Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Black Bart On Wednesday...!

Sometimes the back story on certain criminals can be fairly interesting. Such is the case of Black Bart.

This man had a name that is still known today. Much has been written about him over the years, but this piece deals more with his actual beginning as a bad guy.

Charles Earl Boles (Black Bart)


Shortly after the Civil War, Charles Boles, a former First Sergeant in the Union Army, was happily scraping away a living as a gold miner when he was forced off his land by Wells Fargo. According to one account, Wells Fargo offered to buy Boles’s property, and when he refused, they cut off the water supply to his land—effectively shutting down his mine.

Boles was infuriated and cryptically wrote a letter to his wife saying he was going to take revenge against the bank. While he never explained the specifics of his vengeance, we can assume this is when his alter ego, Black Bart, was born.

From then, Black Bart had it out for the bank and subsequently robbed their stagecoaches 28 times. Still, he kept things civil, never physically harmed anyone, and stole strictly from Wells Fargo and never from passengers. The bank even described him as being non-vicious and “polite to all passengers, especially to ladies.”

Amazingly, he traveled on foot to and from robberies and carried a shotgun so old that it couldn’t shoot (he didn’t even bother loading it). Although he always worked alone, he would often prop up sticks on nearby boulders to make it look like he had a posse of men standing by.
Occasionally, he was thoughtful enough to leave poems behind—Wells Fargo was not amused. His last poem read:
Here I lay me down to sleep
To await the coming morrow
Perhaps success, perhaps defeat
And everlasting sorrow
Let come what will, I’ll try it on
My condition can’t be worse
And if there’s money in that box
‘Tis munny in my purse. 

Black Bart’s unique style and sophistication made him a hero in California (except to Wells Fargo), and it took over a decade before he was finally tracked down by Pinkerton Detectives. He went to San Quentin Prison for four years and was released early, in 1888, for good behavior. He disappeared shortly after and was never seen again.

Ya know, it sounds to me that ol' Black Bart knew when to call it quits. Probably a good thing, if you ask me!

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

All About Murphy's Law...!

Many of us have known for years that "Murphy' Law" was a real thing, not just a myth!

This article I found over at KnowledgeNuts seems to prove us right! Nice to know it wasn't just our imagination, right?

The Origin Of Murphy’s Law And Why It’s Real
By Debra Kelly on Monday, August 18, 2014

If anything can go wrong, it will. This pessimistic phrase has been around for a long time, but it was only called Murphy’s law when US Air Force colonel John Stapp applied the label after a technician working on his experiments with G forces showed up with some key components that were completely defective. Until Stapp applied the unlucky man’s name to the rule, it was earlier known as Sod’s Law. And researchers have found out that it’s a real thing—so next time it feels like the world is out to get you, it really might be.

If it can go wrong, it will go wrong. We’ve all had days like that, where it seems the only thing to do is go back to bed and start again the next day (which might actually work, but more on that in a minute).

What we now know as Murphy’s Law has been around probably as long as bad luck has been. It only started to be called that when a hapless Captain Edward A. Murphy was working on some experiments with US Air Force pilot John Stapp. Stapp was trying to determine how G forces impacted the human body, and Murphy designed the gauges that would be used to measure the impact that Stapp’s body endured. When it came time to install the gauges, they weren’t working. Hours later, it was discovered that the gauges he’d brought had been manufactured incorrectly from the beginning. Stapp still blamed him, as it meant he hadn’t been bothered to make sure they were functional before bringing them out. After they got them fixed, they went on to be used throughout the tests; Murphy, however, placed the blame on his assistant, and after he fixed the problem, he left the testing grounds never to return.

There are a couple slightly different versions of the same story, but that one was recounted by George Nichols, who worked on the G force project with Stapp. (During that time, Stapp also coined another law, called Stapp’s Ironical Paradox. It stated, “The universal aptitude for ineptitude makes any human accomplishment an incredible miracle.”)

