Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ian Owens of @NHM_London on natural history "for the learned and curious" at the @Smithsonian 's @NMNH

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fort DeRussy, Rock Creek Park

"Connecting the Oceans: 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal" (make that 101 years!)

On this, the 101st anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal, I'd like to point you to a great blog post from Pamela Henson (Smithsonian Institution Archives) from the Archive's blog, The Bigger Picture.

Here are some related resources from the post:

Related Resources

Below are some of my pictures from the Canal from recent visits:

IMG_20140923_195748 2014.09.26-IMG_1963 2014.09.23-IMG_1797 2014.09.21-IMG_1560 2012.01.17-IMG_0295

Monday, August 10, 2015

Happy birthday, @Smithsonian Institution! Keep on "increasing and diffusing" for Americans and the world!

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"On August 10, 1846, the United States Congress passed the legislation (9 Stat. 102) founding the Smithsonian Institution as an establishment dedicated to the "increase and diffusion of knowledge," and President James K. Polk signed it into law the same day. This legislation was the culmination of over a decade of debate within the Congress, and among the general public, over an unusual bequest. When the English chemist and mineralogist, James Smithson, died in 1829, he left a will stating that if his nephew and sole heir died without heirs, his estate should go to the United States “to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge." Smithsonian Archives. General History

In case you were wondering, the building on the right is not the famed Castle of the Smithsonian in Washington, but rather Syon House in west London, one of the family homes of the Duke of Northumberland. Had the Duke acknowledged James Smithson, perhaps this is the building we'd associate him with instead of this one:


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Sunday, August 09, 2015

US Airways 4627: BDL to DCA

Gate 28

So long, Hartford....

"Certainly there is no nobler field for human effort than the insurance line of business — especially accident insurance." - Mark Twain #QotD

2015.08.08-DSC02656SPEECH ON ACCIDENT INSURANCE
DELIVERED IN HARTFORD, AT A DINNER TO CORNELIUS WALFORD, OF LONDON

GENTLEMEN: I am glad, indeed, to assist in welcoming the distinguished guest of this occasion to a city whose fame as an insurance center has extended to all lands, and given us the name of being a quadruple band of brothers working sweetly hand in hand — the Colt’s Arms Company making the destruction of our race easy and convenient, our life insurance citizens paying for the victims when they pass away, Mr. Batterson perpetuating their memory with his stately monuments, and our fire-insurance comrades taking care of their hereafter. I am glad to assist in welcoming our guest — first, because he is an Englishman, and I owe a heavy debt of hospitality to certain of his fellow-countrymen; and secondly, because he is in sympathy with insurance and has been the means of making many other men cast their sympathies in the same direction.

Certainly there is no nobler field for human effort than the insurance line of business — especially accident insurance. Ever since I have been a director in an accident-insurance company I have felt that I am a better man. Life has seemed more precious. Accidents have assumed a kindlier aspect. Distressing special providences have lost half their horror. I look upon a cripple now with affectionate interest — as an advertisement. I do not seem to care for poetry any more. I do not care for politics — even agriculture does not excite me. But to me now there is a charm about a railway collision that is unspeakable.

2015.08.08-DSC02655  There is nothing more beneficent than accident insurance. I have seen an entire family lifted out of poverty and into affluence by the simple boon of a broken leg. I have had people come to me on crutches, with tears in their eyes, to bless this beneficent institution. In all my experience of life, I have seen nothing so seraphic as the look that comes into a freshly mutilated man’s face when he feels in his vest pocket with his remaining hand and finds his accident ticket all right. And I have seen nothing so sad as the look that came into another splintered customer’s face when he found he couldn’t collect on a wooden leg.

I will remark here, by way of advertisement, that that noble charity which we have named the HARTFORD ACCIDENT INSURANCE COMPANY — [The speaker is a director of the company named.] — is an institution which is peculiarly to be depended upon. A man is bound to prosper who gives it his custom.

