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Showing posts from February, 2016

A railroad hero for African American History month: John W Blair

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Scanning through titles of train books for children the other day, I came across this title: John Blair and the Great Hinckley Fire by Josephine Nobisso. At first glance does not appear to have anything do with a train. But then a 2nd glace- John Blair? John Insley Blair was a railroad magnate who at one time owned the largest rail mileage in the world. Then a 3rd look and check of Wikipedia proved that this book does not tell the story of the railroad developer but of an African American Porter on the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad. Silly me.
September 1st 1894 John Blair's train came into Hinckley, MN just as a massive conflagration came busting into town. And this was no ordinary fire. Some have described it like a tornado of flames four and half miles high.
Probably over 200 passengers pressed into the train with hopes for survival in the hands of the train crew. Engineer James Root made the decision to put his engine in reverse and race the cloying inferno to a water hole he r…

Unusual Star Wars foods

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This is not about the foods we encounter in the Star Wars universe. Instead it is about Star Wars encountering food in our universe.
Hunting and gathering Star Wars material has been relatively easy these days. Since Disney swooped up the Lucas empire, Star Wars is even more embedded into American culture. I surmise Lucas did not intend to craft a story in which has a Darth Vader like force hold on the public. Turn to left or the right and some Star Wars tie in has been created. And it is now even reaching into the food we consume. Chez Its had it and now Campbell's does too. It would appear that the Empire/First Order folks have found a niche in the food market.


Back in the day- the pre-re-release era - Star Wars kept to toys, T-shirts, books and trading cards.
But there was 1 anomaly- C3POs, the cereal.
I recall it murkily. We rarely had cold cereals. My childhood breakfasts included mostly Malt-O-Meal hot cereal or CoCo Wheats. But they were often eaten in an Empire Strikes Ba…

GearCamp: The Wool Shirt

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The wool shirt has been with us for a while. Wool for even longer. Back in 1924 Pendleton decided that a little more color in a woolen shirt would sell more shirts. They were right. And today they are still making the same shirts.
Woolens for as sportswear have been out of style for quite a while based on my unscientific research. They are making a comeback. I think hipsters may have increased the popularity of this type of shirt in recent years especially since Portland is in proximity to the Pendleton mill.
I had a few wool shirts growing up. I believe I wore one of them in a yearbook picture my sophomore year in high school. It was a Navy surplus shirt.  I think I borrowed the another one from my father. By college I had rid my wardrobe of these shirts, mostly because they were often scratchy and were dry clean only.
I think the woolen shirt fell out of favor due to the increased availability of tech fabrics like micro-fleece. Nevertheless, The Beach Boys probably still wear wool…