Log in

17 January 2017 @ 09:01 am
He can't read.

14 January 2017 @ 05:47 pm
Always nice to come home to a puppy...

14 January 2017 @ 03:12 pm

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.

Did You Know ... that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Cross of Sacrifice was designed in 1918 by Sir Reginald Blomfield partly because the British people expected it, and partly as a way of winning Church of England support for the commission's work?
14 January 2017 @ 01:05 pm
Eating fruit is healthy, you know...

14 January 2017 @ 10:59 am
TCM aired Cleopatra (1934) with Claudette Colbert and Henry Wilcoxon last night as part of their "Cleopatra" night.

Just so you know: Julius Caesar was murdered on March 15 at the Theater of Pompey. It was a sports and gladitorial arena, but also had a building at the rear which contained a steep amphitheater where the Senate often met. A gladitorial contest in Caesar's honor had been arranged, and Caesar himself asked that the Senate gather beforehand in the antechamber to the theater's main entrance for a brief meeting. As Caesar entered the chamber, one Senator detained Caesar's friend, Marc Antony, outside.

Every single one of the 60 Senators in the conspiracy agreed to stab Caesar, so that none of them could be blamed for the fatal wound. (In fact, he was stabbed just 23 times. Only one of the wounds was fatal.)

Caesar fell on the floor, dead. The Senators fled from the theater and headed for the Forum, where several of them tried to speak and win the crowd to their side. But the crowd silently dispersed. Citizens went inside and locked their doors, fearful of riots or a purge by the army. The conspirators then fled to the Capitoline, where they offered sacrifices and waited with their gladiators.

Caesar's body lay on the floor of the Senate for three hours. Finally, three of his slaves put his body on a litter, and carried the dead man back to his own house.

The next morning, the conspirators found themselves surrounded by the army, led by Caesar's close friend, Lepidus. With the public still not taking sides, Antony agreed to allow the conspirators to flee the city, and gave them his and Lepidus' eldest sons as hostages to guarantee their safety.

On March 17, the remainder of the Senate convened at the Temple of Tellus. The Senate granted a public funeral at the behest of Caesar's father-in-law, Piso. Caesar's will was read, in which his nephew Octavian was named his heir.

On March 20, the funeral was held at Caesar's unfinished Temple of Venus Genetrix. Marc Antony delivered the funeral oration, and either lifted the bloody toga or exposed the dead and bloody body.

The crowd went wild with anger and grief. Mobs rampaged throughout Rome, looting and burning and seeking anyone even vaguely associated with the assassination. Many people entered nearby temples and shops, ripped out any furniture or wood fixtures, and piled the wood atop Caesar's corpse. The bonfire was lit, and Caesar cremated.

When the fire died out, members of Caesar's family gathered what bones remained. These were buried at the Caesar family tomb. The location of this tomb is not exactly known, but it was on the Via Flaminia, on the same side as the Campus Martius. (The Mausoleum of Augustus may have been built next to it.)

In 42 BC, Octavian -- now known as Caesar Augustus -- constructed a small temple to Julius Caesar on the site of his adoptive father's cremation. It was finished and dedicated on August 18, 29 BC.

The temple wasn't very big, just 88.5 feet wide and 98 feet long. A semicircular niche existed in the front, in which was placed a round stone sacrificial altar. Stairs either were on either side of this niche, or on the sides and rear of the temple.

Behind the niche was a podium, set atop the place where Caesar was cremated. Short steps led up to the temple proper, which had six columns in front. Going through the bronze doors, you could see a double-life size statue of Julius Caesar, a star on his head (reminding people of the comet that blazed in the sky after his death) and a wooden "lituus" (shepherd's hooked staff, the inaugural item for Roman rulers) in his hand.

The temple was destroyed by fire some time between 193 and 211 AD. It was rebuilt.

At some point, the altar in front was removed and the niche filled in. It's not clear when this occurred: 14 BC, in the 340s AD, or just after 397 AD. (The latter two are the deaths of Constantine the Great and Theodosius I, both of whom were Christians and wanted to stamp out worship of Julius Caesar.)

