Category Archives: History Buff

The Turncoat Body

Benedict Arnold color portrait paintingI’ve always thought of myself as a healthy person, fortunate in a body compliant with my physical ideals.

That same body, to whom I’ve been very kind in recent years, recently turned on me in two separate ways. While neither situation is serious or permanent, both were nevertheless a glitch in my normally steady health.

First was the slightly elevated cholesterol at the end of January. I was incredulous. How does a dairy-sensitive pescetarian get high cholesterol? Despite the fact that my HDL (good) cholesterol was excellent, that darn LDL (bad) cholesterol apparently enjoyed some winter egg and cream cheese indulgence (I may have cooked one too many batches of creamy white chili). I’m now slightly haunted by what my cholesterol must have measured 10 years ago… Genetics and comfort food are powerful, my friends.

My doctor (who, I must tell you, is endlessly wonderful regarding my health anxiety) says my age, low cardiac risk and good HDL actually counter the small elevation quite well, and I have no cause for alarm. Diet, exercise, a redraw in six months. Calm restored.

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Back to It

george martha washington wedding painting

On January 6, 1759, George Washington married the widowed Martha Dandridge Custis, making her and her two surviving children active characters in 18th century U.S. history.

On January 6, 2012, my mother’s eldest sibling married a sweetheart he’d dated six decades in the past. She’s brought so much to our family with her love, generosity and culinary skill.

Sometimes, we have to circle back, and connect with pieces of our earlier selves. It might be an old flame; it might be a lingering (albeit nerdy) fascination with a long dead figure of patriotism. These pieces usually still have things to teach us.

Getting back to a routine after the holidays has its pros and cons, but the truth is that I’m ready for the structure. I have a new guide for prioritizing, and plenty of plans with which to fill my time. I’m nurturing various pieces of me that are the foundation of who I am now, and feel, as much as ever, that I’m doing it right.

As we start the new year, I want to pause and thank you. The fact that you’re reading this blog is something I appreciate, and also means that you might know me better than some folks do in “real” life. But more than that, you may be one of the many people who, through direct contact, have encouraged me to continue doing my thing. You’ve helped me look to 2014 with positive anticipation, and better, expect things from myself. Man in the Mirror and all that.

To the week, me hearties!


Filed under AutoBio, History Buff, New Story

5,000 More Birthday Candles for Stonehenge?

Stonehenge blue sky

There is so much we don’t know about pre-historic civilizations… like, what their names were, their language and how they ended.

One thing seems to happen repeatedly in our quest for understanding, however – we discover that we do not credit these ancient people with the knowledge and abilities that they in fact held.

For example, recent findings suggest that Stonehenge, as a cultural location, was occupied as early as 7,5000 BCE, which is 5,000 years sooner than experts knew of. That’s almost 10,000 years ago, which is about the time people are thought to have really started using agriculture as a way of life.

Can you even imagine what a world without farming would be like? The radically different mindset these folks had? Wild.

Read more about the findings here, and never underestimate what your earliest ancestors were capable of.


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Life on My Mind

blue life molecules

As I said to a world-weary friend on Monday: “Being an adult with access to information is exhausting.” Work, family, Korea, taxes, questionable food sources, social obligations, blasts at public events… It’s a lot to take in every day.

I don’t know about you, but I simply can’t turn it off most of the time. When there are people starving, dying, losing their homes and worse, I don’t feel right disregarding my privileged state and the information available to me. I need to do, and feel, something.

But that’s never where it starts.

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Filed under Current Events, Health, History Buff, Recipes

Science. History. Progress?

portrait Richard III English king

For better or for worse, I’m kinda swamped in work at the moment. But I wanted to drop in to share two pieces of information that I’ve enjoyed so far this week.

First, did you know they found Richard III of England under a car park?!?

Second, did you know there is talk of a national high speed rail?

Old Rich would be turning over in his… parking space if he could see the world today.

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Getting to Know the Borgias

European Borgia TV portrait

After I’d guilty pleasured my way through all four seasons of The Tudors, I was on the hunt for another, equally enticing, historical TV drama.

Searching through the streaming options on Netflix gave me Borgia. I’d heard about the show, but did not realize that there were in fact two series on the infamous Renaissance family. The only one available on Instant Play is a French/German production – not the one starring Jeremy Irons.

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The History of Dentistry

old fashioned dentist drawingThis is a post I’ve been meaning to do for a while… in fact it tried to post itself without my permission last week. The idea came to me after we had our routine six month check ups.

I have this sort of fascination with old medical stuff. Whether it’s practices, philosophies, instruments or potions, I think looking back at the way we’ve “fixed” our bodies over the centuries is entertaining and educational.

And it serves to remind us how little we actually understand about health and illness. Sure we’ve come a long way since leeches and doctor recommended smoking, but as with any science, the more we learn the more we realize we don’t yet grasp.

So, for a little bit of fun and fact, I present to you a brief history of dentistry:

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Dutch, Part 4 of ?

Parts I, II and III, if you so desire.


William, the heir to the English throne of his father Henry I, was drowned after the wreck of a new royal ship in 1120. The ship was painted white, and stood for all the promise inherent in the English monarchy. William hides in thick textbooks and historical novels, and is barely just remembered through Norman family trees.

Perhaps he is so overshadowed because of the wild results of his death, and a wild younger sister. When Henry I (son of William the Conqueror, incidentally), no longer had his firstborn son and heir, things got a bit chaotic. Although his daughter, Matilda, was the named heir in William’s place, her cousin Stephen swiped the throne from under her after Henry I died. But Matilda was not the sort to defer to a man, and raised an army to try to defeat her cousin. Years of conflict followed, with Matilda’s son – the famed Henry II – eventually being named successor on Stephen’s death.

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Filed under History Buff, Of Family and Children

Hypatia: Story and Symbol

Last week, we watched a movie called Agora. The film took place in the late 4th and early 5th centuries C.E., during a time of Roman decline, growing Christian power and a tragic loss of human knowledge.

Agora centers around the great Library at Alexandria, which was already several hundreds of years old by that time. The protagonist is Hypatia – daughter of one of the respected leaders of the university, and herself a successful mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and teacher.

Long and bloody story short, the Jews, Christians and Pagans living in Alexandria with Hyaptia did not get along. As religion so often does, it drew lines, created misconceptions and led to horrible fighting. The library and its scholars came to be seen as protectors of godless activity and witchcraft. Hyaptia especially was targeted as one of the last philosophers, a pagan and a woman. Without giving away the ending, I’ll just say that her treatment, and that of the library itself, at the hands of the Christians is ghastly.

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Filed under History Buff, Science

Dutch, Part 2 of ?

As hinted, I am going to make a biweekly departure from the ‘Friday Freelancer Report’ to bring you something a little spicier. This week, it’s the second installation of an experimental piece I started a number of years ago. For the beginning, check out Dutch, Part 1.


Like those post-Roman-treasure-loving warlords, who cared more about hoarding pretty bits of glass and whooping it up than patriotism and social reform, we forget that our actions will for centuries dictate to our descendants where they stand in the social hierarchy of contemporary construction.

Enter my ancestors -

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Filed under History Buff, Of Family and Children