Thursday, June 21, 2012

10 Fun Facts About Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States

1. Teddy Roosevelt was born in 1858 in New York City, to a wealthy family of Dutch ancestry.  His niece, daughter of his brother Elliot, was future First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.  Eleanor's husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was a distant cousin to Eleanor and Teddy and shared their last name.

2. A sickly child who probably suffered from asthma, Roosevelt devoted himself from an early age to intellectual pursuits, particularly zoology and biology, and later took up sports, competing in boxing and rowing after enrolling at Harvard in 1876.  After graduating near the top of his class and entering the New York State Assembly, Roosevelt published a scholarly historical account of the U.S. Navy in the War of 1812, which he began writing in college.  It is still in print today and is considered one of the "standards" in the scholarly study of that war.

3. Roosevelt had married a woman named Alice Lee in 1880, having announced their engagement on Valentine's Day earlier that year.  Four years later, Alice was pregnant and due around Valentine's Day 1884.  The baby arrived on February 12th, while Roosevelt was still away at the capital.  He returned home late on the 13th to find both his widowed mother - who lived at the family home - and his post-partum wife gravely ill.  In the early morning hours of February 14th, his mother died, apparently of typhoid, and just a few hours after that, his wife died as well, from complications with the birth.

Roosevelt's diary entry from February 14, 1884

4. Over the next 15 years, Roosevelt spent time as a rancher, writer, a commissioner of the U.S. Civil Service, the Superintendent of the New York City Police Department, and also made a failed run for mayor of New York City.  In 1897, he was named Assistant Secretary of the Navy by president William McKinley, but resigned the position after just a few months in order to serve in the Spanish-American War.

5. Roosevelt attained the rank of Colonel in the war, leading a regiment of cavalry that came to be known as the Rough Riders.  They were heavily involved in the charge of San Juan Hill, one of the war's bloodiest and most pivotal battles.  Roosevelt earned great fame and notoriety for his achievements, and was nominated for a Congressional Medal of Honor, but it was not bestowed on him until 2001 - making him the only U.S. president to ever win the award.

6. After returning to civilian life later in 1898, Roosevelt was elected governor of New York.  Like his other jobs in the 1890's, he would serve in this capacity for only a brief time, before being added to the re-election ticket of president William McKinley in 1900.  When McKinley was assassinated just a few months after taking office, Roosevelt was sworn in as president on September 14, 1901.  At 42, he remains to this day the youngest person to ever hold the office of the presidency.  

7. A major reformer as president, Roosevelt devoted significant time developing governmental oversight and regulation of big corporations, and fighting for the rights of workers.  He was also instrumental in the completion of the Panama Canal.  In 1906, following his efforts to negotiate an end to the Russo-Japanese War, he was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize.  Together with his Congressional Medal of Honor in 2001, he is the only person in history to receive both his country's highest military award, and the world's highest peace award.  After keeping the White House in 1904, he declined to run again in 1908, instead supporting the eventual winner, William Howard Taft.

8. During the ensuing Taft administration, Roosevelt began to regret his decision, and became one of Taft's biggest critics.  Roosevelt ended up running for president again in 1912 on a third party ticket - the so-called Bull Moose Party, which effectively split the Republican vote and allowed Democrat Woodrow Wilson to win easily.  Roosevelt, however, became the only third party candidate in U.S. history to win more votes than a major party candidate.  During the campaign, Roosevelt was shot by an assassin in the chest, but the bullet did not penetrate his lungs, lodging instead in the tissue of his chest, and it remained there for the rest of his life.  Certain that the bullet had not done mortal damage, Roosevelt went ahead and gave the campaign speech he had been about to give, opening by casually telling his audience that he had just been shot.  

9. Following his failed third party run, Roosevelt devoted the remainder of his life to supporting Progressive Republican politics, making expeditions into remote areas of the world, and campaigning against American neutrality in World War I. Roosevelt died in 1919, from a heart attack while he slept.  He was only 60 years old, but his travels into the jungles of South America had ruined his health, a boxing accident during his presidency had rendered him blind in one eye, and he had developed inflammatory arthritis.  He was buried near his home in New York.

10. Roosevelt's youngest son, Quentin, joined the budding U.S. Air Service during World War I, and was shot down and killed over France in 1918.  During World War II, Roosevelt's oldest son, Teddy Jr., was a brigadier general who won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on D-Day.  Like his father many years later, he would also win his award posthumously - he died of a heart attack just a few weeks after the landing.  Roosevelt's oldest child - Alice - from his first marriage, outlived all her younger half-siblings, dying at the age of 96 in 1980.  She was a controversial figure who married a prominent politician, mothered a child through an affair with another politician, and, at the age of 90 in 1974, famously proclaimed on 60 Minutes that she was a "hedonist."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Notes from the Cave

My poetry collection is free right now at Amazon, if you have a Kindle reader.  It will be free today and tomorrow (that's June 11 and 12).  There are, I believe, 52 poems in the collection, most of which were written between 2004 and 2006.

My short story Widow's Walk is also free today and tomorrow.

I've noticed recently that my blog hits are in a slow decline, and that is obviously due to my basic lack of blogging in the last few months.  I only had about 1,200 hits last week, which is the lowest its been in a long, long time.  I gotta get writing again, and I gotta do more than just these stupid updates.

