Archive for the 'the world' Category

Politically incorrect… or terminally awesome?

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Politically incorrect... or terminally awesome?

Thursday – 16 March 2017
Another Thursday begins here in the Land Behind the Zion Curtain.

Don’t nobody bring me…

Let the word go forth.

A month or so ago, I was introduced to a lovely/horrible game (read: “time sink”) called GeoGuessr by my friend, Denise. (Not sure whether to give her credit or blame for this…) Do you like pictures? Do you like maps? Do you like figuring out where on a map a picture is from? This is the game for you.

Thanks to this game, I have now discovered a place, in The Phillipines, where I either want to be buried or have my ashes spread:

C’mon, with a name like this, who wouldn’t want to be buried/have their ashes spread here!? No one. Well, maybe not “alt-right” supremecists, but that’s a discussion for another time and forum.

I think that the only thing that could possibly be better would be to either be buried with these or figure out a way to make them work with cremation/ash spreading:

I found them in a grocery store in southern Utah many years ago. Apparently, they still make me laugh.

Namaste.

Catching up.

Monday, February 20th, 2017
Catching up.

Monday – 20 February 2017
Today is President’s Day in the U.S.

For my President’s Day #morningcoffee picture, I used Lex Luthor. Because I could.

Today was a slightly busier-than-planned day, but still very good. Team DiVa, after sleeping in until after 9:30 on Sunday morning, were up at 7:30 this morning – Diana decided to play with the Kindle, while Vanessa decided that crawling into our bed was her best option. (To be honest, I still appreciate getting kid cuddles when I can, as I know that they won’t last forever.)

After breakfast (cinnamon rolls!), it was a kind of lazy morning… until 10:30, when I got an email from work.

<sarcasm>
Yay.
</sarcasm>

So, I did what any diligent IT guy would do: I made like Kool Moe Dee and I went to work. I got there and looked at the system in question, only to find that there was nothing wrong. At. All.

*grblsnrkx*

Back home in time to surprise Team DiVa with a trip to the theatre to see The LEGO Batman Movie. It was a big hit. (Sara and I enjoyed it, too.) Back home again before heading up to Park City for…

…dinner with Liz, a high school classmate:

With Liz (photobomb by Maya)

We met at the Wasatch Brew Pub in Park City, where Liz and her family are staying this week. It’s the first time we’ve seen each other since high school graduation. We had a nice dinner and caught up a little bit on the last three decades. (Man, it really seems like a long time when you put it that way…)

Diana, Liz, and Vanessa

 

Liz, Maya, and Michael

 

Diana, Maya, and Vanessa

After dinner, said our goodbyes and headed back to Salt Lake City. We got little ladies ready for bed, took care of a couple of chores, I caught up on a couple episodes of The Flash, including one that I somehow missed about three weeks ago.

And that brings us to now.

Stray Toasters

Tomorrow comes soon, I should probably start considering hitting the rack.

Namaste.

::: thunk :::

Friday, May 29th, 2015
::: thunk :::

Friday – 29 May 2015
“The best laid plans of mice and men…”

That is an excellent quote for the past 36 hours. Wednesday night, thanks to a couple of adorable children, I had a less-then-stellar night of sleep. As I noted yesterday, I figured that I might hit the gym after they went to bed last night.

No go, Flight.

I didn’t get out of the office until nearly 8:30 last night, chasing down what appeared to be a mail server issue. (More on this later.) By the time I got home, all I wanted to do was eat dinner and then do a lot of nothing. I was  highly successful at accomplishing both tasks. Before going to bed, I resolved to hit the gym this morning.

Strike Two!

Last night, Diana started getting a little sick and was up many times in the night. Mostly moaning “Mo-o-o-o-mmy…..” or “Da-a-a-a-a-ddy…..” or both. A couple of times, she came into our room for cuddles and/or to sleep. According to our Sense, either Sara or I (or both of us) were up about seven times last night. That made getting out of bed damn near impossible. I finally dragged my carcass out from the sheets around 7:45… and I felt like a zombie. (But nowhere as perky as Gwen Dylan/Liv Moore from iZombie (1, 2).)

Back in the office a little early – and a couple of cups of coffee later – I was informed that last night’s high-profile, high-priority email emergency was not only non-existent, but also a complete misunderstanding/miscommunication between two parties.

*grblsnrkx*

#ajobaintnuthinbutwork #LifeInIT

Aside from that, it’s been a decent day. It’s been relatively quiet.

It was also coworker Adam’s last day. He got “an offer he couldn’t (and shouldn’t have) refuse.” Fortunately, we only live a couple of miles apart and our daughters like playing together, so I don’t consider this him riding off into the sunset.

Stray Toasters

Okay, there’s a little more work to be plowed through before the day is done.

Namaste.

“Moving ahead so life won’t pass my by…”

Saturday, May 16th, 2015
"Moving ahead so life won't pass my by..."

Friday – 15 May 2015
I should get around to writing this before it is no longer Friday.

Things have been good during my extended radio silence. What’s kept me from posting? Basically: Laziness. I’ll freely cop to that. That said, I had planned to write something this afternoon, but wound up getting wrapped up in a project and the next thing I knew,  it was time to get Team DiVa from daycare. Oh, well, better late than never. On the other hand, I got to have dinner with these two cuties, so it was worth it.

Dinner with Team DiVa

One of the good things of the past two-ish weeks has been that Sara and I have rejoined a gym. More specifically we joined Vasa Fitness, a rebranded gym that we used to go to before Team DiVa was born. We’ve been trying to figure out schedules that would allow us to both work out 2-3 times a week.

Another good thing from this week, was in a training class for work (at home!) which had an east coast-based schedule. That meant that I was up each morning for a 7:00 AM class. That also meant that my “lunch” time was around 10:30 each day. I used that time to go to the gym, instead. I actually like the idea of getting up a bit early and starting my day with a workout. My plan is to keep getting up around 6:30 and putting in forty-five minutes to an hour at the gym before getting on to the so-called “friction of the day.”

Sidenote (since I just made a Rush reference): I’ve been tracking my visits to the gym on Swarm/Foursquare with the tags #carveawaythestone. Why? Because it’s less typing than #OhDearLordHowAndWhyDidILetMyselfGetSoOutOfShape and a bit less embarrassing than #WhyDoesThisHurtSoMuch.

And, being back in the gym means that I need to start tracking my workouts again. So, let’s get the past couple weeks out of the way:

  • Thursday- 23 April 2015
    • Elliptical: 15 minutes, 1.3 miles
    • Lower Back Extensions: 3 sets / 10 reps
    • Bench Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 90 lbs
    • Inclined Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 50 lbs
    • Fly: 3 sets/8 reps – 2 sets, 70 lbs; 1 set, 90 lbs
  • Monday – 27 April 2015
    • Elliptical: 10 minutes, ~1 mile
    • Leg Raises (Roman Chair): 3 sets/10 reps
    • Rotary Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets/10 reps, 60 lbs
    • T-Bar Pulls: 3 sets/8 reps, 45 lbs
    • Standing Tricep Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 50 lbs
    • Seated Tricep Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 45 lbs
  • Wednesday – 29 April 2015
    • Elliptical: 10 minutes, ~1 mile
    • Leg Press: 3 x 10 x 60 lbs
    • Leg Extensions: 3 x 10 x 50 lbs
    • Leg Curl: 3 x 10 x 50 lbs
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 10 x 60
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 40
    • Bench Press: 3 x 8 x 95 lbs
    • Reverse Punches: 3 x 10 x 10 lbs
    • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
    • Dumbbell Curls: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
    • Wrist Curls: 3 x 15 X 30 lbs (forward)
    • Wrist Curls: 3 x 15 x 30 lbs (reverse)
  • Tuesday – 05 May 2015
    • Elliptical: 10 minutes, 1 mile
    • Bench Press: 3 x 8 x 95 lbs
    • Shoulder Press: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Fly: 3 x 8 x 60
    • Vertical Press: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Dumbbell Fly: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
    • Barbell Curl: 3 x 8 x 30 lbs
    • Dumbbell Curl: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
    • Plank: 3 x 30 seconds
  • Saturday – 09 May 2015
    • Fitness Assessment
      • Walking High Kicks: 2 x 10 steps
      • Walking Quad Stretches: 2 x 10 steps (each leg)
      • Walking Butt Kicks: 2 x 10 steps (each leg)
      • Kettlebell Overhead Tricep Extensions: 3 x 10 x 15 lbs
      • Kettlebell Squats: 3 x 10 x 25 lbs
      • Lunges: 3 x 10 steps x 15 lbs (each hand)
      • Hollow-Body Hold: 3 x 30 seconds
      • Russian Twists: 3 x 10 x 20 lbs
  • Tuesday – 12 May 2015
    • Elliptical: 10 min, 1 mile
    • Smith Squats: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Leg Press: 3 x 10 x 60 lbs
    • Leg Extensions: 3 x 10 x 50 lbs
    • Leg Curls: 3 x 10 x 50 lbs
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 10 x 60 lbs
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 40 lbs
    • Seated Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 25 lbs
  • Wednesday – 13 May 2015
    • Elliptical: 10 min, 1 mile
    • Lat Pulldown: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs
    • Short Grip Pulldowns: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs
    • T-Bar Pulls: 3 x 8 x 25 lbs
    • Row: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs
    • Standing Rope Pulldown: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Standing Tricep Press: 3 x 8 x 40 lbs
  • Thursday – 14 May 2015
    • Treadmill: 10 minutes, ~0.7 mile (betw. 0 and 2% incline)
    • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
    • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs
    • Leg Extensions: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Leg Curls: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 10 x 60
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 40
    • Seated Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 25
  • Friday – 15 May 2015
    • Elliptical: 7 minutes, 0.75 mile
    • Bench Press: 3 x 8 x 115 lbs
    • Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 x 8 x 1 @ 20 lbs/2 @ 25 lbs
    • Dumbbell Fly: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
    • Dumbbell Curls: 3 x 8 x 2 @ 20 lbs/1 @ 25 lbs
    • Wrist Curls: 3 x 15 x 2 @ 30 lbs/1 @ 40 lbs

