Friday, September 29, 2017

February 19, 2011   Here’s the church.  Up there was the steeple.  Open it up and there’s . . . no people.  Unless, of course, it’s party time at Dan Riccobon’s house, the former Emanuel Lutheran Church in East Pittsburgh.  He bought the brick building in 1998 from a congregation that by then had dwindled to about 40 elderly members, and he’s spent much of his free time over the past dozen years converting it into his home and studio.  In East Pittsburgh, acting as architect, contractor, carpenter and interior designer, Mr. Riccobon has done most of the work himself, from removing the rotting steeple to building the bathroom and kitchen to painting the ceiling of the nave, on his back on a scaffold, with the constellations and the creatures that inspired them.  The result is a sweet, magical, handcrafted space suffused with warmth and a playful spirit of creativity.  “I was giddy when I first moved in,” said Mr. Riccobon, a painter and retired Woodland Hills art teacher.  By then, some of the biggest jobs were behind him, including rewiring the building, vacuuming soot from the attic and insulating it, and installing a shower in the basement.  “It was a long two years traveling back and forth working on the weekends, I can tell you that.”  When Mr. Riccobon bought the church, the whole interior was painted white.  When some of the paint began to peel, he discovered a decorative border just beneath the ceiling.  He made a stencil from the fragment and restored the entire border, along with the church’s ochre-toned walls.  He’s also kept the painted angels-on-canvas that flank the apse, where his 15-foot balsam fir Christmas tree still soars.  The nave—the large open area that makes up most of the interior—holds Mr. Riccobon’s living space, with two sitting areas and a dining table near the new kitchen.  The former choir loft is his bedroom, with a homemade Murphy bed and a wall of IKEA cupboards painted to resemble an old Venetian screen.  But the showstopper is the adjacent tiled bathroom and its ogee-arch shower opening.  He made the turquoise tiles that frame it, glazing and firing them along with student work at Woodland Hills High.  He made the big harlequin head mounted on the west wall for a Mardi Gras party he threw in 2000 for the teachers he’d worked with at several Woodland Hills schools.  He created the King Kong head and the 11-foot-tall Frankenstein that looms over the library alcove for one of his Halloween parties.  For Mr. Riccobon, the best part of having home and studio in the same building is not the easy commute but having work in progress so close at hand.  Patricia Lowry  See fanciful pictures at

Yvan «Lozzi» Pestalozzi, sculptor (born December 13, 1937 in Glarus, Switzerland) served as cabinet-making apprenticeship, mainly self-taught, working as a freelance sculptor since 1964.  Works include:  small, mostly mobile, filigree wire sculptures; mobile iron sculptures often weighing several tons for outdoors which include wind sculptures, large-scale rollway tracks, and insect stabiles; small human and animal figures made of soft metal, life-size figures made of synthetic cement.  See also The Playground Project showing a picture of a Lozziwurm—a colorful, twisting, tubular play sculpture designed by Yvan Pestalozzi in 1972 at

VOODLES  With a root vegetable of your choice (carrots, cucumber, courgette, aubergine, pepper etc.) simply glide your peeler vertically downwards to create thin shavings or “noodles”.  Link to eight voodles recipes at

RIBOLLITA means reboiled in Italian.  Traditionally, it is prepared one day and reheated and eaten the next day.  Find recipes for this vegetable stew at and

The Fear of Missing Out phenomenon was first identified in 1996 by Dr. Dan Herman, a marketing strategist, which researched it and published the first academic paper on the topic in the year 2000 in The Journal of Brand Management.  Apparently, he used the acronym "FoMO" for the first time in 2002.  The outbreak of the term occurred in 2004, after Author Patrick J. McGinnis published an op-ed in The Harbus, the magazine of Harvard Business School

Most people would not look for illustrations in law books.  However, two exhibitions from the Yale Law Library challenge the stereotype of legal literature as a dreary expanse of dry text.  “Law’s Picture Books:  The Yale Law Library Collection,” opened September 13, 2017 at the Grolier Club in New York City, featureing 140 books and manuscripts containing a surprising and beguiling range of images that symbolize, describe, teach, argue, or criticize the law.  It is curated by Michael Widener, the Law Library’s rare book librarian, and Mark S. Weiner, a legal historian, filmmaker, and professor on leave from Rutgers Law School, who blogs at  A companion exhibition, “Around the World with Law’s Picture Books,” is at the Yale Law Library in New Haven, Connecticut, through December 15, 2017 and showcases illustrated law books from fifteen countries on six continents in ten different languages.  It is curated by Michael Widener and Emma Molina Widener.  The two exhibitions draw on a unique collection of over a thousand volumes assembled in the past decade by Michael Widener, the Yale Law Library’s rare book librarian.  They were originally published for lawyers, law students, lay readers, and even children.  Often they were tools in the workshops of legal practice.  “These images provide insight into ideas about the nature of law and justice, and also about the image of the law and the legal profession, in the eyes of the profession itself and the general public,” writes Widener. Today they will surprise and delight both book lovers and the legal community.  Accompanying the Grolier Club exhibition are five short videos created by Weiner through his production company Hidden Cabinet Films.  Mike Widener

