Posted August 29, 2017
The pro tennis U.S. Open getting under way this week in Queens, N.Y., is more than a sporting event. It’s a living museum, too. The hollowly thwack of racket hitting ball, echoing in the hard-court canyon of Arthur Ashe Stadium, conjures memories of past greats like Ashe and Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Roger Federer and many others. All authored key chapters to their legends at the open, many doing so under the lights at Flushing Meadow, where summer often gives way to fall during the tournament’s fortnight.
The U.S. Open is lightning-fast asphalt courts, power tennis and epic, late-night matches that stretch to five sets. It’s also energy – energy that makes tennis today a much improved game and spectator event compared to the tennis when Richard Sears won the first open in 1881, no doubt looking something like the image here.
Better rackets, better shoes, better playing surfaces and conditions – better tennis wear (sorry, Richard) – all assisted by contributions from natural gas and oil. America’s energy abundance supports virtually every aspect of modern living – work, home life, health and recreation – including tennis.
The Arthur Ashe Stadium, the open’s home the past 20 years, illustrates. The stadium’s retractable roof lets matches continue even in inclement weather. When it’s raining outside, more than 22,000 who fill the stadium can thank natural gas for keeping them and the tennis dry.
Posted August 24, 2017
With food kings Heinz, Utz, Herr’s, Kunzler and brewer Yeungling all headquartered in Pennsylvania, you’d think the summer cookout was invented in the Keystone State. With that group you’ve got your dogs, chips, pretzels, ketchup and beer – and more. All that’s left is to fire up the grill.
Energy handles the grilling part: propane from a tank or maybe a natural gas feed. Yet, products made from or with oil and natural gas contribute greatly to the feast in other, under-appreciated ways. Which is energy’s role: making modern life fresher, tastier, more convenient and more enjoyable – often without us noticing it very much. Let’s talk about how energy facilitates a great American summer tradition.
Pennsylvania is the perfect setting for cooking outdoors. Tourists flock there to take in the state’s rich history. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia offer a long list of things to see and do, as do the places in between. Catch a Pirates game at PNC Park, or if you’re in Philly, grab a cheesesteak downtown or a drink with some friends at Spruce Street Harbor. But it’s hard to beat a cookout in August.
Posted August 22, 2017
Posted August 17, 2017
The list of names of American Automobiles Past is as long as your arm – the inaugural era of U.S. auto manufacturing was a burst of entrepreneurship that included more than 1,800 carmakers, almost all of them defunct today. Brands like Hudson (1909-1954), Packard (1899-1956), Pierce Arrow (1901-1938) and others are the car ghosts of the past – though not completely gone and hardly forgotten.
These iconic brands and many more that helped define the golden age of car travel will be the stars this weekend in one of the country’s biggest classic car shows, the Woodward Dream Cruise, scheduled to roll down Woodward Avenue from suburban Pontiac, Mich., to downtown Detroit. Some 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars are expected. Energy will be there as well – in the fuel, lubrication and rubber need to keep the wheels turning.
Posted August 15, 2017
The last lines of Frank X. Gaspar’s poem, “Quahogs,” which appeared in New Yorker magazine last year, suggest a savory meal. Imagine a deep, stainless steel kettle, contents bubbling lazily on the stove in the kitchen – natural gas, preferably. In the next room friends seat themselves around a table as the sound of waves tumbling onto the beach pours through doors that open to the Atlantic Ocean.
Wait – What the heck’s a “quahog?”
In Rhode Island places like Quonochontaug, Weekapaug and Narragansett, it’s pronounced “co-hogs,” and they’re clams – the stars in a New England staple: clam chowder. Indeed, ask a Rhode Islander what their state is known for, and there’s a good chance they’ll say “quahogs” (or “coffee milk”). Clamming – the actual foraging for clams in the sand just as the waves retreat from the beach – and eating them is a pastime for both locals and summer visitors. Energy makes it better – both the clamming and the eating.