And that was that. It’s going to take a while to get back to where I was when I stopped going to the gym, but I’m enjoying the journey so far.

Stray Toasters

  • Since cutting the cord, nearly two months ago now, I haven’t missed cable.
  • I’ve been quite pleased with and a occasionally surprised by my Comics-On-TV shows of late: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Flash, and iZombie.
  • By way of Mike B.: Space X gets certified to launch NASA science missions
  • I’ve seen Avengers: Age of Ultron twice now. I’ll see if I can’t type up a two-part review in the next day or two.
  • Team DiVa asked me to play Candy Land with them last weekend. It was, not surprisingly, the first time I’d played the game in many, many years. And, it was fun, too.
  • Check out this Flash Gordon animated short, by Rob Pratt
  • Confederates in the Jungle
  • I don’t recall how I stumbled across this item, On Being a Cripple, by Nancy Mairs, but it is a fantastic and fascinating read. It is long and, for some, might not be necessarily “easy” to read, but I think that it’s very much worth the time to read.

And, it’s well into Saturday morning, now. I guess I’ll just schedule this to post sometime after the sun is up.

Namaste.

Where in the world…?

Thursday, August 21st, 2014
Where in the world...?

Thursday – 21 August 2014
I’ll just go ahead and apologize up front for this post now.

I found the last picture in this post – HEY! No skipping ahead! – a few years ago. It still makes me laugh. I found the other pictures over the past week, while looking for something totally unrelated.

Separately, they all have their amusing points.

Collectively, they tell something of a story.

I imagine it going a little something like this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Namaste.

“We’re only immortal for a limited time…”

Monday, April 8th, 2013
"We're only immortal for a limited time..."

Monday – 08 April 2013
As if Monday wasn’t… well… “Monday,” I woke to a phone call this morning. It was my sister, Rana, calling.

::: deep breath :::

I’d actually been kind of expecting a call from her over the past couple of days. I wasn’t 100% sure that I’d get one, but I wasn’t looking forward to it, to be honest. She said “Hi” and apologized for possibly waking me and then got on to the part of the call that I wasn’t looking forward to: “I just wanted to let you know that the ambulance is here to take Dad to the hospital.”

Oh, boy…

<< REWIND <<
Turns out that my father had a small heart attack on Thursday — Rana had called me Friday to comment that Dad had been “sick” all day Thursday and the better part of Friday. She even asked if I’d call and see if he’d tell me what was up. I called. We chatted, but he told me that he was feeling fine. He sounded a little off, but I chalked it up to him having been sick.

Dad called me again on Saturday, to ask some questions about some travel plans for this summer. Again, he sounded a little weak, but again, he’d been sick. I didn’t think much of it.

> PLAY >
So, as I mentioned, this morning’s call wasn’t totally unexpected. But, it made for a disconcerting start to the day.

They took my father in for surgery when he got to the hospital. As there was nothing that I could do from this distance, I set about getting ready for the day. I went to work and tried to lose myself in the business of the day. It helped some, but it wasn’t quite enough to quell the worries and questions in the back of my mind.

Over the course of the day, I messaged and talked with Rana a couple more times, and spoke with Adam (my younger brother) as well. Rana confirmed that Dad did, in fact, have a minor heart attack on Thursday. The doctor said that Dad didn’t wait “too late” to get attention, but would have been better off going in Thursday or even on Friday.

Needless to say, my mood today has pretty much run the gamut of emotions. There’s a line from a song I like, Dreamline, that played through my head more than once today:

WHEN WE ARE YOUNG
WANDERING THE FACE OF THE EARTH
WONDERING WHAT OUR DREAMS MIGHT BE WORTH
LEARNING THAT WE’RE ONLY IMMORTAL –
FOR A LIMITED TIME

“We’re only immortal for a limited time.” It’s true. But there comes a time when mortality becomes an all too-present fact of life. Today was one of those days when I thought about it. Mine. My parents’. Even my kids’. I never got to meet two of my grandparents. I lost my other grandparents, including one great grandparent, by the time I was seventeen. I won’t lie: I was not ready to have to deal with losing a parent. I know it happens. I know that it’s a part of life. And it’s something that almost everyone has to face.  Just. Not. Today. Please.

Late this afternoon, I was able to get my father on the phone. Despite having been through surgery earlier in the morning, he sounded much more like himself. (Possibly the best thing I heard today.) He related what happened over the course of the day: They inserted a couple of catheters and stints; turned out that they didn’t need the second catheter, so they removed it. There was some blockage, but they were able to clear it. And, it does not appear to have been any major damage done to his heart. (I think that this was the second best news that I heard today.) They’re keeping him for a few days’ observation. I’ll talk with Rana and/or Dad tomorrow to find out how he’s progressing.

There were a small number of people I talked with and confided in about the morning’s events. To all of them, I’d like to say a very heartfelt “Thank you” for your support and understanding.

It’s been a long day.
It’s also taken me until now to figure out how to get this all off my chest.
But, at least I can rest a little easier tonight.

Stray Toasters

And I think that’s just about everything and anything that I could have to say, save three things:

  • Be good to those you love.
  • Be good to each other.
  • Be good to yourselves.

Namaste.

 

M-11

Monday, March 11th, 2013
M-11

Monday – 11 March 2013
It’s been a while.

Yesterday, we “sprang forward” into Daylight Saving Time. “Saving.” Not “Savings.” The night/morning, already made short by the leap forward in time, was made even more short by the fact that I had to go into work – at 5:30 AM – for a maintenance window. Yee. Hah.

After getting back home, Sara!, Team DiVa and I had a few friends over for brunch. It was additionally nice, as we hadn’t seen a few people in some time. Sara fixed her famous – at least it’s famous around our house – coffee cake, along with muffins and egg casserole. There was fruit. And bacon. And juice. And coffee. And merriment. And frolicking. (Hey, there were kids. They frolicked. Go figure.)

Today was a pretty decent day. Even though I had a good night’s sleep last night, I was pretty beat this morning. Fortunately, there was coffee to offset the possibility of shambling through the day.

diesel_03279

Tonight, Sara! and I outlined and redefined plans for the front and back yards. Nothing too major, but a few nice changes. After that, we started building the frame for the ceiling in the train room closet. We took a break to watch Castle, but it wasn’t on. So, we caught up on Later… with Jools Holland. The first episode we watched was… lacking. We fast forwarded through most of it. Fortunately, the second episode made up for it.

Stray Toasters

That’s good for now.

Namaste.

Batter up!

Thursday, February 28th, 2013
Batter up!

Thursday  – 28 February 2013
A new NBN Thursday is here. So far, it’s not bad.
It’s also the end of February.

This morning, Diana was up a bit before Vanessa. In order to let Vanessa sleep a bit longer, brought her into our room. This appeased Diana… somewhat. So, I did what any father would do, I broke out the iPad and let her read/play with the Barnyard Dance book/app. This worked for a few minutes. Then, I switched over to Moo, Baa, La La La. That satisfied her for a little while, as well. Long enough for Vanessa to wake up and decide that she was ready to start the day.

Last night, Sara! and I watched Moneyball:

122324CM01A

The characters were well-developed, not just cardboard cut-out caricatures. The dialogue was believable and realistic, not just a bunch of baseball-related cliches. The story also managed to show a bit of the off-the-field life of Pitt’s character, Billy Beane, and his journey from all-star golden boy in high school to a MLB player to general manager of the Oakland A’s.

