Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Happy Birthday, Hawkeye State!

On December 28, 1846 Iowa became the 29th state of the Union when President James K. Polk signed the bill formally admitting the former territory.

My own attachment to the Hawkeye State dates back to my birth here in 1953. All told, I've lived in Iowa for nearly 20 years, including the past 12, and some of the fondest experiences of my life have happened here.

"Home is where the heart is, eh?"

For me, at least, "home" is a complicated concept...but my affection for Iowa runs deep...

Literary Landmark

1973 paperback edition

On December 28, 1973 The Gulag Archipelago, the blistering indictment of the forced labor camp system employed in the Soviet Union, was first published in the West, in France. Not long afterward a thick paperback edition appeared in English, and almost everyone I knew at the time owned a copy.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn risked his life writing the book and smuggling it out of the Soviet Union. Early in 1974 he was deported, and he spent the next 20 years living in exile in the United States.

At the time of the book's publication, it was thought that the Soviet Union was going to be a permanent fixture in the geopolitical life of the world. It is one of God's graces that Solzhenitsyn lived to see the Berlin Wall come down and the Soviet Union itself dissolve. He returned to Russia in 1994 with his citizenship restored, and died in his beloved mother country. The brutal regime he revealed fully to the world has been on the ash heap of history for a quarter of a century now...

Pigskin Update

To this point my rooting interests
in college football's bowl season have made a good showing.

Navy suffered a tough loss to Louisiana Tech in the Armed Forces Bowl on a field goal as time expired, but Boston College beat Maryland 36-30 in the Quick Lane Bowl, and yesterday Army capped off their best season in twenty years with a hard- fought, exciting 38-31 overtime win in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Air Force plays Friday in the Arizona Bowl in Tucson, wrapping up the bowl slate for my rooting interests.

"Don't forget Penn State in the Rose Bowl!"

I haven't forgotten, but I root for them because they're Skip's favorite...I do hope they win, of course...

Christmas is About Family

From the droll comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Time...

The 19th century English carol "The Holly and the Ivy" is one of those popular Christmas songs whose origins are murky at best. The version with which most of us are familiar was first published in the early 20th century, but variants of the song's lyrics were appearing in print more than 100 years before that. The melody is said to be a traditional French carol, and was first paired with these lyrics in 1868.

In 2003 the English choral ensemble Mediæval Bæbes released Mistletoe & Wine, a collection of Christmas season music which included recordings from previous albums as well as new recordings made specifically for this project.

The collection included sacred classics like "Guadete" and "In Dulci Jubilo" as well as traditional favorites like "The Coventry Carol." One of the songs the group recorded especially for this project was their version of "The Holly and the Ivy."

Today's send-off is that recording of the song, complete with lyrics. Enjoy...

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