In the spirit of Walden 

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Lincoln is destined to be a classic


After seeing the movie Lincoln, I feel I just time traveled to the year 1865 and watched the passage of historic legislation abolishing slavery. Lincoln is authentic in every way from the sound of the ticking of the pocket watch that actually belonged to Lincoln to the chill of the dimly lit room Lincoln claimed as his office.

Lincoln is produced and directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln and Sally Field as his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. The movie also includes a cast of many other remarkable and accomplished actors and actresses.

The movie is based on the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln and features the last four months of his life and presidency. More specifically, it focuses on the passage of the 13th Amendment which followed the Emancipation Proclamation and permanently banished slavery for all states.

Daniel Day-Lewis so closely captures Lincoln’s essence that those connected with the production of the movie claim a chill ran down their spines as it seemed Lincoln was actually among them. We see Lincoln’s exhaustion and war weariness in Day-Lewis’s shawl- draped stooped shoulders and the clomping of his boots in his awkward gait. Day-Lewis spent a year researching Lincoln and visiting the many places associated with him before filming began. He inquired about his voice and learned Lincoln had a high pitched voice and, although we don’t have any recordings of his voice, what we hear in the movie seems to be very compatible with the character.

When we think of Lincoln we usually picture a god-like figure sitting on a marble throne as in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Here we see Lincoln as a real human being able to feel happiness, love, and laughter as well as pain, passion and grief. He was the leader of our country during its most trying period and at the same time a husband and father trying to keep his family safe and happy.

We see that Lincoln wasn’t above a little arm twisting and hand holding in order to get his way. He even turned to a few lobbyists to insure passage of his legislation. James Spader (better known as Denny Crane’s cohort) adds some comic relief as William N. Bilbo (even his name sounds comical), head lobbyist. Their behind-the-scenes antics provide a glimpse into the lobbyist’s world and lets us know that this profession also is not new. (I don’t know for sure but it is probably the second oldest profession.)

Tommy Lee Jones, usually known for playing gritty, rough and tumble character,s is excellent as Radical Republican Congressional leader, Thaddeus Stevens. Stevens was a fervent abolitionist and feared Lincoln would abandon the emancipation. He is a force to be feared and reckoned with.

Another excellent performance is turned in by David Strathairn as Secretary of State William Seward, Lincoln’s closest friend and confidant.

We can’t forget Sally Field as Mrs. Lincoln or madam president as she preferred to be called. She is sweet, forceful and a bit insane all at once.

Other actors you will recognize are:

  • Hal Holbrook (who won an Emmy for portraying Lincoln in a 1976 mini-series) as Francis Preston Blair, an influential Republican politician, who tried to arrange a peace agreement between the Union and the Confederacy.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt as oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, who has dropped out of Harvard Law School to serve as a personal attendant to Gen. Grant in the Union Army.
  • Gloria Reuben, (formerly of ER) as Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave, dressmaker, and confidant to Mary Todd Lincoln.
  • S. Epatha Merkerson (long-time actress on Law and Order) as Thaddeus Stevens’s housekeeper and “friend”.

Lincoln could easily have been a boring documentary about passage of legislation that would shape the future of our country; but in the skillful hands of Spielberg we see history in a fresh way. I particularly like the way he introduced us to the Gettysburg Address and portrayed the assassination scene. Spielberg gives the viewer credit for some intelligence and shows these in a new way. Why rehash something we have known since the third grade?

Lincoln is a movie I could see again and I don’t say that about many movies. Every student of American History and school child above the age of 10 should see this movie. Lincoln will be around for a long time and one that future historical dramas will be measured against. Expect to see many awards for this movie in the upcoming awards season including best movie, best director, best actor and supporting actors. It just may sweep up all the goodies.

I give Lincoln an A+.

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Why do we eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

Pity the turkey

It is the day before Thanksgiving and by this time cooks across the country are prepping and stuffing turkeys for the big Thanksgiving feast. Approximately 45 million turkeys will have the place of honor at this traditional meal.

But why do we eat turkeys on the day for giving thanks.  Wouldn’t a ham, steak, roast, or fish serve the same purpose? Maybe so, but for most Americans it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the traditional turkey. No one can pin down the exact origin for this traditional dish. There was no official proclamation issued saying that every household on the last Thursday of November should eat turkey when giving thanks; but there are several possible suggestions for the traditional meat.