updated September 28, 2017  Scientists have revealed the foods which fill us up best, by sending signals to the brain that we have had enough to eat.  Chicken, mackerel, pork shoulder and beef stirloin steak are among the most filling foods, according to researchers at the University of Warwick.  Plums, apricots, avocados, lentils and almonds have the same hunger-busting effect.  People no longer feel hungry after eating these foods because of the amino acids they contain.  These amino acids, arginine and lysine, have been found to activate newly discovered brain cells called tanycytes which control the appetite.  The key brain cells involved in curbing hunger pangs are revealed in the study led by the University of Warwick and published in the journal Molecular Metabolism.  Victoria Allen  Read much more at

The United States Code, a collection of all federal laws in the U.S., has a section dedicated to the flag—Title 4, Chapter 1—sometimes called the "Flag Code."  The Flag Code covers how the flag should be designed, whether it should be used in advertising, and how it ought to be displayed, among other subjects.  The President has the power to change the Flag Code unilaterally at any time.  Penalties for violating the Flag Code are not enforced; the Supreme Court has found it unconstitutional to prohibit desecrating the flag.  Instead, the Flag Code can be considered a list of guidelines for proper conduct regarding the flag.  From the Flag Code:  "No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.   "The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free."  "The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise."  Lisa Marie Segarra   See also United States Code, 2011 Edition
Title 4 - FLAG AND SEAL, SEAT OF GOVERNMENT, AND THE STATES, CHAPTER 1 - THE FLAG   Section 8 covers respect for the flag.

Banned Books Week, September 24-30, 2017, celebrates the freedom to read.  Find a list of Top Ten Challenged Books of 2016 at

John Ashbery, a long-standing contributor to and friend of The New York Review, died September 3, 2017, aged ninety, at his house in Hudson, New York.  He was the author of twenty-eight books of poems (not counting Selecteds or Collecteds) as well as one novel, three plays, three volumes of essays and criticism, and three of translations from French.  Over the course of his career he received just about every major prize, including the triple crown:  the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975).  At the time of his death he was considered, by general acclaim, the greatest living American poet.  Luc Sante  See also The 10 Best John Ashbery Poems at and a transcript of an interview with John Ashbery at

September 26, 2017  The mostly submerged continent of Zealandia may have been much closer to land level than previously thought, providing pathways for animals and plants to cross continents from 80m years ago, an expedition has revealed.  Zealandia, a for the most part underwater landmass in the South Pacific, was declared the Earth’s newest continent this year in a paper in the journal of the Geological Society of America.   It includes Lord Howe Island off the east coast of Australia, New Caledonia and New Zealand.  Researchers drilled more than 860 metres below the sea floor in six different sites across Zealandia.  The sediment cores collected showed evidence of tectonic and ecological change across millions of years.  Naaman Zhou  Read more and see graphics at  Issue 1777  September 29, 2017  On this date in 1547 – Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright, was born.  On this date in 1810 – Elizabeth Gaskell, English author, was born. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

TRIVIA  White zinfandel is made from red grapes, not white.  Pennsylvania:  Pittsburgh has 89 neighborhoods and the natives say they have two seasons:  winter and construction.  OhioSandusky County's county seat is Fremont.  Erie County's county seat is Sandusky.  Remuddling refers to misguided remodelling done on an old building . . . "improvements" that rob the house of its original charm and character.  The first Remuddling Column of the Month was in The Old-House Journal, October 1981.

Sinopia (also known as sinoper, named after the Turkish city Sinop) is a dark reddish-brown natural earth pigment, whose reddish colour comes from hematite, a dehydrated form of iron oxide.  It was widely used in classical antiquity and the Middle Ages for painting, and during the Renaissance it was often used on the rough initial layer of plaster for the underdrawing for a fresco.  From Ancient times through the Renaissance, the pigment was mined in Cappadocia, and exported to Europe through the port of Sinop, a Greek colony on the Black Sea.  The pigment was valued for its quality and the genuine product was marked with a seal to show its authenticity.  In the Renaissance "sinopia" or "sinoper" meant any of a range of different shades and hues, and the colour had a variety of names; it was sometimes called Venetian red, or Terra di Siena (Sienna earth), or Ocra rosso (red ochre).  Read more and see graphics at

Macaron or macaroon—do you know the difference between these two popular cookie types?  Aside from both being delicious and similar in spelling, macarons and macaroons are entirely different cookies.  First off, a macaroon is coconut based, whereas a macaron is meringue based.  The amount of difficulty in making them are extreme opposites—one will have you stressing in the kitchen for hours while the other can be whipped up in minutes.  Macarons range in color and flavors and macaroons are limited in variety.  French macaron comes from the Italian word macaroniMacaroon is an English derivative of the French word macaron  Find recipes for macarons and macaroons at

From:  Helen Pringle  Bullets cannot be recalled. They cannot be uninvented.  But they can be taken out of the gun. - Martin Amis, novelist (b. 25 Aug 1949)   Personal corollary for Martin Amis’s trenchant thought:  Harsh words cannot be recalled.  They cannot be unthought.  But they can be unspoken.