All told, it was a good film.  Sara! enjoyed it… though she qualified it by saying that it still wasn’t enough to make her like baseball.

baseball baseball baseball baseball baseball baseball baseball

Chew on This – Food for Thought – Black History Month
I didn’t get as many days filled in as I had hoped, but I could not let the month end without an entry:

  • Daniel Hale Williams, Surgeon

    danielwilliams
    Daniel Hale Williams III was born on January 18, 1856, in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, to Sarah Price Williams and Daniel Hale Williams II. The couple had several children, with the elder Daniel H. Williams inheriting a barber business. He also worked with the Equal Rights League, a black civil rights organization active during the Reconstruction era.

    After the elder Williams died, a 10-year-old Daniel was sent to live in Baltimore, Maryland, with family friends. He became a shoemaker’s apprentice but disliked the work and decided to return to his family, who had moved to Illinois. Like his father, he took up barbering, but ultimately decided he wanted to pursue his education. He worked as an apprentice with Dr. Henry Palmer, a highly accomplished surgeon, and then completed further training at Chicago Medical College.

    Williams set up his own practice in Chicago’s Southside and taught anatomy at his alma mater, also becoming the first African-American physician to work for the city’s street railway system. Williams—who was called Dr. Dan by patients—also adopted sterilization procedures for his office informed by the recent findings on germ transmission and prevention from Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister.

    Due to the discrimination of the day, African-American citizens were still barred from being admitted to hospitals and black doctors were refused staff positions. Firmly believing this needed to change, in May 1891, Williams opened Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses, the nation’s first hospital with a nursing and intern program that had a racially integrated staff. The facility, where Williams worked as a surgeon, was publicly championed by famed abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass.

    In 1893, Williams continued to make history when he operated on James Cornish, a man with a severe stab wound to his chest who was brought to Provident. Without the benefits of a blood transfusion or modern surgical procedures, Williams successfully sutured Cornish’s pericardium (the membranous sac enclosing the heart), becoming the first person to perform open-heart surgery. Cornish lived for many years after the operation.

    In 1894, Williams moved to Washington, D.C., where he was appointed the chief surgeon of the Freedmen’s Hospital, which provided care for formerly enslaved African Americans. The facility had fallen into deep neglect and had a high mortality rate. Williams worked diligently on revitalization, improving surgical procedures, increasing institutional specialization, allowing public viewing of surgeries, launching ambulance services and adding a multiracial staff, continuing to provide opportunities for black physicians and nursing students.

    And in 1895, he co-founded the National Medical Association, a professional organization for black medical practitioners, as an alternative to the American Medical Association, which didn’t allow African-American membership.

    Williams left Freedmen’s Hospital in 1898. He married Alice Johnson, and the newlyweds moved to Chicago, where Williams returned to his work at Provident. Soon after the turn of the century, he worked at Cook County Hospital and later at St. Luke’s, a large medical institution with ample resources.

    Beginning in 1899, Williams also made annual trips to Nashville, Tennessee, where he was a voluntary visiting clinical professor at Meharry Medical College for more than two decades. He became a charter member of the American College of Surgeons in 1913.

    Daniel Hale Williams experienced a debilitating stroke in 1926 and died five years later, on August 4, 1931, in Idlewild, Michigan.

    Today, Williams’s work as a pioneering physician and advocate for an African-American presence in medicine continues to be honored by educational institutions worldwide.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen…”

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen..."

Tuesday – 19 February 2013
It’s been a busy past few days around here. But, they’ve also been good days on the whole, so, like the one-legged man: I can’t kick.

Saturday, I had the pleasure of going to work to kick a server back into… um… service. It had decided to go belly-up around mid-morning and needed something just this side of percussive maintenance to get it back in gear. The rest of Saturday was, thankfully uneventful. Sunday, Sara!, Team DiVa and I went out for brunch and a trip to The Garden of Sweden. (We went for ONE THING… and left with about eight or nine things. None of which were the one we were after.) Monday, we took the girls for their first trip to Utah’s Hogle Zoo:

IMG_0006

Umm, Daddy… why are we just sitting here?

IMG_0008

Sara! and Vanessa

IMG_0007

Rob and Diana

The trip was a BIG hit. The girls went nuts for the elephants, although seeing the giraffes was a little disconcerting for Vanessa. By the time we were done, they didn’t want to leave, despite the fact that it was lunch time AND the fact that they didn’t have morning naps. There were parts of the zoo that were closed for construction, but that didn’t stop us from seeing a good number of animals. And the girls kept demanding “More! More!” I can see many more trips to the zoo in the not-distant future.

Chew on This – Food for Thought: Black History Month
Once again, playing catch-up for the days I’ve missed.  There’s a lot of information here, so let’s get to it:

  • Eleanor Holmes Norton – Civil rights activist, politician490px-Eleanorholmesnorton
    Born June 13, 1937 in Washington, D.C. A graduate of Antioch College, Yale University and Yale University Law School, Norton worked in private practice before becoming assistant director of the American Civil Liberties Union (1965–70) where she defended both Julian Bond‘s and George Wallace‘s freedom-of-speech rights.As Chairman of the New York Human Rights Commission (1970–7), Norton championed women’s rights and anti-block-busting legislation. She then went to Washington to chair the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (1977–83), and in 1982 became a law professor at Georgetown University.In 1990, Norton was elected as a Democratic non-voting delegate to the House from the District of Columbia. Currently under scrutiny, the DC Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act (or DC Vote) would give one vote to the District of Columbia in the House of Representatives, but not the Senate. Norton is a regular panelist on the PBS women’s news program To the Contrary.
  • Floyd Patterson – Boxerfloyd_pattersonFloyd Patterson (January 4, 1935 – May 11, 2006) was an American professional boxer and former Undisputed Heavyweight Champion. At 21, Patterson became the youngest man to win the world heavyweight title. He was also the first heavyweight boxer to regain the title. He had a record of 55 wins, 8 losses and 1 draw, with 40 wins by knockout. He won the gold medal at the 1952 Olympic Games as a middleweight.Born into a poor family in Waco, North Carolina, Patterson was the youngest of eleven children and experienced an insular and troubled childhood. His family moved to Brooklyn, New York, where Floyd was a truant and petty thief. At age ten, he was sent to the Wiltwyck School for Boys, a reform school in upstate New York, which he credited with turning his life around. He stayed there for almost 2 years. He attended high school in New Paltz, NY where he succeeded in all sports.(to this day the New Paltz football field is named in his honor) At age fourteen, he started to box, trained by Cus D’Amato at his Gramercy Gym.

    Aged just 17, Patterson won the Gold medal in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics as a middleweight. 1952 turned out to be a good year for the young Patterson; in addition to Olympic gold Patterson won the National Amateur Middleweight Championship and New York Golden Gloves Middleweight Championship. Patterson turned pro and steadily rose through the ranks, his only early defeat being an eight-round decision to former Light Heavyweight Champion Joey Maxim on June 7, 1954, at the Eastern Parkway Arena in Brooklyn, New York. Most people think Patterson did enough to win, and Maxim’s greater fame at the time helped to sway the judges.

    Although Patterson fought around the light heavyweight limit for much of his early career, he and manager Cus D’Amato always had plans to fight for the Heavyweight Championship. In fact, D’Amato made these plans clear as early as 1954, when he told the press that Patterson was aiming for the heavyweight title. However, after Rocky Marciano announced his retirement as World Heavyweight Champion on April 27, 1956, Patterson was ranked by The Ring magazine as the top light heavyweight contender. After Marciano’s announcement, Jim Norris of the International Boxing Club stated that Patterson was one of the six fighters who would take part in an elimination tournament to crown Marciano’s successor. The Ring then moved Patterson into the heavyweight rankings, at number five.

    Following a series of defeats, Patterson went through a depression. However, he eventually recovered and began winning fights again, including top victories over Eddie Machen and George Chuvalo. Patterson was now the number one challenger for the title held by Muhammad Ali. On November 22, 1965, in yet another attempt to be the first to win the World Heavyweight title three times, Patterson lost by technical knockout at the end of the 12th round, going into the fight with an injured sacro-iliac joint in a bout in which Ali was clearly dominant. Ali called Patterson an “Uncle Tom” for refusing to call him Muhammad Ali (Patterson continued to call him Cassius Clay) and for this outspokenness against black Muslims. Instead of scoring a quick knockout, Ali mocked, humiliated and punished Patterson throughout the fight.
    Patterson was still a legitimate contender. In 1966 he traveled to England and knocked out British boxer Henry Cooper in just four rounds at Wembley Stadium. In comparison, Ali never scored a knockdown against Cooper in their two bouts and was nearly knocked out by Cooper in their first fight after he was knocked down near the end of the fourth round, but recovered after his corner used smelling salts on him (which was against British rules) at the end of that round. Ali would go on to score a TKO over Cooper after Cooper was severely cut in the fifth round.

