Monday, January 31, 2011

Let it snow, let it snow

Like the school boy with neglected homework I've always been, I am a winter bad weather junkie and today I've hit the lottery.

We had to be out early this morn, so the first thing awake was the Weather Channel girl.

"Prepare for an historic storm", sounded Weather Girl.

Monday, rain changing to freezing snain, before turning to ice.

Tuesday, Thunder Ice and snow.

Wednesday, biblical snow and wind.

Thursday, tree limb snapping, power out causing wind followed by bitter cold.

Keeping with the Sleeper analogy it's the Orgasmatron for me.

If I'm not here, you'll know why.



"She was 41 on January 31 and there are those who maintain that on a clear night she doesn't look a minute younger" George Frazier, Life Magazine profile Feb 15, 1943

Apropos of nothing except that today would be her 109th birthday and I have wanted to use Frazier's quote for a very long time.

Ms. Bankhead's sole public exception to the story was having been described as "having lumbered across the room." Most unlady like.

Cover girl Betty was pretty hot too, in 1943.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Just wondering

"Tobacco is a stinking weed
It was the Devil sow'd the seed,
It drains the purse & fouls the clothes,
And makes a chimney of the nose."

From Sleeper by Woody Allen










Suppose Sleeper was correct. You wake up tomorrow only to learn the smoke vigilantes are wrong, not only is smoking good for you, it's cool too.

How long before you too light up?


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Maybe-Maybe Not

Another in a series of mostly Saturday posts.

Why are the most items in our pantry so bland? How much could it cost to add a bit of humor, or style to everyday items? Would you pay extra for something that put a smile on your face?

Blue Q is betting you would.

This too is true. Although at $3 a pop for ramen, maybe not for long.

From If it's hip, it's here. Forgive his math, he knowth not what he does.


Friday, January 28, 2011

An activist government agency, a map

What a map it was.

Many thanks to Patsy for sending this story.

In the 1800's the United States Coast Survey, now part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was the official keeper of technology, scientific knowledge and map making for the US Government. Their official responsibilities included accurate map making of all US rivers and coastal waters, but occasionally the curiosity of the department head crept in and official maps veered in tangents never intended.

The 1860 US census was the last to include slaves. Inventing new display techniques, and using the new census data the Coast Survey created a map in 1861 illustrating the number of slaves by county. Shading was used to illuminate the number of slaves. The darker the shading the greater the number.

From a propaganda standpoint the map couldn't have been better. With a quick glance a Northerner could discern the order of states secession(the more slaves, the sooner gone). A more careful reading would show a field commander where pockets of Union solidarity lie in the South. On a more personal level, mid Missouri calls itself "Little Dixie". I never understood why until I saw the map.

This map was Lincoln's favorite and is included, bottom right, in the official painting of "Lincoln Reading the Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet" by Francis Carpenter.

For other map geeks the NOAA collection of maps are available electronically here.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

15 ways. Borrowed from Southern Living

I began blogging as a way to share with my geographically distant children some of the family stories from before their time, impart some smart things I learned since they left the nest,and mostly to keep the little gray cells alive.

Two of my earliest posts were dating tips for gentlemen and dating rules for gentlemen part 2 , Not surprisingly, since very few stopped in those days, my light remained under a basket. Didn't stop me though.

Once upon a time I came across this article in Southern Living magazine. It's a glimpse into the other camp, smart, funny and useful as well. Gentlemen, I should not have to tell you this, but consider this a Valentine primer. Time to step up your game.

15 Ways to Charm Her

Southern Living, July 2009

By Amy Bickers

“Want to impress a Southern girl? Just think “What would my grandfather have done?”

Number one: We still expect you to give up your seat for a lady. On a bus, at a bar, on a train. . . we don’t care where you are. Unless you are at a restaurant and the only lady in sight is the one taking your order, stand up. Now.

On a recent Friday night at a bustling restaurant bar, two friends and I waited for our table to be called. The barstools were occupied so we stood patiently, sipping wine and chatting about the workweek. When a couple nearby stood up, another woman – who had been there less time than we had – swooped in, reaching across us to put her purse on the stool. This isn’t the worst part. It’s what happened next: Her male companion then slid onto the other barstool.

Hang on while I do a geography check. Are we not in the South? If ladies are waiting for a seat and you have a Y chromosome, do you sit down? No, sir. No, you do not.

