Friday, May 27, 2011

Book 2: Themed Drink

According to Water for Elephants, elephants love gin! Who knew? And I love gin too. Kt and I both enjoy gin and tonics (and her in-laws are also huge fans of that cocktail).

But the rest of the girls in the book club are not gin and tonics drinkers. I wonder if we try the cocktail the elephant Rosie loves, would we all like it too? Gin and Ginger Ale.

Here are some gin cocktail recipes we might have to try:

Gin Buck
  • 1.5 oz. Gin
  • 5 oz. Ginger Ale
  • .5 oz. Lemon or Lime Juice
Gin Gimlet
  • 2 oz. Gin
  • .5 oz. Lime Juice
  • .5 oz. Simple Syrup
  • Lime Wedge
Bee Knees
  • 2 oz. Gin
  • .75 oz. Honey
  • .5 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
Salty Dog
  • 5 oz. Grapefruit juice
  • 1.5 oz. Gin
  • .25 tsp. Salt
  • 1 oz. Gin
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • Twist Lemon Zest
I think in terms of drinking with the theme of the book, anything with ginger and lemon work nicely with the storyline.

I'm am going to have to test taste a Gin and Ginger Ale and a Gin Buck soon. Unfortunately, I do not normally keep Ginger Ale in the house.

A review of a Gin Buck says it's the perfect summer drink - cool, citrusy, tart, a bit of spice. It's fizzier than a gin gimlet, and sweeter that a straight gin and tonic. Mmm. Sounds good to me!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Elephant Extravaganza

Once upon a time, we were all young and loved the circus and the zoo. Where did that go? I don't think it went anywhere, and that's why we all are enjoying Water for Elephants.

Last August, I went to the Erie Zoo for the first time in more than 10 years. My, how it changed! It has alligators, penguins, rhinos, orangutans, and more. They still have Samantha, the gorilla. But they no longer have the elephant.

Martika was moved from the Erie Zoo in 1997. Apparently, not only was the space she was kept too small, but also being the soul elephant can make the animal go crazy as it ages. She now resides at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and was just moved into it's new African Elephant Crossing exhibit in early May.

Marika was born in 1985 in Zimbabwe. She weighs 8,620 pounds. According to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Martika is the most playful of the herd. She enjoys splashing water around and making bubbly noises with her trunk when her keepers give her a bath, and she's known to tuck hay and other treats between her trunk and tusks to save for later.

The new African Elephant Crossing marks Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's largest ever investment in preserving the future of elephants. This world-class elephant habitat and conservation center quadruples the amount of indoor and outdoor space dedicated to these majestic animals and provides them with stimulating surroundings similar to their native savanna.

Spread over five acres of lightly wooded grasslands, African Elephant Crossing features two large yards for roaming, ponds for swimming, expanded sleeping quarters, and a heated outdoor range. The naturalistic habitat is capable of housing up to 10 elephants at a time, including at least one bull and eventually calves. African Elephant Crossing also will house meerkats, naked mole rats, African rock pythons and a spectacular collection of colorful birds.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jamaica Ginger

Since Water for Elephants is set in 1931 (and the present day), there are mini history lessons wrapped up into the story. It is set in the depression and during prohibition. And because of both of those things, I wanted to look up one of the "drinks" to poor circus workers imbibe.

Jamaica Ginger Extract (known in the United States by the slang name Jake) was a late 19th century patent medicine that provided a convenient way to bypass Prohibition laws, since it contained between 70-80% ethanol by weight.

According to Wikipedia (oh yes, that's right, I'm citing a social crowdsourcing medium. My research professor would be so proud.):

"Jake" was not itself dangerous, but the U.S. Treasury Department, which administered the Prohibition laws, recognized its potential as an illicit alcohol source and required changes to discourage drinking. In an effort to trick regulators, bootleggers replaced the ginger solids with a small amount of ginger and either castor oil or molasses.

A pair of amateur chemists and bootleggers, Harry Gross and Max Reisman, worked to develop an alternative adulterant that would pass the tests, but still be somewhat palatable. They settled on a plasticizer, tri-o-tolyl phosphate (also known as tri-ortho cresyl phosphate, TOCP, or Tricresyl phosphate), that was able to pass the Treasury Department's tests but preserved Jake's drinkability.

TOCP was originally thought to be non-toxic; however, it was later determined to be a neurotoxin that causes axonal damage to the nerve cells in the nervous system of human beings, especially those located in the spinal cord.