FILM REVIEW  Frederick Wiseman, who can reasonably be called one of the most groundbreaking film-makers still working, has spent his entire career taking deep dives on very specific topics.  It’s maybe something of a punchline that now, at age 87, his latest subject is everything.  For over 50 years Wiseman’s all-seeing, fly-on-the-wall cinema has visited institutions (a psychiatric hospital, a park, a museum, a concert venue, a school), gobbled it all up and served it back in an edited form that, while avoiding a traditional three-act structure, links sequences that build to a rich, almost-transcendent understanding.  Lord knows others ape the style, but few compare.  Ex Libris:  New York Public Library has the drive of a vociferous reader checking out and renewing the maximum number of books their card will allow.  Its running time of three hours and 17 minutes is generous enough to succeed on multiple levels.  The most prominent theme is the divide between rich and poor, and what the NYPL means in different neighbourhoods.  The gorgeous main branch on Fifth Avenue with its marble lions serves a different function than the outposts in the economically disadvantaged outer boroughs.  On Fifth Avenue, a “Books at noon” guest like Richard Dawkins will wax about the Enlightenment; off Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx, the community huddles up for job interview tips.  The only recurring characters are the caring and determined administrators (some googling puts faces to names; by and large Wiseman doesn’t care for formal introductions) who agonise over the budget and try to anticipate changes in digital technology.  There are side trips to speciality branches, such as Lincoln Center’s Library for the Performing Arts, Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Mid-Manhattan Library’s fabled picture collection and the Braille and Talking Book Library in Lower Manhattan.  Jordan Hoffman  Read more and see pictures at

heuristic  adjective  enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves  Computing  Proceeding to a solution by trial and error or by rules that are only loosely defined  noun   heuristic process or method  heuristics  the study and use of heuristic techniques  Origin:  Early 19th century:  formed irregularly from Greek heuriskein ‘find’

Stanley Kubrick’s epic 2001:  A Space Odyssey has very few characters and one of the most famous lines ever:  “I’m sorry, Dave.  I’m afraid I can’t do that.”  With his monotone voice, HAL, the ship’s homicidal computer, may be the most memorable of the film’s explorers:  AFI named the too-smart-for-his-own-good computer the 13th greatest film villain of all time.  But HAL wasn’t always a HAL.  In fact, in earlier drafts of the script HAL was named Athena and had a woman’s voice.  The Computer History Museum has some early sketches of the spaceship where Athena is described.  “The computer maintains a “log” of the journey, making its own entries plus those of Bowman, which he records verbally.  The computer takes verbal instructions and replies through a “speech synthesizer” (female voice).”  Eventually, Athena turned into HAL—a mashup of the words heuristic and algorithmic, the two main types of computer learning.  (HAL is not, according to Kubrick, a simple cypher for IBM, as film lore has it.)  In the French version of the movie, HAL is named CARL, Cerveau Analytique de Recherche et de Liaison (Analytic Brain for Research and Communication).  In the final movie, HAL was voiced by Douglas Rain—a Canadian actor known mostly for his stage work.

Douglas Rain (born 1928) is a Canadian actor and narrator.  Though primarily a stage actor, he is also known for providing the voice of the HAL 9000 computer for the film 2001:  A Space Odyssey (1968) and its sequel, 2010 (1984).  Rain was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  He studied acting at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Banff, Alberta and The Old Vic theatre school in London, England.  As a stage actor, his association with the Stratford Festival of Canada spans more than four decades.  He has performed in a wide variety of theatrical roles, most notably in a Stratford, Ontario production of Henry V, which was adapted for television in 1966.  See also The Origins Of HAL 9000's Singing Revealed  at and The IBM 7094 is The First Computer to Sing (1961) at

September 19, 2017  The Library of Congress is experimenting with information crowdsourcing through a new project from the just-launched, the library’s new home for digital experiments.  An early featured project is called “Beyond Words,” which asks the public to find cartoons and illustrations from the library’s collection of old American newspapers and digitally add a “caption” that will allow the images to become searchable.  “What I like about crowdsourcing is it gives people a chance to discover hidden gems in the collection,” Tong Wang, the IT specialist who created Beyond Words during a three-month pilot innovator-in-residence program, said in a statement.  “You never know what you’ll find poking through old newspapers.”  In order to support future projects like this, the library has also released application programming interfaces (APIs) for a selection of its digital collections.  “These windows to the Library will make the collections and data more accessible to automated access, via scripting and software, and will empower developers to explore new ways to use the Library’s collections,” a press release states.  Labs is managed by the Library of Congress’ National Digital Initiatives office, which was created in 2015 to encourage and promote use of the library’s digital assets.  Tajha Chappellet-Lanier

