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I climbed on the back of a giant albatross... and ended up somewhere in Scotland

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Swabian–Alemannic Fastnacht

Regarding my post I just made about a German "carnival" holiday I saw some of this week.... here are some excerpts from Wikipedia... :

The Swabian–Alemannic Fastnacht is the pre-Lenten carnival in Alemannic folklore in Switzerland, southern Germany, Alsace and western Austria.

It is also known in parts of Pennsylvania Dutch Country as Fasnacht Day and is celebrated on the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the last Tuesday before Lent.


Fastnacht is held in the settlement area of the Germanic tribes of the Swabians and Alemans, where Swabian–Alemannic dialects are spoken. The region covers German Switzerland, the larger part of Baden-Württemberg, Alsace, south-western Bavaria and Vorarlberg (western Austria).

The festival starts on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, "Greasy Thursday", as remaining winter stores of lard and butter used to be consumed at that time, before the fasting began. Elsewhere the day is called "Women's Carnival" (Weiberfastnacht), being the day when tradition says that women take control.

etc etc

Autumn 1996

In September 1996, from my journal:

- Sept 1: "F and I moved into our new home in Salem after the closing on Friday. We bought a condo at 35 Essex St. in Salem... We're a few blocks from the House of Seven Gables, a few blocks from Salem Common."

- Business is slower than it's been, and my employer Teradyne has dramatically curtailed use of subcontractors and temps... and then laid off 300 (but not me).

- Our cat Geronimo died (was staying with my parents). Not sure what happened but he was found dead in the back yard.

October 1996

- Went to a family reunion in New Hope, PA. "I wasn't too into it, tho, and F had a little tantrum and left early. I rode back with my parents."

- "F and I haven't been getting along too well over the past few weeks" ... "it's related to my contacting RB this summer. F and I are getting along better now, tho..."

- Irving the cat is back living with us.

- Oct 30: "I'm voting for Perot again. We need an insane non-politician in the White House."

- We host a Halloween party in our new Salem condo. I am a wizard and F is a witch.

November 1996

- Nov 5: "Today's election day and I just voted... For president, I decided to vote for a 3rd party candidate... I was either going to vote for the Libertarian, Natural Law candidate, or Ross Perot (Reform Party)... n I don't think any of them have a chance of actually winning, but Perot has the best chance so I voted for him..."

- Clinton wins with 50% of the vote and 31 states. Bob Dole got 41% and 19 states. Perot got 9% and no states.

- F turns 30 and we have a party at her mother's.

- F and I consider getting an Old English Sheepdog and we take a look at one called Rambo. We don't.

- We go on a 7 day Caribbean cruise with F's mother, grandmother and my mother. San Juan, PR to Barbados to Saint Lucia to St. Barts to Tortola to St. Thomas to San Juan again.

April 1991

I've been busy, and I've fallen behind in this little project I've been doing of chronicling my life....  I'm going to try to catch up a little today.  First, here's some stuff from about 20 years ago...

April 1991

 - my father turns 51... he had been on a business trip to England before we gathered for his birthday.  He had been near Manchester where my direct line of paternal ancestors are from...  they left there for the Philadelphia area in 1858.

  - I owe the IRS $565 this year.  I sell 8 shares of GE stock @ $71 per share to cover it.

  - "Next week, F and I are taking a week off for a vacation.  We don'r know exactly what we're going to do or where we'll go yet.  The problem is, we don't want to spend too much money.  We have built up quite a debt over the past couple years.  Two car loans, a ring loan, several credit cards...  We kind of spent too much money that we didn't have.  Now it's time to pay up... "

 - GE Somersworth (my workplace, where I am a Technical Supervisor) announces a salaried lay-off, but I'm not affected this time.

  - We decide to drive down to Florida (from New Hampshire) in the jeep for our vacation.  We plan to visit Rudy, F's old roommate), and F's aunt Alice and aunt Tillie.  Our plan is to camp out on the way down.  "I have $299 in my wallet...  I'm going to keep track of everything we spend in a futile attempt to keep costs down."

