Saturday, January 28, 2017

Book Review: Woman of Colonial America

Women of Colonial America (We the People) by Jana Voelke Studelska, Compass Point Books, North Mankato, Minnesota, 2007.
This book presents a fascinating picture of women.  I did not know women volunteered to be sold as slaves in Jamestown.  Several boatloads of women arrived and were sold as brides.  These women suffered the same hardships as the men, and many died from the elements, disease and starvation.  However, if a true settlement was to be made, women and wives were a necessary part.  These women were remarkable in the hardships they faced.  Some would survive, and families were raised.  These women were also hard working.  The economy eventually thrived with raising tobacco.  More laborer were needed, who came in the form of African slaves and indentured servants.
In Massachusetts Pilgrim women arrived with their husbands.  They were escaping religious oppression.  This society was focused on the Bible, and religion ruled.  The women were known as "Goodwife."  They made almost everything they needed.  They ground corn, barley and wheat.  They butchered pigs.  The made soap and candles from fat.  They dried fruit.  Mothers taught their skills to daughters.  Some learned midwifery.  A woman was the legal property of her husband.  The woman who did they work and obeyed her husband was respected in this society.  There were times when men and women who did not conform were kicked out of the community.  This was often for being outspoken.  Mary Dyer was banished from Boston, but kept coming back.  On the fourth occasion she was executed.
Salem is of particular note in the history of women, in the trying and execution of several as witches.  This was all based on false testimony of a few girls.  20 people and two dogs were executed.
Some women thrived outside the traditional roles of women.  Some opened boarding houses, stores or schools.  Eliza Lucas took over her fathers plantation after her mother died and her father returned to military as a British army officer.  She studied indigo, a new crop.  This was popular as a dye for clothing.  It became a source of great wealth to many farmers in the area.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Documentary Review: World War Two: 1941 and the Man of Steel (2011)

This is an interesting look at WWII from the other side, the Soviet Union side.  Joseph Stalin, whose name means steel, as a Communist dictator was a brutal murderer, killing 10 million peasants in his own country.  When the peasants would not go along with the plan to develop communal farms,  many of them killed their own cattle.  A a result Stalin transported them to remote areas, and let them starve.  He was also a master manipulator, instilling fear in his people and fellow politicians.  Many were carted off to prisons or concentration camps, or executed.  He even killed the wife of his person secretary.  No one was immune.  No one was immune.  However when the Nazis attacked the Soviet Union, many things changed.  Stalin was incredulous, and consequently the Russian  reaction was slow.  Stalin's forces were near defeat, and with them would have gone Stalin's ability to lead.  Stalin appealed to national Russian pride, rather than the benefits of communism.  In this way he rallied the people and his own position.  He determine not to abandon Moscow to the Germans, and over time this decision was born out.  When the snow hit, Russians were at a disadvantage, in terms of not having proper equipment.  Even their tanks would take hours to start in the freezing weather.  A counter attack pushed them back.  However Stalin was too greedy.  He pushed his generals into a trap, and almost a million men were captured.
In 1842 Stalin was forced to reach out to the West.  He was also forced to trust his generals.  he removed communist oversight, and let his generals lead.  He also supported them by allowing reserves to move forward.  This time around Stalingrad (which if it fell would have opened the way to Persia and the British oil reserves) the Russians were again able to push back the Germans.  However this time they were more cautious in their advance.
Behind all of this was the relationship between Stalin and Churchill.  Churchill had previously sworn to stamp out communism.  Now they were allies.  However they were allies with differences.  Russia insisted on the Balkans and Poland be given to them.  However England did not give in. Stalin insisted on a second front to relieve pressure on Russia.  Churchill agreed to opening a front in Africa.  Situations were tense, but the allegiance prevailed.  Russia and England needed each other.
After the war, Stalin went back to his old tactics, arresting generals and ruling with an iron hand.  And in truth the Soviet Union gained more territory than the had asked, as many countries, included much of Germany, were behind the iron curtain and under communist oversight.
This is a BBC production with David reynolds narrating and Russell Barnes directing.