Before the term “Murphy’s Law” was coined, the same rule was more commonly known as Sod’s Law—in some places, it’s still called that. And far from being a myth, British researchers have worked out the mathematics behind it that make it a very real thing.

It all has to do with aggravation.

The additional part of Murphy’s Law is that not only will things go wrong if they can, but that they’ll go wrong at the worst possible moment.

Scientists commissioned by British Gas took that idea and several other values into consideration, those that they knew would have the most impact on external events. That includes urgency, importance of the task at hand, complexity of the task, your skill at it, and how often you’ve done it before.

With the help of 1,000 participants, researchers were able to compile data into a graph form that showed that the more important a task is, the more likely Murphy’s Law is to hit. That’s usually because you’re more anxious about getting it right, and when there’s even one little hiccup, that anxiety rises. In turn, that makes you more likely to make other little mistakes, sometimes without realizing it, that will lead to even more mistakes and a more disastrous outcome. The more aggravated you are, the study said, the more statistically likely you are to screw up.

Another study done by Cardiff University supports the theory. In this study, factors that went into determining how likely things were to go horribly, horribly wrong included the extent of planning that was put into the task, the threat of the consequences of it not working, as well as a person’s optimism that everything will be fine, and the levels of background stress. Like the British Gas study, this one found that the more important the task, the more background stress and the less optimism went along with it—so it was more likely to go bad.

So, go home and go back to bed. Science says so.

Well, that certainly makes me feel better. After all, I always try to be a law abiding person, even if that law is Murphy's! Know what I mean?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. That's the Hermit's law!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Old Person Monday Mystery...!

This is the kind of mystery that saddens me the most. Losing a loved one, but not knowing their fate.

I can only imagine what a terrible time the wife went through, never knowing for sure what happened.

Leo Widicker

Even though he was 86 years old, Leo Widicker still lived a very active life. Leo had been married to his wife, Virginia, for 55 years, and they both belonged to a Christian organization called Maranatha Volunteers International. By 2001, the Widickers had worked with Maranatha on 40 humanitarian trips.

For their 41st trip, the couple left their home in Bowdon, North Dakota to accompany the organization to Tabacon Hot Springs, Costa Rica. On November 8, Leo rested on a bench while his wife went off to wade in the hot springs. When Virginia returned about half an hour later, her husband was gone.

It’s theorized that Leo may have fallen asleep on the bench and become disoriented after waking up. Before he disappeared, Leo had been seen asking people if they knew where his wife was. He walked to the resort gate and asked the guards if it was okay to leave, so they opened the gate and watched him walk off down the main road.

Only 15 minutes later, one of Leo’s friends drove that same stretch of road for 10 straight miles but did not see any sign of him. Since Leo did not move very fast, and there were very few places he could have gone, the only logical explanation was that someone might have picked him up. However, an extensive search of the area turned up no trace of Leo Widicker, and he has never been found.

So, what do you think really happened to the old man? Did he wander off? Was he picked up? These are the kinds of mysteries that can drive a family crazy, I think!

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cartoons For Sunday Again...!

Guess we all need a taste of 'toons every once and a while. Sure can't hurt!

Amazing how long some of these things have been around!

Hey, I guess it made sense at the time. What do I know?

Well, that's enough for today. Time to do something positive, like reading a book!

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

You Go, Idaho...!

Sometimes the leader of a state says something that just rings true to a lot of folks. I think this is one of those times!

See what I mean? Certainly makes sense to me!

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Some More Freaky Friday Stuff...!

Some of the more freaky things around the world have been around for a long time, but never benn figured out.

I don't think we will ever have a lack of strange things to study if this keeps up.

