Wednesday, August 29, 2012

10 Fun Facts About Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President of the United States

1. Rutherford Birchard Hayes was born in 1822 in Delaware, Ohio, near Columbus.  His father died several months before he was born, and he was therefore raised by a single mother who never remarried.  Hayes proved an excellent student, and earned a law degree from Harvard in the 1840's, before returning to Ohio to practice.

2. After transferring his practice to Cincinnati, Hayes married Lucy Webb in 1852.  Lucy would go on to become the first American First Lady with a college degree.

3. Hayes gained prominence as a defense attorney in Cincinnati, and was heavily involved in defending escaped slaves accused under the controversial Fugitive Slave Act.  As a staunch abolitionist and prominent lawyer, Hayes was noticed by the new abolitionist Republican party, and was offered an opportunity to run for a seat as a Republican judge.  He turned down the opportunity, however, and instead accepted an appointment as city attorney for Cincinnati.

4. Following the secession of southern states after Lincoln's election in 1860, Hayes joined the 23rd Ohio volunteers and was given the rank of major.  Also in his unit was future president William McKinley, who would later become a political protege under Hayes.

5. During the war, Hayes moved quickly up the ranks, attaining the position of Major General.  He sustained several injuries in battle, including a broken arm from a gunshot wound at the Battle of South Mountain.  While still serving in 1864, Hayes was nominated by the Republicans for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and although he did not campaign due to his military engagements, he won the seat over the incumbent Democrat.

6. Hayes served two terms as a Congressman from Ohio, then served two terms as Ohio's governor from 1868 to 1872.  During his time in both offices he championed black civil rights and was a staunch supporter of the impeachment of president Andrew Johnson.  After returning for several years to his law practice in Ohio, he was again elected Ohio's governor in 1875.  This third term as Ohio's governor made him a dark horse candidate in the 1876 presidential primary, and after the front-runner was unable to obtain enough votes from the Republican delegates, they instead agree upon Hayes as the Republican nominee for president.

7. The election of 1876 was perhaps the most closely contested in U.S. history.  Democrat Samuel Tilden won the popular vote, and appeared to win the electoral vote too, but three southern states fell into dispute when both Democrats and Republicans claimed victory there and accused the opposition of fraud.  Congress was forced to create a special commission to decide the winner, and it took them until just a few days before the inauguration - early March of 1877 - before a decision was made and agreed on by both parties, with Hayes declared the winner by one electoral vote.

8. Largely due to the influence of his wife, Hayes prohibited alcohol in the White House during his tenure, which effectively brought the Prohibitionist cause into Republican party politics, where it would stay for the next 50 years.  He also began what would prove to be the very long process of reforming the corrupt U.S. civil service.  Though he fought stringently to protect black civil rights in the South, many of his efforts were blocked by southern Democrats, still stinging over what they viewed as a stolen election.

9. Hayes had vowed to only serve one term, and he followed through on that promise, choosing not to run for re-election in 1880.  Instead, he became a trustee of Ohio State University, and supported pet causes and interests, most notably federal student aid, civil rights, wealth disparity, and prison conditions.

10. Hayes died of a heart attack in January of 1893, four years after his wife.  In 1916, the Rutherford B. Hayes Center Library was opened in Fremont, Ohio, and thus became the first presidential library in existence.  Hayes and his wife, as well as Hayes' trusty Civil War horse, Old Whitey, are buried nearby.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Notes from the Cave

I must have writer's block.  I've been working intermittently on a short story, but otherwise I just have nothing when it comes to blogging.  I've even tried to do Google searches to find topics to blog about, but it hasn't worked.  I do have a 10 Fun Facts post almost complete, but I started it a week ago (I usually write those things in one sitting).

In any case, this edition of Notes is just going to be a random list of thoughts and blurbs, and will no doubt reflect the cynical and crusty mood I am in at the moment.

