Friday, September 29, 2006

Vacation is coming...

Yes, my annual vacation time is coming. I finally started taking vacations in 2004 and in 2005 I merged it with the B&O RR Historical Society Convention. As I am now on the BOD I kinda HAVE to go. So once again this year I'm off for 5 days of wholesome train-ness. I'm going completely off the grid, no laptop, nothing. I have no intention of being bothered by work or anything, it's just gonna be railroad history.

Before you ask;
Yes this is my idea of a good time.
No, I'm not crazy.
Yes, I know this probably is not a good place to meet women.
Yes, this REALLY is my idea of a good time.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I had forgotten this, with my attendence at grad school, I get access to various databases and article indexes.
Sorry, but for a history nerd getting unfettered access to journals is a good thing.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


If THIS is your idea of a nice weekend, and you're single, we need to talk.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

James A. Garfield...

I just finished Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of James A. Garfield by Kenneth Ackerman. It is quite possibly one of the most interesting and well written history books I've come across in years. The narrative is crisp, well written and doesn't dwell on irrelevant details. The story of the political machinations and factional fighting between the Half-Breeds and the Stalwarts during the election of 1880 and subsequent first months of James Garfield's term is fascinating. Add to that Charles Guiteau's time vainly trying to get the Paris Counsulship and his slippage into the role of deranged Presidential Assassin and you have a hell of a story. I literally could not put the book down. Go get it, you'll love it!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

One more day of summer...

Yes, the last day of the Summer of '06 (pronounced ought-six) is tomorrow. Be sure to give it a fond fare well.

So now we enter the fall. One of my favorite seasons. It means three months until winter and Christmas. It also means early nights, which actually, I kinda like. I like being able to walk out of my office into the night or dusk. It feels moodier, makes me want to read and study and write and such. I feel more intellectually productive and stimulated. I guess that's conditioned since fall is traditionally when school and college semesters begin to get interesting. You've gotten through the intros, now you're into the meat of your courses. Ah, to be in college or graduate school at a time like this...

Wait a second! I am in graduate school in a time like this! SWEET!

Ah, all I need now is a chill in the evening air, a wood paneled library/study, a fireplace, a mug of hot tea and some Glenn Miller Band music on. (someone will call me old in 5, 4, 3, 2...)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Avast ye!
'Tis the day when you sea dogs should be talkin' like a pirate!


Monday, September 18, 2006


Seven Days until Library School Starts.

Yep, I couldn't stay away. Which is probably good. I was starting to get bored out of my mind without some kind of learning to do.

Expect more updates as my education continues...

Say it's not so Joe...

My beloved Redskins are 0-2. We can't beat the Vikings and we can't beat Dallas. I'm getting that oogy feeling now about the season.

But 14 games left, let's give them one more chance to gel before I start wailing about the collapse of the Redskins first half of the season.

I can tell you what the problem was last night: Penalties.
The Skins were going back and forth with unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. It was awful. They were out of control and it showed. My dad summed it up as he watched the game and saw Washington get it's 4th unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in 20 minutes and said, "This is NOT Joe Gibbs football."

All I could say was, "Yep."

This could be a VERY long year. I may get my $20 ready to pay off my Redskins bets now.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Damn I'm tired...

It's nearly 23:00 tonight and I am TIRED. I had my normal 45 hour work week, then Saturday was Archiving, then my 10 year High School Reunion Saturday night, then more Archiving.
And now of course, there's a Redskins game on, and not just any old game, Redskins vs Cowboys. The big game no matter how bad the season is. So, I'll be awake tonight listening to this game. (Right now Dallas is leading by 14 and looks like we're gonna be 0-2. :-(

Still archiving went well, we got a lot of stuff done and I think my volunteers had a rewarding weekend for their own research projects.
The reunion went well too, not as many people I hung around with showed up. That was a bit disappointing, but overall I think the class of 96 came out ok so far.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Through early morning fog I see. Visions of the things to be. The pains that are withheld for me...

Ok, I volunteer for a Railroad Historical Society as their Archivist and an at-large member of the Board of Directors.

