Saturday, April 16, 2011

National Park Week starts today!

From April 16th to 24th, 
the U.S. National Park Service will offer free admission to its 394 park sites.
Find one near you (they're open, thanks to the budget fix!)
Top Ten National Parks:
(Photo credit: Yosemite National Park, Photo by: QT Luong,,
The National Parks, American's Best Idea; 
Yosemite, photograph by Nikhil Shahi, My Shot, National Geographic)

Today's food holiday: "National Eggs Benedict Day"!

It is more familiar than you think!
Eggs Benedict is a dish that consists of two halves of an English muffin, topped with ham or bacon or Canadian bacon, poached eggs covered with a Hollandaise sauce.
Does this sound familiar? The McDonald's Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwich is a take-off of Eggs Benedict, my mother used to say. It consists of a piece of Canadian bacon, egg in a round shape with a slice of American cheese in a sandwich of English muffins. 
The Egg McMuffin was invented by the late McDonald's franchisee Herb Peterson (1919-2008) in the late 1960's; it was introduced nationwide in 1972 and become a McDonald's breakfast signature item. The inventor ate like a half dozen a day! Peterson was said to like Eggs Benedict, so he worked to develop a breakfast item which was similar to it. Peterson eventually came up with the Egg McMuffin, which was an egg sandwich consisting of an egg formed in a Teflon circle with the yolks broken, topped with Canadian bacon and a slice of cheese. Originally, the Egg McMuffin was served as an open faced sandwich on a buttered and toasted English muffin and later became a sandwich for convenience.
There are three various accounts of the origin of Eggs Benedict, including:
#1 Lemuel Benedict, a retired Wall Street stock broker, claimed that he had wandered into the Waldorf Hotel in 1894 and, hoping to find a cure for his morning hangover, ordered "buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon, and a hooker of hollandaise." recorded from an interview in the "Talk of the Town" column of  The New Yorker in December 19, 1942Oscar Tschirky, the famed maître d'hôtel, was so impressed with the dish that he put it on the breakfast and luncheon menus but substituted ham and a toasted English muffin for the bacon and toast.
#2 Craig Claiborne wrote a column in The New York Times Magazine  (September 24, 1967) about a letter he had received from Edward P. Montgomery, an American then residing in France. In it, Montgomery related that the dish was created by Commodore E. C. Benedict, a banker and yachtsman, who died in 1920 at the age of 86. Montgomery also included a recipe for Eggs Benedict, stating that the recipe had been given to him by his mother, who had received it from her brother, who was a friend of the Commodore.
     #3 Mabel C. Butler of Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts in a letter printed in The New York Times Magazine (November 26, 1967) responded to Montgomery's claim by correcting that the "true story, well known to the relations of Mrs. Le Grand Benedict", of whom she was one, was: “Mr. and Mrs. Benedict, when they lived in New York around the turn of the century, dined every Saturday at Delmonico's. One day Mrs. Benedict said to the maitre d'hotel, "Haven't you anything new or different to suggest?" On his reply that he would like to hear something from her, she suggested poached eggs on toasted English muffins with a thin slice of ham, hollandaise sauce and a truffle on top. 
    (Source: Eggs Benedict consisting of “English muffins topped with Canadian bacon, poached eggs & hollandaise sauce” with their house potatoes in the background, as served at Orange in Chicago, Illinois, Wikipedia; McDonald's Egg McMuffin,; Herb Peterson,; Eggs Benedict,; The Waldorf Hotel's current name on the awning over the Park Avenue entrance,; Elias Cornelius Benedict circa 1913 aboard his yacht Oneida, Wikipedia; Dinner in honor of Admiral Campion at Delmonico's in 1906; Wikipedia; smoked salmon eggs benedict,

    Happy Foursquare Day!

