Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."


Birthday Race Day

Man-cub turned 7 today, and decided it was fitting that the state-champ Oak Ridge Cross Country team also hosted their annual "Elementary School Turkey Trot" today as well. Jarrett has shown to be quite a runner, completing a 1.2 mile run (the last 2k of the Knoxville Marathon) back in March and taking 2nd place in a local 1/2 mile race this past summer. So he entered the 1st Grade heat of the Turkey Trot with a lot of confidence -- and, as the photo above shows, blazed into the home stretch with only the ORCC wingman ahead of him.

Despite an errant turn on the final approach, he quickly corrected his course and rounded the last turn with a strong kick to take first place. Final time for the 3/4 mile (1200m) course: 6:37. The photo to the right is Jarrett (and trophy) with legendary coach Allen Etheridge, himself an accomplished distance runner with a 15:05 record 3-miler and a 2nd place finish in the 2006 Knoxville Marathon. Coach Etheridge led this year's Oak Ridge High School teams (both boys and girls) to state titles, and later this week will fly with his team to Portland, Oregon for the Nike Team National Championships! GO WILDCATS!

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First Thansgiving Proclamation

By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America


WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wife, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington


Best wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving to all!

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Blogroll Updates

Two quick updates on the Blogroll:
  1. Mark "ZenPundit" Safranski has cleaned up his old jalopy of a 'blog, trading it in (with extensive spousal support) for a sleek new roadster. Or, as Soob so eloquently says, "Bold new look, same great taste!" Check it out at ZenPundit.com.
  2. Longtime friend and Boyd archivist Chet Richards, author of Certain to Win, has started a 'blog of the same name. I'm looking forward to Chet's contributions to this medium.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!

UPDATE 071122: Another migration in the Blogosphere: A.E. of Simulated Laughter has now moved to a new site, with a new focus: Rethinking Security.

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"The Play" + 25

One of the greatest comebacks in the history of college football took place 25 years ago, on November 20th 1982, at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. While Trinity's recent 15-lateral, 62-second play in the final seconds to defeat Millsaps was impressive, as was Boise State's improbable comeback against powerhouse Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, neither can compare with the magnitude of The Play.

Rivalries like the one between the Golden Bears of the University of California and the "cardinal" (like the, uh, color) of leland stanfurd junior university are rare. Add in the irony of a future NFL Hall of Famer (John Elway) being denied his last shot at a college bowl game (and perhaps the Heisman Trophy), the always-entertaining antics of the stanfurd band, and the drama of stanfurd's "devastated program", and you have a recipe for a legend.

For an in-depth review of The Play -- as well as John Elway's impressive drive in the final minute to temporarily take the lead, and Joe Starkey's emotional play-calling from KGO 810AM's live broadcast, check out this seven-minute clip at YouTube:

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New Arrivals!

Earlier today, my daughter's pet chinchilla Duchess had her first litter: two kits, a white one (tentatively named Marie) and a tan (name still TBD). She got her first chinchilla (Chippy, not seen in the photo above) more than three years ago as a reward for enduring the Mother of All Road Trips. This past spring we found Chippy a mate, which now makes us "Chinchilla Ranchers".

These have got to be the best pets ever! They have soft fur, no smell, take baths in a dry "dust bin", and their scat is like dry grains of wild rice (very easy to clean up). And the babies have open eyes and are mobile from birth, so there has been zero effort required on the part of the humans in the house.


Gettysburg Dedication

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought just prior to the 4th of July, 1863, between General Robert E. Lee's "Confederate States Army" and the Union's "Army of the Potomac" (led by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, who had assumed command only three days earlier). In addition to being the northernmost battle of the American Civil War, it was also the costliest in terms of lives lost.

Nearly 8,000 soldiers died, and more than 27,000 were wounded. The cemetery atop the ridge on the southeast corner of this small Pennsylvania town, the Soldiers' National Cemetery, was dedicated this day, November 19th, in that same year 1863.

The principal speaker that day was the Hon. Edward Everett, a former Governor of Massachusetts who had also served as President of Harvard University, Secretary of State under President Fillmore, and as a Congressman and U.S. Senator. He was considered the nation's foremost orator of the day, and asked that the dedication be delayed from the originally planned date of September 23rd in order to prepare an "appropriate" speech.

After Ambassador Everett's two-hour speech, President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most well-known speeches in our nation's history: the Gettysburg Address. His two-minute long, 10-sentence, 272-word speech reaffirmed the notion of human equality, recast the ongoing war as a "new birth of freedom", and asserted the primacy of the nation-state over the rights of individual states to protect individual freedoms.

Though the Civil War would rage for another 17 months, with tens of thousands more to perish, our nation is the greater for Lincoln's tireless efforts to preserve not only the Union, but the values that make our Union great.

And again, "it is for us the living" to ensure that those words from seven score and four years ago remind us of our duty to the future -- that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from this earth.

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Do the Dew

My personal favorite soft drink (Mountain Dew) was invented right here, in east Tennessee, some 60 years ago. The trademark was awarded on this day, November 12th, 1948, to the Hartman brothers of Knoxville (who invented the drink as a mixer for whiskey).

Pepsi-Cola bought the franchise in 1964, and today there are nearly a dozen flavors and several brand varieties. Knoxville Trivia Blog has a great timeline on the Dew's evolution (including early marketing techniques to correlate the drink to Appalachia-distilled Moonshine), and even Wikipedia has a page on the drink.