I'm using Netflix now, and I have to say there's not as much variety on there as I'd hoped.  But hey, at least my daughter can watch Bieber and trash my man cave.

How come Pat Robertson, or some other hypocritical douchebag evangelical, hasn't blamed right-wing sins for the hurricane that is now threatening the Republican National Convention?

There is a local politician in my little northern Kentucky town named Cathy Flaig.  She runs for minor offices of some type in every election but always loses.  Despite that, she is an active member of the Tea Party and the Republican Party in this region, and was even voted "Citizen of the Year" this year for our, evidently, conservative little town.  She's one of our delegates to the Republican National Convention (or an alternate, or something).  In any case, she has erected a homemade billboard on the side of the road here in town that is addressed to "Mr. Obama" and basically accuses him of crimes against capitalism or some ridiculous shit.  Anyway, my only point in saying all of this is to say that every time I drive past it, I lay on my horn and flip the bird.  Hate these Tea Party fuckers.

I watched Brokeback Mountain last night on Netflix.  I had wanted to see it ever since my sister gushed over it incessantly after it came out.  It was a good movie, very emotionally moving and well-acted, but I sure wish someone had been watching it with me to enjoy all my snide gay jokes.  Also, I had to read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia after it was over in order to understand the final series of scenes.  I didn't get the whole shirt thing at first.

I've been using my electronic cigarette for over a month now - it's been 6 weeks, actually.  I did smoke on one occasion a few weeks ago.  I was hanging out with my sister and both my e-cig batteries died, so I ended up bumming a few of her boyfriend's menthols.  But that has been the only slip-up, and would not have happened if not for bad planning on my part.

I went fishing with my brother-in-law last week and caught about ten fish.  We fished in a golf course pond at his private club.  It was nice to fish and actually catch something.  That hadn't happened in a long, long time.  Lake Cumberland, where I typically have done my past fishing, is an awful place to fish, in terms of actually catching anything.

Most people in my circle of friends and acquaintances seem to support Lance Armstrong, in light of his lifetime ban this week.  I think I'm the only person who thinks he's a cheater.  I mean, I really don't care one way or the other - professional cycling doesn't interest me in the least - but I've always tended to believe that he did it.  Maybe that's borne from my cynicism about doping in sports in general, but it is what it is.

McGwire and Sosa broke amazing records in baseball and everyone marveled at the progress modern athletes were making.  Then it came out that they were cheaters.  Them and everyone else in baseball.

Now Armstrong does basically the same thing: he wins race after race after race, and seems to be superhuman and unlike anyone ever in the sport before.  Then fifty gazillion people accuse him of doping, and even though he never fails a drug test, the number of eye witness reports against him is so overwhelming that it's hard  to believe they're ALL lying.  Former trainers, teammates, coaches, associates - all have testified under oath against him.

What motivation could all of these people have to create such an enormous web of deceit?  Professional jealousy can't be the explanation in all these cases, because not all the people who have accused him have been competitors.  This is simply a classic case of "where there's smoke, there's fire."  I think he did it, and furthermore, I think the only reason SO many people are on his side is because he's a cancer survivor and has a very well-respected and high-profile cancer foundation.  (By the way, steroids have long been linked to testicular cancer.  Just sayin'.)

Pretty bummed about Neil Armstrong dying.  Wouldn't have expected to feel that way, so it kind of came as a shock to me.  It was like a little piece of my childhood dying, I guess.  I wasn't alive when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, but Neil Armstrong was a national hero when I was growing up.  His name was always said with a certain sense of awe: after all, not many people can say they hold a unique place in all of human history.  But Armstrong did, and so I guess that's why I was shaken a bit by news of his death.  I even cried a little, after reading my sister's lovely tribute.  I feel very strongly that America, as a country, has lost its collective vision, and with Armstrong's death, the living symbol of one of America's greatest visions is now also gone.  It's a sad day.

