The Mischievous Use of Pyrotechnics

Early this week, the signs began popping up in my town. I noticed them first at the busiest intersections, but soon they spread to public buildings, the entrances to subdivisions, and even as a postcard in our mailboxes. This Independence Day my town is going to try something new.

The sale and use of fireworks is legal in the state of Missouri, but each town has its own ordinance regarding them. In fact, many municipalities ban them altogether, which doesn’t seem like such a bad idea when you consider that fireworks are responsible for an average 10,000 injuries in the US every July and cause somewhere in the neighborhood of $32 million in property damage.

But I guess danger is part of the attraction. At least one story about the not-entirely-clear origin of fireworks tells us that between 600 and 900 AD, Chinese alchemists, who were already adept at blowing stuff up, were trying to develop the elixir of life by heating various combinations of sulfurous mixtures and instead managed to scorch their hands and faces and burn down their laboratory. The alchemists made note of the combination that had caused such an incident, warning it should never ever be mixed again.

Dude! Probably no one should ever do that. Let's try it again!  photo credit: bushfire (8) via photopin (license)

Dude! Probably no one should ever do that. Let’s try it again! photo credit: bushfire (8) via photopin (license)

Then, because guys like to blow stuff up, they proceeded to experiment with it anyway until they figured out that if the dangerous mixture were placed in a tube, open on one end, they could produce pretty sparks that made them say “ooh” and “ah.”

Despite the best “don’t try this at home” warning the Chinese alchemists could muster, fireworks spread through the world and the centuries, getting fancier and fancier along the way, until Captain John Smith of Jamestown fame allegedly set off a display in 1608 and fireworks had officially arrived on the shores of North America.

It was the Italians that first brought spectacular color to fireworks displays. And much bigger oohs and ahs.   By 久留米市民(Kurume-Shimin) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

It was the Italians that first brought spectacular color to fireworks displays. And much bigger oohs and ahs. By 久留米市民(Kurume-Shimin) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

That was all fine until the early 1700s when the citizens of Rhode Island took it too far. Evidently Rhode Islanders of the day found it hilarious to load up on explosives at the local fireworks tent and pull off all kinds of explosive shenanigans. The more well-mannered citizens of the colony were not amused and in 1731 officials issued the first ordinance in the would-be US banning the “mischievous use of pyrotechnics.”

4th of July fireworks: as American as apple pie, but maybe more mischievous.

4th of July fireworks: as American as apple pie, but maybe more mischievous. photo credit: . . . White . . . via photopin (license)

I wasn’t in Rhode Island in 1731 so I don’t know how the ordinance was received or enforced, but I suspect there were those who went ahead and blew stuff up anyway, probably in the middle night when the well-mannered people were sound asleep, at least until their neurotic dogs snapped to attention and went bananas over the noise.

That’s what our new and improved city ordinance is supposed to address. Because ever since 1776 when John Adams said it should be, the 4th of July has always been a fireworks kind of a holiday in the US. And guys still like to blow stuff up. So what our town has decided is that even though it is illegal to use or even possess fireworks within the town limits, that restriction will be lifted for a few hours on the 4th.

Sign, sign, everywhere there's signs. Even long-haired freaky people can blow stuff up if they want to. But only for a little while.

Sign, sign, everywhere there’s signs. Even long-haired freaky people can blow stuff up if they want to. But only for a little while.

At exactly 5 pm, guys who like to blow stuff up can cross the city line with their trucks filled from their runs a couple miles up the highway to the fireworks tent and scorch their own hands and faces to their hearts’ content.

Not being a guy who likes to blow stuff up, I admit I don’t really get the obsession, but I suppose the ordinance is fair. It gives folks the opportunity to celebrate, hopefully encourages them to practice caution as they should, and demonstrates respectful consideration of those who may have difficulty coping with stuff blowing up around them.

And after our window of allowable fireworks frivolity, law enforcement will be out in droves to lay the smack down on anyone mischievously using pyrotechnics. By then, my neurotic dog and I will be sound asleep.

No Practical Application Whatsoever

I suspect my windshield wipers are possessed. Last week was an extremely wet week here in the Midwestern US. It was the kind of week when baseball fans wait through rain delays, swimming pools sit unused, and drivers are constantly frustrated that the ever-present swish-swish of wiper blades never quite synchs with the beat of the song on the radio.

Almost cute enough to bottle feed in the rain. But not quite.   photo credit: Two little friends via photopin (license)

Almost cute enough to bottle feed in the rain. But not quite. photo credit: Two little friends via photopin (license)

So on Thursday I made the awful decision to cancel a trip to Grant’s Farm to feed the baby goats. My youngest son had been looking forward to the visit all week. His big brother was spending a very wet week at camp and this was a special trip for just the two of us. He was heartbroken and I felt terrible, but of course there was nothing I could do because sometimes the weather wins.

Fortunately that wasn’t the attitude of can-doer Mary Anderson of Birmingham, Alabama when she visited New York in the early 1900s. It was a terribly snowy and icy day when she set out to see the city sights, grateful, I suspect, to be in the relative comfort of a street car. That is until the driver slid aside the iced-over windshield to get a better view of where he was going and she received a blast of icy wind in the face.

Real estate developer, cattle rancher, winemaker, and all around spunky lady, Anderson thought there had to be a better way to deal with the visibility issue. Right there on the streetcar she began to sketch some ideas.

“Anderson Window Cleaning Device 1903″ by Mary Anderson(Life time: 1866-1953) – Original publication: US Patents Office. web. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia

After a number of tries, she finally came up with a prototype that worked and on November 10, 1903, Mary Anderson was awarded a US Patent for her “window cleaning device for electric cars and other vehicles to remove snow, ice or sleet from the window.”

What she had devised was a set of wood and rubber wiper arms the driver could drag across the windshield to clear it of debris with just the pull of a lever. Unfortunately for Ms. Anderson, the automobile wouldn’t really catch on in the US for another ten years or so. None of the manufacturers she approached was interested in her idea, citing concerns the device would be a dangerous distraction to the driver if the swish-swish didn’t synch up with the beat on the radio. One Canadian company even informed her that the invention had no practical application, a proclamation for which I have to assume someone eventually got fired.

Though Mary Anderson’s patent expired before she could make any money from her window cleaning device, she is usually credited as the first inventor of the windshield wiper. She was followed by a number of other inventors with a number of other patents. And obviously, wipers did eventually catch on, becoming fairly standard automobile accessories by 1919, proving remarkably practical and applicable.

Except for when they become possessed. This past Saturday the clouds finally parted, and we took advantage of the sunny day to go to Grant’s Farm and feed the baby goats, this time as a whole family. It was a great day, but I guess the windshield wipers on my car disagreed because on the way home, they turned on by themselves and despite my best efforts they’ve not stopped since.

I hate to say it, but I'm kind of hoping the rain comes back soon.   photo credit: windshield wipers via photopin (license)

I hate to say it, but I’m kind of hoping the rain comes back soon. photo credit: windshield wipers via photopin (license)

Though I like to think I am a pretty spunky lady, I am not as mechanically minded as Mary Anderson was. Still I am willing to accept there may be an explanation that is more mechanical than spiritual for the behavior of my windshield wipers. My husband has thankfully formulated a few ideas of how to fix them when he gets the chance. I hope it’s sometime soon because for now I am that eccentric lady who is driving through the sunshine with my wipers on low intermittent. I find they’re terribly distracting. Their swish-swish never synchs up to the beat on the radio and they have no practical application whatsoever.

The Stuff of Family Vacation Legend

By 1903, Henry Lee Higginson, most well known for founding the Boston Symphony Orchestra, had grown sick and tired of crazy drivers flying down the streets near his summer home in their newfangled automobiles, completely ignoring the posted speed limit of 15 miles per hour.

Never shy about contacting his representatives in government to register a complaint or share unsolicited advice, Higginson submitted a petition entitled, “A Petition Relative to Licensing Automobiles and Those Operating the Same.” The way he saw it, there was no way to hold those dadgum irresponsible drivers accountable unless there was a reliable way to identify them.

Henry Lee Higginson, who probably also wanted those dadgum teenagers to get off his lawn.  John Singer Sargent [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Henry Lee Higginson, who probably also wanted those dadgum teenagers to get off his lawn. John Singer Sargent [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

His suggestion was that all automobiles should be required to be registered with an accompanying fee of two dollars each year. Higginson’s very concern was already being discussed by Massachusetts lawmakers, particularly by the newly formed Automobile Department, which included Higginson’s nephew Fredrick Tudor.

Apparently if you’re a grumpy old man concerned citizen, it’s good to be a connected one because that same year, the first state-issued license plate in the entire United States was issued, a steel plate coated in porcelain with a cobalt blue background and raised white number. Across the top were the words “MASS. AUTOMOBILE REGISTER,” because even the people who live there can’t spell Massachusetts.

Massachusetts wasn’t the first state to require license plates. New York had been using them for a couple years already, but only required that drivers make an identification tag themselves, which meant that everyone just ended up with the same vanity plate: “BY OFFCER.”

So when Fredrick Tudor rolled off the lot with his brand new state issued-license plate, reading “1,” it was kind of a big deal. Other states, including New York, borrowed the idea and soon it was nearly impossible for dadgum crazy drivers to rip through Henry Higginson’s neighborhood at 16 miles per hour with impunity.

At last the state could make a few bucks by issuing plates that said “C U L8R” and could more easily identify vehicles that needed to be identified. But we all know the real reason we have state-issued license plates on our vehicles is because families heading out in the old Subaru for summer fun and togetherness need some way to pass the time. They need the license plate game.

It’s not much of a game, really, just writing down every state represented on the road through the seemingly endless hours of travel. But let me tell you, the excitement when everyone spots Alaska in the middle of Georgia is the stuff of family vacation legend.

I suppose it does make more sense to run into Tinkerbell in Orlando than at Yellowstone.  photo credit: TKRBELL (Tinkerbell) via photopin (license)

I suppose it does make more sense to run into Tinkerbell in Orlando than at Yellowstone. photo credit: TKRBELL (Tinkerbell) via photopin (license)

I didn’t post to this blog last week because my family and I were on just such a trip. A couple days after the kids got out of school, we took off on the fourteen or so hour drive for Universal Studios in Florida. It was a fantastic trip, full of movie magic and all things Harry Potter, a great way to kick off the summer. And we saw a fair number of plates along the way, an awesome 44 out of 50 states, along with a good portion of Canadian provinces.

Of course when we drove out west last summer to Yellowstone, we saw all but one state (apparently the good people of Delaware don’t get out much), but I still think we did fairly well. We didn’t see Vermont, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Dakota, or Utah. If you’re from any of those states, you’re missing a great trip. We also failed to find Hawaii, but I suppose that would be a tough drive (even tougher than Yellowstone, apparently).

We saw plenty of Massachusetts on this trip, but not plate #1. It is still an active registration, held by a relative of Fredrick Tudor, and I suppose Henry Lee Higginson, too. Whoever has it now, I sure hope he obeys posted speed limits.

It would take a long time to get from Massachusetts to Florida at that pace.   photo credit: 15front.jpg via photopin (license)

It would take a long time to get from Massachusetts to Florida at that pace. photo credit: 15front.jpg via photopin (license)

As a side note, I love writing for this blog and I am always delighted when people stop by, but I am first and foremost a mom. Now that the summer is in full swing around here, I am going to do my best to keep up posting every week, but I can’t promise I won’t miss one from time to time. I do still have six state license plates to find, including Hawaii. I think I may need to head to the source.

Dancing with the Squares

In 1923 America’s dance floors were headed for trouble. Ladies were just beginning to wear almost sensible clothing that allowed them to move and swing, jazz was emerging as a fast-paced and exciting music style, and the kids were snuggling close with a good fox trot or waltz and then dancing themselves silly with the Lindy Hop and the Charleston. The morals of a bygone era were fast crumbling away.

Henry Ford. This man knows his way around a Virginia Reel. [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Henry Ford, who once famously said, “You can dance any way that you want, so long as it’s square.” [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

One man decided he was going to do something about it. The father of the auto industry and master of the assembly line, Henry Ford, figured if he could put together a car one piece at a time, then he could put wholesome American culture back together the same way, one dance step at a time. And so he set out on a crusade to bring back the good old-fashioned square dance.

American square dance has a muddy history, but it generally traces its roots back to the coordinated group dances of England in the early 1600s. Of course when settlers brought it with them to the new world, it took on a uniquely American flavor. A caller announced the moves, which were given French names (because that seemed likely to irritate the English) like “promenade,” “allemande,” and dos-à-dos” (which quickly became “do-si-do,” because that seemed likely to irritate the French).

As America became more urbanized, square dancing faded, but Ford saw the dance as a way to promote exercise as well as genteel manners. He hired a square dance caller by the name of Benjamin Lovett to teach square dance full time in Dearborn, Michigan and required his employees to engage in the activity. He also sponsored square dance programs in many public schools, on college campuses, and over the radio waves.