The rebuilt temple remained intact until the late 1400s, when it was mostly dismantled to construct churches and palaces. Only parts of the cement core have been preserved.

One of these elements is a somewhat circular mound that marks the site of Julius Caesar's cremation. You can get within three feet of it, and people leave flowers there every March 15 to this day.

14 January 2017 @ 08:03 am
Normally, I don't like extensive tattoos. But I like his. And him.

13 January 2017 @ 03:29 pm

January 13, 1982 – Air Florida Flight 90, a Boeing 737 jet, crashes into the 14th Street Bridge shortly after take-off and falls into the Potomac River, killing 78 people -- including four motorists.

Icing on the wings was later blamed for the crash. Modern de-icing procedures at American airports were implemented based on recommendations made after the crash.

On Wednesday, January 13, 1982, Washington National Airport was closed by a heavy snowstorm that produced 6.5" of snow. It reopened at noon under marginal conditions as the snowfall began to slacken.

The scheduled departure time was delayed 1 hour and 45 minutes because of the temporary closing of Washington National Airport. As the plane was readied for departure, a moderate snowfall continued and the air temperature was 24°F.

The Boeing 737 was deiced with a mixture of heated water and monopropylene glycol. The pitots/static ports and engine inlets had to be deiced, but workers did not comply with those rules. The deicing truck was also not working propertly. Instead of 30 percent alcohol, the mix was 18 percent. That was because the nozzle on the truck had been damaged, and replaced by a commercially available nozzle rather than one used specially for deicing trucks. (The operators had no means of knowing that the mixture was wrong, because the trucks lacked a mixture indicator.)

The plane waited in a taxi line for 49 minutes before reaching the takeoff runway. Pilot Larry Wheaton and First Office Roger Pettit had little experience flying in cold or snow. They decided not to return to the gate for deicing, fearing the flight's departure would be even further delayed. Both men were aware that snow and ice were accumulating on the wings when they decided to take off. The flight crew also did not activate the engine anti-ice system, which would have prevented sensors from freezing, ensuring accurate readings.

As they taxied, Wheaton and Pettit decided to get close to a DC-9 that was taxiing just ahead of them. They believed the heat from the DC-9's engines would melt the snow and ice that had accumulated on Flight 90's wings. This blatantly violated the flight manual. That's because doing so actually worsened the icing: The exhaust gases from the other aircraft only partially melted the snow on the wings, but did not disperse it. During takeoff, this slush mixture froze on the wings' leading edges and the engine inlet nose cone.

Takeoff occurred at 3:59 p.m. EST.

With the engine sensors iced over, the engine pressure ratio (EPR) thrust indicators provided false readings.

As the takeoff began, Pettit said several times that the plane did not seem to have as much power as it needed for takeoff, despite the instruments indicating otherwise. Wheaton dismissed these concerns and takeoff proceeded. He may have done so, in part, because control tower operators had told him that another aircraft was 2.5 miles out on final approach to the same runway.

As the plane became airborne, the stick-shaker -- an instrument that warns that the plane is in danger of stalling -- began sounding.

It took the plane just 30 seconds to crash.

Flight 90 was only 350 feet in the air before it began to fall. As it did so, the plane was aiming directly northwest up the Potomac River. As it crashed, its rear undercarriage and tail smashed into the 14th Street Bridge, hitting six cars and a truck. Forty feet of the bridge's wall plunged into the ice-strewn river below.

Eight people on the bridge were hit by the plan. Four died immediately.

The aircraft plunged into the Potomac, with all but the tail section. Both pilots and two of the three flight attendants died instantly. Of the 74 passengers aboard, only 23 survived impact. Nineteen of these were so severely injured, they were unable to escape the sinking airliner and drowned.

Just 5 passengers survived.

Flight attendant Kelly Duncan was the only crew member to survive. Clinging to the tail section, she activated a flotation device and passed Nikki Felch, a severely injured passenger.

Federal offices in Washington had closed early that day due to the blizzard, which caused a massive traffic jam. Traffic made it very difficult for rescue craft and ambulances to reach the crash site. Worse, the Coast Guard tugboat _Capstan_ was downriver on another search-and-rescue mission.

