Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Already...?

Well, I reckon it is, at that! I swear I don't know where the time goes anymore.

Of course, being Sunday and all, we have to have some 'toons. Well, we don't really have to, but some folks like to have them, ya know? Besides, it's better than hearing more of the terrible news from around the world, don't ya think?

We don't see much of Pluto anymore. Back in the day, he was fairly popular, though!

Funny how we can get so many emotions just from the expressions on the face of a cartoon, isn't it?

Just one more to start the day! Certainly more fun than cleaning the patio!

Guess this is what they mean about "if ya can't beat 'em, join 'em", ya reckon?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Cinnamon rolls all around!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Little Forensic Mystery For Saturday...!

Just to be doing something a tad different, I figured I would post a good forensic story here for your enjoyment.

Sometimes the answer to what seems to be a total mystery can be a very simple one. This story will show what I mean!

Colonel William Shy’s Grave

9- william shy

The Facts: On December 15–16, 1864, the city of Nashville became a battleground for the already bloody American Civil War. William M. Shy, a Confederate Colonel of the 20th Tennessee Regiment, was shot in the head at point-blank range on the second day of the Battle of Nashville. This is where the story should have ended, but a 1977 excavation of his grave site proved that Colonel Shy was not yet through with the world.

The Weird: In December 1977, forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass arrived in Nashville to investigate a case of vandalism at William Shy’s grave. The grave had been excavated, and a headless body had been propped upright on top of a 19th-century cast-iron coffin. The body appeared to be in an advanced state of deterioration and decay, but some discernible flesh and joints were still completely intact. Dr. Bass and the other forensic experts on the case made the natural assumption that the body had not belonged to the colonel, because his body should have already decomposed to dust.

After further examination, Dr. Bass declared that the body had been dead less than a year, and therefore definitely could not belong to Col. William Shy. But the inconsistencies kept piling up. Soon after the initial investigation, the body’s head was found—with a gunshot wound through the skull. Further, the clothes and casket did seem to be authentic Civil War-era artifacts. The answer was almost laughably simple, but it kept the forensic experts baffled for weeks. The cast-iron coffin—which was a rare privilege reserved for someone of Col. Shy’s social status—was secure enough to keep out all moisture, insects, and oxygen that would have progressed the decomposition process. With none of those present, the body was essentially trapped in a time capsule.

See what I mean? Simple answer if you know what to look for.

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Raining lightly out on the patio.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Good Story For Freaky Friday...!

I believe that the mystery lovers in our midst will like this story sent to me by Baby Sis. I enjoyed it, but then I always like stories dealing with the ironic!

For the mystery fans...

Better than Agatha Christie

Anyone want to take a shot at the odds of this ever happening again? For those who have served on a jury, this one is something to think about. Just when you think you have heard everything!

Do you like to read a good murder mystery?

Not even Law and Order would attempt to capture this mess.

 This is an unbelievable twist of fate!

 At the 1994 annual awards dinner given for Forensic Science (AAFS), President Dr. Don Harper Mills astounded his audience with the legal complications of a bizarre death.

 Here is the story: On March 23, 1994, the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus, and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head.

Mr. Opus had jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide. He left a note to that effect indicating his despondency.

As he fell past the ninth floor, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through a window, which killed him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the deceased was aware that a safety net had been installed just below the eighth floor level to protect some building workers, and that Ronald Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide the way he had planned.

The room on the ninth floor, where the shotgun blast emanated, was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing vigorously and he was threatening her with a shotgun! The man was so upset that when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife, and the pellets went through the window, striking Mr. Opus.

When one intends to kill subject 'A' but kills subject 'B' in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject 'B.'

When confronted with the murder charge, the old man and his wife were both adamant, and both said that they thought the shotgun was not loaded. The old man said it was a long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun.

He had no intention to murder her. Therefore the killing of Mr. Opus appeared to be an accident; that is, assuming the gun had been accidentally loaded.

The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple's son loading the shotgun about six weeks prior to the fatal accident.

It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother.

Since the loader of the gun was aware of this, he was guilty of the murder even though he didn't actually pull the trigger. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.

Now comes the exquisite twist...

Further investigation revealed that the son was, in fact, Ronald Opus. He had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother's murder. This led him to jump off the ten-story building on March 23rd, only to be killed by a shotgun blast passing through the ninth story window. The son, Ronald Opus, had actually murdered himself. So the medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

A true story from Associated Press.

I would say that this is the ultimate story of irony, wouldn't you? I mean, who could make this stuff up?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Fresh cantaloupe on the side.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Did You Say " Heroic Politicians...?"

It isn't often that you hear the words heroic and politician together. In fact, this may be one of the first I know of.

Helping women to get the vote was not considered a good way to advance your political future, yet several did just that. They risked a lot to see that the right of women to vote became the law of the land. I reckon that heroic could rightly be used in this case, don't you?

Heroic Politicians

“Heroic” and “politician” don’t usually go together, but some of America’s male politicians were definitely suffrage heroes. In 1878, Senator Aaron Sargent of California—a friend of Susan B. Anthony and a steadfast supporter of women’s rights—introduced a bill nicknamed “the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.” It stated that no citizen could be prevented from voting because of their gender. Unfortunately, the bill took a while to pass.

Forty years later, three congressmen went above and beyond to help the Anthony Amendment (now officially the 19th Amendment) pass the House of Representatives. Thetus W. Sims of Tennessee had a painful broken shoulder, but he not only showed up to vote with his arm in a sling, he also lobbied his Southern colleagues to vote for the bill, too. Indiana’s Henry Barnhart was carried into the House on a stretcher to give his vote. And Congressman Frederick Hicks of West Virginia obeyed his dying wife’s request to leave her bedside so he could make sure the amendment passed.

But the drama wasn’t over even when the 19th Amendment finally won passage in both the House and the Senate—it still had to be ratified by at least 36 states. The press followed the frantic trip of West Virginia State Senator Jessie Bloch as he rushed home from a vacation in California because the governor had called a special ratification session. He knew the bill wouldn’t pass without him—and he arrived just in time to cast the vote that made West Virginia the 34th state to ratify the Amendment.

Even more dramatic was the saga of 24-year-old State Representative Harry Burn. His vote made Tennessee the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, and thus was the deciding vote in making women’s suffrage the law of the land. Desperate anti-suffragists demanded that Harry change his “aye” to “nay.” They accused him of taking bribes, ordered his mom to make him change his mind, and generally harassed him until he had to hire bodyguards. But Harry stood firm, proud of his action “to free 17 million women from political slavery.”

