Friday, September 30

E ≠ mc²?


I got so shocked by this news (as well as Banned Books Week) that I forgot to write about what might be the most amazing scientific discovery of ... of ... dare I say it? All time?

Einstein is shocked, too.
A team at CERN, the world's largest physics lab, has published results that suggest subatomic particles have gone faster than the speed of light.

The team has published its work so other scientists can determine if there are any mistakes.

If there aren't, one of the pillars of modern science (E=mc²
) may come tumbling down.

A lot of science-fiction literature is based upon the idea that, if the light-speed barrier can be overcome, time travel might theoretically become possible....

It's nice to know what I am doing is possible.



Harry Potter and the Banned Books

Be warned.

I am armed and dangerous when it comes to my Harry Potter books.

I shall Petrificus Totalus anyone who tries to take my books from me.

Any books.

As I wrote in July, "...I do have the time to Be Amazed that some still think Harry Potter and his Worthy Friends are Evil. 

Let Me quote from my favorite Modern Theologian:
"But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him, for I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou shouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek."
The Last Battle, 1956
C. S. Lewis
Or, as J.K Rowling herself wrote in the front of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Matthew 6:21
King James Version

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

1 Corinthians 15:26
King James Version

Hmm. All these books have been banned, too. I'm starting to wonder what I read that's not controversial.

Thursday, September 29

The Banned Adventures of Captain Unmentionables!

I decided to go for ridiculous ("Riddikulus!") today.

I stand with Captain Underpants Unmentionables!
Have you read The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey? You should. It's a hoot.

I first read it because my Big Sister was reading it in her third grade class. It's a series of eight (so far) books about two fourth graders, George Beard and Harold Hutchins, and the superhero they accidentally create by hypnotizing their principal, Mr. Benny Krupp.

The Captain Underpants books were reported by the American Library Association to be the 13th most frequently challenged books between 2000-2009. However, the series won a Disney Adventures Kids' Choice Award in 2007.

According to the ALA, Captain Underpants was banned in some schools for insensitivity and being unsuited to age group, as well as encouraging children to disobey authority.

Honestly, do these people who are banning books even talk to kids anymore? Unsuitable? What do they want? Union suits?

(P.S. I have to put in a plug for one of my favorite books by Pilkey, The Paperboy. Thankfully it doesn't seem to be banned anywhere and I adore the peaceful nature of it.) 

Wednesday, September 28

The Banned Adventures of Huck Finn

It's no wonder Mark Twain laughed at people who read (or claimed to have read) his classic book, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and wanted it banned.

Like many of his works, it's a satire.
sat·ire [sat-ahyuhr]
1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc. 
2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
3. a literary genre comprising such compositions.
Twain was an ardent abolitionist who said, “Lincoln's Proclamation ... not only set the black slaves free, but set the white man free also." 

He deliberately wrote Huck Finn to illustrate the evils of slavery and racism. (Huck Finn was published 20 years after the end of the Civil War. Slavery was gone but not racism.)

One example was both Huck and Jim run away: Huck from an abusive father and Jim from slavery. This parallel was to draw attention to the fact that while some thought Huck's running away was perfectly justified, Jim's was not.

Huck Finn was banned shortly after its 1885 U.S. publication in many locations.
As usual, Twain fired back at his critics,
"I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote 'Tom Sawyer' and 'Huck Finn' for adults exclusively, and it always distressed me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, and to this day I cherish an unappeased bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again on this side of the grave."
When his book Eve's Diary was banned in 1906 from the Charlton Public Library Twain said,
"the truth is, that when a library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn't anger me."
What's funny is that the use of the now controversial N-word was not what made Adventures of Huckleberry Finn controversial back in its day. What made it controversial was Huck actually sweated!

And scratched!

(The proper word would have been "perspired." Uh huh. Obviously the critics hadn't spent much time by the Mississippi River!)

Oh, and as for the above dictionary listing? Did you know the dictionary (the dictionary!) has been banned in some places because it contains words not appropriate for young children?

Kinda makes me want to go read the dictionary next....