    In September 1969 he divorced his first wife, Sandra Hicks Patterson, who wanted him to quit boxing, while he still had hopes for another title shot.

    When Ali was stripped of his title for refusing induction into the military, the World Boxing Association staged an eight-man tournament to determine his successor. Patterson fought Jerry Quarry to a draw in 1967. In a rematch four months later, Patterson lost a controversial 12-round decision to Quarry. Subsequently, in a third and final attempt at winning the title a third time, Patterson lost a controversial 15-round referee’s decision to Jimmy Ellis in Sweden, despite breaking Ellis’ nose and scoring a disputed knockdown.

    Patterson continued on, defeating Oscar Bonavena in a close fight over ten rounds in early 1972.

    At age 37, Patterson was stopped in the seventh round in a rematch with Muhammad Ali for the NABF Heavyweight title on September 20, 1972. The defeat proved to be Patterson’s last fight, although there was never an announcement of retirement.

    Floyd Patterson suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer and had been hospitalized for a week prior to his death. He died at home in New Paltz in 2006 at age 71.

  • Queen Latifah – Actress, entrepreneur, music producer, rapper, singerQueen-Latifah-Covergirl-561x700
    Queen Latifah was born Dana Elaine Owens on March 18, 1970, in Newark, New Jersey. The second child of Lance and Rita Owens, Latifah is best known for her social politics, acting skills and gift for rhyme. When she was 8 years old, a Muslim cousin gave her the nickname Latifah, meaning “delicate and sensitive” in Arabic. Latifah began singing in the choir of Shiloh Baptist Church in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and had her first public performance when she sang a version of “Home” as one of the two Dorothys in a production of The Wizard of Oz at St. Anne’s parochial school.

In her first year of high school, Latifah began informal singing and rapping in the restrooms and locker rooms. In her junior year, she formed a rap group, Ladies Fresh, with her friends Tangy B and Landy D in response to the formation of another young women’s group. Soon the group was making appearances wherever they could. Latifah’s mother was a catalyst; she was in touch with the students and the music. She invited Mark James, a local disc jockey known as D.J. Mark the 45 King, to appear at a school dance. The basement of James’s parents’ house in East Orange, which was equipped with electronic and recording equipment, became the hangout of Latifah and her friends. They began to call themselves “Flavor Unit.”James was beginning a career as a producer and made a demo record of Queen Latifah’s rap Princess of the Posse. He gave the demo to the host of Yo! MTV Raps, Fred Braithwaite (professionally known as “Fab 5 Freddy“). The recording captured the attention of Tommy Boy Music employee Dante Ross, who immediately signed Latifah, and in 1988 issued her first single, “Wrath of My Madness.” The track met with a positive response and afforded her the opportunity to launch a European tour, and to perform at the Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater. The next year Latifah released her first album, All Hail to the Queen, which went on to sell more than 1 million copies.As she began to earn money, Latifah displayed an interest in investment, putting money into a delicatessen and a video store on the ground floor of the apartment in which she was living. She came to realize that she had a knack for business, and realized that there was an opening for her in record production. In 1991, Latifah organized and became chief executive officer of the Flavor Unit Records and Management Company, headquartered in Jersey City, New Jersey. By late 1993, the company had signed 17 rap groups, including the very successful Naughty by Nature. In 1993, Latifah recorded a jazz- and reggae-influenced album titled Black Reign. While the album sold more than 500,000 copies, the single “U.N.I.T.Y.” earned Latifah her first Grammy Award in 1995.

In the 1990s, Latifah branched out into acting. She made her big screen debut in Spike Lee’s interracial romance drama Jungle Fever (1991). The following year, Latifah appeared in the crime thriller Juice with Omar Epps and Tupac Shakur. She soon landed a leading role on the small screen, appearing in the sitcom Living Single from 1993 to ’98. The comedy, which also starred Kim Coles, Kim Fields and Erika Alexander, proved to be a ground-breaking show. It remains one of the few sitcoms to focus on a group of African-American women.

A talented performer, Latifah continued to tackle both comedic and dramatic parts. She co-starred in 1996’s Set It Off with Jada Pinkett Smith and Vivica A. Fox, playing as a lesbian bank robber. Two years later, Latifah teamed up with Holly Hunter and Danny DeVito for the comedy Living Out Loud (1998). She also appeared withDenzel Washington and Angelina Jolie in The Bone Collector.

Perhaps Latifah’s most acclaimed film role to date came in the 2002 hit musical Chicago, starring Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jonesand Renee Zellweger. Her portrayal of prison matron Mama Morton gave her a chance to show off both her singing talents and acting skills. For her work in the film, Latifah earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. She lost to Chicago co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Latifah went on to receive strong reviews for 2003’s romantic comedy Bringing Down the House co-starring with Steve Martin. The following year, she experienced some disappointment withTaxi, which co-starred Jimmy Fallon. The comedy proved to be a critical and commercial dud. She fared better with Beauty Shop(2005) and her voice-over work in the hit animated film Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006).

In 2007, Queen Latifah again delighted movie-goers with her musical talents. She appeared as Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspraywith John Travolta. Her crime caper Mad Money (2008) with Diane Keaton and Katie Holmes received much colder reception. Returning to drama, Latifah gave a strong performance in The Secret Life of Bees (2008).

On the small screen, Latifah has made a number of guest television appearances over the years, including on the shows 30 Rock and Single Ladies. She also co-starred in the 2012 TV remake of Steel Magnolias with Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad and Jill Scott. Latifah branched out in a new direction the following year. She will enter the daytime television market with a new talk show. The Queen Latifah Show will debut in the fall of 2013. The program promises to be a mix of interviews and comedic and musical performances, according to BET.com.

In addition to acting, Queen Latifah serves as a spokesperson for CoverGirl cosmetics. She even has her own line with the company: The Queen Collection.

  • Diana Ross – Actress, singer

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    Diana Ross was born in Detroit, Michigan on March 26, 1944. The second-eldest child of Ernestine (née Moten) (January 27, 1916 – October 9, 1984), a schoolteacher, and Fred Ross, Sr. (July 4, 1920 – November 21, 2007), a former United States Army soldier, Ross would later say that she didn’t see much of her father until he had returned from service following World War II.

    Ross and her family originally lived at Belmont Road in the North End section of Detroit, near Highland Park, Michigan, where she was neighbors with Smokey Robinson, who first met Ross when she was eight. Despite her early life as a “tomboy”, upon her teenage years, Ross had dreams of being a fashion designer. She studied design, millinery, pattern-making and seamstress skills while attending Cass Technical High School, a four-year college preparatory magnet school, in downtown Detroit. In her late teens, Ross worked at Hudson’s Department Store where, it was claimed in biographies, that she was the first black employee “allowed outside the kitchen”. Ross graduated in January 1962, one semester earlier than her classmates. Around this same time, Ross was turned on by the emerging rock and roll music scene, and her early influences included Frankie Lymon and Etta James.

    At fifteen, Ross was brought to the attention of music impresario Milton Jenkins, manager of the local doo-wop group the Primes, by Mary Wilson. Paul Williams, then member of The Primes, convinced Jenkins to include Ross in the Primettes, considered a “sister group” of the Primes. Ross was part of a lineup that included Wilson,Florence Ballard and Betty McGlown, who completed the lineup. In 1960, following their win at a singing contest in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, the group auditioned for a spot on Motown Records after Smokey Robinson introduced the young group to Berry Gordy. Upon learning of their ages, Gordy advised them to come back after graduation. Undeterred, the quartet stayed around Motown’s Hitsville U.S.A. headquarters, offering to provide extra help for Motown’s recordings, often including hand-claps and background vocals.

    In January 1961, Berry Gordy agreed to sign the young act under the condition they change their name. Each member picked out various names from friends. Eventually they settled on The Supremes, though Ross initially had apprehensions toward the name – she felt the name would mistake them for a male vocal group. But Gordy agreed with the new name and signed them on January 15 of that year. During the group’s early years, there was no designated lead vocalist for the group as they had agreed to split lead vocals between their choice of song material; Ross favoring the uptempo pop songs. That changed in 1963 when Gordy assigned Ross, who had already sung lead on the majority of their early singles, as the main lead vocalist, considering that her vocals had potential to reach Gordy’s dreams of crossover success. Between August 1964 and May 1967, Ross, Wilson and Ballard sang on ten number-one hit singles, all of which also made the UK top forty. The group had also become a hit with audiences both domestically and abroad, going on to become Motown’s most successful vocal act throughout the sixties.

