Monday, August 31, 2015

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882) was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline.  He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy, and was one of the five Fireside Poets.  Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, which was then a part of Massachusetts.  He studied at Bowdoin College.  After spending time in Europe he became a professor at Bowdoin and, later, at Harvard College.  His first major poetry collections were Voices of the Night (1839) and Ballads and Other Poems (1841).  Longfellow retired from teaching in 1854, to focus on his writing, living the remainder of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a former headquarters of George Washington.  Longellow was honored in March 2007 when the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating him.  A number of schools are named after him in various states as well.  Neil Diamond's 1974 hit song, "Longfellow Serenade", is a reference to the poet.   He is a protagonist in Matthew Pearl's murder mystery The Dante Club (2003).  See pictures and list of works at

The Fireside Poets (also known as the Schoolroom or Household Poets) were a group of 19th-century American poets from New England.  The group is typically thought to comprise Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf Whittier, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., who were the first American poets whose popularity rivaled that of British poets, both at home and abroad, nearly surpassing that of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

The Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) took up 635 acres of the Marina in San Francisco for more than nine months in 1915.  The main structures were made of a glorified papier-mâché, which anyone who went through elementary school art class knows doesn't last longer than the next rainstorm.  The bulk of buildings were demolished immediately after the fair wrapped up in December 1915.  A few remnants escaped that fate, however.  The Palace of Fine Arts, designed by Bay Area starchitect Bernard Maybeck, remained in place.  During the fair it held exhibits of foreign and American artists, including paintings, sculpture, tapestries, and decorative arts.  Sculptures were grouped on display in the rotunda and the colonnade.  The entirety of the Palace of Fine Arts was supposed to meet its doom at the end of the fair like all the others.  But instead it was saved from demolition by the Palace Preservation League.  For a while the exhibit hall held a permanent art collection, and later it was converted into indoor tennis courts and then a limo motor pool.  It led a weird life as a warehouse, distribution center, storage depot, and fire department headquarters.  All the while, the rotunda and colonnade, the flashy main attraction of the palace, started to decay.  In 1964 philanthropist Walter Johnson championed the idea of rebuilding the Palace with more permanent materials, in what's considered one of the earliest preservation efforts in the city.  Everything but the steel structure of the exhibit hall was torn down and then reconstructed in concrete, with most of the ornate detail replicated (except for the murals on the dome, two ends of the colonnade, and the ornamentation on the exhibit hall).  It's the only structure from the fair that stayed located on its original site.  The fair featured tons of musical performances, complete with a 40-ton, 7,000-pipe organ.  It was originally installed at the Festival Hall, but after the fair it was given to the city and moved to the Bill Graham.  Despite a restoration effort in the 1980s, it was damaged pretty badly in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.  There was a plan to install it on the Embarcadero as part of a new outdoor music concourse, but a lack of funds eventually thwarted the project.  So while a friends group is trying to get it repaired (ideally sometime in 2015 to celebrate its centennial), it lives in storage.  Sausalito's Vina del Mar Park contains two of the original twelve full-size elephant sculptures designed by McKim, Mead & White as flagpole bases at the Court of the Universe.  Sausalito architect William Faville saved two of the elephants and a fountain for the park near the ferry landing—local kids named them Jumbo and Peewee.  The papier-mâché didn't last long, so they were reconstructed out of concrete and eventually converted into light fixtures.  Alex Bevk  See pictures at

The “rule” that a preposition should not end a sentence goes back to the 18th century, when some grammarians believed English should bend to the rules of Latin grammar.  But like the spurious prohibition against starting sentences with conjunctions, this rule goes against the glorious flexibility of English and often leads to unnatural-sounding sentences.  Ending sentences with strong words is a good idea, but not when it means contorting the language away from natural expression.  Winston Churchill (or someone else—the quote has been attributed to many people) provided the best rejoinder to this rule. When criticized for ending a sentence with a preposition, he replied, That is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put.  Yet the phony rule lives on as an illogical superstition throughout the English-speaking world.

