Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Clio: The History Muse

In doing some Civil War research I discovered Clio, the Greek Muse of History, and have pronounced her the official "muse" of the Oak Openings and Observations blog.

The Muses are the goddesses or spirits who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture, that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths. Originally said to be three in number, by the Classical times of the 400s BC, their number had grown, and become set at nine goddesses who embody the arts and inspire the creation process with their graces.

The name Clio comes from the Greek word "Klieo", which translates as "glory."

I discovered Clio at the monument to the 123rd New York Regiment at Culp's Hill in Gettysburg. ( see below) Double clicking on the picture gives you a better view of Clio.

What follows are more visuals of "My Muse."

Monday, April 27, 2009

April Color

It is finally spring. I can tell by the color in the yard.

The Iris have made an appearance.

The Azalea in their purple majesty

The shooting stars are about to appear.

The grass in getting long. In fact I mowed it today.

The tulips are here.

The summer garden flowers are starting to appear.

Some more color.

Then there is this unique little flower.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My 2nd Favorite Astrophysicist

My 2nd Favorite Astrophysicist

I just finished this book by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. The author writes in a style that I always imagined Brennan doing. He explains science in a clear understandable way, with humor and creativity mixed in. More on the author later in the post.
A few years ago there was quite an uproar when Pluto was demoted from one of the nine planets to a "dwarf planet".
As the New York Times wrote:

It has long been clear that Pluto, discovered in 1930, stood apart from the previously discovered planets. Not only was it much smaller than them, only about 1,600 miles in diameter, smaller than the Moon, but its elongated orbit is tilted with respect to the other planets and it goes inside the orbit of Neptune part of its 248-year journey around the Sun.

Pluto makes a better match with the other ice balls that have since been discovered in the dark realms beyond Neptune, they have argued. In 2000, when the new Rose Center for Earth and Space opened at the American Museum of Natural History, Pluto was denoted in a display as a Kuiper Belt Object and not a planet.

The planets are now put in groups: the 4 Terrestrial planets, including earth, and the 4 Jovian, or gaseous planets. No longer will students be trying to memorize the nine planets in order.

The change in Pluto's status created a lot of controversy, which is covered in the book. Pluto had been a planet all their lives, and they wished for it to continue that way. People are gradually making the adjustment to the new way of looking at our solar system.

Lyrics by Jeff Mondak and Alex Stangel

Since 1930, quite a run

It was always the smallest one

And oh so distant from the sun

But Pluto’s not a planet anymore

Uranus may be famous

But Mercury’s feeling hot

For Pluto was a planet

And somehow now it’s not

Neptune’s nervous, Saturn’s sad

And jumpin’ Jupiter is hoppin’ mad

Eight remain of nine we had

Pluto’s not a planet anymore

They held the meeting here on Earth

Mars and Venus proved their worth

But puny Pluto lacked the girth

So, Pluto’s not a planet anymore

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson (born October 5, 1958 in New York City) is an American astrophysicist and, since 1996, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Since 2006, he has hosted PBS's educational television show NOVA scienceNOW. Keen and charismatic, Tyson is a frequent guest on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Jeopardy!.

Scientific works

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Thursday, April 23, 2009


Madison, Wisconsin: It is a college town, and it is the Capital.

It has five Lakes.

It has over 1,200 restaurants, of which The Great Dane is our favorite.

State Street connects the Capital and campus.

Every Saturday is the fabulous Farmer's Market.

There are bike trails and running trails everywhere.

Summer nights on the Student Union's Terrace.
And our son and daughter-in-law live there!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Thanks Tracy for the daffodil bulbs. Here is a quick photogenic look at the early spring garden.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Frontiersmen

