February 14, 2015 archive


On This Day In History February 14

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.

February 14 is the 45th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 320 days remaining until the end of the year (321 in leap years).

On this day in 1884, future President Theodore Roosevelt’s wife and mother die, only hours apart.

Roosevelt was at work in the New York state legislature attempting to get a government reform bill passed when he was summoned home by his family. He returned home to find his mother, Mittie, had succumbed to typhoid fever. On the same day, his wife of four years, Alice Lee, died of Bright’s disease, a severe kidney ailment. Only two days before her death, Alice Lee had given birth to the couple’s daughter, Alice.

Roosevelt left his daughter in the care of his sister, Anna “Bamie/Bye” in New York City. In his diary he wrote a large X on the page and wrote “the light has gone out of my life.”

A short time later, Roosevelt wrote a tribute to his wife published privately indicating that:

She was beautiful in face and form, and lovelier still in spirit; As a flower she grew, and as a fair young flower she died. Her life had been always in the sunshine; there had never come to her a single sorrow; and none ever knew her who did not love and revere her for the bright, sunny temper and her saintly unselfishness. Fair, pure, and joyous as a maiden; loving , tender, and happy. As a young wife; when she had just become a mother, when her life seemed to be just begun, and when the years seemed so bright before her-then, by a strange and terrible fate, death came to her. And when my heart’s dearest died, the light went from my life forever

To the immense disappointment of his wife’s namesake and daughter, Alice, he would not speak of his wife publicly or privately for the rest of his life and made no mention of her in his autobiography.

The Breakfast Club (Italian Ice)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgFirst, a recipe for Gelato


  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (recommended: Pernigotti)
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons Mexican coffee flavor liqueur (recommended: Kahlua)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Large pinch kosher salt
  • 8 chocolates, roughly chopped, optional (recommended: Baci)


Heat the milk, cream, and 1/2 cup sugar in a 2-quart saucepan, until the sugar dissolves and the milk starts to simmer. Add the cocoa powder and chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour into a heat-proof measuring cup.

Place the egg yolks and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and very thick. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Pour the egg and chocolate mixture back into the 2-quart saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. A candy thermometer will register about 180 degrees F. Don’t allow the mixture to boil!

Pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl and stir in the coffee liqueur, vanilla, and salt. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard and chill completely.

Pour the custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. Stir in the roughly chopped chocolate, if using, and freeze in covered containers. Allow the gelato to thaw slightly before serving.

It’s hard to write about Art Music without getting trapped in the Romantics and especially the Germans and the Russians.  As I struggle to break free I look to the mild climes of Italy.

The reason the Brass players like Respighi is that there are a lot of parts for them and you don’t have to spend the concert flipping through pages of rests trying to look interested in a piece you’ve only heard a thousand times in rehearsal and to which your only contribution is an ear shattering blat at the end to wake up the audience and let them know it’s over.

Ottorino is another one of these ‘academic’ composers like Rimsky-Korsakoff and was a great aficianado of Medieval, Classical, and Baroque music and wrote a great deal of stuff that echoed their style, but he also bought into the Romantic ideal that Art should be expressive and emotive rather than formalistic and clever.

Because he was a Romantic Nationalist (though he didn’t overuse the whole ‘folk music’ trope) he was a particular favorite of Benito Mussolini and used what powers of persuasion he had to protect artists like Toscanini and scientists like Fermi from the repressive Fascist regime until his death in 1936.  

On the ship back home from Brazil, Respighi met by chance with Italian physicist Enrico Fermi. During their long conversation, Fermi tried to get Respighi to explain music in terms of physics, which Respighi was unable to do. They remained close friends until Respighi’s death in 1936.

Mistah Kurtz?  He dead.  A penny for the old Guy.

We are the hollow men.  We are the stuffed men.  Leaning together headpiece filled with straw, alas!  Our dried voices when we whisper together are quiet and meaningless as wind in dry grass or rats’ feet over broken glass in our dry cellar.

Shape without form, shade without colour, paralysed force, gesture without motion.

