Theodor Geisel aka Dr. Seuss would have been 117 today
A great American original if there ever was one
Brief Tour of World Radio Stations
The New Sensation of Radio! (Well, new to me!)
Here is a short video I put together, as I wondered the globe, listening to music from many lands, “from station to station,” as it were, and zooming in for brief visits to the local communities, all thanks to an amazing site that uses digital satellite technology and Google Earth.
(New Edit with tweaked volume and typo repair.)
The site radio.garden allows one to listen to radio stations around the globe, from their hometown to the most exotic locals their imagination can think up.
It must be similar to having a shortwave radio set, used to seek out signals from foreign lands and whatever voices and unusual music one could pull out of the ether. Only in this case, it is all digital quality via satellites. A modern wonder.
I had a great fun making this video, and have a new hobby, listening to radio stations from foreign lands. Try it out for yourself!
Beloved childhood comfort food leads to an annual ritual –
Beefaroni on my birthday
Chef Boyardee is a brand of canned pasta products. But once upon a time Chef Boyardee was the head of the kitchen at the five-star Plaza Hotel, near the corner of 5th Avenue and Central Park South, in New York City. He is personally responsible for Americans associating “Italian food” with pasta and tomato sauce, most particularly spaghetti with meatballs.
Many of my earliest memories concern eatable entities, at least the fondest of them. From Play-Doh, which is rather bland, but very salty, to Funny Face, a competitor of Kool-Aid, which my mom would put in milk to trick me into drinking that calcium delivery device, I have vivid remembrances attached to many eating and drinking experiences.
My dimmest memory is a view from my high chair, looking across some sort of food and out the kitchen to the front door some 40 feet away. It hovers in a corner of my mind; where it’s dark, as if it is night and all the lights are off. There is a photo of me in that very seat on my 1st birthday. But I assume the remembered event came a bit later.
When it comes to “real food,” there was my mother’s chili. Years later I sought out how she had made it, and was somewhat disappointed to learn it consisted of Campbell’s tomato soup with red beans, browned hamburger and about three pieces of raw onion per person. She didn’t even add the chili powder called for by the recipe on soup can.
Another favorite for me and my sister three years my junior was the macaroni and cheese made by our older sister when she would be babysitting us. Again, it proved a let down to learn it was simply boiled macaroni with a large brick of Velveeta melted throughout.
As my childhood comfort food pillars toppled one by one, only one has remained steadfast and forever satisfying. Chef Boyardee’s Beefaroni, part of this complete birthday feast.
Served in vintage Fiestaware!
2017’s Birthday Carbfest was just as grand.
As was 2019’s.
I have enjoyed Beefaroni on my birthday for years beyond count, rarely missing the opportunity, whether I have it for lunch, or supper, as we called dinner back in Ohio, or squeezing it in as a late night snack.
I do not now remember when Beefaroni entered my life. But I remember clearly splitting one 15 oz can with my little sister, on many occasions, after walking home from school for lunch. Now I often have two full cans just for me. But I cannot buy the large cans, as the consistency just isn’t the same. And even with the regular cans, I have to put a good dozen of them to my ear and give them a shake to find the two with the least amount of slosh. Otherwise the sauce is too soupy. OK, these days it is always too soupy. Sigh.
A Surprising Pedigree
I was not able to find any data concerning when it was actually invented. But the chef on the can really was a chef, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, in fact. It was the premiere hotel in the United States. And to provide some perspective, today rooms start at $825 a night.
Ettore Boiardi worked in restaurants in Italy near Bologna, starting at age eight, and then followed his brother over to America in the early 1900s, where he is reputed to have worked his way up in the Plaza’s kitchen to Head Chef.
He also oversaw two major dinners for President Woodrow Wilson, his second wedding, and a White House homecoming dinner for 2,000 World War I veterans.
At some point he anglicized his name to Hector Boyardee, and opened a restaurant in 1926, at Woodland Avenue and East 9th Street, in Cleveland Ohio.
Il Giardino d’Italia was both popular and influential in popularizing what we now think of as Italian food in America. As demand for his recipes grew, the Boyardee brothers opened a factory in Pennsylvania for their Bolognese-style dishes, which families could prepare at home. Spaghetti and meatballs soon became a national dish of America as well as Italy.
During World War II, the factory made rations for the U.S. Army, and returned to normal but increased production in peacetime, retaining all of its employees. But they had an added advantage: the vacuum-sealed can, and the machinery necessary to make it thanks to the War Department. And that is how just about every canned food you can think of came into being.
The company was eventually swallowed up by corporate giants, as family businesses usually are, but Chef Boyardee remained a figurehead well into the 1970s.
An Acquired Taste
A taste of the old country remains in Beefaroni, the humble carb and fat delivery device that remains every bit as good as it did when I was 8 years old.