It worked. The dance started to catch on. Soon ladies and gentlemen were lined up in groups on the dance floor to bow to their partners and perform coordinated dance steps with very little touching and plenty of room for the Holy Spirit. The dance’s popularity continued through World War II and the following decade before it began once again to fade. But I think it’s going to surge again, led by an army of enthusiastic Missouri 4th graders.

My kids are officially out of school for the summer now, but these last few weeks leading up to the last day have been busy.

Making car parts for the American working square dancer, because that's who they are and that's who they care about. [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Making car parts for the American working square dancer, because that’s who they are and that’s who they care about. [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There’ve been awards ceremonies and book fairs and pizza parties and field days. And, yes, square dancing.

Last week, my fourth grader (now officially a 5th grader!) participated in Missouri Day at school. I don’t know if this is a state required thing or if it’s just something our school does, but the kids were taken through a series of activities to help them learn about all things Missouri. Because I am a sucker who can’t say no dedicated parent, I volunteered to help.

It turns out the official state folk dance of Missouri is the square dance (as opposed to other kinds of American folk dances….go on, try to name one). In fact, twenty-four states have declared the square dance their state folk dance, and it would be twenty-five if Minnesota would just bite the bullet and make it official since it was proposed in both 1992 and 1994, but I suppose something this important shouldn’t be rushed.

Go ahead. Just try to do this without making any physical contact with your partner. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Go ahead. Just try to do this without getting cooties. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

So I went to the school to help the fourth graders learn to square dance. Of course I don’t believe I’ve ever square danced. I went to fourth grade in the state of Illinois (where the square dance is also the state folk dance) and no one seemed to care whether or not I learned this critical life skill.

Basically my job was to try to help two groups of eight kids interpret the instruction given by the elderly square dance caller. Allegedly.

What I really did was attempt to convince a bunch of ten-year-olds that they probably won’t die from touching another ten-year-old of the opposite sex, and failing that, how they might effectively swing their partner without actually coming into contact with him or her.

And I think once they figured it out, the kids  had a pretty good time. Henry Ford would have been proud.

It’s the End of the School Year as I Know It

This has been the last full week of school for my kiddos this year and they have pretty mixed feelings about it. On one hand they’re looking forward to fun days at the pool, family vacation, and the more relaxed vibe of summer. They’ll be able to stay up a little longer and sleep in a little later, and then there will be summer camps and trips to visit grandparents and all kinds of fun. My oldest son who has been counting down the months, weeks, days, and now hours is ready for it.

But for my youngest son, the end of the school year might as well be the end of the world. He’s shed a few tears these last couple of weeks. It’s been a really great second grade year with an absolutely wonderful teacher and even though we love our school and I am confident that his third grade experience will be great, too, he’s not been easy to convince. Transitions are hard for him and the end of the school year is one step closer to the unknown.

Nostradamus predicted the end in 1999, but it seems maybe he wasn't so certain, because he also thought the year 3797 a likely candidate for a fiery apocalypse. [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Nostradamus predicted the end in 1999, but it seems maybe he wasn’t so certain, because he also thought the year 3797 a likely candidate for a fiery apocalypse. [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Really, I don’t think his perspective is all that unusual because throughout human history, there has been a recurring obsession with one looming transition in the fate of humanity: the end of the world.

According to Wikipedia (surely the most reliable source of information regarding all things eschatological), there have been approximately 148 failed end-of-the-world predictions since people started to realize it might be fun to count them. According to other “experts” there may be as many as 400 end-of-the-world predictions in all of recorded human history. Either way, that’s a lot.

Images from the Mayan long calendar that ends December 21, 2012, which proved a little unnerving until December 22, 2012 dawned. By Maudslay (Cyrus Thomas (1904) Mayan calendar Systems II) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Images from the Mayan long calendar that ends December 21, 2012, which proved a little unnerving until December 22, 2012 dawned. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

But don’t worry, because Wikipedia also helpfully points out that “no predicted apocalyptic events have occurred so far.” What a relief!

The obsession with the end of it all stretches  back at least as far as the Assyrians. According to this 2009 Smithsonian article, a clay tablet dating to 2800 B.C states: “Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.”

Personally, I suspect the translation might be a little rough, either that or the “prophecy” has been misunderstood by scholars and the stone tablets really is nothing more than the discarded notes of a popular Assyrian standup comedian. It also seems likely that the existence of said “tablet” may have actually been made up in 1979.

Still, there’s something that keeps us humans guessing that the end is upon us. Whether it comes from religious conviction, scientific understanding, or from societal pessimism, our fate seems always to speed on toward some sort of transition and that fills us with a little bit of anxiety.

