Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Painting for the Seventh Day of Christmas
Are you impressed that I have managed to say nothing political during Christmas? In the wake of the Roland Burris appointment by Governor Blagojevich and the announcement by Jesse White that he will not certify the appointment, I suppose I should call upon all citizens of Illinois to speak out against the national press characterizing Illinois as dealing in race based politics . That simply isn't the case. What they are seeing is Illinois Democrats at work, and that the political process is working. I will continue to defend my fellow citizens of Illinois, and continue to assert that our state moved beyond considerations of race long ago. I would like to make one thing perfectly clear: our politicians might be crooked, but they are not bigots.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
The Sixth Day of Christmas: Too Many Games on the Wii?
Monday, December 29, 2008
Painting for the Fifth Day of Christmas
Sunday, December 28, 2008
A Chilly Fourth Day of Christmas
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Woodcut for the Third Day of Christmas
Friday, December 26, 2008
Painting for the Second Day of Christmas
Today I am celebrating the second day of Christmas, and decided to post a few Christmas pictures over the next few days. This picture is by an unknown master of the Cologne School. I wish I had been able to find some cards with this picture; it would have been a great improvement.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
The picture above is detail of an altarpiece by Stefan Lochner, a 15th century painter associated with the Cologne school.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Festivus Already? Time to Celebrate!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Santa Prepares for Takeoff
What? Your children forgot to write to Santa and its almost Christmas? Not a problem, today's modern Santa uses email, so the kids can still drop him a line!
Curious how Santa delivers all those presents in one night? According to Larry Silverberg, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at North Carolina State University, that requires controlling time, space and light. While this might seem difficult, Dr. Silverberg has a comprehensive explanation.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Rod Blagojevich: Where Were You When You Heard the News?
But before I caught CNN, complete with Jesse Jackson, Jr. interviews, I saw a few phrases in the article in that cafe that should have told me everything: "Patrick Fitzgerald," "Obama im Senate," and "Frau Jarrett."
Red Country, Blue Win: Presidential Election Results Broken Down by County
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
December 7, 1941: The Infamous Myths and Rumors of Pearl Harbor
Over the years, a number of myths have circulated about that attack. These rumors actually started during World War II, and they have pesisted ever since. Ending those myths was made more difficult by the fact that the Congressional Investigation Report on Pearl Harbor was not released until July 26, 1946. While the report contained information that addressed most of the rumors, the Pearl Harbor Attack Investigation Report (PHA for short) was in 40 parts bound in about 23 volumes. Extracting the answers to the bizarre stories that ran rampant was a daunting task for even the most serious researcher.
One of the most persistent and most foul rumors was that US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and sacrificed American lives for his own desire to enter the war. You can read for yourself a year's worth of intercepted Japanese communications, events leading up to World War II, and a diplomatic message from Tokyo to the Japanese Embassy in London to destroy code machine, burn codes dated December 1, 1941.
While everyone knows of the air attack on pearl harbor, less well known is the fleet of 28 submarines sent by Japan to Hawaii to aid in their attack on America.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
St. Nicholas Day
It's Hajj, and in Saudi Arabia Muslims are gathering for a religious pilgrimage to Mecca. Over two million people are housed in tents and I thought you would enjoy seeing how many there are. I ran into this video months ago and I was amazed at the size of this temporary town. It is definately quite a sight. It is said that there are 57,000 tents, which are air conditioned and made of non-flammable material.
Because of the vast distances travelled, and the possibility of spreading disease, medical requirements for pilgrims are strict. Inoculations are required for such as typhoid fever, polio, pneumonia, diptheria, tetanus and malaria. Disease and illness can spread rapidly at the Hajj where hundreds of thousands of people move at all times in extremely close proximity. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia requires proof of inoculations and a round-trip ticket to home to ensure pilgrims don't linger. If you watch the video you see how closely together millions of people live for a few days each year
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Christmas Markets in Germany
To the left is the Christmas market in Jena, another city in east Germany. They were selling Christmas trees at the entrance to the market. German Christmas markets are probably so popular as it is warmer there than it is here! At the market itself there were a number of signs that said "We speak Russian." This market had the culinary oddity of Bockwurst and kale. It didn't cost too much and it tasted delicious! The portion was big enough for two of us.
To the right is the famous Dresden Streizel-markt. It is famous for stollen, the heavy sweet coffee cake with fruit that they also sell at the Chicago Christmas market. This is a very large market, and dates back to almost two centuries before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth! Dresden is a fantastic looking city, and well worth a visit despite the fact it has been destroyed repeatedly in war.
To the left is the Christmas market in the town of Fulda, which was an important garrison town during the Cold War era, right at the border of the old East Germany. Fulda is also a very interesting town visually, with fabulous churches and half-timbered buildings. The Christmas market is spread out over a large area and has a nice selection of reasonably priced goods offered by the merchants. It's the only Christmas market where I have ever seen outside heaters by some of the food and drink stands. They make a great drink here, the "Schneeman" (snowman) which is hot chocolate and rum with whipped cream. Yum! And it's easy to make at home, too.
At the Chicago Christmas Market, Germany promotes travel to their Christmas markets. That's where I got the idea to go. It's pretty easy. You can either take a bus tour, or just fly to Frankfurt and get on a high speed train right at the airport and go anywhere you wish! You can plan all your train travel (and even print out your ticket on your computer) and your hotel rooms at the Bahn website (in English--I don't speak German), where you also can find plenty of hotels right by train stations. The Christmas markets are within easy walking distance of the train station almost everywhere, and you can find all the information about dozens of markets at the Come to Germany website. When your vacation is over, you just get on a train back to the airport and catch your plane. Now how easy is that? If you take the family, you can give the trip--a week is plenty of time--instead of presents and stay out of malls entirely. That makes for a very pleasant holiday season!
When it Comes to Politics, Best Put Your Head in the Sand
To add insult to injury is the talk of a pardon for George Ryan. No one has done more to advance the cause of extirpating the Republican party in Illinois than Ryan, and the punishment meted out to him was light for his misdeeds. Ryan's criminal acts sickened the average rank and file Illinois Republican, and brought great dishonor to Illinois, who sent America's first Republican President Abraham Lincoln to Washington under its banner. See TA's blog for details.
Meanwhile, the Obama birth certificate controversy rages on. There are a number of differing stories in his family where Barack first saw the light of day. While I assumed the birth certificate issue had more to do with his parent's marriage, the information trend is not good.