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Veterans/Remembrance Day

The armistice that ended "The Great War" (World War I) was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month: November 11th, 1918. Europeans commemorate this day as "Armistice Day", Americans as "Veterans Day", and citizens of the Commonwealth as "Remembrance Day".

Poppies grow in profusion in Flanders (northern Belgium), where many many casualties of the war were buried. The poem "In Flanders Fields" was written by a Canadian physician, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, in the trenches on the battle front a day after he witnessed the death of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer. The poem:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

As we honor the service of those who ensure our security, let us also remember those who gave their "last full measure of devotion" -- in Flanders Fields, and elsewhere.

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Happy USMC Birthday!

The Marine Corps was founded 232 years ago today, on November 10th 1775, in a tavern on the Philadelphia waterfront near today's Penn Landing. A marker denoting the approximate location of the Tun Tavern (now under Interstate-95) is located on the east side of Front Street, between Walnut Street and Chestnut Street.

In 1921, Commandant Lejeune began the tradition of formally recognizing the founding of the Corps:
On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since that date, many thousand men have borne the name Marine. In memory of them, it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the Birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

The record of our Corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history. During 90 of the 146 years of it's existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the nations foes. From the battle of Trenton to the Argonne. Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home. Generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our Corps Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term Marine has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the Corps. With it we also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our Corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps.

As the proud descendant of a long line of Marines (grandmother, grandfather, uncles, dad, cousin), and having had the privilege of serving as a civilian in the Fleet Marine Force for four years, it is with great pleasure that I say, "Happy Birthday, Marines! Semper Fidelis!"

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Fall of the Wall

While the date "9/11" will reverberate in our memories forever, the date "11/9" is equally significant. It was on November 9th, 1989, that the East German government (acceding to citizen demands after several weeks of unrest) allowed free transit between socialist East Berlin and democratic West Berlin.

This decision made the Berlin Wall moot, with souvenir-seekers chipping away pieces of the wall until heavy equipment could remove it. It also led to the formal reunification of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (East Germany) and the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (West Germany) less than a year later.

Most significantly, this decision brought the Cold War to an end -- ending more than four decades of tension and anxiety between the world's two dominant nuclear superpowers.

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ORNL Honors Vets

Oak Ridge National Lab held its 8th annual "Veterans' Day Parade and Celebration" today, which featured a rousing "military medley" by the Roane County High School Marching Band and a blunt, no-nonsense speech by GEN(ret) Carl Stiner (former Commander, Special Operations Command). GEN Stiner decried the lack of sacrifice on the part of too many Americans with respect to the "War on Terror", and equated the dwindling pool of "qualified" applicants for military service to America's declining status as a superpower.

Most of the evening has been spent getting ready for this weekend's six performances for The Nutcracker, sponsored by the Oak Ridge Civic Ballet Association. Eldest child will be in both the "Party Scene" as well as the "Snow Scene", while I have been recruited to be a "Party Dad". Should be fun....

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[Moblog] Marathon post mortem

We completed the race! Mike is no longer a "46-year old virgin" in marathoning, and we had *perfect* weather: mid-50s, mostly sunny, with light wind. New Yorkers are wonderful hosts, too, with cheering spectators along virtually every mile handing out essentials like Kleenex and oh-so-tasty-and-salty pretzels. (The tastiest pretzels in the world are found at mile 21 on a marathon course... :-)

Only celebrity sighting was marathon-running Katie Holmes, who finished right behind us with her double-bodyguard escort.

Final time: about 5:43, with lots of fun along the way. Congrats, Mike, for successfully completing your first marathon!!

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[Moblog] Go Navy!

For the first time since JFK was President, the Midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy have beaten Notre Dame. Today's victory (46-44 in triple overtime) ended more than four decades of losses at the hands of the Fighting Irish.

Next week another service academy comes to South Bend: the Falcons of the U.S. Air Force Academy. Go Zoomies!!

(The irony is that despite already amassing *eight* losses, Notre Dame will probably still get a bowl berth....)

[Moblog] AM in NYC

Tropical Storm Noel has brought overcast skies and brisk winds to Manhattan. But the winds should subside by tomorrow's 10:00am (Standard Time! :-) start on Staten Island.


Marathon Weekend

I'll be offline for most of the weekend. In a few hours my bride and I will be flying to NYC for a 40 hour visit, during which time we'll eat, drink and help our friend Mike finish his first-ever marathon!

Now if only "Noel" will keep moving toward Nova Scotia -- and away from NYC!

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In Memoriam: Paul Tibbets

Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., USAF (ret), pilot of the ENOLA GAY (the B-29, named after his mother, that dropped the LITTLE BOY bomb on Hiroshima in August 1945) died yesterday. He was 92 years old.

The U.S. Air Force news release is here, the Associated Press report here, and additional photos and information on the man who -- to his dying day -- defended the mission that helped bring World War II to an end is here.

Rest in peace, sir.

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Neighborhood Hallows Eve

Neighbors hosted all of the neighborhood kids for a pre-Trick-or-Treating party -- great fun for all! I'm the balding "Skellington" at top-left, while "Posterity of Oz" opted for Star Wars-themed costumes this year (eldest as Queen Amidala, man-cub as interchangable Sith Lords Darth Maul or -- without mask -- Anakin Skywalker).