2015.08.08-DSC02658No man can take out a policy in it and not get crippled before the year is out. Now there was one indigent man who had been disappointed so often with other companies that he had grown disheartened, his appetite left him, he ceased to smile — life was but a weariness. Three weeks ago I got him to insure with us, and now he is the brightest, happiest spirit in this land — has a good steady income and a stylish suit of new bandages every day, and travels around on a shutter.

I will say, in conclusion, that my share of the welcome to our guest is none the less hearty because I talk so much nonsense, and I know that I can say the same for the rest of the speakers.

From The Complete Works of Mark Twain: The Novels, short stories, essays and satires, travel writing, non-fiction, the complete letters, the complete speeches, and the autobiography of Mark Twain (Kindle Locations 46565-46568).

Saturday, August 08, 2015

"I have to spend August and September in Hartford which isn’t San Francisco." - Mark Twain #QotD

2015.08.08-DSC02617Letter to: Mrs. Jane Clemens and Mrs. Moffett, in St. Louis:

Feb. 6, 1868. MY DEAR MOTHER AND SISTER,
I have to spend August and September in Hartford which isn’t San Francisco. Mr. Conness offers me any choice out of five influential California offices. Now, some day or other I shall want an office and then, just my luck, I can’t get it, I suppose. They want to send me abroad, as a Consul or a Minister. I said I didn’t want any of the pie. God knows I am mean enough and lazy enough, now, without being a foreign consul.

In The Complete Works of Mark Twain: The Novels, short stories, essays and satires, travel writing, non-fiction, the complete letters, the complete speeches, and the autobiography of Mark Twain (Kindle Locations 122448-122452).

"Susy died in the house we built in Hartford ... to me it was a holy place and beautiful." Mark Twain #QotD

2015.08.08-DSC02640From "The Death of Jean"

Susy died in the house we built in Hartford. Mrs. Clemens would never enter it again. But it made the house dearer to me. I have entered it once since, when it was tenantless and silent and forlorn, but to me it was a holy place and beautiful. It seemed to me that the spirits of the dead were all about me, and would speak to me and welcome me if they could: Livy, and Susy, and George, and Henry Robinson, and Charles Dudley Warner. How good and kind they were, and how lovable their lives! In fancy I could see them all again, I could call the children back and hear them romp again with George — that peerless black ex-slave and children’s idol who came one day — a flitting stranger — to wash windows, and stayed eighteen years. Until he died. Clara and Jean would never enter again the New York hotel which their mother had frequented in earlier days. They could not bear it. But I shall stay in this house. It is dearer to me tonight than ever it was before. Jean’s spirit will make it beautiful for me always. Her lonely and tragic death — but I will not think of that now.

In The Complete Works of Mark Twain: The Novels, short stories, essays and satires, travel writing, non-fiction, the complete letters, the complete speeches, and the autobiography of Mark Twain (Kindle Locations 72630-72638).


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"At the time of the building of one of the finest residences of Hartford ..." Mark Twain #QotD

2015.08.08-DSC02639"Mental Telegraphy"

At the time of the building of one of the finest residences of Hartford, which is still a very new house, a local firm supplied the wallpaper for certain rooms, contracting both to furnish and to put on the paper. It happened that they did not calculate the size of one room exactly right, and the paper of the design selected for it fell short just half a roll. They asked for delay enough to send on to the manufacturers for what was needed, and were told that there was no especial hurry. It happened that the manufacturers had none on hand, and had destroyed the blocks from which it was printed. They wrote that they had a full list of the dealers to whom they had sold that paper, and that they would write to each of these and get from some of them a roll. It might involve a delay of a couple of weeks, but they would surely get it.

From The Complete Works of Mark Twain: The Novels, short stories, essays and satires, travel writing, non-fiction, the complete letters, the complete speeches, and the autobiography of Mark Twain (Kindle Locations 54023-54028).


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Good morning to the Connecticut State Capitol

Friday, August 07, 2015

Maple cone at the North Hadley Sugar Shack

Hello Northfield, Mass.

So long Dexter's Inn, Sunapee, NH

"On summer day that shone here, When we were all alone here" the poetry of John Hay #QotD

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While in New Hampshire, I had the chance to visit The Fells, the summer home of three generations of the Hay family, starting with the great statesman, John Hay.

