Sunday, May 26, 2024

Peggy Lee

She certainly makes me nostalgic for watching evening TV with my parents in the '60s--and, generally, the popular music of the time, apart from Rock and Roll. Peggy Lee was an American jazz and popular music singer, songwriter, composer, and actress who wrote or co-wrote over 270 songs and recorded about two albums a year for many years. Many of her songs became standards, while she herself recorded numerous albums between 1941 and 1993. As rock and rock began to dominate the music scene she also recorded songs by the Beatles, James Taylor, and other younger artists. I remember her on so many TV variety shows of the '60s and '70s. She was born in North Dakota as Norma Deloris Egstrom on this day in 1920. 

Star Wars Anniversary

Star Wars was released on May 25, 1977. I saw it at the movie theatre in Greenville, IL during my college years. 

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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Happy 200th, General Burnside

Born 200 years ago today, Union general, inventor, and industrialist Ambrose Burnside is sadly remembered for two horrible defeats: Fredericksburg, and the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg. He knew his limitations as a commander and was placed in high command against his will. He is more happily remembered for his distinctive facial hair that became known as "burnsides" and later "sideburns." After the war, Burnside was U.S. Senator from and three-time governor of Rhode Island, as well as a successful businessman and inventor. As a person he was modest and friendly, well-liked, and the type who remembered your name.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Beginning of the Black Hawk War

Here is some interesting information that I found, in response to a FB post from the Abraham Lincoln Book Store. On April 5, 1832, the Sauk chief Black Hawk (Mahkatêwe-meshi-kêhkêhkwa) crossed the Mississippi from Iowa into Illinois with about 1000 warriors and civilians, contrary to an earlier treaty. Although his motives have been debated by historians, his actions greatly alarmed white settlers in Illinois. Governor John Reynolds called up the state militia. The first engagement of the "Black Hawk War" was on May 14, 1832, The Battle of Stillman's Run. A detachment of 275 militiamen made a panicked retreat after being attacked by a group of Native warriors--estimated to be as few as 50 or as large as 200. The conflicts between militia and warriors lasted until Black Hawk was defeated in August. Some of my relatives participated in the conflict--James Carson, Henry Brown, Paton Pilcher, and John A. Wakefield. The war is known for participants who became famous later, like Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Winfred Scott, James Cayman, and Zachary Taylor. 

Geneticist Mary F. Lyon

Influential British geneticist Mary Lyon was born on May 15, 1925!  She developed the hypothesis that one of the two X chromosomes in female mammals becomes permanently inactivated early in development, but this inactivation happens at different stages among cells. (The distinctive fur of tortie cats is a result of this phenomenon.)  Discovery of X-inactivation led to important developments in treatment of inherited diseases like certain cancers and muscular dystrophy, as well as the discovery of the non-coding RNA Xist that acts in the inactivation process. Lyon also laid the foundations for the use of mice as model organisms in molecular medicine. Lyon enrolled at Cambridge in the 1940s, a time when comparatively few women were accepted, and they only received titular degrees. Way to stick it to the patriarchy, Dr. Lyon! 


I've been looking for an idea for a second tattoo. I wanted to get something cat-themed, maybe with a spiritual aspect broadly defined. Then, recently, we found a cute book called "Catffirmations: Mindful Mantras to Awaken Your Inner Cat." The cover was Hokusai's famous print "The Great Wave off Kanagawa," except drawn to include cats in the waves. Even Mt. Fuji in the distance has cat eyes, LOL. The always amazing artist Melissa Scherrer of Cousin Paul's Tattoos did my first tattoo in 2022 and did this one, too! She turned the image to face left, since this is my left leg. Check out her work on Instagram at honeybee.tattoos .

Monday, May 13, 2024

William Grant Still

African-American composer William Grant Still composed about five symphonies, four ballets, nine operas, over thirty choral works, plus art songs, chamber music and works for solo instruments, about 200 works in all. Called the "Dean of Afro-American Composers," he was born May 11, 1895.