Friday, June 30, 2006

Argh!

I hate to do this, but obviously I'm falling down on the job here. I will be able to get back to updating the blog around the second week of July. Too much is happening here in real life. I'm not happy about it, but I have to do this. So, come back here July 10th and we shall resume our regularly scheduled history posts.

Anyone have any Prozac? A couple of extra hours in a day?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Time Flies - Sorry and fair warning for next week

I'm sorry about the lagtime. I've been working very odd hours and have been so busy with real life (and blessed sleep) that I've barely been able to get online even to check my email. I had 147 messages waiting for me one day. Next week looks as hectic. I'll be out of town with no access to a computer (as far as I know) from Thursday to Sunday. So, if I can get any extra days written in the next few days (along with getting ready for my trip and various other normal chores) I will post them as I can.

Cheers.

PS: the address to order the pattern for the lovely doll (titled Time Flies by Barbara Willis) in the picture is here.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

YMCA Founded - June 6, 1844

The Young Men's Christian Association was founded in London, England by George Williams and a group of Evangelical Christians. They were concerned by the fact that the young men coming into the city thanks to the Indutrial Revolution didn't have any healthy outlets and activities. They were going to brothels and pubs to let off steam and falling into sinful ways.

The first YMCA opened in the United States in Boston, December 1851, after having expanded to Australia, Canada and other countries. In 1855 the YMCA adopted the philosophy: "build a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all". They realized that they would be serving females as well, but they kept the name the same.

During the 20th Century focus seems to have drifted (in the United States, at least) more to healthy mind and body, rather than more of the spirit. At this point, they seem to concentrate more on athletics, but still keep programs such as day care and youth education going very strong. At the same time, the YMCA has strongly espoused international political goals such as gender equality, sustainable development and fighting racism and HIV/AIDS.

And, of course, the YMCA is the home of everyone's favorite Disco song.

YMCA - Wikipedia
World Alliance of YMCAs
United States YMCAs
YMCA (the song) - Wikipedia

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Various Births - June 4

As today is my birthday, I'm going to do this one a bit differently. Here is my fun (to me) list of notable people born on the same day as myself.

Socrates, Greek philosopher, born June 4, 470 BCE
King George III of England, born June 4, 1738
Constant Prevost, French geologist, born June 4, 1787
Bill Parks, American baseball player, born June 4, 1849
Miina Sillanpaa, Finnish Minister, born June 4, 1866
Dr. Ruth Westheimer, German-American sex therapist, born June 4, 1928
Michelle Phillips, American singer, born June 4, 1944
Keith David, American actor, born June 4, 1956
Cecilia Bartoli, Italian opera singer, Born June 4, 1966
Emmanuel Eboue, Ivory Coast-born soccer player, born June 4, 1983

I know it's not a big post, but I preferred to look at many positive things today instead of featuring Tiananmen Square or any other single depressing/negative event.

Of course, as I type this, I'm watching people get eaten by a shark...

"You're gonna need a bigger boat."

Saturday, June 03, 2006

First Recorded Batch of Scotch Whisky - June 1, 1494

I had a different one for this date, but when I went online researching another date, I found and couldn't resist this.

The Rolls of the Royal Exchequer recorded in 1494: “To Friar John Cor,by order of the King, to make aquavitae, VIII bols of malt”. Aquavitae means "water of life". It was translated into the Scottish Gaelic phrase "uisge beatha", which was anglicized into "whisky". Interestingly, I just learned that although most of the many types of whiskey are spelled with an "e", if you refer to Sctoch (as I am in this piece) you spell it without.

Whiskey got its' start in the West when the Arabs learned the distilling process from Asians in the 10th century. It moved up to Scotland via Christian missionaries. Friar John Cor, of the Lindores Abbey, was commisioned by King James IV to make the equivalent of 400 bottles of whisky while he was visiting his hunting lodge in Falkland. Lindores Abbey had apparently been making whisky for quite some time by then. They had rights to gather peat to smoke the liqour and had vast fields of barley to make malt. Unfortunately, Lindore Abbey was destroyed later byJohn Knox and his followers.

At first whisky was consumed very young. By accident someone discovered that the whisky in an old, forgotten cask tasted much better and less raw than the newer alcohol. Legally, in England, it cannot even be called whisky until has aged at least three years. Of course, whisky has been honored for its "medicinal properties". During Prohibition, it was legally obtainable through a doctor with a prescription. It has become a traditional drink of Scotland (thus the name Scotch) and was probably welcomed partly because it was a nice way to warm up in highland winters without central heating.

Scotch Whisky - Wikipedia
Lindores Abbey
History of Whisky Timeline - Scotchwhisky.net
Distilling Milestones - Dewar's Scotch Whisky site
Whiskey (word origin) - Random House
Whisky - The Whisky Guide
List of all Distillers in Scotland - with some pretty cool information tossed in
How Whisky is made

The Goddess of Democracy - May 30, 1989

On May 30, 1989, Chinese protestors occupying Tiananmen Square during a peaceful protest and hunger strike in Beijing, China erected a 30-foot statue they called The Goddess of Democracy. She was carved over four days from papier-mache and styrofoam over a metal armature by students from the Central Academy of Fine Arts.

The beautiful statue was, according to a sculptor named Tsao Tsing-yuan, not based solely on our own lovely Lady, but has the sculpture movement of Socialist-Realism as a huge influence. Looking at the Goddess I also noticed a resemblance to the old representations of Columbia (which was doubtless unintentional).

The Goddess was erected facing the portrait of Cairman Mao. (I thnk she'd have won the stare-off if it wasn't for the tanks.) She stood for five days before tanks destroyed her on June 4th, when they began overrunning the Square to disperse the protestors.

There are now at least five replicas of The Goddess of Democracy erected all over the world in honor of the people killed in Tianenman Square, including one in San Francisco and in Victoria Park, Hong Kong.

The Goddess of Democracy - Wikipedia
The Goddess of Democrary - China Support Network
The source of my pic of her
The Goddess of Democracy blog entry featuring Columbia