On Tuesday, September 25, micro-blogging juggernaut Twitter lifted its longtime limit on tweets for a small group of beta testers.  Instead of the traditional 140 characters per tweet, those users get 280 characters.  Twitter’s character limit was originally designed for compatibility with SMS cellphone messaging, the Twitter app’s first supported medium, and became one of its defining characteristics.  The first 20 of the 160 characters were originally reserved for the username, but Twitter has since carved out exemptions for it and other embedded forms of media including images, videos, attachments, and links.  Japanese Twitter users butt up against the 140-character limit just 0.4 percent of the time, according to Twitter, compared to 9 percent of the time for English users.  It’s not the first time Twitter has experimented with expanded tweet lengths.  In 2016, the social network considered introducing tweets up to 10,000 characters in length before ultimately deciding against it, according to Recode.  And in early September, it began testing a “tweetstorm” feature that let users draft multiple tweets as part of a single thread.  Twitter says it won’t flip the switch on expanded character limits right away.  Instead, it will collect data over the next few months before rolling the test out to other “languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean).”  Kyle Wiggers  Issue 1776  September 27, 2017  On this date in 1908, the first production of the Ford Model T automobile was built at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in DetroitMichigan.  On this date in 1962, Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring was published, inspiring an environmental movement and the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  On this date in 1968, the  stage musical Hair opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London, where it played 1,998 performances until its closure was forced by the roof collapsing in July 1973

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Late-Summer Chop   Combine 2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  Toss with 1 cup each cucumber, fennel and apple, all cut into uniform 1/2-inch pieces.  Serve spooned over cottage cheese, sprinkled with freshly ground pepper and fennel fronds.  Martha Stewart Living  September 2017

Silence was a virtue to the Anglo-Saxon monks of Christ Church, Canterbury who followed the Rule of St Benedict.  These monks followed the Rule’s insistence on silence during daily activities outside the divine office, when monks celebrated the liturgy with the singing of psalms and the reading of prayers.  By not speaking outside these times the community attempted to lead a way of life that reflected the Benedictine core values of chastity, obedience and humility.  Yet a non-communicative way of life would have proved highly impractical for the Canterbury monks.  A manuscript produced at Canterbury in the 11th century (now Cotton MS Tiberius A III) reveals how the monks overcame this dilemma.  The manuscript includes the only Old English copy of Monasteriales Indicia (ff. 97r–101v), a form of sign language used by Benedictine monks at times when forbidden to speak out loud.  The Indicia features descriptions of 127 hand signs representing books and items used in the divine office, food consumed in the refectory, tools used daily, and persons met in the monastery and outside.  Read more and see graphics at

The subjunctive is a specific verb form.  It usually expresses something that you wish for, or a hypothetical rather than actual situation.  It is also used to indicate that something is being suggested or demanded.  Find examples at

September 5, 2017,  80 years after the launch of white chocolate as the third type after dark and milk, Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, revealed the fourth type in chocolate ‘ruby’ which is made from the ruby cocoa bean.  Ruby chocolate has an intense taste and characteristic reddish color.  Read press release at

Banal (buh NAL, BANE ul) adj:  unoriginal, ordinary  Bane (bane) n:  poison, torment, cause of harm  Find other difficult words at

WHAT ARE THE WINDWARD ISLANDS?  The Windward Islands include the southeastern islands of the Caribbean.  They're called the Windward Islands because they are exposed to the wind ("windward") of the northeast trade winds (the northeasterlies) from the Atlantic Ocean.  Within the Windward Islands is a chain that includes many of the smaller islands in this group.  This is often called the Windward Chain and here they are listed from north to south:  Dominica - The northernmost island, the British government held this territory until 1978 and considered it part of the Leeward Islands.  It is now an independent country and most often thought to be in the Windward Islands; Martinique (France); Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and The Grenadines; and Grenada.  WHAT ARE THE LEEWARD ISLANDS?  Between the islands of the Greater Antilles and those of the Windward Islands are the Leeward Islands.  Mostly small islands, they are called the Leeward Islands because they are away from the wind ("lee").  Just off the coast of Puerto Rico are the Virgin Islands and this is the northernmost part of the Leeward Islands.  The northern set of islands are territories of the United Kingdom and the southern set are territories of the United States. Outside of the Bahamas and Jamaica, the Virgin Islands are among the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean.  St. Croix is the largest of the Virgin Islands.  Though considered part of the Lesser Antilles, from a purely geological standpoint, the Virgin Islands are actually part of the Greater Antilles.  Learn about more islands in the Caribbean at

"Once you have knowledge--whatever knowledge it may be--you can't go back to a state of innocent ignorance.  It's like an attempt to return to childhood--we can't."  The Dog Who Came In From the Cold, #2 in the Corduroy Mansions series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith

Jon Jefferson (born 1955) is a contemporary American author and television documentary maker.  Jefferson has written eight novels in the Body Farm series under the pen name Jefferson Bass, in consultation with renowned forensic anthropologist William M. Bass, as well as two non-fiction books about Bass’s life and forensic cases.  Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, Jefferson spent most of his youth in Guntersville, Alabama.  As a high school senior, he was named a National Merit Scholar, a state winner in the National Council of Teachers of English writing contest, and a Presidential Scholar (one of two from Alabama).  He won a scholarship to Birmingham-Southern College, where he majored in English, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.  He did graduate study in English and comparative literature at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Prior to writing books, Jefferson worked as a staff science writer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; as an educator and administrator at Planned Parenthood of East Tennessee; as a freelance magazine and newspaper journalist; and as a television documentary writer/producer.  His writings have been published in The New York TimesNewsweekUSA Today and Popular Science, and have been broadcast on NPR.  His documentaries include programs for the A&E NetworkThe History Channel, and the Oxygen Network.  He also wrote and directed for the National Geographic Channel a two-part documentary--Biography of a Corpse and Anatomy of a Corpse—about the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility, which is also widely known as the Body Farm.  During filming, Jefferson met the founder of the Body Farm, Bill Bass, who asked for Jefferson's assistance to write his memoir, which was published in 2003 under the title Death’s Acre

ghit  noun  contraction of Google and hit:  a hit obtained using the search engine Google.  Wiktionary

In modern use, a bollard is a device used for traffic control.  More precisely, they’re used to prevent motor vehicle traffic from entering a specific area.  You’re most likely to encounter them as metal posts about one meter high, but they come in many shapes and sizes.  Some are concrete only, some are steel-reinforced concrete, some are concrete sheathed in steel.  They’re meant as a deterrent to keep drivers from veering into a work zone or parking on the sidewalk, or from taking their vehicles down bike paths or into pedestrian-only areas.  Simply by having some form of obstacle (a bollard), most drivers will get the message, even if a lot of those bollards wouldn’t stop a vehicle with a determined driver.  But increasingly, much more serious bollards are being installed.  These devices are sturdy—strong enough to stop a car at speed.  In fact, many of them, especially the ones meant for high security areas, are able to stop large trucks (if you want to see just how effective these are, google “bollard truck test” and browse the images; this very short video of a test is also revealing, although if you’re more of a “greatest hits” person, try this one).  They’re typically made of some variety of structural steel and, when properly installed, very little on wheels will make it past them.  They meet rigorous standards for impact (at least one of ISO IWA 14-1, BSi PAS 68, or ASTM F2656-07, if you’re interested).  My first (incorrect) impression was that the word was most likely old, but obscure.  I suspected it was probably a British import to the US (correct), possibly from French (incorrect).  It turns out bollard is a fairly recent word in English:  the OED cites a first print use only from 1844.  At that time it was a nautical term, indicating the large post on a wharf used as the point to tie up ships.  Of course, these posts were used long before that, they simply went by other names (“posts” being one, “knights-heads” another, “bitt” possibly another).  Bollards could also exist aboard a ship, not necessarily in the same form but serving a similar purpose (securing ropes and lines).  Traffic bollards are (probably) the later innovation (and certainly a later word usage).  OED lists a first use in this sense from 1948.  Merriam-Webster claims a 1763 first use for the word (but doesn’t provide a citation:  their online dictionary is deficient that way).  That’s 80 years earlier than the OED’s reliable citation.  Christopher Daly  Issue 1775  September 26, 2017  On this date in 1789Thomas Jefferson was appointed the first United States Secretary of StateJohn Jay was appointed the first Chief Justice of the United StatesSamuel Osgood was appointed the first United States Postmaster General, and Edmund Randolph was appointed the first United States Attorney General.  On this day in 1905Albert Einstein published his first paper on the special theory of relativity.  Word of the Day  pie in the sky  noun  A fanciful notion; an unrealistic or ludicrous concept; the illusory promise of a desired outcome that is unlikely to happen.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Tom Conway (1904-1967) played "The Falcon" in ten of that series' entries.  He starred in three Val Lewton horror classics.  He appeared in comedies, musicals, two Tarzan films and even science fiction films.  He was early television's Detective Mark Saber, but Conway will probably be best remembered as George Sanders' brother.  His hobbies were boat and airplane design, swimming, skiing and tennis.  He invented a pipe cleaner and co-invented the "arcometer" for mechanical drawing with brother George.  Brother George persuaded him to come to Hollywood.  To prevent confusion on the part of the public, they tossed a coin to see who would have to change his name.  Tom lost, thereby becoming Tom Conway.  When an American-born comic actor first came to Hollywood in the early 1960s, he was forced to change his name because, although he was born as Tom Conway, he could not use his own name due to the already-established character actor Tom Conway.  So he changed his name and became known as Tim Conway.  Read more and see picture at

