Archive for October, 2008

October 26th 2008
Eyewitness to History: ej on the ground at the Obama rally at Colorado State

Posted under American history & local news

This and all photos in this post are from the Fort Collins Coloradoan commenter and special correspondent ej was at the Obama rally at Baa Ram U. this afternoon, and sent in this exclusive report:

I’ve been flattered by all the attention the presidential candidates were paying to Colorado, especially the Democrats, who haven’t had much cause to come here of late. The turnout at the rally for Joe Biden at Moo Moo U. in Potterville stunned me! But that was nothing compared to the events today. Early estimates had the Barack Obama crowd at Denver  hitting about 35,000. Actual tallies-over 100,000. I thought I would be safe showing up at the CSU rally close to 3-I wasn’t die hard enough to camp out, so a good seat wasn’t going to happen regardless. And after all, it was Fort Collins–how many people could there be? But when I finally got there, I was stunned by the turnout. Lines had started forming as early as 10 for a 3:30 speech, and they were forced to “close the gates” at 3. (I’m not really sure what that phrase means at an outdoor rally). So I stood along the train tracks facing the oval with hundreds of other folks who couldn’t get in. I was surprised by how fervent the crowd was-even those of us who didn’t have a seat.  Ed. note:  the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports that there were 50,000 people at the Oval this afternoon.

We couldn’t see much through the trees, but we could hear just fine. Obama actually started speaking before 3:30 (another surprise for me. I was sure he would be late and there would be several irritating introductions). The first few minutes were about early voting, along with some nice personal touches for the CSU crowd. About 10 minutes in, he segued to his stump speech. I have to say, as someone who has been obsessively watching CNN of late, I thought most of this would be familiar to me, but I realize now that they all play the same sound bites over and over, and they tend to be the policy ones. There were parts of his speech that I’m sure weren’t new to him, but I had never heard before, and I found them really effective. He talked about opportunity, but made it really personal, and really pitched to a crowd of first-time voters. Who here doesn’t have a parent or grandparent who didn’t go to college, but was determined that their child would? Who here doesn’t have a parent or grandparent who didn’t have the right to vote, but marched so that their children could? (Granted, that last one probably doesn’t hit home quite as well in Colorado as it does in more diverse states, but the crowd loved it).

Historiann already mentioned the “raise your hand if you make less than 250k line.  In person, it played much better. The crowd was silent because everyone was raising their hand! He really does have an uncanny ability to connect on a personal level with an enormous crowd.  Interestingly, the lines that got the crowd the most frenzied were those about “one America” and condemnations of divisive politics. I guess in light of that, its easy to see why the Republican campaign is floundering right now.

He spoke for 30 minutes. I left immediately. In part because there was no chance to see him up close, but more because I was illegally parked and worried that someone would tow my car. All in all, I was overwhelmed by how enthusiastic people were-even those of us peering across the oval from the train tracks. The cynical side of me has to ask where all of these folks have been. I’ve been in Colorado for 8 years now, and I never in my wildest dreams imagined there were so many Democrats living alongside of me. Perhaps they’ve only now been emboldened enough to come out publicly, or maybe they are recent converts. In any case, I wish they would have been this excited 4 years ago, but am nonetheless thankful for their votes now.


October 26th 2008
Barack Obama to speak at Colorado State University today

Posted under American history & local news


Dem hearts are aflutter in anticipation of Barack Obama’s visit to Baa Ram U. this afternoon.  (He’s also visiting Denver for a rally at Civic Center Park.)  He’ll be speaking at a very pretty part of campus known as “The Oval,” where most of the oldest buildings are located.  (It’s the part of our campus that screams “college campus!”)  I can’t be there myself, but I’ll try to post local news updates and video as they are available.  It’s a good day to be Obama in Colorado–the Rocky Mountain News announced yesterday that their polling has him with a comfy 12-point lead here.  (And yet, for some reason the national news stories I hear all identify Colorado as “close,” or a “toss-up.”  Close?  Stick a fork in us–we’re done, baby!)  Obama is not alone with his double-digit lead–actually, Mark Udall has an even more commanding 14-point lead over Bob Schaffer for our open U.S. Senate seat.  Even more exciting is the news that Betsy Markey may actually up-end Marilyn Musgrave, and install a Democrat in my congressional district for the first time since the early 1970s.