Ancient ziggurats were massive temple structures built in Ancient Mesopotamia to honor a   deity.  Ziggurats were built for hundreds of years in various regions of the ancient Middle East.  One of the first things that usually comes to mind when we think of ancient Egypt is the Great Pyramid at Giza, but did you know the ancient Mesopotamians also built massive structures that were just as impressive? These buildings were called ziggurats.  A ziggurat was basically an enormous temple.  These structures were built in several levels. Although we are unsure of the exact purpose for each level and ziggurat, it is likely that each level was designated for a different type of activity.  The bottom level, for example, may have been a place of social and commercial interaction, while the upper levels may have been reserved for only the head priest to commune with a designated deity.  The ziggurat was the city's center.  It would have been surrounded by a courtyard with homes, storage, and other facilities designated for administrative purposes.  Ziggurats were square or rectangular at their base.  The bricks would have been made of mud.  Unlike step pyramids, these structures would have contained stairs to allow designated people access to upper levels.  Because each city generally had its own patron deity, the local ziggurat was built for that deity.  Mesopotamia spans the area now known as Iraq as well as parts of Turkey and Iran.  Jessica Elam Miller  See picture at

BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2015:  September 27-October 3   Top ten frequently challenged books of 2014 has been released as part of the State of America's Library Report.  A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials.  Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.  As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.  Link to lists of the top ten frequently challenged books of the 21st century at

Want a great way to get the most out of all your food scraps?  Consider growing plants from trash.  Read about garbage gardening at  See also

Dragon flies were thick in the swampy New Jersey towns where we went for the summer in the 1950s and where we burned dried cattails whose smoke was supposed to keep them and mosquitoes away.  We called dragon flies "dining needles," which didn't make sense but was apparently a dialect version of "darning needles."  I read where others in the Northeast called them "diamond needles" another version, though I never heard this used.  See abstract and beginning of the article "Dragon Fly":  Lexical Change, Local Scatter, and the National Norm by Frank Anshen and Mark Aronoff appearing in Language in Society, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Dec., 1982), pp. 413-417 at
Thank you, Muse reader!  Issue 1346   August 31, 2015  On this date in 1775, Agnes Bulmer, English poet, was born.  On this date in 1834,  Amilcare Ponchielli, Italian composer and educator, was born.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Dried peas belong to the same family as beans and lentils, and they are usually distinguished as a separate group because of the ways in which they are prepared.  The different types of peas are all spherical, a feature that also sets them apart from beans and lentils.  Dried peas are produced by harvesting the peapods when they are fully mature and then drying them.  Once they are dried and the skins removed, they split naturally.  Parker's Split Pea Soup courtesy of Ina Garten

Black-eyed peas, also known as cowpeas, are actually beans, not peas.  Beans are types of legumes, which have edible seeds sandwiched inside a double-seamed pod.  Since black-eyed peas swell up when prepared, people often eat them on New Year's Day to symbolize an increase in wealth.  Beans, such as black-eyed peas, are high in carbs, have a moderate amount of protein and are low in fat.  A one-cup serving of cooked peas contains about 33.5 grams of carbs, just over 5 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of fat.  One cup of black eyed peas contains 160 calories.  These carbs are digested at a slow pace, which gives you extended and balanced energy levels.  See black-eyed peas recipes at

The chickpea or chick pea (Cicer arietinum) is a legume of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae.  It is also known as gram, or Bengal gram, garbanzo or garbanzo bean and sometimes known as Egyptian pea, ceci, cece or chana or Kabuli Chana (particularly in northern India).  Its seeds are high in protein.  It is one of the earliest cultivated legumes:  7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East.  The word garbanzo came first to American English as garvance in the 17th century, from an alteration of the Old Spanish word arvanço (presumably influenced by garroba), being gradually anglicized to calavance, though it came to refer to a variety of other beans.  The current form garbanzo comes directly from modern Spanish.  Garbanzo bean recipes

French, Spanish, and Latin infinitives cannot be split because they are expressed by one word.  There’s no point in forbidding English speakers to place a modifier between the “to” and the verb that follows it.  They can do it, so they will.