Taste for turkey goes way back

The English were known to eat roasted goose, swan, and even peacocks. Legend has it that Queen Elizabeth I in the 16th century was celebrating the harvest festival with baked goose when she received news that the Spanish Armada, on its way to attack England, had sunk. She ordered an extra goose to celebrate the occasion. The colonists carried this tradition to this country but found wild turkeys more plentiful than geese.

It is thought that the settlers of Plymouth Plantation had many different kinds of meat at their first Thanksgiving in 1621 including venison, fowl, lobster, and cod. Deer meat and wild fowl are the only two meats historians know for certain were there. In a letter written by Edward Winslow, he mentions a hunting trip for wild turkey before the meal. The English had a tradition of eating turkey for Thanksgiving feasts which goes as far back as the 1540s. Gov. William Bradford, the first governor of Plymouth Plantation, records in his History of Plymouth Plantation that when they arrived in America, sailing from Plymouth in England, they brought the practice of eating turkeys with them.

Practical reasons for turkey

  • Turkeys were always fresh, affordable and large enough to feed a crowd. Turkeys were cheaper than chickens, larger than quail, and easier to hunt than geese.


  • Turkeys could be slaughtered without any economic consequence. Cows were needed for milk and chickens for their eggs—and—roosters are tough and chewy.


  • Turkeys were “ripe for picking” in the fall. The turkeys born in the spring would spend the months eating insects, worms, and acorns which give the bird its exotic taste. By fall they usually weigh about 10 pounds which is just right for feeding a crowd.

If the founding fathers had listened to Ben Franklin we would be revering the turkey rather than eating it. As most school kids know, Franklin wanted the turkey for our national emblem rather than the bald eagle. Franklin said, “The turkey is a much more respectable Bird and withal a true original Native of North America.”

I once knew a woman who raised turkeys and she would disagree with Franklin. She said turkeys were one of the dumbest animals on earth.

Pity the poor turkey for his customary place is now on a platter in the middle of our Thanksgiving table rather that atop a flag pole guarding old glory. Pass the gravy,  please.




Did you know:

– The long fleshy skin that hangs over a turkey’s beak is called a snood.

– The color of a wild turkey’s naked head and neck area can change blue when mating.

– Male turkeys are nicknamed “toms” while females are called “hens.”

– When turkeys reach maturity they can have as many as 3,500 feathers.

– Wild turkeys can run up to 55 miles an hour.

– Turkeys have a 270-degree field vision and have incredible hearing.


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More on the death of the Twinkies

People everywhere are contemplating the demise and eternity of the Twinkie. The pictures below speak for themselves:

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Save the Twinkies

The future looks bleak. Some people are depressed over the election results, there are wars and rumors of wars, we have constant threats of terrorist attacks, and there is a sex scandal in Washington (imagine that).

We have faced all these crises before and survived but this time we may have to do it without familiar comfort food to get us through. Yes, my friends, I’m talking about that little yellow sponge cake with the white gooey middle—a Twinkie. It probably has 982,000 empty calories without an ounce of nutrition but it tastes o-o-o-h so good. How did we get through childhood without Twinkies and other Hostess products such as Ding Dongs, Ho Hos, and Snowballs.

It has been said that Twinkies are indestructible and can survive forever. One even showed up in the movie, WALL-E, a few hundred years in the future. About the only thing that could cause the demise of the Twinkie is if production of them suddenly stopped and the recipe lost forever. Well, the end of world may be near (remember the Mayan calendar—12.21.2012 = 0) for production of Twinkies is scheduled to end in the all too near future. Could this earth-shaking event be what tilts the earth off its axis and dumps us into oblivion?

I can personally testify to the fact they are indestructible. Once I was on a canoe trip when the canoe carrying our snacks overturned. Our immediate response was to yell, “Save the Twinkies!” as we saw them floating down stream. It was only later I thought I should have inquired about the human occupants first. All other snacks were lost but the Twinkies, tightly sealed in their see-through packages, were unspoiled by their dunk in the creek.

As sad as it is, we may have to find a substitute junk food unless someone can find a last minute way to SAVE THE TWINKIES.


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Twinkies maker Hostess plans to go out of business

Save the Twinkies! How can we live without them


from the Columbus Dispatch


Twinkies maker Hostess plans to go out of business.