Tuesday, September 27

Let's be Frank: Diary of a Banned Book

I simply can't imagine modern life without Anne Frank's, The Diary of a Young Girl.

Anne Frank
Sadly, Anne Frank's diary has been banned on multiple occasions - most recently in January 2010 when the Culpeper County, Virginia school district banned it because the book was "sexually explicit" and had "homosexual" themes.

It's also been banned because "it's too depressing."


It's a diary. Written by a young, teenage girl. One who was locked in a confined environment for two years with no one to really talk to other than HER DIARY.

And yes, she died. What would be really depressing is if we permit this book to be banned.

I seem to have a theme going here.
See yesterday's comment about white-washing the past (future?) to make it more acceptable - or politically correct.

Philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Do we really want to repeat the shameful chapters of our past?

I, for one, don't. Even with a time machine.

I especially don't want a repeat of the Holocaust.

Monday, September 26

Little Banned House on the Prairie

Original artwork by Garth Williams.
It simply boggles my imagination that anyone, ANYONE, could ban Laura Ingalls Wilder's classic Little House on the Prairie.

I mean, yes, some of the characters don't like Indians and say so, but what they overlook is that Pa and Laura both like, admire and respect them.

Yes, there are a couple of tense chapters where Indians consider going on warpath but they don't. And Pa salutes the leader who saved them all.

Even when forced to leave their home, Pa is (understandably) furious at the government - not the Indians.

See yesterday's comment about white-washing the past (future?) to make it more acceptable - or politically correct.

Philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Do we really want to repeat the shameful chapters of our past?

I, for one, don't. Even with a time machine.

Sunday, September 25

To Ban a Mockingbird

"Remember it's a sin to ban a book."
It's Banned Books Week. A week where I read at least one banned book a day.

I think I shall start with my all time favorite: To Kill a Mockingbird.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was published in 1960 and won the Pulitzer Prize. The book is loosely based on Lee's family and neighbors, as well as an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old.

So why is it banned? Usually because it "contains profanity and racial slurs."

Duh. So does life. Especially life in a small town in the South in 1936. We can't white-wash the past (future?) to make it more acceptable.

"Remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. 

"Your father's right," she said. "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

And it's a sin to ban a book.

So ... what to read next. So many books and so little time.

Wait! What am I saying?! I'm a time traveler - which gives me all the time in the world!

I think I shall "Scout" ahead and find another banned book to read and defend.

This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, Sept. 25

Pressure for a Union plan of attack

Major Gen. George B. McClellan, tapped to lead the Army of the Potomac after the Union defeat at First Bull Run, comes under growing popular pressure in late September 1861 to attack Confederate forces outside Washington. The commander chafes at strident calls for action, knowing he could be made the scapegoat for any disastrous misstep that turns the tide of war against the Union. Nonetheless, McClellan's weeks of training and drilling have begun to shape green and largely untested troops into a fighting force. And McClellan is still being allowed time by President Abraham Lincoln to plot his war strategy. One of McClellan's chief worries is that he not leave Washington undefended, at times believing the Confederates could be plotting a major assault on the capital. Reports speak of Confederates in northern Virginia nearly within site of Washington. Months later, McCellan will go on to failure with his Peninsula Campaign - his ambitious thrust toward Richmond from Virginia's seaboard side. Later he will halt Confederate Robert E. Lee's invasion of Maryland at bloody Antietam yet still lose his command for settling for a draw that tests Lincoln's patience as the president thirsts for crushing victory. This month, the South's Gulf Coast farmers recoil from stormy weather that ruins corn and cotton crops needed to feed and clothe the Confederate army. News dispatches speak of bickering in the Confederate congress over ill-fed and badly uniformed recruits. Misinformation flies. One Southern newspaper claims Confederate troops number an astonishing 185,000 men - far more than McClellan's - and adds they are "clothed and fed on a scale of amazing liberality, and are regularly paid in gold or bank paper." One commentator scoffs such numbers are impossibly inflated and the situation is the reverse with near "nakedness and starvation" among some Confederate troops.

Saturday, September 24

Free people read freely

I don't know about you, but I plan to dedicate my week reading extra banned books.