I am currently reading The Frontiersmen by Allan W Eckert. It is a "narrative history" of the opening of Kentucky and the great Northwest Territory -- Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota -- during the period 1755 to 1836, through events of the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. It is the first of six in the series titled "The Winning of America."
Allan W. Eckert is a historian, naturalist, novelist, poet, screenwriter, and playwright. Eckert was born in Buffalo, New York and raised in the Chicago, Illinois area, but has been a long-time resident of Bellefontaine, Ohio, near where he attended university. As a young man, he hitch-hiked around the United States, living off the land and learning about wildlife. He began writing about nature and American history at the age of thirteen, eventually becoming an author of numerous distinguished books for children and adults. Seven of his books have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in literature. One of his novels tells how the Great Auk went extinct.
Eckert has sparked controversy with his "hidden dialogue" technique. After many years of research on a topic, he has felt free to recreate historical conversations and thoughts in what some critics have considered to be "an entertaining blend of fact and fiction" purporting to be a straight biography. His colorful evocations of history have been praised as more accessible than drier, more strictly factual, accounts. I enjoy his writing, and do not quibble about whether the speaker actually used those exact words.

You can learn more at his website.

The Frontiersmen is one of numerous books written by Eckert that have been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Here is a list of all his books:
  1. The Writer's Digest Course in Article Writing, 1962
  2. The Great Auk, 1963
  3. A Time of Terror: The Great Dayton Flood, 1965
  4. *The Silent Sky:The Incredible Extinction of the Passenger Pigeon, 1965
  5. The Writer's Digest Course in Short Story Writing, 1965
  6. Wild Season, 1967
  7. The Frontiersmen, 1967
  8. Bayou Backwaters, 1967
  9. *The Crossbreed, 1968
  10. Blue Jacket: War Chief of the Shawnees, 1968
  11. *The King Snake, 1968
  12. *The Dreaming Tree, 1968
  13. Wilderness Empire, 1968
  14. In Search of a Whale, 1969
  15. The Conquerors, 1970
  16. Incident at Hawk's Hill, 1971
  17. *The Court-Martial of Daniel Boone, 1973
  18. The Owls of North America, 1973
  19. *Tecumseh!, 1975
  20. *The HAB Theory, 1976
  21. The Wilderness War, 1978
  22. The Wading Birds of North America, 1978
  23. *Savage Journey, 1979
  24. *Song of the Wild, 1980
  25. Whattizzit?, 1981
  26. Gateway to Empire, 1982
  27. *Johnny Logan: Shawnee Spy, 1982
  28. *The Dark Green Tunnel, 1983
  29. *The Wand, 1984
  30. *The Scarlet Mansion, 1985
  31. *Earth Treasures - Northeastern Quadrant, 1985
  32. *Earth Treasures - Southeastern Quadrant, 1985
  33. *Earth Treasures - Northwestern Quadrant, 1986
  34. *Earth Treasures - Southwestern Quadrant, 1987
  35. Twilight Of Empire, 1988
  36. A Sorrow in Our Heart:: The Life of Tecumseh, 1992
  37. That Dark and Bloody River: Chronicles of the Ohio River Valley, 1995
  38. The World of Opals, 1997
  39. Return to Hawk's Hill, 1998

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Lincoln's Favorite Kid

The Lincoln family as represented at the new Lincoln museum in Springfield. Tad is the youngest of the Lincoln's four boys, and the one you hear the most about, mainly because of his antics in the White House. (see my previous blog post) Robert, the oldest, was more of a Todd than a Lincoln, and never really developed much of a relationship with his father.
The second child, Eddie, died a month before his fourth birthday. The Lincolns described him as a warm-hearted, loving child.It was the Lincoln's third child, William Wallace, called Willie, that I believe was their most special gift. The development of the railroads allowed Lincoln to spend the weekends at home with his kids, and he became very fond of Willie. Once, after watching Willie solve an interpersonal problem, Lincoln remarked that he (Lincoln) solved problems the same way. Those who knew the boy considered him intelligent, generous, and kind.
Willie was described as being "of great mental activity, unusual intelligence, wonderful memory, methodical, frank and loving, a counterpart of his father, save that he was handsome." Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote: “He was an avid reader, a budding writer, and generally sweet-tempered, all reminiscent of his father.”

Willie tragically died of typhoid fever at age 11. Abraham said, "My poor boy. He was too good for this earth. God has called him home. I know that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so. It is hard, hard to have him die!"

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Day at the Zoo

Here are some photos of this mornings trip to the zoo.