July 7, 2012 archive

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Le Tour de France 2012: Stage 6

The Tour de France 2012, the world’s premier cycling event kicked off last Saturday with the Prologue in Liège, Belgium and will conclude on July 22 with the traditional ride into Paris and laps up and down the Champs-Élysées. Over the next 22 days the race will take its course briefly along the Northwestern coast of France through  Boulogne-sur-Mer, Abbeville and into Rouen then into the mountains of the Jura, Swiss Alps and the Pyrenees.

We will be Live Blogging Le Tour 2012 every morning at The Stars Hollow Gazette starting at 7:30 AM EDT. Come join us for a morning chat, cheer the riders and watch some of the most beautiful and historic countryside in Europe.

Stage 6 – Épernay – Metz 207.5 km

The last time a Tour de France stage started in Épernay, home to the leading Champagne houses, was in 2010 and it was HTC-Columbia that were cracking open the bubbly that evening to celebrate yet another stage win by Mark Cavendish. This is another stage that looks nailed-on for a bunch sprint finish.

Épernay is a commune in the Marne department in northern France, located some 130 km north-east of Paris. The town sits on the left bank of the Marne at the extremity of the Cubry valley which crosses it. Épernay is best known as the principal “entrepôt” for champagne wines, which are bottled and kept in large cellars built into the chalk rock on which the town is built. The production of the equipment and raw materials used in the champagne industry is a major source of local employment.

The most famous street in Épernay is the Avenue de Champagne which features the leading Champagne manufacturers.  Its name derives from the presence of many leading champagne producers such as Moët et Chandon, Mercier and De Castellane. Residents say that this avenue is the most expensive in the world, more so than the Champs-Élysées in Paris, because of the millions of bottles of champagne stored in the kilometres of chalk cellars beneath it.

Épernay is the home of  Moët et Chandon which was founded in 1743 by Épernay wine trader Claude Moët who began shipping his wine from Champagne to Paris. The reign of King Louis XV coincided with increased demand for sparkling wine. Moët began business in 1750 with Madame de Pompadour, who supplied the Royal Court at Compiègne with Moët’s champagne. Also in 1750, Moët began establishing business in Germany, Spain, Eastern Europe, and colonial British America. In 1792, on Claude Moët’s death, grandson Jean-Rémy Moët assumed control of Moët et Cie, and expanded the business buying the vineyards of the Abbey of Hautvillers, where Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon perfected double-fermentation for creating champagne.

Metz, the capital of Lorraine, has witnessed 40 stage finishes since it first welcomed the Tour more than a century ago, the most recent being in 1999 when Lance Armstrong won an individual time trial here on his way to the first of his seven consecutive victories in the race. This close to the German border there should be a lot of German fans in evidence, but with Kittel out and Greipel coming in to this stage having already achieved back to back stage wins on stages 4 and 5 it’s unlikely that they will see that ultra rarity – a Tour treble… but you never know, the last one was achieved by Lance Armstrong and included an individual time trial. Super Mario Cipolinni went one better in 1999 winning four in a row with none of the time trials included.

Metz is a city in the northeast of France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers. Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region and prefecture of the Moselle department. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Metz forms a central place of the European Greater Region and of the SaarLorLux Euroregion.

A Celtic oppidum, an important Gallo-Roman city, the Merovingian capital of the Austrasia kingdom, the birthplace of the Carolingian dynasty, a cradle of the Gregorian chant, and one of the oldest republics of the common era in Europe, Metz has a rich 3,000-year-history. The city has been steeped in Romance culture, but has been strongly influenced by Germanic culture due to its location and history.

Metz possesses one of the largest Urban Conservation Area in France and more than 100 buildings of the city are classified on the Monument Historique list. Because of its historical and cultural background, Metz benefits from its designation as French Town of Art and History. The city features noteworthy buildings such as the Gothic Saint-Stephen Cathedral, the Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains, its Station Palace, or its Opera House, the oldest one working in France. Metz is home to some notable venues including the Arsenal Concert Hall and the Centre Pompidou-Metz Museum.

