Monday, December 14, 2015

LaRosa's (again)

 Saturday (12/13) Tom and I had lunch (again) at LaRosa's on Vine Street in Cincinnati. Tom had won a gift card at work and he shared it with me.

 They had a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine - though in the kitchen, not available for patron refills - and they offered something I've never seen before: Seagram's Ginger Ale with lime. To say the least, it is excellent!

 Tom wanted a dinner salad and I wasn't sure I'd be hungry enough so we split one. The waitress delivered it divided into two bowls, Tom's with honey mustard dressing, mine with Italian. I'm happy I got it. The veggies were fresh as can be.

 We shared a 14" Vegetarian Pizza. ($16.99). They describe it this way: Family Recipe Pizza Sauce and provolone, topped with mushrooms, roasted red peppers, roasted onions, spinach and Roma tomatoes. I loved every bite. Tom and I each ate three slices and I brought two home. Miss Mary has already had one for lunch.



 I only saw one waitress (we were there about 1:30 pm) but she was keeping up with everything, though literally running at times. She refilled our drinks without being asked, brought our check and a box for the slices we couldn't eat. Great place and one we'll surely return to again and again.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Kenner Symposium

 Yesterday (12/12) Tom and I attended the Kenner Symposium at the Cincinnati Public Library. It's part of a Kenner Exhibit at the library which runs until January 16, 2016. Click here for info.

 This sign greeted visitors outside the library.

 We arrived about 11 am when Kenner history was being discussed. Corky Steiner, the son and nephew of Kenner's founders, was giving a talk when we arrived. A question and answer session followed.

 Perhaps Kenner's most famous toy line is Star Wars. Here an attendee arrives dressed as a Storm Trooper.

... and another listens to the talk dressed as one of the Ghostbusters.

 The Symposium ran from 10 am to 5:30 pm. Tom and I toured the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Cincinnati Room at the library where various Kenner toys were displayed. The exhibit is curated by Dan Flarida and Josh Blake of

 Tom brought one of his Star Wars collectibles for Scott Simmons who Tom quickly spotted among the crowd. Scott is the son of photographer Kim David McNeill Simmons who famously photographed many of Kenner's products. He's affectionately called "the man who shot Luke Skywalker". Check out an article about him by clicking here.

 "[Scott] collects the particular figure/character I was carrying around which is why I gave it to him," Tom explained. Simmons is a Kenner employee.

Kenner Toy catalogs from 1966 to 1990 were also on display. Noted Kenner lines include toys from Star Wars, Strawberry Shortcake, Batman, Jurassic Park and Ghostbusters. Other noted items were Play-Doh, Spirograph and Easy-Bake Oven.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

McGuffey Museum - Oxford

 On Saturday (12/5) with half an hour left on the parking meter, Tom suggested we make a quick stop at the McGuffey Museum on the Miami University campus in Oxford. With little time to spend, we were cordially given a guided tour of the first floor. Considering that I went to school at Miami for four years and have returned countless times since, it's surprising that I have never before set foot in the McGuffey Museum.

William H McGuffey house - 1833

 William Holmes McGuffey built this brick home in 1833 (he lived in a fame house on site in 1828). This octagonal table is reported to be the one where McGuffey designed his "Eclectic Reader".

  McGuffey's desk

Tom and our guide in one of the rooms - dining, I believe 

McGuffey's living room 

Steps to the second floor (which we didn't have time to visit)

McGuffey's Fifth Eclectic Reader - 1896 edition
Original copy in the Pinehaven collection

Our copy has a colorized engraving - perhaps colored by a family member

 So little time and so much to see. We'll return when we have more time and can explore at length. In the meantime, more information can be found by clicking here.

Miami's Second Foucault Pendulum

 I'm a sucker for science experiments. I like them even more when they're large.Graduates of Miami  University, both Tom (1979) and myself (1971) visited our Alma-mater on Saturday (12/5) with that in mind.