Work has been not fun.  The new software implementation is in full swing, and I think most people are comfortable using it now, but it has had everyone's nerves on edge and has generally made everyone extra stressed out.  (Hint: "everyone" probably just means "Scott.")

I've also had a lot going on with my second job as a language and writing instructor with a company that serves the Japanese market.  It's been too much really.  I am absolutely certain that I don't handle stress and workloads as well as others, but I can only hold myself to my own standards, and by my standards, I have been busy to the point of generally wanting to run away.

I went with my wife and kids this weekend to Target to buy fat clothes.  I have been wearing shirts and shorts and pants for months now that are way too tight, telling myself all along that I will lose weight and fit into them again.  But I have finally given in and bought new clothes.  I haven't exactly replaced my wardrobe or anything, but if I DO manage to lose weight in the next few months/years/decades/eons, I am going to have a bunch of shirts and shorts that are too big.

My car is in the shop now getting (thankfully) only 250 dollars worth of work.  I went out to start it yesterday and the engine sounded very funny...sort of rattling and shaking.  I drove up the street and it didn't really get better, and the check engine light came on.  So off to the car shop we went, and of course by the time we got there, the car seemed normal, and they weren't able to reproduce the problem.  They think it is related to spark plugs and gaskets and other car shit that I don't really understand, so they are going to tune it up for me.  Hopefully it won't break down and strand me in the ghetto where I work - or on the Interstate in East Bufu later this summer when we drive it to Georgia.

East Boofoo?  No, I think I prefer Bufu.  Although that sort of looks Egyptian or Babylonian or something.

Okay, fine, I'll use an old euphemism that a co-worker of mine used to use all the time:

"Or on the Interstate in East Jesus, Nebraska, later this summer when we drive it to Georgia."

Hmm, that doesn't really work either, for geographically obvious reasons.

Well anyway.  A friendly word of advice to Twitter users: don't follow Obama or Romney on Twitter.  They are TOTAL spammers.  Sheesh.  STFU a'ready.  All I know is this: Romney wants to fire teachers, police officers, and firefighters, and Obama hates Hispanics.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Notes from the Cave

This is yet another Dining Room edition of Notes from the Cave, as the Cave has been overrun with school supplies.  M has been hired on at a new school opening in the district this fall, so she had to clean out her classroom last week when the school year ended.  Both the girls will be going with her to the new school, as well as our nephews.  Her old school was only about half a mile from the house.  The new one might be one whole mile.  It's hard to believe, but H will be in 5th grade, and S will be in 1st.  It's a definite irony of life that the older you get, the faster the time flies by.  Seems like it should be the other way around.  

Today was a big day at the hospital; it was the "go live" day for our new computer system, called Epic, which is a fully-integrated online medical record system.  Previously, we'd only had a digital medical record system in the ER.  Now, the whole hospital is completely virtual - no more patient charts in binders with carbon copies and pre-printed order sets.  In the Radiology department, where I work, we already used computers to do most of our work; that's simply the nature of modern radiology.  So the change hasn't been quite as dramatic for us as it has been for nurses and doctors on the floor who are used to charting on paper.  Even so, we are completely changing how we enter, receive, and complete our radiology orders, so it takes a lot of getting used to.  

In a nutshell, I hate change.  I told someone today that I wished I could hibernate for the next two weeks, and then come back to work and have all the implementation headaches solved and everyone fully trained, and could thus just skip it all myself.  As it is, I am dreading the next couple of weeks. 

I have also recently accepted a position on 2nd shift.  This was a huge decision for me, and I had actually initially turned the offer down, only to reconsider several weeks later.  In the end, the additional money that I will make on 2nd shift, together with some other personnel changes that are occurring, sealed the deal for me.  I am really bummed about having to leave a lot of good friends on 1st shift - it's like a big family there - but I keep reminding myself that it's not like I'm leaving and will never see or work with these people again.  My shifts will overlap with 1st shift for several hours every day.  The additional pay is also pretty significant, at least for a family at our economic level.

Still, I think this permanent shift change (which starts July 1), coupled with the new software implementation, is just a bit too much all at once.  I've been feeling down a lot lately, and have even had a few minor panic attacks.  I've been moody at home and work, and I think my wife and kids, as well as many of my co-workers, are ready to kill me.

My reading list this year is suffering in new and dramatic ways.  As of June 1, I have completed just three - yes three - books.  And all three of them were fairly short.  I have not completed any non-fiction, and, in fact, haven't even been reading any non-fiction books.  I have been reading a very, very long novel for the last several months, and although I absolutely love the book, it's taking me forever to get it done.  

Now, in my defense, part of the reason for this dearth of finished books is because I have been focusing a lot of reading time on documents from American history.  Specifically, I have been reading through all the presidential inaugural addresses and State of the Union addresses, going all the way back to Washington, as well as numerous papers and documents from various presidential terms.  I'm not exactly sure what my goal is with all of this; a big part of it is simply that I find it interesting.  Of course, it is also related to the blog posts I have been making this year on presidential facts and the history of political parties.  I don't know if anything worthwhile will come from this endeavor, aside from expanding my own knowledge, but there might be a little book or historical narrative or something hiding out in the back of my brain.  We'll see.  

Of course, another big reason for the lack of reading in general has been my addiction to watching the entire series of Lost from start to finish.  I think I started it sometime in late January, and finally finished it a few weeks ago.  Now that I am done with it, I hope to get back on track with my reading.

I've sat here for about five minutes trying to think of something else to write about, and I just don't have anything.