A basin of urban ecology, Metz gained its nickname of Green City, displaying extensive open grounds and public gardens and the historic downtown is one of the largest commercial, pedestrian areas in France.

A historic Garrison town, Metz is the economic heart of the Lorraine region, being specialized in information technology and automotive industries. Metz is home to the University of Lorraine and a centre for applied research and development in the materials sector notably in metallurgy and metallography, the heritage of the Lorraine region’s past in the iron and steel industry.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Sweet and Savory Bread Puddings


The savory bread puddings I’ve always made have been Italian strata, casseroles made with cubes or slices of bread, milk, eggs, cheese and vegetables. I was recently introduced to an Alsatian version of a sweet bread pudding, in which the bread is soaked in the milk first, then beaten with eggs, sugar and flavorings, folded with beaten egg whites, and poured into a baking dish over fruit. I loved this technique, because there were no hard, dry edges of bread after baking, so I applied it to my savory bread puddings too (without separating the eggs), and got delicious results. The puddings are moist, with a bonus layer of custard that seeps out of the bread crumbs at the bottom of the casserole dish. The sweet ones, in which the eggs are separated, puff like soufflés.

   You can use baguettes or country bread for these, white or whole-wheat. I tried them with whole-wheat sandwich bread, but the sliced bread didn’t hold the custard as well and the puddings were a bit soggy.

~Martha Rose Shuman~

Savory Bread Pudding With Swiss Chard and Red Pepper

Half of a stale baguette soaked in milk makes for an incredibly moist dish.

Savory Bread Pudding With Grated Squash and Feta

Dill or mint lends Greek overtones to this comforting dish.

Savory Whole-Wheat Bread Pudding With Seared Tomatoes and Mushrooms

If you’re eager to use the season’s first tomatoes, this is a good vehicle for them, as they can be slightly underripe.

Cherry Bread Pudding

A lighter version of a traditional Alsatian dish called a bettelmann, this sweet dish features a classic pairing: cherries and almonds.

Apricot Bread Pudding

Even apricots that aren’t at the peak of sweetness develop an intense flavor as they bake.

On This Day In History July 7

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge.

July 7 is the 188th day of the year (189th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 177 days remaining until the end of the year.

The terms 7th July, July 7th, and 7/7 (pronounced “Seven-seven”) have been widely used in the Western media as a shorthand for the 7 July 2005 bombings on London’s transport system. In China, this term is used to denote the Battle of Lugou Bridge started on July 7, 1937, marking the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

On this day in 1898, U.S. President William McKinley signs the Newlands Resolution annexing Hawaii as a territory of the United States.

In 1898 President of the United States William McKinley signed the treaty of annexation for Hawaii, but it failed in the senate after the 38,000 signatures of the Ku’e Petitions were submitted. After the failure Hawaii was annexed by means of joint resolution called the Newlands Resolution.

The Territory of Hawaii, or Hawaii Territory, was a United States organized incorporated territory that existed from July 7, 1898, until August 21, 1959, when its territory, with the exception of Johnston Atoll, was admitted to the Union as the fiftieth U.S. state, the State of Hawaii.

The U.S. Congress passed the Newlands Resolution which annexed the former Kingdom of Hawaii and later Republic of Hawaii to the United States. Hawaii’s territorial history includes a period from 1941 to 1944 – during World War II – when the islands were placed under martial law. Civilian government was dissolved and a military governor was appointed.

Newlands Resolution of 1898

On 7 July 1898, McKinley signed the Newlands Resolution (named after Congressman Francis Newlands) which officially annexed Hawaii to the United States. A formal ceremony was held on the steps of ‘Iolani Palace where the Hawaiian flag was lowered and the American flag raised. Dole was appointed Hawaii’s first territorial governor.

