Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

In the IHARE article Undoing the Whitewashing of Black History in New York, Peter Feinman continues to address “some of the ways the first two centuries of black history in New York from slavery to emancipation had been forgotten or downplayed over the years.”

He was referring to Hunts Burial Ground in the Bronx and the Harlem African Burial Ground. As some know, slavery was not ended in New York State until July 4, 1827.

To that end, as he noted, The New York Slavery Records Index is a “searchable compilation of records that identify individual enslaved persons and their owners, beginning as early as 1525 and ending during the Civil War. According to the website:

Our data come from census records, slave trade transactions, cemetery records, birth certifications, manumissions, ship inventories, newspaper accounts, private narratives, legal documents and many other sources. The index contains over 35,000 records and will continue to grow as our team of John Jay College professors and students locates and assembles data from additional sources.

Amy Biancolli wrote a great article in the Times Union, New York’s slave past unearthed, showing how some surnames in the Albany area represent slaveholders with at least 13 enslaved people at some point: Dow, Beckman, Abeel, Van Buren, and Schuyler.

Feinman states, sarcastically: “Everybody knows slavery only occurred in the South. Everyone knows that the North is morally superior to the South because we never had slavery here. Everyone knows that slavery had nothing to do with the origin of the Civil War. Making 200 years of history disappear is quite a trick, but that history is still there and little by little it has emerged into the historical record.”

I haven’t had much of a chance to play with this tool yet. But I did a quick and dirty search on slaveholders with the last name Bell, because the oldest ancestor I can find, Harriet Bell Archer’s father, was William E. Bell, born in Orange County, NY. Harriet, born March 12, 1838, was the wife of James Archer, the Civil War vet I mentioned recently.

Type of Record Slave Owner
Year of Record 1790
Owner Last Name Bell
Owner First Name John
County or Borough Orange
Locality Orange
Number of Slaves 1
Number of All Persons 7
Source Document Census1790

Type of Record Slave Owner
Year of Record 1800
Owner Last Name Bell
Owner First Name William
County or Borough Rockland
Locality Orange
Number of Slaves 1
Number of All Persons 6
Source Document Census1800

And nothing in 1810 or later, suggesting the one enslaved person was freed, or escaped, in the first decade of the 19th century. Obviously something to investigate more fully in my purported free time.

Broome and Roger in 2016

The past six weekends have been extremely busy, with Black History Month at church. The last Sunday in February, there was a miscommunication by the guest minister.

We ended up having two different preachers for our two services, the latter showing up five minutes before the latter worship started, and she was great, but it was nerve-wracking. That’s also the day of the luncheon, which my wife is heavily involved in.

March 10 began with cleaning the house in anticipation of having folks over to play the card game hearts. Back in 1987/1988, a rotating cadre of us would go to Broome’s house to play three or four times a week. It has been reduced to once a year, the Saturday nearest my natal day.

But it’s not all card play. There’s a lot of talking among old friends, some of whom hadn’t seen each other in a year or two. There’s also eating, especially Orchid’s lasagna(TM).

At one point, there were six of us left. We could have played two games of three players each. Instead, we pretty much invented, on the spot, a double-deck game, stripping the deck of the pair of 2 of clubs. One CAN get BOTH queens of spades at the same time. It was so bizarre, in a GOOD way.

Pretty much as soon as the last guest left, my wife rushed down to the Palace Theater to attend the Albany Symphony. Early on, the mayor of Albany, Kathy Sheehan gave brief remarks about how great the ASO is. I had introduced her at my church for her talk on her equity agenda six days earlier.

The concert was conducted, as usual, by the adventurous David Alan Miller: it was the preview of what would be performed at the Kennedy Center in April 2018. The first piece in the second half was Dorothy Chang’s The Mighty Erie Canal, featuring 150 fourth-through-sixth graders from the Troy Public Elementary School All-City Choir.

Of course, their parents were there to see them, bringing along the singers’ younger siblings, who made the noises that toddlers will make, during the first half, Joan Tower’s Still/Rapids featuring pianist Joyce Yang, and Michael Daugherty’s Reflections with tuba virtuoso Benjamin Pierce.

It was great that the parents got to hear the concert. My wife overheard one parent of a small child sigh that they were not able to afford a babysitter. So it was what it was.