We know modern life is confusing. The roles of men and women have evolved over the years. As Pink once sang, “Shorty got a job, Shorty got a car, Shorty can pay her own rent.”

But come on, let’s keep some things old-school. My late grandfather- he of the East Texas upbringing, U.S. Navy captain status, and Cary Grant good looks – would never have allowed a woman to stand while he sat. And if you want a Southern woman to love you, neither will you. So, men, here’s a short list of things Southern girls still expect from you.

We still expect you to…

Stand up for a lady. Actually, this doesn't just involve chairs.

Know that the SEC has the best football TEAMS IN THE NATION. Big 12 fan? Hmm, perhaps you should keep walking.

Kill bugs. Delta Burke as Southern belle Suzanne Sugarbaker on Designing Women said, “. . .Ya know, when men use Women’s Liberation as an excuse not to kill bugs for you. Oh, I just hate that! I don’t care what anybody says, I think the man should have to kill the bug!”

Hold doors open. This goes for elevator doors too.

Fix things or build stuff. I once watched in awe as my stepfather built a front porch on the house he shares with my mother. He knew just what to do, cutting every notch, hammering every nail. The project was complete by sunset.

Wear boots occasionally. Not the fancy, l-paid-$l,000-for-these kind. We’re talking about slightly mud-crusted, I-could-have-just-come-in-from-the-field boots.

Take off your hat inside.

Grill stuff.

Call us. If you want to ask us out, don’t text and don’t e-mail. Pick up the phone and use your voice.

Stand when we come back to the dinner table. ”Just a little half-stand is enough to make me melt,” my friend Stephanie says.

Pull out chairs. Wait, that’s not all. Scoot them back in before we hit the floor.

Pay the tab on the first few dates. ”If you ask me out, you pay,” Stephanie says. “If I ask you out, you should still pay.” Listen, guys, it’s just simpler this way.

Don’t show up in a wrinkled, untucked shirt. Care about your appearance but not too much. Don’t smell better than we do. Don’t use mousse or gel. You shouldn’t look like you spend more time in front of the mirror than we do.

Never get in bar fights. Patrick Swayze might look cool in Road House, but in reality, bar fights are stupid and embarrassing. You don’t look tough. You look like an idiot.

Know how to mix our favorite cocktail JUST THE WAY WE LIKE IT. Fix your favorite too. Sit down on the porch (it’s okay if you didn’t build it), tell us how your day went, and we’ll tell you about ours.

We’ll leave the long list to the girl who falls in love with you.

Good Luck.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More Escape Maps: part 2 For Sale!!!!!!!

Just this once, because he's a good guy, I am putting on my sales hat.

I received an email from regular reader Seth saying he has a stash of 13 silk escape maps he no longer needs, and is interested in selling. Knowing my interest he offered them to me, but I have all I need. So I am passing his offer on to you. The set of 13 is available for the steal price of $300, or individual maps are $35 apiece. Natch, I have no financial interest in either side of Seth's sale.

The double sided set includes:

Stalingrad 4th/Stepnoy 5th- 1952 23”x22”

Tehran 3rd/Bushire 4th- 1951 24”x25”

Moskova 3rd/ Ivanovo 4th- 1952 24 1/2”x19”

Murmansk/Tromso- 1958 26”x31”

Stockhold-Riga 3rd/Oslo Stockholm 2nd- 1953 x2

Bangkok 1st/Saigon 1st - 1957 26”x40”

Burma South/Burma Extreme South- No Date 44D and C 24”x37”

Amsterdam- Hamburg- Berlin- Warszawa/Vil’Nyus- Minsk- 1952 26 1/2”x37”

Helsinki 3rd/ Torndheim 3rd- 1953 24”x41”

Al Jauf 5th/Beyrouth- Beyrouth- Damas- 1st- 1951 23”x29”

Kabul 1st/SamarQand 1958 26”x27 1/2”

Libya Aeronautical Chart- 40”x30”

Get in touch directly with Seth at Seth dot Thompson 25 at gmail dot com.

The maps are great jacket linings, wall hangings, or just an intriguing piece of history.


More Escape Maps

Once upon a time I wrote about escape maps, maps on cloth used by the military to assist flight crews escape in the event of an unscheduled landing or aid POW's find their way to safety. I have a small collection of them, occasionally using one as lining inside a sport coat.