    In 1968, Ross started performing as a solo artist mainly on television specials, including The Supremes’ own specials such as TCB and G.I.T. on Broadway. In mid-1969, Gordy decided to have Ross leave the group by the end of the year and Ross began sessions for her own solo work that July. One of the first plans for Ross to establish her own solo career was to bring in a new Motown recording act. Though she herself didn’t claim discovery, Motown pinned Ross as having discovered The Jackson 5. In November, Ross confirmed a split from the Supremes on Billboard. Ross’ presumed first solo recording, “Someday We’ll Be Together”, was eventually released as a Supremes recording and became the group’s final number-one hit on the Hot 100. Ross made her final appearance with the Supremes at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas on January 14, 1970.

    After her obligations with the Supremes were fulfilled, Ross signed a new contract as a solo artist in March 1970. Two months later, Motown released her eponymous solo debut, which included the hits, “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the latter song becoming her first number-one single as a solo artist on the pop and R&B charts, also becoming an international hit reaching the UK top ten, and winning Ross her first Grammy nomination. Ross only released one solo recording in 1972. She reemerged in 1973 with “Touch Me in the Morning,” which became her first single to reach number-one in three years. The album of the same name became Ross’s first non-soundtrack studio album to reach the top ten, peaking at #5. Later that year, the Diana & Marvin album, her duet album with Gaye, was released, and spawned five hit singles, including three released in the United States and two in Europe, gaining an international hit with their cover of The Stylistics’ “You Are Everything.” In 1973, Ross began giving out concerts overseas where she immediately sold out at every concert venue she performed at. That year, Ross became the first entertainer in Japan’s history to receive an invitation to the Imperial Palace for a private audience with the Empress Nagako, wife of Emperor Hirohito.

    Ross’s follow-up albums, 1977’s Baby It’s Me and 1978’s Ross, however, both faltered on the charts, mainly due to lack of promotion and a period of growing tension between Ross and Gordy, stemming from an incident in 1975 after Ross struck him after the two engaged in an argument on the set of Ross’s film, Mahogany. In 1977, Ross starred in her own one-woman show at Broadway, titled An Evening with Diana Ross. Her performance later resulted in her winning a Tony Award.

    After catching the group Chic at a concert where she attended with her daughters, Ross advised to the leaders of the band, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards to work with them in New York on her next album. They agreed and, in 1980, Ross released the Diana album. The album became her highest-charting solo album and her most successful, featuring hits including the number-one hit, “Upside Down,” her first song to reach the top position in four years. Another song, “I’m Coming Out,” became equally successful; its hook would later be sampled for “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.” Diana would become Ross’s final studio album under her Motown contract. She would later work on four songs to complete her contractual obligations for the compilation album, To Love Again, which would be released in May 1981. Though Ross had sought to leave Motown in 1980 shortly after the release of Diana, she discovered, just as she was planning to leave Motown, that she only had up to $150,000 in her name despite helping Motown to earn millions of dollars with her recordings in the twenty years she had been signed to the label. Ross signed with RCA on May 20, 1981, and her $20 million deal in 1981 became then the most lucrative contract of any recording artist at the time. After leaving, Ross achieved her sixth and final number-one hit with Lionel Richie on the ballad “Endless Love” around the same time Ross left the label.

    In 1971, Diana Ross began working on her first film, Lady Sings the Blues, which was a loosely based biography on music legend Billie Holiday. Some critics lambasted the idea of the singer playing Holiday considering how “miles apart” their styles were. At one point, Ross began talking with several of Holiday’s acquaintances and listened to her recordings to get into character. During an audition to acquire the role, Ross would act on cue to the film’s producers’s commands, helping Ross to win her part. When Berry Gordy heard Ross perform covers of Holiday’s material, he felt Ross had put “a little too much” Holiday in her vocal range, advising Ross to “put a little Diana back into it.”

    Ross also talked with doctors at drug clinics in research of the film, as Holiday had been a known drug addict. Ross would later make a crucial decision when it came to interpreting Holiday’s music: instead of flatly imitating Holiday, she only focused on Holiday’s vocal phrasing. “Lady Sings the Blues” opened in theaters in October 1972, becoming a major success in Ross’s career. Ross’s role in the film won her Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. Alongside Cicely Tyson, who was nominated for her role in the film, Sounder, they were the first Black actresses to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress since Dorothy Dandridge. The soundtrack to “Lady Sings the Blues” became just as successful, reaching #1 on the Billboard 200 staying there for two weeks and breaking then-industry records by shipping 300,000 copies during the first eight days of its release. At nearly two million in sales, it is one of Ross’s best-selling albums to date.

    After the film, Ross returned to her music career, reemerging with another film in 1975 with Mahogany, her second film, in which she starred alongside Billy Dee Williams and whose costumes she designed. The story of an aspiring fashion designer who becomes a runway model and the toast of the industry, Mahogany was a troubled production from its inception. The film’s original director, Tony Richardson, was fired during production, and Berry Gordy assumed the director’s chair himself. In addition, Gordy and Ross clashed during filming, with Ross leaving the production before shooting was completed, forcing Gordy to use secretary Edna Anderson as a body double for Ross. While a box office success, the film was not well received by the critics: Time magazine’s review of the film chastised Gordy for “squandering one of America’s most natural resources: Diana Ross.”

    In 1977, Motown acquired the film rights to the Broadway play The Wiz, an African-American reinterpretation of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The film initially was to include the stage actors who had performed on the play. However, the role of Dorothy, which had been performed onstage by Stephanie Mills, would be given to Ross after she convinced film producer Rob Cohen to cast her in the role of Dorothy. This decision eventually led to a change in the film’s script in which Dorothy went from a schoolgirl to a schoolteacher. The role of the Scarecrow, also performed by someone else onstage, was eventually given to Ross’s former Motown label mate, Michael Jackson. The film adaptation of The Wiz had been a $24 million production, but upon its October 1978 release, it earned only $21,049,053 at the box office. Though pre-release television broadcast rights had been sold to CBS for over $10 million, the film produced a net loss of $10.4 million for Motown and Universal. At the time, it was the most expensive film musical ever made. The film’s failure ended Ross’s short career on the big screen and contributed to the Hollywood studios’s reluctance to produce the all-black film projects which had become popular during the blaxploitation era of the early to mid-1970s for several years. The Wiz was Ross’s final film for Motown.

    Ross had success with movie-themed songs. While her version of Holiday’s “Good Morning Heartache” only performed modestly well in early 1973, her recording of “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” gave Ross her third number-one hit, in late 1975. Three years later, Ross and Michael Jackson had a modest dance hit with their recording of “Ease on Down the Road.” Their second duet, actually as part of the ensemble of The Wiz, “Brand New Day,” found some success overseas. Ross scored a Top 10 hit in late 1980 with the theme song to the 1980 film It’s My Turn. The following year, she collaborated with former Commodores singer-songwriter Lionel Richie on the theme song for the film Endless Love. The Academy Award-nominated title single became her final hit on Motown Records, and the number one record of the year. Several years later, in 1988, Ross recorded the theme song to The Land Before Time. “If We Hold On Together” became an international hit, reaching number-one in Japan.

    In 1984, Ross’s career spiked yet again with the release of the million-selling Swept Away. This featured a duet with Julio Iglesias, “All Of You,” which was featured on both the albums they had then released—his 1100 Bel Air Place as well as her Swept Away. It and the title selection both became international hits, as did the chart-topping ballad, “Missing You,” which was a tribute to Marvin Gaye, who had died earlier that year. Her 1985 album, Eaten Alive, found major success overseas with the title track and “Chain Reaction,” although neither of the songs became the best-sellers she was once accustomed to in America. Earlier in 1985, she appeared as part of the supergroup USA for Africa on the ‘”We Are the World“‘ charity single, which sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Ross’s 1987 follow up to Eaten Alive, Red Hot Rhythm & Blues, found less success than the prior album. In 1988, Ross chose to not renew her RCA contract. Around this same time, Ross had been in talks with her former mentor Berry Gordy to return to Motown. When she learned of Gordy’s plans to sell Motown, Ross tried advising him against the decision though he sold it to MCA Records in 1988. Following this decision, Gordy offered Ross a new contract to return to Motown with the condition that she have shares in the company as a part-owner. Ross accepted the offer.

    Despite its heavy promotion, Diana’s next album, Workin’ Overtime, was a critical and commercial failure. Subsequent follow-ups such as The Force Behind the Power(1991), Take Me Higher (1995), and Every Day Is a New Day (1999) produced similarly disappointing sales. Ross had more success overseas with the albums than she did in America. In 1994, Ross performed at the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup, hosted in the USA. Her performance has become a running joke in football circles due to her obvious miming and for missing the goal from close range. On January 28, 1996, Ross performed the Halftime Show at Super Bowl XXX.