Still, as a snobbish symphony goer, it was easier to listen to Michael Torke’s Three Manhattan Bridges, also with the dazzling pianist Yang, after the kids, and their parents, and their sibs departed.

We got to bed about 11 p.m. EST, but woke up about 7 a.m. EDT. My position about the evils of changing the clock is on the record.

We dragged ourselves to church, then the Daughter went to the movies while we went to see the touring production of the Tony-winning play, The Humans, by Stephen Karam, at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady. It’s about a family dinner on Thanksgiving.

Instead going to the homestead in Scranton, PA, the folks celebrate at the apartment of younger daughter Brigid (Daisy Eagan), a struggling composer living with her 38-year-old, still a student, boyfriend Richard (Luis Vega) in Lower Manhattan.

The visiting Blakes are the father, Erik (Richard Thomas, yes of The Waltons), the mother, Dierdre (Pamela Reed), older daughter Aimee (Therese Plaehn), with a plethora of problems, and Erik’s dementia-stricken mother (Lauren Klein), who’s having one of her “bad days.”

If you’ve ever had a holiday meal with extended family, you will recognize these people. The play is funny, sometimes uproariously so, and sad, and a little eerie, as disappointments about life bubble up.

The Tony-winning set by David Zinn is recreated here, and it’s brilliantly designed and used. The Humans was sensitively directed by Joe Mantello. Here’s a review.

When I was growing up in Binghamton, NY, John Burns was the mayor for a dozen years. From his November 2004 obituary:

“John was elected mayor of Binghamton in 1957 and re-elected in 1961.” He served in a bunch of other positions, including working on Robert Kennedy’s tragic 1968 campaign for President. “Governor Hugh Carey asked John to serve as his Appointments Secretary” in 1979, for instance.

I blew up balloons and the like for his brother Bill’s failed 1969 campaign for mayor.

What I most remember about John Burns is that he and his wife Theresa had 12 kids, double digits, just like his friend and mentor RFK. As far as I know, I didn’t know any of them.

At some point, several of the sisters moved to Ithaca, NY, not that far away, and The Burns Sisters began their professional musical career. “One of their earliest successes was when their music appeared in the Louis Malle film Atlantic City as a result of their brother Patrick who was working on the film. As a quintet [they were] made up of sisters Marie, Annie, Jeannie, Sheila, and Terry…

“In 1993 the quintet released Songs of the Heart before older sisters Terry and Sheila dropped out to devote more time to their families.” The trio had a modicum of success, including touring with Arlo Guthrie more than once.

“In 2012, the Burns Sisters released… The Hills of Ithaca. The title was inspired by a 1947 Woody Guthrie poem which the Burns Sisters put to music after being given the unpublished version by Woody’s daughter, Nora Guthrie.”

“Jeannie Burns left the band in 2013 to study guitar and songwriting, with Marie and Annie continuing to perform as a duo.” And it was the duo’s music that popped up on my YouTube feed, unbidden,

So it seems as though I am required to link to The Burns Sister’s rendition of Oh Danny Boy. The video shows pictures of their family over the years. It’ll link directly to some of their other songs.

Someone I know IRL recently wrote, “I didn’t use algebra at all today.” That was probably not true, but no matter.

The Daughter is studying algebra right now in 8th grade and it’s a real PITA. Because she was so good in 7th grade math, she skipped over 8th grade math, what that was, and is now taking the math for 9th grade. This is a problem because she doesn’t know, and I surely don’t remember, what she’s missing.

I should note that when I was in 9th grade, I was very good in algebra. I remember helping a fellow student, Sid, at the chalkboard, when Miss McNulty couldn’t get him to understand.

I got a 97 in the Regents final. (Yes, I remember this; no I didn’t look it up. I got 86 in geometry and 98 is trigonometry.) But that was a HALF CENTURY AGO. THAT will make you feel old.

I have been depending on something called Tiger Algebra to help her muddle through.

For the problem 10x^2+x-21=0, where the ^ over the 6 key represents “power of,” so ten X squared in this case.

The factoring is the tough part to explain.