Roger Olian, a sheetmetal worker at St. Elizabeths Hospital, jumped into the water in an attempt to reach the survivors. He only traveled a few yards before coming back, ice sticking to his body. He tried again, this time tied to a rope, but heavy ice prevented him from getting more than 30 feet.

At approximately 4:20 p.m., Park Police helicopter manned by pilot Donald Usher and paramedic Melvin Windsor arrived and began attempting to airlift survivors to shore. First to receive the line was Bert Hamilton, who was treading water about 10 feet from the tail. Fire/rescue personnel and civilians pulled Hamilton ashore. The helicopter then attempted to aid passenger Arland D. Williams, Jr. Williams could not unstrap himself from his seat, and passed the line to flight attendant Kelly Duncan, who was towed to shore. The helicopter now lowered two lifelines, fearing that the survivors had only moments left before succumbing to hypothermia. Williams, still strapped into the wreckage, passed his line to Joe Stiley, who was holding on to severely injured Priscilla Tirado, who was blind due to jet fuel in the eyes. Nikki Felch took the second line. As the helicopter moved toward shore, both Tirado and Felch lost their grip and fell back into the water.

When the helicopter returned, Tirado was too weak to grab the line. Lenny Skutnik, a worker at the Congressional Budget Office, dove into the water and swam out to her, successfully pulling her to shore. Usher now maneuvered the helicopter dangerously close to the iceberg-filled waters, at one point his skids even dipping below the surface. Windsor stepped onto the skid and grabbed Felch by her clothing. The two stood on the skid until the helicopter got them to shore.

By this time, the wreckage had rolled, submerging Arland Williams. He drowned.

The National Transportation Safety Board cited pilot error as the primary cause of the crash.

The crash-damaged span of the 14th Street Bridge was renamed the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge to honor the passenger who died saving others.

Roger Olian and Lenny Skutnik received the Coast Guard's Gold Lifesaving Medal. Williams received the award posthumously. Donald Usher and Melvin Windsor received the Silver Lifesaving Medal.

Usher and Windsor also received the Interior Department's Valor Award.

12 January 2017 @ 08:30 pm
That's the face you want to wake up to for the next half century.

12 January 2017 @ 02:23 pm
On November 1, 2016, Wikipedia established the "50,000 Challenge" for American contributors. The idea is to give people a sense of accomplishment and community spirit by challenging them to upgrade or write 50,000 new articles. There's no time-frame for the challenge.

So far, about 150 people have signed up for the challenge. That's nothing, considering Wikipedia has more than 1 million users in the United States alone. I've agreed to help out with articles for Ohio, Montana, and Washington, D.C.

I've written 16 article for them since then, all but two of them very substantial and very well-cited.

  • Riverside Cemetery Chapel

  • Riverside Cemetery Gatehouse

  • Cleveland Trust Company Building

  • Tower Rock State Park

  • Burton J. Lee III

  • Kaya Henderson

  • Pier table

  • Poker table

  • Antwan Wilson

  • Federal City Council

  • Cleveland Convention Center labor dispute of 1963

  • Cleveland Convention Center (demolished)

  • United Freedom Movement

  • Hobart Taylor, Jr.

  • Thermopolis Shale

  • Smith River State Recreational Waterway

It takes time to research and write these, especially when I'm not familiar with the topic (like geology), or when I have only limited access to research materials (like with Montana state parks). Some of these were kind of unexpected topics for me. Kaya Henderson, for example, was the D.C. public schools chancellor. She resigned, and Antwan Wilson was named her successor. Although there was a Henderson article, it was shitty and needed an upgrade. No Wilson article existed. Hobart Taylor came about because there seemed a lot of "red links" (wikilinks to nonexistent articles) in the Cleveland Convention Center labor dispute article, and his article needed to be written. (It turned out to be very fortuitous, as Taylor is an important civil rights figure.) And Burton J. Lee died; I knew quite a bit about Physicians to the President, and so I took it upon myself to write his article.

If I've been remiss in blogging since mid-December, it's because I love to write history. And I've just been writing elsewhere...
12 January 2017 @ 12:44 pm