Colorado has been growing its own Democratic party–the state assembly and state senate flipped from Republican to Democratic control in 2004, and in 2006 we elected a Dem governor–but in presidential politics, an Obama win would still be remarkable.  (The last Dem presidential candidate to win this state was Bill Clinton in 1992.)  I sure wish things had turned around 4 years earlier–think of all of the trouble we could have saved the world if Colorado had gone for John Kerry! 

Many of us worked hard for that, but I think too many people were still living in that post-9/11/01 coma of fear, and wanted to believe that George W. Bush was in fact the “Commander in Chief” they hoped he was, in spite of all evidence to the contrary.  Half of the U.S., not to mention the rest of the world, was onto Bush by then, but Hurricaine Katrina was the event that finally changed people’s minds about him domestically.  The criminal ineptitude on display that last week of August 2005 was enraging and humiliating.  I remember a conversation with my Republican father, who was visiting that week, while we watched a news report on TV about New Orleans, and I commented, “I just can’t believe we’re stuck with Bush for another three and a half years.”  My father did a shocked double-take, and said, “we’ve got three and a half more years of this?,” appalled and disgusted by the thought of the continuing Bush regime.  To be sure, the Dem congress hasn’t done enough to help the people of New Orleans–my hope is that New Orleans won’t be forgotten amidst the long list of problems the next U.S. president will inherit.

Here are some links and spaces to watch to get news and video feeds of Obama’s visits to Colorado today:

The Denver Post

The Rocky Mountain News

The Fort Collins Coloradoan

Channel 7 News

UPDATE, 12:35 MDT:  He’s speaking now in Denver at Civic Center Park, and has been for about half an hour.  He sounds good–who wouldn’t, with the kind of lead he’s got?  Apparently, people started lining up at the park before dawn–and it was a very cold and windy morning here in Colorado.  Denver Police estimate that he drew a crowd of more than 100,000, which is mind-bogglingly huge.  Here’s a story from the Denver Post website, and here’s an excerpt from his prepared remarks.  I wonder what the crowd up in Fort Collins will be at 3:30 p.m.?

UPDATE, FORT COLLINS, 2:15 P.M. MDT:  The crowd is again huge, and was lined up since early this morning.  People have started moving through the security screening to get into the Oval.  I don’t know if the Denver Post and the other Denver media will also do a live stream of his appearance in Fort Collins, since they had their own visit earlier in the day, but the Fort Collins Coloradoan is featuring live updates.

UPDATE, 3:30 P.M. MDT:  Wow–he’s speaking even a little ahead of schedule.  You can find a link to the live video feed here.  Good populist rhetoric–the country needs to work “not just for the CEO, but the secretary, and the janitor.”

UPDATE, 3:45 P.M. MDT:  When he asked the crowd to raise their hands if they made less than $250K a year, the response was a little lackluster.  Is it a really rich crowd up in Fort Collins today?  The line about investing in renewables got a great response, and a good tie-in with Governor Ritter.  (Baa Ram U. is branding itself “The Green University,” after all.)

UPDATE, 3:52 P.M. MDT:  Here come his comments about expanding opportunities for college:  “If you are willing to commit yourself to service. . . . whatever way you decide to serve. . . . then we are going to make sure you have the money to go to college, no ifs, ands, or buts.” 

Obama has done a nice job of incorporating Hillary Clinton’s and Al Gore’s messages on universal health care and the environment into his spiel.  It’s going over very well this sunny but unexpectedly cool afternoon.

UPDATE, 3:59 P.M. MDT:  The no red America, no blue America routine–we all need to pull together for the good of the country.  “I ask of you what’s been asked of the American people throughout our history. . . believe in yourselves, believe in each other, believe in the future.”  Nice message of intergenerational dependence, and that young people today need to pass along their advantages to the generations that follow.

Nice speech–I think it was identical to the one he gave in Denver this afternoon, from what I saw of it, but that’s OK.  I think it was a version of his stump speech, although I’m not sure since I don’t have cable TV.


October 25th 2008
Weekend doll blogging: boys of Indian summer edition

Posted under American history & Dolls & fluff

Historiann correspondant Indyanna brought his dolls over to play the other day, and sent this photo in homage to (one of) his hometown team’s victory in the NLCS and their appearance in the World Series this year for the first time in fifteen years.  (My vintage Barbies didn’t quite know what to make of these relatively tiny men!)  It’s actually a fair approximation of Indyanna’s eclectic interests:  “John Adams” (say it with me:  President Second-Worst!) is on the left, glaring at Mary Wollstonecraft in the background behind his collection of Pirates and Phillies bobbleheads and miscellaneous baseball dolls action figures.  I don’t follow baseball too closely, but I glanced at the sports section of the newspaper this morning and I have only one question:  what’s with the dumb haircuts, Phillies?  Some of them look like they were scalped by an angry, drunken Marine barber.

