October 2007

An Extra Hour of Halloween Daylight? Thank the Candy Lobby – City Room – Metro – New York Times Blog

The candy lobby has a long history with Halloween and “saving”
daylight. By 1986, a year of great Congressional debate on the matter,
candy sales had suffered a sharp falloff as trick-or-treating was
hammered by

“The candymakers were so desperate for this that, beside lobbying
for years, they went and put pumpkins filled with candy on the seat of
every senator in America,” Mr. Downing said.

I knew there was a conspiracy somewhere! The best part of Halloween was being out in the dark. We were truly afraid of visiting certain houses and lots of people installed great displays that needed to be seen at night.

Now the kids come around demanding candy and not even bothering to dress up in costumes. I’m sick of the high-school age kids thrusting forward their opened backpacks and grunting – no “Trick or Treat”, no “Thank you”.

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Colorful Maple leaves

NPR : In New England, Concern Grows for Sugar Maple

In central New Hampshire, a pair of sugar maple trees frames the doorway to a historic house. The trees were likely planted by the family that originally built the house around 1790.

“They’re wonderful gnarled trees,” says lumberman Jamey French, whose parents live here in central New Hampshire. “They’re in the latter stages of their life, all cabled now.”

The French family is enormously beholden to the sugar maple for the butcher blocks, bowling lanes and squash and basketball courts its wood has been prized for. It is wood that has been harvested and sold by four generations of this hardwood lumber family.

At heart a steward of the forest, French has been watching many tree species for signs of decline, particularly the sugar maple. It’s a touchy species living in a landscape of tangible, environmental change.

“I’ve seen multiple species of birds wintering over that were not common in my childhood: mocking birds and cardinals and titmice,” French says. “Look along the sides of roads, and between the salt, acid rain, potential heat and drought cycles, you see trees stressed and dying. Boy, this is happening right in front of our eyes.”

This is really scary. The thought of New England losing it’s beautiful maples because we killed them if just awful. We’ve been in a terrible drought in Virginia this year , in fact all through the mid-Atlantic and south. It really makes me wonder if anything can really help at this point. Is it too late already?

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NPR : Krauss and Plant: Opposites Attract on a Sweet CD

I would never have paired these two together. I love Alison Krauss but I’ve never been a Robert Plant/Led Zeppelin fan (Stairway to Heaven reminds me too much of high school). Hearing the snippets of them singing together on this podcast makes me want to buy this CD.

I shouldn’t be surprised that I like this CD since it was produced my T-bone Burnett who has produced so many great artists – Tony Bennett, k.d.lang, the Wallflowers, O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack) including his wife, Sam Phillips.

The NPR site has three of the songs available for a listen. I especially liked Gone Gone Gone by the Every Brothers. Do listen to the interview if you can.

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Examples of the saggin' style can be seen across America, including in this photo taken in Trenton.

NPR : In Dallas, a Hip-Hop Plea: Pull Your Pants Up

Saggin’ — young men wearing their pants with the waistband closer to their knees than their hips — has been around for years. But a growing number of adults are deciding they’ve had enough. In Dallas, an interesting mix of politicians, hip-hop artists and white businessmen are announcing a citywide campaign with a simple message: Pull Your Pants Up.

I’m getting old. I must be because I agree with this sentiment. Click on the link to read the entire story and hear the song “Pull Your Pants Up” by Dooney Da’ Priest:

If you stand up straight, bet your pants fall.
Might as well walk around with your pants off.
Pull ’em up, pull ’em up, pull ’em up.
Be a real man. Stand up.
Is that your underwear, man? Pull your pants up.

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Facing Down The Status Quo – washingtonpost.com

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is slowly lifting the curtain on how it will approach the multitude of stories about African Americans. The museum is years away from opening on the Mall. Today its first exhibition opens at its Smithsonian sister the National Portrait Gallery, whose rich materials it scoured to present images from the past 151 years.

“Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits,” surveys 100 photographs, from a 1856 ambrotype, an early technique of photography, of Douglass to a 2004 snapshot of musician and composer Wynton Marsalis with a microphone in front of him, not a trumpet.

The faces are powerful and gorgeous. Their poses telegraph dignity and warmth. Their stories tell how they made steps forward as individuals to forge an image of a resilient, talented people.

We received a great review from the Washington Post for the exhibition that opened last Friday.

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Ask any cat owner if this isn’t familiar. Got the link from YouTube via the Cute Overload website.

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NPR : The Birth of the Frito

This spot is part of the Hidden Kitchens series on NPR.

C.E. Doolin had big plans for this chip. He opened a Casa de Frito restaurant in Disneyland in 1955, and another one in Dallas. The restaurants were a sort of precursor to fast food, a hybrid between hamburgers and Mexican food.

When he invented the Frito, C.E. Doolin imagined them as a side dish, a handful to be served with soup and salad to complement a meal. He never imagined anyone would consume an entire king-size bag. He rarely ate them.

The broadcast is mostly an interview with Kaleta Doolin (C.E. Doolin’s daughter) and her husband. Recipes are included at the bottom of the page.

I must admit I’m not a big Frito fan (I prefer pretzels) but I love this kind of story – products invented by a person not a corporation.

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Taking a Whack Against Comcast – washingtonpost.com

Fear not, fellow Americans! In these dark days of war, pestilence and Paris Hilton, a new hero has arisen. She is none other than 75-year-old Mona “The Hammer” Shaw, who took the aforementioned implement to her local Comcast office in Manassas to settle a score, and boy, did she!

This was after the company had scheduled installation of its much ballyhooed “Triple Play” service, which combines phone, cable and Internet services, in Shaw’s brick home in nearby Bristow. But Shaw said they failed to show up on the appointed day, Monday, Aug. 13. They came two days later but left with the job half done. On Friday morning, they cut off all service.

This was the company that has had consumer service problems serious enough to prompt the trade magazine Advertising Age to editorialize that Comcast and other cable providers should spend less on advertising and more on customer service. And has spawned a blog called ComcastMustDie.com that’s filled with posts from angry customers.

So on that Friday, Mona Shaw and her husband, Don, went to the local call center office to complain.

Click the link to read about what happened. Yes, the hammer does play a role in the events.

I’m not a fan of Comcast and I would never order the “Triple Play”. My channels have been freezing up for the past several months and I think it’s because I’m on basic (non-digital) cable and they want to pressure me into upgrading my service.

I don’t condone violence but I love this lady. She’s just done what we all have dreamed of doing to some company at one point or another.

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A beer stein hot air balloon from London.

NPR : Darth Vader Rules Hot-Air Balloon Event

I’ve always wanted to see the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico. My sister lives near there but I still haven’t managed it (probably because my job is usually very busy from September through October).

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Museum Math: Their Number Is Multiplying – washingtonpost.com

The Washington Post ran a special section on museums in today’s (Sunday) paper. The National Portrait Gallery got a lovely plug about the reopening of our courtyard with it’s new roof (see artist’s conception drawing above). I had completely forgotten that it’s supposed to open next month. (How did I miss that one? Oh right – I’m completely over worked these days.) I have been watching the progress from the windows of the galleries. The two below are from official pictures of a ficus tree being lowered into the courtyard through the last remaining opening.

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