 They've constructed another foucault pendulum on campus, this one housed in the new physics building, Kreger Hall. I have visited the original one in Culler a number of times. Says the Miamian Magazine, "Physic's first pendulum had to stay in Culler when the department moved as as it was too big to budge."

 Though all foucault pendulum's work the same way (click here for a description), this new version certainly is more beautiful to look at. It glows with a turquoise green and is built in layers of glass.

 The pendulum is the work of artist David Griggs. A short video is posted here.

 The pendulum is named after Leon Foucault, who first constructed in 1851(Paris) to demonstrate the rotation of the earth.

 Grigg's model is made in three layers. According to the Miamian, "The top layer is an astronomical clock, the middle is a map of Oxford from the 1800's, and the bottom represents the Northern Hemisphere's constellations."

 The pendulum's "bob" is hung from a long wire, affixed to the ceiling. Tom thought the greenish light was projected from above as well. I couldn't tell the source of the light. It's quite an ethereal-looking glow, as though it has no source at all.

Kreger Hall - Miami University

 Since it was a Saturday, the main doors of the building were locked. Tom decided there must be students studying there and that one door must surely be open. I was a bit surprised when he found it. Indeed there  were students working inside the building, books open, laptops glowing, and even a few offices were occupied.
 The trip was not wasted.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving - 2015

 Like last year, the whole family (minus Michael) gathered at Rob's Restaurant in Brookville for our Thanksgiving dinner. Mom's to the point - and she's been there for some years - of not wanting to cook for a large group. I agree completely. And neither of us are much enamored by doing the dishes, either.

 So about three weeks ago I called for reservations. It turns out that they only had one opening at 10:30 am for a group of five. That's a bit early to eat but I took the slot.

 Tom arrived at Pinehaven at about 9 am. Bob and Nancy decided to just meet us at Rob's. Mom, Tom and I left here about 9:50 am for Brookville. When we got there, the doors were still locked and a large group of people had massed outside the door. But when we got in, things went quickly. We were eating by our assigned time.

Mom's already  eaten a large plateful
Here she's eating a couple of stuffed mushrooms 

Tom heaped it on and he's happily shoveling 

I've already had a large plateful and am munching on a second dinner roll
Waiting for a second wind so I can go and get dessert

Nancy and Bob come up for air 

Bob took this shot - didn't realize it
I'm messing with my smartphone (of course); Tom's digesting

This is how the reservations are handled
We had 1.5 hours to eat ... ample time

 Then, home for a game of cards ... Michigan Rummy.

If Bob looks a little shifty-eyed ... it's because he is 

Nancy and Bob shared the leading positions for the entire game 

While Tom held the bottom ... firmly

Mom just holds in there 

Another shot taken by Bob
(probably trying to divert our attention so he can cheat)

And a shot of me courtesy of Tom

A great time for all. After Bob and Nancy left, Tom and I played three more games of Michigan Rummy. Should I admit he won all three? I imagine Bob gave him some pointers before he left.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Mom's Favorite Fruit Cake

 Yesterday Mom said she was going to order a fruit cake by mail. I'm never in favor of going that route. Why pay exorbitant prices and then pay for shipping, too (if a fruit cake is made right, it weighs a ton). "Let's just make one instead," I told her.

 This morning when I got up, Mom had already collected the ingredients and had them standing on the kitchen counter. "You said you didn't mind making one," she said. "Do it."

Just out of the oven

 Mom has always had a favorite recipe and she calls this "the  fruit cake with Karo syrup". She found the recipe and I'll post it here. Sorry that it's taped and beat up a bit. But you know fruit cakes ... anything goes. We have no idea of the source of the recipe other than it's quite old and it was clipped out of a magazine.

