Friday, June 29, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: America

It's Poetry Friday (round-up is at Shaken and Stirred), and just a few days till July 4. Perhaps I'm being a little traditional, or even predictable, by offering the words of these poets in honor of the holiday.

First, a brief remark from Cummings:
e.e. cummings
America makes prodigious mistakes, America has colossal faults, but one thing cannot be denied: America is always on the move. She may be going to Hell, of course, but at least she isn’t standing still.
And now, a few poems.

I Hear America Singing
by Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,

The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day--at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

The New Colossus

by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The Gift Outright
by Robert Frost

The land was ours before we were the land’s
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she will become.
I find it interesting that Frost's "Gift Outright" is always talked about as the poem Frost recited at Kennedy's inauguration, but few people realize the poem was actually written in 1942. I think putting this poem in the context of World War II makes it different somehow. The poem seems to me to be less about Manifest Destiny and westward expansion, and more a sentiment that Americans didn't become Americans until they were willing to sacrifice themselves completely, willing to die for just a vague promise of a vague American future. Again, in the context of 1942, this reads a bit differently than it would have in 1961.
Happy 4th of July all!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

Lives in Letters: Postcards from Chocolatetown

I found a quick series of postcards from Hershey Pennsylvania in my travels today, and being inclined towards chocolate, I thought these would be fun to talk about.


Recreation Spot
Rustic Bridge
Cow Herd

Hershey Chocolate Co.
Hershey, Pa.

Chi & Carbondale R.P.O.
October - November, 1909

Addressed to:
Mrs. D. A-
Streator, Ill.


October, 1909
Dear Mother + Father
Did not get my ??
off until to-day
so do not know
whether you will
get it on time or
not. Am O.K. Having
bad weather but every
thing is fine so far.

November 14, 1909
Glad everything
is O.K. at home.
Same here. Tell me
if father's name goes
up. Will write to-night.

November 22, 1909
Got your letter
this A.M. Glad
everything is O.K.
Do not send any
money. Don't need
it and I will stay
until Xmas.

I'll talk about the chocolate in a bit, but first a few things about these cards.

These were all postmarked from the Chicago-Carbondale Railway Post Office (RPO). The RPO was an actual railway car or series of cars that functioned as a permanent but mobile post office. The car had a slot where you could leave letters like in a mailbox, and a sorting set-up inside including all necessary staff. The RPO system existed for 113 years in the U.S. (from 1864 to 1977) but was ultimately replaced by air and ground transport of U.S. mail.

These postcards then, even though they show Hershey, PA on the front, were sent from somewhere between Carbondale, IL (Southern Illinois) and Chicago. It could have been anywhere along that line, because Ed's parents were from a mining town in rural Northern Illinois, that sits between Carbondale and Chicago.

Ed sounds to me like a college Freshman writing home to reassure his parents. For the sake of argument, I'm guessing he was at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. His parents wanted him home for Thanksgiving, and were going to send him money to make the trip, but Ed told them no, he'd stay at school until Christmas. Not that I know any of this -- Ed's not terribly chatty, but perhaps his letters had more substance than his postcards.

Okay, onto the important matters of chocolate.

First, when did Ed go to Hershey? My guess, the summer before he started at college. It was his last family trip with the parents and the little brothers and sisters. Hershey was still very new, and spectacular, so it must have been quite a trip.

Here's what an historical marker in the center of Hershey says about the town:
Model industrial town and noted tourism destination established in 1903 and named for its founder, Milton S. Hershey (1857 - 1945). Hershey's companies developed housing, recreation, education and cultural facilities, financial institutions, public utilities, a transit system, and the world's largest chocolate factory that opened in June, 1905.
And here's more from the website:
It was here, surrounded by some of America's most productive dairy farms, that Milton S. Hershey opened the world's first modern chocolate factory, and built the "model town" to provide employees and their families with an attractive place to live, work, and play. In 1907, he opened "Hershey Park" for the recreation and entertainment of the workers and their families. He also built a zoo, now known as ZooAmerica. During the Depression, his "Great Building Campaign" created jobs and a stadium, sports arena, community center with an elegant theater, and a Mediterranean-inspired hotel-The Hotel Hershey.

