Milky Way Over Monument Valley–Photo



The Milky Way over Monument Valley 
Image Credit & Copyright: Tom Masterson
Explanation: You don’t have to be at Monument Valley to see the Milky Way arc across the sky like this — but it helps. Only at Monument Valley USA would you see a picturesque foreground that includes these iconic rock peaks called buttes. Buttes are composed of hard rock left behind after water has eroded away the surrounding soft rock. In the featured image taken last month, the closest butte on the left and the butte to its right are known as the Mittens, while Merrick Butte can be seen farther to the right. Green airglow fans up from the horizon. High overhead stretches a band of diffuse light that is the central disk of our spiral Milky Way Galaxy. The band of the Milky Way can be spotted by almost anyone on almost any clear night whenfar enough from a city and surrounding bright lights, but a sensitive digital camera is needed to capture these colors in a dark night sky.   source

Door County Photo

door county  Just now I’m visiting with Susan and George at their rental house  on the Door Peninsula shore of Green Bay.

This evening, George caught this brilliant sunset between the silhouetted trees in front of the house.           Thanks George.

From this viewpoint we see cormorants fishing.  Like loons and anhingas, cormorants have adapted for swimming underwater. Often we see only neck and head.

These birds are often seen standing in a sunny spot with their wings spread, drying them.  They don’t have the oil glands  that ducks and geese have to provide a water repellant in their feathers.  Susan says she hasn’t seen a loon this year but has heard their eerie  “wail call“.

In a Florida state park we saw and alligator and an anhinga at opposite ends of an oval pond, looking at each other..  We could see only the alligator’s eyes above water and only the head and neck of the bird.  It did appear that something was going to happen!

One of our black cats is “Annie”  for the black anhinga.

When Susan and her sibs were young we camped in Peninsula State Park in this same area.

Poetry Month


What month?   April, of course .                                                                                                         Why?  Opinions vary.  See links below.

My nose was running                                                                               Yesterday. I used a lot                                                                                         Of tissues then to stem                                                                                   the flow of phlegm.

My nose is running                                                                                         Again today. If I wore                                                                                         A tie it would sport                                                                                            a glistening spot of snot.

Tomorrow I will blow                                                                                       my nose some more                                                                                           and, like as not,                                                                                           Sort out some more                                                                                           important issues.



Poetry Foundation





Hitler’s 1936 Olympics, Movie and Exhibition

Swastika flag, German Underground Military hospital, Guernsey, Channel Islands, UK.

 Last week we enjoyed the new  movie  Race which tells the story of  Jesse Owens, a black man in the Depression era who not only has to confront racism at home, from other players in the locker rooms, and ill treatment in the wider society, but also his internalized racism, which prevents him from making eye contact with his coach when they are speaking.

Moreover, he carries a heavy burden for a young man in deciding whether to even play in the  1936 Berlin Olympic Games, which were designed to become a showcase for the Nazi ideal. Pressure was placed on Owens from every direction.  source  In a way this is a story of Jesse’s decisions.  rjn

‘Nazi Olympics’ exhibition explores 1936 spectacle in Berlin
By Steve Johnson Chicago Tribune  2.18.16
Exhibition runs through Aug. 28     Illinois Holocaust Museum, 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie Tickets: Included in general admission; 847-967-4800 or

JOSE M. OSORIO/CHICAGO TRIBUNE PHOTOS Glenn Wexler installs posters of U.S. Olympic runners Marty Glickman, from left, and Sam Stoller, Jews who were benched for the Berlin Games, and Mack Robinson, who won a silver.

   The first-level story about the 1936 Olympics in Berlin has Jesse Owens, the African-American track star, showing up Adolf Hitler, the racist German dictator, by winning four gold medals over competitors from Hitler’s supposed “master race.”   It’s a compelling tale of comeuppance.

The fuller truth, of course, is darker and more complex, as a new exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum demonstrates. Maybe the villain got embarrassed a little on the world stage, but he also got to temporarily calm international anxiety about his supremacist policies and military ambitions with the smokescreen of a five-ringed propaganda spectacle.   Among the revelations in “The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936”: Hitler’s Games gave us the now-stirring traditions of the grand opening ceremony — big rallies were a Nazi specialty — and the relay run carrying the lighted torch from the site of the original Olympic Games, in Greece.   “A lot of what we think about when we think about the Olympics, the Nazis were the first to do them,” said Arielle Weininger, Illinois Holocaust Museum chief curator. “It very much diverted everyone’s eyes from the reality of what was happening.”   The exhibition, opening Sunday, comes at a propitious time for the continuingly resonant Skokie museum. It’s the 80th anniversary of the Berlin Games.