Oakland Temple Hill Historic Tour

This is a pamphlet from the church.  The Temple Hill was used annually for an Easter presentation before construction of the temple.  The property was purchased in 1943.  My dad writes in his letters during the war of helping to establish a soldiers home at a church property in Oakland, and I assume that was on the grounds.  Construction of the area began in 1956 and of the temple 1962 with dedication of the temple in 1964 by President McKay.

The tour suggests four buildings, the visitors center, The Brooklyn memorial, The Inter Stake Center and the Temple
The visitors center

One of my highlights of my temple visits is to step onto the deck of the Brooklyn.  This memorial was added to the site in 1996.  The ship Brooklyn brought Saints to California.  It included those who settled in Fremont, Hayward, New Hope (San Joaquin County) and other areas in California.

The view of Oakland is tremendous
The interstake center
The fountains
There is now a fountain coming off the temple.  The fountains always recycle the water, using it over and over.

The panels are beautiful.  A special clamp was developed to help in their placement as the panels weigh over 12 tons.  Also if you are visiting, don't neglect the terrace flower gardens which are beautiful any time of year.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Article Review: the Washington Hypothesis

This article appears in the LDS Living magazine July/August 2016 and is based on a book by the same name by Timothy Ballard.  After reading the article, I was thinking I should seek out the book.  The article is interesting as it documents a few things about George Washington I did not know.  First is an incident in the French an Indian War.  It seems the unit in which Washington was fighting was ambushed.  In all rights Washington should have been killed.  Later a chief visited Washington and proclaimed that the great Spirit protected him, because he attempted to shoot him several times, but could not do so.   He had experience in bringing squirrels out of trees, but could not hit Washington.  Of this even Washington later wrote, "I had four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me and yet escaped unhurt."  It is as if the Lord had a work for Washington to accomplish.  This article also talks about a day of fasting, and Washington insist that the country and his soldiers live in such a way as to deserve the providence of the Lord.  Without that providence, Washington and his army would have been captured on Long Island.  However a fortunate wind kept the British ships at bay, so he and his troops could cross the East River into Manhattan.  This move was not accomplished during the night as hoped.  However, the next day a thick fog come up on the river and provided the cover they needed.  Somehow the fog was not present on Manhattan, but it was thick on the river.
I am aware of George Washington praying at Valley Forge.  However of these bits of history I was not aware.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Native American Story: Great Eagle and Small One

Great Eagle and Small One by Ralph Moisa Jr., Perfection Learning, Logan, Iowa, 1997.
This is a very good short story about an great Eagle, very proud in his appearance and abilities, who is taught a higher lesson by the Great Spirit.  Lightning strikes the eagle, ruffling and damaging his feathers, and taking a leg.  The eagle struggles to relearn life with one leg, and a hampered flying ability.   He grows discouraged and wants to give up, but Little One, another eagle to whom Great Eagle had previously showed kindness, shows kindness to him.  Little One provides nourishment, until great Eagle learns how to hunt again.  the story concludes that both eagles learned something about the inner spirit.  The lesson is basically that sometimes you are the receiver of gifts, and sometimes the giver.  this is a basic fact of life.  Without each other life would be so much harder.

This book also includes a bonus section, which talks about the different kinds of eagles, where they live and what they eat.  Great eagle is a golden eagle, which is of the booted eagle class.