I never liked canned pasta products, and still don’t with one important exception. And when the ingredients consist of hamburger, macaroni and sauce, the sauce matters a great deal. It can be any brand, they all have this same fakey orange color and are far too sugary. While tis true Beefaroni has its share of sugar, or actually corn syrup these days, it has always stood apart, with a tomato sauce that actually tastes (a lot) like the genuine article.
I know some of my preference for Beefaroni is related to a pleasant sense memory from my boyhood. But it really is good. And it is not all that bad for you, with less sugar than many grocery store products that claim to be healthy.
Everyone has their favorite comfort foods from their childhood, and others have certain birthday foods of which they never grow tired. What are yours?
Here is a commercial I still remember clearly from long ago:
Rover Perseverance 360 Degree View of Mars
Click On the Photo or Link, and Enjoy NASA’s New Panorama from the Red Planet!
George Washington and New York City are Forever Linked
This map was used by Washington to plan the defense of New York City against British invasion
Click to Enlarge and Zoom In
Today is George Washington’s 289th birthday
First in war, first in peace, and first to have a birthday sale named after him, Washington expected the Battle of New York to be his first test as the new commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. His opponent, the Viscount Willam Howe, had other ideas.
Both commanders knew the city would have been destroyed had it been directly involved. But Washington used this map with the express purpose of fighting house to house in hopes of inflicting extensive casualties upon the much larger forces of the Crown.
Instead of a direct assault, Lord Howe landed his army outside of New York Harbor, on what is now Brooklyn, where the Battle of Long Island took place on August 27, 1776. Outnumbered and outflanked, it turned into a major defeat for Washington. But as historian David McCullough makes clear in his excellent book, 1776, it was Washington’s masterful series of strategic withdrawals that saved most of his army, and the future of the USA along with it.
The British commander repeatedly out-maneuvered the Americans before, during, and after the battle, so they were forced to withdraw further up Manhattan Island to the heights later named for General Washington. And then they skedaddled all the way across New Jersey to Pennsylvania. The city had been spared, only to have much of it burned to the ground in the Great Fire less than a month later, on the night of September 20.
Originally drawn by British Army engineer John Montresor, the specific map Washington used is housed in the collection at Yale University Library.
The City of New York in 1776. Broadway has 13 blocks (it is now 13 miles long.) What is City Hall today and its park were still an “intended square or COMMON.”
Part of Greenwhich Village and the estate of one Lady Warren (née DeLancey,) the recently deceased widow of the intrepid Admiral Sir Peter Warren of the Seven Years War with France, whose remains were interred in Westminster Abbey after an illustrious career in Parliament.
Never losing his nerve, George Washington survived to fight another day, and many other days yet to come, beginning with the surprise attack victory at Trenton, New Jersey, on Christmas Day, 1776.
Six years of savage fighting later, George Washington returned to New York to say bid farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern, which still stands at 57 Pearl Street. General Washington did not know he would soon return to the City of New York, the first national capitol of the United States America, were he served as its first President.
I first learned of this NYC map thanks to the very cool article in Smithsonian Magazine on Washington’s personal map collection, in November of 2010, currently available on line at the link below.
A True Atlantis, Zealandia Sank Beneath the Sea
The eighth continent really existed for over 100 Million Years!
New Zealand and New Caledonia are all that remain of a lost eighth continent, now known to science as Zealandia.
But at the time Zealandia was above water, what is now New Zealand’s South Island was positioned to the east of North Island, with its current southwest tip pointing to the northeast. It swung around to its current location with the continental plates long after the rest of Zealandia was lost beneath the briny waves.
Schoolchildren often imagine with wonder how islands are really the tops of underwater mountains. But in this case, the island nations of New Zealand and New Caledonia aren’t the tops of individual marine volcanoes; they are actually the highest parts of a continent half the size of Australia that contained its own species of land plants and air-breathing animals reaching back to the time of the Early Cretaceous, when Titanosaurs like this Saltasauras left their footprints as they grazed on the vegetation of Zealandia and co-existed with other exotic species known only by small fossil fragments.
More interesting to me is the fact that much of land remained above the waves until “only” about 25 million years ago, meaning the dinosaurs had nearly 20 Million years to evolve into unique species after Zealandia separated from Australia, and some 40 Million more years followed their extinction, when unknown lifeforms replaced them and continued to evolve on what is now the lost continent of Zealandia.
This BBC article reveals fascinating details about 400-year search to find the predicted “eighth continent” once thought to be hiding somewhere between Australia and South America, and the modern scientists who eventually found out what happened to it.
NASA Streams Extraterrestrial Landing
New Rover on the Red Planet
NASA views first photo from Mars
Streamed video of Perseverance landing
Would that Dr. Sagan had lived to see it!