We've had a pile of bad news health-wise lately:
A director had surgery to remove cancer
A director's wife passed away
A volunteer had to go to the hospital for low blood pressure
A volunteer had a heart attack AND got pneumonia

This has been one hit after another, I feel like I'm on M*A*S*H.

I think part of this is the fact that most of our members are on the north side of 50. We need new blood. So, gentle readers I'm soliciting your opinions for what can be done to get younger people in a Railroad Historical Society?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Primary Colors...

As you may know from the profile, I live in MD. Today is the day of our primary election. In general these are yawn fests but there are a handful of races I'm checking on:

Billy Don Shafer vs Janet "Mo Hubbard" Owens.

THFH's pick: Owens by a nice margin. Billy D went "Katherine Harris Crazy" on us. Makes this choice pretty easy.

US Senate:
Bespecticaled Ben Cardin vs Kwaeisi "Big K" Mfume
Ben Cardin will easily win on name recognition due to his extensive TV ads throughout the state.

And just because it's close by:
DC Mayor:
Linda Cropp vs Adrian Fenty

Fenty's had the lead by a wide margin for a couple of weeks. I don't expect this to change.

Well, those are the only ones I care to pick. We shall see how things turn out.

I'll take Natural Selection for $200 Alex...

Insert Darwinism joke here.


Well, another 9/11 has come and gone and thankfully nothing new happened yesterday. (However this morning some jerks went after the US Embassy in Damascus, Syria.)

I've noticed something about 9/11's since the memorable one in 2001, we're not angry as a nation anymore.
If you look at the national mood on 09/11/01 you'll see three main threads; shock, sadness and a righteous anger. It's as close to the same kind of anger felt by the US when Pearl Harbor was attacked by surprise. Both events offended our sense of "fair play" in relation to war and took our pride down a few pegs.
After Pearl Harbor we declared war on Japan and Germany declared war on us (to which we said, "GREAT! We were hoping we'd get a chance to give you jack-booted thugs a whuppin!") Then we got into a coalition of nations with a common interest and proceeded to liberate Europe and systematically destroy the Japanese Empire. By December 1, 1945 we were holding war crimes trials on the home soil of Germany and Japan. (Boy if that doesn't broadcast who won to a population, I don't know what does. "HI! We've kicked your ass and we're going to try and probably execute your military leaders who commited crimes against humanity on your soil, you all get to watch.")
Bang zoom, done. Fascism wiped out as a significant threat to the world.
After 9/11/01 we declared war on terror. (Ok, no political entity to really declare war on, but the terrorist is the enemy of the world, shouldn't be a problem to get people in on this right?)
We got the boys together, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, even China and said, "OK, we know Bin Laden did it. Let's get Al Qaeda." And we did. We went into Afghanistan and took out the Taliban who had been sheltering Osama and started either killing or capturing AQ agents. Ok, great, things are working out ok.
Then we did "Homeland Security."
Then we did the Patriot Act.
Then we did Iraq.
Then we found out Iraq had no Weapons of Mass Destruction. (NB: "Where are the Weapons of Mass Destruction?" is a question my dad likes to blurt out whenever he sees the president talk about Iraq. Whomever the Democrats are going to have running for president should just keep asking this whenever they are with Bush or Cheney on camera. I think if the Democrats did that in 2004 we'd be looking at President Kerry right now.)
Then we RE-ELECTED Bush after the last three things showed us that:
1.) Homeland Security is a joke. It's an inefficient department, FEMA, the nation's disaster management agency was left in the hands of a Horse Association president and Katrina showed what a great idea that was. The aircraft screeners were the same people who were screening airports before 9/11 but now they're government employees. The Homeland Security funds have now become more pork for congress to dole out to rural fire departments so they can buy haz mat trucks and command centers for the next big barn fire.
2.) The Republicans don't want smaller government anymore, and they apparently don't give a damn about the whole original concept of America, "People should be skeptical of their government." Now it's "you should be careful about what you say in times like this. blah blah blah." Look, the people who thought up the idea about the Patriot Act should have watched a movie called "The Manchurian Candidate." Angela Landsbury has a great speech towards the end where she talks about what kind of laws she'll get passed in the wake of the assassination of a political candidate. Watch that movie now, look at the Patriot Act and just start crying. Then vote the bums out of office in Novemeber. (The entire House is up for re-election, it could be done.)
3.) Iraq has shown us that smart people aren't in government anymore. The historian David Halberstam wrote a book called "The Best and the Brightest" about the influx of young policy wonks into government during the Kennedy Administration. I have to assume they're gone now. Purged by Nixon, or Reagan or either Bush. Or they just said "Screw this" on their own and took corporate jobs or teaching. Nobody seems to have thought things through with Iraq and fighting terror and civil rights and in case nobody has noticed, WE STILL DON'T HAVE A FRIGGIN EXIT STRATEGY FOR IRAQ! Before we invaded Europe we had an exit strategy. We were working on rebuilding as we were bombing them back to the stone age. We knew we'd have to help them rebuild from scratch so we planned for it. Hello! George! Did you all forget to do something before you sent the lads out of Kuwait? Can we say, "planning for the peace?"
Here's the exit strategy that I've got:
1.) Divide Iraq along ethnic lines. (The original borders were arbitrarily drawn by the Brits anyway.)
2.) Form a multinational corporation from those three to four new countries to control the Iraqi Oil industry. Each entity gets an equal number of seats on the board and the presidency rotates between them on an annual basis.
3.) Create a multinational police and judicial force along the same lines with a single mandate borrowed from the RCMP, "ONE LAW."
4.) Tell them point blank, "If you all can't get along like this, we will nuke you all." Park a ballistic missile sub in the gulf and have it surface once a day just to let them know we're not screwing around. Make sure the Iranians see it too.
5.) Pack up most of the boys and get the hell home. Leave enough troops behind to keep Al Qaeda busy but that's it.

