Sunday, March 30, 2008


It's no secret I like game shows, especially word games and trivia games. One long-time favorite is Jeopardy that first debuted on NBC on this date in 1964. Happy anniversary, Jeopardy.

This is the anwer-question trivia show created by Merv Griffin. Does anyone not know about Jeopardy by now?

In the Beginning
NBC thought the show would be
funny because of the format. Griffin actually had to fight to convince them otherwise. It also struggled with an early rule requiring questions to be grammatically correct -- an awkward requirement for a timed response. That rule was quickly dropped and a fast-paced serious quiz show began. Read about the beginning of the most popular game show ever!

Jeopardy began with host Art Fleming from 1964 until 1975 when the show left NBC and went into syndication. Fleming also ad a short stint with the All-New Jeopardy!, a short-lived 1978–1979 series with significantly different rules than the 1964-75 version. First, the lowest-scoring contestant was eliminated after the Jeopardy! Round; then, whoever was ahead at the end of the Double Jeopardy! Round became the champion. No Final Jeopady!

The syndicated debut in 1984 introduced
Alex Trebek as host. Alex has always been a favorite host of mine. After years of retiring 5-time champions, the show began to allow them to remain until unseated by new contestants. More than one has earned multi-millions based on a knowledge of trivia. Here's a warning: some is not so trivial.

Among his many traits is the commitment to ensuring the show is inclusive. Remember Eddie Timunas on
Jeopardy showed us he could become a five-time champion with only a minor accommodation for his blindness.

Are you ready to question the answers? Give it a try. Be a contestant!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Honor Our Heroes

Last March Congress unanimously voted to designate March 25 as National Medal of Honor Day.

"The Medal of Honor is presented when "a member of the Armed Forces, distinguishes himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against any enemy of The United States; ..." (read more)

March 25 was chosen because on that date in 1863 Andrews Raiders received the first Medals of Honor for their actions in the Civil War.

Recipients include a President, members of all services, a woman, foreign-born soldiers, Buffalo Bill Cody and more. Nineteen recipients have received the medal twice.

To see the names of the recipients and the story that earned the medal, check here.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

What About a Short Story?

Everyone is so busy. Sometimes it is difficult to commit to a whole book. What about a short story?

Here is a site that reviews stories - I Read a Short Story today. Sometimes he simply reviews a story; Sometimes he provides a link to access the story; Sometimes he links directly to the whole story. At the end of the year in 2005 and 2006 he wrote a "Year in Review" type of article about the stories and authors he reviewed that year.

If you have a story you would like to have reviewed, just ask. Patrick provides a link for requests on his site.

While we are talking about stories, let me point out my friend's blog. Shirl is an Internet friend from the UK who writes episodes about Lola the Lamb. Lola is a sweet, stuffed lamb (don't tell her) who writes about her life (with Shirl's help) and includes pictures. Read it with your children.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Grover

He doesn't have a special holiday to celebrate his birthday, but Grover Cleveland, former President of the United States, was born on this day in 1837.

Cleveland was unique as a president for two reasons. First, he was the only two-term President whose terms were not consecutive. Even though he won the popular vote three elections in a row, he was actually elected only twice. Benjamin Harrison won more electoral votes in Cleveland's second try, interrupting his tenure and making him the 22nd and 24th President of the United States.

Second, he was the only President to be married in the White House. He married 21-yr-old Frances Folsom in his first term.

His Presidential Library is proposed to be built in Buffalo, NY, where he was once mayor. It is to be housed in the same building as the Libertarian Hall of Fame.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Politics and Blindness

Monday in New York, when David Paterson is sworn in, he will become the first blind governor in the United States. Wow – a blind governor. Let’s take a look at other politicians who have been blind.

State Legislature
Many state offices over the years were held by people who were blind.

Pennsylvania boasted two blind representatives. Matthew Anthony Dunn (1886-1942), blind from the age of 20, was in the State House. Henry E. Lanius (c. 1885-1943) became blind in 1903. He was in the State House, then Senate, in Pennsylvania.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cold Enough for You?

Karissa in TX snow

Snowy tree in Texas

Kayla and Alicia's Snowman
Little Elm, TX

This winter has brought us all some pretty cold days. Last week it even snowed in Texas -- up to 9 inches in some places. But that's nothing compared to the olden days.

