Teaser Tuesday: Living History

After long, hot days of shrubbing, I found some time to read.

Also, the heat wave broke, humidity reached 100%, and rain came down.

Oh, and the wheel of time has turned in its course to:

Teaser TuesdayJust in case you don’t know, Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! All you have to do is grab the book you’re currently reading, open to a random page and share a few sentences from that page. But make sure you don’t share any spoilers!*

*I wish I could take credit for this introduction, but I shamelessly stole it from Heather over at bitsnbooks. To help me make amends, you should go check out her blog.

This week I’m reading Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Not my usual fare; I’m reading the book for several reasons:

1. The book was free.

2. The subject will challenge me to keep an open mind.

3. I’ll be able to mark a square off my Book Bingo card.

Book Bingo Card 1Which square will I use? A biography of someone you dislike.

The Truly Random Number Generator sends us to page 200.

There was nothing to hide, so why not?
The story would mushroom for a while and then die.

Which story could it be?

There are so many possibilities!

Living History book cover

In Retrospect

I finally finished The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova.

Bingo square: a book you started but never finished.

I gave it 3 stars for a slow start.

The ending, though . . . spectacular.

What have you been reading?

 


 

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May I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?

Phil, the preeminent Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge, prompted me to write about sugar.

I use sugar for two things: coffee and sweet tea.

Most Pennsylvanians don’t make sweet tea, so I’ve only had a few years to work on my “recipe.”

However, K says I make the best sweet tea; and no, she’s not just saying that.

So, how do I make my semi-legendary sweet tea? Like this:

Cup of SugarI store my sugar in a red canister with a spoon.

Thirteen spoons of sugar go into each batch of sweet tea.

This is the first time I’ve ever actually measured the amount of sugar I use.

By my best guestimate (and using a few converters on the internet), this equals approximately 220 grams of sugar.

Boiling Water for Tea

Mix this sugar into 8.5 cups boiling water.

Tea PitcherI always use this flowered pitcher.

This is our most-used wedding present.

Add two family-sized tea bags and let sit 45 minutes.

Transfer to a larger, refrigerator-safe and tea-appropriate container.

Top with cold water (about 4.5 cups) and mix thoroughly.

Refrigerate until ice-cold and enjoy!


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Sunday Snapshots

As you [probably] know, this week I masqueraded as my alter ego:

Roger the ShrubberI started working every morning before sunrise;

111+ heat indexes are not to be trifled with!

My working hours looked remarkably the same:

I counted at least twelve trips to the solid waste recycling center.

The center is only open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

There was even one incredibly large azalea that turned out to be six separate plantings grown together.

However, the Master Shrubber has power to create . . . and to destroy:

mega azaleaWe’re probably going to burn the stumps out.

Being summer in the South. every afternoon brought rain showers.

rain on window screenThe one redeeming feature: the breeze blowing off the water:

breeze on the waterWhat did you do this week?


Have a suggestion for a poem, photograph, or future post?

Drop a note in the prompt box!

Don’t forget to follow me on:

Facebook – where I share news stories, articles from other blogs, and various and sundry miscellany that happens to catch my eye. It’s stuff you won’t see here! Well, mostly.

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Twitter – where you can see my thoughts in 140 characters or less. Also, funny retweets.

A [Penny] Pressing Matter

Last week I mentioned my squished penny collection.

Elongateds, to the hoity-toity connoisseur.

Which I was . . . once upon a time.

Apparently, people “in the trade” now call them “ECs”

Machines stand all over the world, turning loose change into charming souvenirs.

Pressed Penny Machine

Don’t worry about defacing currency!

Penny presses are perfectly legal – in the U.S., at least.

Pressed Penny Legal

Per U.S. Code section 331, it is legal to alter/mutilate 
U.S. coins if done without fraudulent intent.

This law makes it a crime to fraudulently deface currency.

Unless you plan on passing off your flattened friend as legal tender, it’s all good.

In other countries – like Canada – it’s a crime to deface the images appearing on currency; therefore, they often supply a blank metal alloy disk [more on this later].

In The Beginning . . .

Squished pennies first arrived at the 1893 Columbian Exposition.

Fun fact, the fair was supposed to open in 1892 – the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage.

1893 Columbian Exposition Squished PennyThis bad boy sells for hundreds of dollars.

No, I do not have one.

Yet.

My personal descent into hoarding copper cents began in the early 90s – no earlier than ’92 and no later than ’94.

I know this because that summer my family visited Florida to visit an aunt on my mom’s side.

My parents also listened to a timeshare spiel and received family tickets for Sea World.

At the time, Sea World had a motion/simulator ride called Mission: Bermuda Triangle.

