Happy Armed Forces Day, 2019

Seals-Military-Branch-Seals-signHave you ever been part of something bigger than youself?  You may have been a cog in the machine or a face in the crowd, but you knew deep down inside of yourself that your being there was making a difference.

Although I have never served in the military,  at least once I was part of such an effort.  In 1997, as a Morale Welfare and Recreation Specialist I deployed to Taszar, Hungary as part of Operation Joint Guard.  Each day I awoke in my barracks room, trooped down two flights of stairs to the women’s bathroom and then moved over to the adjoining shower room.  While I was waiting my turn to use the shower, usually still dressed in my bathrobe, someone would ask me what the night’s movie would be or what the plans were for the next concert in  Budapest.  And so my day would begin about 0600.  After my shower, I would put on my uniform (green/brown BDU’s –battle dress uniform for the uninitiated), lace up my combat boots, and walk over to the mess hall, where the food was surprisingly good.

After breakfast, I would go over to the office in the headquarters building.  Taszar was an old Hungairan airbase with two MiGs still out front.  The only room in the building that had AC was the one where the computers were located.  The Hungarian staff did a miraculous job keeping the worn tile floors clean.  (In  many places the tile had been scrubbed away, leaving the rubber subfloor peeking through.)

In early July, we were busy preparing to celebrate the 4th of July.  It was a chance to show our allies an American good time.  What I affectionately called the Hungarian mafia, were busy telling why we needed all of their entertainment acts even though we had just seen these same acts for the Memorial Day celebration.   The fireworks contractor assured me his fireworks would completely burn up and not have cinders floating down to possibly start a fire in some farmer’s field.

Hungarians often used an elaborate style when writing or speaking in English.  The public affairs officer laboriously tried to emulate that style when creating the invitations for our Hungarian VIP guests.  Unfortunately, I did not retain an example of the invitation.

The staff from the MASH  unit was planning the 5K run for the American and Hungarian troops/civilians.  The MWR staff was planning a variety of sports competitions including Golf, basketball, horseshoes, beach volleyball, pinball.  I used the Internet to lookup how much sand was need for beach volleyball since our Root and Brown, the local Army maintenance contactor, wanted to provide as little sand as possible. (This was relatively early days for the Internet so they were surprised to find that we could prove how much sand was needed.)

Although, July 4th began about 0500 when we got the Mess Hall as soon as it opened so we could start setting up for all of the events (the 5K began at 0800) and ended just before midnight with a relatively safe and succesful fireworks display, it was a wonderful opportunity to share our Independence Day with the troops so far from home.  We also got to share it with our Hungarian friends and allies.  (One person did complain the next day about catching a cinder in his eye while watching the fire works.

For those of you who have been in the military  thank you for your service. I’d also like to acknowledge the people who support the military (as a friend, family member, volunteer, contractor, appropriated fund or nonappropriated fund employee).  We all support those who serve.


Taszar C130 Jul 97
Me in front of a C-130 at Taszar Airbase, July 1997




Introducing LC’s Story Maps

The Library of Congress staff is excited to launch Story Maps, interactive and immersive web applications that tell the incredible stories of the Library’s collections!

Story Maps, created within a Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based software platform created by Esri, combine text, images, multimedia, and interactive maps to create engaging online narrative experiences. Under a program spearheaded by the Geography and Map Division, collection specialists from across the Library have produced Story Maps with content from the hidden and not-so-hidden collections of the library. We are pleased to showcase the first three published Story Maps from this program, with many more to come!

There are currently eight story maps available.  The most recent follow the four D-Day soldiers as they come ashore at Normandy.

D-Day story map

The other story maps include:

Holy Land Photography. Journey across the Middle East with English photographer Francis Frith. This Story Map includes 19th century photography and written testimony from Sinai and Palestine, a photographically illustrated book by Frith at the Library of Congress. This downloadable CSV file provides the mapped data in this Story Map.

Camera and Locomotive. Explore the parallel histories of photography and the transcontinental railroad. Objects in the Library of Congress collections tell the story of the fascinating interconnections between the two technologies. This downloadable CSV file provides the mapped data in this Story Map.

Maps that Changed Our World. Using the collections of the Geography and Map Division at the Library of Congress, this Story Map will explore the changes in world maps throughout the centuries and how as a result, perceptions of the world have shifted. This downloadable CSV file provides the mapped data in this Story Map.

Treasure Trove of Trials. This is a story map is centered on a digitized selection of Law Library of Congress piracy trials. This collection is critical for understanding how various nations of the world handled piracy issues before the year 1900. This downloadable CSV file provides the mapped data in this Story Map.