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Thanksgiving Blessings

This poem was written by my dear friend, Anne Voight, and she has it on her blog at Enjoy!



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We Are Marshall

  Do you remember what you were doing 42 years ago today, November 14, 1970? It is not an easily recognizable date to the average American; however, some sports fans and most Marshall University alumni painfully remember this date as the day their  football team perished in a flaming plane crash.

The chartered Douglas DC-9 crashed killing all 75 aboard. Not only did the university lose its entire football team but many of the leaders from the city of Huntington, WV were lost. The plane was carrying 37 members of the team, eight members of the coaching staff, 25 boosters, four flight crew members, and one employee of the charter company. According to the NTSB report, the accident was “unsurvivable”.

The team was returning home after playing East Carolina, a game which they lost 17-14. As they approached the Huntington Tri-State Airport in heavy fog and rain, the plane missed the runway and crashed into the hillside less than one mile from the runway. At 7:35 pm, on a cold and rainy November night the 75 souls on board were lost plunging the university and town into shock.

At the time of the crash I had graduated from Marshall and was teaching at a high school in Columbus. However, I had attended the game the week before and had great hopes for this team in the coming years. The four years I attended Marshall I watched the team lose game after game. They were rated as the most losing major college football team in the country.

It is hard to explain the effect the crash had on the town and the university. Huntington’s identity is Marshall University. In addition, many prominent doctors, attorneys and other professionals and civic leaders were lost in the crash. The movie We Are Marshall did a good job showing the depression, fear, and anger of the whole community.

The path to healing was long and hard. Many debated whether or not the university should even try to rebuild the team. However, they did rebuild and the opening game of the following season against Xavier University was a thriller—and I was there. Huntington’s newspaper, The Herald Advertiser said it best:

Young Herd Does It: MU 15, Xavier 13: Scores Touchdown On Final Play

The Herald-Advertiser

Marshall University’s Young Thundering Herd stunned Xavier, 15-13, here Saturday and it’s doubtful any Marshall team ever won a bigger game or a more dramatic one.

The victory at Fairfield Stadium before an estimated record crowd of 13,000, including Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr., came just ten months and 11 days after the jetliner crash of Nov. 14, 1970, that dealt football at MU a staggering blow….

Pandemonium erupted — both on the AstroTurfed field and in the refurbished Fairfield stands. There was no reason to try to restore order and attempt the extra point.


I was there among the 13,000 crazy fans celebrating and I remember saying, “Hollywood couldn’t have scripted it any better.” Little did I know that many years later Hollywood would come to Huntington to tell the story of Marshall.

A beautiful fountain was erected on the campus to commemorate the team and fans.  The fountain was designed by sculptor Harry Bertoia and he said it was his hope that the fountain would “commemorate the living – rather than death – on the waters of life, rising, receding, surging so as to express upward growth, immortality and eternality.”

A bronze plaque says: “They shall live on in the hearts of their families and friends forever, and this memorial records their loss to the university and to the community.”

Every year on this date a memorial service is held and the fountain is turned off until spring.

In 2000 a bronze memorial on the side of the football stadium was unveiled to “… stand as a symbol of community resilience and as a reminder of the awesome strength that can flow from a people united with a common bond. It represents the life, legacy and legend that is Marshall University Football…”

The memorial is titled “We Are Marshall”. Yes, “We are the sons and daughters of the great John Marshall,” as the Marshall fight song says; and all alumni bleed a bit of green and white as we stop to shed a tear every Nov. 14.


From Wikipedia

Note–John Marshall (September 24, 1755 – July 6, 1835) was the Chief Justice of the United States (1801–1835) whose court opinions helped lay the basis for American constitutional law and made the Supreme Court of the United States a coequal branch of government along with the legislative and executive branches. Previously, Marshall had been a leader of the Federalist Party in Virginia and served in the United States House of Representatives from 1799 to 1800. He was Secretary of State under President John Adams from 1800 to 1801.

Chief Justice (1801 to 1835)

Marshall served as Chief Justice during all or part of the administrations of six Presidents: John AdamsThomas JeffersonJames MadisonJames MonroeJohn Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. He remained a stalwart advocate of Federalism and a nemesis of the Jeffersonian school of government throughout its heyday. He participated in over 1000 decisions, writing 519 of the opinions himself.