In addition to his political work, he was also a quite popular poet; an example of his work is below ... not quite to our current tastes, perhaps!

On the Bluff

Oh grandly flowing River!
   O silver-gliding River!
Thy springing willows shiver
   In the sunset as of old;
   They shiver in the silence
Of the willow-whitened islands,
While the sun-bars and the sand-bars
   Fill air and wave with gold.

O gay, oblivious River!
O sunset-kindled River!
Do you remember ever
   The eyes and skies so blue

On a summer day that shone here,
When we were all alone here,
And the blue eyes were too wise
   To speak the love they knew?

O stern impassive River !
O still unanswering River !
The shivering willows quiver
   As the night-winds moan and rave.
From the past a voice is calling,
From heaven a star is falling,
And dew swells in the bluebells
   Above her hillside grave.

Pike County ballads and other pieces by John Hay (full text)
Published 1871
Publisher Boston, J.R. Osgood and company

Henry Adams on John Hay ... pictures from the Hay summer home, The Fells (2 of 2)

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The Fells, summer home of John Hay
While in New Hampshire, I had the chance to visit The Fells, the summer home of three generations of the Hay family, starting with the great statesman, John Hay.

"He felt quite well satisfied to look on, and from time to time he thought he might risk a criticism of the players; but though he found his own position regular, he never quite understood that of John Hay. The Republican leaders treated Hay as one of themselves; they asked his services and took his money with a freedom that staggered even a hardened observer; but they never needed him in equivalent office. In Washington Hay was the only competent man in the party for diplomatic work. He corresponded in his powers of usefulness exactly with Lord Granville in London, who had been for forty years the saving grace of every Liberal administration in turn. Had usefulness to the public service been ever a question, Hay should have had a first-class mission under Hayes; should have been placed in the Cabinet by Garfield, and should have been restored to it by Harrison. These gentlemen were always using him; always invited his services, and always took his money." - The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams

More on John Hay by Henry Adams and a photo of The Fells (1 of 2)

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The Fells, summer home of John Hay
While in New Hampshire, I had the chance to visit The Fells, the summer home of three generations of the Hay family, starting with the great statesman, John Hay.

John Hay was as strange to the Mississippi River as though he had not been bred on its shores, and the city of St. Louis had turned its back on the noblest work of nature, leaving it bankrupt between its own banks. The new American showed his parentage proudly; he was the child of steam and the brother of the dynamo, and already, within less than thirty years, this mass of mixed humanities, brought together by steam, was squeezed and welded into approach to shape; a product of so much mechanical power, and bearing no distinctive marks but that of its pressure. The new American, like the new European, was the servant of the powerhouse, as the European of the twelfth century was the servant of the Church, and the features would follow the parentage. - The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams


Tuesday, August 04, 2015

"Because I could not stop for Death – / He kindly stopped for me –" Emily Dickinson #QotD

2015.08.02-DSC02345Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.
- Emily Dickinson

The picture here is from Western Cemetery, the final resting place of Emily Dickinson. Sadly, there was an unstable person roaming around the cemetery that made it challenging to approach her actual grave.

A visit to the Sunapee Historical Society and Museum

Sunday, August 02, 2015

And you read your Emily Dickinson & I my Robert Frost ... & the dangling conversation ... #Qotd

It's a still-life watercolor
Of a now late afternoon
As the sun shines through the curtain lace
And shadows wash the room
And we sit and drink our coffee
Couched in our indifference
Like shells upon the shore
You can hear the ocean roar
In the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs
The borders of our lives
And you read your Emily Dickinson
And I my Robert Frost
And we note our places with bookmarkers
That measure what we've lost
Like a poem poorly written
We are verses out of rhythm
Couplets out of rhyme
In syncopated time
And the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs
Are the borders of our lives
Yes,we speak of thing that matter
With words that must be said
"Can analysis be worthwhile?"
"Is the theatre really dead?"
And how the room is softly faded
And I only kiss your shadow
I cannot feel your hand
You're a stranger now unto me
Lost in the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs
In the borders of our lives

Good morning, Northampton and Calvin Coolidge's house