I can't help but wonder how many politicians today would do the same thing? My guess is that very few would step up, know what I mean?

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More Lewis And Clark For Western Wednesday...!

There is something about the Lewis and Clark expedition that continues to call out to a lot of us. I don't really know what it is, but the call is there.

Here is a bit of history from that expedition that I didn't know until now. I thought I might share it with you!

Lewis and Clark promote Patrick Gass to sergeant

Following the death of Sergeant Charles Floyd, Lewis and Clark promote Patrick Gass as his replacement.

Barely three months into their journey to the Pacific, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark lost the only man to die on the journey. On August 20, 1804, Sergeant Charles Floyd died from a disease Lewis diagnosed as "Biliose Chorlick," or bilious colic. Based on the symptoms described, Floyd's appendix had probably ruptured and he died of peritonitis. After burying Floyd on a high bluff above the Missouri River, the expedition moved on toward the Pacific Ocean.

Two days later, the captains held an election among the men to determine Floyd's replacement. Private Patrick Gass received a majority of the votes. A native of Pennsylvania, Gass had joined the U.S. Army in 1799 at the age of 28. He proved to be a reliable soldier and soon won promotion to sergeant. When a call for volunteers to join Lewis and Clark's journey of exploration to the Pacific was released, Gass jumped at the chance. Lewis overrode the commander's objections to giving up his best noncommissioned officer, and Gass joined the Corps of Discovery as a private.

Gass proved himself a capable man in the first weeks of the mission. The captains agreed with their men--Gass was the best choice to replace Floyd as one of the two sergeants on the expedition. On this day in 1804, Lewis issued an order promoting Gass to the rank of "Sergeant in the corps of volunteers for North Western Discovery." Gass proved more than equal to the task. He served faithfully during the long journey to the Pacific and kept a careful journal throughout the journey, an important historical contribution.

After the expedition returned, Lewis and Clark released Gass from duty, giving him a letter testifying to his excellent service. Gass settled in Wellsburg, West Virginia, where he prepared for the publication of his journal. Appearing seven years before the official narrative of the journey was published, A Journal of the Voyages and Travels of a Corps of Discovery was a well-crafted account of the journey that continues to be useful to historians.

Having already completed the adventure of a lifetime, Gass still had many decades ahead of him. He served again in the army, lost an eye during the War of 1812, married at the age of 58, and fathered seven children. For most of his later years, Gass was the sole surviving member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. He lived until 1870, dying only a few months short of his 100th birthday.

Looks like this old boy had a lot going for him. To live that long at the time was quite an accomplishment in itself. Anoither unsung hero in our colorful history, I reckon!

Coffee out on the patio this morning, but we may have to go to the kitchen if it starts raining!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hold It In, Yellowstone...!

We all know that if Yellowstone ever blows it's top, we are in deep trouble! Luckily, it may be a while!

This study I found over at KnowledgeNuts tells the story much better than I can! Interesting stuff!

Yellowstone National Park Is Not Bringing The Apocalypse
By Dustin Koski on Monday, August 25, 2014

Many mainstream publications recently posited that Yellowstone National Park, which is effectively situated on top of a supervolcano, might soon erupt in a manner which would destroy America and civilization as we know it. The story was widely covered (because fear is easy to sell), but the real story hasn’t received the same coverage. Analysis of the seismic activity around the area indicates that there will not be any supervolcanic eruptions for hundreds of millennia.

If you’re a doomsayer, Yellowstone National Park was a perfect potential cause for the apocalypse. There was the irony that a place considered such an American touchstone would cover America in dozens of feet of ash and the irony that such a tranquil place (geysers aside) would bring about so much destruction. There was also what seemed to be an unusual degree of scientific credibility to it as far as doomsday scenarios go.

Every 600,000 years, the Yellowstone National Park caldera had a super eruption. These eruptions were extraordinarily huge: They ranged in size from 1,000 to 6,000 times the size of the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption. The Yellowstone super eruptions generated so much ash that Denver, Colorado would be buried in several feet of it, with piles of the stuff drifting to an estimated 19 states. Due to being superheated, this ash would not merely pile up but has been shown to actually fuse together. So it would not only asphyxiate countless people, make travel over a vast region impossible, and disrupt the climate, but it would essentially put a layer of asphalt over 19 states of the US. Crops would be destroyed, and great tracts of land would be unusable for farming for generations. The last time something like this happened was 630,000 years ago, supposedly indicating that if anything, another one is overdue.

At worst, however, that won’t happen for a period of time longer than human civilization has existed. At best, it won’t happen at all. The National Park Service, US Geological Survey, and National Science Foundation are all in agreement that there is not evidence that an eruption is imminent.

The cycle of eruptions based on past supervolcanic activity indicates that Yellowstone is actually becoming less seismically active over time. The National Park Service states that at most there will be increased lava flow activity in the near future, which would be a manageable threat—even people in Yellowstone could be safely evacuated. The Geological Survey states that it will be at least one million years before such an eruption would be likely, possibly as many as two million.

Of course, some will offer that it’s possible that the people monitoring the seismic activity around Yellowstone Park are horribly wrong. After all, the aforementioned Mt. St. Helens eruption caught experts by surprise. But if it turns out Yellowstone ever does erupt, presumably the embarrassment will be the least of our concerns.

Now, I'm glad to have the views of all the experts on this situation, believe me! I only hope for all our sake that they are right!

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Miraculous Monday Mystery...!

Sometimes you just have to wonder if a certain event was seen over by some higher power, know what I mean?

Here is a case that shows exactly what I mean. I found this over at Listverse and it is a good example of what I'm talking about.

The Miraculous Survival Of The West End Baptist Church Choir

On the evening of March 1, 1950, the West End Baptist Church in the small town of Beatrice, Nebraska was completely destroyed after an explosion. The explosion itself, caused by a natural gas leak, wasn’t a mystery, but the unlikely chain of events that saved the lives of the 15 people who should have been present is nothing short of a miracle.

The church’s choir was scheduled to meet for practice at 7:20 PM on the night of the explosion. The devoted singers were known for their punctuality, but somehow, all 15 members of the choir were late that night. As a result, none of them had yet arrived at the church when it exploded at 7:27.