Mr. Hershey's proudest accomplishment was the founding of the Hershey Industrial School for Orphan Boys in 1909, and the establishment of a trust that would provide funding for the institution.
Did you know that Milton Hershey failed in the candy business THREE times (in Philadelphia, Chicago and New York) before he finally made a go of it? This brief story about Milton Hershey is worth reading, especially the Model Town and Legacy sections, where you can learn more about Hershey's methods for building a community for his employees, keeping folks working through the depression, and taking care of children in need. It's good stuff.

And now that I've taken the time to make this wonderful chocolate tour, I may just have to book a trip to the Hershey Chocolate Spa. It's only 2 short hours from my home. Oh my. Oh my. Oh my....

Harry Potter Meme

Miss Erin was kind enough to tag me for the Harry Potter meme. Which reminds me to remind you there are less than 4 weeks until it's all over. Did you pre-order? Do you have a plan? Will you reread all the other books before this one comes out?

Okay, here's the meme:

1. Butterbeer or pumpkin juice?
Butterbeer, but only if it tasted like butterscotch. If it actually tasted like, um, butter, then I'd be kind of turned off I think.

2. What House would you most likely (or want to) be in in Hogwarts?
This is tough. Gryffindor is always the one I root for, but I'd be most likely to end up in Ravenclaw I'd guess.

3. If you were an animagus, what animal would you turn into?
A hawk. Or perhaps a smaller bird so I could get closer to people and observe.

4. What character do you empathize with, or resemble best?
A mix of Harry and Hermione I guess. Sometimes Harry makes me a little annoyed, and I find that Hermione's always reasonable.

5. What position do you play at Quidditch?
Announcer, definitely, but hopefully not like Luna Lovegood.

6. Which teacher is your favorite?
No contest. McGonagall. Though I'll admit I find Snape the most fun to read about.

7. Any Harry Potter 7 predictions?
Snape will survive and be proven to be good. Draco Malfoy might not make it. Voldemort is toast, of course. Harry's aunt will turn out to be a key character and will be important to Harry's survival. Dumbledore's portrait will wake up and talk. Harry will see his parents again in some form. (Do I sound like I know what I'm talking about? Ha!)

No tags tonight. But please, pick it up if you've a mind to.

Tanga Puzzles: June 25 - July 1

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

June 25: For 10, look for zero.

June 26: Wow. Think of lost in terms of a game, not "in the woods." Also, in the end, substitute the 2nd word with another way of saying that.

June 27: The Starting point is clearly indicated, and that's all I'll say.

June 28: Be sure to start in the right spot. Once you fill in the blanks, the answer should be easy to find.

June 29: Green is "go."

June 30: Anna Graham would help you here.

July 1: Ask the crew, then check google images.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Frost

It's Poetry Friday!

Here's a whole collection of Robert Frost poetry readings, recorded in 1956, and provided by Harper Audio. The one I'm going to quote starts at 4:50 or so in the section called "The Death of the Hired Man." To get to a higher quality recording of this selection, use this link and go forward about 1/3 of the way.
The Death of the Hired Man
by Robert Frost

MARY sat musing on the lamp-flame at the table
Waiting for Warren. When she heard his step,
She ran on tip-toe down the darkened passage
To meet him in the doorway with the news
And put him on his guard. “Silas is back.”
She pushed him outward with her through the door
And shut it after her. “Be kind,” she said.
She took the market things from Warren’s arms
And set them on the porch, then drew him down
To sit beside her on the wooden steps.

“When was I ever anything but kind to him?
But I’ll not have the fellow back,” he said.
“I told him so last haying, didn’t I?
‘If he left then,’ I said, ‘that ended it.’
What good is he? Who else will harbour him
At his age for the little he can do?
What help he is there’s no depending on.
Off he goes always when I need him most.
‘He thinks he ought to earn a little pay,
Enough at least to buy tobacco with,
So he won’t have to beg and be beholden.’
‘All right,’ I say, ‘I can’t afford to pay
Any fixed wages, though I wish I could.’
‘Someone else can.’ ‘Then someone else will have to.’
I shouldn’t mind his bettering himself
If that was what it was. You can be certain,
When he begins like that, there’s someone at him
Trying to coax him off with pocket-money,—
In haying time, when any help is scarce.
In winter he comes back to us. I’m done.”

“Sh! not so loud: he’ll hear you,” Mary said.

“I want him to: he’ll have to soon or late.”

“He’s worn out. He’s asleep beside the stove.
When I came up from Rowe’s I found him here,
Huddled against the barn-door fast asleep,
A miserable sight, and frightening, too—
You needn’t smile—I didn’t recognise him—
I wasn’t looking for him—and he’s changed.
Wait till you see.”

Go here to read the rest of the poem. It tells quite a story. Especially the part around these lines:
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.”


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tanga Puzzles: June 18 - June 24

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

June 18: If you start with the synonym for tinned, you should get this quickly.

June 19: Cubscouts are always prepared. Try looking up pigpen cyphers to get you started.

June 20: Follow the directions from the beginning and you'll be okay.

June 21: Ignore the word clues and just fine the central word in each of the grids.

June 22: This one is too easy to hint. Honest.

June 23: The numbers apply to the boggle cubes, from left to right, top to bottom.

June 24: If only there were an analog version for those of us who hate looking at digital.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Collins

Happy Poetry Friday!

Today's poem is one I found on a site called Poetry 180. The site offers one poem for every school day. This first poem is the first in the series, and I think makes an excellent "introduction to poetry."
Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

Go here for the rest of the poem.

Here are some links for audio recordings of Billy Collins. I recommend the Library of Congress video, but you can skip the first 5 minutes of introduction.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Words on Wednesday: What Does Eleemosynary Mean, Anyway?

I came across this vocabulary quiz in my wanderings today.

I got 74 correct, but I'll admit that:

1) I had to guess more than a few; and
2) if the definitions hadn't been given there were plenty more I would never be able to define on my own.

How will you do?

(Note: I got 71%, because I guessed wrong more than once on a few.)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Tanga Puzzles: June 11 - June 17

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

June 11: If you think you've got the right word but it doesn't work, try a homonym.

June 12: Start with left.

June 13: Careful on that 4th one. It's not what you might think.

June 14: Shuffle.

June 15: The answer is in the process.

June 16: I tried this thing 6 ways from Sunday before I finally figured out what to apply the numbers to. I just didn't have a clue.


A Coffee Table for Techno-Adventurers

Yes, Eric Berlin, this IS very cool. Thanks for the link!

He Looks So Gosh-Darned Cuddly

My brother and his family spent Sunday at the Bronx Zoo, which they've reported as "fantastic" and "awesome" and "huge." They have photographic evidence to prove it too!

Here's my favorite picture from their day. It makes me want to go to the zoo too. Or maybe it makes me want to go take a nap. Either way, it makes me happy.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Personal and Professional Goals - a Meme

Michele over at Scholar's Blog tagged me with this meme to list 10 to 15 personal and/or professional goals for the summer. Good topic!

Personal Goals for Summer

1. Lose 10 more pounds by August 31. That's just a pound a week. NO problem!

2. Move library furniture out of back room and clean/paint before making back room into guest bedroom. Move bedroom furniture out of front room and clean/paint/refloor before making front room into library. Furnish middle room and decorate it to make it my new bedroom. This is the ultimate goal of all the moving and cleaning.

3. Take a few walks in the neighborhood. Talk with my wonderful neighbors.

4. Maybe swim. Then again, maybe not.

5. Celebrate my one-year blogversary in early July with a new blog contest. I think it will be a Lives in Letters contest, with a couple of good prizes to make it interesting.

6. Read the new Harry Potter book, after re-reading all the old ones. Let's see, 6 weeks to go, 6 books. Easy-peasy.

7. Go to New York for at least 3 Broadway shows and at least 1 Yankee game.

8. Figure out how to use my new (first) iPod. Reading the instructions will probably be a good start.

9. Celebrate my 39th birthday with something fantastically self-indulgent. Maybe I can find a spa that does chocolate baths somewhere around here.

10. Write poetry or prose and post it here. It's been too long since my last.

Professional Goals for Summer

11. Reorganize my team, get staff promotions done, and hire for at least 3 of my 6 open spots.

12. Complete training materials and offer training.

13. Reconnect with old colleagues. Perhaps join professional organization again.

14. Conduct team discussions by end of June.

15. Get key-competency evaluations done for myself.

Hmmmm... my personal goals sound like a lot more fun than the professional ones, but either way, it sounds like a busy summer!

And now, I'll tag Robin Brande, who I suspect has a better handle on how to have a great summer than I do.

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Lowell

It's Poetry Friday!

You'll find the round-up at HipWriterMama.

I've meant to use this poem in Poetry Friday for a long time now. It's one of those that I've remembered, at least for theme and message, since the first time I read it 20 years ago. See what you think.

by Amy Lowell

I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden paths.

My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.

Go here for the rest of the poem. See if it sticks with you too.

Oh, and here's an odd little audio recording of the poem. It's not bad, if you can get past the music.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Words on Wednesday: Word Sudoku

In case you're not spending enough of your time playing word games, solving riddles, and generally frittering away your day while exercising your brain... have you checked out Word Sudoku yet?

I did a search tonight, and came across a few sites. This seemed the most promising, not to mention it was the least likely to make me want to commit Sudokicide.


This one is a little more confusing, but the site itself has other good puzzles. Like Cryptograms. Or Acrostics. But not Word Ferret. Don't check out Word Ferret because we might never see you again.

And then this odd variation of Sudoku is like a Sudoku crossword puzzle. It's called Kakuro. Brave? Try it!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Lives in Letters: Postcard from a Swedish Tourist

How interesting is this postcard?

I did my very best to translate the Swedish word by word into something that resembles English. (It actually took me a while to figure out that it was Swedish rather than German, Dutch, etc. -- thank goodness for the internet!) If anyone out there can read Swedish, and wants to take a look at the original in somewhat less-than-pristine handwriting, I'd love to learn how bad my translation actually is. Plus, I have a few blanks to fill in.

Army, Navy and Reserve
Washington, D.C.
September 21, 1918

Addressed to
Mrs. Enack C-
Jamestown, NY

Notes written sideways on each of the people on front:

Navy – “your little brother”
Girl – “my little reserve”
Army – “your little hubbie”

Message on back:
Fredriksburg Virginia
Torsdag middag (Thursday midday)

We went
to Richmond this morning.
We went out for a stroll
through town, we found it
pleasant. Oh I felt proper
elegant. So we were not sad.
We came into Washington
around 3 ??. I hope
we go to see the President. I was not
sad for ????. XXX

??? but we are here in
Washington we shall
eat dinner here.
I wish you were here now.

Take a look at the notes written on the front of the postcard. I believe that "my little reserve" is the woman to whom this is addressed. I believe that "your little hubby" is the author of this postcard, and is married to the addressee.

Isn't that just adorable?

It's hard to tell from this message, especially my translation, but I'd guess that the author of this postcard was in the military, and headed off to serve during "The Great War." You can check out a war timeline here, and see what was going on in 1918 when this postcard was sent.

I really have to wonder if I got the translation right. Why so much "sadness" in this message? Even though he's saying "not sad" it makes me curious.

One more note... I don't know why it took me so long to figure out this was Swedish. It was sent to Jamestown, where there is a large Swedish population. And I knew that, because my brother has Swedish in-law family in that area. Of course, this lovely and funny lady was born in Jamestown, but is NOT Swedish.

Tanga Puzzles: June 4 - June 10

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

June 4: Bacon is not just for breakfast anymore.

June 5: It's a little hard on the eyes, but easy on the brain.

June 6: I was overwhelmed when I first looked at this, but then I understood it.

June 7: No hint required. I got the answer with just the first three letters.

June 8: This puzzle is twice as hard as the easy one tonight.

June 9: I'm not sure what the second clue is -- the one with the (6) -- but the rest are easy for a junk food junkie like me.

June 10: I hate that carol. But I needed the pipers piping to get this done.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Whyte

It's Poetry Friday!

My offering is just below. The round-up of all the PF offerings can be reached via this button:

First of all, a warm thank you to Stidmama, who thought to send me this poem earlier this week.

Usually I post the first few stanzas of a poem, and then link to the entire poem so that you can read the end. Today I'll do something a little different. In this poem, I found the last 3 stanzas so startling that I prefer to share these last three rather than the start of the poem. The link will still take you to the entire poem, allowing you this time to read the beginning (and re-read the end of course).

The House of Belonging
by David Whyte

This is the bright home
in which I live
this is where
I ask
my friends
to come
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.

This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

Go here for the rest of the poem. And don't forget to click the link at the bottom to hear it!

Once you've read it, and heard it, then check out the poet's bio and see if that makes you rethink your opinion of the poem itself. It's an interesting experiment I think.