Actor Peter Falk wrote: “My idea of heaven is to wake up, have a good breakfast and spend the rest of the day drawing.”  Falk discovered life drawing in 1971 while acting on Broadway in Neil Simon’s “The Prisoner of Second Avenue.”  His schedule left him free in the mornings with nothing to do.  On a whim one day, he walked into the Art Students League on West 57th Street in Manhattan, opened a classroom door and was transfixed.  “There she was on a platform with a skylight over her,” he said, sketching a nude model in words.  “The light was gleaming on her hair, her weight was on her right hip, her breasts were thrust forward, and she was buck naked, and I said to myself, ‘This is where I’m coming every day!’ ”  Falk became a regular, sitting on a folding wooden chair with a big pad of newsprint paper propped in front of him and a stick of charcoal in his hand.  Along with classmates, he warmed up with quick sketches of poses that lasted only a few minutes and then worked on more finished drawings of poses that lasted an hour or more.  Everyone knew a famous actor was in class, but no one bugged him. Steven Litt  See Peter Falk's sketch of himself in his most famous role at  See also

Tyre, modern Arabic Ṣūr, French Tyr or Sour, Latin Tyrus, Hebrew Zor or Tsor, is a town on the Mediterranean coast of southern Lebanon, located 12 miles (19 km) north of the modern border with Israel and 25 miles (40 km) south of Sidon (modern Ṣaydā).  It was a major Phoenician seaport from about 2000 bc through the Roman period.  Tyre, built on an island and on the neighbouring mainland, was probably originally founded as a colony of Sidon.   Mentioned in Egyptian records of the 14th century bc as being subject to Egypt, Tyre became independent when Egyptian influence in Phoenicia declined.  It later surpassed Sidon as a trade centre, developing commercial relations with all parts of the Mediterranean world.  In the 9th century bc colonists from Tyre founded the North African city of Carthage, which later became Rome’s principal rival in the West.  Probably the best-known episode in the history of Tyre was its resistance to the army of the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great, who took it after a seven-month siege in 332.  He completely destroyed the mainland portion of the town and used its rubble to build an immense causeway (some 2,600 feet [800 metres] long and 600–900 feet [180–270 metres] wide) to gain access to the island section.  After the town’s capture, 10,000 inhabitants were put to death, and 30,000 were sold into slavery.  Alexander’s causeway, which was never removed, converted the island into a peninsula.  Tyre was subsequently under the influence of Ptolemaic Egypt and in 200 became part of the Hellenistic Seleucid kingdom.  It came under Roman rule in 64 bc and was renowned in Roman times for its textiles and for a purple dye extracted from sea snails of the genus Murex (the dye was said to be worth more than its weight in gold, and purple cloth became a symbol of wealth and of royalty).  Excavations have uncovered remains of the Greco-Roman, Crusader, Arab, and Byzantine civilizations, but most of the remains of the Phoenician period lie beneath the present town.  Areas of archaeological note include the ruins of a Crusader church, a street with a 2nd-century mosaic pavement and a double colonnade of white green-veined marble, Roman baths, the ruins of a Roman-Byzantine necropolis, and the largest Roman hippodrome ever discovered.  Built in the 2nd century, the hippodrome hosted chariot races with a capacity of 20,000 spectators.  In 1984 UNESCO designated the historic town a World Heritage site.  In the late 20th century the ruins were damaged by bombardment, most notably in 1982 and 1996 during Israeli offensives in southern Lebanon.  The site is threatened by urban growth, looting, and the decay of stone because of airborne pollution.  In 1998 UNESCO created a special fund for the preservation and archaeological excavation of the ancient treasures of Tyre.  See pictures at

Wiregrass, also called pineland threeawn, is one of the most common grasses in the southern pine flatwoods and upland sandhills.  It is a favorite food of gopher tortoises and quail and provides valuable cover for many birds, reptiles, and small mammals. The young plants may also be used as a forage by livestock.  See also

Wiregrass Lake is the newest Toledo Metropark to open and has a variety of dragonflies  unmatched anywhere else in Ohio. 

