• Old Photos: Hitler

    I know, I know, these are pictures of Hitler. And maybe it’s not the best idea to put them here, me being who I am. But these photos are amazing, shot by Hitler’s personal photographer Hugo Jaeger in color and such close proximity that as a fan of historic photography I cannot just pass them by. And yes, I know what was happening while Hitler was greeting adoring women, checking out cars and watching parades, and I have these photos too. If anything these photos make one wonder how a grim, plain-looking and not extremely bright individual could achieve absolute power over a civilized country.

    (L-R) Ferdinand Porsche, Adolf Hitler and Robert Ley with Hitler's 50th birthday gift, the Volkswagen Beetle. ©Time Inc.Hugo Jaeger
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  • Behind the Iron Curtain:Chernobyl

    On this day 22 years ago Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded and became the world’s worst nuclear disaster. I don’t have much of a Chernobyl personal story. It happened right before the May Day when we were looking forward to a weekend of camping and drinking. Soviet Government did not even acknowledge the disaster and obviously didn’t know how to deal with it, so all the information was coming in the form of rumors and Voice of America shortwave broadcasts. Some unconfirmed whispers about a fire on a nuclear power plant did not stop us from spending few careless days in tents around the campfire. It was literally the wind direction that decided who will be affected by the fallout. My friends and me were among the lucky ones, wind blew in the opposite direction. There are few people in Kansas City who were drafted to work on the site clean-up and decontamination. There are probably hundreds of thousands of people who were affected in various degrees. Nowadays, there are plenty of pictures of the ghost town which is still stuck in 1986 and tours of the disaster area are freely available. The eerie images from the 30 km zone would make a suitable background for the final scene of the Planet of the Apes. Just like the destroyed Statue of Liberty in the movie it stands as a reminder of a good intentions gone bad, government inefficiency and lack of caring for the people, and heroism of the simple people in the face of unknown and deadly force.
    More information is available here.

    Chernobyl,
    Reactor is still going,
    Still taking lives.

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  • Kansas Roadtrips: Chanute – The Real Cradle of Aviation

    Chanute is located on U.S. Route 169 between Iola and Coffeyville and is definitely worth a detour. While we didn’t have time to stop at the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum, we drove around downtown, stopped at the The Chanute-Wright Brothers Memorial and unknowingly crossed the default center of Google Earth (for Mac). That would be this painting in the middle of the intersection. If I knew it was significant I would’ve tried to take a better picture.

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  • Ronald Reagan Tells Soviet Jokes

    I can testify that some of these jokes are pretty authentic. I grew up at a time when nothing like this would ever show up in print and people almost whispered these, as we called them, anecdotes to each other at home, at work or at school. Later on, thousands of these jokes were published in books and on the internet but the spice was gone, although some still remain pretty funny.

    httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mN3z3eSVG7A

    httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xjv082CPz9g

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  • Bread Follow-Up

    Since the subject of bread caused a mild interest I’d like to share a short list of bakeries that sell the real stuff.
    In Kansas City:
    Hen House at Deer Creek – I can’t find the article about the oven but if I remember correctly they invited a specialist from Europe to build a real brick oven. The bread is under Farm To Market brand but it’s baked right at the store. Fresh bread is on and behind the counter usually in open paper bags. Farm To Market bread is sold elsewhere but if you want it straight from the oven you’d have to drive to the Overland Park location. Farm To Market Cafe was recently reviewed by DLC.
    Artisan Francais is a French Bakery in Overland Park where the bread is fresh, tasty and of many varieties. It may be a little overpriced, but consider the location. Sandwiches and French pastries are “oh so good!”
    Fervere is close to downtown and if you live and work there make a note to stop by and get a loaf. They don’t serve sandwiches but you will be able to try some samples. Owner of Fervere was one of the founders of Farm To Market. Pay attention to the hours of operation, they are not open every day.

    In Lawrence:
    Wheatfileds Bakery And Cafe has a great variety of the freshest, tastiest bread around and makes a trip to Lawrence worthwhile. I went there few years ago and picked up 2 or 3 loafs or really good bread.

    If you can’t make it to any of these places, and if you name starts with H. invite yourself to my house for a cup of tea and a slice of bread. Otherwise, with just a few simple ingredients and a cast iron pot you can have the tastiest bread you have ever tried.

    Almost No-Knead Bread
    (from Cook’s Illustrated)

    An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid yields best results, but the recipe also works in a regular cast-iron Dutch oven or heavy stockpot. Use a mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser (mild non-alcoholic lager also works). The bread is best eaten the day it is baked but can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.

    Makes 1 large round loaf

    3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
    1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
    1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
    3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature
    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)
    1 tablespoon white vinegar

    1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

    2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

    3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

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