The movie “Race,” which tells some of the story of Owens and those Olympics, opens Friday. (You can read Tribune critic Michael Phillips’ less-than enthusiastic review at   movies.)

And 2016 is an Olympic year, with the Summer Games being held in August in Brazil.   The traveling exhibition, created by the U.S. Holocaust Museum in 1996, coincident with the Nazi Olympics’ 60th anniversary and with the Atlanta Olympics that year in the United States, superbly explains the buildup to the ’36 Olympics, both in Germany and in the U.S.  

In Germany, we learn, Hitler did not at first like the “internationalism” of the Games, which had been awarded to Germany in 1931, two years before the Nazis took power. But his propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels convinced the dictator of their propaganda value. 

  Hitler had begun overt discrimination against German Jews just weeks after winning office. The September 1935 Nuremberg laws went further, stripping Jews of citizenship and forbidding them from having sex or intermarrying with “persons of German or related blood.” Jewish and Gypsy athletes were removed from German international sporting teams.  

In the meantime, the Nazis were rearming the country and sport was one of the key tools. “Really, they were building a nation of soldiers,” Weininger said.  

In the U.S., the German race laws stirred calls for a boycott of the Olympics. The Amateur Athletic Union and some leading newspapers, including The New York Times, favored a boycott.   But the American Olympic Committee, headed by Chicago engineer, builder and former Olympic athlete Avery Brundage, argued that politics should not be forced onto the Games.

He alleged a “Jewish-Communist conspiracy” in favor of a boycott, the exhibit tells us, and he wrote that American athletes should be spared involvement in “the present Jew-Nazi altercation.” 

  Complicating matters for potential African-American athletes was the fact that their own country had official policies of discrimination against them. Writers in the Chicago Defender, the leading black newspaper of the time, pointed out this hypocrisy and opposed the boycott because African-American wins would disprove Nazi racial theory.  

A torch from the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the first with a grand opening ceremony.

There is a great deal of text in the exhibition, but it is entirely on point and, because it illuminates a chapter in history that is incompletely understood, fascinating.   Surrounding the text blocks are photographs of the principals, political cartoons, such artifacts as a Nazi chart laying out the rules of Jewish intermarriage, and video that lets you see and hear Hitler, Goebbels and mass rallies in action.  

When it comes to the section on the Games themselves, the exhibition isn’t so concerned with the sports movie moment, the victories by Owens.   Instead it details how Germany’s lone (half-) Jewish Olympian gave the Nazi salute on the medal podium; how American Olympic authorities removed two Jewish runners from their relay squad while in Berlin; and how German authorities took down anti-Jewish signage before the Games.   After it was over, Germany, in spite of Owens, had won the most medals, and The New York Times, the exhibition says, reported that the Games had put Germany “back in the fold of nations” and made Germans “more human again.”  

The former Chicago Tribune correspondent William Shirer, according to exhibition text, was one of the few to regard the “Berlin glitter as merely hiding a racist, militaristic regime.”   History, of course, proved Shirer and his fellow doubters correct. The final images of the exhibition show a gallery of Olympic athletes, from Berlin and earlier Games, murdered in the Third Reich’s concentration camps.   


Note  At one point in the movie there is a mention of Metcalf and later of Ralph.  That’s Ralph Metcalfe who was called the World’s Fastest Man in 1934 and 1935 and who ran second to Jesse Owens in the 100 meters in the 1936 Olympics and whom I met once.

Metcalfe (center) with Jesse Owens and Frank Wykoff on the deck of the S. S. Manhattan as the team sailed for Germany in 1936

RalphHMetcalfe1977.jpgMetcalfe in 1977

As director of the Upward Bound program for high school students at Loyola U.  I called on aldermen of the wards where our students lived.  I was admitted to  Alderman Metcalfe[s  office at one end of a long, dim room and saw him behind his desk at the other end.  We could study each other as I travelled the distance between us.  I don’t remember our conversation.  I do remember Mr. Metcalfe.
He later was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served the country in other ways as well.  The federal building at 77 W. Jackson, Chicago, is named for him,
Photo of Metcalfe Federal Building in Chicago, Illinois






Milwaukee Janitor ?


Years ago, I was strolling through the Milwaukee Art Museum with a friend who cracked up when I walked through  a doorway and said, “Excuse me.”