Longtime readers may remember Indyanna’s other photographic contributions to the doll blogging around here from last spring, the window box Barbies planted cheerfully in front of a Center City rowhouse.  Thanks for remembering us at Historiann HQ, Indyanna!


October 24th 2008
Friday fun foodfest: Mock Apple Pie!

Posted under American history & women's history

Erica at Mental Hygiene has made that classic of twentieth-century commercial food pies, the Ritz Mock Apple Pie!  Short review:  it’s good, and actually tastes like an apple pie made with very small bits of apples rather than discernible apple slices.  (But watch out for sugar-syrup spillovers and burns on your stove and inside your oven.  Click the link above for more photos and the recipe.)

She also reports, via a crackerjack research discovery by the Crazy Pie Lady, that the pie has roots that long precede the Great Depression.  While not made with Ritz crackers, there were other versions of this pie made in the nineteenth century out of crumbs and scraps.  Here’s an 1858 letter from Sue Smith of Henderson, Texas that explains how to make an “apple” pie out of stale carbs:

I have learned to make a new kind of Pie I think you all would like them they taste just like an apple pie make some and try them see if you dont love them.  Take a teaspoon heaping full of tartarlic (sic) acid and dissolve it in water a teasp (sic) full of sugar and stir it in the acid then take cold biscuit or light bread and crumble in it. have enough to make to (sic) pies put it in a crust and one over it and bake it they are fully as good as Apple pies the spoonful of acid and cup of sugar is enough to make two pies.
Erica is right when she says that “[i]t must have taken quite a creative cook to figure out the right balance of carbs, acid, sugar, and stuff, but they managed to work out a convincing imitation.”  I checked in Susannah Carter’s The Frugal Housewife, or Complete Woman Cook (1772), and her apple pie also calls for the juice and zest of a lemon, so there was attention to the balance of flavors even in early American real apple pie recipes.  (She says “[y]ou must sweeten to your palate and squeeze a little more lemon,” p. 119.)  I looked but found nothing like the mock apple pie recipe above, so perhaps it is a nineteenth-century innovation borne of desperation on the prairie, while waiting for one’s apple trees to mature and produce sufficient fruit for pies.
It’s also possible that Mrs. Carter didn’t record recipes of such humble origins or common fame as the mock-apple pie made out of old biscuits or bread.  Her book documents some pretty high-style cooking, especially when it comes to sweet things and pastries.  For example, her cake recipies regularly begin with the words, “take six pounds of the best fresh butter, work it to a cream with your hands; then throw in by degrees three pounds of double refined sugar well beat and sifted” or “take twelve fresh eggs,” and regularly feature several pounds of almonds, dried fruit, and pints of french brandy and sack (ch. 12.)  While Mrs. Carter’s cooking was “frugal” in that it was dedicated not to waste food, the unwasted food wasn’t necessarily cheap or easy to come by in such prodigious amounts.  (Six pounds of butter in the eighteenth century?  Your hands and arms, and your cows’ udders, would fall off from all of that milking and churning on a family farm!  Leaving aside the question of expense, where but on a large plantation or at a substantial dairy farm, and with plenty of servant and slave labor, could one find that quantity of butter just waiting to be made into cake?)


Enough for today about food.  This blog is getting quite a reputation, with all of my recent links to Cakewrecks and pie-blogging here and here. was the ultimate destination for two people googling “how did they bake cookies in the old days?”  Short answer:  they didn’t, at least not in Anglo-American kitchens before the nineteenth century.  Mrs. Carter has all manner of recipies for pies, cakes, puddings, and custards, but there are no cookies in Mrs. Carter’s cookbook.  (Maybe a search for them in a Dutch-language cookbook will yield success, but my guess is that cookies are a nineteenth century confection.)


October 23rd 2008
I’m really interested in your work…

Posted under conferences

Prince...Diana Prince

Just go read GayProf’s musings on academic conference sex:  the pros and (mostly) cons.  I must be the most clueless person in the world, but I have never been aware of anything like this happening at a conference.  I mean no offense, but honestly, the only thing less appetizing than contemplating the boot-knocking that might be happening at an academic conference is knocking boots at an academic conference.  (Click here–you can always say you visited for the Wonder Woman photos.)


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