Happy Birthday, Library of Congress!

Libary of Congress Reading Room

My father once said, “The Marriott family liked the University of Utah more than Brigham Young University. They only gave BYU a basketball arena.  They gave the UofU a library!”

Perhaps that viewpoint is debatable, but one thing is true – 2015 years ago yesterday, the Library of Congress was established. As reported by History.com:

President John Adams approves legislation to appropriate $5,000 to purchase “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress,” thus establishing the Library of Congress. The first books, ordered from London, arrived in 1801 and were stored in the U.S. Capitol, the library’s first home. The first library catalog, dated April 1802, listed 964 volumes and nine maps.

In a welcome message on the Library of Congress website, James H. Billinton, current Librarian of Congress stated:

The Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections.

The Library’s mission is to support the Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties and to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people.

As Librarian of Congress, I oversee the many thousands of dedicated staff who acquire, catalog, preserve, and make available library collections within our three buildings on Capitol Hill and over the Internet. I am pleased that you are visiting our Web site today, and I invite you return to it often.

According to LibraryScienceList.com:

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the United States. It features 883 miles of shelving, houses 155 million items total, and holds 33 million books that are written in 460 different languages. It’s also home to 68 million manuscripts, 6.5 million pieces of music, more than 5 million maps, over 3.4 million recordings, and more than 13.5 million photographs.

We would do well to heed the counsel of Benjamin Franklin, who founded the nation’s first public library, “Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.” Later, he would also say: “The doors of wisdom are never shut.”

With all the material in the Library of Congress, there is no shortage of what to read or watch.  Let’s just remember the Proverb, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)

In Pursuit of a “Known Traveler Number”

Precheck

I have been using the TSA PreCheck service since soon after its inception in 2011, without paying an enrollment fee, after being invited by US Airways to participate. This has allowed me to use the simpler and faster TSA PreCheck lane at airport security, rather than joining the majority of fliers in regular security lines. However a couple of weeks ago, I received a notice from American Airlines, which is merging with US Airways, that I now needed to register for a “Known Traveler Number” (KTN) so I can continue to use the PreCheck service. I don’t really know why my gratis status is no longer acceptable, but it apparently it is.

So, I filled out a pre-registration form at Universal Enroll last week, booked at a screening appointment at a registration center a few miles from my house, and went through the final process today. 

Today’s registration process was unexpectedly painless. It took less than 15 minutes, including a short wait in the lobby, fingerprinting, stepping through a series of Identity Proofing steps and paying the $85 fee. Alas, I still don’t have a KTN.  That is supposed to be issued in a week or two after some big computer in the sky processes my information. Then, I am supposed to be set up to use the PreCheck lane every time.

The downside?  The government has me in yet another identity database.  My KTN will be linked to my SSN, as well as to my fingerprints and other personal identification data. Big Brother seems closer than ever before!

Next step after the KTN?  I will need to get a new Arizona drivers license that is Real ID compliant before January if I want to continue flying. Yet another Federal tentacle into my life! 

1775: The American Revolution Begins

Shot heard around the world

Two hundred forty years ago today, the “shot heard around the world” signaled the start of the American Revolutionary War. As described on History.com

At about 5 a.m., 700 British troops, on a mission to capture Patriot leaders and seize a Patriot arsenal, march into Lexington to find 77 armed minutemen under Captain John Parker waiting for them on the town’s common green. British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead or dying and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured, but the American Revolution had begun.

The next few years would be difficult and trying, but eventually, the brave colonists would prevail. I shall ever be grateful for those who redeemed this great nation by shedding their precious blood in our behalf. (Doctrine & Covenants 101:80)

Welcome Home Apollo 13

Apollo13

Forty five years ago today, the embattled crew of Apollo 13 safely returned home. Against great odds, aided by terrific ingenuity from crews on the ground and undoubtedly by divine providence, the Apollo 13 crew survived an oxygen tank explosion and resultant failure of other systems through improvisation, steely dedication and pure grit.  

I was just finishing my junior year of high school when this occurred. Apollo 13 has been an inspiration to me ever since.

Photo: Astronauts James Lovell, John Swigert and Fred Haise are shown soon after their rescue still unshaven and wearing space overalls. 

Honoring Jackie Robinson in Space

NASA astronaut Terry Virts, wearing a replica Jackie Robinson jersey in the cupola of the orbiting International Space Station, is celebrating Jackie Robinson Day, April 15, with a weightless baseball.

SpaceBall2

April 15th (Baseball’s opening day in 1947) has now come to commemorate Jackie Robinson’s memorable career and his place in history as the first black major league baseball player in the modern era. He made history with the Brooklyn Dodgers (now the Los Angeles Dodgers) and was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Congratulations, Jackie, for your courage!  Thank you, Terry, for a memorable celebration!

On this day in 1865: President Lincoln Dies

AbrahamLincoln

On April 15, 1865, “at 7:22 a.m., Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, dies from a bullet wound inflicted the night before by John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer. The president’s death came only six days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox, effectively ending the American Civil War.”

Source: History.com

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Source: BrainyQuote

Happy Birthday Thomas Jefferson!

Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was born on this day, April 13th, in 1743, in Shadwell, VA.  He died on Independence Day, July 4, 1826, the same day as John Adams. The two men, at times fellow Patriots, bitter enemies and respectful friends, were the last surviving “founding fathers” who stood up to the British crown and established the United States of America.

A few Thomas Jefferson quotes which I recommend to you, beginning with the famous phrase he penned in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.

Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.

But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.

Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.

Enjoy more Thomas Jefferson quotes at BrainyQuote.com.

May we all heed Thomas Jefferson’s advice and walk very far, dreaming of the future, basking in the warm sunshine of freedom to which he dedicated his life!