Thursday, January 28, 2010

Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff


Our 'tremendous' storm has turned out to be the weather equivalent of a two-year-old: a little temper tantrum, snow-wise, and now it's just sulking in the corner. Bleary skies, lots of fog, and a few sullen bits of snow now and then.


I've stumbled on all sorts of interesting things this week:

*A gallery of art accidents -- paintings, ceramics and such stumbled into, hacked at by maniacs, and even thrown away as trash! (I am not making this up -- go take a look.) The list includes works by everyone from Michelangelo to Picasso.

*The folks at Money Crashers are hosting a HUGE giveaway! Prizes galore, and it's easy to qualify for them. Take a look here, and don't hesitate -- deadline is Jan. 31 to enter. Preferably multiple times.

*The University of East Anglia -- whose scientists were behind the recent hacker-uncovered scandal on faking and covering up climate warming data. (Or non-warming, as the case may be. I covered this earlier...look here.) Anyways, the university has finally admitted that it deliberately ignored or delayed public requests for information...a federal offense. (Strangely enough, it's still doing it!)

*Strange presidential facts, from Panati's Extraordinary Endings of Practically Everything and Everybody. An amazing book, though more than a tad kinky in spots. (It's only a nickel at Amazon -- and a great book for your research library!)

      Tidbits from the U.S. President section:
     *Andrew Johnson (Lincoln's successor) sewed his own and his wife's clothes. He was so proud of his work that he would often point out details to his audience. (Hey, the guy was a tailor in one of his other lives!) Johnson was also the only president with no schooling -- he learned to read and write about age 18, taught by his wife.
     *James Monroe and his wife sold their worn furniture to the White House -- and kept the money. A big chunk of the rest of the 'redecorating' funds allotted by Congress went to lavish parties the Monroes threw -- sometimes $100 or more just on candles for an evening. (This became known as the "furniture scandal.")
     *Benjamin Harrison was the first to see electricity installed in the White House. He and his wife were so terrified of this new invention that they refused to touch the switches, for fear of being electrocuted. If there was no one else to turn off the switch, lights would blaze all night while the Harrisons slept.
     *William Henry Harrison gave the longest inaugural address -- hours on end -- and lasted the shortest in office: only a month. (He refused to wear proper headgear and clothing to the Inauguration out of respect -- caught a cold that never really went away.) Franklin Roosevelt, incidentally, delivered the shortest speech: only about 23 sentences, for his last term. (He didn't finish that one, either.)
     *Chester Arthur may have been Canadian-born...evidence suggests it was possible... thus disqualifying him for the office in the first place.
     *Calvin Coolidge was the first president with Indian blood in his ancestor line.
    *Barak Obama may not have been the first US president with black ancestry, after all -- evidence suggests that Warren Harding held that honor. (Though it was covered up.
     * One of Lyndon Johnson's first actions after becoming president -- get rid of John F. Kennedy's famous rocking chair.
     *Eleanor Roosevelt (Franklin's wife) was the first First Lady to actually get to vote in a presidential election.
     *Teddy (Theodore) Roosevelt's life was saved by a thick speech -- and a silver case -- stored in his pocket. A would-be assassin's bullet pierced both, and went a few inches into the president's hide, as well, but Roosevelt survived. (He also gave the speech before leaving for the hospital!)

Speaking of presidents, did you hear President Obama's State of the Union address last night? It was by far the most down-to-earth, sensible pronouncement (including admissions that mistakes had been made, both by him and -- gasp! -- the Democrats) that I have heard in decades. His goals are admirable...but Husband and I both thought, 'How in the world is he going to accomplish them?'
    Time will tell. I hope Congress was listening -- and taking him seriously.

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