August 19 - Happy Birthday, President Clinton

Posted on August 19, 2017

Some people talk about impeaching a president as if that means removing him. And it doesn't.

"Impeachment" is part of a process by which Congress can remove a president from power. The House of Representatives has the sole power to impeach, and a simple majority of representatives is all that's necessary to do so.  

The representatives would draw up articles of impeachment, with each article being a specific charge against the president.

If the House impeaches the president, the matter then goes to the Senate, where a trial is held. The judge in the trial is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and two-thirds of the Senators must vote to convict the president on any one charge - and, if that happens, the president is removed. 

In the whole history of the United States, no president has ever been removed from office in this way.* But two presidents - Andrew Johnson and today's birthday honoree, Bill Clinton - have been impeached. But neither was convicted by the Senate. Johnson was acquitted by the slimmest of margins (only one vote), but Clinton was easily acquitted.

Bill Clinton wasn't just one of only two presidents who were impeached. He was also the president who had the highest end-of-office approval rating of any president since WWII - yep, that's right, higher than Eisenhower and Reagan!

Here are just a few of his other accomplishments:

Rhodes Scholar
Playing the saxophone

Governor of Arkansas:
   Overhauled school system in Arkansas

While U.S. president:
   Welfare reform
   Children's health insurance program
   Changed a budge deficit into a budget surplus

Post presidency:
   Established Clinton Foundation, a global charity
   Raised money for research on new vaccines/medicines
   Helped bring down cost of medicines
   Provided medical care for millions and millions

Of course, Clinton is the husband of 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

* NOTE: 

(By the way, the only president who resigned from office - Richard Nixon - did so when facing almost-certain impeachment and conviction.)

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August 18 – Whitney, Conquered!

Posted on August 18, 2017

Today is the anniversary of the very first time a human being climbed to the top of Mount Whitney, in California!

Except, it's probably not!

Our ancestors - including all the many thousands of California Indians or Native Americans - were mostly too busy surviving to frequently take on extra dangers and challenges...But people way back when were just as varied as they are now, and many of them were courageous, adventurous, and daring. I bet a few of them scaled what we now call Mount Whitney - all 14,494 feet of it!

But early derring do's don't count when we are talking about "first this-and-so" and "first that-and-such" - because we have no written record of who did it, when.

Flash forward to the 1870s. Since Mount Whitney was the very tallest mountain in all of the United States (at the time!), there was a lot of competition to see who would be the first to climb it. 

In 1871, a man named Clarence King climbed a peak that he thought was Mount Whitney and seemed to be destined for the record books - but then he was startled, two years later, to hear that someone had proved that the mountain he had climbed was not actually Mount Whitney, and was not the highest mountain in the U.S.

The actual Mount Whitney was five or six miles away from the mountain he'd climbed.

King was determined to be king of the actual Mount Whitney. He was all the way across the country, but he traveled to California, hired two men to accompany him up the peak, and successfully climbed Mount Whitney -

but he was 32 days too late.

On this date in1873 another climbing party had conquered the difficult climb and stood on the tip-top of Mount Whitney. So Charles Begole, Albert Johnson, and John Lucas were first. And 13 days before King scaled the mountain, another group of four climbers had done the deed. I guess King had to settle for #8!!

Although I've never wanted to climb Mount Whitney, it does have some importance for me. When I was a little girl we vacationed in Mammoth Lakes at a family cabin, and when we got to the town of Lone Pine, we would see glorious Mount Whitney looming over the town - and also a mural of the mountain on one of the buildings in the town. I always looked forward to seeing the mountain, partly because it meant we were more than half way to Mammoth.

Also, I named one of my daughters Whitney after this mountain!

By the way, Mount Whitney was the tallest mountain in the U.S. in the 1870s. But when Alaska became a state in 1959, Mount McKinley - also known as Denali - took the honors. Now we have to say that Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in "the lower 48" or "in the contiguous states." ("Contiguous" means touching.) It's also, of course, the highest mountain in the Sierra Nevada Mountains (its mountain range) and in California.

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Anniversary of a Fireball

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August 17 – National Thrift Shop Day

Posted on August 17, 2017

I love to save money, of course - doesn't everybody?

But I have to admit that I'm not much of a thrift-shop shopper. I am not inclined to pick through used clothes, to see the possibilities of what an item of clothing could do for me. There is, I have to admit, a teeny bit of a squeamish reaction for me, as if "used" means "dirty."

But, then again, you have to realize that I also hate clothing shopping of ANY kind. I prefer thrift shopping for clothes to the sort of thing you see on movies - women trying on one fancy outfit after another, trying to find THE perfect dress. I mean, I really really really would hate that!

When I was getting married, I looked for the sort of dress I liked - and by "liked" I mean a peasant style, ready-made, very inexpensive. I found only one, but I tried it on and loved it. Voilà! I found my wedding dress in like 15 minutes!

So, yeah, I'm not a shopper.

Today we celebrate thrift stores, and there is a lot to celebrate. Not only do customers save money, but society and the Earth wins, too!

(1) Lots of thrift shops are run by charitable organizations. So buying from them can help children and families in need.

(2) Most of the rest of the second-hand / thrift shops are small businesses rather than chains owned by giant corporations. It's great to support local small business owners!

(3) Whatever is being sold in a thrift shop or any other second-hand store is NOT being plunked into a landfill. That whole "reuse, renew, recycle, repurpose" thing is partly based on the willingness for people to use "used" stuff!

Did you know that about 10.5 MILLION TONS of clothing is sent to landfills EVERY YEAR? 

That's...mountains of fabric!

Apparently, only about 15% of clothing is donated. We have got to get that percentage up!

About half of all donated clothing finds its way into someone's closet again, via thrift stores, and the other half is recycled - torn down into fibers that are used to make things like insulation and carpet padding and even industrial rags.(Check out this article for more on all of that.)

Celebrate the day by donating clothes, by visiting a thrift shop, and by promising yourself you will do your part to keep stuff out of landfills.