Near the exit to the ride I saw my first pressed penny machine.

I wanted one and my parents said yes.

Little did they know what they were getting into.

That 51¢ opened a whole new world to me – a world of affordable and unique souvenirs.

MIssion Bermuda Trianlge Squihed PennyThe coin that started it all.

Family and friends would bring them as gifts.

When dial-up came to our house, I joined some of the very first online trading clubs.

Back then they were free.

Now, the reputable ones cost money. Money that I don’t have.

I found unique coins on eBay.

Nixon Squished PennyBig Pen Squished Half PenceI even found a template used for engraving the dies.

Its misplaced right now, but I know it’s around here somewhere.

All told, I have around 500 squished pennies and assorted quarters, nickles, and dimes.

Squished Penny Collection

Tips & Tricks

I’ve collected for over twenty years; I’ve picked up some tricks along the way:

The mint year is most important.

Anything before 1982 is good; the higher copper content should produce uniform coloration.

Anything after 1982 is bad; the lower copper content may cause streaking and will oxidize faster.

1982 itself is hit or miss.

With practice, you can tell the difference, but I’ve been burned more than once.

I avoid 1982 all together.

Pennies
To prove the mint year to a collector, the date must be readable after pressing. Therefore, the date must be on the back of the penny.

If the machine is hand-cranked, place Lincoln facing away from the quarters. This has worked for me 99% of the time. In fact, I can’t remember a time it hasn’t worked, but I can’t be absolute.

If the machine is automated, it’s hit or miss. I’ll do a test run with my least desirable design and go from there.

back of a squished penny
Everyone wants shiny pennies, but pre-82 pennies in that condition are rare, expensive, or both.

I find that a mix of copper cleaner, ketchup (Heinz preferred), and vinegar does the trick.

The downside is that the press often destroys the original image – including the date.

 Clear Nail PolishNail polish to the rescue!

Simply coat the date side with clear nail polish and let dry.

When the penny presses, the date will be clearly visible.

Coating the penny after pressing will also prevent oxidization and discoloration.

For a time, the collection container mattered: certain plastics would interact with the pennies and cause corrosion.

Now, nearly all souvenir books on the market are safe to use.

Interested in Trading?

I still collect squished pennies and I’m still willing to trade.

Of course, if you just want to send me one that’s cool, too.

If you want to trade, I can get the following pennies:

Birthplace of Pepsi Cola Store

Tryon Palace

Squished Penny Museum PostcardThere was even a Squished Penny Museum, to which I was a proud contributor.

Interested in learning more?

Check out PennyCollector. I’ve been using them since they started.

Or, you can always ask me in the comments!


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Drop a note in the prompt box!

Don’t forget to follow me on:

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The Bookshelf of Roy G. Biv

The Roy G. Biv challenge proved especially difficult given my colorblindness.

I flat-out annoyed K to no end asking “is this indigo?” and “is this violet?”

Most of the time they weren’t; but she helped my finally get it right.

I present to you the bookshelf of Roy G. Biv:

Roy G Biv Books

For the record, the Pretty Little Liars book is K’s.

Does it matter?

I guess not.


 

Have a suggestion for a poem, photograph, or future post?

Drop a note in the prompt box!

 

Don’t forget to follow me on:

 

Facebook – where I share news stories, articles from other blogs, and various and sundry miscellany that happens to catch my eye. It’s stuff you won’t see here! Well, mostly.

 

Instagram – where I show you my Life in Motion and share quotes and such. The widget only shows my last three photographs – don’t you want to see them all?

 

Twitter – where you can see my thoughts in 140 characters or less. Also, funny retweets.

A Few [Shared] Thoughts on the American Civil War

I previously mentioned that I’m working through The Christian Humanist podcast archives. I just so happened to listen to one particular podcast right after the events in Charleston. What follows is a transcript from episode 56: Civil Wars. The original broadcast date was Sept. 13, 2011. The dialogue is by Michial Farmer. Any errors are my own.


I’m going to start talking about the American Civil War by talking about the Revolutionary War, which is also a civil war, because of course it’s British subjects rebelling against Britain.

The Revolutionary War is very clearly – the participants view themselves clearly as akin to the Romans. They clearly believe they are a Republic resisting Tyranny. So if you look at the way Thomas Paine talks about it in Common Sense he uses that word tyranny over and over again – and that’s no accident. As we all know, the Founders tended to see themselves in line Abraham Lincolnwith the Roman Republic. So when it comes around to the American Civil War, Southerners are going to tend to think of themselves, too, as members of a republic resisting tyranny; and so you get all sorts of nasty remarks about Abraham Lincoln as a tyrant – and he is as strong a Federalist president as ever had existed up to that point. He believes in the power of the federal government; he does not believe in the power of the states – for better or for worse.