Of all insects there are few that capture our attention and interest the way dragonflies do.  They have, perhaps, the coolest, most evocative name of any group of insects:  Dragonfly.  In English there are a great number of other common categorical names:  Devil’s Darning Needle, Snake Doctor, and Ear Cutter among others.  Many European cultures viewed dragonflies as sinister creatures, servants of the devil, in league with other evils such as snakes and bats.  Other cultures, often more agrarian ones, had a far more benign view of dragonflies, based, perhaps, on the recognition of their fundamental role in controlling populations of pest insects of all sorts.   An archaic name for the Japanese Islands is Akitsushima (秋津島), the Dragonfly Islands, where dragonflies symbolized courage, strength, and happiness.  For some native American tribes dragonflies symbolized clean, pure water, swiftness, and agility.  In the modern world dragonflies are good indicators of environmental heath, indicating a robustly functioning ecosystem.  Dragonflies and their close relatives, Damselflies, come in a dazzling array of colors and patterns, ranging in size from less than  an inch long up to the South American Megaloprepus caerulatuswith a wingspan of over 7 inches.  The largest dragonfly we know of is from the 300 million year old fossil Meganeura that had a wingspan of over 2 feet.  Issue 1345  August 28, 2015  On this date in 1915, Tasha Tudor, American author and illustrator, was born.  On this date in 1930, Ben Gazzara, American actor, singer, and director, was born.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

LeBron James  Sept. 29, 2007

Meirion James Trow (born 1949) is a Welsh writer who writes under the name M. J. Trow.  Find a list of his books divided by characters:  Sholto Joseph Lestrade, a Scotland Yard inspector in 19th century London; Peter Maxwell, a widowed teacher and golden-hearted cynic, in England; Kit (Christopher) Marlowe, the Elizabethan playwright in his youth, beginning in 1583 Cambridge; Captain Matthew Grand, a Union cavalry officer, and James Batchelor, a London journalist, in the 1860s, in the Grand & Batchelor Victorian mysteries; Justinus, Paternus, Leocadius, and Vitalis, Roman soldiers at Hadrian's Wall in 367 Britain, in the Britannia historical thriller series [written with Richard Denham]; non-fiction and true crime at

Marbury v. Madison, arguably the most important case in Supreme Court history, was the first U.S. Supreme Court case to apply the principle of "judicial review"--the power of federal courts to void acts of Congress in conflict with the Constitution.  Written in 1803 by Chief Justice John Marshall, the decision played a key role in making the Supreme Court a separate branch of government on par with Congress and the executive.  Link to other landmark cases from "The Supreme Court:  The First Hundred Years" at

Fold is a suffix meaning multiplied by (a specified number) times or having (so many) parts.

Have you ever eaten kohlrabi?  These little sputnik-shaped vegetables come in green or purple, can be eaten raw or cooked, and taste a bit like broccoli stems, but milder and slightly sweeter.  The word kohlrabi is German for “cabbage turnip” (kohl as in cole-slaw, and rübe for turnip) though kohlrabi is not a root vegetable at all.  It’s a brassica—like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower—and those cute bulbous shapes grow above ground, not below.  We usually eat them raw—peeled, sliced and added to a salad or used for serving with a dip.  You can also steam, boil, bake, grill, or roast them.  Just peel away the outside thick skin first.  Add them to soups or stews.  Grate them and toss with grated carrots or apples.  Boil them and mash them with potatoes or other root vegetables.  Stir-fry them with other vegetables, or julienne them and fry them like potatoes.  Link to recipes at

The Vogons are a fictional alien race from the planet Vogsphere in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy—initially a BBC Radio series by Douglas Adams—who are responsible for the  destruction of the Earth, in order to facilitate an intergalactic highway construction project. Vogons are described as “one of the most unpleasant races in the galaxy—not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous", and having "as much sex appeal as a road accident" as well as being the authors of "the third worst poetry in the universe".  Find examples of poetry as torture at

How do we ascertain truth on the web?  That’s a question being pursued by researchers at Google who have articulated a flow of data that generates discrete statements of fact from countless web sources, relates those statements to previously assembled stores of knowledge, and fuses these mathematically to identify which statements may be more “truthful” than others.  They describe this assembly of scored statements as a “Knowledge Vault.”  As Online Computer Library Center, Inc. (OCLC) works with data from library, archive and museum sources, we grapple with the same question and similarly varying data.  Though the number of statements made is smaller and there may be fewer conflicts, we benefit by taking a closer look at the Google Knowledge Vault idea, to see how it applies to a vault of library knowledge.  Read about the global library cooperative OCLC, originally named the Ohio College Library Center, at and