A buddy gave me a very odd magazine. If you live in or around the Upper Peninsula of Michigan you may be familiar with UP Magazine Monthly Humor Tabloid. An acquired taste, filled with local humor and horror stories, a must read if you plan on visiting the area. The issue in my hands told Paul Harvey style the "rest of the story" of escape maps.

Beginning in 1941 the Royal Air Force, needed a means to help fliers locate safe houses or, if captured to facillitate their escape. A map was the best solution, but paper wore out rapidly, is useless when wet, and makes noise when handled. MI-5 had the brilliant idea of printed silk.

At the time, only John Waddington, Ltd. had the technology to make such maps. Waddington was also the UK licensee for the game Monopoly, and as luck would have it, games and pastimes qualified as items included in "care packages" delivered by the International Red Cross to POW's.

Under incredible secrecy, Waddington mass produced escape maps keyed to each region where POW camps were known to be. The maps were folded so tightly they fit inside Monopoly game pieces. Repackaged by Waddington, games included playing pieces with a small magnetic compass, a 2 part metal file that screwed together, and useful amounts of authentic German or Italian currency hidden in the piles of Monopoly money.

Of the 35,000 Allied POW's in Europe who escaped, it is estimated 1/3 were aided by a rigged Monopoly game. In case they had to use this trick in future wars, the story wasn't declassified until 2007.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

bobby burns day

It's Robert Burns Day, the birthday of Scotland's favorite poet, and holder of the title Greatest Ever Scot. Robby can be a tough slog. His disdain of the de'ils tongue makes it hard for a Yank to get worked up over a mouse or a haggis.

But take the time to listen to Mr. Burns. Many of his greatest hits are on You Tube. Hear several versions of the same work by different artists. For your troubles you'll meet a old poet who speaks eloquently to modern concerns.

His song, Is There for Honest Poverty better known as "A Man's a Man for A' That" was selected as opening anthem for the Scottish Parliament.

Tis said Bobby wasn't much of a singer, that may help explain Auld Lang Syne. Here is the tune as Burns intended.

Happy Birthday Mr. Burns and to Scots everywhere. Enjoy a wee dram in celebration, just make mine Hendricks. The gin that made Scotland famous.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Consider it Research

We've (that's royal) come to like Prince Albert slippers a lot, so while planning holiday festivities it became obvious we needed another pair, but from where?

Several obstacles leapt to mind.
Now that I'm part Scot the $400+ Shipton and Heneage's were out of the picture*.
I like my Del Toro's, but maybe there is something else to try.
Finally, there is the problem of getting the size right, especially when buying blind.

I ordered a pair of blue embroidered Albert's from Broadland Slippers in the UK, for 2 reasons.
They were priced right, GBP 115 less Vat* to the US
I liked they way they did business.

After placing my order I received an email questionnaire asking the usual questions, what size shoe did I wear, which brand did I prefer, sox, no sox, etc.

The kicker came next. Their follow up email was a series of photos, and directions. "Take a tape measure, measure your right foot like this, here then here. Now do the left. What are the numbers"

Since the slippers were made to order, instead of shoehorning their customers into an indeterminate size, they make slippers to fit their clients feet. If you are hard to fit, this is a great option. Along with the numbers I included photos showing the tape around my feet, to minimize misunderstanding.

The results: outstanding.

Yes, of course women's sizes and other styles are available.

* I know that several styles of S&H are the same price as Broadland and may try a pair in my clan tartan.

For now I'm very satisfied, with the slippers, the service and recommend Broadland highly.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Maybe help is on its way

Mayberry is a river town that turned its back on the river in its earliest days. What is now the town evolved from a Spanish land grant in 1797. The founding family were farmers and ardent abolitionists. When Missouri was admitted to the United States in 1821 the family sold their land and moved to Illinois, a free state. Soon after a community was formed. The first settlement and subsequent settlements were on the high ground above the flood plain. Locals have rarely seen the river since.

They've miss a lot.

The river bottom offers miles and miles of human free, byways for migrating wild life. Seasonally bald eagles winter near here, ducks and geese are abundant, white tailed deer, by number, are the kings of the forest.

If you live near deer, you've learned several things. They'll nibble on or eat anything that grows. Gardens are defenseless when deer are near. Their only predator is an automobile, they're not bright, and years of living with humans have made them fearless. Mayberry locals may hunt deer on their property, and it's as difficult as shooting fish in a barrel.

