coast—with 8,000 sailors on board—were lost. The Eddystone Lighthouse, built on a rock outcropping 14 miles from Plymouth, was felled by the storm. All of its residents, including its designer, Henry Winstanley, were killed. Huge waves on the Thames River sent water six feet higher than ever before recorded near London. More than 5,000 homes along the river were destroyed.

The author Daniel Defoe, who would later enjoy worldwide acclaim for the novel Robinson Crusoe, witnessed the storm, which he described as an “Army of Terror in its furious March.” His first book, The Storm, was published the following year.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: A modern coin-counting machine can count 2,500 coins a minute. A bank note-counting machine can tally up to 100 bills in 4 seconds. It can also tell what denomination they are and if they are fake.

A Bird in the Roaster…

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…is worth two in the store. (G. Dalrymple, 2016)

Can you smell it yet? At least in your imagination? The scent of the turkey as it roasts away, stuffed with dressing? The skin turning a delightful golden brown, dripping with juice, filling the entire house with the glorious odor of Thanksgiving!

Do you have your bird already? If not, you should probably rush out and get it or you might be stuck with eating something like this bird in today’s photo. This egret was sitting on top of a piling as the boat that took us out to Fort Sumter was returning to the dock next to the USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, across from Charleston. He seemed to be quite content to just sit there and watch the boat pass him by, though his eyes made me think maybe he was ticked off about something. Maybe he knows he’s to scrawny to be threatened by humans thinking of Thanksgiving dinner!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1783, John Hanson, the first president of the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation, died in his home state of Maryland. Hanson is sometimes called the first president of the United States, but this is a misnomer, since the presidency did not exist as an executive position separate from Congress until the federal Constitution created the role upon its ratification in 1789.

Hanson was the self-educated son of Charles County, Maryland, farmers. His family had lived in Maryland for three generations beginning with the emigration from England of his grandfather, for whom he was named. At age 25, John married 16-year-old Jane Contee in Maryland (uh, this wouldn’t go over too well today, but back then, I gather, it wasn’t all that uncommon.) Their lasting union produced nine children, five of whom survived to adulthood, although their son Peter was later killed in action as a Continental soldier at Fort Washington, New York, in November 1776.

Hanson’s political career began in 1757 with his election to the Maryland Colonial Assembly. He returned to represent Charles County again from 1758-1763, 1765, 1766 and 1768-1769. As colonial-British relations frayed, Hanson took a seat in the revolutionary Annapolis Convention, which took control of the colony from the British in 1774 and renamed itself the Assembly of Freemen in 1776. An outspoken supporter of the Patriot cause, Hanson was instrumental in Maryland’s decision to back the rebels laying siege to British-controlled Boston in the aftermath of the battles of Lexington and Concord.

Named a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1779, Hanson served in that body from 1780 to 1782, including a term as the president of Congress (a position similar to that of prime minister in the British Parliament) from 1781 to 1782, during which time the Articles of Confederation were finally ratified and General George Washington defeated the British army at Yorktown, Virginia. Upon the ratification of the Articles on March 1, 1781, the Continental Congress became the “Congress of the Confederation” or the “United States in Congress Assembled.” Hanson was the first president of that body, but not of the United States.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Geovanny Escalante, a Costa Rican saxophonist for the band Marfil, broke Kenny G’s world record for holding a single saxophone note in 1998. He held the note for 90 minutes and 45 seconds, nearly doubling Kenny G’s time.

Walking into Holy Ground

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There are some places that just feel special. Then there are others that feel like holy ground. I had that kind of experience recently aboard the USS Yorktown in Charleston recently.

The night we checked into our hotel, I saw that there was a Medal of Honor Museum in the area. I didn’t realize it was onboard the Yorktown itself. Right after entering through one of the large hangar bays off to the left of the reception desk that was staffed by docents is the Medal of Honor Museum. There are apparently several around the country…but this one was designed and apparently somewhat managed by recipients of this honor themselves.

The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest military honor that can bestowed by the United States. It is given to very, very few who have acted with incredible heroism and selflessness. Few live to receive it because they gave their lives to save others.

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And so, as I saw the entrance to the museum behind glass doors, I was almost afraid to go in. I hold those who have served in the military in such high regard in general, but the Medal of Honor recipients are deserving of an even higher position and honor in the esteem of every American. I finally opened the door and stepped inside…and I felt that I was on hallowed ground. We made our way through, reading some of the stories, watching some of the video clip interviews of those who knew these brave men and women. It was sobering to realize the bravery and sacrifice of those who received the honor. It was deeply moving. I felt so small and undeserving of the price they paid for my freedom.

ON THIS DAY IN  HISTORY: in 1864, legend holds that on this day in 1864, President Abraham Lincoln composes a letter to Lydia Bixby, a widow and mother of five men who had been killed in the Civil War. A copy of the letter was then published in the Boston Evening Transcripton November 25 and signed “Abraham Lincoln.” The original letter has never been found.

