Update On Oscar Palmquist Memorial & Headstone

Photo courtesy Titanic International Society
Photo courtesy Titanic International Society

The new headstone and memorial service was held Saturday at Mountain Grove cemetery for Oscar Palmquist, who survived Titanic and died in 1925 possibly by foul play. There was no headstone at the time since he was buried in pauper’s grave. However the unusual story of how he died (found dead floating in a pond when he had a fear of water after Titanic) lingered for many and was recalled during Titanic’s anniversary. The Titanic International Society led an effort to put up a headstone so that he could be properly remembered.

About 50 people gathered for the service at Mountain Grove’s chapel. His great nephew, David Palmquist (the city’s former historian) said interest began in his uncle when Titanic was located in 1985 and also Cameron’s movie. Oscar jumped from the sinking ship and used a wooden door to paddle to the nearest lifeboat. There was some confusion at first as he did not appear on the survivors list. As it turns out, many Swedish immigrants changed their surnames after arrival. Oscar had traveled as Oscar Johansson. With so many Swedes with the same name (or variations), he decided to use Palmquist as it was a name associated with Swedish royalty.

In an interesting twist, the funeral home that handled his body back in 1925, the Larson Funeral Home, arranged Saturday’s service while Titanic International organized the event. Siegfried Larson, who handled the body back then, noticed there was no water in the lungs and tried to get the medical examiner to look into it since he was found in only five feet of water but neither the police nor coroner were interested. Now at least Oscar can be properly remembered with a headstone to note he was a Titanic survivor.

Source: Titanic Survivor, Buried In Mountain Grove, Finally Gets A Headstone(29 June 2013, Ct Post)

Sunday Scramble

Happy Sunday
Happy Sunday

1. A few months ago it was reported that rubber blocks bearing the name “Tjipetir’” had been found on beaches in the UK. Tjipetir is the name of an early 20th century Indonesian rubber plantation. Since rubber from this plantation was cargo on Titanic, it was speculated that it might be from the wreck. Others think it unlikely and possibly from other shipwrecks. While that mystery continues, the New Post Leader has a story about a young boy who found such a block recently at the beach. Eight year old Matthew Sayer found the mysterious rubber block and brought it home. His father did an Internet search and came up with the information about the rubber plantation. Apparently a group has been formed on the matter, the Tjipetir Mystery group. I will try to find out more about this group.

Source: Did Rubber Block Sink With Titanic? (28 June 2013, New Post Leader)

2. Stan Fraser started collecting nautical items for his home. This led to collecting a lot of items over the years and led him to build an 88ft-long model of Titanic built from “parts of a caravan, portholes he picked up at a scrap yard and items such as creels, nets and buoys”, reports the Herald Scotland. His Titanic museum was known locally but much got wider notice in TripAdvisor when people began posting about it. So now Fraser’s museum is a place to visit if your near Inverness in Scotland. And from the photos, worth a visit.

Source:  Titanic Museum In Back Garden A Top Attraction(29 June 2013,Herald Scotland)

3. Amy’s Baking Company Update
There are rumors that Crazy Amy and Samy the Hammer have done a pilot for a reality show. Whether true or not, it makes one laugh. It tells how desperate they are to get publicity. Going the reality show route, they hope, will clean up their image. I doubt it would work considering the tons of bad press they have. And there is something interesting that popped up. Radar Online got a contract that Amy’s Baking Company now requires its employees to use. You can read it here. Now many employers do have contracts or codes of conduct they want employees to sign. And some places require you to not reveal proprietary information to another employer when you leave. Amy’s contract requires that if you leave, whether voluntary or not, you cannot work for a competitor within a 50 mile radius of ABC for one year without their permission. Now it is common in some industries, like broadcasting, that you cannot jump ship to another station until the contract term is complete. It seems unusual to put such a burden on common restaurant servers. That might be reasonable for head chefs so they do not compete against in another restaurant. Restaurant turnover is usually high and this contract might not pass muster if it gets before a judge if they get sued.

Oh and in case you are wondering, yes they now clearly say you give up any chance for tips. All tips belong to the house and you get paid $8.00 an hour. That still does not get them off the hook for what happened prior and it still may run into legal problems down the road.

