Jan. 24, 1984: Birth of the Cool (Computer, That Is)

I can hardly believe that the Mac is 24 years old! I missed seeing the groundbreaking ad during the Super Bowl but I already knew it was coming. I was one of the few who were already working with the pre-Mac Lisa computer that Apple tentatively introduced the year before. Little did I know then that the Mac would change my career and my life.

I am a graphic designer today because of the Mac. The computer was not the green screened machine that used DOS. It did not intimidate me – it welcomed play and work. I remember using the first release of Pagemaker on my Mac SE with it’s dual disc drives and 20MB hard drive. I was constantly popping out the discs to save or use other features. I also remember playing the first version of SimCity on the 9-inch grey screen – often going on until 3am!

I know the iPod has done wonders for Apple – it really brought Apple products to a different audience – but it’s the computer that is the staple of my world. From my G5 at home to my G5 at work (dual displays on both), the Mac will always be a part of my life.

Thanks, Apple!

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Nov. 14, 1889: Around the World in Only 72 Days

Bly, born Elizabeth Jane Cochran, was the prototype of the independent woman: “one tough broad” in newspaper parlance. She came to the business after the editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch read her angry rebuttal to what would today be called a sexist editorial by one of the paper’s columnists. The editor was duly impressed and, after tracking her down, offered her a reporting job. It was there she acquired her pen name, Nellie Bly, which she carried with her for the rest of her life.

After traveling to Mexico and attacking the Mexican government for corruption in a series of stories, she returned to the United States and moved to New York, where she eventually found a job with Joseph Pulitzer‘s World. She covered women’s rights issues but also specialized in investigative stories. In fact, she’s often credited with inventing the practice of investigative reporting.

Inspired by Jules Verne’s wildly popular 1873 novel, Around the World in 80 Days, Bly proposed to her editors at the New York World that she undertake the same trip to try and break the fictional record. Traveling by steamer, train, rickshaw and any number of other conveyances, she did — by eight days.

What an amazing feat for a woman of her time when most women rarely traveled in public without an escort or chaperone! I picked this item to note in honor of my mom. She was born 80 years ago today. Unfortunately, she died 3 years ago. Love you, Mom!

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Today in History – Aug. 12 —

Today is my 48th birthday. I’m a better person to be able to write that out. The link above has lots of trivia about the day but here is a selection:

Today is Sunday, Aug. 12, the 224th day of 2007. There are 141 days left in the year.

On this date:

In 1898, fighting in the Spanish-American War came to an end.

In 1898, Hawaii was formally annexed to the United States.

In 1977, the space shuttle Enterprise passed its first solo flight test by taking off atop a Boeing 747, separating, then touching down in California’s Mojave Desert.

Five years ago: Iraq’s information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, told the Arabic satellite television station Al-Jazeera that there was no need for U.N. weapons inspectors to return to Baghdad and branded as a “lie” allegations that Saddam Hussein still had weapons of mass destruction.

One year ago: Thousands of people gathered across from the White House, even though President Bush was out of town, to condemn U.S. and Israeli policies in the Middle East.

Today’s Birthdays: Choreographer Michael Kidd is 88. Actor George Hamilton is 68. Rock singer-musician Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) is 58. Jazz musician Pat Metheny is 53. Actor Sam J. Jones is 53. Pop musician Roy Hay (Culture Club) is 46. Rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot is 44. Actor Peter Krause is 42. Tennis player Pete Sampras is 36. Actor Michael Ian Black is 36. Actress Rebecca Gayheart is 35. Actor Casey Affleck is 32.

On personal note, I went up to Baltimore to see the Orioles play the Red Sox (O’s won 6-3 in the 10th). It was a sold out game and we had incredible seats courtesy of my nephew’s girlfriend’s brother’s girlfriend (no, that isn’t from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). We were in section 260 on the club level. Here was the view:

Section 260 view

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Smithsonian Institution Archives

“On 10 August 1846, the United
States Congress passed the legislation (9 Stat. 102) founding the
Smithsonian Institution as an establishment dedicated to the “increase
and diffusion of knowledge,” and President James K. Polk signed it into
law the same day. This legislation was the culmination of over a decade
of debate within the Congress and among the general public over an
unusual bequest. When the English chemist and mineralogist, James
Smithson, died in 1829, he left a will stating that if his nephew and
sole heir died without heirs, his estate should go to the United States
to found in Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution,
an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.

Page 1 of act organizing the Smithsonian InstitutionBy a vote of 26 to 13, the U.S. Senate passes the act organizing the Smithsonian Institution which is signed into law by President James K. Polk. Among its provisions, the Organic Act specifies: a Board of Regents, Chancellor, and Secretary; a “suitable” building with rooms for the “reception and arrangement” of objects of natural history, a chemical laboratory, a library, a gallery of art, and lecture rooms; the transfer to the Institution of all objects of art, natural history, etc., belonging to the United States in Washington; and the deposit in the Smithsonian of one copy of all publications copyrighted under the acts of Congress. The act stipulates that the original legacy of $515,169, plus interest accrued at the rate of 6% on loan to the U.S. Treasury, amounting to $242,129, shall be maintained as a trust fund, and all expenditures and appropriations must come from interest accrued in this fund.

I’m very proud that I work for the Smithsonian Institution. Despite the recent press about the former secretary, Larry Small, I hope the public realizes that the Smithsonian is a great place to visit, to work at and support financially (hint, hint).

Here are a few numbers about the world’s largest museum complex:

Museums 19

Affiliate Museums 144

Research Centers 9

Visitors (2006)
SI Museums 23.2 million
National Zoo 2.6 million
Affiliate museums 20.6 million
Traveling exhibitions 4.5 million
Website visitors 150.0 million

Objects, artworks and specimens more than 136 million

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I really miss her. She would have been 79 today. I have to remind myself that even though she died two years ago, even if everything hadn’t gone wrong, she probably wouldn’t be alive to day anyway. That’s so sad to me.

I hate that she missed meeting her first great-grandchild. I hate that she missed seeing the Dems take back the House and the Senate.

I hate the fact that I can’t share things with her.

I took this picture of her when I has in high school. She didn’t want me to take it but I think it captures how she really looked day to day, especially then. She was lonely and hated the dark, cold Vermont winters.

She was sassy and opinionated. She was brave and cowardly. She was funny and willful.

She was.

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I had one yesterday. Another year older. Grayer. Fatter. 50 is looming closer (Yikes!).

I know it could be worse. My health is reasonable good and I’m OK in my career. Home life = excellent. I’ll deal.