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Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Battle of Glorieta Pass in 1862 fought in the New Mexico Territory outside of Santa Fe in
and around the Pigeon Ranch

UNSUNG BATTLE--Very few outside of historical academia, who focus on the American Civil War and battlefield buffs can recall the significance of the Battle of Glorieta Pass.

The outcome of the three days battle in the New Mexico Territory (March 26-28, 1862) was pivotal in keeping the entire West under federal control.

In keeping the South from invading the West, the Battle of Glorieta Pass (near Santa Fe, New Mexico) has been called the Gettysburg of the West.

Ironically, the South won the Battle of Glorieta Pass but lost the war.  Technically, Confederates forced the Union troops to retreat off the field of battle. But, because Union field officers (pre-battle) had decided to split their attack in two, one of the federal columns came across the 60 wagons containing rebel supplies.

Union troops easily overwhelmed the few guards that guarded the rebel supply wagon train, and as a result, the South had to retreat from Santa Fe to San Antonio, Texas.

The South never attempted another invasion to capture the West.  Just as one year later (1863) the South never attempted to invade the North after losing the Battle of Gettysburg.

The reason for the invasion was to capture the gold mines in Colorado and California to help fund the war effort.

If the opportunistic Union leadership had not destroyed the supply train, the rugged Confederates just might have had enough momentum to drive Union soldiers out of New Mexico and Colorado.  Then they would use Colorado as a base to invade California and capture the gold mines and seaports along the Pacific.

OUTMANOEVERED--Union commander Col. John Slough was in charge of federal troops at the Battle of Glorieta Pass.  Under his command Major John Chivington led one of the two attack prongs that skirted the main battle area. By doing so, the Union Major came over the canyon wall and arrived undetected to the site of the 60-wagon rebel supply depot and destroyed it.  Losing all supplies at Johnson’s Ranch, the South was forced to retreat back to Texas.   Ironically, the Rebs beat off the first prong of the federal attack.  They thought they had one the battle until the returned to the burned out supply depot.

Wikipedia has a detailed profile on the Battle of Gorieta Pass:

Other battle descriptions can be found at:

Monday, March 30, 2015


PENCILMANIA--Imagine learning that after living for decades “put some lead in your pencil” that there is no lead in real pencils.  Whom do we need to sack in the cliché development bureau?

After very little research, we discovered the "lead" pencil (which contains no lead) was invented in 1564 when a huge graphite (black carbon) mine was discovered in Borrowdale, Cumbria, England. The pure graphite was sawn into sheets and then cut into square rods. The graphite rods were inserted into hand-carved wooden holders, forming pencils.

But, on this day in 1858 pencils with attached eraser was patented by American Hyman L. Lipman of Philadelphia.

Welcome to the state of pencilmania:
--Today is Happy National Pencil Day celebrating Mr. Lipman.
--According to the Roanoke Times in Virginia, writer Robert Linsford pointed out “in Middle English the word, spelled pencel, meant “artist’s brush.” It was borrowed from Old French pincel or peincel, related to Modern French peinture “painting.” The French inherited the word from the Latin penicillus, for “little tail.”

Also: Do you know why pencils are yellow?

The emergence of Siberian graphite as the standard led manufacturers to associate pencils with the Orient by using names such as Mongol and Mikado and painting them yellow, a color associated with royalty and respect in China.

Pencils have their own blog:

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Thelka Reuten with Philip Glenister in Netflix's Brit Noir detective series, "Hidden."
HELLO, HARRY VENN--“Hidden” is one of those fast-paced UK private eye (four-part) series that gives viewers very little time to sit back and assess what the hell is going on.  But the non-stop action (and flashbacks) are part of the charm that actors Philip Glenister, David Suchet and Belgium’s Thelka Reuten skillfully portray as some of the shadiest characters in modern detective fiction (including the hero and heroine).

When life takes you into danger zones, time-outs aren’t part of the deal.