4. While listening to a Giant’s game recently, Jon Miller noted of the darkening clouds in Denver and then a lightning strike nearby. Dave Fleming said it reminded him of a scene in The Natural(1984), a great baseball movie. The Natural is a baseball fable about a guy on his way to stardom that gets set back by being shot by a stalker, and returns to the game later in life. I will stop there as you ought to see the movie with Robert Redford. While some of the story is the same as the book, it has a very different ending. A much better one that elevates this movie into a great baseball movie. Other great baseball movies to consider: Field of Dreams (1989 ), For Love of the Game(1999), and The Rookie(2002).

MasterChef: Pigs Head, Christine Ha, and a Wedding

1. Head Fake
Those sly producers and our Culinary Trio seem to love twisting things around and faking people out. When the cheftestants lifted the mystery box this week, they found a whole pigs head! Now last year as part of the offal challenge, they had a sheeps head in the mystery box. Dave Martinez used its tongue for a braised dish that got approval from the judges. So I thought this was something along those lines. Nope! It was just a prop since all the necessary parts (ears, tongue, snout) had been already been prepared for their use. Lynn really impressed the judges with his use of seasoning and won the round.

2. Catfish, Crab, and Christine Ha Too!
In the pantry we learn the guest judge is Christine Ha, who just published her cookbook. Lynn had to choose from three proteins Christine uses in her recipes: chicken, catfish, and crab. But here comes that twist that MasterChef is getting known for. Lynn can select one protein for one person to cook, and the other protein for everyone else. As predicted last week, the other contestants are none too pleased with Krissi and want to smack her down. She gets the catfish while everyone else gets crab. Krissi is not happy with Lynn.

3. Krissi and the Wrath of Joe
By now anyone who watches MasterChef ought to know Joe Bastianich does not suffer fools gladly. He walks over with Graham to see what she is doing with the catfish. He sees her frying it up in a pan and planning to serve it with mashed potatoes. Joe does not like what he sees thinking it is far below the standards of MasterChef. Krissi gets defensive about it leaving Joe to later comment later to Gordon and Graham that it looks like a Sunday leftover dinner. Since catfish is a bottom feeder, you really need to work on its flavor. It is often served with rice and corn bread in the south but mashed potatoes is not common. Mashed sweet potatoes, however, is often used and complements the catfish. When time is up, Krissi is called up right away. The judges are totally underwhelmed by it. Gordon says it looks like a tv dinner. And he finds the skin is still on it, which surprises him since it is like “snake skin.” She says she always leaves it on prompting Gordon to ask whether she is cooking for herself or the judges.

Christine panned her catfish as tasting too earthy and needs more elevated flavor. Graham says it is the $6.99 blue plate special. Joe spits it out and says it tastes like mud. And he also says she is wasting his time and says for him “you’re done.” Joe thanks Lynn for letting him know who is really here to play. Krissi goes back to her station and starts mumbling her fish was okay to the others around her. Joe calls her out challenging her to come down and say it to his face. She shuts up but Krissi got seriously slammed. Lynn hit a bullseye. Her anger colored the cooking choices and her banter with Joe only hardens a lot of attitudes against her.

4. Luca Goes Nuts
Once again we see what happens when someone tries to impress too hard. Luca presents a crab risotto that at first Gordon thinks is a soup. Gordon could not believe it and neither he or Christine are impressed with it. Christine says it is too salty. Turns out he added fish sauce to the risotto (he mentioned this to the camera while prepping) and Joe makes him bring the bottle up. The judges could not have been more disappointed with Luca and it shows. Fish sauce is used in Asian cuisine to add depth and flavoring. Using it in a risotto was just nuts and so he ends up in the bottom with Krissi and Beth. Fortunately for Krissi, she gets spared since the other two are worse but Beth’s raw flour crab cakes sends her home.


5. You are Invited to a Wedding
I often wonder in food reality shows where they find people who want there special event catered by a reality cooking competition. Is there some place you can go to put your name on the list? Apparently the lucky couple are serious foodies so perhaps the producers found them or the foodies did. The plus is that you do not have to pay for catering since the reality show picks up the tab for the food and possibly more. The downside is that you allow the event to be filmed, which means cameras are everywhere. And your guests have to be put on notice they will be on camera for the show. Both Natasha and James won so they are team captains. The teams all get sorted out but, once again, there is a wrinkle.