I had apologized to this guy:
  He is an artwork made of fiberglass and other materials by Duane Hanson.  Fooled me! 
For an article about how the Janitor is made and how it was restored, click here.

Gift of a Snowy Owl



TRANSPORTS QUEBEC   In a photo tweeted by Quebec transport minister Robert Poëti, an image of a snowy owl is captured by a traffic camera over Highway 40 in Montreal.

Snowy owl photo spreads calm when we most need it
Mary Schmich   Chicago Tribune 1.10.15

   We could talk here today about Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel and Donald Trump. We could argue over new-age militias, gun control and presidential tears.   We could trade insults and opinions and pretend to know a whole lot more about everything than we do.   Or we could take a moment to contemplate that snowy owl.   The owl has been everywhere on social media lately, seen soaring over Highway 40 in Montreal, a serene presence that’s all the more stunning because it roams through Facebook and Twitter in the midst of the grim daily news.   It’s not the typical animal meme either, nothing cute about it, nothing contrived. It’s not a dancing cat or a gun-toting dachshund in camouflage.   It’s just a bird floating high above the frozen ground, its black-flecked white wings spread, its little owly eyes beaming straight into the airborne traffic camera.   “Magnifique harfang des neiges capté par les caméras de surveillance du réseau routier sur l’A-40 dans l’ouest de MTL,” wrote the Canadian official whose tweet launched the zillion shares.   As a bonus, along with the photo, we get to learn that “harfang des neiges” is French for “snowy owl.”   I’ve never shared an animal photo on Facebook but I posted this one for the reason so many other people have: I’d never seen anything like it.   Once I saw it, I couldn’t stop looking at it. It was only an image, but it felt like an intimate encounter with a living, palpable creature. It made me feel I understood a little more about owls and the sky.   In the past few years, snowy owls have shown up routinely in Chicago, but to see one not only airborne but eye to eye is a rare experience. The photo makes you feel like you’re flying too.   Staring at the owl, I thought of Wendell Berry’s poem, “The Peace of Wild Things,” which begins:   When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,   I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.   That snowy owl seems to stir a similar sentiment in everyone who sees it. It lifts a viewer out of the daily agitation, offers a small dose of peace.   I have a friend who found a similar consolation last week in an episode of PBS’ “Nature” called “Animal Odd Couples.”   She’d had a hard day at work. She’d been to a funeral. Lying in front of the TV, she was comforted by the weird animal stories.   There was a goat who befriended a blind horse, leading it to pasture and back every day for years. There was a jaguar who befriended a dog instead of eating it. There was the tortoise who became friends with a goose, the cheetah who became buddies with a retriever.   “It was these little contained moments of joy, watching animals frolic,” she said as she extolled the show’s pleasures to me afterward. “It made you wish that all human beings could be that way too. It’s that hope: Can’t we all just get along?”   By the way, she’s not a sentimental woman, not the type to toss “joy” into casual conversation. She’s a news junkie. She’d be happy to argue over Obama and Trump and new-age militias.   But sometimes even the hard-news types want nothing more than a nice animal story. We all need to be reminded that the human kingdom, with all its jousting and preening, is just a tiny fraction of the world.   That’s why when I’m out for a walk, I often detour through the Lincoln Park Zoo. The monkeys make me laugh. The zebras make me stop and stare. The lion makes me feel how light my bones are.   Way back in a corner, there’s even a snowy owl or two, though not in the expansive glory of the owl in the photo.   If you haven’t already, take 15 seconds and study the photo. Feel your spirit rise, your blood pressure go down.   Then resume your favorite argument. Twitter @MarySchmich



Rare Shakespeare Book To Visit Lake County






First Folio
© Shakespeare First Folio, 1623. Folger Shakespeare Library

The Lake County Discovery Museum has been selected as the host site for the state of Illinois for First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, a national traveling exhibition of the Shakespeare First Folio, one of the world’s most treasured books. The exhibition will be available to the public February 3–28, 2016. 

The Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is touring a First Folio of Shakespeare in 2016 to all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.

“It is an honor for Lake County to have been selected as the Illinois host site,” said Katherine Hamilton-Smith, Director of Public Affairs and Development for the Lake County Forest Preserves. “The exhibition will provide an important, once-in-a-lifetime humanities opportunity for our residents, and will bring significant economic impact to the county because of the exhibition’s likely draw of visitors into the county from the Chicago region, downstate Illinois, and southern Wisconsin.”