Probably not the best, but it's better than what we've heard from the White House.

So back to the original thread. I think a lot of us are embarrassed to be Americans right now. We disagree with the government, we feel used when we look at the war, and we don't want to be angry about it because we don't want to disrespect the soldiers who are doing their jobs, putting their asses on the line every day.
I think that's where we are right now. We've got a national grimace on our faces.
Unfortunately, I don't know if there is an easy or cheap way to fix it. I fear that there isn't...but I hope there is.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


The first full day of Football Season is tomorrow. Woo-hoo!

Redskins play Monday!!!
Double-Header Monday Night Games!!!

Will I be able to survive?

Yeah, probably.

Also, if you're looking for a good book, check out "The Great Escape" by Paul Brickhill.

Yes, yes, it's the book that was made into the movie of the same name with Steve McQueen. (Known as "The dig 'em out movie" by some.) Brickhill was involved in the actual escape attempt. Darn good book. Fast read and exciting.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


The Chrysanthemum Throne has a male heir.

Bush admitted, "Yeah, we do have secret prisons. So what?"

And I got an iPod.

Ok, so folks, what's the guilty pleasure song on your iPod?
Mine: "Theme from Shaft" performed by Issac Hayes.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Pics garnered at the Family Reunion...

These are from a photo-album my Great Grandmother kept and were scanned after the Family Reunion today.

This is TFH's paternal grandparents on their wedding day.

Shortly afterwards TFH's paternal grandfather received a letter from the President of the United States that began with "Greetings..." And he was off to Korea with the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Of course, it wasn't all seriousness.

And just for giggles, can you guess who this handsome young man is?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I know what you're thinking...

You're thinking, "Man for a historian, this guy doesn't talk much about history on his blog."

Ok, maybe you're not. You're probably thinking about your day, or what's my point, or what's my day's point or something.

Well, I have to say I noticed that I don't talk much about history with this blog. Probably because 1; I don't "work" in history for "money" and 2; not a whole lot of my "friends" "work" in history for "money."

Since it's not something that frustrates me every day then I guess I don't need to vent about it.

Well, I have an honest to goodness historical link for you today. This was done by one of my archives volunteers. He's getting his PhD. Neat site, good writing. Check it out.

There, for the one of you who may have been actually wondering "why doesn't he post more on history" there ya go. Happy now?