Actors David Suchet (left) and Philip Genister
give this crime series remarkable depth
In case you missed it amongst Netflix’s vast menu of thrillers, the aptly named “Hidden” (2011) is a contemporary conspiracy thriller centered on a small-time private investigator, who is forced to revisit his past thanks to an unexpected visit from the proverbial mystery woman (this time a blonde lawyer in knee high leather boots.) 

Discovering that a seemingly unrelated, unsolved pair of 20-year-old murders are dangerously linked to the death of his brother, solicitor Harry Venn quickly finds himself caught up in a much bigger and more complex conspiracy that reaches deep into the heart of the British political system.

If the four-part Harry Venn series leaves you wanting more Brit noir crime busting then you’ll love the character John Luther in another Brit noir series titled “Luther.”

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Wreck Alley Imperial Stout with Bird Rock Coffee Roasters Ethiopian coffee beans
RISE AND SHINE—Beer reporters are staying awake trying to keep up with the explosion in craft beer explorations.  Lots of press activity lately is keeping tabs on the free range pairing of craft beer with unexpected ingredients such as coffee.
            Pizza Port, a multi-venue craft beer brewery/food operation in Southern California won a gold medal at a World Beer Cup competition in 2012 for one of its coffee beers.  Since then Bacon & Eggs has been award gold in 2013 and 2014 competitions. Called Pizza Port Bacon & Eggs Breakfast Coffee Imperial Porter, this specialty release remains one of the most sought-after in the San Diego area.  Last check, Pizza Port’s coffee creation was on tap at its Ocean Beach location.  Pizza Port uses coffee roasted at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.
            A call-in reviewer on’s site last week called Bacon & Eggs by Pizza Port “Probably the best beer I had at Pizza Port Ocean Beach. Coffee and light roast and cocoa. Rich semi sweet beer with mild roast.”
            By no means is craft beer with coffee the sole realm of Pizza Port.   Other top San Diego brewers have been buzzing their beer for some time.   Wreck Alley Imperial Stout from Karl Strauss Brewing Company not only contains coffee roasted locally from Ethiopian beans but has surrounded it with a great story.  You gotta love the copy writer’s art:  “Beneath the tides off Mission Beach rests Wreck Alley, Beneath the tides off Mission Beach rests Wreck Alley – a dark and mysterious seascape of forgotten ships.
            “Amidst the rusted wreckage is a marine ecosystem, an artificial reef teeming with life. Our Wreck Alley is as dark as the depths of its namesake, an Imperial Stout of uncharted complexity. Brewed with darkly kilned malts, cocoa nibs, and Ethiopian coffee beans, Wreck Alley boasts rich layers of dark chocolate, toffee, and espresso-like roast. Save a bottle. This one has a stout shelf-life.” Ba-da-bing!
            And, Karl Strauss also buys brew beans from Bird Rock Coffee Roasters,
            Two major San Diego brewers tap local coffee roasters for the beans to add to brews.

Coronado Blue Bridge Coffee Stout – Using 10 pounds of Café Moto coffee for every 10 barrels of beer, this 5.4% ABV creation is now available year round in 22 oz bottles and on draft.
Caffé Calabria and Ballast Point have teamed to produce Ballast Point’s big Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter.
            Coffee with beer is popular with brewers from coast to coast with examples being Sierra Nevada’s Coffee Stout and upstate New York’s 2XPresso by Southern Tier Brewing Co.  The latter is a milk stout with added espresso and lemon peels for true Italian style zip.  The result is a very black stout that’s creamy and rich that would be right at home along Rome’s Via Venato.
            Coffee in your craft beer is part of the fun that brewers are stoutly going where no beer has gone before.

You'll find Pizza Port's breakfast in a bottle menu item top/center at Pizza Port's Ocean Beach venue

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters in Bird Rock between La Jolla and Pacific Beach
Thank you San Diego Magazine for image
Cafe Moto--Downtown San Diego