And the wrinkle is that one person from each team must be dropped. Natasha got Krissi after James picked Luca so she is dumped. James drops Bri despite the fact that last time out Jordan royally screwed up the fish. Natasha runs around like a crazed chicken until Gordon gets her to focus on the task of sending out food. It works and her team sends out the food well ahead of Team James. James is a decent leader but let down by unheated plates and Lynn screwing up badly. He plates dishes poorly but worse is unsanitary when his sweat begins dripping down on the food. Gordon grabs those plates and they have to replate. But Lynn screws up again! He uses the same towel used to wipe sweat off his forehead on the dishes going out! Gordon freaks out again! Team James really falls behind as people are waiting for food. In the end, they snap into gear (thanks to Graham Elliot) and the food goes out. Team Natasha wins and gets the save leaving Team James to face the dreaded pressure test.

6. Even The Cookie Monster Would Have Lost This One
The Culinary Trio decides who will be saved leaving only Lynn and Jonny to face what is to come. And they get to make twelve perfect macaroons. And they all have to fit perfectly in a presentation box. So too thick they will not fit, too thin and they will likely crumble. Your filling must be delicious but not watery. Nor can it be too thick either. Neither of them aced it perfectly. Lynn put the cookies that could not fit on top. Jonny mashed up some of his in the box. Both had good points but Lynn gets the win because at least he presented his cookies and Jonny lost many of them in the box.

Final thoughts
MasterChef seems more tricky this year not wanting to get locked into a predictable pattern. Over at CBS, the American Baking Competition while interesting is predictable. You can easily see who is likely to go in the end. Which is why it is not getting great ratings. Too boring and predictable. Krissi got a well deserved kick in the pants; she will no doubt respond in kind given the opportunity. Luca was the most disappointing. The next time Luca ends up in the bottom, it likely will be his last. Possibly the same for Krissi.

Next week: Eva Longoria drops by and possibly an unexpected departure!

Titanic Exhibit Extended At Grand Rapids Public Museum

Photo Wikipedia
Photo Wikipedia

If you have not visited the Titanic exhibit in Grand Rapids, you now have extra time. Due to popular demand, the exhibit has now been extended to 8 Sept 2013.  Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition is open the following hours at the Grand Rapids Public Museum:

Monday:  9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday:  9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. (last ticket at 8 PM)
Wed-Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday:  12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Admission: Adults: $17,Seniors: $16,Child (3-18): $12,Ages 2 & under are FREE
Members: $12 adults / $11 seniors / $10 child (3-18 yrs of age)

Admission price includes Titanic and general museum.

Important note: GR Museum does not sell Titanic tickets online. The museum suggests you buy them ahead of time as only a limited number of tickets are for sale at the museum each day. Titanic Exhibit tickets are timed so you need to choose a time slot to enter the exhibit on that day. Further information is at grmuseum.org.

Source: Source: Titanic Exhibit’s Voyage Extended At Grand Rapids Public Museum(25 June 2013, MLive.com)


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Joel Osteen Compares Titanic & Noah’s Ark

Photo courtesy George Behe
Photo courtesy George Behe

Joel Osteen,televangelist and preacher, posted a comment to Facebook back in April comparing Titanic and Noah’s Ark. The comment has garnered criticism here and there around the Internet. He wrote:

The experts can be wrong. Experts built the Titanic and it sunk. Amateurs built the Ark and it floated. Don’t let the experts talk you out of what God has put in your heart.

Like many who use Titanic for spiritual matters, his perspective is his faith in God. His point is that experts can be wrong while God points in a better direction. He cites Noah’s Ark as an example of a ship built by an amateur that survived. Now many will point out there is no proof of a worldwide great flood and so far nothing has been found to prove such an ark ever existed (occasional tantalizing clues aside). Just like no one has found Atlantis although now it is believed Plato drew upon the ancient Minoans (who were a major bronze age civilization that went into serious decline after the Thera eruption and likely suffered catastrophic damage from the tsunami that followed).