"Yesterdays" is a 1933 song composed by Jerome Kern, with lyrics by Otto Harbach.  It was written for the show Roberta (1933), where it was introduced by Fay Templeton.  The song was soon picked up by jazz musicians and has since gone on to become one of the top jazz standards. ranks it ninth among all jazz standards, in terms of being "included most often on currently issued CDs by the greatest number of jazz artists."   Irene Dunne performed the song in the film version Roberta (1935).  Barbra Streisand performed the song in her TV special Color Me Barbra and included a recording on her album Color Me Barbra (1966).  

"Yesterday" is a song by English rock band The Beatles written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney) first issued for their U.K. album Help! released August, 1965.  Yesterday with B-side Act Naturally was released as a U.S. single September, 1965.  While it topped the American chart in 1965 the song first hit the British top 10 three months after the release of Help! in a cover version by Matt Monro.  The song also appeared on the U.S. album The Beatles Yesterday and Today released June, 1966.  McCartney's vocal and acoustic guitar together with a string quartet essentially made for the first solo performance of the band.  It remains popular today with more than 2,200 cover versions and is one of the most covered songs in the history of recorded music.  "Yesterday" was voted the best song of the 20th century in a 1999 BBC Radio 2 poll of music experts and listeners and was also voted the No. 1 pop song of all time by MTV and Rolling Stone magazine the following year.  In 1997, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) asserts that it was performed over seven million times in the 20th century alone. 

August 17, 2015  In the mountains of Colorado last week, a group of library leaders were joined by thought leaders and decision-makers from government, technology, business, academia and philanthropy to consider and plan for the future of the public library.  Assisted by facilitators at the Aspen Institute, participants in theLeadership Roundtable on Library Innovation, part of the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries and supported by Knight Foundation, worked over three days on proposals to guide libraries through a difficult march toward future relevance.  There are about 9,500 public libraries in the U.S., most of them serving small and medium-sized communities. Probably 8,500 of them are not interested in innovation, suggested one urban library director.  While roundtable participants overwhelmingly agreed that the physical buildings housing libraries remain as relevant as ever--albeit in the future as a community convening place more so than a mere repository of books and physical media--digital connectivity to the world of data is becoming just as important, if not more.  One of the primary recommendations coming out of Aspen is that more libraries (big and small) acquire “super connectivity,” which means adding 10-gigabit connectivity to the Internet.  Such a library would have massive capacity (via fiber optic connections) for data transfer in and out of the building.  A library with super connectivity would have the capacity for patrons to always be able to view streaming video without today’s common glitches and delays, no matter how many people in the library are watching video at one time, for example.  Conveniently for libraries, the next few years are the best time to make the jump to super connectivity.  Even small libraries can consider it, courtesy of the $3.9 billion Schools and Library Program of the Universal Service Fund, known as E-Rate, administered by the Federal Communications Commission(FCC).  E-Rate offers discounted telecommunications, Internet access and internal connections.  Eligible schools and libraries pay between 10 percent and 80 percent of the cost, with the average cost borne around 20 percent (when state matching funds are available).  E-Rate money is meant for investment rather than to pay for services; libraries would look at building their own connectivity infrastructure, including expanded Wi-Fi service within their buildings.  Steve Outing  Issue 1344  August 26, 2015  On this date in 1791, John Fitch was granted a United States patent for the steamboat.  On this date in 1920, the 19th amendment to United States Constitution took effect, giving women the right to vote.

Monday, August 24, 2015

What Character Was Removed from the Alphabet?   The ampersand today is used primarily in business names, but that small character was once the 27th part of the alphabet.  Where did it come from though?  The origin of its name is almost as bizarre as the name itself.  The shape of the character (&) predates the word ampersand by more than 1,500 years.  In the first century, Roman scribes wrote in cursive, so when they wrote the Latin word et which means “and” they linked the e and t.  Over time the combined letters came to signify the word “and” in English as well.  Certain versions of the ampersand, like that in the font Caslon, clearly reveal the origin of the shape.  The word “ampersand” came many years later when “&” was actually part of the English alphabet.  In the early 1800s, school children reciting their ABCs concluded the alphabet with the &.  It would have been confusing to say “X, Y, Z, and.”  Rather, the students said, “and per se and.”  “Per se” means “by itself,” so the students were essentially saying, “X, Y, Z, and by itself and.”  Over time, “and per se and” was slurred together into the word we use today:  ampersand.  When a word comes about from a mistaken pronunciation, it’s called a mondegreen

Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman wrote It's a Small World in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which influenced the song's message.  They first presented the song to Walt Disney by singing in counterpoint while walking through the mock-up.  It is argued that this song is the single most performed and most widely translated song on earth.  The song tune and lyrics are the only Disney creations never to be copyrighted.  The song being considered annoying by people is referenced in The Lion King.  When Scar assumed the throne of Pride Rock, he took the majordomo Zazu as his prisoner and made him sing songs to him, preferably those with a "bounce" to it, prompting Zazu to start singing "It's a Small World", only to be immediately cut off by Scar, who clearly despised the song.  Also, in Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama, Dr. Drakken is shown using a torture chamber where a man is trapped in a room with the singing dolls.  Find lyrics at's_a_Small_World_(song)
NOTE that Wonderland Music Company, Inc. copyrighted their arrangement of It's a Small World in 1963. 

Fruit curd is a dessert spread and topping usually made with citrus fruit, such as lemon, lime, orange or tangerine.  Among many recipes for lemon curd on the Web find recipes from Ina Garten and Martha Stewart

Investigators in England in the middle of the nineteenth century got a confession from a killer based on matching a bullet with the mold that made it.  In 1902 an expert witness (Oliver Wendell Holmes, no less) helped prosecutors convict a suspect by matching a bullet test-fired by the suspect’s gun to the murder slug.  However, it wasn’t until Calvin Goddard, a medical doctor and forensic scientist, published “Forensic Ballistics” in 1925 that the discipline truly took off.  Goddard is still known as the father of ballistic science.  The Kill Room, a novel by Jeffery Deaver   Link to selected recipes mentioned in The Kill Room, including Guinness-Venison stew  Chicken Costoletta  Ethel Rider’s Hot Milk Sponge Cake  and Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly  at

The aptly named poisonwood tree (Metopium toxiferum) is beautiful and scary.  Its smoke and pollen can travel in the air and fill your lungs with its potent poison.  Poison ivy, sumac and cashews are its cousins in the Anacardiaceae family.  It is a prodigious seeder that Master Gardener Pat Rogers call a "native invasive."  In addition to the Florida Keys, it grows in the Caribbean, Central America and West Indies.  It thrives in our well-drained, nutrient-poor soil.  Often it grows in a tropical hammock as an understory tree beneath taller trees.  The glossy, dark-green leaves vary from 4 to 10 inches long and are broader at the top.  The leathery leaves curl under at the edges.  They are compound, typically with five alternate leaflets.  Sometimes you can see the black sap spotting the leaves.  Poisonwood drops its leaves and replaces them in the early spring.  The inconspicuous flowers are a greenish-white.  Why do we want this tree?  It may make us break out but it is a cornucopia of treasures for native wildlife.  Its nectar feeds butterflies such as the Bahamian swallowtail, Florida white, giant swallowtail, Julia, large orange sulphur, mangrove skipper, southern broken-dash and many others.  The fruit feeds the skittish and rare white-crowned pigeons during their mating season.  Audubon painted this bird in a Geiger tree.  (His assistant actually painted the tree.)  Florida liguus tree snails (l.f. lossmanicus), a state species of special concern, live on poisonwood.  Their many varieties of colored stripes make this snail's shell a favorite collectable.  Robin Robinson

Classic Potato Salad  There are many recipes for potato salad on the Web.  Here are two: and

August 21, 2015  The Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage this week received the largest gift in its history—$1.24 million—to support research into sustaining and revitalizing endangered languages in Europe.  The five-year project will evaluate different approaches to keeping languages healthy, taking into account social, cultural, political and economic influences, said Michael Atwood Mason, director of the center, which is best known for putting on the annual Folklife Festival on the National Mall.  “There’s an enormous amount of excitement about developing well-researched and well-documented evidence about what’s working and what’s not,” Mason said.  The money is coming from Ferring Pharmaceuticals, a manufacturer of drugs for reproductive health, urology and gastroenterology, headquartered in Switzerland.  The very name of the company is derived from an endangered language:  Fering, spelled with one r, is a dialect of North Frisian, spoken on the German island of Föhr in the North Sea.  David Montgomery