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

For more information on getting involved with Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read, please see Calendar of Events, Ideas and Resources, and the new Banned Books Week site. You can also contact the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 4220, or

Banned Books Week 2011 will be held Sept. 24 - Oct. 1.

Friday, September 23

Are you ready Boots?

While chatting with my friend Boots (looove that accent!) about his upcoming movie, we got to talking about his boots - of course. He promised me he'd take me to his cobbler.

I think he regrets that now. He looks exasperated, doesn't he? I can't help it if I spot danger (and bargains!) around every corner!

Maybe he's cranky because he lost his hat.

Do you think he'll want to stop at his milliner's shop, too?

Or his swordsmith?!

It's sooo nice to have someone my size to talk to who understands the needs of the vertically challenged.

These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do
one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.

Are you ready boots? Start walkin'!

Thursday, September 22

I see you shiver with Emanci...pation

One morning, while we were still slaves, Momma woke me by singing:
We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway, yay
And I wonder if I'm really with you now
Or just chasin' after some finer day

Emancipation, emancipation
Is makin' me late
Is keepin' me waitin'
With apologies to Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of Jan. 1, 1863
and Carly Simon's Anticipation song of 1971.

President Abraham Lincoln first discussed the Emancipation Proclamation with his cabinet in July 1862. He believed he needed a Union victory on the battlefield so his decision would appear positive and strong.

The Battle of Antietam, in which Union troops turned back a Confederate invasion of Maryland, gave him that opportunity. Five days after Antietam, Lincoln called his cabinet into session on Sept. 22, 1862 and issued the Preliminary Proclamation.

Lincoln told his Cabinet that he had made a covenant with God - that if the Union drove the Confederacy out of Maryland, he would issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Preliminary Proclamation declared that all slaves (with some exceptions) in states that were still in rebellion as of Jan. 1, 1863, would be free. One hundred days later, with the Confederacy still in full rebellion and the nation approaching its third year of bloody Civil War, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Emancipation Proclamation also allowed for the enrollment of freed slaves into the United States military. During the war nearly 200,000 blacks, most of them ex-slaves, joined the Union Army. Their contributions gave the North additional manpower that was significant in winning the war. The Confederacy did not allow slaves in their army as soldiers until its final months.

Total abolition of slavery was ratified by the Thirteenth Amendment which took effect in December 1865.

Wednesday, September 21

There and back again

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." 

With those words, a literary classic was born; J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit was published on Sept. 21, 1937.
Whisked away from his comfortable, unambitious life in his hobbit-hole by Gandalf the wizard and a company of dwarves, Bilbo Baggins finds himself caught up in a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon.
The Hobbit has never been out of print and has been translated into more than 40 languages. It has also been through many stage, screen, radio, board and video game adaptations.

I admit a certain affinity for hobbits. In The Lord of the Rings trilogy's prologue, Tolkien wrote that Hobbits are about 3'6" on the average. (I'm 18 inches but I do not have hairy feet!) They also like bright colors such as yellow and green and typically wear a brown or green jacket with gold (or brass) buttons.

Due to The Hobbit's critical and financial success, Tolkien's publishers requested a sequel ... and got three! The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King were published in 1954-55.

You might have seen the movies. Now stay tuned for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 2012!

Tuesday, September 20

Which witch?

“Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?” 
Glinda, the Good Witch of the North

Me? I’m going to be a Friendly Witch. With my own personal touches, of course!

Thanks to Momma I'm all set and I can not wait! (As of yesterday my Big Sister plans to be a witch, too!)

For those Rip Van Winkles out there, Halloween is an annual holiday observed on Oct. 31, which includes activities such as trick-or-treating, parties, carving jack-o'-lanterns, bonfires, apple bobbing, haunted houses, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.

Costuming became popular
for both adults and children at Halloween parties in the U.S. in the early 20th century. Sheets were used as well as attic contents since Halloween costumes didn’t appear in stores until the 1930s when trick-or-treating was becoming popular in the United States.