Some even less optimistic scientists say there's a 0.3% chance the world my be destroyed by an asteroid on March 16, 2880. So if you have plans that day, you might want to be prepared with a plan B. photo credit: BENNU’S JOURNEY via photopin (license)

Some even less optimistic scientists say there’s a 0.3% chance the world my be destroyed by an asteroid on March 16, 2880. So if you have plans that day, you might want to be prepared with a plan B. photo credit: BENNU’S JOURNEY via photopin (license)

And just because the end has failed to arrive maybe as many as 400 times, we may not be out of the woods just yet because there are currently at least 15 predictions open for consideration, from the interpretation of the series of blood moon eclipses in 2014 and 2015 that places the end of the world in September of this year (perhaps not coincidentally, just after the start of my son’s third grade year) to the insistence of numerous truly alarmist scientists who insist the sun will consume the earth a mere 5 billion years from next Tuesday, give or take an hour or two.

So perhaps the end is upon us, but I’m not going to worry about it too much. Most likely I have some fun summer days with my kiddos to look forward to. And despite the tears of yesterday, this morning my son told me he’s decided even though he’s sad second grade is ending, he isn’t going to be afraid of third grade, because, “[He does] this ever year, and then the next year turns out the be the funnest ever.”

As we plunge into summer break next week, it may be the end of the world as he knows it, but, all in all, I think he feels fine.

This Mermaid’s Gotta Swim

On a sunny summer day in 1908, on the crowded Revere Beach in Boston, Massachusetts, Australian swimming sensation Annette Kellerman tangled with the law. As young ladies splashed among the waves with their pretty bathing dresses and bloomers, the 21-year-old Kellerman set out for a swim in a one-piece men’s bathing suit that revealed a good portion of her thighs.

Annette Kellerman in her shocking swimwear, with stockings, for decency's sake because this is a family friendly blog after all.  Public Domain

Annette Kellerman in her shocking swimwear, with stockings for decency’s sake because this is a family friendly blog after all. Public Domain

Dubbed the “Australian Mermaid,” Kellerman was in the midst of an American tour in which she wowed crowds with her diving stunts and with her form-fitting bathing suit (initially with stockings for full leg coverage). When she was arrested in Boston for indecent exposure, she simply explained to the judge that she couldn’t “swim wearing more stuff than you hang on a clothes line.”

The judge agreed and Kellerman went on her way toward a career not just as a Vaudeville performer, but also as a movie actress (including playing the lead in A Daughter of the Gods, in which she bared much more than her thighs), and as a health and fitness guru. One Harvard professor (who somehow managed to make a living out of studying the female form, the sly dog) even determined that she was the “perfect woman” because her measurements so closely mirrored the Venus de Milo.

She was a woman way beyond her time, which was after all, a time when women sometimes still used bathing machines (a kind of wheeled dressing room) to enter the water without anyone seeing their voluminous precursors to the itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-yellow-polka-dot bikini.

So I suppose womankind owes Ms. Kellerman a debt of gratitude. But as I stole a little time from this busy week of end-of-the-year school programs and projects so I could do some peaceful shopping for a new swimming suit or two before I start spending pretty much every afternoon at the pool with my kids, I found myself wishing for a little more fabric, or maybe some bloomers, or even a dressing room on wheels.

Just a super duper fun day at the beach.

A bathing machine. And just a super duper fun day at the beach! Public Domain

There’s little that can shake a woman’s confidence in her own physical beauty more than looking at herself in a mirror, in bad lighting, wearing little more than her underwear. Still, I’m a swimmer. The sport is one of my great loves and I am eager every spring to get outside and hit the water, whether I resemble the Venus de Milo or not.

Perfect woman or not, I have better arms.   By Tom King (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Perfect woman or not, I have better arms. By Tom King (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

But like Kellerman, I’m pretty practical about my swimwear. I will get out there and brave the racks of the kinds of swimsuits  that run the very real risk of falling off in the water and probably ought to get their wearers arrested in Boston for indecent exposure, so  I can find a suit that will allow me to move like the American mermaid I was meant to be.

And I think Annette Kellerman would approve. Because even though she was never shy about displaying her own beauty for the world, she was first and foremost a proponent of women’s physical fitness. As such I suspect her attitude toward the teeny-weeny dental floss bikinis available today would be similar to that of her attitude toward the bathing dresses of the early 20th century.