    In 1999, she was named the most successful female singer in the history of the United Kingdom charts, based upon a tally of her career hits. Madonna would eventually succeed Ross as the most successful female artist in the UK.

    In 2004, after spending several years away from the spotlight and after a stint in jail for committing a DUI, Ross returned to live touring, first in Europe and then in the United States all within the same year. In 2005, she participated in Rod Stewart‘s Thanks for the Memory: The Great American Songbook, Volume IV recording a duet version of the Gershwin standard, “I’ve Got a Crush on You“. The song was released as promotion for the album and later reached number 19 on the Billboard’s Hot Adult Contemporary chart, marking her first Billboard chart entry since 2000. Ross was featured in another hit duet, this time with Westlife, on a cover of Ross’ 1991 hit, “When You Tell Me You Love Me”, which repeated the same chart success of the original just fourteen years before.

    In June 2006, Universal released Ross’ shelved 1972 Blue album. It peaked at #2 on Billboard’s jazz albums chart. Later in 2006, Ross released her first studio album in seven years with I Love You. It would be released on EMI/Manhattan Records in the United States in January 2007. EMI Inside later reported the album had sold more than 622,000 copies worldwide. Ross later ventured on a world tour to promote I Love You which garnered rave reviews. In 2007, she was honored twice, first with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BET Awards and later was one of the honorees at the Kennedy Center Honors.

    In 2010, Ross embarked on her first headlining tour in three years titled the More Today Than Yesterday: The Greatest Hits Tour. She dedicated the entire concert tour to her late friend, Michael Jackson, who died in June 2009. Ross has garnered critical success as well as commercial success from the now two-year tour. In February 2012, Diana Ross received her first ever Grammy Award, for Lifetime Achievement, and announced the nominees for the Album of the Year. In May, a DVD of Ross’ Central Park concert performances, “For One & For All”, was released and featured commentary from Steve Binder, who directed the special.

  • Dred Scott – Civil rights activistdredscottDred Scott was born in sometime around the turn of the century, often fixed at 1795, in Southampton County, Virginia. Legend has it that his name was Sam, but when his elder brother died, he adopted his name instead. His parents were slaves, but it is uncertain whether the Blow family owned them at his birth or thereafter. Peter Blow and his family relocated first to Huntsville, Alabama, and then to St. Louis Missouri. After Peter Blow’s death, in the early 1830s, Scott was sold to a U.S. Army doctor, John Emerson.In 1836, Scott fell in love with a slave of another army doctor, 19-year-old Harriett Robinson, and her ownership was transferred over to Dr. Emerson when they were wed. In the ensuing years, Dr. Emerson traveled to Illinois and the Wisconsin Territories, both of which prohibited slavery. When Emerson died in 1846, Scott tried to buy freedom for himself and his family from Emerson’s widow, but she refused. Dred Scott made history by launching a legal battle to gain his freedom. That he had lived with Dr. Emerson in free territories become the basis for his case.

    The process began in 1846: Scott lost in his initial suit in a local St. Louis district court, but he won in a second trial, only to have that decision overturned by the Missouri State Supreme Court. With support from local abolitionists, Scott filed another suit in federal court in 1854, against John Sanford, the widow Emerson’s brother and executor of his estate. When that case was decided in favor of Sanford, that Scott turned to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    In December 1856, Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech, foreshadowing the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, examining the constitutional implications of the Dred Scott Case.

    On March 6, 1857, the Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford was issued, 11 long years after the initial suits. Seven of the nine judges agreed with the outcome delivered by Chief Justice Roger Taney, who announced that slaves were not citizens of the United States and therefore had no rights to sue in Federal courts: “… They had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” The decision also declared that the Missouri Compromise (which had allowed Scott to sample freedom in Illinois and Wisconsin) was unconstitutional, and that Congress did not have the authority to prohibit slavery.

    The Dred Scott decision sparked outrage in the northern states and glee in the south—the growing schism made civil war inevitable.

    Too controversial to retain the Scotts as slaves after the trial, Mrs. Emerson remarried and returned Dred Scott and his family to the Blows who granted them their freedom in May 1857. That same month, Frederick Douglassdelivered a speech discussing the Dred Scott decision on the anniversary of the American Abolition Society.

    Eventually, the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution overrode this Supreme Court ruling.

 

Stray Toasters

And, with that, what has to be the post with the longest gestation time comes to an end.

Namaste.

Friday: Things and Whatnot

Friday, February 8th, 2013
Friday: Things and Whatnot

Friday – 08 February 2013
It’s (almost) the weekend.

This evening, I’ll be getting together with a high school classmate for dinner. If memory serves, we haven’t seen each other since graduation… many moons ago.

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Today’s person of note: Zora Neale Hurston

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Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960) was an American folklorist, anthropologist, and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. Of Hurston’s four novels and more than 50 published short stories, plays, and essays, she is best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Hurston was the daughter of two former slaves. Her father, John Hurston, was a pastor, and he moved the family to Florida when Hurston was very young. She was born in Notasulga, Alabama, where her father grew up and her grandfather was the preacher of a Baptist church. Her family moved to Eatonville, Florida, one of the first all-Black towns to be incorporated in the United States, when she was three. Hurston said she always felt that Eatonville was “home” to her and sometimes claimed it as her birthplace. Her father later became mayor of the town, which Hurston would glorify in her stories as a place where African Americans could live as they desired, independent of white society. In 1901, some northern schoolteachers visited Eatonville and gave Hurston a number of books that opened her mind to literature, and this may be why she sometimes describes her “birth” as taking place in that year.

In 1904, Hurston’s mother died and her father remarried, to Matte Moge. Hurston’s father and new stepmother sent her away to a boarding school in Jacksonville, Florida, but they eventually stopped paying her tuition and the school expelled her. She later worked as a maid to the lead singer in a traveling Gilbert & Sullivan theatrical company. In 1917, Hurston began attending Morgan Academy, the high school division of the historically African-American Morgan College in Baltimore, Maryland. It was at this time, and apparently to qualify for a free high-school education (as well, perhaps to reflect her literary birth), that the 26-year-old Hurston began claiming 1901 as her date of birth. She graduated from Morgan Academy in 1918.

To support herself and finance her efforts to get an education, Hurston worked a variety of jobs, including as a maid for an actress in a touring Gilbert and Sullivan group. In 1920, Hurston earned an associate degree from Howard University. She published one of her earliest works in the university’s newspaper. A few years later, she moved to New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, where she became a fixture in the area’s thriving art scene.

In 1921, she wrote a short story, John Redding Goes to Sea, which qualified her to become a member of Alaine Locke’s literary club, The Stylus. Hurston left Howard in 1924 and in 1925 was offered a scholarship to Barnard CollegeColumbia University where she was the college’s sole black student. Hurston received her B.A. in anthropology in 1927, when she was 36. While she was at Barnard, she conducted ethnographic research with noted anthropologist Franz Boas of Columbia University. She also worked with Ruth Benedict as well as fellow anthropology student Margaret Mead. After graduating from Barnard, Hurston spent two years as a graduate student in anthropology at Columbia University.

Living in Harlem in the 1920s, Hurston befriended the likes of Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen, among several others. Her apartment, according to some accounts, was a popular spot for social gatherings. Around this time, Hurston experienced a few early literary successes, including placing in short-story and playwriting contests in Opportunity magazine.

In the mid-1930s, Hurston explored the fine arts through a number of different projects. She worked with Langston Hughes on a play called Mule-Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life—disputes over the work would eventually lead to a falling out between the two writers—and wrote several other plays, including The Great Day and From Sun to Sun.

Hurston released her first novel, Jonah’s Gourd Vine, in 1934. She also established a school of dramatic arts “based on pure Negro expression” at Bethune-Cookman University (at the time, Bethune-Cookman College) in Daytona Beach, Florida.Two years later, she received a Guggenheim fellowship, which allowed her to work on what would become her most famous work: Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). She wrote the novel while traveling in Haiti, where she also studied local voodoo practices. That same year, Hurston spent time in Jamaica conducting anthropological research.

In 1942, Hurston published her autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road. This personal work was well-received by critics, but her life and career soon began to falter. Hurston was charged with molesting a 10-year-old boy in 1948; despite being able to prove that she was out of the country at the time of the incident, she suffered greatly from this false accusation.

Despite all of her accomplishments, Hurston struggled financially and personally during her final decade. She kept writing, but she had difficulty getting her work published. Additionally, she experienced some backlash for her criticism of the 1955 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which called for the end of school segregation.