The easy answer about the American Civil War is that it is – of course – about slavery. The easy answer is almost never correct. Slavery certainly was the catalyst that set it off. What it was really about – I think – was different ways of life. You had a very agrarian lifestyle in the South and not that it necessitated, but it made it very easy to use slaves. Then there was very non-agrarian, very urbanized life in the North, and so you have the conflict between these two ways of life. If the North had been as heavily agrarian as the South, I suspect they would have had slaves as well. Of course, the North was no place to live if you were black. There’s a wonderful Our Nigbook by I think her name is Harriet Wilson called Our Nig, which explains what it was like for black “servants” in the North in the era immediately preceding the Civil War. Spoiler Alert: not that great. So to say it’s about slavery is kind of accurate. To say it’s about civil rights in any way is not accurate. Very few people in the North or South were interested in giving black people civil rights. It was a conflict between these two cultures, one of which belonged largely to the past. The agrarian lifestyle was something that exists almost nowhere in America today because of the forward march of urbanization, so you have the past meeting the future and it got ugly.

That being said, I am from Georgia. I grew up hearing about the Confederate generals as heroes. I am sympathetic to that point of view; on the other hand, I am very glad the Civil War happened. I’m very glad that there were not two countries. I’m very glad slavery was ended. I admire Abraham Lincoln even though some of the tactics he used during that war – suspending habeas corpus, things like that – are disturbing to me. I affirm that the Civil War was a necessary war – waving confederate battle flagas good as a war can be, I suppose. But I also recognize that it was not as simple as Good North / Evil South, that there are things we lost in losing the agrarian lifestyle that should be mourned and that it is possible to mourn those things without flying a confederate flag out the window of your pickup truck.


It is possible to mourn those things without flying a confederate flag out the window of your pickup truck.


That being said [there are books that] paint the South as a Christian nation and the North as a secular nation. That’s balderdash. Obviously, there were lots of Christians involved in the abolitionist movement, there were lots Christians involved in the North, and there were lots of people who were eitherUncle Tom and Little Black Sambo not Christians in name or Christians in name only in the South. It is ridiculous to claim that the South was somehow righteous and that slavery was not as bad as we’ve heard. No, slavery was as bad as we’ve heard. It was an evil institution that needed to end for the health of not just the slaves but the slaveowners. So please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying or mistake me for some sort of Lost Causer.

We all know that racism is not a geographically limited phenomenon by any means. And if you think it is, I suggest you go listen to the Randy Newman song “Rednecks” which we won’t quote here on the show. It seems to be a bit more obvious in the South because you can’t ignore it in the South like you can in the North and in some other regions of the United States. The South is integrated. You can’t avoid the kinds of frictions that arise and so it’s going to come up more.

But yeah, the Civil War was about slavery, but it wasn’t just about slavery or maybe even primarily about slavery. I don’t know that it was primarily about states’ rights the way some of the neo-Confederates will tell you. I think it was primarily about a clash of civilizations.

That isn’t to say that to hold that particular historical view is to condone black slavery. It is simply to make an historical claim. There are good things we lost and there are things I’m very glad are gone as well.

Aristotle_Bust_White_Background_TransparentWe can be good Aristotelians and say there are multiple ways you can answer the question “what caused this?” There are different kinds of causes. We can bring up the sociological things. We can bring up historical events. We can raise the kinds of issues that were actually brought up in newspapers and by politicians at the time. We can go into journals by people ranging from Presidents to foot soldiers and read what they said were their particular motives. We take all those things, throw them in a heap, point to the heap, and say, “that is why the Civil War.”

I think it’s fascinating that you have a reversal of roles from what you saw in the English Civil war. You have the people claiming to be the gallant Cavalier class who are also the ones crowing about tyranny and saying “we need to overthrow the tyrant.” It’s the Roundheads playing the Tyrant and the Cavaliers playing the Rebels . . . This is one [war] that probably informs out imaginations more than the others.


 

Have a suggestion for a poem, photograph, or future post?

Drop a note in the prompt box!

 

Don’t forget to follow me on:

 

Facebook – where I share news stories, articles from other blogs, and various and sundry miscellany that happens to catch my eye. It’s stuff you won’t see here! Well, mostly.

 

Instagram – where I show you my Life in Motion and share quotes and such. The widget only shows my last three photographs – don’t you want to see them all?

 

Twitter – where you can see my thoughts in 140 characters or less. Also, funny retweets.

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