Now he is not saying, as some might suggest, that God punished for building Titanic. It was men who steered the liner right into the place where the iceberg hit Titanic. And men who did not put enough lifeboats for everyone. Just like on the General Slocum, it was men who decided not to have proper safety equipment, no fire drills for the crew, or had lifeboats tied up making them unusable.

His comment is not a cliché but a moral lesson and nothing more.

Source: Joel Osteen Ministries (Facebook, 11 april 2013)

Titanic Survivor Oscar Palmquist To Be Remembered

Photo courtesy Titanic International Society
Photo courtesy Titanic International Society

Oscar Palmquist, age 26, was immigrating from Sweden when he boarded Titanic in Southampton as a third class passenger. He was in lifeboat 15 when rescued. Eventually he ended up living near siblings in Bridgeport, Connecticut where he worked as a tool maker. He died in 1925 under circumstances that many thought suspicious when his body was found floating in a pond. Since many knew he feared water, they did not believe he committed suicide.

Some suspected murder by a jealous husband over an affair with his wife. However officially his death was determined to be accidental and neither murder or suicide. He was buried in Bridgeport’s Mountain Grove Cemetery. His grave was never marked with a headstone and he faded from memory. However his tragic death did apparently strike a chord with many people and was remembered last year during the 100th  anniversary of Titanic’s sinking. It also began an appeal by Titanic International Society to put a proper headstone on the grave.

And on 29 June at 11 a.m., a ceremony and dedication at Mountain Grove Cemetery will take place. His great nephew, David Palmquist, and other family members will attended along with Titanic devotees. The public is also welcome to attend.

1. Local Titanic Survivor To Be Remembered At Ceremony(21 June 2013, Sheltonherald.com)

2. Encyclopedia Titanica/Titanic Survivors: Mr Oskar Leander Johansson Palmquist

3. A Stone For Oscar-Blog(30 May 2013, Titanic International Society)


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Saturday Titanic Scramble

*President Obama was not the only foreign leader to visit Northern Ireland recently. Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, paid a visit as well. And not only did he bring goodwill, but likely new jobs as well.

*Taylor Swift has shared with the world that she and her cat watched Cameron’s Titanic together. Meanwhile James Cameron recently extolled the virtues of veganism. Connected? You decide.

Warning! Titanic Cliche Ahead
Warning! Titanic Cliche Ahead

*It is always amusing when local politicians decide to use Titanic to describe how bad something is. Take Graham Galpin, a borough councillor in Kent, UK. Now the issue involves asphalt in a shared space which has become pretty bad owing to trucks using it rather than loading docks and issues with the asphalt itself. This caused Galpin to say, we assume with all seriousness:

“I was interested to see it says engineering was carried out with professional care. It’s a bit like saying the Titanic was well built.”

So the logic here is Titanic is to asphalt as asphalt is to an iceberg. Hopefully no iceberg hits him for using a Titanic cliché.

*Chappy’s, in Nashville, TN that was featured on Kitchen Nightmares, has been shuttered. You probably remember this fellow who wore the oversized toque and disco style pants in the kitchen. His décor was from another time, had a large menu with prices that increased during the day, cooked meat and fish together, had some sanitary issues, and dissed the people of Nashville who panned his food as not understanding Cajun food. His restaurant was seized by the state tax authorities this week for failing to pay state taxes. Of course it is all Gordan Ramsay’s fault as obviously his restaurant was doing just fine until the foul mouthed Scotsman showed up.

1. Our New Friend From The East Is Given A Titanic Welcome In Belfast(19 June 2013, Belfast Telegraph)

2.Taylor Swift Posts Video With Her Cat While Watching ‘Titanic’(20 June 2013, New York Daily News)

3.  Laying Of Pavement Is Likened To The Titanic(20 June 2013,This is Kent)

4. Another Amy’s Baking Company Drama? Chappy’s Shuts Down After Appearance On ‘Kitchen Nightmares’(21 June 2013, International Business Times)

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Summer Is Officially Here

The Summer Solstice officially occurred today at 5:04 hours UT, 1:04 a.m EDT, or if you are on the West Coast at 22:04 PDT. It is an important day on the calendar as it marks an important shift from spring to summer. Ancient times saw the day celebrated with all kinds of rituals to welcome summer. It is the day of the highest sun and the longest daylight hours, but not the hottest day as some used to believe. And it was the time when the growing season for most crops had reached a turning point. National Geographic has a good article here about the 2013 summer solstice.