In 1956 Hurston was bestowed the Bethune-Cookman College Award for Education and Human Relations in recognition of her vast achievements, and the English Department at Bethune-Cookman College remains dedicated to preserving her cultural legacy.

A few years later, Hurston had suffered several strokes and was living in the St. Lucie County Welfare Home. The once-famous writer and folklorist died poor and alone on January 28, 1960, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Fort Pierce, Florida.

More than a decade later, another great talent helped to revive interest in Hurston and her work: Alice Walker wrote about Hurston in the essay “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston,” published in Ms.magazine in 1975. Walker’s essay helped introduce Hurston to a new generation of readers, and encouraged publishers to print new editions of Hurston’s long-out-of-print novels and other writings. In addition to Walker, Hurston heavily influenced Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison, among other writers.

reference: Biography.com and Wikipedia

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Back on the air

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
Back on the air

Wednesday – 06 February 2013
Not only is it midweek…
Nor is it just new comics day…
Or even Movie Date Night with Sara!…

Today is my niece, Grace’s, fifth birthday:

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Grace at Sara and my wedding

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Grace (2011)

I first met Grace about a week after she was born. Since then (and mostly through the marvels of modern technology), I have watched as she’s grown into a lovely, fun, and very precocious little girl:

grace_halloween2012

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Since I’m a few days behind, it’s time to play “catch up” with our people of interest:

  • George Washington Carver00v/49/arve/G1905/031George Washington Carver (by January 1864 – January 5, 1943), was an American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor.Carver was born into slavery in Diamond Grove, Newton County, near Crystal Place, now known as Diamond, Missouri, possibly in 1864 or 1865, though the exact date is not known. His master, Moses Carver, was a German American immigrant. Carver had 10 sisters and a brother, all of whom died prematurely.
    After slavery was abolished, Moses Carver and his wife Susan raised George and his older brother James as their own children. They encouraged George to continue his intellectual pursuits, and “Aunt Susan” taught him the basics of reading and writing.

    Black people were not allowed at the public school in Diamond Grove. Learning there was a school for black children 10 miles (16 km) south in Neosho, George decided to go there. When he reached the town, he found the school closed for the night. He slept in a nearby barn. By his own account, the next morning he met a kind woman, Mariah Watkins, from whom he wished to rent a room. When he identified himself as “Carver’s George,” as he had done his whole life, she replied that from now on his name was “George Carver”. George liked this lady very much, and her words, “You must learn all you can, then go back out into the world and give your learning back to the people”, made a great impression on him. At the age of thirteen, due to his desire to attend the academy there, he relocated to the home of another foster family in Fort Scott, Kansas. After witnessing a black man killed by a group of whites, Carver left the city. He attended a series of schools before earning his diploma at Minneapolis High School in Minneapolis, Kansas.

    Carver applied to several colleges before being accepted at Highland College in Highland, Kansas. When he arrived, however, they rejected him because of his race. In 1890, Carver started studying art and piano at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. His art teacher, Etta Budd, recognized Carver’s talent for painting flowers and plants; she encouraged him to study botany at Iowa State Agricultural College in Ames. When he began in 1891, he was the first black student, and later taught as the first black faculty member.

    When he completed his B.S., professors Joseph Budd and Louis Pammel convinced Carver to continue at Iowa State for his master’s degree. Carver did research at the Iowa Experiment Station under Pammel during the next two years. His work at the experiment station in plant pathology and mycology first gained him national recognition and respect as a botanist.

    Booker T. Washington, the principal of the African-American Tuskegee Institute, hired Carver to run the school’s agricultural department in 1896. Washington lured the promising young botanist to the institute with a hefty salary and the promise of two rooms on campus, while most faculty members lived with a roommate. Carver’s special status stemmed from his accomplishments and reputation, as well as his degree from a prominent institution not normally open to black students. One of Carver’s duties was to administer the Agricultural Experiment Station farms. He had to manage the production and sale of farm products to generate revenue for the Institute. He soon proved to be a poor administrator. In 1900, Carver complained that the physical work and the letter-writing required were too much.

    Carver’s research and innovative educational extension programs were aimed at inducing farmers to utilize available resources to replace expensive commodities. He published bulletins and gave demonstrations on such topics as using native clays for paints, increasing soil fertility without commercial fertilizers, and growing alternative crops along with the ubiquitous cotton. To enhance the attractiveness of such crops as cow peas, sweet potatoes, and peanuts, Carver developed a variety of uses for each. Peanuts especially appealed to him as an inexpensive source of protein that did not deplete the soil as much as cotton did.

    Carver’s work with peanuts drew the attention of a national growers’ association, which invited him to testify at congressional tariff hearings in 1921. That testimony as well as several honors brought national publicity to the “Peanut Man.” A wide variety of groups adopted the professor as a symbol of their causes, including religious groups, New South boosters, segregationists, and those working to improve race relations.

    From 1933 to 1935, Carver worked to develop peanut oil massages to treat infantile paralysis (polio). Ultimately researchers found that the massages, not the peanut oil, provided the benefits of maintaining some mobility to paralyzed limbs. From 1935 to 1937, Carver participated in the USDA Disease Survey. Carver had specialized in plant diseases and mycology for his master’s degree.

    In 1937, Carver attended two chemurgy conferences, an emerging field in the 1930s, during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, concerned with developing new products from crops. He was invited by Henry Ford to speak at the conference held in Dearborn, Michigan, and they developed a friendship. That year Carver’s health declined, and Ford later installed an elevator at the Tuskegee dormitory where Carver lived, so that the elderly man would not have to climb stairs.

    Carver had been frugal in his life, and in his seventies established a legacy by creating a museum on his work and the George Washington Carver Foundation at Tuskegee in 1938 to continue agricultural research. He donated nearly $60,000 in his savings to create the foundation.

    Carver took a bad fall down a flight of stairs; he was found unconscious by a maid who took him to a hospital. Carver died January 5, 1943, at the age of 78 from complications (anemia) resulting from this fall. He was buried next to Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee University.

  • Angela Davisangela-davis
    Writer, activist, educator. Born on January 26, 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama. Angela Davis is best known as a radical African American educator and activist for civil rights and other social issues. She knew about racial prejudice from her experiences with discrimination growing up in Alabama. As a teenager, Davis organized interracial study groups, which were broken up by the police. She also knew several of the young African American girls killed in the Birmingham church bombing of 1963.Angela Davis later moved north and went to Brandeis University in Massachusetts where she studied philosophy with Herbert Marcuse. As a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego, in the late 1960s, she joined several groups, including the Black Panthers. But she spent most of her time working with the Che-Lumumba Club, which was all-black branch of the Communist Party.Hired to teach at the University of California, Los Angeles, Angela Davis ran into trouble with the school’s administration because of her association with communism. They fired her, but she fought them in court and got her job back. Davis still ended up leaving when her contract expired in 1970.

    Outside of academia, Angela Davis had become a strong supporter of three prison inmates of Soledad Prison known as the Soledad brothers (they were not related). These three men—John W. Cluchette, Fleeta Drumgo, and George Lester Jackson—were accused of killing a prison guard after several African American inmates had been killed in a fight by another guard. Some thought these prisoners were being used as scapegoats because of the political work within the prison.

    During Jackson’s trial in August 1970, an escape attempt was made and several people in the courtroom were killed. Angela Davis was brought up on several charges, including murder, for her alleged part in the event. There were two main pieces of evidence used at trial: the guns used were registered to her, and she was reportedly in love with Jackson. After spending roughly 18 months in jail, Davis was acquitted in June 1972.

    After spending time traveling and lecturing, Angela Davis returned to teaching. Today, she is a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she teaches courses on the history of consciousness. Davis is the author of several books, includingWomen, Race, and Class (1980) and Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003).

  • Billy EckstineBilly Eckstine
    William Clarence Eckstine (July 8, 1914 – March 8, 1993) was an American singer of ballads and a bandleader of the swing era. Eckstine’s smooth baritone and distinctive vibrato broke down barriers throughout the 1940s, first as leader of the original bop big-band, then as the first romantic black male in popular music. Eckstine’s recording of “I Apologize” (MGM Pop Single, 1948) was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999.
    Eckstine was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; a State Historical Marker is placed at 5913 Bryant St, Highland Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to mark the house where he grew up. Later moving to Washington, D.C., Eckstine began singing at the age of seven and entered many amateur talent shows. He attended Armstrong High School, St. Paul Normal and Industrial School, and Howard University. He left Howard in 1933, after winning first place in an amateur talent contest. 
    After working his way west to Chicago, Eckstine joined Earl Hines’ Grand Terrace Orchestra in 1939, staying with the band as vocalist and, occasionally, trumpeter, until 1943. By that time, he had begun to make a name for himself through the Hines band’s radio shows with such juke-box hits as “Stormy Monday Blues” and his own “Jelly Jelly.”In 1944, Eckstine formed his own big band and made it a fountainhead for young musicians who would reshape jazz by the end of the decade, including Dizzy GillespieDexter GordonMiles DavisArt BlakeyCharlie Parker, and Fats NavarroTadd Dameron and Gil Fuller were among the band’s arrangers, and Sarah Vaughan gave the vocals a contemporary air. The Billy Eckstine Orchestra was the first bop big-band, and its leader reflected bop innovations by stretching his vocal harmonics into his normal ballads. Despite the group’s modernist slant, Eckstine hit the charts often during the mid 1940s, with Top Ten entries including “A Cottage for Sale” and “Prisoner of Love”. On the group’s frequent European and American tours, Eckstine, popularly known as Mr. B, also played trumpet, valve trombone and guitar.