Those who have crossed with direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom remember us – if at all – not as lost violent souls, but only as the hollow men.  The stuffed men.

Ah.  This is the way the world ends.  This is the way the world ends.  This is the way the world ends.  Not with a bang but a whimper.

And our pointy wands strung with cat gut saw at rain wood boxes while brazen trumps blare and reeds vibrate to the complicated fingering of masters beaten by the conductor’s stick to the composer’s tune.

Is beauty truth?  What is beauty?

In the late Romantic period the Symphony was supplemented by the Tone Poem.  They were enormously popular (among the elite Art Music set) because they were revolutionary rule breaking masterpieces.

I’m sure Respighi never considered them that because they are in fact entirely conventional in form and execution.  Still, he would not have bothered writing them if they did not remind him of his experiences.  The three he devoted to Rome are quite famous and frequently performed.

Fontane di Roma

Pini di Roma

Feste Romane

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

Late Night Karaoke

Random Japan

 photo feature_zpsc466c4b5.jpg

Pot-sticker paradise, hot-spring hotel just outside of Tokyo makes for a tasty retreat

 Meg Murphy

Ask a Japanese person to give some examples of Chinese food, and they’ll likely reply with things like chaahan (fried rice) and the quintessential gyoza (pot-stickers). With their crispy fried outsides and juicy, flavorful insides, you can’t go wrong with gyoza, and many would say that Chinese food chain GYOZANOMANSYU (餃子の満州), based in the Kanto region of Japan, is the leader of them all.

Those wishing to take the gyoza experience a bit further can visit the hot-spring hotel Toumeikan in Gunma Prefecture, managed by GYOZANOMANSYU, and for a mere 5,900 yen per night (roughly US$59) you can stay in one of their cozy Japanese-style rooms, take a relaxing soak in the onsen hot springs, and get your fill at their breakfast buffet. Located deep in the mountains of Gunma, yet within a two- to three-hour drive from Tokyo, makes this a great place for a weekend getaway. Albeit one involving lots of garlic and chives.

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.

Cauliflower: Marinated, Mashed and Smashed

Cauliflower: Marinated, Mashed and Smashed photo recipehealthwellpromo-tmagArticle_zpse1ef6c84.jpg

Cauliflower is a vegetable that I have no qualms about buying on impulse. It keeps very well in the refrigerator – I have made perfectly good meals using florets I found lingering in my produce drawer that had been there for more than a week. Not that I recommend this approach, but it is good to know that you need not use it up right away, especially when you find large heads weighing anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 pounds.

~ Martha Rose Shulman ~

Basmati Rice Pilaf With Cauliflower, Carrots and Peas

An aromatic pilaf with a nice mix of colors and textures.

Marinated Cauliflower and Carrots With Mint

A simple dish that makes an excellent addition to a buffet.

Cauliflower and Tomato Frittata With Feta

A delicious frittata that works in winter or summer.

Tuna, Cauliflower and White Bean Salad

A delicious, sustaining Mediterranean salad, using a marinade with a kick.

Cauliflower, Potato and Quinoa Patties

A vegan burger seasoned with Indian spices, with Sriracha standing in for ketchup.

An Unsustainable Life

This was written in 2010.  I’ve decided it belongs in the autobiography, alongside The Task at Hand.

The graphic is entitled Fire.


Twelve days ago, I encountered the following comment by a well-known member of Daily Kos.

What exactly is the medical condition that is treated by transgender surgery? Is it vanity? Something is not right about drastic alteration of a healthy body. I feel the same way about plastic surgery, by the way.

Transgender is an acquired condition, a choice, unlike homosexuality, and I don’t think it deserves the same protections.

I’ve let it steep and marinate, trying to come up with a way to address the comment.  And during that time, I’ve wondered how many people of like mind inhabit DK.  Given the number of anti-trans bigots that respond to general news story blogs in regards to stories about people who are trans, I’m willing to bet the commenter who made that comment is not flying solo.

So how should I approach it?  I decided that a trip back in time might fit the bill.