Memorial Day 2015

Arlington National Cemetery, Memorial Day, 1924 Photo: U.S. Library of Congress, digital id npcc 11495
Arlington National Cemetery, Memorial Day, 1924
Photo: U.S. Library of Congress, digital id npcc 11495

Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember those who gave all to serve this country. At national cemeteries and smaller ones around the country, flags and flowers have been placed to remember them. We also remind ourselves that freedom is not easily granted, often requires great sacrifice. President Lincoln made note of this in his famous 1863 Gettysburg Address:

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Masterchef US Returns

Photo: Fox
Photo: Fox

A new season of those wacky cheftestants has started up again. A new judge has joined the panel. And the two hour opening took a page from Food Network’s Chopped.

*New judge Christina Tosi is a breath of fresh air. She’s snappy and able to judge the food very well.

*In the past they had aspiring aprons do all kinds of tasks or prepare a meal for them to judge. This year they made the aspiring aprons compete in pairs or in groups of three or four. The losers were chopped.

*A redemption round was added so that those chopped might be selected by one of the judges in a final challenge for the remaining two aprons.

*Like in the past they showed disagreements between the judges at this early stage. Hopefully they will show this more often.

*The criteria they used in determining who stayed and who got chopped was whether the person showed enough creativity and passion that could be developed. Which meant someone who perhaps had a slightly better dish than the other could be chopped.

*I like how the final challenge used Tosi’s must haves in her pantry.

*I thought it was a little weird to have all the people stand outside waiting to learn the fates. Likewise the staging when people came out was too obvious.

*The fashionista guy loves being the center of attention. Interesting to see how it turns out. Looks like from the promos he will be wearing some interesting outfits to the cooking theatre.

*Hey and there was no mention of Walmart at all during the show.

Next week the cheftestants face their first mystery box challenge, severe heartburn sure to follow, and to add more pressure a double elimination.


Shipping Label From Parcel Addressed To Titanic Wireless Operator Up For Auction

Photo:johnnicholsons.com

                  Photo:johnnicholsons.com

We have had postcards, letters and even a rare violin come up for auction. Now we have a shipping label from a parcel addressed to “Marconi Operator, RMS Titanic” now up for auction. What the parcel contained is unknown or what happened to the box. According to BBC News, the mother of the current owner got it from Olympic’s first officer who was a friend of hers. She passed away in 1972.

The auctioneer is John Nicholson of Fernhurst, West Sussex, UK. The starting bid is £500 ($775) and will auctioned off on 30 May 2015.

Source: Titanic Parcel Label To Be Auctioned(22 May 2015,BBC)

 


Remembering the 1932 Flight of Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart circa 1928 Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress digital ID# cph.3a22092)
Amelia Earhart circa 1928
Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress digital ID# cph.3a22092)

On 20 May 1932, five years after Charles Lindbergh made his famous solo nonstop flight from the U.S. to France, Amelia Earhart set out to be the first female aviator to accomplish the same feat. Unlike Lindbergh, Earhart was already well known before this flight. She gained fame in 1928 as part of a three person crew to be the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an airplane. On that trip, she kept the plane’s log.

Early on 20 May 1932, her Lockheed Vega 5B took off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. She intended to replicate Lindbergh’s flight but encountered strong northerly winds, mechanical problems, and icy conditions. Instead of landing in France, she landed in a pasture at Culmore(north of Derry)in Northern Ireland. When asked by a farmhand how far she had flown, she famously said “From America.” Her feat received international acclaim. She received the Distinguished Flying Cross in the U.S., Cross of Honor of the Legion of Honor from France, and the Gold Medal from the National Geographic Society. Her fame allowed her develop friendships with many important and influential people such as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Earhart would continue to make solo flights and set records. Sadly her next most famous mission would forever be shrouded in mystery. In 1937 she attempted–along with copilot Frederick Noonan–to fly around the world. On 2 Jul 1937, her plane disappeared near Howland Island in the South Pacific. Despite extensive searching by the U.S.Navy and Coast Guard, no trace of the plane or its pilots were ever found. The search was called off on 19 July. Earhart was declared legally dead on 5 Jul 1939 so that her estate could pay bills. Since then numerous theories as to what happened have been put forth. Many believe her plane either crashed and sank or that they landed on an island and perished awaiting rescue. Some intriquing evidence recovered in 2012 off Nikumaroro might be from their plane which supports the crash and sank hypothesis. More speculative theories have her being a spy for FDR or being captured and executed (along with Noonan)by the Japanese on Saipan (the area checked for the pilots bodies revealed nothing). A 1970 book claiming she had survived, moved to New Jersey, and changed her name to Irene Craigmile Bolam. There really was an Irene Bolam who had been a banker in New York in the 1940’s. She sued the publisher and obtained an out-of-court settlement. The book was taken off the market. National Geographic throughly debunked it in 2006 on Undiscovered History.


Remembering the historic flight of Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh, with Spirit of St. Louis in background. Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress,digital id# cph.3a23920)
Charles Lindbergh, with Spirit of St. Louis in background.
Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress,digital id# cph.3a23920)

It was a cold morning and the runway was muddy from the rain when an unknown contract Air Mail pilot by the name of Charles Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field, New York in his Wright Whirlwind monoplane named Spirit of St.Louis. His destination was Paris, France. Others had tried and failed. Scrimping together his own funds and financing from backers, he would attempt a feat that would prove transatlantic air travel was possible.

After taking off at 07:52 am on 20 May 1927, he would fly solo for his entire trip. He had to fly over storm clouds on occasion and other times just above the water having to avoid wave tops. There was fog that made it hard to see and icing on his wings. He had to fly, when possible, by the stars and dead reckoning.

He would land in France at Le Bourget Airpot at 10:22 pm(22:22) on Saturday 21 May. The airfield was seven miles northeast and he originally thought, due to all the lights he saw, it was a industrial plant. In fact it was the headlights of thousands of cars whose passengers had come out to see Lindbergh land. Which he did to great acclaim. He was mobbed by thrilled spectators although a few were souvenir hunters who grabbed items from the plane. A combination of French aviators, police, and even soldiers got him and the plane away from the mob.

He would not only receive the $25,000 Orteig Prize for an aviator who achieved this feat, he would receive several other honors as well. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by France, U.S. President Coolidge awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the U.S Post Office issued a special 10 cent Air Mail stamp with his plane and map of the flight on it. He also had a ticker tape parade in New York. And the U.S. Congress would award him the Medal of Honor which tells you how much in awe of his achievement they were. The Medal of Honor is usually reserved for heroism in combat and only rarely given to civilians (usually the Congressional Gold Medal is given to civilians). And Lindbergh was just 25 years of age when he did all this.

Aside from changing his life forever, his flight was a major boost not only to the aviation industry but encouraged many to become aviators. It was the Lindbergh Boom. The use of Air Mail would increase and last until 1977 when its use for domestic mail was discontinued. Today most first class mail destined outside a regional delivery area (like New York to San Francisco)is put on airplanes. Lower class mailings go the slow route via trucks and rails. The only mail delivered by air today are in remote areas such as in Alaska or other remote areas of the U.S.

The Spirit of St. Louis was given to the Smithsonian Institution by Lindbergh in 1928. It has been on display in the atrium of the National Air and Space Museum and worth the trip to see it.


Update on Chinese Titanic Sinking Simulator/Replica: Shipbuilder Assembling Parts

Photo courtesy George Behe
Photo courtesy George Behe

According to Ecns.com, Chinese government owned China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) is now building parts for the full Titanic replica. The replica will be the main attraction at Seven Star’s planned theme park in Daying where it will be permanently docked. It is scheduled to open in 2017. U.S. based designers are working with Seven Star to develop precise dimensions and layout. The replica will meet all current safety standards and is estimated to cost $161 million or 1 billion yuan. The sinking simulator apparently will be a separate simulation in the same theme park.

As for Clive Palmer’s Titanic replica, not a word.

Source: State-Run Shipbuilder Begins Assembling Parts For Full-Scale Titanic Replica(18 May 2015,Ecns.com)


Memorable Theme Music:Hill Street Blues

Hill Street Blues (1981-1987)was once part of the legendary “must see”television on NBC. The show depicted the lives of those who worked out of the Hill Street Police Station in an unnamed American metropolitan city (though references to Chicago sometimes appeared or were mentioned). It was more gritty than other police shows up to that time in showing severe character flaws and internal politics. And also the revolving door the criminal justice system had become. This was not Adam-12 or Dragnet. The show was awarded eight Emmy Awards in its first season and was nominated 98 times for an Emmy during its run.

Mike Post, known already for composing for The Rockford Files and other shows, composed the instrumental theme for HIll Street Blues. The instrumental earned him a Grammy award. And the composition became popular enough to take tenth place on instrumental compositions in 1981 (I remember hearing on the radio, which tells you how popular it was). The theme is unlike most cop or law enforcement shows which tend to be about action and power. Instead Post choose a more low key tune using a piano and guitar for the main instruments (a synthesizer is also used). Enjoy and have a nice Sunday everyone.


Saturday Titanic News

1. Final preparations for the upcoming Titanic exhibition at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa are underway. The exhibit opens on Saturday, 23 May and runs till 7 September 2015. The exhibition has garnered a lot of attention and is expected to draw large crowds. A special opening celebration will include a special formal dinner recreating eating a meal aboard Titanic and includes actors dressed in period outfits. More information can be found at rivermuseum.com.
Source: High Hopes For Titanic’s Maiden Voyage To Dubuque(13 May 2015,Telegraph Herald)

Mrs. J.J. "Molly" Brown presenting trophy cup award to Capt. Arthur Henry Rostron, for his service in the rescue of the Titanic. Photo:Public Domain (US Library of Congress, digital id# cph 3c21013)
Photo:Public Domain (US Library of Congress, digital id# cph 3c21013)

2. The great-granddaughter of Molly Brown recently stopped by the Molly Brown House in Denver,Colorado. Helen Benzinger said she was thankful for keeping her great-grandmother’s legacy alive.
Source: Titanic Survivor’s Great-Granddaughter Visits Molly Brown House(15 May 2015,wgem.com)

This 18-foot-model of RMS Titanic will be on display this summer in St. Clair. (Photo:The Times Herald)
18-foot-model of RMS Titanic.
(Photo:The Times Herald)

3. The world’s most accurate Titanic replica is going to be permanently located at The Mariner in Marine City, Michigan starting in July 2015. The replica, which is 18 feet long and weighs 10,000 pounds was previously in St. Clair. It will be located on the old theatre stage. Further details can be found at marinertheater.net.
Source: The Mariner To Get New Life In Marine City As A Theater(12 May 2015,Port Huron Times Herald)

4.Protestors stood outside at the Bodies Revealed exhibition in Niagara Falls, Canada trying to raise awareness that the bodies being displayed came from China. One protestor said “The bodies inside, we don’t know where they come from. Chinese people, prisoners of conscience, disappear in Chinese prisons, many never come out.” Premier says on one hand the bodies are from those who died of natural causes in China but also states “Premier cannot independently verify that the human remains you are viewing are not those of persons who were incarcerated in Chinese prisons.” Which pretty much says exactly what most people suspect but of course cannot prove. If Stalin had come of with this idea, the old Soviet Union could have made a fortune peddling bodies to gullible westerners as well.
Source: Hundreds Protest ‘Bodies Revealed’ Exhibit Of Plastinated Corpses In Niagara(17 April 2015,Epoch Times)

5. There are pranks and then there are PRANKS (like Harry and Ron driving a car to Hogwarts in Chamber of Secrets). A couple decided to take some very realistic fake skeletons and place them in the Colorado River. In lawn chairs. They were placed near rocks so they would pose no harm. They were discovered by a snorkeler who notified police about the skeletons. A diver examined them and reported they were not real but caused a media sensation. The culprits decided to come forward and inform the police they were responsible. Since no one was harmed and the skeletons posed no real safety threat to anyone, no charges are forthcoming. Takes Weekend at Bernies to a whole another level.
Source: Couple From Phoenix Confess Putting Fake Skeletons In Colorado River(12 May 2015,International Business Times)


Friday Funny: Swedish Chef vs Turtle


Monday Titanic Shorts

1. Both Lusitania And Titanic Got Their Anchor From Same Chainmaker
The Birmingham Mail reports that Hingley and Sons made the anchors for both vessels. These massive anchors were not easy to transport and a big day to watch as they were pulled by teams of horses to the railroad for shipment. “The bow anchors weighed over 10 tons. The chains weighed 125 tons – the mass of a whale – and were 330 fathoms long, the equivalent of eight jumbo jets nose to tail.”
Source: Titanic And Lusitania BOTH Customers Of Netherton Chainmaker(10 May 2015,Birmingham Mail)

Titanic Belfast (side view) Image:Prioryman (Wikipedia)
Titanic Belfast (side view)
Image:Prioryman (Wikipedia)

2. What Defines A British Site?
British Airways’ in-flight magazine – High Life –is asking readers to vote for which 21 landmarks define Britain. And one of those sites included on the list is Titanic Belfast. Sites chosen by readers will be revealed in the August 2015 issue.
Source: Titanic Belfast Included In The Search To Find 21 Landmarks That Define Britain(8 May 2015,Belfast Telegraph)


Commentary on Titanic news and other related items.

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