August 22, 2015  Organizers of PEACOCKalypse at the Freer and Sackler galleries in June 2015 promised that the party would have the courtyard buzzing with danceable hits.  And so it did.  Nearly 1,000 visitors donned peacock-style feathers, sipped colorful cocktails and danced to live music until midnight.  The party, named for the Freer’s famed Peacock Room and its “alter-ego” exhibition, “Filthy Lucre,” was part of the Smithsonian galleries’ “Asia After Dark” series, which aims to “engage a new generation of young professional museumgoers and donors.”  But the courtyard wasn’t the only thing buzzing that night:  The galleries, with their millennia-old stone and metal sculptures, also were shaking from the amplified music.  Vibrations, although little understood in the art conservation field, can pose grave risks to art.  And as museums are increasingly hosting events to increase foot traffic and court younger visitors, those concerns are weighing on conservationists, the guardians of the precious pieces.  “If someone spills red wine on something, everyone can see it.  If somebody is moving chairs around and setting up tables for an event and they hit an object and chip it or break it, that you can see right away.  But with vibrations, sometimes you can have a cumulative effect that you cannot see,” says Terry Drayman-Weisser, who recently retired from Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum, where she directed conservation and technical research for nearly 40 years.  Menachem Wecker  Issue 1343  August 24, 2015  On this date in 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted. The cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae were buried in volcanic ash.  (This traditional date has been challenged, and many scholars believe that the event occurred on October 24.)  On this date in 1891,  Thomas Edison patented the motion picture camera.

Friday, August 21, 2015

There are 15,074 documented lakes in Wisconsin.  Of these, about 40 percent have been named.  They range in size from small one-and two-acre ponds to 137,708-acre Lake Winnebago.  They range in depth from a few feet to 350 feet for Wazee Lake.  Lake Winnebago is the largest lake by volume and the lake with the longest shoreline.  The largest man-made lake is Petenwell Lake, which was created by damming the Wisconsin River.  Many lakes have the same names, with 116 named Mud Lake.  Green Lake—also known as Big Green Lake—has a maximum depth of 237 feet (72 m), making it the deepest natural inland lake in Wisconsin.  The lake covers 7,346 acres (30 km2), has 29.3 miles (47.2 km) of shoreline and has an average depth of 100 feet (30 m).  

Mary Rene Daheim (born 1937) is an American writer of romance and mystery novels.  She attended the University of Washington where she was one of the first female editors of The Daily, the campus newspaper.  After receiving her BA in communications, Daheim worked as a journalist in Anacortes and Port Angeles, Washington.  Daheim's first novel, the historical romance Love's Pirate, was published in 1983.  Daheim continued writing historical romances for several years until she tired of writing "bodice-rippers".  She switched genres to her personal favorite, mysteries.  The "Bed & Breakfast" series featuring amateur detective Judith McMonigle (later Flynn) was published beginning in 1991.  The first book in her "Alpine" series The Alpine Advocate was published in 1992.  Emma Lord is the protagonist who tackles mysteries in the small town of Alpine, Washington.  The real Alpine no longer exists; however in her series Daheim resurrects the town.  Interest in the old town led to it being rediscovered in 2008 by a group calling themselves "The Alpine Advocates".  Daheim was nominated for an Agatha Award for her first mystery novel Just Desserts in 1991.  In 2008, she was inducted into the University of Washington Department of Communications Alumni Hall of Fame.  Daheim continues to write both series from her Seattle home.  See also Alpine Advocate Book Series and How It All Began by Mary Daheim!alpinebooks/c3zk The Emma Lord mystery series, begun with #1, The Alpine Advocate (1992) will not end with #26, The Alpine Zen (2015).  See

"As a Naval navigator, I enjoyed the article about North.  You might follow up with a discussion about the calculation to determine true north and magnetic north.  "Can Dead Men Vote Twice at elections?"  It makes the concepts you discussed easier to understand.  And even to this day ships carry both a magnetic compass and a gyro-based compass pointed to true north.  When all else fails the magnetic compass can be used but one has to know how to convert to true north for accurate navigation.  Of course, there is an app for that, too. "  Thank you, Muse reader!   

