Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Good Morning To All

Last time you hosted a birthday party, did you pay royalties to Warner Communications? In 1996, it was estimated they received $2M annually for the sweet ditty Happy Birthday To You. It was originally titled "Good Morning To All' in 1893.

Today we can sing to

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Right Stuff

1967 - 1992

"My interest in space as something to be in, rather than simply to look at ..."

Gerard O'Neill was a candidate for the Apollo program as a scientist/astronaut. Although he was not selected, he did remain actively involved in funding space exploration and research. He founded The Space Studies Institute at Princeton where he was a professor beginning in 1954.

For the earthbound, he founded a few companies, including one that pioneered in wireless technologies. O'Neill Communications developed LAWN, Local Area Wireless Networking system, used in the high-speed train system.

He died in 1992 and realized his dream of being in space five years later. In 1997, his were among 24 remains samples, the first to be launched for space burial. That launch also included Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek creator, and Timothy Leary, inner- and outer-space advocate.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

National Typewriter Day

Christopher Latham Sholes was trying to automatically number pages in a book when he enhanced the invention to include the entire alphabet. Scientific American coined 'typewriting' and the typewriter was patented on this date in 1868.
Sholes was accused of arranging the letters to slow down typists so they wouldn't notice his machine was sluggish. He placed letter-pairs so the mechanical typebars would be less likely to bump into each other. QWERTY was actually included in the typewriter patent.

Gunmakers E. Remington & Sons produced the machine and a new industry was born. Well, okay, it did not catch on too quickly. Most writers continued writing by hand. Mark Twain was the first to submit a typed manuscript for publishing in 1883. Even then, Twain did not do the typing.
The typewriter eventually did catch on, the machine was reduced in size, and portable typewriters were produced. That was lucky for news reporters who were no longer restricted to the office to write their assignments. It was not uncommon to see war articles written from the trenches -- yes, typed in the trenches.

One such reporter was Ernie Pyle. He was a sailor in WWI, but in WWII he was a war correspondent. He wrote in an intimate style about the common soldier, and his column was instrumental in Congress' decision to add combat pay to the soldier in combat. He wrote a syndicated column read around the country. The Pulitzer Prize winning columnist was killed by enemy fire near Okinawa in 1945.

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists declared National Columnist Day in honor of Ernie Pyle. How appropriate on this day, the anniversary of the beginning of the columnists' tool.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

And Justice for All

The United States has a Department of Justice to defend legal interests and ensure equal access to this justice for all of us.

The Attorney General was originally a part-time position established in 1789 to try suits in the Supreme Court and advise the President on matters of law. There was too much work, so assistants were hired and private lawyers were retained.

After the Civil War resulted in an unmanageable amount of litigation, Congress established the Department of Justice. I found two references that say today is the anniversary, but the DOJ documents the establishment as July 1, 1870.
Mission Statement
To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.
It sounds nice, doesn't it? ". . .fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans." But is it so? Even with the best of intentions, mistakes are made.

The Innocence Project
is dedicated to exonerating the wrongly convicted through DNA testing. Twenty-eight states currently have no compensation programs for those proven innocent after being imprisoned for years. Since 1989, there have been 204 DNA exonerations -- an average of 12 years in prison, some on death row.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Take Me Out -- To the Ball Game

John Newberry started it. In his Little Pretty Pocket Book, written in 1744, he included a picture and wrote a poem, and that started it all. To stand for B, he wrote about base-ball.

So how did Newberry's little poem evolve into the modern-day game? The origin of baseball is a bit of a controversy. There was an early form of cricket called rounders, then 4-base play, the New York Game, and even cat-ball. Squares, diamonds, flat bats, round bats

Finally the "Knickerbocker Rules" formalized the game. On this date in 1846, the first game of modern baseball was played. Then, a mere 57 years later on this same day, another important baseball event began.

Lou Gehrig was born in 1903. Although Gehrig went to college on a football scholarship, his professional years were spent as a Yankee.

June 18 is indeed an important date in American baseball.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Squirrel in Our House

In January I wrote about the squirrel in our attic.

We haven't heard him lately, but Garry caught a glimpse of him.

The squirrel is still with us.

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Yea Lynn!

Last year my college roommate was named Executive Producer of The Young and the Restless. Last week The Young and the Restless tied with The Guiding Light for Outstanding Drama Series.