Kentuck Knob  In 1953, Bernardine and I.N. Hagan purchased eighty acres in the mountains above Uniontown in Western Pennsylvania where their families had lived for generations.  After falling in love with the home of their friends the Kaufmanns, Fallingwater, they telephoned Frank Lloyd Wright and asked if he would design a house for them.  His answer was:  “Of course.  Come on out.”  At eighty-six, and hard at work on the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, and about twelve residential homes, Wright said he could “shake it (Kentuck Knob) out of his sleeve at will” never even setting foot on the site, except for a short visit during the construction phase.  This would be one of the last homes completed by Wright.  See picture and link to more information at

Simple Verses (Spanish:  Versos sencillos) is a poetry collection by Cuban writer and political activist José Martí.  Published in October 1891, it was the last of Martí's works to be printed before his death in 1895.  Originally written in Spanish, it has been translated into over ten languages.  Among the poems of the collection are Yo soy un hombre sincero (I), Si ves un monte de espumas (V), and Cultivo una rosa blanca (XXXIX).  Verses pruned from various poems were adapted into the folk song Guantanamera, which is the most popular patriotic song of Cuba and was popularized in the US in the 1960s during the American folk music revival.  The bulk of the book was written in 1890 while Martí was convalescing in a small town called Haines Falls in the Catskill Mountains.  The manuscript was first read in public in December of that year, at the home of Carmen Miyares in New York City; it was published ten months later, by Louis Weiss & Co. of New York.  The book comprises 46 poems, written in four-line stanzas (quatrains) of octosyllabic verse.  The diction is clean, sparse, and the verses display regular rhyme schemes and alliteration.  The work is rich in the symbolism of color; its verses known for their spontaneity and transparency.  Their style has been compared to that of Zen watercolor paintings

venge  From Middle English vengen, from Old French venger, from Latin vindicare (to avenge, vindicate)Verb venge (third-person singular simple present vengespresent participle vengingsimple past and past participle venged(obsolete) To avenge; to punish; to revenge.  Related terms:  avenge,

Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.  Search various databases including Wayback Machine, American Libraries and Universal Library at

The WABAC Machine or Wayback Machine refers to a fictional machine from the cartoon segment Peabody's Improbably History, a recurring feature of the 1960s cartoon series The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.  The WABAC Machine is a plot device used to transport the characters Mr. Peabody and Sherman back in time to visit important events in human history.  Either of the names WABAC or Wayback are in common usage, with the term "WAYBACK" explicitly indicated during the segment in which Mr. Peabody and Sherman visit the "Charge of the Light Brigade".  The precise meaning of the acronym WABAC is unknown, but the term is obviously a play on "way back", as in "way back in time", and the names of mid-century, large-sized computers that often ended in "AC" (generally for "Automatic Computer" or similar), such as ENIAC or UNIVAC.  Indeed, according to Gerard Baldwin, one of the show's directors, the name "WABAC" is a reference to the UNIVAC I.  The concept or term "Wayback Machine" has been adopted in popular culture as a convenient way to introduce issues or events of the past, often employing the original line "Sherman, set the Wayback machine to . . . ".  This introduction was used by the character Kevin Flynn in the film Tron, for example.  As in the original cartoon, the Wayback Machine is often invoked to suggest the audience follow the narrator back to the past.  Frequently such visits to the past are trips of nostalgia, remembering times, places, or things of the not-so-distant past.  One example of popular usage occurred in an episode of the TV show NewsRadio ("Goofy Ball", 1995), when station owner Jimmy James (Stephen Root) says:  "Dave, don't mess with a man with a Wayback Machine.  I can make it so you were never born."  The Wayback Machine of the Internet Archive was named after the WABAC.

Freezing Sweet, Bell and Hot Peppers from University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources  Peppers are one of those foods you can quickly freeze raw without blanching them first.  Thawed, raw peppers still retain some crispness and can be used in cooked dishes or raw in uncooked dishes.  It is generally recommended frozen vegetables be eaten within about 8 months for best quality.  Find easy instructions at

The television rights to the upcoming Bill Clinton-James Patterson novel “The President Is Missing” have been acquired by Showtime with plans to adapt it into a series, the network announced September 22, 2017.   Set to be published in 2018, the book tells the story of a sitting U.S. president’s disappearance, with the level of detail that only someone who has held the office can know.  Clinton and Patterson’s collaboration on the novel marks the first time an American President has ever co-authored a thriller.  The rights were acquired by Showtime in a competitive situation, with many networks and streaming services trying to secure the rights.

WEEKEND WORDS  David Meade, who claimed the world would  end September 23, 2017 said doomsday wouldn't happen then after all.  Self-published author Meade laid out his "astronomical, scientific, the Book of Revelation and geopolitics" ideology in his book Planet X—The 2017 Arrival.  He claimed that "Planet Nibiru" would collide with the Earth.  But now Meade is saying this event won't mark the apocalypse, but rather a series of dire events over the course of weeks.  Donald Trump modified his nickname for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, calling him "Little Rocket Man."  The president said NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem.  Stephen Curry, a Golden State Warriors guard and two-time NBA MVP, said he would vote against the team visiting Trump’s White House to celebrate the team’s 2017 championship.  Trump tweeted:  “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.  Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”  According to Steve Kerr, Warriors head coach, said that as of September 22 no such invitation had been extended by the White House.  On September 24, Trump called for a fan boycott of the NFL.