Vitrified Forts

In 1777, a man named John Williams, who was one of the earliest British geologists, described the phenomenon of vitrified forts. Vitrified forts are the name given to a type of crude stone enclosure or wall that shows signs of being subjected to intense heat. The structures have baffled geologists for centuries because people can’t figure out how the rocks were fused together. There is currently no accepted method for the vitrification of large scale objects. “The temperatures required to vitrify the entire fort structures are equal to those found in an atomic bomb detonation.” Hundreds of vitrified fort structures have been found across Europe and 80 such examples exist in Scotland. Some of the most remarkable include Dun Mac Sniachan, Benderloch, Ord Hill, Dun Creich, Castle Point, and Barra Hill.

The forts range in age from the Neolithic to Roman period. The structures are extremely broad and present the appearance of large embankments. The process used to develop the walls is thought to have involved extreme heat and many structures show signs of fire damage. However, vitrification is usually achieved by rapidly cooling a substance. It occurs when bonding between elementary particles becomes higher than a certain threshold. Thermal fluctuations break the bonds, therefore, the lower the temperature, the higher the degree of connectivity. The process of vitrification made headlines in 2012 when scientists used it to preserve organs and tissues at very low temperatures.

Many historians have argued that vitrified forts were subjected to carefully maintained fires to ensure they were hot enough to turn the rock to glass. In order to do this, the temperatures would have been maintained between 1050 and 1235°C, which would have been extremely difficult to do. It is also uncertain why people would have exposed the structures to such intense heat because when rock is superheated, the solid becomes significantly weaker and brittle. Some scientists have theorized that the vitrified forts were created by massive plasma events (solar flares). A plasma event occurs when ionized gas in the atmosphere takes the form of gigantic electrical outbursts, which can melt and vitrify rocks. During solar storms, the Sun is known to occasionally throw off massive spurts of plasma. As of 2012, vitrified forts remain one of the strangest anomalies on Earth.

Now, I don't know about you, but I am having a small problem accepting these things as all man made. Unfortunately I don't have any suitable explanation to offer up. Guess it will always be just another unknown freaky thing.

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Another Tough Old Guy...!

 This fella probably puts a lot of us to shame! No lack of fire in the belly of this character, that's for sure!

Samuel Whittemore


Samuel Whittemore was born in England on July 27, 1695 and went on to become a captain for His Majesty’s Dragoons. He saw action against the French in 1745 during the capture of Fort Louisbourg, again in 1758, and as part of the colonial armies during the Indian Wars. After a lifetime of war, the Englishman decided to retire in the colonies, purchasing a farm in what is now Arlington, Massachusetts. He learned to love this new land he called home and the ideals for which it stood.

On April 19, 1775, British forces were regrouping in Boston after the Battles of Lexington and Concord when they were met by a ragtag group of 50 militiamen. Whittemore might have heard the ruckus of the battle, or perhaps the news spread among the townsfolk, but however he was alerted, the 80-year-old farmer sprang into action. He loaded his musket, armed his dueling pistols, and strapped his French saber around his waist before telling his astounded family that he was “going to fight the British regulars” and advising them to remain indoors until it was safe.

Whittemore opened his door to an unbelievable sight: Redcoats marching along the street while minutemen provided inaccurate fire from a distance. He saw his chance when the British were close. He aimed his musket, killing a British soldier. He then drew his dueling pistols and fired at two more soldiers, killing one and mortally wounding another. With no time to reload and the British upon him, he brandished his French saber, slashing at anyone who dared come near.

The British did dare, and much more—one shot him point-blank in the face, while others bayoneted him. They then clubbed the poor farmer in the head and left him for dead. The townsfolk and Whittemore’s family feared the worst, but upon closer inspection, they found him alive and trying to reload his musket despite 13 bayonet wounds, a bloody head, and a torn face. Whittemore was rushed for treatment, and death would have to wait nearly 20 more years to claim him.

News of Whittemore’s courageous stand inspired many, though it took centuries for him to receive his greatest honor. In 2005, Whittemore was declared the State Hero of Massachusetts. Every year on February 3, the anniversary of his death, the state celebrates his legacy.

I'm telling ya, these old boys sure had some nerve and thanks to the folks over at Listverse, I can share their stories with you.

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?