Many of Shakespeare’s plays, which were written to be performed, were not published during his lifetime. The First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays. It was published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death. Two of Shakespeare’s fellow actors compiled 36 of his plays, hoping to preserve them for future generations. Without it, we would not have 18 of Shakespeare’s plays, including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, and As You Like It.

All 18 appear for the first time in print in the First Folio, and would otherwise have been lost. “The First Folio is the book that gave us Shakespeare. Between its covers we discover his most famous characters—Hamlet, Desdemona, Cordelia, Macbeth, Romeo, Juliet and hundreds of others—speaking words that continue to move and inspire us,” said Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. “Shakespeare tells the human story like no one else. He connects us to each other, to our history, and to themes and ideas that touch us every day. We are delighted that we can share this precious resource with people everywhere, from San Diego, California to Gurabo, Puerto Rico, from Eugene, Oregon to Duluth, Minnesota.”

The Folger Shakespeare Library holds 82 copies of the First Folio, by far the largest collection in the world and more than a third of the 233 known copies in the world today. It is believed that 750 copies were originally printed. The Shakespeare First Folio is one of the most valuable printed books in the world; a First Folio sold for $6.2 million in 2001 at Christie’s and another one for $5.2 million in 2006 in London. It originally sold for one British pound (20 shillings)—about $200 today. When the First Folio arrives in Wauconda, IL, its pages will be opened to the most quoted line from Shakespeare and one of the most quoted lines in the world, “to be or not to be” from Hamlet.

Accompanying the rare book will be a multi-panel exhibition exploring the significance of Shakespeare, then and now, with additional digital content and interactive activities.

During the exhibition, the Lake County Discovery Museum is planning numerous programs for the public and families around the First Folio exhibition.

The Lake County Discovery Museum would like to thank all of its Lake County and Chicago area partners including: College of Lake County, Kirk Players, Visit Lake County, Lake Forest College, Loyola University, University of Chicago, University of St. Mary of the Lake, Citadel Players, Wauconda Area Library, Adler Cultural Center, Lake County Regional Office of Education, the Illinois Humanities Council, the Illinois Office of Tourism, Newberry Library, Bristol Renaissance Faire and others, who have pledged assistance with promotion, contribution of programming in their own venues, or expertise in support of the exhibition.

First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and by the generous support of Vinton and Sigrid Cerf and the Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation. Sponsorship opportunities of this major exhibition and the Folger’s other Wonder of Will programs commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death are available; learn more at

About the Lake County Discovery Museum: The Lake County Discovery Museum is located on Route 176, just west of Fairfield Road and east of Wauconda in Lakewood Forest Preserve. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 4:30 pm, Sunday from 1 pm to 4:30 pm. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for seniors ages 62 and older and students ages 18 to 25, and $2.50 for youth ages four to 17. Children three years and under are free. On Discount Tuesdays, admission is $3 for adults, free for youth 17 years and under. Admission is always free for Museum members. The Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Follow the Museum on Facebook and Twitter @LakeCoMuseum or visit for updates on First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare.

About Folger Shakespeare Library: Folger Shakespeare Library is a world-renowned center for scholarship, learning, culture, and the arts. It is home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection and a primary repository for rare materials from the early modern period (1500-1750). The Folger is an internationally recognized research library offering advanced scholarly programs in the humanities; an innovator in the preservation of rare materials; a national leader in how Shakespeare is taught in grades K–12; and an award-winning producer of cultural and arts programs—theatre, music, poetry, exhibits, lectures and family programs. Learn more at

About Cincinnati Museum Center: Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) at Union Terminal is a nationally recognized institution and national historic landmark. Dedicated to sparking community dialogue, insight and inspiration, CMC was awarded the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 2012. CMC is one of only 16 museums in the nation with both of these honors, making it a unique asset and a vital community resource. Union Terminal has been voted the nation’s 45th most important building by the American Institute of Architects. Organizations within CMC include the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children’s Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater and Cincinnati History Library & Archives. Recognized by Forbes Traveler Magazine as the 17th most visited museum in the country, CMC welcomes more than one million visitors annually. For more information, visit

About the American Library Association: The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all. ALA’s Public Programs Office provides leadership, resources, training and networking opportunities that help thousands of librarians nationwide develop and host cultural programs for adult, young adult and family audiences. The mission of the ALA Public Programs Office is to promote cultural programming as an essential part of library service in all types of libraries. Projects include book and film discussion series, literary and cultural programs featuring authors and artists, professional development opportunities and traveling exhibitions. School, public, academic and special libraries nationwide benefit from the office’s programming initiatives. Additional information can be found at

About the National Endowment for the Humanities: Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at