The earliest known use in print of the term "trick or treat" appeared in Nov. 4, 1927, in the (Lethbridge, Alberta) Herald
“Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.”
Momma says her grandfather’s favorite trick was to move outhouses back just a few feet, uncovering the hole. Woe to the unsuspecting person who “went out back” to use the facilities and fell in! Eww. (Although anyone who was foolish enough to be unsuspecting on Halloween probably deserved it!)

As for my costume, we'll just have to wait until Oct. 31.

(I hate waiting.)

Steampunk Addie eyes

I heard a catchy tune this weekend I thought I'd share with you since some people find my eyes creepy.
My hair is Harlem gold,
My lips a sweet surprise
My hands are never cold
I've got Steampunk Addie eyes
I'll turn the music on
And you won't have to think twice
I'm pure as New York snow
I've got Steampunk Addie eyes

And I'll tease you

I'll unease you
All the better just to please you
I'm precocious
And I know just what it
Takes to make a crow blush
I've got Greta Garbo stand-off sighs,
I've got Steampunk Addie eyes
(I've got Steampunk Addie eyes)

let you take me home
It whets my appetite
I'll sit you on my throne
I've got Steampunk Addie eyes
I'll take a tumble with you
I’ll roll you like you were dice
Until I find a clue
I've got Steampunk Addie eyes

I'll expose you

When I roll you
Off your feet with the crumbs that I throw you
I'm precocious
And I know just what it
Takes to make a crow blush
All the boys think I'm a spy,
I've got Steampunk Addie eyes

Greta Garbo stand-off sighs,
I've got Steampunk Addie eyes
Oh, Steampunk Addie eyes
I've got Steampunk Addie eyes
Bette Davis Eyes, 1974
with apologies to Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon

The phrase "could make a crow blush" was an early 20th century Midwestern expression meaning that someone could make another uneasy with little effort.

As a spy, I like to think I could at least make a crow uneasy.

Monday, September 19

Happy ITLAPD t' you!

T' Dred Pirate Scott
Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day t' you!

ITLAPD be a parodic holiday created in 1995 by John Baur (Ol' Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap'n Slappy), o' Albany, Ore., who proclaimed Sept. 19 each year as t' day when everyone in t' world should talk like a pirate. For example, an observer o' this holiday would greet buckos not with "Hello!" but with "Ahoy, matey!" T' holiday, and its observance, sprin's from a romanticized view o' t' Golden Age o' Piracy.

At first an inside joke between two buckos, t' holiday gained exposure when Baur and Summers sent a letter about their invented holiday t' t' American syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry in 2002. Barry (himself a writer o' pirate books) liked t' idea and promoted t' day. Growin' media coverage o' t' holiday after Barry's column has ensured that this event be now celebrated internationally, and Baur and Summers now sell books and T-shirts on their website related t' t' theme.

As t' association o' pirates with peg legs, parrots, and treasure maps was popularized in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island (1883), t' book has had a significant influence on parody pirate culture.

Sunday, September 18

This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, Sept. 18

The Battle of Lexington

Who would have thought large hemp bales could sway the outcome of a battle? The Battle of Lexington rages on early this week in September 1861. Secessionist forces under Maj. Gen. Sterling Price are fighting madly to seize the pro-southern Missouri River town of Lexington. Strains of "Dixie" waft from a military band as the fighters, their ranks swelled by recruits pouring in from the countryside, bombard some 3,000 Unionists hunkered down on the grounds of a Masonic college at the north end of Lexington. By now, besieged Unionists are running out of water, trapped in their defenses in the late summer heat. On the third day, the siege ends dramatically: Southern fighters take some 130 large hemp bales on Sept. 20, 1861, and line them up opposite the Union breastworks and begin pushing the bales ever closer to the rival side. Unionists pound the moving line of hemp bales with cannons and rifle shot but the bales have been soaked with water and fail to catch fire. Secessionists — hiding three men behind each bale — nudge the bales forward in snakelike lines until they are close. They then charge the federal defenders. Hand-to-hand fighting ensues but it's quickly over and the Union forces surrender. About 65 deaths are reported and many dozens wounded. A newspaper dispatch published afterward in the New Hampshire Sentinel lauded the outnumbered federal forces under Col. James A. Mulligan for a brave fight: "Col. Mulligan was at last compelled to yield to a force eight times his own number, after fifty-one hours of fighting, without a drop of water." Missouri's Union commander, Major Gen. John Fremont, will eventually respond to the defeat by mounting a 38,000-strong force that eventually drives Price and his band from the state later in the war. Lexington will eventually return to Union control.