Can Dead Men Vote Twice at Elections?  This mnemonic reminds us of  the formula for converting compass headings back to true ones:   Compass plus Deviation equals Magnetic heading.  Beyond that, add the Variation to get the True heading.  In all of these corrections, "at elections" means Add Easterly deviations and variations as part of the calculation (and, by implication, subtract westerly ones).

Find information on magnetic compasses, degaussing (magnetic silencing) compensation,  gyrocompasses, ekctronic compasses, and correcting and uncorrecting the compass from the National Geospatial‑Intelligence Agency's 18-page document at 

Freekeh (pronounced free-kah) is wheat that’s harvested while young and green.  It's roasted over an open fire, then the straw and chaff are burned and rubbed off.  The grain on the inside is too young and moist to burn, so what you're left with is a firm, slightly chewy grain with a distinct flavor that's earthy, nutty, and slightly smoky.  The cracked version of freekeh is what you’re more likely to find here in the United States.   Cracked freekeh is tastier and easier to work with than whole freekeh.  Add it to soups or stews, or use in the same way you would use rice or bulgur.  Find recipe for Freekeh, Chickpea and Herb Salad at

The potcake dog is a mixed-breed dog type from the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas.  Its name comes from the congealed rice and pea mixture that local residents traditionally fed dogs.  Although appearance varies, potcake dogs generally have smooth coats, cocked ears, and long faces.  The ancestry of the potcake dog is shared among dogs from both sets of islands, since many residents of Turks and Caicos were originally from nearby islands and took their dogs with them.  In Nassau alone, there are an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 stray potcakes.  Boonie dogs of Saipan and Guam are probably  descendants of American WWII military dogs.  After fulfilling their service to the military, these dogs were abandoned on the islands.  Beware of stray dogs and cats in Italy--they run in packs.

Melbourne has topped The Economist's liveability rankings for a fifth consecutive year.  But planning experts have warned that, while the liveability rankings were "marketing nirvana", they were meaningless for much of Melbourne, and got in the way of improving the city. 
And a social services group said the ranking failed to recognise the growing disparity between those rich enough to live where good jobs and services were, and those in areas of high unemployment, poor transport and entrenched disadvantage.
See also and compare Monocle's "Most Liveable Cities Index", the Economist Intelligence Unit's "Liveability Ranking and Overview", and "Mercer Quality of Living Survey rankings at

Just about a full decade since the girl with a dragon tattoo was introduced to readers, she'll be making her grand return to fiction — albeit with another author's name on the cover.  Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy of crime novels is set to become something more on September 1, 2015 when the series' new addition hits store shelves as The Girl in the Spider's Web.  Publisher Alfred A. Knopf released the book's title and cover art March 31, 2015.  Of course, the series is carrying on without its original architect, replacing Larsson with David Lagercrantz, a former crime reporter from Sweden.  Larsson died of a heart attack at the age of 50 in 2004, before even the first Millennium novel—The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, in American editions—was published in Sweden.  The whole series has been published posthumously.  The new book, much like its characters, has been wrapped in a fair bit of intrigue.  Perhaps because of the fear of leaks, Lagercrantz wrote the novel on a computer with no Internet connection, and when he delivered the manuscript to Swedish publishers, he was careful to do so by hand, according to The GuardianThe Girl in the Spider's Web will be published simultaneously in 25 countries, with a first printing of 500,000 copies in the U.S. alone.  Colin Dwyer

High winds dislodge 15-foot, 250-pound inflatable ball   RedBall Project, normally a stationary art installation, took off from its Wednesday location at Roulet Jewelers on Madison Avenue in Toledo, Ohio.   See the August 19, 2015 attempted escape at  Issue 1342  August 21, 2015  On this date in 1888. the first successful adding machine in the United States was patented by William Seward Burroughs.  On this date in 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen by a Louvre employee.