The letter expressed condolences to Mrs. Bixby on the death of her five sons, who had fought to preserve the Union in the Civil War. The author regrets how “weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming.” He continued with a prayer that “our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement [and leave you] the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.”

Scholars continue to debate the authorship of the letter, and the authenticity of copies printed between 1864 and 1891. At the time, copies of presidential messages were often published and sold as souvenirs. Many historians and archivists agree that the original letter was probably written by Lincoln’s secretary, John Hay. As to Mrs. Bixby’s loss, scholars have discovered that only two of her sons actually died fighting during the Civil War. A third was honorably discharged and a fourth was dishonorably thrown out of the Army. The fifth son’s fate is unknown, but it is assumed that he deserted or died in a Confederate prison camp. Despite its dubious origins, the letter’s text became even more famous when it was quoted in Steven Spielberg’s World War II film epic Saving Private Ryan (1998).

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Proportionally, hash browns have more fat and calories than a cheeseburger or Big Mac.

For Your Thanksgiving Preparations…

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I think that Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. I remember as a young boy that lived on the farm in Iowa how we would go to my grandparent’s home (also on a farm) on Thanksgiving for dinner. The weather in Iowa then was usually pretty cool so we’d dress in a warm coat, hop in the car, and my dad would drive us the 15 miles or so to my maternal grandparents (my paternal grandparents were both gone by the time I was born).

We’d get out of the car and grandpa’s big black dog, Midnight, would come to greet us and we’d walk up the sidewalk to their farmhouse (that always seemed so big and scary to me!) and enter through the back porch. The porch, though enclosed, was still pretty cold, but once you walked through the door into the kitchen – oh, my! – the warmth of the house and the smell of the turkey being roasted made the world a wonderful place! I shall never forget those sensations and smells as long as I live. They made an impression on me that made me love this holiday from my earliest years!

Not being a woman, I don’t do a lot of the cooking (and you really wouldn’t want me to because the little bit of cooking I do never seems to turn out that well!) but I do my share of eating. So I have a deep appreciation for those who prepare meals for others – and I hope we’ll give thanks for those people this week!

When we were in Charleston, we went aboard the aircraft carrier (retired) USS Yorktown. As we wandered through the canyons and crevices of the great ship, we came to the mess hall. Stuck up on the wall was a recipe for how to make 10000 chocolate chip cookies (when you have several thousand people on board, you have to make a lot of cookies for everyone to get even two each!)

Knowing that you might be making cookies this week and feeding a mass of people at your home, I thought you might appreciate having this recipe. Oh, and if you’re not planning to feed 10,000, you can reduce it by a factor of 10 and send me any left-over cookies you have. But please, if you’re making chocolate chips cookies for me, know that I love having walnuts in my chocolate chip cookies!  Yum!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1923, the U.S. Patent Office granted Patent No. 1,475,074 to 46-year-old inventor and newspaperman Garrett Morgan for his three-position traffic signal. Though Morgan’s was not the first traffic signal (that one had been installed in London in 1868), it was an important innovation nonetheless: By having a third position besides just “Stop” and “Go,” it regulated crossing vehicles more safely than earlier signals had.

Morgan, the child of two former slaves, was born in Kentucky in 1877. When he was just 14 years old, he moved north to Ohio to look for a job. First he worked as a handyman in Cincinnati; next he moved to Cleveland, where he worked as a sewing-machine repairman. In 1907, he opened his own repair shop, and in 1909 he added a garment shop to his operation. The business was an enormous success, and by 1920 Morgan had made enough money to start a newspaper, the Cleveland Call, which became one of the most important black newspapers in the nation.

Morgan was prosperous enough to have a car at a time when the streets were crowded with all manner of vehicles: Bicycles, horse-drawn delivery wagons, streetcars and pedestrians all shared downtown Cleveland’s narrow streets and clogged its intersections. There were manually operated traffic signals where major streets crossed one another, but they were not all that effective: Because they switched back and forth between Stop and Go with no interval in between, drivers had no time to react when the command changed. This led to many collisions between vehicles that both had the right of way when they entered the intersection. As the story goes, when Morgan witnessed an especially spectacular accident at an ostensibly regulated corner, he had an idea: If he designed an automated signal with an interim “warning” position—the ancestor of today’s yellow light—drivers would have time to clear the intersection before crossing traffic entered it.

The signal Morgan patented was a T-shaped pole with three settings. At night, when traffic was light, it could be set at half-mast (like a blinking yellow light today), warning drivers to proceed carefully through the intersection. He sold the rights to his invention to General Electric for $40,000.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Aristotle’s famous division between Greek and Barbarian was not based on race, but on those who organized themselves into community city-states and those who did not. The ancient Romans categorized people not on biological race or skin color, but on differing legal structures upon which they organized their lives.

Pictures and Thoughts from a Day in Galen Dalrymple's Life

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