Thursday, July 31, 2008

A book review...

This is getting to be a good time to plan trips to Pennsylvania (leaf season is just two months away.) A couple of months ago I was sent a review copy of Pennsylvania's Forbes Trail for review.

This ain't your parent's guide book. This is better. Of all the great things about this book, what impressed me the most, was the amount of HISTORICAL detail that the authors put in this guide book. The text provides an excellent background for the travelogue and helps readers understand this important campaign in what is, unfortunately, a forgotten war. Fred Anderson's introduction helps set the reader up for the very well written historical vignettes that accompany each section on a specific community or portion of the trail. (For those of you who don't know who Fred Anderson is, he's the author of the best modern study of the war The Crucible of War: The Seven Years War and the Fate of Empire in North America 1754-1766.)

The maps are well drawn and easy to follow and the guide is very well organized. It's clearly meant for an east-west trip to replicate the march of Gen. Forbes' column, and I'd recommend people use it that way. The guide tells you about what it's like to hack out a road west through the Appalachian Mountains through what was at that time pristine wilderness. The book is also blessed with excellent illustrations and photographs. It very much reminds me of the fine guides published by the National Park Service, particularly with the artwork.

Finally, those who want to further their research are provided with a small but very well chosen selection of books to read for further information on the French and Indian War. If you're looking for something to do in the early fall, a drive through Pennsylvania is a good option and this guide book is worth getting. You'll learn and get to travel through some great communities and see some great things.

This book, and the trail itself is definitely worth checking out. See you on the road! (I'll be up that way in early October and then again in late March.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cue The Gatlin Brothers....

Guess where they're sending the Outreach Team in October?

Houston mean's that I'm one step closer to you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Happy Birthday NASA!

Happy Birthday to the agency that funds the contract that provides my employment!

Stay classy NASA!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I want this...

Oh man, the fun one could have with one of these at work.

This was at the LA Museum of Natural History.

Friday, July 18, 2008

This I find to be absolutely fascinating

This is a lunar transit of the Earth as seen from the Deep Impact space probe. Wow.

The press release can be found here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Bastille Day...

"American troops of the 28th Infantry Division march down the Champs Elysees, Paris, in the `Victory' Parade." Poinsett, August 29, 1944. 111-SC-193197.

Yeah, I'm a smartass.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hot gas...

A photo of the Okmok eruption from today, taken by the US Coast Guard at 20k feet and hosted at the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

No real major post today other than a volcanic eruption in Alaska. There are some neat photos at the Alaska Volcano Observatory page.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Ok, one of the places I hang my virtual hat is the B&O Railroad Yahoo Group. This past week there has been an active discussion about the late John Work Garrett, a President of the B&O Railroad.

There is no existing biography of this man and the on-line discussion was mainly about debunking the myths about how good a president he was for the railroad. In reality he was a pretty bad president for the railroad. But there's no single volume that talks about this.

So...I'm gonna write one.

To the library catalogs!!!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Environmental Protection...

This is what I think the show Mythbusters was like in 1947.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Hello trusted friend...

So, I have TV again, and I had forgotten about something.

Star Trek: The Next Generation is on SciFi Monday nights from 7 to 11.

I really had missed that show. Man it's good to see it again.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Only my friends...

Could go to a bar and have conversations about the following:

Masters of Horror
How many Senators can you name?
Why the parliamentary system would be good for American Government
How do you think Battlestar Galactica will end
Roscoe Bartlett
What does the C.A. stand for in C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersburger
The Assassination of James A. Garfield and Civil Service Reform
The weight limits of tables and sinks

Yes, all these topics and more were covered at J. Patrick's Bar in Locust Point, Baltimore, MD last night.

I find this very comforting.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

It was at one o'clock that two Confederate signal guns were fired...

And so, 145 years ago on this day, began Pickett's Charge.

The charge has been romanticized so much that the actual event has been muddled in the memory of the American public. Not many people outside of the Civil War community know that there was a a second, larger division under Pettigrew that made the charge as well. Just like Pickett's Division, they were slaughtered by the artillery and musket fire from the Army of the Potomac.

The charge has also been the subject of much July 4 quarterbacking. "Lee should have..." type discussions. There are many historians who cringe when people do this, but I think it's fun. It's the game we all play with hindsight. The challenge is, knowing what the people knew then, not what we know now, talk about what could have happened.

So consider that at 1pm Eastern Time, as a whole pile of Confederates stepped off their start lines and went on to their place in history.

For further reading I recommend:

Carol Reardon, "Pickett's Charge In History and Memory."

Earl J. Hess, "Pickett's Charge-The Last Attack at Gettysburg."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Museum Piece...

On Saturday, the B&O Railroad Museum rolled out B&O GP-38 locomotive #3802. This locomotive was chosen by Trains Magazine to be THE typical American Locomotive in 1982 based on average age and miles traveled, among other factors.

I remember locomotives that looked like this running in service as a kid. Now it's in a museum, my how time flies.