Here’s what Jackie Robinson had to say about the national anthem  Issue 1774  September 25, 2017  On this date in 1690Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, the first newspaper to appear in the Americas, was published for the first and only time.  On this date in 1790Peking opera was born when the Four Great Anhui Troupes introduced Anhui opera to Beijing in honor of the Qianlong Emperor's eightieth birthday.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Paul Johnston's path to full-time novel writing was circuitous.  He studied Ancient and Modern Greek at Oxford University, where he befriended another future crime writer, Robert Wilson (A Small Death in LisbonThe Blind Man of Seville).  After graduation, he worked for several shipping companies in London, Belgium and Greece, and then did a journalistic stint at a newspaper in Athens.  Finding that Greece agreed with him, Johnston moved with his wife, Vigdis, and their infant daughter to the small Aegean island of Antiparos in 1989.  There, he taught English in order to pay the bills, and at the same time tried to fulfill his long-held ambition to compose fiction--a dream undoubtedly fed by the fact that his father, Ronald Johnston, was a successful thriller writer (Black Camels of QashranParadise SmithFlying Dutchman, etc.).  Paul Johnston has since said that living away from the UK helped him to cut through the familiar myths about Scotland and write about his ancestral land with a freer hand.  Read an interview with Paul Johnston by Ali Karim and Simon Kernick at

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
gung ho  (GUHNG-HO)  adjective  Extremely eager and enthusiastic.   From Chinese gonghe, an acronym from the Gongye Hezuoshe (Chinese Industrial Cooperative Society).  The term gonghe was interpreted to mean “work together” and was introduced as a training slogan by US Marine Corps officer Evans Carlson (1896-1947).  Earliest documented use:  1942.
Monday morning quarterback  (MUHN-day MOR-ning KWOR-tuhr-bak)  noun  One who criticizes others’ actions and offers alternatives with the benefit of hindsight.  In the US, professional football games are often played on Sundays.  A quarterback in a football game is a player who directs the offensive play of the team.  The term alludes to a person offering an alternative course of action after the fact, perhaps on a Monday morning around the office water cooler.  Earliest documented use:  1930.
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From:  Dan Duke  Subject:  Monday morning quarterback  A frequently used synonym in the game of bridge is “result merchant”.  A player who proclaims he or she knew exactly how to “play the last hand” after the hand is over. 
From: Ilan Cohen  Subject:  Monday morning quarterback  I had never heard of the Monday morning quarterback, but I love it.  It reminds me of one of my favorite images in French:  l’esprit d’escalier or stairway wit.  The witty comeback you think of as you leave the place.
From:  Andrew Pressburger  Subject:  Monday morning quarterback  In Italy, where soccer has been regarded as a religion of sorts, there used to be a Monday program on RAI (Italian television), called Processo di lunedi, i.e. The Trial of Monday.  In it, with the help of replays, the panel of “experts” would sock it to the referees for mistakes they had committed in the matches played the day before.

Identity theft protection following the Equifax data breach by Kristin Dohn  September 9, 2017  Extensive article from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  If you're having trouble with a financial product or service, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB online or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).

NAME CHANGES  American singer Frankie Valli (born Francesco Stephen Castelluccio on May 3, 1934)   American actor Jamie Farr (born Jameel Joseph Farah on July 1, 1934)  American  comedian, singer, actor, and producer Danny Thomas (born Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz on January 6, 1912)

The production of grana cheese in the Po Valley is generally thought to have begun in 1135 in the abbey of Chiaravalle.  We know that it was produced in many monasteries using special cauldrons.  This is how the first cheese factories were established and the first dairy producers and experts in the production of cheese developed the trade.  The monks called it caseus vetus, old cheese.  But the cheese consumers of the period were unfamiliar with Latin and instead called it by another name inspired by its unusual granular consistency.  This is how it acquired the name formaggio di grana (grana cheese) or simply grana, and was distinguished according to the province of production.  The most commonly cited granas are from the area of Lodi, considered by many to be the oldest, but also from the areas of Milan, Parma, Piacenza and Mantua.  Things changed on the cheese production front in 1951.  In Stresa on 1st June that year, European technicians and dairy-farm workers signed an “Agreement” whereby they established precise rules for naming the cheese and determining its characteristics.  It was on this occasion that “Grana Lodigiano” cheese was created, later to become “Grana Padano” and “Parmigiano-Reggiano”.