Book Review: Jesse Owens: Olympic Hero

Jesse Owens: Olympic Hero by Francene Sabin, illustrated by Hal Frenck, Troll Associates, New Jersey, 1986.
I really enjoyed getting to know of Jesse Owens.  He was the son of a sharecropper.  However he did not at first participate in the family business because of his poor health.  He  often had respiratory issues.  At one time, he had a bad abscess on his leg, which his mother healed, as they could not afford doctors.  The owner of the share cropper land wanted to change the deal, and pay the family less.  As a result, the family sold everything they had, and moved to Cleveland, Ohio.  Here J.C. improved in health.  Here for the first time Jesse was able to attend school.  Jesse was born James Cleveland Owens.  He was known as J.C.  The first day of school he was shy, and when the teacher asked him his name, he said "J.C." but she heard Jesse, and wrote it down, and the name stuck.  Jesse was to shy to correct her.  It was at school, that the track coach noticed Jesse won all the races.  He wanted him on the team, but Jesse had to work after school.  The coach came early to school every day, as did Jesse, and in that way he was able to be on the track team.  He was running faster than everyone else.  In fact he set a high school record in the 100 yard dash.  Not only that, but he also competed in the broad jump (long jump) the 220 yard dash and the hurdles.  It was clear he would receive a scholarship, and many programs offered.  However Jesse did not feel he could leave his family.  They were still dependent on the money he made.  Ohio State at the time did not offer track scholarships.  However his coach negotiated with them for Jesse to attend, with the school arranging jobs for Jesse to attend.  They also found a steady job for his father.  At the National Collegiate championship of 1935 Jesse tied the record in the 100 yard dash, and set the record in the 220 yard hurdles and the broad jump.  This was a preview for the Olympic games of 1936, held in Berlin.  Jesse's first event was the broad jump qualifying.  The German's were sure their man, Lutz Long would win.  The Nazis ruled Germany at the time, who believed the Aryan race was superior to all others.  This gave Jesse added motivation.  However in the broad jump we struggled in the qualifying round.  With one jump remaining, he still had not qualified.  He had fouled on several jumps.  Long approached him and reminded him that he did not have to do his best jump, but just to qualify.  Long said he wanted Jesse to make the finals.  Jesse took his advice, and qualified.  He was impressed with the sportsmanship shown, and the two became good friends until Long's death in WWII.  When Long injured his leg making an excellent jump, Owens ran to him and massaged his leg.  Owens won the broad jump with a world record setting leap (which record lasted for 25 years).  He won four gold medals, broad jump, 100 met and 220 meter dashes, and the 4x100 relay which also set a world record.
Jesse Owens was an incredible man, and was able to stand up to great pressure competing in Berlin.

HBO's "Nazi Gold in Argentina" Trailer

The video above is to the trailer, however I watched the full documentary on Netflix.  I am not sure what to think after watching this.  Much of the documentary was reenactment, and much of it was boring, but the basic premise was that by examining declassified American documents, and international plot to move Nazis and Nazi gold to Argentina took place during the time that Juan Peron was president of Argentina.  Rudolfo Freude, who was close with the brother of Eva Peron, managed the network which facilitated so many Nazis to escape to Argentina, in exchange for gold which had been stolen from Jews were had been killed in concentration camps.  Apparently much of the Peron's wealth came from these sources.  There was a German community by Bariloche, in the South of Argentina which had a significant population at one time.  After Eva passed away, her brother was later arrested for his involvement.
A murder plot had been set up for Peron.  However this video also shows that Peron fled to the Delta (close to Tigre) and stayed in the residence of a German national.  Because he broke his normal routine, his life was spared.  From here Peron was eventually arrested, but there was time to organize the labor movement who clamored for his release.  From there his election to the presidency was almost foregone.
I still don't know what to think.  The producers contend that dead men don't talk, and there were many murders to maintain the secrecy of this program.  However the secrecy held for 60 years if their contention is true.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Documentary Review: The Lion İn Your Living Room

This documentary is fascinating.  There are things about cats we take for granted, but one of their most intriguing qualities is their mystery.  There seems to something more going on in their little heads.  This documentary delves into this.  did man domesticate cats, or did cats domesticate man?  It seems that the relationship may be more about what cats can get out of the relationship, easy food.  Our cat only seems to love me when his stomach tells him to.  This documentary comments on the evolution of the cat as a domesticate animal.  It indicates that they first come from the Middle East, and then through Egypt, and from there to all the world.  The other really interesting thing is the route travelled by cats every day as they inspect their territory.  Of course cats share territory, and there are only problems when their paths cross.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Casa Grande: New Almaden

Casa Grande
Casa Grande was built in 1854.  There were thoughts of establishing it as a hotel, but this never happened.  It was instead used as a residence for the mine, general manager.  Often guests would stay there as well.  The basement was used as a bank.  Consequently there are bars on the windows, and a vault.  In touring the building, it was decorated for Christmas.  The home supported the mining of mercury nearby.  This mine predated the gold rush, being established in the late 1840s.  This mine was worked for a longer period of time, and provided more wealth than any other mine in California.  Quick silver or mercury was important as at the time it was used for the extraction of gold and silver from their ore.
The vault

the exterior