Keep it up, Lynn. You're doing great!

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Walt's Dream

One of my childhood memories centers on the Magic Kingdom, my first amusement park visit.

Not, however, the first amusement park. In medieval Europe pleasure gardens hosted dancing, fireworks, and even some rides. I cannot imagine what kind of ride, but yes, rides. Copenhagen is still the home of Bakkan, the world's oldest park opened in 1583.

Even in the late 1800s US, parks were popular with added attractions of picnics and vaudeville acts, usually located at the end of trolley lines, or the one built at Hershey Park.

But Walt Disney had a dream. On this date in 1955 Disneyland opened and started a new species of amusement park. I was there -- not the first day, but that summer. I remember the entrance decorated with a pansy portrait of Mickey Mouse. I was enchanted by the flowers and the beautiful castle that greeted us just inside the gates. It was a princess land, and that day I was a princess.

That feeling was dashed when I wasn't tall enough to drive the old-fashioned cars around the track. I tried so hard to add an inch to my height, but I was not tall enough at six years old. It's funny that memory stays with me. When my son David and I were at Disneyland years later, I had grown. But it didn't really matter.

It was a good dream, Walt, and children of all ages around the world thank you.
Disneyland was a Magical Kingdom, and we were all princes and princesses.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Fun & Games for Everyone

Everyone knows I like game shows. Well, maybe not everyone, but I do like game shows. Not all game shows, but some of them. There's no shortage of choices.

Although games are spread over many channels, there's one cable channel with nothing but game shows, the Game Show Network where the viewer can choose to actually participate. Not just viewing pleasure, but playing along and competing with other viewers. Everybody gets a chance to play.

My favorites are the word games and trivia games. They keep my mind active and provide me with delightful conversational tidbits.

A key element in game show popularity is the host. And sometimes the co-hosts. Through the many years of televised games, most hosts have been men. It was Monty Hall of Let's Make a Deal who brought the model out of the background and into the spotlight when he highlighted Carol Merrill. That led to many models and assistants being named and becoming familiar to the audience, and the Wheel of Fortune's Vanna White who was elevated from model/helper to co-host.

Though men remain dominant as game show hosts, there are more women now. Betty White, a game show fixture, hosted in 1954 a short-lived self-named show as 'femcee.' She remains the only female Emmy winner for best game show host (Just Men). Hosts are not limited to men and a few women; Cyber Lucy was the virtual host for a one-year run of Wheel of Fortune 2000, also known as "Kid's Wheel."

Just as with most television formats, there is more than half a century of history and details. Too much to keep up with. To help, there is even a magazine to keep fanatics updated on current and past games, hosts, panelists, contestants, rumors and more.

Too much of this. I have to go. Lingo is about to start.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Just Scratching and Smoothing the Surface

Isaac Fisher, Jr., received four patents, all on this date in 1834 for sandpaper. He added adhesive to the tool previously used -- sand. Sandpaper joined the long list of smoothing and planing tools used by builders and handymen in the 19th Century.

Sandpaper was improved in the 1920's by a young man, Richard Drew, who worked for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (that's 3M to us modern folks). He water-proofed it so sandpaper could join the booming automobile industry in smoothing the soon-to-be-painted auto bodies.
Sandpaper is a tool used by more than handymen and manufacturers. It is also critical for romantic evenings. Emory boards smooth and shape the most beautiful and sexy fingernails around. Match boxes often have a sandpaper strip along the side to light the match and then the romantic candles.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Just A Young Girl

Anne Frank
June 12, 1929 - early March, 1945
The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!
I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.

Anne would be 78 today, her birthday, if she survived that war. Even confined in a small, crowded hiding place, she was a normal young girl with hopes. We wonder what potential would have been hers.

One last quote, words we can apply today, to say Happy Birthday, Anne Frank.

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Melting Ice -- A Hot Topic?

Today is World Environment Day. Tromse, Norway, is hosting this year's UN day with a theme of Melting Ice -- A Hot Topic?, focusing on the effects of climate change on polar ecosystems. World Environment Day was established in 1972 to mark the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.

All over the world, commitments are being made to "our common task of preserving all life on earth." Look through the sight for information, related links, and the photo gallery. There are some really nice pictures, including one of a leaping polar bear. I think of polar bears as gently lumbering through the snow, but this one is soaring across open water. Quite a sight.

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