He helped to establish the Supreme Court as the final authority on the meaning of the Constitution in cases and controversies that must be decided by the federal courts. His impact on constitutional law is without peer, and his imprint on the Court’s jurisprudence remains indelible.



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Employers let workers know their politics

     from The Columbus Dispatch Nov. 3, 2012

 Editor’s Note–this is a followup on the post “Who wants to buy your vote?”

Business owners say they’re doing what unions typically do

As Election Day nears, more business owners and executives are emphasizing to their employees how important it is to vote in the presidential race — and in some cases, at least subtly, who to vote for.

One Ohio business owner put information about Republican Mitt Romney in employees’ mailboxes and offered to reimburse the ticket price for employees who saw 2016: Obama’s America, a movie critical of Democratic President Barack Obama.

Another executive, Scott Farmer, CEO of Cintas Corp. based near Cincinnati, whose family members are major GOP financial contributors, blasted out an email to 30,000 employees last month in which he outlined his criticisms of “Obamacare” and the impact he believes it could have on his uniform-supply business.

“These decisions and policies could also have a significant impact on Cintas — on our ability to run our business effectively and efficiently, on our ability to attract and retain customers and on our ability to provide the level of benefits, opportunities, and development we believe our partners want, need and deserve.”

Business owners say what they’re doing is proper and is no different from what labor unions have done for years by keeping their members in line to vote, mostly for Democratic candidates.

Paul Secunda, a Marquette University professor specializing in labor and employment law, said there’s a fine line between an employer predicting what will happen if a specific candidate wins or loses, and threats aimed at steering employee votes. The line was smudged by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United case, Secunda said. The ruling, which said the government could not prohibit political expenditures by corporations and unions, “emboldened employers,” he said.

When the head of a business tells employees that voting for or against a specific candidate might put their jobs at risk, “that’s a message that’s very hard for employees to ignore in this economy,” Secunda said.

Unions have a strong influence over their members’ voting habits, but “don’t have the ability to fire or discipline employees,” Secunda said.

Ohio has had a law on the books since 1953 prohibiting anyone from doing anything to “induce or compel” someone to “vote or refrain from voting for or against any person” in an election. It is punishable by a maximum $500 fine.

Tim Burga, president of the Ohio AFL-CIO, charged that what business leaders are doing “is inappropriate and in many cases intimidation. … Certainly, we talk to our members about the issues we think are important to them. But we don’t control their paychecks. It’s a different process altogether.”

Keith Lake, managing director of government affairs for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber isn’t coordinating candidate-oriented political efforts, but individual businesses might be doing it on their own. “We want employees to know what this is doing to the bottom line,” Lake said.

A recent report by the Washington-based Business Industry Political Action Committee concluded that most employees aren’t concerned that employer communication could “adversely affect voting behavior.”Greg Casey, head of the BIPAC, said, “Employees have a right to know how policy and election outcomes will affect their jobs and their lives. Employers have a responsibility to share credible information with employees and let them make up their own minds.”

Portsmouth, Ohio, car dealer Tim Glockner recently told employees in an email that he didn’t want to tell them who to vote for. But he went on to say, “The choice for president seems quite simple. New taxes will hurt the health of our business. This could mean fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone. When you make your decision ask yourself which candidate better understands the economics of business ownership?”


Employers let workers know their politics.

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It’s almost over: Just 5 days, 7,000 ads left

To accompany the post I made a couple of days ago, Who wants to  buy your vote? ( in which I talked about the saturation of political ads, the Columbus Dispatch says today that with five days to go before the election we have just 7,000 more presidential ads to sit through. That equals one commercial per minute.

In addition to the 7,000 ads there are many more “issue” ads from the super PACs as well as spots for other races such as the Senate, congressional, court, legislative and local candidates.

We can all sympathize with the new YouTube sensation, four year old Abigael Evans, who is so tired of the presidential campaigns by “Bronco Bamma” and Mitt Romney that she is crying for them stop. We feel your pain Abigael.


Click on the link below to see adorable Abigael Evans.


Click on the Columbus Dispatch link for the full story

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I will have my children’s books and soft sculptures for sale

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© © Copyright 2012 Sheila Dobbie, Gahanna, Ohio