Saturday, September 17

I ♥ Potions and Snape

No Invisibility Cloak this time!

Jennifer finally took pity on Me (and Momma, too) and shared some thoughts and images from Pottermore.


"There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this class. As such, I don't expect many of you to appreciate the subtle science and exact art that is potion-making. However, for those select few ... who possess, the predisposition ... I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death."
Ooh, that voice.

Kinda reminds me of the hyenas in The Lion King:
Tell me about it. I just hear that name and I shudder. 
Ooh. Do it again! 
Snape, Snape, Snape!
Ooooh! It tingles!
 I can't wait to get into Pottermore!

Friday, September 16

One nation indivisible

I have been reading about the Cherokee Freedmen Controversy with increasing interest (and sadness) and finally have to say something.

When will color stop being an issue?
Historically, some members of the Cherokee Nation had African American slaves. At first their slaves were more like indentured servants who were either freed after a certain time or adopted into the Cherokee Nation. Sadly, exposure to U.S. settlers changed their views and the slaves became chattel.

Did those African Americans have a choice? No.

Did they have a choice when told to relocate to Oklahoma via the Trail of Tears? No.

About the only choice they seem to have been given was whether or not they wanted to be members of the Cherokee Nation after the Emancipation Proclamation, the end of the Civil War and the signing of the Treaty of 1866:
"All native born Cherokees, all Indians, and whites legally members of the Nation by adoption, and all freedmen who have been liberated by voluntary act of their former owners or by law, as well as free colored persons who were in the country at the commencement of the rebellion, and are now residents therein, or who may return within six months from the 19th day of July, 1866, and their descendants, who reside within the limits of the Cherokee Nation, shall be taken and deemed to be, citizens of the Cherokee Nation."
So now, 145 years later, the Cherokee Nation wants to remove the Freedmen who have no Cherokee blood.

Who cares if their ancestors were essentially adopted into the Nation. How would you like it if your adopted family said you were no longer part of the family and kicked you out?

Sadly, the Cherokee Nation seems to have learned only one thing about treaties in the past 200 years: they are meant to be broken.

I'm not saying anyone should be able to become Cherokee just by wanting to sign up. You need either a blood tie or be the descendant of one of the Cherokee slaves.

Basically, I think this article sums it up. The rights of the Freedmen have been stripped just before the Sept. 24 special election because Chief Chad Smith apposes their membership while incumbent Bill John Baker supports them.


I am Courier

Hee hee.

I took a quiz yesterday which paired me with a font.

I must say I like the results.
"You are Courier. Like a typewriter-style font on a a computer, you go proudly against the grain. You're not afraid to let your opinions be known, and for you, anything is better than being known as conventional."


Thursday, September 15

Librarian by day, flamingo by night

I've already stated I loathe the color pink.

With one teensy-weensy little exception.

I adore pink lawn flamingos!

The plastic pink flamingo was designed in 1957 by Don Featherstone (isn't that the best name!) and has become an icon of pop culture, and won him the Ig
® Nobel Prize for Art in 1996. It has even spawned a lawn greeting industry where flocks of pink flamingos are installed on a victim's lawn in the dark of night.

Momma and her friends surprised an old friend today (He Who Shall Not Be Named) with flamingos for his big Five-0.


Featherstone flamingos are sold in pairs: one standing upright and the other with its head low to the ground.

And as of 2009, the plastic flamingo is the official bird of Madison, Wis., - home of American Girl®

Happy Five-0,  He Who Shall Not Be Named!

Suffer the little children

I ask you to remember four girls today. 

On Sunday, Sept. 15, 1963 at about 10:24 a.m., 26 children were walking into the basement assembly room of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., for a sermon entitled “The Love That Forgives,” when a bomb exploded.