Today most of us have forgotten the significance it had for our ancestors. Today it is marked as the shift towards a time for vacations, kids to play, and work to be done on homes needing repair. The rituals have changed but the season is a vital part of the year for those who grow our food. Perhaps we ought to be thanking them.

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MasterChef: Strange Food, Lidia Bastianich Gives a Cooking Lesson, and Krissi Shows Her True Colors

As we wind through the MasterChef season, we get to see more of our feisty home cooks all wanting that title, trophy, and cash. And in the process we learn a lot about them from their cooking and interaction with their fellow competitors. Once again I am not doing a recap as there are already plenty out there. Rather I am commenting on various things good and bad I liked about this two-parter.

1)What Is That!?
Okay the Culinary Trio got sneaky this week. The mystery box contained foods from all over the world. Some were easy to discern, like that bit of elk steak that was thrown in. Or the Japanese sweet potato. Other things looked weird, like the Chinese black moss that looked like hair but needs water to hydrate into noodles? Baby eels were tossed in along with a can of weird livers that Joe found disgusting. What I liked about this challenge is that they gave no instructions on what to do. The chefs had to figure it out on their own. In the end Eddie won for his elk steak. Jordan sneered at that when Eddie brought it up but Eddie got the win.

2)Lidia Bastianich Drops By For A Cooking Lesson
Joe’s mom was last seen in season 2 and now drops by to demonstrate how to cook a complicated pasta with a meat filling (with Joe to assist her). Alas for Lynn and James, Eddie sends them away as part of his reward to decide who gets to watch the demonstration. When they return, they have to make the pasta without seeing how it was done. Very wicked indeed! Neither of them does well in the challenge. James gets by with a pasta that is good but nothing spectacular. Lynn puts the meat through the food processor (makes it pasty) while everyone else used a meat grinder. Howard and Lynn have the worst dishes but Howard takes the walk when he is asked to do the right thing and leave. Lidia reminded Howard and everyone there that when you try play around with classic dishes, you have to stay faithful to its roots. Putting maple syrup like Jonny did was not wise (and he was in the bottom as well). Sometimes chefs get over creative and think they have to toss everything in to prove themselves but only make it worse. And Howard was a good example of that.

3) Visiting Glee
Okay you can guess what happened here. Someone decided to cross-promote Glee with MasterChef. Amazingly it worked well because they used Jane Lynch who did an incredible job of sorting out the teams. Blue Team was headed up by Krissi and Red by Jessi. The menu was set as each team had to prepare fried chicken (with fries and coleslaw), grilled salmon  (with asperagus and scalloped potatoes), and vegetarian lasagna (with mixed salad). Team Blue seemed to be functioning well while Team Red seemed chaotic. Both teams were unprepared though for the staggering demand for fried chicken, which at some points were unavailable. Red Team had a serious issue when Jessie cut herself and thus was out for a while while Gordon and the medic helped her. But Blue Team had a serious issue when raw chicken was discovered. Eventually it got sorted out but it royally angered Krissi. It would mean doom for Bime later.

Now the results were delivered by Jane Lynch accompanied by a drummer and cheerleaders with twirlers. Another good choice. Red Team wins it handily totally surprising Krissi. Her anger deepened at that point.

4) Krissi Lets It All Out
Team Blue is assembled for the pressure test. Gordon reveals some astonishing information. Bime’s chicken won hands down over the Red Team; it was not the reason they lost. What handed them the loss was Jordan’s grilled salmon. Only 2 people liked it! But that does not spare Bime. Krissi is given the chance to decide who gets saved and who faces the pressure test. She lets Jonny and Natasha get spared but not Bethy, Beth, Bime or Jordan. Now comes the decision she will be long remembered for. She totally trashed Jordan when he, as captain, bailed out and took the exemption. So she has the chance to show him up. Except she decided to get in the lifeboat and sail away. She tried claiming it was for her son but the hypocrisy was apparent to everyone who remembered her rant. She heads up to the balcony to gloat over those in the pressure test.

