Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Mark Twain's Study

The legendary American writer Samuel Clemens, known as Mark Twain, is famous for writing novels and short stories set in places along the Mississippi River, and in other parts of America.  Many of his most famous works, however, were written in a small octagonal building in Elmira, New York.  The story of its origins goes back to 1870, when Clemens married Olivia Langdon, an early graduate of Elmira College.  While the Clemens family lived in Redding, Connecticut, they would spend their summers in Elmira at the property of Olivia's sister Susan Crane and her husband Theodore, which they called Quarry Farm.  In 1874, the Cranes built the study on a hill about 100 yards from their house, in part to provide Clemens with a space in which to work, and in part to avoid his cigar smoke.  At the time, the Chemung River could be seen from the study, which reminded Clemens of his childhood in Hannibal, Missouri, which was on the Mississippi.  Today, Quarry Farm is gone and the study has been incorporated into the campus of Mrs. Clemens's alma mater.

Taughannock Falls State Park

Taughannock Falls State Park is home to its namesake waterfall, along its namesake creek.  The park is located along New York highway 89 and the west shore of Cayuga Lake, about seven miles northwest of Ithaca.  As anyone who read this blog last month might recall, I was recently in Ithaca visiting three of its waterfalls, so you could say that I was back in the area to see one more.  During that earlier trip, however, I had not yet learned about this particular waterfall.

Getting to the Ithaca area was more hazardous than I had anticipated.  Although TV reports indicated that western New York was experiencing a drought, as I got ready to check out of a hotel in Auburn, NY, a pretty intense rain was falling.  As I drove westward on U.S. highway 20, and then southward on NY-89, the rain continued, varying in intensity between light and torrential, occasionally providing some large puddles in the road.  On US-20, I passed a line of about 12 bicyclists, who were fortunately decked out in weather-appropriate outerwear.


Located within Victor, New York, Ganondagan was one place I visited in 2010 while on a historical and archaeological tour.  During my New York childhood, I had pretty much grown up learning about the Iroquois and their dealings with European colonists.  The 2010 tour was a pretty good refresher course.

I decided that Ganondagan would be a stop on my recent road trip.  As I approached the place, I noticed that there were cars parked along the nearby roads.  After I did the same with my car, I walked into the visitors center (and through its full parking lot) and learned that there was a festival going on.  I payed the admission fee and then walked around the site and learned (or maybe re-learned) that it had been inhabited by people of the Seneca tribe, the westernmost of the five founding tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy, until it was destroyed in 1687 by a French army invading from Canada.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Kinzua Bridge

The Kinzua Bridge was a railroad viaduct that spanned Kinzua Creek and its canyon, a few miles northeast of Mt. Jewett, Pennsylvania.  It was first built in 1882, taken out of service in 1959, sold to the Pennsylvania government in 1963, and used as the feature attraction of a state park.  In 2003, after restoration had begun, much of it was ripped down by a tornado.  In 2011, the remaining portion, still connecting to the south side of the canyon, was converted into a pedestrian skywalk.  Here's the south end of the skywalk.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Seldom Seen Coal Mine

Sometime last fall, I spotted Seldom Seen Coal Mine on a map, but haven't gotten around to visiting the place until today.  It's located near Patton, PA and is reached via a side road connecting to state highway 36.  Before taking the tour into the mine, I walked around the topside facilities.  We visitors rode into the mine on railcars similar to the yellow ones in this picture.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Terrorists Strike Mall In Munich, Germany

In Munich, eight people have been killed in an apparent terror attack at the Olympia shopping mall and a nearby McDonalds.  Three suspected gunmen are at large.  Authorities have locked down various transit lines, such as commuter trains and trams.  No group has yet claimed responsibility.

Read more at The TelegraphBBC News, Reuters, Deutsche Welle and Russia Today.

UPDATE:  According to BBC, DW and RT, a ninth person has been found dead.  Authorities are trying to determine if this person was one of the perpetrators.

UPDATE 2:  There is now reported to have been only one gunman, an 18-year-old Iranian who had been living in Munich for two years.  Ten people have been killed, including the gunman, who reportedly shot himself.  Read more at the Daily Mail.

Bulls Run In Baltimore

In West Baltimore, two bulls escaped from a slaughterhouse and then ran around a residential neighborhood, before being captured by police at around 10:20 a.m.  Fortunately, Baltimore's version of "The Running Of The Bulls" did not result in any injuries, either bovine or human.  I wonder, though, how much literal bull[bleep] was left behind by the two escapees.

Read more at CBS Baltimore, the North Baltimore Patch, WBAL, The Baltimore Sun and Fox45.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Writer Behind The Speech

In the wake of accusations that would-be FLOTUS Melania Trump plagiarized from a speech by current FLOTUS Michelle Obama, the writer of Trump's speech has gotten into the public eye.  Various media sources have tracked down and reported information about Meredith McIver, who served as Trump's speechwriter.  Among the details:

She has been a member of the "Trump Organization" since 2001.

She has co-written five books with Donald Trump, and has written her own poems and short stories.

She was a ballet dancer, attending ballet school on a Ford Foundation scholarship.

She graduated with honors from University of Utah, majoring in English.

She is a registered Democrat.  Therefore, I'd say that Ms. McIver remembering words from Ms. Obama is not outside the realm of plausibility.

Read more at The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Daily News, and the Independent.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Beware The Polish Boar!

My ancestral country of Poland, whose king drove the Turks away from Vienna back in 1683, has been unwilling to accept any Muslim migrants from the Middle East.  It now appears that they might have inadvertently found a way to dissuade any from entering, if the scare given these beach-goers in the Baltic seaside town of Karwia is any indication.  The caption on the top left translates as "Boar attacks people on the beach!"

Read more about this strange incident at UPI, the Metro and the Daily Mail.

The GOP Convention And Other Stories

The Republican National Convention started last night, with appearances by a number of featured speakers.  Here are some related stories, and other things in the news:

Former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani defends Donald Trump's character.

Sheriff David Clarke's speech included a swipe at Trump's presumptive opponent.

After giving his speech, Antonio Sabato calls President Obama "absolutely" a Muslim.

A politician who shares his name with a species of amphibian claims to have suggested Mike Pence as Trump's running mate.

Victor David Hanson sets forth "ten reasons why Trump could win".

Some people found parts of Melania Trump's speech vaguely familiar.

On the other hand, one person defends Mrs. Trump.

Another prominent Republican says that he might fire her speechwriter.

A Republican ad-maker criticizes the "cult of the stupid".

Indonesia's most wanted terrorist is killed in a gunfight.

In France, a man named Mohamed attacks a woman and her daughters for being "dressed too lightly".

In Pakistan, a Christian girl is forced into an Islamic marriage, and her father is killed.

Also in Pakistan, a man dies after his arms, nose and lips are chopped off.

In Gaza, 30,000 children attend military camps run by Hamas.

In Pennsylvania, a man uses a rock to smash a police car's window.

A member of the European Parliament wants to ban the EU's member countries from opting out of its rules.

In Europe, Google throws its money around.

The IDF will "re-examine" its relationship with an "anti-gay" rabbi.

Archaeologists say that African rock art is dying.

In the Rogue One poster, the Death Star is not impossibly large.

Weird Al will play at the Hollywood Bowl.

And last but not least, 24 sports photos.