This week the price of deer poker went up. A nearby resident took this photo of a mountain lion in his back yard.

If he'd stick around, maybe invite some friends and family, the deer wouldn't, which would make a lot of gardeners very happy.

Alas, by now he's probably back on the river road.

photo credit: The Saint Louis Post Dispatch

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Anna and Katrina's Grocery Bag

I have no truck with Oprah Winfrey. Her daily program, and now her network are a constant background noise in our house. I suspect she'd be hell to work for, but if you succeeded, life would be golden.

In searching for my lost wife, I followed Oprah's noise only to encounter the funniest cooking show ever, Anna and Katrina's Grocery Bag.

The conceit of the program is that Anna and Katrina,pick up a well known cook book for each show, pull out several recipes that sounds doable and make them. How well they did is judged by a local chef who bravely tries their dishes and offers a peek behind the curtains telling what the cookbook left out.

A&K seemingly other than cooking for their families, may or may not have any kitchen skills. Much of the program's humor comes in watching the 2 "real people with completely different styles" cook from real cookbooks. They rarely succeed.

The 2 Fat Lady's this is not.

I found it on Oppies OWN. It may be somewhere else at your house.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow lions

Hopefully, you're somewhere else because the midwestern US is cold, and snowy. How cold, how snowy you ask? Enough that..

if it wasn't shoveled the Lion Dogs wouldn't go there.

Please have fun, yet still be careful. I promise this is the last of the dog stories for a while.



This is the view from my chamber this morning.

I share it, because the view will become part of a very irregular series entitled "Gravity". An effort to determine whether gravity still works.

Observe the 3 trees more or less dead center. All lean precipitously downhill.

Our quest will be to see how long it takes them to tumble. Odds are a combo of wet spring, full leaf and a windy day, and they're gone. I'd wager the first will be gone by Beltane, the Celtic Maypole festival on May 1.

Each of the trees is special. The one on the left houses several families of woodpeckers, the right has an owl's nest. A pile of firewood is nowhere as majestic as these 3 standing tall. They'll be replaced by non-deer munching rhododendrons and azaleas.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Whose Dog?

For those new to the story, Charlie (left) was a Christmas present to Mrs. T from her children in 2009. A rule was soon established stating that if it were dark, cold, inclement or inconvenient,I was allowed active participation in outdoor puppy training. I spent a lot of time outside that winter, and for my effort Mrs. T's dog Charlie is now my shadow.

Pooh (right) was an old woman's dog, accustomed to the pace and activity of an older woman's household. Not for a minute do I place Mrs. T in that category, but she is recuperating, and to the untrained unfair comparisons may be made. Pooh hasn't yet left her side.

Currently, it's snowing hard and the ancient incantation is already stirring, "if it's dark, cold, inclement...."

Just wondering, can a man/does a man need 2 four legged shadows?


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Maybe- Maybe Not, a most irregular series

12 ounce cans of Scotch,for those times when a flask is too precious.

Undoubtedly soon to be available in Tall Boys, 30's.... The Scotch Whisky folks are not amused

From Gawker


Monday, January 17, 2011

In remembrance of friends passed

A dear friend passed recently. While in declining health she asked, when the time came, that we take care of her much loved, constant companion, Pooh. Today became that day, and we are honored to do so.

This is Pooh, a 5 year old Shih Tzu, an absolute sweet heart who has had a hard couple of weeks. After a bath, a bone, a brushing and quiet time she will be fit right in.

As much as one Shih Tzu made me laugh, two are going to keep me in constant hysterics.



Doing anything Wednesday afternoon? Let your culture vulture side take over, and watch one of the world's great ballet companies, the Royal Ballet of London's production of Giselle, live, without the hassle of travel. So what if you're not in London.

Emerging Pictures, in cooperation with the Royal Opera House and movie theaters around the globe, is broadcasting Tuesday evening's performance at a big screen near you. Giselle begins at 7:30 PM London time, 2:30 PM NY...

No squinting, no evening dress, just beautiful music, luscious bodies, beautiful dance. Ballet with popcorn and soda. You'll be home before the kids.

Tuesday's performance features Marianela Nunez as Giselle, and Rupert Pennefather as Albrecht.