  - Because of the weather, we don't camp on the first night in Salisbury, MD... our expenditure was $123.94 altogether that day and night.

  - We make it to a campground near Jacksonville on the 2nd night and we make it to our destination, Boynton Beach in the early afternoon.... total spend on the way down:  $236.93.  In Florida, we soon spend the rest and have to get some reserves from the cash machine.

 - We swam in the waves at Delray Beach, also in a pool at Rudy's apartment complex, drove around Palm Beach, went to the Jai Alai where we gamble a little.... I came out $14 ahead.

  - After staying two nights, including visiting Alice and Tillie and staying overnight there, we head back up the highway northwards.  Stayed in St. Augustine and then camped near Washington, DC.  I stopped counting money but we have enough reserves to get home.

  - We stop at New Hope, PA on the way up and found the graves of my paternal relatives.

Nuclear turncoats...


Excerpted from the Washington Post:

... "Not long ago, siting a nuclear reactor anywhere near a population center would have been unthinkable. While the 1979 Three Mile Island reactor meltdown didn't cause any deaths or injuries, it soured Americans on nuclear energy. Construction of new reactors came to an abrupt halt. The dramatic Chernobyl meltdown in 1986, meanwhile, created widespread fear that another accident could be even more disastrous.

Then along came carbon dioxide. Writing in The Post in 2006, Patrick Moore, a founding member of Greenpeace who sailed on the group's first protest against nuclear weapons testing in 1971, noted: "More than 600 coal-fired electric plants in the United States produce 36 percent of U.S. emissions -- or nearly 10 percent of global emissions -- of CO2, the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that can reduce these emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power."

Greenpeace considers Moore a turncoat, and he's not the only one to be tossed out of the environmental establishment for pro-nuclear heresy. Hugh Montefiore, an Anglican cleric who was a stalwart in the movement, was forced to resign from the board of Friends of the Earth in 2004 for advocating nuclear power as a tool to combat global warming."

World University Rankings

Here are selections from...

The Times Higher Education - QS World University Rankings

2008 Rank School Name Country

1 HARVARD University United States
2 YALE University United States
3 University of CAMBRIDGE United Kingdom
4 University of OXFORD United Kingdom
5 CALIFORNIA Institute of Technology United States
6 IMPERIAL College London United Kingdom
7 UCL (University College London) United Kingdom
8 University of CHICAGO United States
9 MASSACHUSETTS Institute of Technology United States
10 COLUMBIA University United States
11 University of PENNSYLVANIA United States
12 PRINCETON University United States
13= DUKE University United States
13= JOHNS HOPKINS University United States
15 CORNELL University United States
16 AUSTRALIAN National University Australia
17 STANFORD University United States
18 University of MICHIGAN United States
19 University of TOKYO Japan
20 MCGILL University Canada
21 CARNEGIE MELLON University United States
22 KING'S College London United Kingdom
23 University of EDINBURGH United Kingdom

Yay, where Jenny went.

27 BROWN University United States

46 BOSTON University United States

54 DARTMOUTH College United States

73 University of GLASGOW United Kingdom

83= University of ST ANDREWS United Kingdom

153 University of ABERDEEN United Kingdom

157 TUFTS University United States

185 BRANDEIS University United States

191 University of MASSACHUSETTS, Amherst United States

Yay, my alma momma is better than these losers below...

192= University of BERN Switzerland
192= University of BOLOGNA Italy
194 University of READING United Kingdom
195 University of ANTWERP Belgium
196 University of SAO PAULO Brazil
197= DALHOUSIE University Canada
197= University of BUENOS AIRES Argentina
199 KOBE University Japan
200= University of ATHENS Greece

Source: QS Quacquarelli Symonds (

May 1988 - 20 years ago

Here's what was going on 20 years ago this month.....

- Saw Chuck Berry at the Southwest concert, UMass  "It was GRRREAT.  A wonderful experience.  I can die happy now..."

- Saw Pink Floyd in concert at Sullivan Stadium, Foxboro, MA...  ""they were like ants.  The music was good and they had sort of a lazer show but I would have rather seen it on T.V."

