FDR helps with #’s 2 and 94

Spending some time out East while teaching at Antioch offers the opportunity to visit some friends (Jay and the CIA [no, not that CIA]), and hit a few more NPS units. Hence, a trip to Hyde Park, NY to the FDR Home and Presidential Library and Museum. It’s a unique presidential library for a few reasons… it’s the first library to be used by a sitting president, and as it was in use during his administration, the offices and rooms where FDR broadcast several “Fireside Chats” are preserved as they were during that time:

This desk (pictured below) from the Oval office was built in Grand Rapids, originally for Coolidge or Hoover.  FDR continued to use it, even as he re-constructed the Oval Office to the room we know today.  He moved the Oval to the corner of the West Wing and added those doors to the outside veranda for greater accessibility in a wheelchair.  To think I had thought they were just there so President Bartlet could go out for a quick smoke.

The globe is, well... large. Perry Gaglio would be jealous.

There’s a large collection of impressive artifacts on display, such as this note from Theodore Roosevelt eagerly agreeing to walk his niece down the aisle for her wedding to Franklin. Apparently the area was fairly lousy with Roosevelts!

No photos allowed inside the house, but it's where FDR was born, where he watched all four election nights, where Churchill and others planned war strategies; an amazing amount of history.

I also took a tour of the Vanderbilt Mansion, which was also very impressive… but no photos allowed inside. Oh well.

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#22 is Complete… sorta.

With the addition of three more UM venues, technically item #22 – to see six sports in six new venues – is complete. However, given that this task has taken on a life of its own to include ALL UofM home varsity sports venues – much work in Ann Arbor remains to be done. But, it’s fun to cross things off the list at any rate.

And John C. and I attended four sports in seven days… Wrestling and Women’s Tennis on Sunday, with Men’s Lacrosse and Men’s Swimming on the following Saturday.

Wrestling was in Cliff Keen Arena, home to Men’s Gymnastics and (Women’s) Volleyball, so it didn’t count as a new venue per se, but the place was packed for a senior day contest with Michigan State.

Click here for a larger, interactive panorama. Pretty cool stuff.

The Wolverines defeated the Spartans by a score of 26 to 9.  Never having attended a wrestling match before, there was a bit of a learning curve, but the announcer was good at explaining things as they went on and we got to see an overtime match and a six-point fall, which equates to the grand slam of wrestling.  Impressive.

And you thought football referees had a lot to do...

Then it was on to Women’s Tennis (indoor, of course) vs. Yale. We watched a match won by a UM junior who was the Big Ten freshman of the year a couple of years ago. The crowd was sparse, but enthusiastic – mostly parents and friends.

Games take a while 'cause the players have to chase down balls themselves. No ball kids here.

On Saturday we were treated to a massacre in the pool.  The UM-MSU dual meet (dual means both swimming AND diving) was a one-sided affair, with Michigan taking all 16 contested events.  It was the 35th year in a row that Michigan has beaten MSU in swimming. Curious how the newspapers never bring this up when Rivalry Week rolls around each year.

also available at http://instagr.am/p/n6TsF/

Filtered a bit with Instagram

Wasn't even close...

Finally, Lacrosse, which moves from a club sport to a full-fledged varsity sport in 2012. The women start varsity play next year. This was an exhibition match against Denison (Ohio), and while the regular season games will be held in Michigan Stadium, this match was held inside Oosterbaan Fieldhouse ’cause 1) it’s an exhibition and 2) it’s early February. But that made it all the more exciting, as we were standing literally on the sidelines with some 850 other curious onlookers. And the action is really like hockey without ice.  I’m sure we’ll check out a regular-season game in April on a nice spring day, but for now… consider this a preview.

If you thought I was ignorant about other sports... I have a lot to learn about Lacrosse. Like, what's this scrum-type thing at the face-off?

And here’s another cool panorama. See the whole thing in smooth interactive goodness at this link.

One last thing… we ate at Quickie Burger in A2, so that’s another new Michigan restaurant for me.

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Michigan’s Contribution to #2

The newest national park unitOne of the more important battles of the War of 1812 is now a newly-established National Battlefield in Monroe, Michigan. River Raisin National Battlefield is the site of the Battle of Frenchtown in January of 1813. The conflict from January  18 to 23 was the deadliest ever on Michigan soil, and the casualties included the highest number of Americans killed in a single battle during the War of 1812.

Despite an initial victory over the combined forces of the British and their Native American allies, a counterattack four days later, combined with a celebratory massacre by the Native Americans resulted in over 400 American deaths.

Until an act of Congress established the National Battlefield status in 2010 and started operation in 2011, the area was under Monroe County Parks jurisdiction, and the current visitor center is to be replaced with a more modern visitor center like other National Battlefields enjoy.  But it’s nice enough as it is now, with some worthwhile exhibits and educational displays that tell the story of the Battle as well as the rest of the War of 1812.  A better visitor center would be nice, but that might take a while, given the struggles the park service is having with funding right now.

A painting that helped incite sympathy for the American cause after the massacre.