 Nevertheless, here's the original recipe:

Click on the recipe for a higher resolution version

Here's the batter with the citron poured in, ready for stirring 

Mom's finely chopping some fresh orange zest to add to the batter

Here is the batter in the loaf pan, ready for the oven

 I don't much follow directions. All the dry ingredients are best mixed first and then the liquids added. We whipped the eggs in a measuring cup before adding. Otherwise, just pile it in.
 We added a commercial citron ("fruit cake mix") and threw in some raisins and black walnuts.

Two hours baking time is plenty for us

 We'll add some wine to the surface if we want the fruitcake more moist. Or, we may just leave it alone. When it cools, a taste will tell all.

Armstrong Air & Space Museum

 Yesterday (11/21) Tom and I drove up to Wapakoneta and toured the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. It's something I've wanted to do since the museum opened in 1972 (three years to the day after the first moon landing). When our family made their twice-a-year trips to Bear Lake, Michigan for vacation, we'd pass the museum. Some day, I thought.

 It was a dark, dismal Saturday but the traffic was light and we didn't encounter any construction on I-75 as we traveled. On the trip home, it had begun to rain but the predicted snow didn't occur until later in the day.

 Armstrong Air & Space Museum

Apollo Command Module (Mock-up) 

Gemini Spacecraft (Mock-up)

Entrance Area to the museum

Neil Armstrong's First Flight 

Items from Armstrong's childhood 

Full-scale mock-up of Sputnik 1

 My family visited my Uncle Joe and Aunt Sally Huesman one evening in October 1957 and we stood atop the river levee in Miamisburg and watched Sputnik fly overhead. I remember it being quite dim and hard to see among the stars. It is actually a small object and it orbited at an altitude of 359 miles so it was no wonder that it didn't present much of a visual target. Even so, we knew nothing would ever again be the same.

Tom would have been too tall for the original astronauts 

Painting of Ohio astronaut John Glenn 

Gemini VIII (the real thing, not a mock-up)

I remember when Neil Armstrong and David Scott flew this first docking mission in March 1966. While the docking with the Agena was accomplished, a thruster stuck and the mission had to be aborted. Armstrong proved his cool head was always in control. Read more about this mission here.

Close-up view of the interior of Gemini VIII
Armstrong sat in the seat closest to me (bottom) 

One of Armstrong's space suits 

Me in front of Gemini VIII 

Apollo command module model (top) and various gear

Close-up of Apollo keyboard
"The astronauts used a keyboard like this one to transfer data to and from
the command module's onboard computer" - AASM

NASA actually called this a DSKY: Display and Keyboard Assembly. I can still remember the terminology from nearly 50 years ago.

Apollo 8's view of the earth and moon - first lunar orbit mission 

A Saturn V engine
(certainly not a main engine; perhaps upper stage?)

I believe this is the plane Armstrong learned to fly in (hung from the ceiling) 

Food used in the Apollo program 

Personal hygiene articles used on Apollo

 Coverall worn by Eugene Cernan (Apollo 17)

American flag carried to the moon aboard Apollo 11 

Painting of Neil Armstrong's first step onto the moon

Bust of Neil Armstrong 

Wapakoneta Daily News headline 

Jim Lovell's coverall 

Awards issued to Neil Armstrong 

 Armstrong's Back-up Space Suit for Apollo 11

Close-up of Armstrong's name on the suit 

Moon rock brought back on Apollo 11 

This is the "starry" view as you approach the central dome 

Official Apollo 11 seal in wood 

Among the well-wishes from around the world is this drawing from France 

An oil painting of Armstrong and Aldrin on the moon 

A painting of Aldrin backing down the LEM ladder. Armstrong is already on the surface. 
(I'm there, too, via a reflection in the glass)

Kids enjoyed this Lunar Landing Simulator 

 A final look at a late-life Neil Armstrong

I talked with a worker at the museum for a few minutes, explaining that I attended Armstrong's homecoming on September 6, 1969. I remember hearing him, Bob Hope and Ohio governor James Rhodes speak at the fairgrounds. About 50,000 attended the event. The museum worker said she'd only been in Wapakoneta for eight years.