The choir director and her daughter, the church pianist, had planned to show up 30 minutes early that night. However, the daughter fell asleep, causing both of them to arrive late. The church pastor and his wife wound up running late after their daughter spilled food on her dress. Two choir members didn’t arrive on time because their cars wouldn’t start. Other members were held up by seemingly mundane tasks such as writing a letter, listening to a radio show, and finishing homework. One even ended up running late despite living directly across the street from the church. In the end, every single member of the choir was spared from a potentially tragic event in what was either one of the most astonishing coincidences of all time or an act of divine intervention.

Now you can think what you want about this event, but in my opinion if there were ever a case to be made of some divine intervention, this would qualify.

Coffee out on the patio again. I have a plate of vanilla sugar wafers I'll share!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Again Already...?

I reckon that Sunday kinda sneaks up on me sometimes. It sure did this week!

Of course Sunday here at the hermit's means cartoons. Some folks don't like them and some do, but now it's become sort of a habit, ya know?

OK, that's enough for this morning. After all, we all have something more important to do, right?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. I have some really good white grapes I'll share!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Let's Talk About Naps...!

I may have mentioned before that I enjoy the chance to take an afternoon nap. I find it refreshing, for the most part!

What I didn't know until I read this article over at KnowledgeNuts is that there are several types of naps, and each has it's own special benefit. How cool is that?

The Benefits Of The Different Types Of Naps
By Debra Kelly on Tuesday, June 3, 2014

There’s a lot to be said for the benefits of napping, and taking differently timed naps during the day can provide you with quite the variety. Short naps lasting no more than about 20 minutes will increase your immediate processing ability, while slightly longer, 60-minute naps can provide you with a boost to your creativity. And 45-minute naps will leave you with health benefits like lowered blood pressure.

As much as we might have hated the necessity of taking naps as children, chances are good that we can’t seem to get enough of them as adults. Naps have always had a very distinct sort of stigma attached to them. However, in some parts of the world, taking a mid-afternoon nap means that you’re probably doing something you’re not supposed to be doing all night, or that you’re just inherently lazy. Other parts of the world find it absolutely acceptable to have an afternoon siesta, and according to science, they’re the ones that are getting it right.

Humans are programmed to sleep not in one eight-hour stretch, but in smaller sections. It’s been shown to reboot our brains and make us better problem solvers, learners, and workers. Not all naps are created equal, though, and how long you nap depends on what kind of benefits you’d like to get.

Many experts—such as those over at the National Sleep Foundation—recommend a relatively short nap of between 20 and 30 minutes for an immediate boost in productivity and alertness. Nap for any longer than that and you’re likely to have trouble falling asleep later.

There’s also the problem of something called “sleep inertia.” That’s the recovery time you need to wake up completely after a nap, and spending more than half an hour sleeping during the day will leave most people with a prolonged, groggy feeling that completely negates the idea of napping in the first place. This differs between people, and some of us can’t nap for more than about 10 minutes without struggling to wake up.

The improvement to alertness and brain function that we experience after a short nap lasts only between one and three hours, on average, before we’re feeling tired again. Longer naps of more than half an hour will give us a much, much longer period of feeling better, once we shake off the groggy feeling and recover from the shortened sleep period.

There’s also a very different and bizarrely specific type of nap that’s been called the six-minute nap. Because of the length of time that our sleep cycle takes, sleeping for six minutes can help us become more efficient at accessing our long-term memory. Similarly, napping through a few of these cycles can also help lengthen the improvement of our recall, as long as we’re in that six-minute time frame.

For those of us with irregular schedules, we might also try a 90-minute nap. Putting your head down for 90 minutes has been found to produce a minimum amount of the above-mentioned sleep inertia, while completing one of our full sleep cycles. This means that if we’re looking for a boost to our creativity or a little stability to our emotional state, a 90-minute nap is the way to go.

Different naps have different associations with physical benefits, too. Nap for 45 minutes, and you’ll find you’re lowering your blood pressure. Nap for 30 minutes a day on a regular basis, and you’re 37 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease.

Aside from duration, there are other differences in naps. Taking a nap purely for relaxation and enjoyment is called appetitive napping, while those who work naps into their daily schedule are habitual napping. Emergency napping happens when you’re in the middle of doing something and become so run down and sleepy that you just can’t keep doing what you’re doing without a break to recharge. And those of us that prepare for a late night out with a quick afternoon nap? That’s planned napping.

Now that I know that naps are actually healthy and good for me, I don't feel bad about taking one every day when I can.See...older folks are smarter than some youngsters thought!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Pineapple upside down cake on the side,OK?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Italy Without Pasta...?

Can you imagine a country like Italy without pasta? That's like Germany without beer, or the Swiss without chocolate, or the French without wine!

Of course, none of those are the case today, but pasta could have disappeared from Italy, thanks to Mussolini. Here's the tasty story from KnowledgeNuts.

Mussolini Tried To Abolish Pasta 

By Debra Kelly on Thursday, August 21, 2014

When Mussolini started his domestic campaign to make Italy a self-sufficient country, he took aim at one of Italy’s most beloved foods—pasta. He raised the fees associated with importing grains and insisted that Italians begin eating rice instead of pasta. He even had the support of the art movement known as the Futurists, who derided pasta as not being modern enough. Needless to say, the campaign didn’t work. 

What’s more Italian than pasta? There are so many different kinds of pasta that it’s impossible to keep track of them all—vermicelli, spaghetti, ravioli, conchiglie . . . literally, there are hundreds of different types. That almost wasn’t the case, though, at least not after World War II, Mussolini, and the Futurists.

One of Mussolini’s many goals was to make Italy as self-sufficient as it could possibly be, which seems like it just might be reasonable enough. Italy was relying on huge amounts of imported grains to keep up with the demand for not just pasta, but different types of bread as well. To discourage this reliance on imports, Mussolini raised the import fees associated with grains, and began a propaganda campaign to encourage only consumption of foods made from home-grown grains and produce.

The dictator even went so far as to write a poem on the matter, bidding his subjects to love bread but not to consume too much of it—and then, only eat what was made in the country. He also pushed the Italian people to turn their back on a longtime staple—pasta. He wanted farmers to devote their fields to raising rice instead, and he had a huge base of supporters in the Futurist movement.

The Futurists were an up-and-coming art movement that derided anything that wasn’t on the cutting edge of modern. They wanted Italy to be on the front lines of the future, and they saw one thing holding the entire country back—its love of pasta.

Movement leader Filippo Marinetti scorned pasta, being none too subtle in what he thought of this cornerstone of the Italian diet. He called it heavy and anti-virile, saying that no true fighters would ever eat pasta because of its tendency to weigh you down. He also made it clear that pasta wasn’t a choice for a man’s man or a lady’s man, as no one ever got amorous with a stomach full of starch.

He pointed fingers at the diets of other countries, saying that others had chosen foods that brought out the best in them; he insisted that Italy needed to do the same.

It was a pretty clever political move as well. The Futurists took up the idea that rice was a more modern food, that it was better for the Italian people and that it was cutting edge at the same time. This got their thinking right in line with one of Mussolini’s major domestic campaigns in a time when Italy’s allies were cracking down on the development of avant-garde art movements elsewhere in Europe.

Not surprisingly, the movement to replace pasta with rice was met with quite a bit of pushback from the Italian people. They wrote and signed petitions, they refused to like—or even try—some of the trendier dishes that the Futurists put forward in an attempt to get them to forget about pasta (because who doesn’t like chicken roasted with ball bearings?) and they even wrote verses that appeared in newspapers across the world.

The view of the people was summed up quite nicely by this verse that appeared in a newspaper in Adelaide, South Australia: “A dear food has vanished; spaghetti is banished, from every Italian home. The Duce Mussolini they reckon a meany, although they won’t say it aloud.”

I've heard of some pretty silly ideas from politicians, but this has to have been one one of the craziest of all! What was the man thinking?

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Doctor Jekyll, Mr. Hyde From Memory...?

I can only imagine what would have happened had Robert Louis Stevenson not had an excellent memory.

This classic has probably been read or the movies seen by more folks than just about any other classic going! Just imagine, this historic gem was almost lost to us all!

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde


Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 horror classic is the sort of book other novelists go nuts over. It’s spawned movies, unofficial sequels, and academic essays. Yet the version we read is only a remake. In 1885, Stevenson finished his original tale, only for his wife Fanny to turn it into a bonfire.

At the time, Stevenson was crippled by tuberculosis, whacked out on cocaine, and probably half-mad. So when he showed Fanny this insane story and declared it his masterpiece, she assumed he’d truly gone nuts. She thought the book would ruin his reputation and destroy them financially, so she torched it to convince Stevenson to write something better instead. 

Had the author been even fractionally less committed to his idea, that probably would have been the end of one (or two?) of literature’s greatest characters. But Stevenson was nothing if not dedicated. Over the next three days, he rewrote the 30,000-word manuscript from memory, presumably while also making sure his wife kept well away from matches. 

We can all be thankful that Mr. Stevenson, sick or not, was of sound enough mind to re-write this wonderful story. Long will it be remembered.

Coffee out on the patio this morning...and boy, do I need it!

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?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Apache "Broken Foot" On Western Wednesday...!

I think we sometimes write the older guys off when it comes to the important things, like fighting.

Someone forgot to tell ol' "Broken Foot" of that fact. He showed up many of the younger warriors in several encounters with the whites.

Kas-Tziden Nana


Kas-Tziden, which means “broken foot” in Apache, suggested Nana’s lameness in his left foot and constant suffering from rheumatism. This disability, and the fact that he was 81 years old, meant nothing to the Apache war leader.

Nana of the Chihenne or Warm Springs Apache was born around 1800 and later married the sister of famed tribal warrior Geronimo. They had five daughters, all of whom married tribal chiefs and renowned warriors. It was perhaps his capability in weaving alliances among the various Apache groups that allowed him to form a war band. In 1881, not content to leave the fighting to the younger generation, he led one of the greatest Apache raids the country would see.

Nana and his 15–40 warriors covered 1,600 kilometers (1,000 mi) of enemy territory, from the mountainous regions of Mexico to the plains of the southern United States. Along the way, they fought Mexican and American troops in multiple engagements, killing and wounding dozens of soldiers and capturing hundreds of horses and livestock. For several weeks, the US cavalry chased Nana and his band fruitlessly, never capturing the 81-year-old warrior with the lame foot. The Apache raiders returned to their territory safe and unmolested, bringing unrivaled loot. Nana remained free until 1886, when he was captured while fighting alongside Geronimo, and lived out the rest of his days in peace in Fort Sill, Oklahoma until his death on May 19, 1896.

Well, from one older guy speaking for another, I think the old man was a hero of sorts. Certainly had his share of backbone, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Let's toast to the old guys!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Let's Talk Electric Cars...!

Like most of us, I had the idea that a workable electric car was a fairly new idea, but I was wrong.

In fact, I was really surprised at just how long ago electric cars were in use! Goes to show that we are never too old to learn something new, I reckon.

The Electric Car Is A Much Older Idea Than You May Think
By Debra Kelly on Thursday, August 7, 2014


With a nearly global push to be more environmentally friendly, electric cars are the new, up-and-coming thing. Only, they’re nothing new. In 1897, the London streets were patrolled by a fleet of all-electric taxis, and the idea was first developed in the 1830s.

We tend to think of electric cars as something new. Naysayers also think of them as something perhaps less reliable and less powerful than the standard gasoline- or diesel-powered cars, and they’ve got something of a reputation as being for the more environmentally-minded. They’re new, they’re trendy, they’re still being developed—only, they’re not that new.

With the original development of the automobile came not only the Model-Ts we all think of today, but also the electric car. In the 1830s, a couple different styles of electric cars were created and by 1897, they were serving as taxis in London. The introduction of the electric cars didn’t go off without a hiccup, though. Because cars were originally sharing the streets with horse-drawn carriages, many were afraid that the scary vehicles would spook countless horses and cause just as many accidents. Until November 1896, there was a law in Britain that all cars had to be led by a man waving a red flag, warning others in the area that a car was approaching.

The Red Flag Act was ultimately repealed, and the car’s popularity soared when the Prince of Wales rode in one.

By 1897, there was a fleet of 75 Bersey taxis throughout London, and they were electric. There were also a number of electric taxis humming their way around New York City.

The cars had a range of about 50 kilometers (30 mi), which sounds like an impractically short distance; but traveling through London blocks, they were ideal for city driving. Their top speed was only about 20 kph (12 mph), which again, for city driving isn’t too shabby at the turn of the century. A ride in one of the two-ton electric taxis cost as much as a ride in a horse-drawn one, and there was seemingly only one major drawback that people needed some time to get used to—the electric lights that were mounted on the inside and outside of the cars.

Rather than taking the time to recharge the batteries, the Bersey taxis were built so they could have their batteries replaced quickly. This meant only a quick two- or three-minute stop at their home station, and they were back out on the road.

The benefits of the electric cars were much like they are today. Electricity was renewable, the cars were quiet (all but eliminating the worrisome possibilities of spooking the 11,000 or so horses that were already working on the city streets), and largely pollution-free. Another huge benefit was that the cars weren’t started by the often troublesome crank handles that many people had a tough time turning—those went away with the electric cars’ invention of the electric starter.

Electricity was still insanely expensive at this time, though, and producing enough to power the cars means that Bersey didn’t just need to build, manufacture and maintain the cars, they also needed to generate their own power. The cars were also subject to massive amounts of wear and tear, mostly generated from the vibrations of running across London’s uneven, car-unfriendly roads. Glass broke, tires wore thin, and engines broke down.

Bersey’s taxi company lost most than £6,000 in its first year, a staggering amount for the late 1800s. They hadn’t counted on the upkeep that the cars would need, and ended up going out of business in 1899. Today, there’s only one of Bersey’s electric cars known to still exist, and it’s in London’s Science Museum.

It’s a beautiful work of Victorian scientific ingenuity, that might have made today’s world a very different place . . . if it had been more cost-effective.

Who knows where we would be today if the electric car was allowed to stay around? Certainly seems to be the way to go to me.

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Military Mystery For Monday...!

War time is filled with many mysteries, most of which we never hear about. This one struck me as strange.

So many questions surround this particular event that it certainly qualifies as a true mystery, I think.

The Mysterious Souvenir

In August 1943, a fierce battle on the island of Bougainville, off the coast of New Guinea, left many soldiers dead. After the fighting was over, a US marine happened upon the body of a Japanese soldier and decided to search it to see if he could find any “souvenirs.” To his great surprise, he discovered a newspaper clipping and a photograph of an American girl. The clipping revealed that the girl was 18 years old, from St. Petersburg, Florida, and about the take part in a beauty pageant. Being from St. Petersburg himself, he took the clipping and photo with him when he left the island.

Two years later, a young girl by the name of Wanda Wilson was visited by a stranger at her parents’ home in St. Petersburg. At the time, Wanda had a job at Florida Power, a part-time modeling career, and was in love with a colleague.

Marine corporal Robert Goddard was about to throw a spanner in the works, producing the photograph he had found in the dead Japanese soldier’s pocket. Wanda gasped as she recognized herself in the picture, which had originally appeared in the St. Petersburg Times in March 1942. No one knew how the picture and clipping could have ended up in a Japanese soldier’s pocket on the other side of the world, a year and a half after it was published.

Even if the Japanese soldier did what Goddard did, and took the picture from an American soldier’s corpse, who was the American soldier? Wanda did not recognize the names or pictures of any American soldiers who died on the island.

Thanks to the folks over at Listverse for digging up stories like this for all to read. Sure does make some handy reference material.

Coffee out on the hot patio this morning. No critters around that I can see!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Some More Sunday 'Toons...!

Time once again to visit the ol' time vault and dig up some older 'toons from the past. That's what we normally do, right?

Remind me to tell ya about the 'possum the cats chased into my room later. 10:00 at night and I, chasing a damn 'possum around! That should be a cartoon worth showing if I had it on tape!

OK, that's enough for today. I have to go see if I can find that dang 'possum. Don't want him crawing into bed with me, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning! Watch out for the 'possum, OK?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Say Again, Mr. Ford...!

At the very best of times, many of us can be made to appear less than savvy about certain history. However, for some this has caused a lot of embarrassment!

While there is a very old saying that says "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt", or words to that effect. Having money doesn't always mean a lack of ignorance, but in some cases it might give the impression of being somewhat of an airhead! This could be really bad for your public image, especially in a courtroom.

How To Prove Henry Ford Was Dumb (In Court)

By Dustin Koski on Friday, August 8, 2014


Henry Ford once sued the Chicago Tribune for slander because it called him an ignorant anarchist. In court, the defense attorney decided to demonstrate Ford’s ignorance and lack of patriotism by asking him basic American history questions. The automobile tycoon consistently missed these questions, and court transcripts of his buffoonery became popular reading at the time. Ultimately, the court ruled in Ford’s favor and awarded him six cents.

Henry Ford is best remembered for his Model T as the vehicle that popularized automobiles across all social classes in America, his extreme implementation of the assembly line (which wasn’t actually his invention) and for being so anti-semitic that Adolf Hitler complimented him in Mein Kampf. But in 1919, he got into a mess that briefly made him a laughingstock—and he had no one to blame but himself.

In a 1916 article, the Chicago Tribune printed a long string of insults, calling Ford “an anarchist,” “an ignorant idealist,” and “incapable of thought” after he protested military mobilization along the Mexican border. Ford sued the newspaper for $1 million. Proceedings began three years later. It would ultimately stretch out for 14 weeks and involve more than two million words of testimony.

At one point, Ford took the stand as the advocate for the Tribune prepared to demonstrate how well deserved the label “ignorant” was. The tycoon was asked a series of basic questions related to American history and his own political activeness. Ford’s wrong answers included believing that the Revolutionary War happened in 1812 and that Benedict Arnold was a writer. Ford was also quickly called on lying when asked about the only year that he voted. (That one wasn’t difficult to verify, since the supposed candidate was long dead by the time the supposed vote was cast.)

With one of the richest and most famous men in America being made to look like he belonged in a comedy show, court transcripts of his testimony began to hit the streets and become popular reading. Supposedly, one wily sales person in the vicinity of the courthouse made enough money selling them that he bought a house with the profits. Ford’s lawsuit (remember, he initiated the fight) was essentially legitimizing attacks that were three years old and no doubt long out of the public consciousness by then.

Ultimately, after hundreds of witnesses testified for both sides, a verdict was laid down in Ford’s favor. For all his time, energy, and humiliation, total costs for the trial had reached $1 million. The court awarded him six cents in damages. Modern readers might be tempted to scoff at such an award, but bear in mind that after adjusting for inflation it would equal 83 cents.

Twenty-two years after the trial, Tribune editor Colonel Robert McCormick wrote Ford an apology for the whole affair. He apparently took it in good spirits, for during a visit to Chicago, the Colonel was invited to meet with Ford in his private railcar. On a less personal note, historians have since reported that while Ford might have looked quite silly during his trial, public opinion shifted to his favor as a result of it. Not knowing too much about history apparently made the millionaire a more relatable figure.

I don't know that I could have answered any of the questions any better than Ford, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't have done much worse. Thanks to the folks over at KnowledgeNuts for making this bit of history available.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Fresh, juicy peaches are available, if you want!

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Sandy Freaky Friday...!

Some of these features for Freaky Friday are places that can actually be visited right here in the good ol' USA. This is just of them.

You'll have to excuse me for not wanting to visit places like this, but I have a real aversion to being eaten by a giant sandy sink hole.

Mount Baldy’s Randomly Appearing Holes


In 2013, a six-year-old boy exploring the sand dunes of Mount Baldy in Indiana Dunes National Park was swallowed by a sinkhole that suddenly appeared beneath him. The boy recovered after a three-hour ordeal in which he was buried under a little more than 3 meters (11 ft) of sand, and other sinkholes have been randomly appearing ever since.

Geologists are baffled by the phenomenon at Mount Baldy. As the landscape is made of sand, which doesn’t create air pockets, none of the conditions necessary for sinkholes to form should be present. In fact, when the sinkholes do occur, they only last about a day before they’re filled in with surrounding sand. The use of ground-penetrating radar has yielded no clues.

A year after the first sinkhole was seen, they’re not only still appearing, they pop up with such frequency that the park is still off-limits. In an attempt to stabilize the sand dune, grasses are being planted with the hope that their root system will stop erosion and ground-shifting. Some scientists believe that the instability of the sand dune may have something to do with its rather storied history, which includes supplying much of the sand once used to make Mason jars.

Living close to the Texas coast, I don't mind the sand at the beach or the dunes. I do have a problem with any sudden appearance of child gobbling sink holes that no one can explain, though. I'm funny that way, I guess!

Coffee outside this morning. Warning was 83 at 3 in the morning, so beware!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A History Of School Shootings...!

I always thought of the many school shootings we seem to have had lately as being a new thing. I was wrong!

According to this article I found over at KnowledgeNuts, they have been going on for many, many years! In fact, I was surprised at just how long they have been around.

School Shootings Are Not Just Modern Phenomena
By Debra Kelly on Tuesday, August 5, 2014

With the relatively recent rash of school shootings in the United States, educators, psychologists, parents, and politicians alike have struggled to rationalize just what drives a young person to commit such a horrible, horrible act. Bizarrely, school shootings and violence aren’t a new thing, and looking back through the centuries will show that schools have always been a hotbed of violence. From a bombing in 1927 that killed 45 people in Bath, Michigan to a 10-year-old girl who was shot in the face on a playground in 1890 by her angry classmate, school violence has haunted us for generations.

There aren’t many events that will evoke a national sense of sorrow, community, support, sadness, and grief like the news of a school shooting. It’s one of those things that is seemingly a recent development, with people eager to blame violent movies, video games, and other modern ideas like easy access to guns or parents more preoccupied with careers than their children.

While some of those issues may certainly be worth discussing, the tragic truth is that school shootings are not a new phenomenon.

One of the worst examples of school violence in the United States happened in 1927, when a farmer named Andrew Kehoe loaded a school with dynamite and set it off while class was in session. He killed 45 people, including 38 children. Kehoe spent several months discreetly hiding dynamite in the school, wiring it to explode with one trigger; when it was time, he started his killing spree with his wife. And when it was done, he set off a car bomb that killed himself and the superintendent of the school. When investigators cleared the rubble, they found unexploded dynamite still in the school, along with sacks of gunpowder. The wiring had shorted out, or the death toll could have easily included most of the town.

By all accounts, Kehoe was an angry man. He was known by the neighbors as one to experiment with dynamite, and as a man who had once killed a barking dog and a horse that was unwilling to work. His hatred toward the school started when, angry about the amount of school taxes he had to pay, he joined the school board and failed to get taxes lowered. He tried running for town clerk, too, and—unsurprisingly—wasn’t elected.

There are, sadly, also plenty of instances of school violence that have been enacted on students and teachers by others students.

In the April 25, 1890 issue of the Daily Alta California, there’s a painfully short article about a 10-year-old girl named Cora Brubach who was shot in the face by a classmate, angry that she had tattled on him for an unnamed offense.

In a 1919 edition of the Washington Times, there’s a similarly short article about a 19-year-old student named Robert Warner, who shot and killed his teacher in a jealous rage after she spurned his advances. And in 1949, Ohio State University fraternity pledge James Heer shot and killed a member of his fraternity after he was stopped from dragging his unwilling date back to his room. He offered the simple explanation that drinking made him trigger-happy.

The farther back you look in history, the more instances of school violence you find. In 1595, a normally harmless prank turned violent when William Sinclair led the traditional annual takeover of Edinburgh, Scotland’s high school in an attempt to get the faculty to start their holidays early. Normally, the students would bar the doors and occupy the school (hence the name of the tradition, known as “barring-out”). This year the students, who were no older than 14, were refused in their bid to start the holidays early. Before entering the school, they had armed themselves with swords and pistols. When men of the town broke down the doors to the school and attempted to end the occupation, Sinclair fired at the men and killed one of the town’s officials, a man named John MacMoran. Bizarrely, it was the principal of the school who was held responsible and fired, while the students, all sons of notable Edinburgh men, weren’t punished in the slightest.

I guess the sad truth is, we seem to never stop finding ways to teach ourselves to kill and maim. Worst yet, our next generation follows in our footsteps all too often.

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

"Butt Shot" On Western Wednesday...!

One thing most hunters are very aware of is that safety is all important when hunting, whether alone or with a partner.

You would think that this would have been second nature to folks that had to hunt to survive, but apparently even the most seasoned of hunters have a bad day!

Aug 11, 1806:
Meriwether Lewis is shot in the leg

While hunting for elk along the Missouri River, Meriwether Lewis is shot in the hip, probably by one of his own men.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark had embarked on their epic journey to the Pacific two years earlier. The 33 members of the Corps of Discovery had experienced many adventures and narrowly escaped disaster on several occasions, but they had lost only one man (Sergeant Floyd, a probable victim of appendicitis) and suffered relatively few serious injuries. Now, at last, they were returning home; St. Louis was scarcely a month away.

A few weeks earlier, Lewis and Clark had divided the party in order to explore additional new territory. The two groups were supposed to reunite at the junction of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers. Lewis, traveling with nine men, hurried down the Missouri, eager to be reunited with Clark and the main body of the expedition. However, he periodically had to take time to stop and hunt for game to feed the hardworking men.

On the morning of this day in 1806, Lewis spotted some elk on a bar in the river thickly overgrown with willows. He put to shore and set out to hunt accompanied by Private Cruzatte. Spotting an elk, Lewis was just about to fire his rifle when he was hit in the buttocks by a bullet. The blow spun him around and slashed a three-inch gash in his hip. Knowing that Cruzatte was blind in one eye and nearsighted in the other, Lewis immediately assumed the private had mistaken him for an elk. "Damn you," Lewis cried. "You have shot me."