In 1930, large numbers of Jake users began to lose the use of their hands and feet. Some victims could walk, but they had no control over the muscles which would normally have enabled them to point their toes upward. Therefore, they would raise their feet high with the toes flopping downward, which would touch the pavement first followed by their heels. This very peculiar gait became known as the jake walk and those afflicted were said to have jake leg, jake foot, or jake paralysis.

Within a few months, the TOCP-adulterated Jake was identified as the cause of the paralysis and the contaminated Jake was recovered, but it was too late for many victims. Some users recovered full or partial use of their limbs, but for most, the loss was permanent. The total number of victims was never accurately determined, but is frequently quoted as between 30,000 and 50,000. Many victims were immigrants to the United States and most were poor with little political or social influence.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What's a Bull Hook?

One of the things I wondered while reading Water for Elephants was "what's a bull hook?" In the story the equestrian (and elephant) trainer uses a bull hook to control/direct/instruct/punish the elephant. 

I've never heard of a bull hook and couldn't picture what it looked like. So hear's a picture: 

The trainer sticks the hook in the leg, neck, head, etc. Since the book is set in 1931, a lot of inhumane treatment happens to both the animals and the people. Some of it is just out of ignorance because back then people just didn't know better. But apparently, the bull hook is still used:


Monday, May 23, 2011

Save the Elephants!

Anyone who knows me, knows I am passionate about environmental issues. In fact, that is a main focus of my blog: ...and then i found $5.

But I thought this environmental petition was appropriate to post to this blog to go along (sort of) with the theme of Book 2: Water for Elephants.

Twenty years ago, illegal poaching to support the commercial ivory trade nearly wiped out elephant populations. In 1989 after international public outcry, elephants were given the highest level of protection, and the international trade of ivory was banned. But the battle isn't over. Over the past 12 years, a number of political decisions have led to a partial lifting of the ban, which has led to an increase in illegal poaching, especially in West and Central Africa, putting these majestic animals in danger once again.

To defend and save elephants, the legal ivory trade must be banned. If ivory had no commercial value, there wouldn't be a reason for these gentle giants to die. Tell the U.S. government to help protect elephants by opposing the international ivory trade.

Join The Animal Rescue's campaign today and you can help free elephants from the threat of ivory poaching. Please sign the petition that urges the U.S. government to protect the world's remaining elephants by opposing any further international trade in ivory.

Thanks for your help to free elephants from the threat of ivory poaching!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Book 1: Discussion

Also, Stace (missing from photo above because she is the photog) did a summary of our book club meeting/discussion/excuse to hang out on her blog: SuperYay. So check it out when you have a chance.

(I guess we should have summarized the meeting over here on this blog, but you know... we are All Booked Up!)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book 2: Water for Elephants

Our book club's plan was to follow along with the Millennium trilogy (and we still plan to), but we felt The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a bit dark and disturbing.

So for a light-hearted, summer read, we chose to put the other two books on the back burner and read our fourth reading selection - Water for Elephants. We thought it would be good to time reading the book with the movie release (because the previews to the movie look great!). And I always prefer to read the book before watching the movie.

I am about a third of the way through the book and it is an easy read with vivid descriptions. I'm sure, if I tried, I could have it read over one week or over two weekends.

The last book, I finished the month we all decided to meet, but unfortunately, only two of us actually finished to meet that first deadline. So we pushed back the date, and gave each other another two months to finish.

When we finally met, I needed some reminding (even though I took notes) as to what happened. I swore I was going to wait longer to start the next book, so it would be fresh in my mind. But I didn't want to wait as the movie trailers kept playing on TV. I have no self-control (I ate two bowls of ice cream yesterday - shh, don't tell Nikkie.)

I am, however, confident in our group this time around (and also, since the book is a quick read), that we will actually hit our selected meeting date.

I'm excited. This book lends itself well to adding fun activities to do with your book club. All of which, I want to do: Go to the circus, Watch the movie, Visit a zoo, Eat fair foods (cracker jacks, candied apples, fresh squeezed lemonade, roasted peanuts, etc.).

I haven't been to a circus in years! This book makes me want to. Also, the author did great researching behind-the-scenes, depression-era circus history. And as Sara Gruen is a woman, I am also intrigued she is writing from the perspective of an old man.

Around 100 pages in to Water for Elephants: Recommended.