About those she had this to say: “There are two kinds of bathing suits, those for use in the water, and those that are unfit for use except on dry land. If you are going to swim, wear a water bathing suit. But if you are merely going to play on the beach and pose for your camera friends, you may safely wear the dry land variety.”

I think I’ll stick with the water kind, because no one is getting near me with a camera. And this mermaid’s gotta swim.

Better than a Pulitzer: The Creative Blogger Award

On May 7, 1912, a few months after the death of Joseph Pulitzer, Columbia University set the plans in motion for establishing the Pulitzer Prize as stipulated in the journalist’s will. Five years later, on June 4, 1917 the Prize Board named the first recipients of that honor, awarding prizes in four categories: history, biography, reporting, and newspaper editorial.

Born in Mako, Hungary, the well educated Joseph Pulitzer fell into his journalism career the way most people do, by well-timed networking at a public chess match. But it wasn’t luck that brought him success as the owner of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and later as owner of The New York World.

Joesph Pulitzer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Joesph Pulitzer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It was hard work and the kind of business savvy that pairs hard news with sensationalized stories, exaggerations, and occasionally stuff that’s just plain made up. And it was also his unfailing belief that a free press and the freedom of creative expression was central to the success of a free society. He once stated, “Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery.”

For Pulitzer, free expression and a free press would always be the watchdog that would protect people from government abuses, calling to account politicians who act in their own interest rather than that of the nation they represent. His ideals stand firmly against suppression of speech, whether deemed prudent or not, and demand that all voices can be heard.

And so he established a school for journalism and a system for awarding excellence in journalism and other creative pursuits, with a particular emphasis on works that in some way serve the betterment of humanity, particularly exposure of government corruption and injustice.

Pulitzer also had the foresight to recognize that society would evolve over the years and so he gave the Board authority to expand the award categories as they deemed appropriate. Since the award was first established, it’s expanded at various times to include, among other things, telegraphic reporting, poetry, music, and feature photography. And since 1995, it’s been adapting to the expansion of online news outlets.

Even so, to the best of my knowledge, there is not yet a category for independent practical history blogs, despite the fact that they tend to pair history with sensational stories, exaggerations, and occasionally stuff that’s just plain made up. And who knows, they may even lead to the betterment of humanity.

But that’s okay, because bloggers are pretty good about recognizing the efforts of other bloggers. Of course blogs cover a wide variety of topics and there are about a million different reasons a writer might turn to blogging. But whatever the purpose, a blog is an unfettered creative outlet with the potential to influence society. We should recognize one another in our creative efforts.

That's prettier than a Pulitzer medal.

That’s prettier than a Pulitzer medal.

That’s why I am extremely grateful, on this 103rd anniversary of the day Columbia University first approved plans to establish the Pulitzer Prize and in this week when I celebrate the third anniversary of my silly little blog, to accept the Creative Blogger Award.

Like most blog awards this one comes with a few rules. First, thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog. Second, share five things about yourself. Third, nominate 10 -15 more creative blogs.

Thank you very much to Susan Roberts of Susan’s Musings for the kind nomination.

Five things about me:

1. My fourth grader’s teacher sends an e-mail every week asking parents to remind students they need to practice their recorders. I’ve never reminded him. Not once. And I never will.

2. I once spent a few months working as a dog trainer for a major pet supply retailer. At the time I was a cat person. Actually I still am a cat person. Seriously, it’s a strong preference. Just don’t tell my dog because it would hurt his feelings and he’s pretty sweet.

3. When I was sixteen, my grandmother offered me a piece of sage advice. She said, “If you have to fall in love and marry someone, he might as well be a farmer.” My husband isn’t a farmer, but Grandma always liked him anyway.

4. I read a lot of literary fiction, upscale historical fiction, and narrative nonfiction, but I have a serious weakness for young adult dystopian fiction. I can’t help myself. It doesn’t even have to be well written. And I will set aside just about any great literary work currently on my “to read” shelf in favor of one.

5. The very first home cooked meal I made after my husband and I were married was macaroni and cheese. From a box. He thanked me and ate it with a smile. Now that’s a keeper! And thankfully, I have since become a better cook. Though my kids still prefer the boxed mac ‘n’ cheese.

Nominees:

Victo Dolore

I Didn’t Have My Glasses On

Childhood Relived

Know-It-All

Notes From a Hermitage

Loni Found Herself

Russel Ray Photos

Ponies and Martinis

The Armchair Sommelier

Storyshucker