Rhode Island’s clam chowder simply is a must for travelers to the nation’s smallest state. If you’re asked whether Rhode Island chowder is the red or the white, say neither. It’s a mixture of quahogs, potatoes, onions, butter, clam juice, water and spices – cooked over a natural gas stove indoors or an outdoor cooker at a clambake. It’s the quintessential summer dish in homes and restaurants across the state. For many in the Newport area, it’s the annual Great Chowder Cook-Off in early June that kicks off the season for this delicious treat.
Posted August 10, 2017
Don’t know about you, but if I’m anywhere near Des Moines the next couple of weeks, I’m headed to the Iowa State Fair – mainly, to gawk at the famed Butter Cow. Just have to. Imagine 600 pounds of low-moisture, pure-cream Iowa butter, slathered on an internal frame and sculpted, with precision, into a life-size, yellowy cow.
Six hundred pounds is lot of pats of butter – enough for 19,200 slices of toast, which, according to the fair’s website, would take a person two lifetimes to consume. (There are probably a couple of guys down at the pie-eating contest who might try to prove that false.) The Iowa State Fair has an official butter sculptor, Sarah Pratt, who has been at it the past nine years. The Butter Cow might not be Michelangelo, but in Iowa, it’ll do just fine – a big part of the sights and sounds of America’s quintessential state fair, right?
Sounds like a “yes.”
We mention the Butter Cow and all of the other attractions and activities at the fair to make the point that this piece of Americana and others like it are big energy events. The fair’s foods, displays, contests, rides and more – all use energy to bring off an event that continues to thrive long after it got the star treatment in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1945 film musical, “State Fair.” The Iowa State Fair is the largest annual event in the state, drawing about 1 million visitors.
Posted August 8, 2017
If you’re a fan of competitive cycling – on display this week at the first-ever Colorado Classic cycling race – it’s hard to miss the point we’ve been making all summer, that natural gas and oil not only make lots of entertainment and activities possible, they make them better – and our lives along with them. Energy fuels, yes. At the same time, natural gas and oil and the chemicals and products derived from them are interwoven in modern life: making things lighter, yet stronger; durable, yet more comfortable. And more. Cycling illustrates – whether it’s a big-time event like the Colorado Classic or a summer family ride in the park.
In Colorado, there are plenty of outdoor activities that get the blood pumping. In winter, there’s skiing and snowboarding at any number of resorts in the Rockies. In the summer, with the sun warming the peaks and the valleys, many love to hit the road on bicycles. From the bicycle’s tires and frame to the bicyclist’s helmet, oil and natural gas make the ride smooth, comfortable and as safe as possible.
Posted August 3, 2017
It’s a trip of a lifetime – Yellowstone. It certainly was for our family years ago, when the kids were still kids. Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake, buffalo roaming. We didn’t see any bears, but the elk walked around our cabin cluster like they owned the place (which, in a way, they do).
With about 96 percent of Yellowstone National Park located in Wyoming (Montana and Idaho have slivers of it), the nation’s first national park and the state share an identity. Yellowstone is home for bison and a number of other animals; the Wyoming state flag has a great big bison on it. The park, the West, the Rockies, open spaces – all beckon Americans from every corner of the country. Energy takes them there and helps create memories that last forever.
Posted August 1, 2017
Mount Washington is New England’s highest peak, rising to 6,289 feet in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest, about three hours north of the state capital at Concord. The summit offers breathtaking views in all directions – on a clear day you can see the Atlantic Ocean from up there. Yet, getting there is at least as exhilarating as arriving. That’s where energy comes in.
If you’re eager, experienced and fit, you can hike all the way up in four hours or so. Some of the gear that hikers need is made with or from petroleum, which we touched on in the West Virginia chapter of this series. For a climb like Mount Washington, you need stuff that’s lightweight yet durable and water resistant. You also can drive up or be driven to the summit. Again, energy.
There’s also the Mount Washington Cog Railway.
Posted July 27, 2017
With energy, colors are brighter, they last longer and they’re easier to use. Energy also helps artists create, fueling critical key processes lots of artists use. This includes a number of them who’ll be part of the “Art in the Pearl” event, a Labor Day Weekend fine arts and crafts festival staged each year in the streets of Portland’s Pearl District.