- Saw The Alarm and Robert Cray at the Pond Concert, UMass... "It was O.K.  Nice day."

- I graduated from UMass with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering...  "Hooray !  My parents and Brian and Debbie came up for the ceremony.  I missed it.  I overslept.  I was supposed to be there at 9:00 but didn't wake up until 11:00.  Whoops."

- F and I go down to Washington, DC for a weekend....  "We stayed with F's  relatives Gene and Beth and Rick and Gary.  They were very nice to us...  On Sat. nite, there was a concert on the Capitol lawn with the National Symphony Orchestra, so we saw that.  

- We went to Gettysburg, PA on the way back.

Moore endorses Obama

The big Pennsylvania Primary is today... Here are two excerpts from Michael Moore's endorsement of Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton:

.... etc

U.S. politics 20 years ago


I used to have some old journal entries and other info on a website which is now defunct, so I wanted to now save it here... it's about the Democrats in 1987 and 1988...  bear with me, it's not all that interesting...


Great Uncle Clarence

I've been in touch with my great-uncle Clarence (aka Andy), my father's father's brother, off and on for the past while.  He lives in Georgia, and I've not actually met him except possibly when I was a young kid visiting relatives in the New Hope, Pennsylvania area where we had family reunions from time to time... 30 years ago.  Anyway, we've emailed back and forth a little bit and he sent us a nice Christmas letter last Christmas which had some great old pictures and had his life story.  I like that kind of stuff.  He's been interested in the pictures I've posted on the internet from our holidays, etc, and it turns out that he sent us two DVD's of photo slide-shows which we watched this weekend.  The DVD's had lots of old family pictures of the Antobus side of my family... family reunion pictures, old pictures of my great grandparents, etc...  It was really fascinating to see.  Part of it also had my photos from our holidays to the U.S., Prague, Italy, our cruise photos...   So I thought that was really, really nice that he went thru all that trouble to make those DVD's and send them to us.

Great Scot ! Andrew Carnegie


Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1919) was a Scottish-American businessman and a major philanthropist...

He was born in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland to an impoverished, yet cultured and politically-minded home.  In his youth, he and his family emigrated to the United States, where Andrew's father found work in a cotton factory outside of Pittsburgh, PA.  Young Andrew Carnegie found work in the same building as a "Bobbin boy" for the sum of $1.20 a week.

He would eventually make his fortune in the steel industry...  At the height of his career, he was the second richest person in the world, behind only John D. Rockefeller.  In his retirement years, he acquired Skibo Castle, in Sutherland, Scotland, and made his home partly there and partly in New York. He then devoted his life to the work of providing the capital for purposes of public interest and social and educational advancement.

Among all of his many philanthropic efforts, the establishment of public libraries in the United States, the United Kingdom, and in other English-speaking countries was especially prominent. In total Carnegie funded some 3,000 libraries, located in every U.S. state except Alaska, Delaware, and Rhode Island. Carnegie also built libraries in Canada and overseas in Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the West Indies, and Fiji.

By the time he died, Carnegie had given away $350,695,653. At his death, the last $30,000,000 was likewise given away to foundations, charities, and to pensioners.



This is my paternal Great Great Great Grandfather who immigrated to the U.S. from England in 1854.

Name:William Antrobus
Arrival Date:18 Aug 1854
Age:30 Years
Estimated Birth Year:abt 1824
Port of Departure:Liverpool, England
Ship Name:Tonawanda
Port of Arrival:Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Microfilm Roll Number:M425_77

Amish Paradise Lost


This is the sad news from Pennsylvania yesterday  (snippets from a CNN story) :

Monday began like any other school day in Paradise, Pennsylvania, a community in the heavily Amish Lancaster County.  At a small Amish-run school, 26 students -- 11 of them girls -- began their lessons. They ranged in age from 6 to 13, with slightly older girls serving as teacher's aides.

The killer was not Amish, and he chose his victims not because of their beliefs but because they were convenient. There was no security at the schoolhouse -- there is little need for it in Amish communities.

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