Pretty sick of hearing about gun violence.  Sorry Second Amendment Whores, guns do kill people, and fuck you for spinning it otherwise.  I'm not saying all your precious guns should be banned, but if you are man enough to wield a gun, at least be man enough to own the fact that guns are responsible for a small town's worth of American deaths every single year - and that's not even counting gun-related injuries or suicides.  Own it, and stop hiding behind your twisted interpretation of the Second Amendment and your fancy little catch phrases and memes.

Saw a quote going around Facebook and Twitter this week, purported to be from Morgan Freeman (although that wasn't true), that said something to the effect of: "People who are against gay marriage aren't homophobic.  They aren't scared of gay people.  They're just assholes."  Couldn't agree more.

Okay, Bieber's documentary is ending on Netflix, and I can't think of anything else to say to piss people off, so peace, we outta here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Notes from the Cave

Another dry spell on the blog.  Sorry 'bout that.  I was on vacation in mid-July, then upon returning home I started working 2nd shift at the hospital.  The transition from first has been difficult.  I've essentially been staying up until 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning, then sleeping til noon, laying around for an hour, then going to work.  As a result, I've gotten a ton of late night reading (and Olympics-watching) done, but hardly anything else.  I'm trying now to get on some sort of normal routine so I can have time in the mornings, before work, to take care of the things that need my attention.

The Summer Olympics are over, and not a bit too soon.  That's not to say I don't enjoy the Olympics, but after a while, it gets a bit overwhelming.  Furthermore, the Summer Olympics isn't nearly as entertaining as the Winter Olympics.  I would guess I probably could care less about 75% of Summer Olympic sports, while I like virtually all of the Winter Olympic sports (with a few exceptions, of course).  Like everyone else I enjoy the gymnastics, but the swimming and diving get old after the 546th event, and the "I'm King of the World" attitude of the runners in Track and Field gets tedious after a while.  I did enjoy seeing a few of the more obscure sports, like archery and fencing, but you can only take so much of that before it's dull - sort of like reading Notes from the Cave, actually.

My parents are here this weekend from Texas, and we went yesterday to the tomb of William Henry Harrison, the 9th president of the United States.

He lived much of his life, and was buried, in North Bend, Ohio, which today is a suburb of Cincinnati right at the river (during Harrison's life, it would have been the boondocks outside of the Cincinnati).  It's in a geographic region where three states come together - Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, right at the northernmost bend of the Ohio River as it passes between Ohio and Kentucky (and thus the northernmost spot in Kentucky).  On the banks of the Kentucky side of the river at that spot, one is actually farther north, geographically, than downtown Cincinnati, which is a few miles to the east.

Buried in the tomb with Old Tippecanoe are a number of his family members, including his son, J.S. Harrison, a U.S. congressman and father of 23rd president Benjamin Harrison.

J.S. Harrison's body was stolen a few days after his burial in 1878, despite a guard at the tomb, and was later found at a medical school in Cincinnati, naked and hanging upside down in a drainage chute in the anatomy lab.

Other than that, we have just enjoyed the nice weather, eaten out a bunch of times, and gone to the bookstore.  M has been gone most of the weekend getting her room ready for school, which starts Wednesday.  Tonight is Open House, and they were not able to get into their rooms for the first time until late Friday night.  Three days, basically, to set up an entire elementary school classroom.  Utterly ridiculous.  It's a brand new building, which is the cause of the delay in gaining access.  M has been understandably stressed out and has probably put in 45 hours since Friday evening.  No joke.  Both Saturday and Sunday she was there from about 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Not much else to report other than sheer trivialities, but I will resist boring you with that stuff.  I am currently working on a new short story, set in the 14th century, which I had hoped would be done by the beginning of August, but which still needs a ton of work (as in, like, I've only written about 2 paragraphs of it).  Possibly going to be trying a new marketing strategy for my books in the coming weeks.  Reading a book right now on how to market yourself.  We'll see how that pans out.