Surveying the South. Noted architectural photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston created a systematic record of early American buildings and gardens called the Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South (CSAS), primarily in the 1930s. This downloadable CSV file provides the mapped data in this Story Map.

Incunabula. This Story Map will explore major themes in fifteenth-century (incunabula) printing, including: the transition from manuscript to print, early hand-printing methods, the invention of typography, and the integration of woodcut illustrations with type. This downloadable CSV file provides the mapped data in this Story Map.

Behind the Barbed Wire. A unique glimpse into the daily lives of Japanese-Americans in internment camps during WWII through the digitized collection of internment camp newspapers at the Library of Congress. This downloadable CSV file provides the mapped data in this Story Map.

LC Offers Free Online Children’s Books

Library of CongressIn honor of centennial of the  first Children’s BookWeek in April 2019, the Library of Congress selected several children’s books and made them available online

This special collection presents children’s books selected from the General and Rare Book Collections at the Library of Congress. The collection includes classic works that are still read by children today, and lesser-known treasures drawn from the Library’s extensive collection of historically significant children’s books. The books in this collection were published in the United States and England before 1924, are no longer under copyright, and free to read, share, and reuse however you’d like.

Highlights of the collection include examples of the work of American illustrators such as W.W. Denslow, Peter Newell, and Howard Pyle, as well as works by renowned English illustrators Randolph Caldecott, Walter Crane, and Kate Greenaway.


The selections span many generations and topics, and reflect three general themes:

  • Learning to Read: Materials produced to teach American children to read: ABC books, primers, and a wooden hornbook.
  • Reading to Learn: Materials supporting classroom instruction in subjects such as mathematics, classical mythology, natural science, and the structure and function of the Unites States government.
  • Reading for Fun: Materials to nourish the imagination: fiction, poetry, fairy tales and toy books.Library of Congress Logo

National Limerick Day–May 12

Edward Lear 1867Observed annually on May 12, National Limerick Day celebrates the birthday of English artist, illustrator, author and poet Edward Lear (May 12, 1812 – Jan. 29, 1888). Lear is known mostly for his literary nonsense in poetry, prose and limericks.

There once was a girl from Nantucket
Who carried her lunch in a bucket
Her biscuit’s so hard, it bounced more than a yard
And so she decided to chuck it.

Example of Edward Lear’s Limericks.  He is probably best known for the Owl and the Pussycat

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, “It is just as I feared!—
Two Owls and a Hen, four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard.

Ten Tips on How to Enjoy Yourself at a Winery

wine--monk sneaking a drink(Even if  nobody else does.)

We went to two local wineries on a rainy  Saturday afternoon.   We observed many of the following behaviors at both wineries.

1) Invite at least 8 or more of your BFFs.  (If your group is not large enough to reach critical mass, then why make the effort to show up?)

2)  While you are at the winery, make sure each of you enjoys every bit of wine to whichpour-wine large you are entitled. The whole purpose of tasting wine is to make sure you taste enough to know whether you like it or not.

3.  On a rainy afternoon where everyone wants to be inside or outside on the roofed patio, make sure you gather enough chairs and tables for your entire possee.  Then stare at  the people who arrive after you to let them know that they should have arrived earlier. (After all you did.)

4.  Since you elected to patronize the winery, make sure people know you are there.  Dress to be seen and speak loudly enough so that your entire group can hear your bon mots and witty asides.  Laugh frequently (preferably in loud, shrill tones) so that no one can miss out on this scintillating conversation.

5.  Since practice makes perfect, you need to visit several wineries to perfect you technique.

6. You are a responsible group, so it’s much better to arrive in a limo or a bus.  You are not driving while impared, take up fewer parking spaces, and arrive in a large group simultaneously, which makes it better to have your presence felt.

7.  Take as much space as you need when going tasting at the bar.  The other customers will notpouring wine into a glass mind crowding up to give you the space you deserve.

8.  Unless the winery, specifically prohibits it, bring lots of food to share with your possee.  Picnic baskets, plastic bags, large coolers, serving dishes and utensils, multiple courses with appropriate garnishes, and enough paperplates and plastic ware show that you know how to enjoy yourselves in style.

9.  When you leave, don’t bother to bus your tables.  That is what the winery staff is for and if the next people really want to sit there, they will clean the tables for you.

10.  Get back on the bus, complaining loudly how no one understands the effort your group has made to enjoy themselves on a rainy day.