On September 22/23, 2017, the day and night will be almost equal in most locations.  In the Northern Hemisphere, the September equinox is on or around September 22, while the first equinox of the year, the March Equinox, takes place on or around March 21 every year.  For meteorologists, on the other hand, fall in the Northern Hemisphere begins about 3 weeks before the September equinox on September 1 and ends on November 30.  In the Southern Hemisphere, the September equinoxit is the vernal (spring) equinox.  Equinoxes are not day-long events, even though many choose to celebrate all day.  Instead, they occur at the exact moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator--the imaginary line in the sky above Earth’s Equator.  At this instant, Earth's rotational axis is neither tilted away from nor towards the Sun.  In 2017, the Sun's crosses the celestial equator from north to south on September 22, at 20:02 UTC.  Because of time zone differences, the equinox will take place on September 23, 2017 at locations that are at least 10 hours ahead UTC.  These include cities in eastern Australiaeastern RussiaGuamand New Zealand.  Read more at

GIARDINIERA:  ITALIAN PICKLED VEGETABLES   Giardiniera (pronounced JAR-di-NAIR-ah) means “from the garden” in Italian.  The concept has quite a long history in Italy, where fresh garden produce was pickled and marinated as a way of preserving it for the winter.  It was the early 1920s that giardiniera started to make a name for itself in the communities of Italian immigrants in Chicago.  Although it grew in popularity throughout the city, if you’ve never been to Chicago or tasted a Chicato style Italian beef sandwich, you may not have ever heard of this tangy, crunchy condiment.  In Italy, giardiniera is served as an antipasto, or appetizer.  Fresh, garden cauliflower, celery, carrots, bell peppers, hot peppers are the staples of Italian giardiniera, but sometimes you will see others added.  Since this is considered an appetizer in Italy, the vegetables are cut into one or two bite chunks, making the dish a bulky appetizer or side dish.  Find homemade giardiniera recipe at

Quick Giardiniera from EatingWell Magazine, March/April 2012  This quickly pickled, spicy Italian salad of mixed sliced vegetables is great for an antipasto platter, served with grilled meat or chopped up and put on a sandwich.

September 19, 2017  For the past three years, amateur archaeologists and historians in southern England have been working side-by-side with volunteers to excavate several seemingly related local Roman sites.  Now, just two weeks before the dig's scheduled conclusion, they've made a fantastic discovery: a rare 4th-century CE mosaic that is being hailed as "the most important of its type in Britain in more than half a century," according to The New York Times.  Dating to roughly 380 CE, the mosaic was unearthed near the village of Boxford in Berkshire.  In the project's first two years, the group members discovered a large Roman villa, a bathhouse, and a farmstead.  In 2017, they began excavating the main villa, a site that yielded pottery, jewelry, coins, and other ancient objects.  None of these artifacts, however, were as spectacular as the mosaic, which volunteers unearthed in a moment of serendipity shortly before funding for the dig ended.  Revealed sections of the artwork depict scenes featuring Bellerophon, a mythological Greek hero, along with other fabled figures. Bellerophon is famous in legends for capturing the winged horse Pegasus and for defeating the Chimera, a fire-breathing creature with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail.  Kirstin Fawcett  See pictures at

September 20, 2017  For the second time in two weeks, a powerful earthquake struck Mexico, toppling buildings, cracking highways and killing hundreds of people.  The 7.1-magnitude earthquake September 19, 2017 was about 650 kilometers from the epicenter of the 8.1-magnitude earthquake that hit September 8, said Jana Pursley, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey.  Both earthquakes seem to be a result of the rupture of fault lines within the North American tectonic plate, according to Behzad Fatahi, associate professor of geotechnical and earthquake engineering at the University of Technology Sydney.  "It is not very unusual to get earthquakes and aftershocks occurring in sequence," Fatahi said.  "When fault lines rupture, they can induce further ruptures as a chain effect in other parts of the same fault or nearby fault lines."  "The downtown of Mexico City is notoriously vulnerable to earthquakes because of the very soft and wet ground underneath.  Its soil amplifies shaking like Jell-O on a plate, and is prone to liquefaction, which is the ability to transform dirt into a dense liquid when sufficiently churned," wrote John Vidale, a seismologist and director of the Southern California Earthquake Center.  CNN Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri said this has been the case for hundreds of years.  "Mexico City was built on what is now a dry lakebed," Javaheri said.  The city, one of the most densely populated in the world, is situated directly on top of it.  Both quakes occurred on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a 25,000-mile area shaped like a horse shoe that stretches from the boundary of the Pacific plate and the smaller plates such as the Philippine Sea plate to the Cocos and Nazca plates that line the edge of the Pacific Ocean.  It is one of the most seismically active zones on the planet, and about 80% of all earthquakes strike there, said Hongfeng Yang, a seismologist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  Five tectonic plates--Cocos, Pacific, Caribbean, Panama and North American--collide in central and southern Mexico, making the region one of the most unstable, he added.  Faith Karimi and Chandrika Narayan  See graphic of Pacific Ring of Fire at  Issue 1773  September 22, 2017  On this date in 1888, the first issue of National Geographic Magazine was published.  On this date in 1896Queen Victoria surpassed her grandfather King George III as the longest reigning monarch in British history.  On this date in 1991, the Dead Sea Scrolls were made available to the public for the first time by the Huntington Library.