I'm talking really old days -- 1888! And okay, it wasn't Texas, but it was cold!

On the plains in January, an unexpected snowfall turned into the Schoolhouse Blizzard. The temperature dropped 20 degrees in a matter of hours. Over 500 people lost their lives due to hypothermia and freezing. Read the heart-wrenching stories of children stuck in one-room schoolhouses.

Why am I thinking about that today? The Schoolhouse Blizzard was only the beginning. Just when the country was beginning to get over that catastrophe, it started snowing again on March 11.

On this day in 1888, the Great Blizzard was in full force and would continue for two more days. Some areas of the northeast experienced 50 inches of snow! That's not drifts, that is the actual snowfall. Over 200 ships were grounded, telegraph, railway and fire stations were disabled. Once again, hundreds died. Cities were immobilized for days. This may have speeded up the subway system which opened in Boston in 1897, but I did not find documentation of that cause and effect. It sounds good.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Beans, Beans, Beans

Are beans as good as blueberries? Cynthia Sass of WebMD seems to think so.

* Bean Bible

Beans have high levels of fiber, protein, and vitamins. They are tasty and can be used in many dishes for every meal. They are not fattening, but they are filling so you don't overeat and still feel satisfied. They are simple to prepare and economical to boot.

While espousing bean benefits as "The Perfect Food," Cynthia shows specific nutrients of several different types of beans.

She makes a good case. I do include beans in my menus and recipes, but I'm not ready to give up my blueberries!

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

As Easy as Pie

We saw a movie on DVD the other night that really touched me on two levels

First, the Movie
Waitress is a sweet, funny movie about a young woman and her unwanted pregnancy. The story opens as Jenna discovers she is pregnant and she is not happy about it. As the story progresses, we meet her husband and suddenly understand her dismay.

Jenna is more than a waitress, she creates and bakes pies that express bright and dark spots of her daily life. The camera looks down as ingredients are plopped into the bowl and stirred, mashed, and blended. It is a clever and effective style to tell the story.

Second, the Director
Adrienne Shelly who plays a fellow waitress, wrote and directed the film. The film was selected for viewing at several film festivals, including the world's premiere festival Sundance. She never knew because she was murdered before the selection was made. Her husband started The Adrienne Shelly Foundation, which supports women filmmakers.

I recommend Waitress. Rent the DVD, sit down with a piece of pie, and enjoy!

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

One Hundred Years Ago

Collinwood School, before and after

One hundred years ago today 175 people, most of them school children, were killed in one of the deadliest disasters in the United States. The school caught fire and the lack of fire escapes and fire doors caused many children to be trapped in the burning building.

Collinwood Memorial Elementary School was built with fire safe stairwells, a central alarm system and other fire safe materials. A national effort resulted in public building doors being upgraded for fire safety including "panic bar" latches in schools.

If your kids ever complain about a fire drill at school, just say "thank you." The next time you push a panic bar that easily opens the door, think of these children, and be glad the community of Collinwood and then the nation learned from their tragedy and worked to reduce the chances of another disaster of this type.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Be Happy

Today is I Want You to be Happy Day. Spread smiles, wish someone a happy day, make a kind gesture for someone. It never hurts to pass happiness around, and an added benefit is -- it comes back to you. Try it. Smile at someone. You are likely to get a smile back!

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Have a Healthy Month

March is National MS Education and Awareness Month. This is important to me because I have multiple sclerosis and it is surprising how few people are aware of MS. I think most people have heard of it, but a frequent question is "What is MS?"

Just like so many people, when I was diagnosed I did not know what to expect, how MS is treated, how it is cured, how many people have MS, how I "caught" it, or really very much at all. I recall having heard an advertising tag line "MS, the crippler of young adults." Well, that memory brought up more questions such as "Am I going to be in a wheelchair?"

Now that I had been made aware of MS, I obviously needed to be educated about it. I began to rely on the National MS Society (NMSS) and the Multiple Sclerosis FoundatioN (MSF) to guide my education. To answer some questions, here is a quick NMSS brochure.

March is a very health conscious month. Other conditions observed this month are: