Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's All In Who You Know...!

While digging through the stories over at KnowledgeNuts, I found an interesting article you might like!

This is a case where knowing the right folks can help you to get things done...and quickly! Having connections like this could come in handy at times, I reckon!

The Mob Boss Who Helped A Senator Rescue A Fashion Designer
By Joshua T. Garcia on Monday, December 30, 2013

Nell Donnelly was a successful fashion designer based in Kansas City, Missouri, and the owner of a company that had amassed US$3.5 million by the 1930s. But success brought attention from the wrong crowd. On December 16, 1931, Nell and her chauffeur were kidnapped. A motley crew came to her rescue: Senator James A. Reed, mob boss Johnny Lazia and his gangsters, and a coerced shop owner all helped free Nell, sans ransom.

Nell Donnelly of Kansas City, Missouri was unique among American women in the early 1900s. While most women stayed at home, her husband Paul encouraged her to attend college and receive an education. She did so, and it opened the door to success. She graduated in 1909 from Lindenwood College; by 1919, she had created the extremely successful Donnelly Garment Company, which sold housedresses and aprons.

The Donnelly Garment Company was raking in the cash. By 1931, it had amassed $3.5 million in sales, and employed 1,000 workers. But success had its pitfalls; one night, Nell didn’t come home. She had been kidnapped by three men, on December 16, 1931, for a ransom of $75,000.

Enter family friend James A. Reed, a Democratic US Senator from Missouri. While Paul worked with Kansas City Police, Reed pulled strings outside the law: He enlisted the help of notorious crime boss Johnny Lazia to find and rescue Nell.

Lazia’s gangsters began searching for Nell. They managed to come across her abandoned car, inside which they found a rope covered with red paint. Remembering a gas station that had recently been painted, the mobsters found and threatened the owner (with loss of life) into telling them the customer to whom he sold the rope. The gas station owner directed the mobsters to the kidnappers’ headquarters, but by the time they arrived, only one man remained—the others had fled, fearing Lazia’s wrath. Lazia’s mobsters let the kidnapper go, and freed Nell and her chauffeur.

The catch? Nell was having an affair with Reed—which is why he was willing to associate with Lazia to rescue her. Just one year later, Nell divorced Paul and married Reed. By 1953, the Donnelly Garment Company was the largest dress manufacturer in the world, having expanded beyond aprons and housedresses. But in 1956, Nell left the company, and it would eventually file for bankruptcy in 1978. Nell died in 1991 at age 102.

The old gal lived to a ripe old age, all things considered! Bet she had some exciting stories to tell all the grandkids. I'm glad to know that the driver was rescued at the same time! No doubt he had some tales to pass on as well!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. It's chilly outside and it's supposed to rain!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Who Goes First...?

Sometimes the facts from history studies can really surprise ya!

I guess that I never thought about this much and was stunned to find out the truth. You might find this interesting!

Ship Sinking? Women And Children Didn’t Always Go First
By Debra Kelly on Saturday, December 28, 2013

It’s an idea that captures the age-old spirit of chivalry. Aboard a sinking ship with no escape save the lifeboats . . . it’s an unwritten rule that women and children go first, and the captain always goes down with his ship, right? Wrong. It turns out, the “women and children first” rule is one that only started with the Titanic. Not only that, but the captain, along with his crew, are statistically the most likely to survive a sinking ship.

We like to believe that the ideas of chivalry still exist. There’s something romantic about the notions of putting others before yourself, whether they’re man, woman, or child. So it’s not surprising that the idea of saving women and children first from sinking ships should be so ingrained in the human ideal.

It’s a notion that gained popularity with the Titanic. It’s been well documented that more women and children survived the sinking of that ocean liner than men. But as it turns out, that’s the exception rather than any sort of rule.

A study by researcher Mikhael Elinder at Sweden’s Uppsala University examined the survival rates of 18 shipwrecks from 1852–2011. Their data pool included over 15,000 passengers and 30 different nationalities, was was limited to wrecks were at least 5 percent of the passengers died and 5 percent survived.

The results were surprising: They discovered that women were about half as likely to survive as men.

It turns out that the episode aboard the Titanic that turned a single act of chivalry into a myth that spans the naval world was the exception, not the rule. It was the captain who gave the specific order to allow women and children to board the lifeboats first; it wasn’t just an unwritten thing that everyone did.

Aside from the Titanic, there’s only one other major, documented example from history of a ship’s captain giving the order to save the women and children first. That honor goes to Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Seton, a commander on board the Royal Navy’s HMS Birkenhead. The ship went down in the shark-infested waters off the coast of South Africa, and the commander gave the order to save the women and children first. There were only three lifeboats, but no woman or child lost their life during that shipwreck—365 soldiers died instead.

In future naval catastrophes, women fared far less well, however. When looking at the 15,000 people that survived their sinking ships, only 17.8 percent of the total women survived, while 34.5 percent of the men survived. The only two instances where women fared better than men were the Titanic and the HMS Birkenhead—both instances where the captain’s orders specified women and children were to be allowed into life boats first. And in the case of the Titanic, it’s documented that the captain had to threaten to shoot men who made a run for the lifeboats before a woman or child.

Ironically, overall women had the lowest chance for survival on British ships—even though the two captains that gave the iconic “women and children first” orders were British.

And as for the myth of the captain going down with the ship? The study also found that crew members were 18.7 percent more likely to survive a ship sinking than passengers. And the captains? In the 16 disasters studied (not including the HMS Birkenhead and the Titanic), only 9 of the ship’s captains died with their sinking ships.

Lots of strange tales and ywisted history comes from the sea...once in a while! Sometimes glamorous and sometimes not! Such is life, I reckon!

Coffee outside this morning. A few cookies left, OK?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Silly Sunday "After Santa" 'Toons...!

What would we do for entertainment without the Sunday funnies? Not to worry!

Because I had a day off yesterday, I am back with some cartoons to brighten your morning! I figured that maybe I would earn another cookie or two! Never hurts to try, right?

I know a few of our blogging family is a bit under the weather, so I'm sending some special "medicine" out to ya in the form of smiles! OK?

I never get tired of these guys, ya know? Guess I'm in my second (or third ) childhood!

I always did like a happy ending! Sorta gives you a warm and funny feeling all over!

Coffee out on the patio today! How about some cherry pie?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Playing 'Possum For The Day...!

I'm taking the day off today. I feel the need to just relax, OK?

I'll just leave this picture of a recent visitor to the patio in my place!

Have a great day and thanks for coming by! You know where the coffee is, right?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Good For What Ails Ya...!

Turns out that some well known companies sort of created their own market for their product!

In the days before the FDA, things could get interesting to say the least! Many products were on the market that would cause a major flood of lawsuits now days! In fact, some are still being made (with a few refinements)!

Bayer Heroin

In the case of Bayer, it wasn’t a matter of a company or individual using what’s now a controlled substance as a cure-all. With Bayer, they invented it. The first manufactured heroin was a product of the Bayer pharmaceutical company in Germany. Production started in 1897, and within two years, the company was making a ton of heroin each year. It was exported around the world, where it was used as a cure for tuberculosis and pneumonia and as a pain-killer.

Oddly enough, heroin was also marketed as a solution to a problem that had grown to be worldwide by the late 1800s—opium addiction. The first solution to getting people off their opium addiction was to switch them to the supposedly less dangerous morphine. When that didn’t work, they tried weaning opium and morphine addicts onto this new, also supposedly less dangerous drug called heroin. Medical reports around the world gave heroin a cautious thumbs-up into the 1900s, and it was even approved by the American Medical Association in 1906. Obviously, it didn’t work, and by 1924, it’s estimated that 98 percent of New York’s drug addicts were addicted to heroin.

Hard to believe that something so well known got it's start in this manner. Bayer wasn't the only one, though. In later post, I'll go over some others that followed the same path!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. More rain moving in!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Western Thursday...!

Since we had Christmas this week on Western Wednesday, I figured we would do Wednesday on Thursday! Make sense?

The story this week is about someone I know you have heard about before. Some of the details may be new to ya, and the story shows how good intentions can cause more misery than we know sometimes!

The Kidnapped Texas Settler Who Forgot English
By Joshua T. Garcia on Tuesday, December 24, 2013

In 1836, the Parkers, a family of pioneers in the American West, were attacked by a force of mounted Comanches in Central Texas. The Parkers fled for their lives—some escaped, some were killed, and some were kidnapped. Among the abducted was nine-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker. She assimilated to Comanche life extremely well; when she was found over 20 years later, she had even forgotten English.

In 1836, the Parker family moved to Central Texas and built their own fort (appropriately dubbed “Fort Parker”). But the Parkers made a poor real estate decision: Fort Parker was built far from the rest of the American frontier, deep in Comanche territory.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising—but no less terrifying—that eventually a large group of hostile Comanches, Kiowas, and Kichais showed up at Fort Parker uninvited and eager to raid. On May 19, 1836, the force attacked, leaving many Parkers wounded, dead, or kidnapped. Among the five captured family members was Cynthia Ann Parker, who was around eight or nine at the time.

If given the opportunity to choose between European-style civilization or horse-fueled nomadism, most Americans assumed that any sane person would choose European civilization. And so the desperate search for Cynthia Ann began. Heartbroken at the thought of her being separated from her family, various searchers were also convinced that she needed to be rescued from the barbarians, savages who led an inferior way of life.

Cynthia Ann was allegedly spotted around half a dozen times growing up, but it wasn’t until 1860, after a skirmish between Texas Rangers and Comanches, that she was finally thrust back into white society. She was barely recognizable—only her blue eyes differentiated her from the American Indians.

Cynthia Ann wanted to stay with the Comanches. She had presumably begun her life among the Comanches as a slave—but she had assimilated so well with them that she had married a chief, had three children (one of whom would become the last free Comanche chief, Quanah Parker), and forgotten English. She had even changed physically, her skin darkening and her muscles adjusting to the work Comanche women were accustomed to. Though racially white, she was, for all intents and purposes, a Comanche.

Cynthia Ann’s rescue became a story of redemption on the frontier. But she refused to re-acclimate to white culture, much to the confusion of her family. Desperate and depressed, she began starving herself in 1870, ultimately dying of the flu at age 43.

Once again, I have to thank the folks over at KnowledgeNuts for this article. I hope that everyone had a great holiday, and thanks to one and all that sent good wishes my way! Certainly was the best part of my day, that's for sure!

How about coffee out on the patio this morning? It should be a great and glorious day, complete with sunshine!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day Tech Support...!

You know how it is. You get a new high tech gadget and need some help getting it to work properly.

Now is the time to call someone you can always count on to help you work things out! Every family has at least one tech savvy person they can turn to, don't they?

Hey...don't laugh! It could happen, ya know?


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Little Christmas Story...!

I thought you might like to hear a Christmas story with a twist.

This is from one of our own astronauts and pretty much fits right in with this time of year!

Jingle All the Way

"Jingle Bells" has been staple song of the holiday season in the United States for decades if not longer. Dozens of artists have recorded the song -- often as part of Christmas albums -- underscoring its popularity this time of year. And while that list of artists features the Beatles, Andrea Bocelli, and even the Three Stooges, none of those recordings are as historically significant as the one performed on December 16, 1965.

On that day, Jingle Bells became the first song performed in space.

On December 4th of that year, NASA launched the Gemini 7 space capsule into orbit. On December 15th, NASA sent Gemini 6A, a similar craft, into the heavens. The two sister Gemini capsules, each manned by a pair of astronauts, rendezvoused in space, coming within a foot of another. (The two could have docked had they been so equipped.) This was the first successful, intentional meeting in space, and would set the groundwork for future manned space exploration.

With history accomplished, the crews of the two Gemini spacecraft separated their ships from one another to prevent accidental collision and went off to sleep. But before they all called it a night, astronaut Walter Schirra of Gemini 6 came over the radio with a report. He purported to have just seen something weird -- an unidentified object entering the Earth's atmosphere, as recounted by the logs:

We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, up in a polar orbit. He's in a very low trajectory traveling from north to south and has a very high climbing ratio. It looks like it might even be a ... Very low. Looks like he mlght be going to reenter soon. Stand by one ... You might just let me try to pick up that thing

According to Boing Boing, mission control started to become nervous -- but it was much ado about nothing. Gemini 6 was playing a prank, which was about to become abundantly clear when Schirra continued. He broke out a harmonica and set of six bells that he and his shipmate, Thomas Stafford, smuggled aboard the ship. For the next fifteen seconds, he treated Gemini 7 and mission control in Houston with his rendition of Jingle Bells. The object he claimed to have seen was Santa Claus, and thankfully for all involved, the pair on Gemini 7 and the authorities back on Earth appreciated the joke. (You can listen to the relevant parts of the recording here.) This mini-concert is widely believed to be the first musical performance (involving an instrument, at least) in space.

The harmonica and bells, seen above, are now on display at the Smithsonian.

You just have to love the way that these guys smuggle things aboard their capsules. Never know just what they are going to come up with!

Better have our coffee in the kitchen this morning. It's cold out on the patio, even though 37 might not seem cold for many of you!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Wolf Messing On Monday Mystery...!

Today's mystery is really more a story of a mysterious man than anything else. It is, however, a true story!

Gotta love a mystery like this about real people, mysterious or not! Besides, anyone that pissed off Hitler is OK in my book! I found this story at one of my favorite sites Listverse! It's a great site for information!

Wolf Messing

In 1899, Wolf Messing was born in the town of Góra Kalwaria, which is located 25 kilometers (15 mi) southeast of Warsaw, Poland. As a teenager, Messing claimed to be a psychic. He could alter people’s perceptions and predict future outcomes based on mental telepathy and body language clues. During his shows, Messing would enter a trance-like state and attempt to find hidden objects. He performed in front of large crowds and became famous after World War II. Messing even caught the attention of Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud.

In 1937, Wolf Messing predicted that Adolf Hitler would die if he ever threatened Russia and “turned toward the East.” The message angered Hitler and caused Messing to flee to Russia, where he continued to perform his act. As the story goes, Messing was then forced to prove his psychic ability for Stalin by convincing a bank teller to give him cash with nothing more than a blank piece of paper. After the successful demonstration, Messing became a teacher for the KGB.

Messing’s life was chronicled in an autobiography titled About Myself. One quote from the book says, “My ability to see the future may seem to contradict the materialist understanding of the world. But there is not a particle of the unknowable or supernatural about precognition.” Wolf Messing died in 1974. Since that time, many facts attributed to his life have been questioned and deemed unsubstantiated by historical references—a fact which has only contributed to his mystery.

You have to admit, this was one strange man! He does fill the need for a mysterious man and is worthy of some further research, if you ask me.

Coffee out on the patio today. It's cool, but still pleasant!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday " After The Party" Cartoons...!

Well, the family get-together is over for another year! No bloodshed, no fighting, no fussing! That's a good thing!

Only thing about a gathering like this one is that by the end of the day, Mom is worn out! Heck, I'm pretty tired myself! Any way, since today is Sunday I have the 'toons all ready for ya!

No telling just how many cartoons the Disney studios turned out over the years. A bunch, I reckon!

Well, that one was different, wasn't it? Don't think I had ever seen it before!

I told ya these were different! I hadn't seen any of them before. I reckon that there is a moral to these stories, right? Seems like there always is in the early ones! Better than most of the crap on these days, don't you think?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning, I reckon. I'll share some fresh apple pie with ya!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Family Christmas Party...!

Once again, it's time for the family get together at Mom's house.

Seems like every year fewer and fewer folks show up. Guess that for some, family doesn't matter much. Even with the promise of free food and gifts, many are just too busy to get with the rest of the family. The way I look at it, Mom is 88 now and who knows how many more holidays she will be around for. I don't like the holidays as I've stated many times, but I hang around Mom's doing what I can and trying to play nice! That ain't always easy, ya know?

So today, after 4 trips to the grocery store, cleaning up at Mom's and getting all the cookies baked...I finally get to do my laundry! This is Friday night and tomorrow is the big day! I always do my post the evening before it's published, so this will post at midnight Saturday morning. Clear as mud, right?

At least after the get-together, things will settle back down for a week. At least, I hope so!

Let's have our morning coffee outside again. Supposed to be some bad weather moving in, but maybe we'll get lucky!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Let's Talk Tumbleweeds...!

I reckon we all have either seen or heard of or even watched the tumbleweed, right?

One thing that you might not know is that they are not originally from the U.S. at all! Surprising, isn't it?

Tumbleweed Comes From Russia
By Joshua T. Garcia on Thursday, December 19, 2013

A circular, brown weed rolls around like a ball in a barren desert—tumbleweed. The plant is an icon of the American West, helping to capture the popular imagination of the region. But the same dead weed roams around Russian landscapes as well, and that’s because tumbleweed isn’t native to the American West at all; it’s Russian thistle.

Tumbleweed is an icon of the American West, a staple in Western paraphernalia. It’s also an invasive species. The plant is not endemic to America, but rather the steppes of Russia.

Just how tumbleweed, or Russian thistle (Salsola tragus), managed to reach the US remains something of a mystery. One theory suggests that the plant had been introduced by malevolent Mennonites; another theory suggests that the weed was accidentally introduced by Russian immigrants through contaminated flax seed in the 1870s.

Whatever the case, the Russian thistle proved extremely adaptable and more than a little bothersome. The outbreak began in South Dakota, receiving government attention by 1880. The infestations were menacing; some farmers were reportedly forced to abandon their homes. It wasn’t long before the weed spread to Canada and other states. By 1885, it had even reached California. Today, the plant is found to some degree in every state save Florida and Alaska.

A seed needs scant moisture to grow, and one plant can produce up to 250,000 seeds. The thistle can grow up to 90 centimeters (36 in) high. After maturing, by autumn, a gust of wind will break the thistle and send it rolling. These rolls will serve to scatter the seeds, which will also grow, break, and roll: rinse and repeat.

Other than being overwhelmingly pesky, build-ups of Russian thistles can cause fire hazards. Russia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and the US are collaborating to combat the weed through biological warfare. Weevils, fungi, moths, or mites that prey on the weed in Eastern Europe may hold the key to fighting off Russian thistle, but the US has yet to approve introducing the species.

Though Russian thistle is incredibly invasive and annoying for one’s lawn fare, it’s not all bad: In the 1930s, starving animals had little else to eat as a result of the Dust Bowl. The thistle is also a staple in cattle, sheep, and bird diets.

Imagine! All the western sons and movies led us to believe that the tumbleweed has always been a part of the west. Boy, how wrong we were! Still, I can better imagine the tumbleweed in the Plains of the american west, than rolling around in the wilds of Russia!

How about coffee out on the patio this morning. High 70's with a sprinkle of rain, OK?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

More Scarce Than Hen's Teeth...?

I don't know where that particular phrase came from, but the origin may be from an unexpected source.

Seems like some of our bird friends, namely chickens, did at one time have teeth! That thought alone is fairly scary, as anyone that has ever been pecked by a chicken can attest to! Hurts bad enough to get pecked, so you can imagine how it would feel to get bitten with hen's teeth!

Chickens Still Have Genes For Growing Teeth
By Ingrid Stein on Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Everyone knows that birds in general have no teeth. But did you know that birds used to have teeth, long ago when dinosaurs still roamed the earth? They have long since lost their teeth, but new research on the talpid2 gene mutation in chickens has shown that they still have the genes for growing chompers. With some gene tweaking experiments, scientists succeeded in inducing teeth growth in healthy chickens, proving that the gene can work in mutated and non-mutated chickens alike.

Developmental biologist Matthew Harris of the Max Planck Institute in Tubingen, Germany, was investigating a gene mutation known as talpid2 that affects organ development in chicken embryos when he made an accidental discovery that revealed that chickens retain the ability to grow teeth. He was examining the head of a 16-day-old mutant chicken embryo while working late in the lab one night, when he noticed the tiny protuberances on the edge of the beak. Scientists have known about the lethal and recessive talpid2 gene for years, but have never made the link between the gene and teeth formation because the mutant embryos never survive to the hatching stage, which usually takes 21 days. However, scientists have managed to incubate them for up to 18 days, and during the last few of those 18 days, they began to grow nascent teeth that haven’t been seen in avians for millions of years, until now.

Though small, the teeth were definitely conical and saber-shaped, like those found in the mouths of crocodiles and ancient bird fossils. The earliest known bird ancestors were called archosaurs and they had teeth and mouths that were shaped very much like a crocodiles’. The similarity is no surprise to the scientists at all, since birds are much more closely related to reptiles than they are to mammals. Over time, the development of beaks eventually caused birds to lose their teeth, giving birth to the modern birds that we know today.

Scientists are surprised that these mutant chicks still retained the genes responsible for teeth formation because the birds lost their toothy features about 70–80 million years ago. In an experiment conducted in 1980, scientists relied on introducing genetic information from mice to produce teeth in chickens, resulting in chickens that grew mammalian molars. But since birds and mammals are not as closely related, scientists doubted whether the experiment proved that the birds truly retain the teeth forming genetic vestige of their ancestors.

Harris and colleague John Fallon at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) decided to further their investigations and find out if healthy chickens really still retained the genetic pathway for teeth formation. By “activating” the talpid2 gene in the mouths of normal healthy chicken embryos, they were able to induce teeth formation in chicks. The chicks developed the same reptilian teeth and share many similar genetic traits. The success of their experiments not only confirms their hypothesis but it also proves that the teeth formation was not a one-off freak occurrence only found in mutant chicks.

Hey, don't think I am making this stuff up. I got the information from a site called KnowledgeNuts! I've told ya about these folks before and they are well worth a visit if you like little tidbits of mundane trivia! Why not check them out?

Coffee out on the patio this morning! The Sun is shining (or will be) and I have some fresh apples!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mesa Verde On Western Wednesday...!

This must have been one of the most incredible discoveries of the times!

Just imagine what these guys were thinking when they stood there looking at these structures for the very first time! I can almost see their faces as they stared in disbelief at what they saw!

Wetherill and Mason discover Mesa Verde

While searching for stray cattle in the isolated canyons of southwest Colorado, Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law stumble upon the magnificent ancient Indians ruins of Mesa Verde.

The Wetherill family started ranching in the rugged southwest lands of Colorado in 1881, and Richard and his brothers often explored the canyons and mesas for Indian ruins. Once, while looking up the mouth of Cliff Canyon, Wetherill was approached by a Ute Indian named Acowitz who reportedly told him, "Deep in that canyon and near its head are many houses of the old people-the Ancient Ones. One of those houses, high, high in the rocks, is bigger than all the others. Utes never go there, it is a sacred place." Wetherill was intrigued, but his ranching duties kept him from exploring the canyon further.

On December 18, 1888, Wetherill and his brother-in-law, Charles Mason, were searching for stray cattle on top of a broad mesa when a heavy snow began to fall. Fearing they might ride over a cliff in the blinding snow, they dismounted and were moving ahead on foot when they came to an overlook point. From across the canyon they saw a snow-blurred image of a magnificent stone city three stories high and perched high up a cliff wall under a massive rock overhang. Fascinated, Wetherill and Mason abandoned their search for the stray cattle and, after considerable effort, managed to climb up and explore the ruins for several hours.

Wetherill and Mason had stumbled across the "houses, high, high in the rocks" that Acowitz had told them about. The ruins were once the home of the Anasazi (the Indian term for "ancient ones") people. Subsequent archaeological studies showed that the Cliff Palace, as it became known, was built during the 13th century, when the Anasazi moved from the top of the mesas onto ledges and caves along the canyon walls, presumably to better defend themselves against invaders. Eventually a prolonged drought that started around 1275 forced the Anasazi to abandon their magnificent cliff dwellings.

In the years following the discovery, Wetherill collected thousands of artifacts from the Cliff Palace and other area ruins. Most of Wetherill's artifacts ended up in museums, where they could be studied by professional archaeologists and viewed by the public. The same cannot be said of the many other priceless artifacts that were stolen by visitors over the years. In order to protect the site from further looting and degradation, the Congress created Mesa Verde National Park in 1906.

The building talents of our ancient forefathers never ceases to amaze me. Many of the people of the past were brilliant when it came to engineering, that's for sure. Many of these beautiful structures all over the world have survived years and years of nature's wrath only to be nearly destroyed by the follies of modern men. That is a sad statement of our time!

Coffee out on the patio again this morning! The weather is sure being nice to us right now!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Best Laid Plans...!

Most of our founding fathers thought very much alike! How much alike is shown by this little tidbit of history I ran across over at Listverse.

It's good to know that great minds often do think alike, and in this case it worked out for the good guys!

Washington Tried To Steal Gunpowder Franklin Had Already Stolen

In October 1775, a small flotilla of American ships slid silently into the waters off Bermuda. They had been sent by George Washington himself on a top-secret mission of the utmost importance. The Continental Congress was running dangerously low on gunpowder and other vital supplies, but Washington knew that there was a well-stocked British arsenal in Bermuda. He also knew that the people of Bermuda were suffering terribly from the British embargo on American exports, especially foodstuffs. Washington decided to gamble that the Bermudans would be willing to look the other way while his men stole the gunpowder.

The plan seemed to go wrong from the start. Washington’s men found that Bermuda, usually an ignored backwater, was swarming with British ships. When they managed to make contact with some locals, they discovered the reason: the gunpowder had already been stolen—by the Americans.

As it turned out, while Washington had been hatching his scheme, Ben Franklin had been doing exactly the same thing. Conspiring with the father of Bermuda’s governor, Franklin had arranged for food to be smuggled from South Carolina to Bermuda. In exchange, the Bermudans agreed to look the other way while Franklin’s men looted the arsenal. Secretly breaking a hole in the armory roof, they lowered in an American sailor, who opened the doors from the inside. Washington’s gamble would have paid off—he was just a month too late.

I do wonder if these two had words about this little foul up in covert operations. I have a feeling that the communications might have been just a tad better, if you know what I mean! Oh well, guess that all's well that ends well!

Coffee out on the patio this morning! Look...I'm not even wearing a jacket!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Arkansas On Monday Mystery...!

Not long ago we did a post about "Old Mike" from Arkansas. I figured we would do another mystery from the Natural State!

I've never been in an earthquake and I'm pretty sure I don't want to be. That said, I know I sure don't want to live in this part of the state...no matter how pretty it is! I like the ground beneath my feet to stay in one place, or at least I don't want to feel it moving! Sometimes I have a hard enough time standing up, so I don't need any help in falling down!

The Guy Earthquake Swarms

A small community just north of Little Rock, Guy wasn’t accustomed to drawing national attention. That all changed in 2010, when a series of relatively minor earthquakes shook the town. The first swarm struck in fall 2010, with most quakes registering under 2.0 on the Richter scale, meaning not everyone in town may have felt or even noticed the shaking. However, the swarms continued over the next two years and increased in magnitude, with one reaching as high as 4.7 in February 2011.

With the trembling becoming more noticeable, residents began to wonder if the quakes were a result of hydraulic fracturing techniques being used to drill for oil and gas in the area. The Arkansas Geological Survey was called out to investigate, and while the group noted that there is some evidence that fracking can cause minor earthquakes, they found no link between the drilling and these particular swarms.

Earthquake swarms aren’t entirely unusual in Arkansas. The state’s had a handful of them before, but none have reached the magnitude of those in Guy. Through 2013, over 500 quakes have rocked the town. As northeast corner of Arkansas was home to one of the country’s most violent swarms—the 1811-12 New Madrid earthquakes—the seemingly endless quakes have left some residents particularly on edge.

Now don't get me wrong here. I like rock and roll as much as the next fella, but I would rather have mine in the form of music, rather than in the movement of the earth! Don't want to take the chance of spilling my coffee, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. The sun is supposed to hang around most of the day and that's a good thing!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cartoon Sunday again...!

I know everyone looks forward to cartoon Sunday! I always have a lot of fun just previewing them! Don't want to put any "X" rated stuff on here, ya know?

Some 'toons that are a little different today! Change isn't always a bad thing!

I like it when I find some of these off beat 'toons. Sorta makes for a nice change of pace!

Just pretty close to the farm yard I would imagine! Pretty well done considering when it was made, wouldn't you agree?

I do like a story with a happy ending, don't you? In this day and age, we need more of 'em!

I guess it isn't too early to do one with ol' St. Nick, is it?

Oh, what a simpler and happier time it was back then! The holidays actually were fun back when I was a kid. Still, my biggest kick out of Christmas time is to watch the faces of the little ones! Mom really loves Christmas, so watching her face at the family get-together is reason enough to celebrate, I reckon!

One more reason to celebrate is my good friend Linda, from Georgia, sent me a care package! Man, that lady can bake! Thanks, Linda!

Coffee out on the patio this morning! I'll even share some of my homemade goodies with ya! Pretty good stuff, I'd say!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tears Of Blood...?

I had some doubts about this information when I first read this article, but a little research proved it was for real!

I just can't imagine how strange it would be to have this condition. The biggest thing I wonder about is why it happens mainly to folks from Tennessee!

The People Who Cry Blood
By Shawn W. Larson on Friday, December 13, 2013

A rare portion of the population cries much likes the rest of us, with the exception that it isn’t tears falling from their eyes—it’s blood. Even creepier, it’s mostly found in people from Tennessee.

It’s considered a medical mystery—a rare condition that causes a person to bleed from the eyes without explanation. Medical professionals have given it the name “haemolacria”—and it seems to be happening the most to people who live in one state: Tennessee.

A 22-year-old man says it feels like being “hit in the head with a sledgehammer,” adding that he used to get daily headaches that accompanied bleeding from his eyes, but says they only happen around once or twice a week now. His name is Michael Spann, a resident of Antioch, Tennessee.

Doctors are perplexed as to the cause of the condition, as well as to why it happens mostly to Tennessee residents. Calvino Inman, also afflicted with haemolacria, says, “Sometimes, I can feel it coming up, like a tear. I feel my eyes watering . . . Sometimes, it will burn as it comes out.” He says that it’s also embarrassing, because classmates call him “possessed” when it happens.

In a 2004 medical review co-authored by Dr. Barrett G. Haik of the University of Tennessee’s Hamilton Eye Institute, it was described as “bloody tearing,” a condition that often confounds most doctors. Haik went on to conclude that “cases typically resolve without treatment.”

But others point to hormone changes as the source, especially as it applies to women. A 1995 study of 125 healthy subjects determined that “Menstruation contributes to occult haemolacria, or traces of blood in tears.” It went on to report its finding that “18 percent of fertile women have some blood in their tears, while only 7 percent of pregnant women, 8 percent of men, and no post-menopausal women show signs of bloody tears.”

Nothing, at least so far, has been offered in the way of explanation as to why most cases appear to originate from Tennessee.

However, one case that doesn’t come out of Tennessee involves a 20-year-old Chilean woman named Yaritza Oliva, who in June 2013 was reported to have begun bleeding from the eyes. She was prescribed special eye drops to soothe the pain that accompanies the bleeding, since her family couldn’t afford to hire a specialist to diagnose the condition. The rise of these rare cases have prompted a renewed interest from medical professionals, who hope to find a cause and cure.

My heart goes out to the poor folks that suffer from this condition and I hope that an answer from medical science is forthcoming very soon! In the meantime, I hope the tears of blood will be few and far between!

Coffee out on the patio again. It has been threatening to sprinkle, but I'm game if you are!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Now THAT'S A Solar Storm...!

No matter how advanced we think we are sometimes, we should stop and remember who's in charge!

When ol' Sol wants to, He can spit out some nasty stuff aimed right at the big blue marble we live on, and more times than not it has some devastating effect for us all! Just imagine what would happen today if we suffered from something like the Carrington Event again!

The Devastating Solar Storm Of 1859
By Aaron Short on Thursday, December 12, 2013

In 1859, the Earth was hit by a solar storm that extended the northern and southern lights all the way to the equator and set telegraph poles across the planet on fire. If the same event were to happen today, it could knock planes out of the sky, destroy Earth’s communication infrastructure, irradiate any astronauts in space, and plunge whole cities into darkness for up to a year.

Richard Carrington was an astronomer who noticed something very strange on the surface of the sun in 1859: Large black spots had appeared across the star’s surface. While Carrington was still trying to make sense of this, he saw two globes of bright light erupting from the spots and shooting into space. Hours later, the Earth was hit by a geomagnetic storm with the strength of 10 hydrogen bombs.

The worldwide telegraph network was smashed, severing communication across the world, with telegraph poles exploding into showers of sparks. Later, there were reports of telegraph machines being so full of energy that they could work for up to 90 seconds unplugged from any power source. Perhaps it was this excess power that caused telegraph operators to receive powerful electric shocks or simply watch in horror as their machines burst into flames.

Around the planet, the skies were bright and colorful as the northern and southern lights were either much stronger than usual or simply appeared in places that they never had before, reaching as far as the middle of the equator. Some places were so bright that people rose in the middle of the night thinking it was sunrise or simply thought that the sky was burning.

This became known as The Carrington Event—the greatest solar storm of the last 500 years. If the same event were to happen today, it could knock out our satellites, affecting everything from GPS to credit card transactions. Next it could destroy crucial power grid transformers (which are hard to replace), overloading the power supplies of large cities and leaving them without power for up to a year. Luckily, our ability to detect such events means that we will be forewarned by about 12 hours . . .

Those of us that try and prepare for the unexpected may or may not have considered an event of this magnitude. If the experienced Prepper is taken aback by an event like this, just imagine what the totally unprepared would face! It would put a totally different face on things, that's for sure! Who knows-prayer might become more common than it has been lately!

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. It's close to 50 and we have some sunshine on the way!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Scary Boy Scout...!

We all know how resourceful the Boy Scouts are supposed to be, right?

Here's a story from the folks over at KnowledgeNuts about one scout that took that talent to a whole other level! You might be glad this man doesn't live next door to you!

The Boy Scout Who Attempted To Make A Nuclear Reactor
By Lincoln Short on Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In the mid-90s, a boy from Michigan attempted to make a nuclear reactor in his backyard shed. He exposed his neighbors to high amounts of radiation and was eventually stopped by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

David Hahn was born in Golf Manor, Michigan, about 40 kilometers (25 mi) from Detroit. David seemed like a normal boy in most respects. He played several sports and was a member of the Boy Scouts. David took an interest in chemistry around age 10 and then started to read his father’s college chemistry textbooks. After an incident in the basement of his father and stepmother’s basement, David was forced to move his operations to his mother’s backyard shed. But he didn’t stop there.

David decided to take his interests to the next level. He started to develop cover stories and even formed a fake identity, claiming to be a high school physics instructor. David wrote to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) using his identity, and was answered by the agency’s director of isotope production and distribution. The director told him about isolating and obtaining radioactive elements, and told him about some isotopes that can sustain a chain reaction when bombarded with neutrons.

Hahn found out that small amount of a radioactive isotope, known as americium-241, was used in smoke detectors. He contacted smoke detector companies and one sold him about 100 broken detectors for $1 apiece.

All of the components that Hahn used for his attempted nuclear reactor came from many common items, including mantles from gas lanterns which contain thorium-232, and a clock that held a vial of radium paint. After blow-torching the mantles into a pile of ash, he isolated the thorium by using the lithium from $1,000 worth of batteries.

After an encounter with the police on August 31, 1994, David was found with a toolbox that he said was radioactive. The police feared that the toolbox, which was bound with a padlock and duct tape, was a nuclear bomb. The Federal Radiological Emergency response plan was put into action and eventually the EPA and NRC were involved.

On June 26, 1995, the EPA moved in on David Hahn’s radioactive shed, and confiscated all of his radioactive equipment and materials. He exposed his neighbors to nearly 1,000 times the normal amount of background radiation.

More recently, in 2007, David Hahn was arrested for stealing smoke detectors from the apartment complex where he lived. His face was covered in sores apparently from radioactive contact.

I'm thinking this guy needs someone to watch over him, if only to protect his neighbors! I sure don't want him living next to me! Actually, I'm surprised that the government hasn't tried to put him on the payroll yet.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wyoming Women On Western Wednesday...!

I think that we sometimes forget that women haven't had the same rights as men all that long.

The right to vote was a long time coming for the women folk in many places. Wyoming was one of the first to allow it, but not for the reasons you would expect!

Dec 10, 1869:
Wyoming grants women the vote

Motivated more by interest in free publicity than a commitment to gender equality, Wyoming territorial legislators pass a bill that is signed into law granting women the right to vote.

Western states led the nation in approving women's suffrage, but some of them had rather unsavory motives. Though some men recognized the important role women played in frontier settlement, others voted for women's suffrage only to bolster the strength of conservative voting blocks. In Wyoming, some men were also motivated by sheer loneliness--in 1869, the territory had over 6,000 adult males and only 1,000 females, and area men hoped women would be more likely to settle in the rugged and isolated country if they were granted the right to vote.

Some of the suffrage movement's leaders did have more respectable reasons for supporting women's right to vote. William Bright, a territorial legislator who was in his mid-forties, had a persuasive young wife who convinced him that denying women the vote was a gross injustice. The other major backer, Edward M. Lee, the territorial secretary who had championed the cause for years, argued that it was unfair for his mother to be denied a privilege granted to African-American males.

Ultimately, though, appeals to justice and equality did not pass the legislation--most Wyoming legislators supported Bright and Lee's bill because they thought it would win the territory free national publicity and might attract more single marriageable women to the region. Territorial Governor John A. Campbell appreciated the publicity power of the policy and signed the bill into law, making Wyoming the first territory or state in the history of the nation to grant women this fundamental right of citizenship.

I'll be willing to bet that even without the vote, many women managed to affect the outcome of more than one election! Working behind the scenes, so to speak, women probably gently "persuaded" their men folk to vote a certain way! We should never underestimate the power of a willful woman!

Coffee out on the patio this morning! It's pretty chilly, but the wind isn't blowing, so that makes it nice enough!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

This Post Is For The Birds...!

Actually, it isn't exactly for the birds but about them, or some of them!

I've posted about the crows before and talked about how smart they are. Now's a good time to consider the raven! What's the difference between the two, you ask? That, my friends, is the topic for today. I stole...I mean, borrowed this from the folks over at KnowledgeNuts! Where else?

The Difference Between Crows And Ravens
By Debra Kelly on Saturday, December 7, 2013

At a glance, crows and ravens look like identical, big, black birds. But there are a few telltale physical signs—the raven is much, much larger than the crow, has shaggy feathers at the throat and a wedge-shaped tail opposed to the crow’s rounded tail—that allow for quick identification if you know what you’re looking for. There are also behavioral differences: Crows travel in large groups while ravens are more often seen in pairs.

The territory of the crow and the raven overlap, making it difficult to differentiate between the two species based solely on location. Physical differences are the easiest way to tell the two apart. With an average wingspan of about 1 meter (3 ft) and a body length of about one-third the wingspan, crows are much smaller than ravens. The average raven has a wingspan of about 1.2 meters (4 ft), and a body length around half of that. The body of a raven is much slenderer and sleeker, and ravens have a distinct, wedge-shaped tail. Crows have a thicker body and tails that are rounded or square-looking, without the long, central feather of a raven’s tail.

Both birds are known for being entirely black, but when a crow is going through its molting period, old feathers take on a brownish hue before they are replaced by new black feathers. Ravens have black eyes, while the eyes of a crow are actually a very dark brown.

If the birds are in a massive community, they’re crows. Crows are much more social birds than ravens, and some groups of crows can number in the millions of birds (especially in the winter months). Ravens tend to travel in mated pairs or can congregate briefly into groups if they’ve been attracted to a major food source. In the case of breeding pairs, the pair will actively chase other ravens away from their nests and out of their territory. When food (particularly a large carcass) is at stake, though, ravens have been known to team up with other area ravens to overwhelm other predators and gain access to the kill. Young birds that aren’t yet of breeding age can sometimes be seen traveling in small groups before they find their mate.

Ravens are generally more graceful in the air than crows are. Ravens will soar more than crows will, and they’ll often be seen doing somersaults and dives just for the sake of playing. Many ravens—young and older birds—will play games while they’re flying, such as dropping sticks and then diving to chase them. Pairs have even been seen playing catch with each other in mid-air.

When crows nest, both the male and the female will help build the nest. Occasionally, other young birds that haven’t reached breeding age will help older birds build their nests. It’s also not uncommon for females sitting on eggs to have food brought to them not only by their mate, but by other crows in their family group. Ravens, on the other hand, leave most of the construction work to the female. Raven nests can be much, much larger, up to 1.5 meters (5 ft) in diameter while a crow’s nest will usually only be about 15–45 centimeters (6–18 in) in diameter.

Both birds are incredibly smart and are known for their problem-solving capabilities. A crow’s ability to make tools to carry water and discourage other animals from coming near their nests is well known. Pairs of ravens will often work together to raid the nests of other birds; one will distract the adults while the other steals eggs and food.

If I had to chose a favorite bird, I reckon it would be the crow. I don't know why, but there is something about the critters I just like!

Coffee in the kitchen once again. It's supposed to warm up to the high 50's today, but I ain't betting on it!

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Mystery Of "Old Mike"...!

This Monday let's look at the mystery of "Old Mike" from Arkansas. This, by the way, is a true story!

Actually this story is both sad and touching, with a bit of good intentions mixed in! However, often the best intentions don't get things done!

Old Mike

In the early 1900s, down in Nevada County, the man who would come to be known as “Old Mike” was a familiar face in and around the city of Prescott. A traveling salesman, he would swing by each month to sell stationery to homes and local businesses. He occasionally stayed overnight, but he always left the following day on the afternoon train.

One day, residents found Mike lying motionless under a tree. He had apparently passed away the night before. Knowing him only by his first name—and after a postmortem search failed to turn up any identification—the townspeople did the only sensible thing they could think of. They embalmed him and put his corpse on display outside of the local funeral home.

That’s where Mike sat for the next six decades. He was originally placed there in hopes that someone would identify him or claim the body, but no one ever came forward. Eventually, in 1975, the state attorney general’s office requested that he be buried, and Mike was finally laid to rest later that May. His true identity will likely forever remain a mystery.

The intentions of doing something to find out who "Old Mike" really was were good, but leaving him on display for so long seems like a bit of a stretch to me. Besides, it did not have the desired effect so it actually was a bad ending, if you ask me! It's sad that Mike's family, if he had one, never knew what happened to him. I am happy that the townsfolk adopted him and showed him a little respect in the end!

The kitchen is our place for coffee this morning. Wanna share my oatmeal?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cold Sunday, But 'Toons Just The Same...!

Cold or hot, I know you all need some Sunday funnies, right?

After all, what would Sunday morning be without our 'toons? Here's some from way back!

See? I told ya these were from a ways back. These are older than I feel, ya know?

Bet'cha didn't know we were gonna get all classy today! One thing about the older 'toons...once in a while you got a taste of good ol' classical music!

I guess by today's standards these are a little silly. However, a little silliness never hurt anyone, especiaolly when you get to be my age! I reckon one more should do it for today!

Well, I hope you enjoyed that little trip down memory lane. Of course, some of you are way too young to remember these, right ladies?

Once more we will do coffee in the kitchen! How about a plate of sugar wafers to go along with it?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Let's Talk About The "Toe Biter"...!

The name itself sounds almost comical, but I'll bet that the bite isn't! I know I don't want to find out!

The name would make this critter sound almost like a mere inconvenience, almost comical in nature, However, after reading this article from Listverse, I think you'll agree that isn't the case!

Giant Water Bug

Giant water bugs are huge, freshwater insects that belong to a family known as true bugs. True bugs are divided into two types: plant sucking (aphids) and carnivorous (mosquitos). Giant water bugs may grow over 4 inches (10 cm) in length, and feed by injecting liquefying chemicals into prey items that include young turtles and small snakes. Giant water bugs bite humans with regularity, attacking swimmers or latching on to toes dangled in the water, earning them the folk name toebiter. The Schmidt insect sting pain index places giant water bugs as number four, the worst rated. Wasps are only two. Pain is only temporary, but the bite may cause permanent muscle damage.

This, my friends, is another reason I never go into any body of water without my shoes on! Rather wear an old pair of tennis shoes than get my toes nibbled on by some freaking bug that regularly eats turtles and snakes! I'm funny that way!

Coffee in the kitchen again this morning. I still have some peach pie left!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Can You Smell That...?

With the weather being all crazy, and the larger than usual crowds nearly everywhere, deodorant is certainly more important than usual!

I don't know about you, but I hate getting caught in line close to someone that smells like they haven't bathed since early Spring, and probably has no idea what deodorant is. Makes for a terrible situation, if you know what I mean! Just one more reason to be a hermit!

The Ancient Egyptians Actually Created Deodorant
By Jeff Kelly on Thursday, December 5, 2013

Everyone who cares about underarm health and odor—and let’s face it, that should be everyone—knows that the first deodorant was created and trademarked in 1888. Except it turns out that’s not remotely true, because the truth is, deodorant has been around in various forms since the times of Ancient Egypt.

It’s pretty much an accepted idea that up until very recent history, people smelled. Body odor was just a fact of life, because sweat glands weren’t even discovered until the 1700s. The first deodorant that was created and sold was called “Mum,” and was produced in 1888. Just 15 years later, the first antiperspirant, Everdry, was sold in 1903.

Only that’s not at all the case. Contrary to popular knowledge, some cultures have cared about those horrible body odors not just for years, but for centuries. As far as anyone can tell, it dates all the way back to the days of the Ancient Egyptians. Now while it wasn’t what we think of as underarm deodorant today—after all, the Egyptians could build pyramids but could they really be expected to perfect the art of the roll-on?—they did help bring about the practice of making sure your pits don’t stink.

Indeed, the Egyptians not only practiced “scented bathing” but they also decided it may be a good idea to spray their armpits with perfumes in order to not smell so ghastly. This tradition actually carried on and was copied by the Greeks, and like everything else Greek, was eventually stolen by the Romans.

Of course what makes this more astonishing is that these old civilizations apparently had a much better understanding about body and skin health than the ones that came after. Any sort of scented bathing and deodorants fell by the wayside when the growing power of the Church essentially made the very idea of smelling nice and being clean more or less a sin. Soap, which had been invented by the Phoenicians in 600 B.C., was cast aside in favor of smelling like rancid eggs, because that’s apparently what God wanted.

And along with soap, so too did deodorant get thrown in the rubbish pile. It wasn’t really until the European elite started to embrace the concept of not stinking like last month’s tuna casserole that deodorants, colognes, and perfumes came back into vogue in the 1800s.

Now, obviously the “deodorant” invented by the Egyptians was far different than what we use today. But it still stands as perhaps the greatest thing they’ve ever imparted to modern civilization (even better than the condom). Oh, did we mention the Egyptians invented condoms, too? Because they totally did. But they also knew that you’d never get a chance to use one if you smelled like complete garbage. For that lesson, we tip our hats.

Now before you start getting on to me about making a post that might be on the "smelly" side, I took this information from the folks over at KnowledgeNuts. If parts of this article seem a little bit improper, then blame them! All I am is the messenger, ya know? I have to admit that I have known some folks over the years that might benefit from a gift of some good strong roll-on, if you know what I mean!

Looks like it's coffee in the kitchen this morning. Too chilly outside, I'm afraid!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Secret Of Aging Beef...!

This may be something that many folks don't know, or at least don't think about much.

Most all of the folks I know like steak, even though we don't get to indulge in much due to the rising cost. However, the rising price of a good steak could be in part to the aging process, or rather which aging process is used! Once you get over the fact that all beef goes through a similar process, the taste is what you remember! Right?

Beef Is Actually Rotted Meat
By Mike Devlin on Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Beef from freshly killed cattle is far too tough for human consumption. It must first be aged, a nice euphemism for carefully controlled rotting that breaks down the connective tissue in the muscle. Dry-aged beef usually hangs for between one and four weeks, and has to be monitored, as mold and bacteria tend to proliferate on outer surfaces.

Those who grew up on a farm or rural area where there are few steps between the barnyard and the dinner plate will attest that fresh meat tastes worlds better than anything you can procure at the grocery store. This applies to most animals, chicken and pork being the most obvious examples. Beef, however, is the exception to the rule. The meat from a newly slaughtered cattle must be aged to allow the tough connective tissue of the muscle to be broken down by enzymes and microbes.

For centuries, beef was dry-aged, hung in an area where temperature and humidity could be controlled. Typically, the flesh hangs anywhere from a week to a month. Its outer surface dries out into a kind of crust similar in texture to jerky. Mold furs on the crust, the fungus giving the beef its signature “nutty” flavor profile. The humidity must be watched—if it climbs too high, the meat is liable to begin crawling with dangerous bacteria. Too low, and it will dry out. As the process wears on, bits of the crust are trimmed away until the cuts beneath are deliciously tender.

While most would agree that dry aging produces a superior taste, it has its downside. The process is both time- and labor-intensive, and trimming and evaporation of the meat leads to significant waste. To that end, toward the late ’60s and early ’70s, methods were devised to vacuum-seal the meat in plastic, thus quickening the process and ensuring that none of the product will be lost. Outside of fancy steakhouses, you can be all but assured that the beef you’re eating has been wet-aged. Because wet aging leaves the meat to marinate in its own juices, it is said to have a more bloody, sour taste.

I'll admit that once I had a true "aged" steak and I can still almost taste it to this day! Quality is hard to fake in some foods, and a great steak is one of those foods! I'd like to enjoy another steak like the one in my memory, but at today's prices I really can't afford it!

Coffee out on the patio this morning, providing the rain doesn't start for a bit!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

We Should Learn To Do This...!

Nature has some unusual ways of protecting her children in the animal world. Some of those ways come in very handy!

I can't help but think that if humans had this talent, it could sure come in handy. Could save a lot on doctor's visits as well!

African Spiny Mice Are Masters Of Regeneration

So some animals have tough skin, and some have really thick skin. The African spiny mouse has neither, possessing some of the thinnest skin in the world. Still, this unassuming little rodent possesses one of the most astounding abilities in nature.

The tender epidermis of the African spiny mouse has a high number of hair follicles. With less connective tissue than normal skin, it comes apart pretty easy. It’s 77 percent easier to tear off the skin of a spiny mouse than a regular mouse. Which means two things: First, the spiny mouse has a reliable way to get away from predators. If it gets nabbed, its skin will just peel right off. Second, there’s a researcher somewhere whose job it is to rip the skin off mice.

But is tearaway skin really a good defense? Skin is kind of important, right? Fortunately the African spiny mice have Wolverine’s healing factor. They can regenerate skin, hair follicles, sweat glands, and cartilage in a matter of days, without any scarring. A wound can shrink by 64 percent in one day. So tearing the skin off the African spiny mouse, though disturbing, doesn’t really trouble the rodent in the slightest.

See what I mean about this being a handy little talent? Wonder why Mother Nature doesn't share this talent with those of us on the human side of the family?

One more day of coffee out on the patio before the cold weather comes back. OK?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Let's Go To Mars...!

Finally someone has come up with what just may be the best way to get a person on Mars!

Forget the NASA folks, the government guys, and all the others that can take forever to get anything done. This man may have solved the whole problem of hurrying things along. At least he is doing something, and now days that says a lot!

The First Human On Mars May Be A Reality TV Contestant
By Morris M. on Monday, December 2, 2013

Right now, private companies are developing plans to land humans on Mars in the 2020s, and the race is on to find the first person in history to set foot on the Red Planet. As a way of raising funds for their planned 2023 mission, Dutch company Mars One is already planning to sell the global TV rights—with the hook that members of the public would get to vote for their favorite astronaut to be first on the Martian surface.

Reality TV has given us lots of things: Big Brother, Jersey Shore, Snooki . . . okay, so it hasn’t really given us anything much. But in the very near future, it might well give us one of the most iconic people who will ever live: the first human being on Mars.

Meet Bas Lansdorp, an eccentric Dutch entrepreneur and possibly a part-time genius. His Mars One project is an ambitious effort to land people on Mars by 2023, with a backup party arriving in 2025. It’s currently estimated that the cost of this insane undertaking will be around $6 billion—a price Lansdorp hopes to make up by selling the reality TV rights to the mission.

His plan is fairly straightforward and seems to be working. Ordinary people will apply as they would with any TV talent show. Meanwhile, networks will cough up the cash to get the project underway, having been promised the biggest broadcast event in history. Aside from monitoring the crew 24/7, viewers will be able to phone in and vote for their favorite astronaut to become the first human being on the Martian surface. Forget Neil Armstrong, the next deep-space legend may well be a Kardashian.

Understandably, NASA is skeptical of the plan and thinks there’s a good chance the astronauts will become sick, go mad, or even die. There’s also no way for them to get home at this point, so they might well be stuck there for the rest of their lives. But Lansdorp’s recent call for applications received 200,000 replies—suggesting this madman may be well on his way to making his demented vision a demented reality.

Crazy as this sounds, it may just be crazy enough to work. After all, if people are so wrapped up in some of the crap on television now days, I'm sure many would pay to watch this dog and pony show! Would you?

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. 65 and sunshine ain't too bad!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday Mystery On The Sea...!

I don't think that I have covered this one before, but if I have it bears repeating!

The sea has always been a good place to find mystery stories, some even documented rather well. This is one of those cases!

The Mysterious And Elusive ‘Mahogany Ship’
By George Stevens Jr. on Friday, November 29, 2013

The most treacherous coastline in Australia has claimed over 200 ships. All have been documented and accounted for—except one. Several sightings of an elusive vessel known as “The Mahogany Ship” in the 1800s have intrigued archaeologists for years. The mystery ship is possibly Portuguese, which means it pre-dates Captain Cook’s trip to the South Coast and has the potential to re-write the history books as to who made it there first.

In Victoria, a state in southern Australia, exists the country’s most dangerous coast. In its history of explorers, immigrants, and traders, more than 200 ships have been swallowed. The coast is traversed by the Great Ocean Road, which is one of Australia’s most beautiful driving routes. It is from this road that the famous “Twelve Apostles” rock formations can be seen.

The coast is lined with small towns, beautiful bays, and views, and shipwrecks—lots of shipwrecks. Wreck Beach still holds a rock-encrusted anchor of one ill-fated ship, and museums along the coast exhibit many other treasures.

All these vessels have been recorded in the pages of historical documentation. Except for one.

In 1836, a wreck was seen by two men in the sand dunes near the town of Warnabool on the Shipwreck Coast. In itself, that was nothing unusual for the time, but the wood of this ship was dark. Darker than the woods normally used for a vessel. The rumor spread that the wood was mahogany, a material not known for being used in ship building. It became known both in official documents and in popular culture as “The Mahogany Ship.”

The ship was also described as looking very old, possibly Spanish, and of a very different type than was known to sailors in the 1800s. A storm was believed to have washed the sand off the ship allowing its discoverers (two shipwrecked men themselves) to see it.

The Mahogany Ship was sighted again 10 years later and reported by a Captain Mills. Mills is reported to have stood on the deck of the ship. However, once again, the wreck disappeared.

Over 30 sightings of the wreck were claimed until the late 1800s, but by the 20th century, the wreck seems to have disappeared completely. Its story became a mystery to the coast, and despite its obvious absence, made it a local icon.

Hope was not lost that the wreck would be found, and in 1992 the Victorian State government offered a reward of a quarter of a million dollars for its discovery. The reward has never been claimed, despite a number of reputable archaeologists investigating.

There is some importance as to the existence of this ship. The ship is possibly of Portuguese origin, and would pre-date Captain Cook (who didn’t discover Australia, but is supposed to have mapped the south coast). If found, it means a lot for the pages of history and who the real discoverers of the South Land actually were. Some believe that the ship was part of a secret Portuguese mission to find the fabled “Great South Land” that became Australia.

Other theories have been presented, but the truth remains a mystery. The Mahogany Ship remains one of a number of maritime mysteries in the Southern Hemisphere.

As much as I'd like to take the credit for this story, it was over at the site KnowdgeNuts that I came across the information! Have to give credit where credit is due, right?

How about coffee out on the patio this morning? Temps are in the 50's, so that's not too bad!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Here Are The Cartoons...!

The Sunday after Thanksgiving seems a good time to relax with some 'toons!

Most everyone seems to like the Sunday funnies, so here ya go! Enjoy!

I'm thinking we should mix them up today, ya know?

Guess we should have one more, huh?

Well, time to go do something constructive, ya know? Maybe an early nap?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Sun is coming out and that's good!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ever Wear Necropants...?

I know you could stand a little weirdness today, and I have just the thing!

I had never heard of these until I read this article at KnowledgeNuts! Seems like something I should have known about before now, though! I mean, I thought I had seen and heard of a lot of strange stuff...until now! This goes far beyond my level of strangeness, that's for sure! Once again I find myself admitting that I don't even know something. In this case, maybe that's a good thing!

The Pants Made Of One Piece Of Flayed Skin
By Debra Kelly on Friday, November 29, 2013

If you think carrying a rabbit’s foot for luck is of questionable taste, necropants are right off the charts. Necropants are pants made of the skin of a friend who’s agreed to have their body flayed from the waist down, thankfully post-mortem. A part of Icelandic witchcraft, the wearing of necropants is supposed to bring the witch increased wealth.

Necropants. (Go on, say it a few times. It’s fun. We’ll wait.) And now for the cringe-worthy story behind it.

Witchcraft and sorcery were all the rage in the 17th century, and one thing these witches had in common with almost every person of today’s world is the need for more money. So they came up with a rather ingenious spell for ensuring a constant supply of wealth.

First, a deal had to be made with a male friend. This friend had to agree to supply the skin for the necropants (or nabrok) after dying a natural death. After the friend passes away, he is allowed to be buried. The witch then needs to exhume the body and flay it from the waist down, very carefully. Every part of the skin had to be intact and the pants in one piece for the spell to work. There needed to be no holes or tears in the skin, which undoubtedly made for a painstakingly difficult process. After removing the skin, the witch would steal a coin from the dead man’s widow and place it inside the scrotum of the pants. (Every part removed intact, remember?) Then, they only had to add a magical symbol called the Nabrokarstafur written on a piece of parchment.

Now put on the pants.

The necropants will bond to the witch’s own skin, and the magical piece of paper will ensure that there’s a few more coins inside the necropants’ scrotum every day—as long as the widow’s coin is never removed. For as long as the witch wears the pants, they will look so much like their own skin as to be indistinguishable. Which is a good thing—no one wants to be caught wearing necropants.

The Icelandic witches were nothing if not practical. If someone was found worthy enough, the necropants could be passed on to another down through generations. In order to keep the magic in them, the witch would have to get rid of the pants before they died.

? A pair of replica necropants are on display at the Strandagaldur, The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft. The displays of regional magic is quite different from European witchcraft, and includes some of the spell components needed for spells to make one invisible, and to summon a goat-milk-stealing creature. (You need a corpse’s rib bone wrapped in wool and kept between the breasts of a woman who has spit out her Communion offerings for three weeks in a row, in case you were curious.)

These rituals were by no means the norm for Icelandic cultures, any more than the witches of Salem were thought to be anything but unholy. Witches were viewed as heretics just the same as they were in Europe and the New World. More frequently it was men would be executed for practicing witchcraft rather than women, but the taboo behind the practices were the same. Witchcraft was often seen as the last resort of an oppressed, poor people who had little education and little chance to advance through a strict class system without some outside help.

Each and everyday I realize that this old world is far much stranger than even I thought! That, my friends, is saying a lot!

You know what? It looks like a beautiful day outside, so let's have our coffee out on the patio this morning!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Fun For Friday...!

I figured that instead of having a "Black Friday", here at the Hermit's we would do a funny Friday, OK?

Hope you all had a nice day yesterday. Plenty of food, visiting, and a nice nap...of course!

Sex @ 73 and other deep thoughts.......


I just took a leaflet out of my mailbox, informing me that I can have sex at 73!
I'm so happy, because I live at number 71, So it's not too far to walk home afterwards. And it's the same side of the street. I don't even have to cross the road!

~~~~~ Answering machine message,

"I am not available right now, but thank you for caring enough to call.
I am making some changes in my life. Please leave a message after the beep.
If I do not return your call, you are one of the changes."

~~~~~ My wife and I had words, but I didn't get to use mine.

~~~~~ Frustration is trying to find your glasses without your glasses.

~~~~~ Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.

~~~~~ The irony of life is that by the time you're old enough to know your way around, you're not going anywhere.

~~~~~ God made man before woman so as to give him time to think of an answer for her first question.

~~~~~ I was always taught to respect my elders, but it keeps getting harder to find one.

~~~~~ Every morning is the dawn of a new error.

~~~~~ The quote of the month is by Jay Leno:

"With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?"

Aspire to inspire before you expire.

I hope these little gems can help you get through the leftovers and house cleaning today! Maybe we'll get some sunshine!

Coffee in the kitchen to start this morning! Lemon pie, anyone?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Well, It's Turkey Day...!

Thanksgiving is supposed to be about tradition and family! Things like that used to be really important, ya know? Somewhere down the line, we sort of lost a little of that!

I, for one, would like to have some of it back! That's why all of you are my extended family for the holidays, if that's OK by you!

Have a great Thanksgiving, my friends! Hot coffee out on the patio, OK?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cowboys Get Owned...!

Sometimes we can learn from history and sometimes we don't! We should remember that there will always be good and bad on both sides.

All my early life, I was taught that the worse thing to do in any fight was to start trouble in someone else's home turf. I always thought that was good advice. It might have served these cowboys better to have followed that as well!

Dec 1, 1884:
Elfego Baca battles Anglo cowboys

Elfego Baca, legendary defender of southwestern Hispanos, manages to hold off a gang of 80 cowboys who are determined to kill him.

The trouble began the previous day, when Baca arrested Charles McCarthy, a cowboy who fired five shots at him in a Frisco (now Reserve), New Mexico, saloon. For months, a vicious band of Texan cowboys had terrorized the Hispanos of Frisco, brutally castrating one young Mexican man and using another for target practice. Outraged by these abuses, Baca gained a commission as deputy sheriff to try to end the terror. His arrest of McCarthy served notice to other Anglo cowboys that further abuses of the Hispanos would not be tolerated.

The Texans, however, were not easily intimidated. The morning after McCarthy's arrest, a group of about 80 cowboys rode into town to free McCarthy and make an example of Baca for all Mexicans. Baca gathered the women and children of the town in a church for their safety and prepared to make a stand. When he saw how outnumbered he was, Baca retreated to an adobe house, where he killed one attacker and wounded several others. The irate cowboys peppered Baca's tiny hideout with bullets, firing about 400 rounds into the flimsy structure. As night fell, they assumed they had killed the defiant deputy sheriff, but the next morning they awoke to the smell of beef stew and tortillas--Baca was fixing his breakfast.

A short while later, two lawmen and several of Baca's friends came to his aid, and the cowboys retreated. Baca turned himself over to the officers, and he was charged with the murder of one of the cowboys. In his trial in Albuquerque, the jury found Baca not guilty because he had acted in self-defense, and he was released to a hero's welcome among the Hispanos of New Mexico. Baca was adored because he had taken a stand against the abusive and racist Anglo newcomers. Hugely popular, Baca later enjoyed a successful career as a lawyer, private detective, and politician in Albuquerque.

Things are not always what they seems. We tend to forget that sometimes the apparent good guys aren't, and that the under dog can sometimes turn out the winner!

Coffee in the kitchen again this morning. I'm hoping for some sunshine to warm things up a tad!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Short And Simple For Tuesday...!

Since it is a holiday week, I figured we would go with simple, easy, and fun!

No need to get all fancy and stuff, ya think?


Doesn't need any explanation does it? I didn't think so!

Coffee in the kitchen again. Rainy and cold outside!

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Bloody Monday Mystery...!

Here is an interesting story from the folks over at KnowledgeNuts that I figured you might like! You might even recognize on of the characters involved!

Seems like folks are always finding ways to do away with others! Been that way for a long time, I reckon. Just mankind being human, or almost human!

The Mad Butcher Of Kingsbury Run
By Aaron Short on Sunday, November 24, 2013

In Cleveland in the 1930s, a serial killer stalked the shantytown of Kingsbury Run, dismembering his victims with surgical precision. He was called “The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run,” or just “The Torso Killer.” The detective out to stop him was Elliot Ness, the same Elliot Ness who’d tangled with Al Capone a few years earlier. Even though a suspect was eventually arrested, the “Torso Killer” may have escaped to carry on killing—Elliot Ness received taunting letters for the rest of his life.

In Cleveland, a few years after the Prohibition Era had ended, a serial killer stalked the streets, hunted by no less than Elliot Ness: the legendary detective who’d fought a long, drawn-out battle with Al Capone. This killer, also sometimes known as The Cleveland Torso Murderer, dissected bodies with surgical precision, removing the head while the victim was still alive in most cases, leaving behind chemically treated torsos. Starting in the year 1934, he claimed 13 victims, both male and female.

The victims were nearly all vagrants who came from the Kingsbury Run area—a dilapidated ghetto of shanty houses that had been erected by the poor during the Depression. A cat-and-mouse game erupted between Ness and the Butcher. Ness’s tactics were just as heavy-handed as the ones he’d used against Capone and the bootleggers. He raided Kingsbury Run, arresting all the vagrants. After the town was evacuated and all the vagrants fingerprinted, it was burned down. Ness believed this would deprive the butcher of victims, but it just resulted in public backlash.

Eventually, the police arrested a suspect who ended up confessing—but only after being interrogated continuously for more than 40 hours. Many who have since investigated the case doubt that the arrest suspect was the Butcher due to lack of evidence and the manner of his confession. In any case, the suspect killed himself before his broken testimony could go to court—and to end rampant press coverage and increasing public hysteria, the case was labeled “closed.” Although the killings stopped abruptly after that, Elliot Ness would receive taunting messages and postcards for the rest of his life that claimed to be from the Butcher himself.

I can't imagine what it would be like to go through the rest of your professional life being haunted by the likes of a mad killer! Might make you jump at shadows, ya know?

Coffee and hot chocolate in the kitchen this morning. 40 degrees outside is just too cold for this old man!