When Cruzatte did not respond, Lewis feared Indians might have attacked him. Rushing back to the boat, he rallied the men and sent them off to save Cruzatte. Twenty minutes later, the men returned with Cruzatte. They had seen no Indians, and Cruzatte denied having shot Lewis and claimed he had not heard his shouts.

For the rest of his days, Cruzatte insisted he had not shot his captain. Lewis, however, had the offending bullet: A .54 caliber slug from a modern U.S. Army rifle. Lewis was shot by a gun identical to the one carried by Cruzatte, and one unlikely to be in the hands of any Indian. The near-sighted Cruzatte probably mistook the leather-clad Lewis for an elk, though it is unlikely the private's guilt will ever be proven with absolute certainty.

His wound was not serious, but Lewis spent the next several days lying faced down in the bottom of a canoe as the party proceeded down river. The following day, they caught up with Clark. By the time they reached St. Louis on September 23, Lewis' wound had healed and the excitement of homecoming overshadowed the event.

Now, the first question I have is why anyone in their right mind would go hunting with someone who was blind in one eye and nearsighted in the other! Not a wise move, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning.OK?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How About This Traffic...?

Back when I was still a working slob and had to commute back and forth to work, I tried to live as close to work as I could. The reason? I didn't like traffic!

As this story will indicate, traffic jams can get pretty nasty, but hopefully none of us will ever be caught in a traffic nightmare like this one in China!

The Worst Traffic Jam In History
By S. Grant on Wednesday, July 30, 2014

While cities all over the world struggle with traffic issues, Beijing, China holds the title of having the worst traffic jam to date. In 2010, the China National Highway 110, which runs from Beijing to Yinchuan was clogged for an astounding 12 days over a 100-kilometer (62 mi) stretch of road. Travelers were stuck in their cars for up to five days, and a mini-economy of overpriced food, water, and cigarettes sprang up instantly.

Virtually every large, highly populated city is plagued with traffic problems, with the biggest offenders being places like Bangkok, Beijing, Sao Paulo, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. In these places, folks often have to budget several hours per day just for their commutes. Even the average American in an ordinary city spends nearly an entire work week per year sitting in traffic. With automobile congestion being such a common issue, it’s easy to see how even a minor hindrance on a roadway can lead to major gridlock. This is exactly what happened in 2010 when roadwork created a 12-day, 100-kilometer traffic jam in Beijing, China.

This mega-jam spanned the China National Highway 110 and, ironically, formed from road construction that was intended to relieve traffic congestion. However, these highly trafficked streets couldn’t handle even a temporary reduction in capacity, and the increased maintenance trucks along with the roadwork quickly brought cars to a standstill. Making matters worse were the resulting fender benders and overheated cars. These setbacks left some motorists stuck in their cars for up to five days.

Of course, no matter how dire the situation, there are always those who can find a way to make a profit. As such, opportunistic vendors showed up offering instant noodles, other food items, water, and cigarettes to the stranded drivers at prices as much as 10 times their ordinary rates. Those who refused to buy from the price gougers were sometimes threatened with car damage, and there were multiple incidents of modern-day highwaymen stealing money and siphoning gas. Still, things stayed relatively calm, as 400 police officers were sent in to constantly patrol the road.

This dragged on for nearly two weeks with cars moving at the enormously sluggish pace of 3 kilometers (2 mi) per day. Travelers passed the time by playing cards and chess or napping on the hoods of their cars. Although most of us would never willingly enter such a debacle, apparently some truckers deliberately took the clogged route (when they could have taken a detour), because they wanted to travel longer distances and increase their prices. Obviously this didn’t help the situation.

Amazingly, the traffic jam vanished out of nowhere on the 12th day, which was actually a shorter time than some officials predicted. Seemingly overnight, local authorities had dispersed the congestion, and cars began moving at the ordinary speed—which wasn’t exactly breakneck on this forever traffic-heavy, accident-prone highway.

Incidentally, while Beijing might hold the record for the longest-lasting case of gridlock, the record for the longest traffic jam (in terms of distance) goes to Sao Paulo, Brazil. This city regularly has traffic jams up to 295 kilometers (183 mi) long.

I do hope that those of you still having to commute to work don't have this kind of problem. Still, it's one more reason to have a fully stocked "emergency essentials" bag in the car. You know, for things like food, water, cigarettes, and whiskey. After a traffic jam up like this one, a good stiff drink might be sorely needed, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Cinnamon rolls are nice and warm!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Benjaman Kyle On Monday Mystery...!

Sometimes we forget that there are many folks out there that can't seem to remember their own back story. That's pretty sad!

Imagine not knowing who you really are or being able to remember anything about your past life. No family memories, no friends, nothing. Then to top it off, not having any record with the government, DMV, or the like and suddenly being totally alone and unknown is a real thing.

Benjaman Kyle


Another amnesiac, Benjaman Kyle’s case is even more bizarre than Boatwright’s. In the early morning hours of August 31, 2004, a middle-aged man was found unconscious, lying beside some dumpsters at a Georgia Burger King. The man was presumed homeless and showed signs of blunt force trauma to his skull. Like Boatwright, he did not recognize his own face. Unlike Boatwright, he had no identification on him or even the slightest inkling as to who he was.

Initially dubbed “BK” for “Burger King,” he has since chosen the name Benjaman Kyle. Believed to be in his mid-sixties, Kyle is a bald Caucasian man, granted the dubious honor of being the only American citizen listed as missing even though he lives in the public eye. He has been diagnosed with dissociative amnesia, which, nearly 10 years later, seems like it may be permanent. In a world where no communication appears secure, Kyle remains a phantom. His fingerprints have been run through every available database, including those controlled by the FBI, US military, and government. DNA tests seem to provide no clues other than to indicate Scottish ancestry. He has appeared in innumerable newspaper articles and interviews on both television and radio, including a high-profile appearance on Dr. Phil in 2008.

I just can't believe that with all the coverage this story got, someone didn't recognize this person. That's about as sad as it gets, I reckon.

Coffee out on the patio this morning! 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Some Sunday Silliness...!

I thought we might do something a little different today if that's alright with everyone.

Normally we have some 'toons, some coffee, then carry on with our day, right? Well, today we change that up a bit. Don't worry, I think you'll still enjoy the time spent here this morning!

See? I told ya it would be different!

I couldn't let the day go by without at least one 'toon, could I?

I know, I've seen this a thousand times, but it's always worth a second look.