If The Black Swan has re-awoken your love of dance,this is an opportunity to see the world's greatest dancers in action. Or stay for a showing of Black Swan following the performance.

Theater locations are here.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

From Amazon

Have a bare space on the wall crying out for a couple of books? Try this.

The Penguin Classics Library Complete Collection: More than 1000 of the Greatest Classics [Paperback]
Various (Author)

Price: $13,413.30

Sounds pricey.


Mrs T's anniversary

My blogger profile describes me as the happiest married man ever. It's true. More so everyday. I'm blessed beyond imagining.

My greatest blessing is my bride, and today is her wedding anniversary.

She is not my best friend, she is not my soul mate, she doesn't complete me. She makes us "we" and together we are indomitable. I love her madly.

Every year on this date she asks if I'd reup for another year. I'm now up to 2536 AD with no end in sight.

My adored I love you mostest. Thank you for a wonderful life.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Of all the posts lately of the "can you believe its been that long ago" sort, this takes my cake.

Tomorrow is Wikipedia's 10th birthday.

I'm uncertain how to take that. Wiki seems to have been around forever, yet it sprung up overnight.

As will the "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", Wiki has "supplanted all comers as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many ommissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least widely inaccurate" it is easy to use, albeit without a Don't Panic notice.

Like Google, Wiki usually has an answer to any querry. Unlike Google, it's generally best taken with a grain of salt.

Happy birthday Wiki, may you improve with age.


Happy Birthday also, to Lou of The Archers at The Larches.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Credit to The Epic

It's minus 12C as I write this but I'm thinking Spring.

Remember the orange jacket fiasco?

During the dog days, based upon the Sartorialist's photo of this dapper gent in his linen jacket, I had an attack of "I need a orange jacket too itis". I was saved only by the photo below of George Schultz looking like the Great Pumpkin. Not having attended Princeton, Auburn, New Jersey State or any other Orange suited university, my need for orange quickly evaporated.

Into a crowded bar steps M. Lane of The Epic with his 2 cents worth. "What about J. Peterman's Amalfi sport blazer?, he says. Comes in yellow and blue too!"

At the time it was getting late in the season and frankly, they wouldn't fit. Now perhaps, 'cept they may be a bit loud for January.

Nearing the end of my capacity to shop my closets, and at less than $50 each, I purchased 2, expecting 1 or both would likely be returned.

I found them surprisingly well made & needing minimal alteration, so I'm keeping both. Even the fire truck red. Many thanks to The Epic. I second his recommendation.

Since I don't know what to wear with screaming yellow, I envision mellowing them a bit. Maybe if they spent the winter outside...

Let the spring catalog shopping commence.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Travelogues of Burton Holmes

There is many an armchair traveler amongst you. I admit to it. I rather travel by comfy chair than most any other way, and cold winter days are heaven sent for exploring the world.

Born in 1870, Mr. Burton Holmes was the greatest traveler of his time. A Chicago lad, Burton caught the travel bug at 13 joining his parents on a trip to Europe. The bug never left. He dropped out of school at 16 intent on making travel his life's work.

In 1883 he purchased his first camera, learning how to develop his own glass plates. In 1886 his grandmother included him on a mini grand tour through England, Scotland, France and Germany. Four years later he returned with his Kodak knowing he had discovered his life's work.

To finance his trips he gave travel lectures anywhere that would have him. He would show slides of his travels and along with stories and tales of the backstory behind each photo. It took a while, but he eventually became quiet successful in his venture, continuing until the early 1950's.

His travels led him to all corners. In many places, if he was not the first white man who wasn't a missionary, he was the first to show up with a camera. His timing was impeccable. He was everywhere, at the right time. Holmes's early photography, later news reels and film before the ravages of the Great War, again before WW2 showed the beginning and end of eras.

As a pup I began collecting the printed travelogues of Burton Holmes. First published in 1910 the photos are small and black and white. I'm still missing several volumes, but I enjoy the hunt.

Later he had many of the glass plates colored for his lectures. The prints are exquisite.

WW1 era France

Paris 1927

Delhi 1912

If you are traveler, an armchair traveler, a historian, or just a fan of old photos check your local library, Alibris, EBAY or favorite second hand book store for a copy of a recent reprint, Burton Holmes Travelogues, edited by Genoa Caldwell, published by Taschen, which include many of the hand tinted plates.

You'll be glad you did.