Honor Student Brendon D. Froemke

A man named Froemke, a young man I presume, is a student at Linn-Benton Community College, which is located in Albany, Oregon. He is named on the LBCC Fall Term Honor Roll for 2010.

I don’t know Brendon D. Froemke, but, as I have lived in nearby Salem for most of my life, his last name and how he and his family came to be in Oregon intrigue me. I am assuming he is part of the Froemke clan from North Dakota. He is listed as living in Lebanon.



The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

I had forgotten about the 2004 earthquake near the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, which triggered a deadly tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people on the day after Christmas (what’s called Boxing Day in some countries). It was a magnitude ranging from 9.1 and 9.3. (Apparently some really nerdy scientists are still debating this.)

[I]t is the third largest earthquake ever recorded on aseismograph. This earthquake had the longest duration of faulting ever observed, between 8.3 and 10 minutes. It caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 cm (0.4 inches) and triggered other earthquakes as far away as Alaska.

I do recall that videos of it were incredible. The earthquake was the fifth deadliest ever recorded. The displaced ocean water traversed the Indian Ocean, hitting places in Indonesia (mainly in Aceh), Sri LankaIndia (mostly in Tamil Nadu), ThailandMaldives, and Somalia.


Sorenson’s Beginnings

Molecular genealogy, also referred to as genetic genealogy, is the application of DNA to traditional genealogical research.

They are essential human questions: Who are you and where do you come from? Utah geneticist Scott Woodward’s journey to find out started a decade ago when he got an unexpected call in the middle of the night from philanthropist billionaire James Sorenson, who asked him if it was possible to map out the DNA of Norway.

That call triggered a breathtaking effort to collect two things: DNA samples from people around the world — gathered by a simple mouth rinse — and family pedigrees.

Today, although James Sorenson has passed on, his name and idea live on as the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation.

Reporter John Daley of KSL TV, Utah’s first commercial television station, submitted a sample of his own DNA this year and had it tested, revealing connections his family never knew, on both his father’s and mother’s side. (As part of the Deseret Media Companies, KSL is part of the great Mormon corporate empire.)

The genetic-genealogy link uncovered previously unknown relatives, a connection to the Basque country of northern Spain, branches of the tree entirely new to the family, and a head-scratching mystery.

“We see people over and over again being surprised about where they came from,” Woodward said. “Everybody in the world is connected.”


‘The Gazebo’

While reading about production of the film The Gazebo, I started reading about director George Marshall which then led me to Dean Martin, who I discovered died on Christmas Day in 1995. The family just watched The Gazebo, starring Superman’s dad, Glenn Ford; Princess Leia‘s mom, Debbie Reynolds; and funnyman Carl Reiner. Martin Landau also has a small part. It’s on an old VHS tape, recorded years ago, complete with commercials featuring Dick Van Dyke and the voice of Burgess Meredith. And the old TBS Superstation logo pops up every once in awhile.


Is There Really a Santa Claus?

Here’s a great Christmas story from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

In 1897, 8-year-old Virginia of Manhattan, bothered by friends who kept telling her there was no such thing as Santa, wrote a letter to The New York Sun. “Papa says ‘If you see it in The Sun it’s so.‘ Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?” she wrote . . . .

The response was an unsigned editorial published on September 21, 1897, written by a former Civil War correspondent who never had any children of his own. It “was both an exploration and an affirmation of the nature of faith and belief.”

How dreary it would be “if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. . . . Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see,” he wrote.

For generations since, [Virginia’s] descendants have quietly become ambassadors of the Christmas spirit, crossing the country to appear at events honoring her, and reading the letter and the response to children in schools and to their own children at home. . . .


Tuba Christmas

About an hour ago I finished watching a Tuba Christmas concert on public access television (CCTV) with my parents. (I am at their house in West Salem for Christmas.) I’d never heard of this, but there are events across the country. The emcee was actually good, funny, and quite entertaining.

The actual concert was on Christmas Eve at noon in the very old Salem Armory Auditorium, where it seems I have attended events for years, from high school dances to comedians and even funerals.

It was sponsored locally by the Salem Concert Band. The conductor was Dr. John K. Richards. He is quite elderly and I, along with my parents, were concerned about him. At times he appeared a bit frail, but when the time for music came, he seem to muster some energy.

Assistant conductor was C. Glenn Tadina, who also coordinated the event. The concert seems like a heck of a lotta work. Kudos to the everyone, musicians, audience, and anyone else involved.


Elvis, Jessica Fletcher & ‘Blue Hawaii’

Tonight my mom mentioned how one of her friends dragged her to see the film Blue Hawaii starring Elvis Presley at a theater in the Watertown, South Dakota. They went four times. This was 1961.

Apparently, from her tone of voice, my mother didn’t think much of it, and certainly did not want to see it four times, but crushes on Elvis were, of course, a cultural phenom at the time. (I have a relative who thinks he’s still alive.)

I’ve never seen the movie. It’s a musical (more what I call a way to push record sales of an album with the same name) and was actually filmed in Hawaii.

I doubt I’ll ever see this movie, although Angela Lansbury (Jessica Fletcher) plays Elvis’ mother! A man who played Charlie Chan in six films of the expansive franchise, Roland Winters, was cast as Elvis’ father. Lansbury has described her performance as one of the worst of her career, which may be just enough for me to labor through it.


Some Christmas Eve History

A lot has happened on Christmas Eve throughout history. Here are some highlights.

The End of the War of 1812

Bob Hope’s Last Show in Vietnam (Some of it is on YouTube.)

The French Resistance Assassinates an Admiral Collaborating with the Nazis

There’s a Devastating Fire at the Library of Congress
A Large Chunk of Thomas Jefferson’s Personal Library Goes Up in Flames
(It wasn’t me.)

The ‘Glam Metal‘ Group Poison Has a Hit Song, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn
(One I actually remember.)