What made it worse was her joy in watching Bime fail. Bime mistakenly added cream of tartar thinking it was cornstarch. Krissi was enjoying every moment of it and crowing to the camera about how happy she was in seeing Bime going down in flames. Krissi, who is brash and loud by any standard, showed us a side that probably turned off most who watched. And likely her fellow contestants who could not fail to hear what she was saying and laughing about.

The hardest part was watching the pies being judged. Jordan came out fine no one else aced it. Watching what happened to Bime was not easy. Gordon sliced into the pie only to find there was no set curd. It was all wet! Up on the balcony, Krissi was smiling and eating it all up. Natasha turned away not wanting to look and saying so, but Krissi was enjoying the show. Bime’s pie was totally reviled by Gordon and it sent him home. Krissi’s hypocrisy and gloating over Bime’s demise no doubt turned off a lot of people. And it showed that she is an odious, contemptible human being. In a short word, bully. Fox is quite pleased with this. We all want to see Krissi get smacked down now by the judges when her food is bad.  Likewise we cannot wait to see how her fellow contestants try to take her down. So many possibilities in a kitchen. And good ratings for MasterChef as we tune in. A clip seems to show Joe getting in her face about something she said.

And next week season 3 winner Christine shows up and yes, they are going to cook blind!

Titanic Salvage Sale Appears Either Dead Or Looking For New Buyer

On 28 May, Premier Exhibitions put out its Full Year and Fourth Quarter 2013 Results. For Sale by Owner SignDeep down in the statement was the following:

Update on Titanic Monetization

As previously communicated, on October 15, 2012, the Company entered into a non-binding letter of intent with an entity representing a group of individuals (the “Consortium”) working to effect a purchase of the stock of RMS Titanic, Inc. Since entering into the LOI, Premier has been negotiating exclusively with this group. The entity with whom the Company is negotiating has been soliciting federal, state, and local government entities, as well as philanthropic contributions, to build support to go public with a broader campaign to secure capital necessary to complete a transaction. They continue to request confidentiality until they feel comfortable that there is sufficient support to go public with the project.

Due to the complexity of the transaction and the many elements that are necessary for consummation, the process has taken longer that Premier had hoped. While the Company continues discussions with this group, Premier also recognizes the uncertainty of their completing a transaction and obtaining funding commitments. The Board is therefore considering the full range of strategic and financial alternatives in this regard, which likely will include retaining an investment bank, and will pursue possible paths in parallel.

The complexity of these assets, and the need to comply with the underlying court orders, require that any transaction or arrangement be more carefully structured and executed than a typical transaction. Timing is certainly a factor, but it is not the only factor. The Board and management, together, remain committed to maximizing shareholder value.

This confirms some speculation about who this consortium might be, a group of investors trying to raise capital both with taxpayer money (that is where government money comes from) and private investors (rich people with lots of money like that guy with the hoodie who heads up a social network). You can guess the problem with raising this capital. Not only is the price astronomical, it comes with a major constraint: it stays under U.S. federal court jurisdiction because you are not allowed to sell off any portion of the collection. That means the court will be over your shoulder all the time wanting reports and details of the collection from what is being stored, how it is being carefully preserved, and when it is on display.

So the upshot of it is this: Premiere is formally notifying that they are looking for other interested parties. This may be the reason, according to Seeking Alpha that Premiere’s stock price has dropped. It dropped from $2.30 to $2.10 ion 28 May and dropped much further since. Premiere might consider appealing the judge’s decision to a higher court. And it is entirely possible down the road one of two things happening: the entire collection being shuttered until resolved or the U.S. government seizing it as a national/international treasure under some obscure international treaty or possibly use a congressional resolution passed years ago as the pretext.


1. Failed Titanic Sale Won’t Sink Premier Exhibitions(18 June 2013,Seeking Alpha)

2. Premier Exhibitions Reports Full Year and Fourth Quarter 2013 Results (28 May 2013, Global Newswire-Press Release)