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#94 Update: Carter and Toledo

While in Atlanta in May making a video of Charlie Brouwer’s Rise Up Atlanta, I found a couple of hours to visit the Carter Center, which was just a few blocks away. It’s a beautiful building, half museum and half activity center, which the Carter foundation operates out of. The museum part begins with a biographical movie — narrated by Martin Sheen, no less — and includes lots of well-designed exhibits and displays. The highest praise is reserved for the Camp David peace accords, but there’s a lot of other worthy info about the Carter years as well.  For example, when the President announced the U. S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics, it was in part because a significant number of Olympic athletes wanted him to do just that. Didn’t know that…

Recently I had a chance to visit the Toledo Museum of Art, a place I have never been to before, even though it’s just an hour away from my home.  I met my friend Jay down there (nice lunch at the museum cafe) and was really surprised as to how expansive the facility is… it’s really a world-class museum in terms of size and collection.

There's a whole separate pavilion for glass items only!

Detail from a VanGogh piece:

There’s a cool cloister that is comprised of four different types of columns, sourced from four different locations in Europe. The setting made me think of the cloister in the early scenes of The Sound of Music, but maybe that’s just something for movie dorks like me.

All in all, it’s really a great museum; perfect place to spend a day…

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#41 Update: So Scrummy.

Back to resuming the task of trying out some new Michigan restaurants. Friday night in Grand Rapids we ventured to a place that refers to itself as a Gastropub. Now, the etymology of Gastropub – describing a high-end pub or restaurant – is British; but apparently the term is making its way even to places like Grand Rapids, where savvy restaurateurs are eager to exploit the term.

That might sound a bit cynical, but it was my first reaction when I heard that we were going to hit a Gastropub.

Needless to say, soon after we entered the Green Well on Cherry St. in Eastown, my concerns quickly evaporated. It’s an artsy, neighborhood restaurant that sources much of its food locally, and has solar panels on their roof to offset their electrical costs.  Nice.  Typical for a Friday night in many places in GR, there was a 40-minute wait for a table, so we got drinks and hung out by the bar for a while. One of the hosts soon appeared offering samples of a trail mix with dried cherries, semisweet chocolate, walnuts, etc… Scrummy* example #1.

Then when we sat down at our table we got a breads & spreads plate to wait for Jana as she had a long day at work. The breads included some crispy flatbread and chewy/crispy slices of a loaf with olives in the bread. The spreads included a tapenade and a spicy red pepper spread, but the standout was a Gorgonzola cheese–hummus mix that was superb. Scrummy example #2.

The Scrummy trifecta was the entree – I selected the Poutine, which was a rich pot roast with… Well, here’s the menu description:

And here’s how it appeared when presented in front of me. Very, very Scrummy. The pot roast was nice and rich, the asparagus was crisp… a nice meal. The rest of the table had Turkey and Cuban sandwiches, and Fish Tacos. All were pronounced excellent… if they didn’t use the term Scrummy yet, they should have!

*OK, I’m all about on working Scrummy into the popular vernacular… and it’s appropriate for this discussion, ’cause as with Gastropub, the word’s etymology is British.  Basically, it’s just a combo of scrumptious and yummy.  To be honest, the first time I heard it was on “New Girl” (an uneven sitcom, but has some funny bits), but it does have a background as an actual term, so says the urban dictionary.   So join me in working Scrummy into your food conversations when you can. Or don’t. It’s up to you.


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Catching up on #22: More U of M Sportage

The last time I was in Crisler Arena was in 1983 for a Billy Joel concert. I believe it was the An Innocent Man tour.  This was the first time I have been inside for a basketball game.  So it was high time I got back into the place to watch a UM-Iowa State contest.

This is an exciting time to be a basketball fan at Michigan; fancy new basketball facilities are about to open, the team is doing well and the #2 prospect in the whole country for next year has committed to Michigan.

At any rate, the game was not as close as the score would indicate; Michigan was never really in danger the whole game, only at the end when Michigan took their foot off the gas did Iowa State get the score a bit closer.  But in the end it was a solid outing by the Wolverines… looks like a good season ahead.

Crisler has a brand new, and rather huge, jumbotron scoreboard as part of its renovation.

John and I have made it to a couple of other contests as part of the U-M Every Sport Challenge; new sports for me included Field Hockey (we beat Wake Forest) and Volleyball (we lost to Wisconsin).

Field Hockey on a beautiful September afternoon. Didn't really matter what was going on the field... or whatever they call the playing surface.

Volleyball is played in Keen Arena, same as Men’s Gymnastics… which we hit last winter, so no venue credit there.

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#15: Four new coasters, including a modern classic

Last week in Florida, I visited Busch Gardens for the for the first time in over ten years. I was excited to add four new coasters to my total. Two of them– Scorpion, an old Schwartzkopf looper and Gwazi, a relatively fast but rough woodie, were just OK, but two of their new rides really stood out.

The first, and newest ride — it opened in May — is Cheetah Hunt. It’s a launched coaster that hugs the ground except for a single section where it rises after one of the launches into a 100-foot high figure eight:

photo from the Roller Coaster Database

It’s a fast, fun ride that is very re-ridable. Sorta like Maverick at Cedar Point but a bit faster.

But the star of the show is Sheikra, a 200-foot high Dive Coaster that features two 90-degree drops. Even better is that before the first drop, the coaster pauses before the drop, giving riders a delightful view of that straight-down drop.

Here’s a shot of me, Marion, David, Jan and Eric from the front seat.  I regret the use of jazz hands already.

Front seat, great ride. The eight-seat rows are cool.

So… four down, eight to go to complete this one.

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