    April 16th is Foursquare Day: A play with words, 4th month (April) and the 16th day (which is 4 squared)
    The purpose of Foursquare is to be a location-based mobile platform that makes cities easier to use and more interesting to explore. Foursquare is a location-based social networking website based on software for mobile devices. This service is available to users with GPS-enabled mobile devices, such as smartphones. 
    Foursqaure users become interactive tourist guides. 
    Users "check-in" at venues via a smartphone app or SMS, users share their location with friends while collecting points and virtual badges by selecting from a list of venues that the application locates nearby. Each check-in awards the user points and "badges" and the phone app offers relevant suggestions about nearby venues and their friends that might be nearby
    Users can choose to have their check-ins posted on their accounts on Twitter, Facebook, or both. In version 1.3 of their iPhone application, foursquare enabled push-notification of friend updates, which they call "Pings". Users can create a "To Do" list for their private use and add "Tips" to venues that other users can read, which serve as suggestions for great things to do, see or eat at the location Merchants and brands leverage the foursquare platform by utilizing a wide set of tools to obtain, engage, and retain customers and audiences. 
    The app allows the user to make a list of personal list of places and activities, called to-dos and has been separated from the general advice from other users section called "tips". Foursquare has also created a button that will add any location in the app to a user's to-do list, and the app will now remind the user when there are to-do items nearby. Users can create a "To Do" list for their private use and add "Tips" to venues that other users can read, which serve as suggestions for great things to do, see or eat at the location. 
    If a user has checked-in to a venue on more days (meaning only one check-in per day qualifies for calculating mayorship) than anyone else in the past 60 days, the check-ins are valid under foursquare's time and distance protocols, and they have a profile photo, they will be crowned "Mayor" of that venue, until someone else earns the title by checking in more times than the previous mayor. To get the Foursquare Super Mayor Badge you will need to become the mayor of ten locations at one time.
    Foursquare stats as of April 2011: 
    • Users: Over 8 million worldwide, adding around 35,000 new users each day
    • Check-ins per day: Over 2.5 million, with over half a billion check-ins in the last year
    • Businesses: Over 250,000 using the Merchant Platform (more information at
    • Employees: Over 60 between headquarters in New York, NY, and a satellite engineering office in San Francisco, CA
    Foursquare was founded by co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai who met in 2007 while working in the same office space (at different companies) in New York City. Working from Dennis' kitchen table in New York's East Village, they began building the first version of foursquare in fall 2008, and launched it at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas in March 2009.
    Background: Crowley had previously founded the similar project Dodgeball as his graduate thesis project in the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University. Dodgeball was founded in 2000 by New York University students Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert, and was acquired by Google in 2005. In April 2007, Crowley and Rainert left Google. After leaving Google, Crowley created a similar service known as Foursquare with the help of Naveen Selvadurai. What happened to Dodgeball? Google shut it down in 2009, replacing it with Google Latitude. Dodgeball user interactions were based on SMS technology, rather than an application.
    (Source: Wikipedia &; photo credit: Foursquare Day logo, Foursquare; Foursqaure logo, Wikipedia; iphone views,;; 4sq map, advertising; mayor; four square playground game,; sm kitchen table; Dodgeball logo, Wikipedia; world cup,; history,; )

    Happy birthday to Charlie Chaplin!

    "All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl." - 
    Charlie Chaplin
    Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977) was an English comic actor, film director and composer best-known for his work during the silent film era. He became one of the most famous film stars in the world before the end of World War I. Chaplin used mime, slapstick and othervisual comedy routines, and continued well into the era of the talkies, though his films decreased in frequency from the end of the 1920s. 
    His most famous role was that of The Tramp, which he first played in the Keystone comedy Kid Auto Races at Venice in 1914. 
    From the April 1914 one-reeler Twenty Minutes of Love onwards he was writing and directing most of his films, by 1916 he was also producing them, and from 1918 he was even composing the music for them. With Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D. W. Griffith, he co-founded United Artists in 1919.
    Chaplin was one of the most creative and influential personalities of the silent-film era. Since the 1960s, Chaplin's films have been compared to those of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd (the other two great silent film comedians of the time), especially among the loyal fans of each comic.The three had different styles: Chaplin had a strong affinity for sentimentality and pathos (which was popular in the 1920s), Lloyd was renowned for his everyman persona and 1920s optimism, and Keaton adhered to on screen stoicism with a cynical tone more suited to modern audiences.
    (Source: Wikipedia &; Photo credit: Chaplin & policeman, &  Still from City Lights, 1931 Charlie Chaplinwith the blind flower girl, Virginia Cherril,; Gloria Swanson, Charles Chaplin and Marion Davies at the premiere of City Lights in Los Angeles on 30 January 1931. The police found it hard to control the huge crowds, All images from Chaplin films made from 1918 onwards, Copyright © Roy Export Company Establishment, scene from Charlie Chaplin's 1914 movie "Kid Auto Races in Venice"Chaplin's second film and the debut of his "tramp" costume, Wikipedia; Chaplin 1920, Wikipedia; Buster Keaton seated, in costume, wearing his signature pork pie hat, 1939, Wikipedia;Harold Lloyd in 1928, Wikipedia;  Chaplin quote, comedy king