Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition Opens In South Africa

Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition opened this week at V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa. This is the first time the exhibition has been in South Africa and expectations are high that it will draw large crowds. The exhibition is open 9am to 6pm daily and will run until March 2016. To purchase tickets and further information, go to http://titanicexpo.co.za/.
Source: CT To Host Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition(Eyewitness News,22 Nov 2015)

Today is Black Friday

Black Friday Shopping Photo: Public Domain
Black Friday Shopping
Photo: Public Domain

Today is called Black Friday or as it used to be known, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. It is not an official public holiday though many government employees and a select number of private companies do take the day off. Schools are generally out as well so a lot of kids from grade school to college have the day off.  The day after Thanksgiving has been a major retail event for decades. And the term “Black Friday” likely came from such overwhelming numbers of people and vehicles filling the streets, sidewalks, and malls on this particular day.

Until fairly recently most retail stores were closed on Thanksgiving Day. Only a limited number of stores, often grocery and 24 hour restaurant or retail operations, would be open. Usually stores would open around 6:00am the next day but a few years ago some big retailers like Target started opening up at midnight and then kept pushing it back so now many open on the afternoon or early evening. It has not been without controversy as workers get a limited Thanksgiving with their families but are paid overtime for working the holiday as required by law. And sadly many incidents of people being stomped on or worse as the masses of people flood into stores. There have been incidences of fights over bargain items and one notable case pepper spray was deployed by a shopper to prevent others from getting what she wanted.

Black Friday is often used to measure consumer spending for the upcoming Christmas season. Merchants use the data from the sales made to forecast what the projected seasonal  earnings will be. In 2014 despite huge numbers of people in the stores, sales were not significantly higher than the previous year. This meant that while sales were going to be okay they would not be breaking any records. Breaking it down further you can see what people are buying and adjust sales and inventory accordingly.

Of course if you want to avoid the whole Black Friday mess and have access to the internet, you can shop from the comfort of your home. Why stand outside a store for hours when you can order the very product you want, often with the same discount, when you can do it at home? That is something likely to get stronger if the present trends hold up which is why there is now a Cyber Monday.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Grace (1942) Photo: Public Domain (US Library of Congress, digital id#fsa.8d10749)
Thanksgiving Grace (1942)
Photo: Public Domain (US Library of Congress, digital id#fsa.8d10749)

Thanksgiving was not an official national holiday until 1863. A letter from a 74-year magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, inspired President Abraham Lincoln to create a national holiday. She wrote in 1863 that we needed to have a national day of Thanksgiving so that everyone could celebrate it on the same day. At the time Thanksgiving was celebrated by the various states but not on the same date. She wanted President Lincoln to make it a national day so it would become a permanent part of “American custom and institution.”

According to Abraham Lincoln Online , other presidents had ignored such requests. Lincoln decided to act on her request and directed a proclamation be drawn up. On 3 October 1863, President Lincoln’s proclamation that establishes Thanksgiving as a national day was issued. It sets aside the last Thursday of November as a “day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Secretary of State William Seward actually drafted the proclamation which Lincoln signed. Thanksgiving became a national holiday and was celebrated on that date until 1939. President Roosevelt in 1939, 1940 and 1941 changed it to the third Thursday (to extend the Christmas season) causing considerable controversy. A joint resolution of Congress in 1941 resolved it by decreeing Thanksgiving would fall on the fourth Thursday of November.

Lincoln’s proclamation was written during the American Civil War, a terrible time in U.S. history. Today we forget why this day was made a national holiday. It was to thank God for the blessings of liberty but also to ask his help. In our politically correct times, this proclamation is not always read in full or edited. So here is the original proclamation. Read it and understand why Lincoln thought a national day of Thanksgiving was needed for the United States of America.

Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day
October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
A. Lincoln

 Victorian Traditions/Shutterstock.com
Victorian Traditions/Shutterstock.com

Empress Of Ireland Exhibit Opens In Halifax

 RMS Empress of Ireland 1908 Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)
RMS Empress of Ireland 1908
Photo:Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-116389)

An exhibit honoring the Empress of Ireland opened this week in Halifax and will run for the year. “The exhibit includes historical documents, eyewitness accounts and 81 artifacts from the liner. One of those artifacts is a pair of pajamas worn by passenger John Langley, who survived the sinking in remarkable fashion,”reports CBC News.

Further information at Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

Source:Empress of Ireland ship sinking exhibit opens at Pier 21(CBC News,24 Nov 2015)

The Kids Are Back In The Kitchen:Masterchef Junior Returns

MasterChef-Junior-LogoThe kids are back in the kitchen on Masterchef Junior for season four. Once again young kids will battle it out to win the coveted trophy and $100,000. And once again we get the vaudeville acts this show is known for from judges getting dunked and crazy special effects. It underlies though the seriousness of what is going on, which is a cooking competition for kids. It means kids are going to get chopped because their dish did not pass muster with the judges. In the past I have noted that the judges, despite saying these are kids, really look at them as chefs trapped in small bodies. And this sometimes means that line between treating them as kids and adults sometimes gets a little blurry.

In a recent episode the judges appeared in spacesuits. It was neat but more interesting was that an actual astronaut stopped by to show them what is eaten on the space station. Essentially it is dehydrated and needs water to become edible. Now I thought the challenge would be to craft a space station worthy meal that could be served to them with the astronaut to tell them whether it is space ready or not. The astronaut was sent home leaving the kids to cook with cheese (as in the moon is made of). Mind you there were some interesting dishes made but it missed a potential here and why the show often falls on its collective behind.

I look at this show as part comedy, part education, and part cooking. They got the comedy down well and the other two are a mixed bag.

Titanic News Briefs

1.  Titanic Survivor’s Lincoln Park Home May Go Residential Again
A once-elegant Lincoln Park townhouse designed for a survivor of the Titanic may become a residence again after spending 40 years as the home of a recovery program for people with mental illnesses. The corner home was built in 1917 for Emily Ryerson. Five years earlier, her husband Arthur, a lawyer and member of the family behind Ryerson Steel, died in the sinking of the Titanic, but she, their three children and two servants survived. Emily Ryerson’s 17-room home was the biggest of an attached string of four completed in 1917 by architects David Adler, Henry Dangler and Ambrose Cramer and designed to resemble grand rowhouses in London.
Source: Titanic Survivor’s Lincoln Park Home May Go Residential Again(Crain’s Chicago Business, 19 Nov 2015)

2. Titanic Hotel To Help Pensioners On Christmas Day
White Christmas Liverpool, held in the Town Hall for the past two years, offers a hot meal and entertainment to 250 elderly people who would otherwise be spending Christmas Day alone. But last month it was announced that the event was at risk of being pulled due to a lack of funding, and organisers put out an urgent appeal for support and a venue. Liverpool’s Titanic Hotel announced that the event will be hosted in its Rum Warehouse venue on Stanley Dock.
Source: Christmas Day Event For Lonely Pensioners Saved After Liverpool’s Titanic Hotel Steps In (Liverpool Daily Echo,19 Nov 2015)

3. Rare Plymouth Titanic Poster Sells For A Small Fortune
A rare 104-year-old poster advertising transatlantic trips, via Plymouth ,on the ill-fated Titanic and her sister ship, the Olympic, sold for almost £7,000 at an auction in America last night. The 20 by 24 inch poster, issued in or around 1911, the year before the Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage, is emblazoned with the words: “White Star Line,Southampton-Cherbourg- Queenstown-New York (via Plymouth eastbound)Triple-Screw R.M.S.Olympic 45,000 tons & Titanic 45,000 tons. Largest steamers in the world.”
Source: Rare Plymouth Titanic Poster Sells For A Small Fortune (Western Morning News, 20 Nov 2015)

4. Aboard the Titanic at Liberty Science Center
Inside the Liberty Science Center’s new Titanic artifact exhibition, be sure to check out the extensive menu enjoyed by wealthy passengers: It starts with consommé, goes into salmon, filet mignon, lamb, duck and beef sirloin, and ends with Waldorf pudding, éclairs and French ice cream. I can attest to the richness of it all: I attended a re-creation of the Titanic’s final first-class dinner held by the science center last week. The sumptuous meal went on for 10 courses and lasted more than three hours. “Back then, no one looked at their waistlines,” said Donatella Arpaia, who, along with fellow celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli, presented dishes such as asparagus vinaigrette, roasted squab with cress sauce, green pea timbale (a molded custard) and foie gras pâté (the ninth course!).
Source: Aboard the Titanic at Liberty Science Center (NorthJersey.com,5 Nov 2015)

5. Titanic Belfast Stars In UK Passport
One of Belfast’s most eye-catching landmarks is to sail into the new UK passport when it is rolled out next month. Titanic Belfast has been selected to feature on the ‘brilliant buildings’ page, which celebrates modern and historic architecture across the UK. The tourist attraction’s design is based on the bow of the Titanic and capitalises on its unique location, built beside the slipway where the liner was floated in 1911.
Source: Titanic Belfast Stars In UK Passport (Belfast Telegraph,5 Nov 2015)

Caltrain Refresher

CaltrainThis is for those of you who travel on Caltrain, a commuter rail line that runs between San Francisco to San Jose in California. With the fall sports season well underway, many are taking it as an option to attend games and special events. All others can pass this post by.

1) Clipper Card Cheaper Then Buying A Ticket
Caltrain, unlink BART, gives those who use Clipper a break in the fare. According to the Caltrain fare chart a one-way paper ticket is $3.25 versus $2.75 using Clipper. The discount gets better if you are going further to San Jose. From San Francisco (Zone 1) to Santa Clara (Zone 4) the ticket will cost $9.25 versus $8.75. A day pass, which is valid all day, is $18.50 while the round trip Clipper is $17.50.

2) Tag On, Tag Off!
This is the most important rule using the Clipper card on Caltrain. You must tag your card at the Clipper card terminal before boarding the train and again when you get off. If you forget to tag, the conductor or fare inspector can issue you a ticket for fare evasion and toss you off the train at the next stop. Forgetting to tag off at your destination will cost you $12.75! That is the maximum one-way fare. When you tag off it automatically calculates the correct fare. But if you forget to do this by midnight, you get the maximum fare. Avoid this because as it can deplete your card’s cash value quickly! Make sure you have at least $1.25 in cash on your card or it will not allow you to tag at all!

3) Do Not Use Autoload
Clipper offers the autoload feature in theory to make it easier to load cash and passes. However it is beset with many problems and can take days to actually load. The best way to load a pass or cash is use a Clipper machine at the San Francisco or San Jose stations or any Walgreens store. Usually the photo area in most Walgreens is where they process the Clipper card. Simply tell them what you want to add to the card (pass or cash) and pay for it. Then it is loaded onto the card and ready to go (unless the pass does not become active till the first day of the month).

4) Parking
Some Caltrain stations have parking. The daily parking rate is $5.00. Take note of your parking space and pay for it at the ticket machine. Just select daily parking, type in your space number, and pay by cash/credit/debit card. You do not have to put the receipt on the dashboard of your car. If you decide not to pay, expect a ticket on your windshield. There is a monthly parking permit available to monthly pass and 8 ride ticket holders. Note that at the Millbrae station the Caltrain and BART parking are separate areas. Do not confuse the two!

5) Monthly Pass Perks
A monthly pass allows you to travel in the zones purchased Monday-Friday. But on weekends and holidays, you can travel all zones for no extra cost. So if you only go between Burlingame and San Francisco on the weekdays, you can take a trip down to San Jose for no extra cost. Nice.

7) Zone Upgrade
If you have a monthly pass or 8 ride ticket, to travel outside of the zones purchased you will need a zone upgrade ticket. This does not apply on weekends to monthly pass holders but applies at all times to 8 ride ticket holders. It costs $2.00 for each zone beyond your ticket zones. A good deal and lot cheaper then buying a ticket. See my write-up on this here.

8) Stanford Games
There are no Clipper or Caltrain ticket machines at the Stanford stop (only used for games and other events). If using Clipper, get on and off at the Palo Alto station. Or use a day pass (which does cost more) and get off at Stanford stop.

9) 49ers Games
Take Caltrain to Mountain View and then VTA light rail to Levi’s Stadium. You can purchase a combined Caltrain/VTA day pass at Caltrain ticket machines. However it is more expensive than using Clipper. As of November 2015, the one way VTA fare is $2.00 or $4.00 round trip from Levi’s Stadium. San Francisco (Zone 1) To Mountain View (Zone 3) is $14.50 round trip for total of $18.50. The special day pass is $20.50. Important note: If you have a two-zone Caltrain monthly pass, you receive a free transfer on VTA.

10)AT&T Park
Take Caltrain to Fourth and King station (the end of the line for northbound trains) and simply walk two blocks to the ballpark. It is the fastest way to get to the ballpark on the Peninsula.

11) Important Reminders
* Yes you can eat and drink on the train. Alcohol consumption is allowed up to 9pm.
* There are bathrooms on the trains, just ask a conductor where they are. The newer bombardier trains have one in every car.
*If going to a game in San Francisco, Mountain View, or San Jose, be advised you must toss out your open beer cans or bottles into the trash. If you exit the track platform into the main area, you can be cited for violating the open container law. It is also goes without saying that if you arrive highly intoxicated the police will have a chat with you.
*If you loaded a monthly pass at a Clipper terminal or at Walgreens, you do not need to tag to confirm or activate it. It is already loaded on the card. Only those who use autoload have to tag to download and confirm the pass on the card.
*Do not get smart with the conductors! If you get into their face because you have no ticket or some other issue, you will be escorted off the train, arrested and charged with assault. It is not worth it.

For Further Information
Santa Clara County Transportation Authority (VTA)
Akit’s Complaint Blog:Perhaps the best blog out there about the various problems using Clipper and other transportation issues.

Commentary on Titanic news and other related items.

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