    Dizzy Gillespie, in reflecting on the band in his 1979 autobiography To Be or Not to Bop, gives this perspective: “There was no band that sounded like Billy Eckstine’s. Our attack was strong, and we were playing bebop, the modern style. No other band like this one existed in the world.”

    After a few years of touring with road-hardened be-boppers, Eckstine became a solo performer in 1947, and seamlessly made the transition to string-filled balladry. He recorded more than a dozen hits during the late 1940s, including “My Foolish Heart” and “I Apologize.” He was one of the first artists to sign with the newly-established MGM Records, and had immediate hits with revivals of “Everything I Have Is Yours” (1947), Richard Rodgers’ and Lorenz Hart’s “Blue Moon” (1948), and Juan Tizol’s “Caravan” (1949).

    Eckstine had further success in 1950 with Victor Young’s theme song to “My Foolish Heart” and a revival of the 1931 Bing Crosby hit, “I Apologize”. However, unlike Nat “King” Cole (who followed him into the pop charts), Eckstine’s singing, especially his exaggerated vibrato, sounded increasingly mannered and he was unable to sustain his recording success throughout the decade.

    While enjoying success in the middle-of-the-road and pop fields, Eckstine occasionally returned to his jazz roots, recording with Vaughan, Count Basie and Quincy Jones for separate LPs, and he regularly topped the Metronome and Down Beat polls in the Top Male Vocalist category: He won Esquire magazine’s New Star Award in 1946; the Down Beat magazine Readers Polls from 1948 to 1952; and the Metronome magazine award as “Top Male Vocalist” from 1949 to 1954.

    Eckstine was a style leader and noted sharp dresser. He designed and patented a high roll collar that formed a “B” over a Windsor-knotted tie, which became known as a “Mr. B. Collar”. The collars were worn by many a hipster in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Legend has it that his refined appearance even had an effect on trumpeter Miles Davis. Once, when Eckstine came across a disheveled Davis in the depths of his heroin excess, his remark “Looking sharp, Miles” served as a wake-up call for Davis, who promptly returned to his father’s farm in the winter of 1953 and finally kicked the habit.

    In 1984 Billy recorded his final album I Am a Singer. Eckstine died on March 8, 1993, aged 78.

  • Mary Fieldsstagecoach mary fieldsMary Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary, was the first African-American woman employed as a mail carrier in the United States, and just the second American woman to work for the United States Postal Service.
    Born a slave circa 1832 in Hickman County, Tennessee, Fields was freed when American slavery was outlawed in 1865. She then worked in the home of Judge Edmund Dunne. When Dunne’s wife died, Fields took the family’s five children to their aunt, Mother Mary Amadeus, a nun at an Ursuline convent in Toledo. Mother Amadeus was sent to Montana Territory to establish St. Peter’s Mission, a school for Native American girls. Word came back that Amadeus was ill, and Fields hurried to Montana to nurse her. After Amadeus recovered, Fields stayed at St. Peter’s hauling freight, doing laundry, growing vegetables, tending chickens, repairing buildings, and eventually becoming the forewoman.
    The Native Americans called Fields “White Crow” because “she acts like a white woman but has black skin.” Local whites didn’t know what to make of her. One schoolgirl wrote an essay saying “she drinks whiskey, and she swears, and she is a republican, which makes her a low, foul creature.” In 1894, after several complaints, the bishop ordered her to leave the convent.

    Mother Amadeus helped her open a restaurant in nearby Cascade. Fields would serve food to anyone, whether they could pay or not, and the restaurant went broke in about ten months.

    In 1895, although approximately 60 years old, Fields was hired as a mail carrier because she was the fastest applicant to hitch a team of six horses. She drove the route with horses and a mule named Moses. She never missed a day, and her reliability earned her the nickname “Stagecoach.” If the snow was too deep for her horses, Fields delivered the mail on snowshoes, carrying the sacks on her shoulders.

    Fields was a respected public figure in Cascade, and on her birthday each year the town closed its schools to celebrate. When Montana passed a law forbidding women to enter saloons, the mayor of Cascade granted her an exception.

    Mary Fields died of liver failure in 1914. In 1959, actor and Montana native Gary Cooper wrote an article for Ebony in which he said, “Born a slave somewhere in Tennessee, Mary lived to become one of the freest souls ever to draw a breath, or a .38.”

    Of course, this entry from Badass of the Week is where I first heard of Stagecoach Mary – and knew that she’d be filling the “F” slot in this year’s Black History Month list.

Stray Toasters

Back to it.

Namaste.

Another Pleasant Valley Snow Day

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
Another Pleasant Valley Snow Day

Wednesday – 30 January 2013
More of Mother Nature’s frozen mocking laughter is falling on the Salt Lake valley this morning.

drive_in_snow

The roads were actually in decent condition; the drivers, however… *shakes head* There was a roughly 6-mile stretch where the average speed dropped from 45 MPH all the way down to 15 MPH. For no apparent reason that I could see.

On the “plus” side, it’s new comics day as well as Movie Date Night. Double-plus win.

TeamDiVa Tuesday pictures were cancelled yesterday, as the little ladies have colds and aren’t quite up for taking pictures. They have coughs and runny noses, but they seem to be getting over the rough parts of it.  They’ve been rather clingy, understandably… not that I need excuses for kid cuddles.

Stray Toasters

Yeah, that’s good for now.

Namaste.

Daddy-DiVa Saturday!

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Saturday – 26 January 2013
It’s the weekend. Selah.

It’s been a good and somewhat busy week.  Sara! has been attending a conference this week, so it’s mostly been Team DiVa and me at home at night. We all survived. That’s a good thing. Sara!’s conference ends today, but for most of the day, it’s just me and the little ladies.

Sidenote: Some people have made the mistaken assumption that I refer to the girls as “Team DiVa” because they are – or will possibly be – little divas.  Despite one of their grandmother’s being affectionately referred to as “The Diva” (Capital “T,” Capital “D”) by family and friends, we don’t plan on the girls being spoiled little brats. (Spoiled, maybe. Little, only if they don’t get their mother’s height. Brats, no. Period. Full stop.)

Vanessa (l) and Diana

Vanessa (l) and Diana

We call refer to the girls as Team DiVa because of their names. Hence the two capital letters in “DiVa,” rather than just one. We noted the “nickname” when we chose the name – and, no, we didn’t choose the names to create the nickname. I don’t think that we were really planning on using it until someone asked us if we were aware of that “DiVa” could be made from the girls’ names. From that point on, it just kind of… stuck.

Besides, it makes for an easy way to refer to them as well as a handy hashtag for Twitter.

Stray Toasters

Huh, there are a lot of ‘Toasters about women and women-focused topics here. That’s okay, I want Team DiVa to as many good examples of good female role models as I can find.

Namaste.

And then there was Friday.

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Friday – 11 January 2013
Today has been a good day. Even with all the snow.

The morning commute was about a half-hour long, give or take. The drive was made a little better with the addition of two fifty-pound bags of salt to the trunk. (I have a rear-wheel drive car that apparently puts out A LOT of torque at low speed.) But, on the whole, it was uneventful.

The evening commute was slower than expected, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as last night’s two-hour journey. I made it home in about 45 minutes.

Stray Toasters

And that’s a wrap.

Namaste.

“I am the law.”

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Wednesday – 09 January 2013
It’s midweek…
New comics (and maybe a ‘Clix or two) day…
And Movie Date Night!

The workday has been… busy. Not cripplingly so, but enough to keep me engaged for the better part of the day.

Last night, Sara went off to Girls’ Night Out, so I stayed home with Team DiVa, had Chinese food for dinner and watched three episodes of the Christopher Eccleston Doctor Who.

This morning, my mother in law posted the following Team DiVa video:

Tonight’s Movie Date Night fare: Dredd.  (So far, it’s not bad.)

Stray Toasters

Yeah, that’s going to do it for now.

Namaste.