The Newlands Resolution said, “Whereas, the Government of the Republic of Hawaii having, in due form, signified its consent, in the manner provided by its constitution, to cede absolutely and without reserve to the United States of America, all rights of sovereignty of whatsoever kind in and over the Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies, and also to cede and transfer to the United States, the absolute fee and ownership of all public, Government, or Crown lands, public buildings or edifices, ports, harbors, military equipment, and all other public property of every kind and description belonging to the Government of the Hawaiian Islands, together with every right and appurtenance thereunto appertaining: Therefore, Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That said cession is accepted, ratified, and confirmed, and that the said Hawaiian Islands and their dependencies be, and they are hereby, annexed as a part of the territory of the United States and are subject to the sovereign dominion thereof, and that all and singular the property and rights hereinbefore mentioned are vested in the United States of America.”

The Newlands Resolution established a five-member commission to study which laws were needed in Hawaii. The commission included: Territorial Governor Sanford B. Dole (R-Hawaii Territory), Senators Shelby M. Cullom (R-IL) and John T. Morgan (D-AL), Representative Robert R. Hitt (R-IL) and former Hawaii Chief Justice and later Territorial Governor Walter F. Frear (R-Hawaii Territory). The commission’s final report was submitted to Congress for a debate which lasted over a year. Congress raised objections that establishing an elected territorial government in Hawaii would lead to the admission of a state with a non-white majority.


Joe Glow, the Firefly

Late Night Karaoke

Random Japan



Officials in the depopulated town of Takatori in Nara are trying to boost tourism by offering visitors the chance to see “hina dolls in machiya traditional wooden houses.”

Meanwhile, a village in the Oki Islands is offering couples ¥250,000 for the privilege of hosting their wedding ceremony. The town will kick in an extra ¥50,000 if the newlyweds also hold a magodaki (“holding a grandchild”) ceremony.

The Pakistani government says that if an expedition from the Fukushima chapter of the Japanese Alpine Club succeeds in climbing four unscaled peaks in the Karakorum range, it will give the club naming rights to the mountains.

The Metropolitan Police Department has vowed to combat a type of video-game piracy that uses emulator servers to mimic official gaming websites.

Popular Culture 20120706: The Hateful American Family Association (With Poll!)

I am not ready to start a new, long series about music just yet, so tonight we shall discuss the hate filled, venom spitting American Family Association (AFA).  This is one of the most conservative, evangelical groups that exists and qualifies as being termed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

I go back a very long time with the AFA.  When I lived in Arkansas, their radio stations were everywhere (as they are now) and they had also started a website, afa.net.  They also run a radical news organization, onenewsnow.com (ONN).  It is interesting that this could be pronounced either “one news now”, or “one new snow”.  I like the latter better because their “articles” are a big snow job for the most part.  It is ironic that ONN is also the acronym for Onion News Network, and their stories are often more realistic that the AFA ones are.  I commented on some of their news articles and drew the wrath of the son of the founder.  I wish I still had the emails that he sent me; they were mean spirited and nasty.

Before we get very far into this, let me make my philosophy clear.  I am not a believer in any religion, but I am not one of those “evangelical atheists” who want to make it difficult for believers.  I just do not think that public funds should be expended to promote any religion, regardless of what the particular religion is.  Likewise, I do not think that public funds should be expended to suppress any religion.  I am a live and let live sort of person, unless someone threatens me or my loved ones.  The AFA, in my estimate, threatens all of us who do not agree with them.

China and Transgender People

Qian Jinfan felt she should be a girl at the age of 3.  But she never had a chance to be one until she reached the age of 80.

In June Qian became the oldest Chinese citizen to come out to the media about being transgender…at the age of 84.  Despite the efforts of her wife and son to “ground” her, she snuck out of their home to speak to China Daily.

People may ask why I come out as a transgender person when I’m so old, but I ask, why can’t I?  Chinese stereotype the elderly as people who can’t do anything but wait for death.  But I’ve just entered the best time of my life.  I can finally be myself.


While some Chinese admire her courage, others have called her “a nasty old man” and “attention-seeker”.  Children playing near her house have called her a “monster.”  Her family members object to her transition, claiming that she has made the a “laughing stock”.

I won’t reach out to media but won’t hide from them either if they approach me.

I haven’t done anything wrong.  My life as a transgender person doesn’t harm anyone.  Why should I hide?

–Qian Jingfan