Four girls:
  • Addie Mae Collins (aged 14)
  • Denise McNair (aged 11)
  • Carole Robertson (aged 14)
  • Cynthia Wesley (aged 14)
were killed in the attack, and 22 additional people were injured, one of whom was Addie Mae Collins' younger sister, Sarah.

The explosion blew a hole in the church's rear wall, destroyed the back steps and all but one stained-glass window, which showed Christ leading a group of little children.
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14 NRSV
The explosion at the African-American church marked a turning point in the U.S. 1960s Civil Rights Movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Why I am I thinking of them today? I saw this photo of Denise McNair and her doll.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away. Revelation 21:4 NRSV

Wednesday, September 14

Not my type

I'll be busy the next couple of days helping Momma with her deadline.

Isn't this steam-powered printing press a beauty?

They just don't make them like that anymore.

At least you don't.

Tuesday, September 13

I scream, you scream....

Today, I would like to raise my waffle cone in belated recognition of Philadelphia's contributions to that frozen delicacy: ice cream.

Frozen custard was introduced to the United States by Quaker colonists who brought their ice cream recipes with them. Confectioners sold it at their shops during the colonial era.

(Unlike custards, Philadelphia-style ice cream contains no egg yolks and does not require cooking. It's based on cream and sugar with few ingredients.)

Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson were known to have regularly eaten and served ice cream. First Lady Dolley Madison is said to have served ice cream at James Madison's Inaugural Ball in 1813. 

African-American candy confectioner Augustus Jackson, who was from Philadelphia, served as a White House chef during the 1820s. By 1832, Jackson had returned to Philadelphia where he not only created multiple ice cream recipes, but he also invented an easier technique to make ice cream. Sadly, none of his inventions was patented.

On Sept. 9, 1843, Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia was issued the first U.S. patent for a small-scale hand-cranked ice cream freezer. Her invention, which is still used today, simplified the ice cream making process and anyone could make it at home.

Johnson lacked the resources to make and market the churn herself so she sold the patent for $200 to a Philadelphia kitchen wholesaler. William Young patented his "Johnson Patent Ice Cream Freezer" on May 30, 1848, and by 1873 about 70 similar ice cream churn patents had been filed.

You can imagine my excitement when I found this broken ice cream maker.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to fix it up and make myself some ice cream.

But what flavor should I make?

Any recommendations?

Monday, September 12

Quoth the Ravenclaw, 'Pottermore'

Peeking at the computer while Jen steps away.

Momma's friend Jennifer is sooo lucky!

She is one of the lucky chosen ones who is testing the beta version of J.K. Rowling's new interactive website, "Pottermore."

She keeps teasing Momma and Me about it and I can't stand it anymore.

So I slipped on my invisibility cloak and took a little trip to peek over her shoulder.

Shh. Don't tell.

I spy with my occhiolino*

 I. Am. So. Excited.

I found out last week the pastor of my church makes beautiful working telescopes and microscopes out of spare parts. When he saw my excitement he offered me my very own microscope!

It is amazing!

It's made of a Canadian drill press, parts from a brass bed, a ladies mirror, and miscellaneous other things. (He showed me a telescope he made using a roll bar, soup can, and a drive shaft!)

Examining the yellow fever virus.
Inspired by ma chère amie Cécile, I immediately set out to find a cure for yellow fever.

(As you might recall, the New Orleans epidemic of 1853, featured in the Cécile Rey American Girl book series, killed 9,000 people.)

Carlos Finlay, a Cuban doctor and scientist, first proposed in 1881 that yellow fever might be transmitted by mosquitoes rather than direct human contact.

U.S. Army physician Major Walter Reed, M.D., led the team that proved Finlay's hypothesis in 1900.

I thought I might try to nudge both men along with their discoveries.

Or maybe I'll do it myself.

Can't you just see me winning the Nobel Prize?

I can't believe it! My very own steampunk microscope!

Now if I can just get a giant telescope....

*Galileo called his compound microscope the "occhiolino" or "little eye."