Factoring 10x^2+x-21
The first term is 10x^2 – its coefficient is 10
The middle term is +x its coefficient is 1
The last term, “the constant”, is -21

Step-1 : Multiply the coefficient of the first term by the constant 10 • -21 = -210

Step-2 : Find two factors of -210 whose sum equals the coefficient of the middle term, which is 1 .

-210 + 1 = -209
-105 + 2 = -103
-70 + 3 = -67
-42 + 5 = -37
-35 + 6 = -29
-30 + 7 = -23
-21 + 10 = -11
-15 + 14 = -1
-14 + 15 = 1 That’s it

By “it,” we’re talking the very beginning of “it.”

Step-3 : Rewrite the polynomial splitting the middle term using the two factors found in step 2 above, -14 and 15
10x^2 – 14x + 15x – 21

Step-4 : Add up the first 2 terms, pulling out like factors :
2x • (5x-7)
Add up the last 2 terms, pulling out common factors :
3 • (5x-7)

Step-5 : Add up the four terms of step 4 :
(2x+3) • (5x-7)
Which is the desired factorization

At which point you take 2x+3=0 and 5x-7=0, and get 1.5 and 1.4 respectively, then do a whole bunch of other stuff with graphing designed to make your eyes glaze over.

We usually work on this in the morning, after the Daughter has felt despair the night before, which means doing it in lieu of me blogging in the morning, which is my best time for writing.

And she SORT OF understands parts of this. Hey, if you have an easier way to find the factors, please let me know. My blog will thank you, publicly if you want.

At Current Rates Of Use World Could Run Out Of Thoughts And Prayers By As Early As 2019

We Are all Nixonians Now

There Are No Good Guys With Guns

What To Do When Racists Try To Hijack Your Religion

‘National Geographic’ Reckons With Its Past: ‘For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist’

‘Stay Strong,’ And Other Useless Drivel We Tell The Grieving

The Encyclopedia of the Missing

When the only way to go free is to plead guilty

3 Far-Flung Cities Offer Clues to Unsnarling Manhattan’s Streets

OVERLOOKED: 15 obits of notable women

Alaska as a Red-to-Blue(ish) Model

‘The story of a weird world I was warned never to tell’

Union College says it found strand of George Washington’s hair

Stop Using the Label ‘Struggling Reader,’ Author Jacqueline Woodson Advises

Why Do We Need to Sleep?

The Unexpected Benefit of Train Travel

Rare Photo of Harriet Tubman Preserved

Digging into my family’s claims of Cherokee ancestry

in praise of soft targets

Stephen Hawking dies at 76 on Einstein’s birthday and Pi day; despite ALS, his mind roamed the cosmos

RIP, David Ogden Stiers

Dalai Lama, Chicago in May 2008:
“The universe is in a constant state of becoming—an ongoing miraculous creation. Every day we awaken to that miracle with gratitude, respect, and compassion for all who share the gift of being.”

Memories of ‘M*A*S*H’: Inside Stories of the Most Famous Episodes (and Castings)

The Loophole

Smartphones Are Getting Dumber…on Purpose

A Finnish comedian explains the complicated meanings of an English word

Legendary toy demonstrated to have squirrel-repelling properties

Faking It: The Obviously Dubbed Telephone Ring

Aldi’s supermarkets history

A PhD In Batman

A niece at Carnegie Hall

Now I Know: The Florida City Fueled by Soda and Baseball’s Unluckiest Fan and How Bazooka Joe Lost a Baseball Glove

Not me: Couple begins rekindling an eighth-grade romance


Camille Saint-Saens’s Septet for piano, trumpet, and strings, Opus 65!

Hamilton Polka

The Music of Paolo Tosti – Carla Fisk and Michael Clement

Will Jesus Wash The Bloodstains From Your Hands – Hazel Dickens

Everlasting Arms – Luke Winslow-King, Vasti Jackson, Dr. John, and Roots Gospel Voices of Mississippi

Norma Tanega (and Dusty Springfield)

There Is A Time – The Darlings (Andy Griffith Show)

Tush – Luna Lee on the gayageum

Cover of Take on Me (a-ha)

Sound of Silence – Todd Hoffman

Taxman – Joe Bonamassa, Live at The Cavern Club

Inside the Life of Brenda Lee, the Pop Heroine Next Door

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