Time to move on, I reckon. Nice and cool outside this morning, so let's have coffee out on the patio!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

An Early James Bond For Saturday...!

We often think of James Bond as being a modern invention. Not so...not so!

This man was probably the first James Bond around, while he was alive. In fact, he may have spawned the whole idea of the James Bond characters. And he was born a long, long time ago, my friends!

The Real-Life James Bond Was Born In 1527

By Larry Jimenez on Sunday, March 23, 2014

John Dee was a 16th-century philosopher, scientist, and occultist who served in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Dee was involved in numerous espionage missions for the Queen, and he would sign his reports and correspondence with the cipher “007.” This makes Dee the predecessor of Ian Fleming’s suave super-spy James Bond.

In his time, John Dee (1527–1608) was considered a magician, a genius whose interests ranged from mathematics to cartography to calculus. He also delved into the occult arts of alchemy, astrology, and the Kabbalah. His philosophy drew from both Hermetic tradition and science. Dee’s knowledge of geography made him a valuable adviser to famed explorers Raleigh, Gilbert, and Frobisher. At a time when the Copernican theory was controversial, Dee supported the idea of a heliocentric solar system. Dee amassed a private library of thousands of volumes dedicated to philosophy, science, and esoterica. By comparison, the library of the University of Cambridge had a measly 451 books and manuscripts at the time.

It was the Earl of Leicester who introduced Dee to Princess Elizabeth shortly before her accession to the throne. Dee was rapidly promoted to court astrologer. He was the one who chose the most favorable date for Elizabeth’s coronation, January 15, 1559. The Queen was so impressed with Dee’s learning that she personally visited his great library. Dee began conducting covert assignments in her Majesty’s secret service and 007 was the insignia Dee used for his private “For Your Eyes Only” communiques. The double zeroes symbolized Dee’s eyes—he was the secret eyes of the Queen. The seven is a sacred Kabbalistic and lucky number. Dee frequently traveled to European capitals gathering intelligence and sending it back to Sir Francis Walsingham, head of the secret service.

When the Spanish Armada loomed threateningly across the Channel, it was Dee who counseled not to engage it directly. He had foreseen the fierce storms that would devastate the mighty fleet, and told the English to stay back. The tempests drove the Spaniards to their doom, just as Dee had predicted, and some speculated that it was Dee himself who raised the storm.

Sadly, John Dee’s status as a mathematician and true man of science was overshadowed by his reputation as an occultist, and in particular his relationship with a charlatan named Edward Kelly. Kelly claimed to be a “scryer” or medium, and he and Dee allegedly had numerous conversations with extraterrestrial intelligences. They even came up with a new language called Enochian that was supposedly dictated to Kelly in a trance. The Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II welcomed them to his court in Prague with the understanding that, as alchemists, they could produce gold from base metals.
In his final years, John Dee moved in the circle of talented Elizabethan writers, scientists, and philosophers. He may have been acquainted with playwright Christopher Marlowe, and may have been the inspiration for Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus. It is also likely that Dee was the model for the sorcerer Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Unlike his fictional successor James Bond, Dee never killed anyone. And unlike Bond who only had one short-lived marriage, Dee was married thrice and sired about 11 children. At his death, Dee left behind many scholarly works and unpublished manuscripts, testifying to a genius that was far ahead of its time in many ways.

 It's nice to know that 007 has been in use for many, many years and that James Bond lives on, even in history!

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Another Freaky Friday...!

This one could actually be on Monday Mystery, but it's freaky enough to be the post for today!

This case has so many strange things about it that it is puzzling to say the least. Strange enough on so many levels that it certainly deserves some special attention.

The Strange Case Of Pete Ellis

Lieutenant Colonel Pete Ellis predicted the attack on Pearl Harbor 20 years before it happened. Then he disappeared, never to be seen again. 

In mid-July 1920, Ellis was stationed at Marine Corps headquarters in Washington. He didn’t make many friends, staying locked in his office behind a “No Admittance” sign. The guards on late-night duty recorded that the lights in the office were always on until late in the night. If anyone asked what he was doing, Ellis simply muttered something about a “special project.”

After almost a year, Ellis produced his “special project”—a 30,000-word document detailing a surprise attack on the US and the war that would ensue between Japan and the United States.
Ellis listed the various Pacific islands that Japan would infiltrate and attack, including Hawaii, the Philippines, Midway, Guam, and Wake. His counter-plan involved the US seizing the Marshall and Caroline islands as bases for a retaliatory strike into the Philippines. Ellis also listed the Mariana and Bonin Islands as necessary staging points for an attack on Japan itself.

Ellis even managed to predict the importance of airplanes to a Pacific war—and anticipated the development of the torpedo bomber, which would later be used to devastating effect in the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

After a brief period of ill health, Ellis applied for 90 days of leave, saying that he wanted to visit Europe. Oddly, his request was immediately approved by the Secretary of the Navy himself. Even more oddly, Ellis called at the office of the Commandant of the Marine Corps before leaving. The Commandant’s secretary noticed that Ellis slipped him a sealed envelope before making a quick exit.
Ellis apparently never arrived in Europe. After 90 days, his leave was mysteriously renewed indefinitely. A year passed before anyone heard from him again. A close friend received strange cablegrams sent from hospitals in Australia and the Philippines. In Japan, a man identifying himself as Ellis received treatment for nephritis and alcohol poisoning.

On October 4, 1922, Ellis disappeared from his hospital bed in Yokohama, Japan. Several months later, reports emerged of an American named Ellis, who had died on the island of Koror, in what is now Palau. The reports also noted that the Japanese didn’t want foreigners in the region, and that they had been trying to prevent him from reaching certain restricted areas.

A pharmacist named Lawrence Zembsch was tasked with collecting Ellis’ ashes from Koror. When he returned to Yokohama, Zembsch was found to be almost catatonic—doctors found evidence that he had been heavily drugged. After two weeks in hospital, he had recovered to the point where he could be questioned. Tragically, the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 struck that very day, collapsing the hospital and killing Zembsch. 

The answers to the mystery may well have died with him. No one knows how Ellis perished, or why Zembsch was in such a state when he returned from Koror. Many believe the Japanese authorities killed Ellis when they found out who he was. However, others argue that Ellis had been showing signs of alcoholism. An acquaintance from Koror seemed quite certain that he had died of drink. To this day, the story behind Pete Ellis’s strange life and stranger death remains a mystery.

Isn't ironic that someone like this man could just disappear without a trace? One might think he had a little help in fading away, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning.