Archive for October, 2015

Roosevelt Child or Roosevelt Pet?

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

Today is Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday.

As you know, TR was a naturalist, a proto-environmentalist, and outdoorsman. He also loved animals. True, he shot a lot of them, but his family also had a lot of pets. In fact, the Roosevelt White House probably had the largest amount of pets of any presidency. He had several children, each of whom took care of their own menagerie of animals.

In honor of TR’s birthday, we present a little quiz.


Can you figure out which of these are names of Roosevelt’s pets and which his children?

  1. Alice
  2. Theodore Jr.
  3. Peter
  4. Kermit
  5. Eli Yale
  6. Gem
  7. Ethel
  8. Bill
  9. Fighting Bob Evans
  10. Archibald
  11. Josiah
  12. Maude
  13. Algonquin
  14. Jonathan
  15. Quentin

Answers below the photo.



  1. child, 2. child 3. pet (rabbit), 4. child, 5. pet (blue macaw), 6. pet (dog), 7. Child, 8. pet (lizard), 9. pet (guinea pig), 10. child, 11. pet (badger), 12. pet (pig), 13. pet (pony) 14. pet (rat), 15. child

Happy Ivesday

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

Happy Birthday to Charles Ives, American avant-garde composer!

Charles Ives (1874-1954) was an original, combining European art music with popular American tunes while integrating experimental rhythms, polytonality, and tone clusters. Ives was a man who loved his tone clusters. Ives’ music was heavily influenced by a childhood of listening to Yankee hymns and band music. His father was a bandleader, who did fairly eccentric things like having two bands play completely music at the same time or having his children sing in one key while he accompanied them on another. This playfulness and love for the off-kilter is evident in all of Ives’ music.

Charles Ives was one of those composers who was mostly unappreciated in his own lifetime. He never quit his day job in the insurance industry, and although he received accolades for his music towards the end of his life, he remained outside of the musical establishment. No doubt his maverick approach to composing played a part in that.

In honor of Ives’ birthday, why not take 5 minutes today and listen to Ives himself performing the third movement of the Concord Sonata? It’s really lovely.

Happy Birthday, Sir John William Dawson!

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Happy Birthday, Sir John William Dawson!


Canada’s first world-famous scientist was also its first trained exploration geologist, a plant fossil expert, and colleague of the eminent British geologist (and fellow Sir) Charles Lyell, with whom he discovered Canada’s then-oldest fossil.

Dawson was a professor, education superintendent, lecturer, and teetotaler. He authored hundreds of books and articles, including Air-Breathers of the Coal Period: a Descriptive Account of the Remains of Land Animals Found in the Coal Formation of Nova Scotia, with Remarks on their Bearing on Theories of the Formation of Coal and of the Origin of Species.

Like Charles Darwin, Dawson considered becoming a man of the cloth and could not go along with Darwinian theories, being unable to reconcile the science with his religious convictions.

Happy Birthday, Sir John William Dawson – Geologist, Paleobotanist, and Air-Breather!

Yes We Kon-Tiki! (But Somebody Hōkūleʻa-ed First)

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Let us take the opportunity of Thor Heyerdahl’s birthday to extol the virtues of theories improbable, unlikely, and downright cockamamie!

Heyerdahl, the Norwegian biologist, believed Easter Island was settled by transplanted native Americans who had drifted there on the currents.

To prove his hypothesis, he built a raft that couldn’t be steered (all the better to drift), named it Kon-Tiki, and floated on the waves for a few months until he and his crew reached Polynesia, 4,300 miles away.

Heyerdahl doubted that Polynesians had the navigational skills necessary to make the journey despite strong seafaring traditions and knowledge of tides, currents, and astronomy.

However, the evidence indicates that western Polynesians established the first colonies – not drifting native Americans – and in 1976, expert Pius Piailug used traditional methods to navigate the canoe Hōkūleʻa 2,300 miles from Hawai’i to Tahiti to show how it was done.

Was Heyerdahl off his rocker?


But he built a rocker and got in it and rocked.