Saturday, January 31, 2015

My Kingdom For A Cookie...?

As most of you know, I love cookies. Nearly any kind, but mainly without nuts. Evidently I'm not alone.

While I do love cookies, there are some things I won't do for a free cookie. Not many, but a few! Some folks will go a lot farther than I ever would! Take the people in this article I found over at KnowledgeNuts, for example.

Would You Trade Your Identity For A Cookie?
By Debra Kelly on Friday, January 30, 2015

We’re often warned that we need to work on keeping our personal information secret. While it might seem pretty obvious that you shouldn’t be just giving out things like your social security number to complete strangers, one experiment shows that that’s just what people will do—as long as they’re offered a tasty, tasty cookie. It’s a surprising amount of people that will be willing to tell strangers just about anything and even to allow their pictures and fingerprints to be taken, as long as you give them a cookie in the end.

In an age when pretty much anything about us can be found out online, we’re constantly reminded to keep our passwords safe and suitably cryptic. We’re told to be careful what we post online, keep our virus software updated and our most valuable personal information someplace extra safe.

There are many lists of the worst passwords you could possibly have, and a similar survey done by Imperva compiled the most common of 32 million hacked passwords. On the list? Things like “123456,” “abc123,” and (of course) “password.”

But surely, after now decades of warnings to keep creative with our passwords and to keep our information secure, people can’t possibly be using things like, “qwerty” for their passwords . . . can they?

They absolutely are, and even if they aren’t, it’s easier than you think it would be to get some incredibly personal information from people. All you have to do is offer them a cookie for it. An artist named Risa Puno took to the streets at the Brooklyn Arts Festival, wanting to see just what sort of value people were putting on their most personal information. She was armed with some pretty delicious-looking cookies, all decorated with an appropriate, technology-related theme. All people had to do to get a cookie was give her a piece of personal information.

Most of the information that she asked for were things that are often used for password recovery—your mother’s maiden name, your first pet’s name, what street you grew up on. She also asked for social security numbers, phone and drivers’ license numbers, and even requested people let her take their photographs and fingerprints.

Not only were many, many people willing to give up this information without a second thought, but many requested that they get to pose with the cookies in their pictures.

Over the course of the experiment, she approached 380 people. More than half agreed to have their pictures taken, and 162 divulged the last four digits of their social security number. Again, they did this for a cookie.

Whenever anyone asked what she was going to do with the information, she presented them with a page-long Terms of Service that included giving her the right to share and distribute the information she collected.

Still, people were more than happy to give up their information for one of her cookies and some even took to social media afterward to boast that they’d just gotten this amazing cookie, and all they’d had to do was give up some personal information.

It’s a pretty non-scientific (albeit delicious) experiment, but the question of the value of privacy has become an increasingly important one. In a 2009 study by Carnegie Mellon privacy experts, it was found that there are a massive amount of variables when it comes to deciding just what privacy is actually, monetarily worth.

Participants in their study were offered gift cards, along with the stipulation that their purchases would or wouldn’t be tracked. Results were so varied that researchers came to the conclusion that a big part of getting someone to divulge personal information was how they felt about the situation they were in. This could account for, perhaps, people’s likeliness to give up personal details to a friendly cookie-seller.

I'm sorry, but I won't give out my personal information for a single cookie. Now, for a dozen or more...?

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. Rain tomorrow, but today is good!

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Candy Desk For Freaky Friday...!

I know you are wondering what in the world is the "Candy Desk" and how is it freaky? Good question!

The story behind the "Candy Desk" is a tradition that has been around since the 1960s. It was started by a Senator named George Murphy and, as far as I know, is still around today. The freaky part comes from the fact that some of the Senators probably pay more attention to the "Candy Desk" than they do on the work they are being paid to do by the American people. Welcome to the world of politics!

The Senate Candy Desk

It’s a little-known fact that hidden toward the back of the Senate is a desk that is filled to the brim with candy. Since the 1960s, this desk has been manned by a string of senators who are tasked with keeping it stocked with candy from their home state so that their fellow senators always have something to snack on if they get hungry. Which is apparently a lot because the desk supposedly costs hundreds of dollars to maintain over a given year.

This curious custom was supposedly started back in the 1960s by Senator George Murphy who was known to always keep a healthy supply of candy in his desk during his time as a senator. After Murphy was moved toward the back of the Senate near one of its entrances, he began offering this candy to other senators as they entered. After a while, senators simply began referring to Murphy’s desk as “the candy desk.”

When Murphy left his position in 1971, the candy desk stayed and it has been standard practice ever since for this desk to always be filled with candy, just in case. The tradition is so popular that when Senator Craig Thomas was charged with manning the desk in 2007, his fellow senators complained that his home state of Wyoming had no well-known confectionawakery manufacturers and, as such, he would be unable to keep the desk sufficiently stocked.

However, Thomas did manage to keep the desk stocked when some smaller independent chocolate makers stepped up and offered their services. But, just for a second, can we all appreciate that in 2007, for a brief but glorious moment, the most pressing issue the Senate discussed was where all their candy was going to come from?

What can you possibly say after reading about this? Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of having a little sweet snack around. I really want to know if the Senators pay for this candy from their own pockets, or do they use our tax money to keep the desk stocked up? Just curious, ya know?

One more day of coffee out on the patio before the predicted bad weather comes in. Lemon pie anyone?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Safety Laws Can Kill Ya...!

At some point we have all stopped and wondered just why some rules supposedly designed to make us safe, turned out to be deadly to someone.

If rules can be followed safely, then that's the way to go. If the rules themselves pose a danger to folks...then I say they need to be studied a little more. Maybe by someone with a little common sense!

The Maritime Safety Law That Killed Hundreds Of People
By Larry Jimenez on Wednesday, January 28, 2015


In the wake of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, the US passed the Seamen’s Act which required ships to be fitted with adequate lifeboats. The passenger ship SS Eastland was retrofitted to accommodate the lifeboats, but this added more weight to the already top-heavy vessel. The inevitable disaster that followed ironically killed more passengers on Eastland than on the Titanic, in a catastrophe not out on the open sea, but on an urban river, a mere stone’s throw from the dock.

Launched in 1903, the steamer Eastland plied its route between Chicago and picnic sites on the shores of Lake Michigan. It had an initial capacity of 650 people, but a design overhaul in 1913 allowed it to take on 2,500 passengers. It was then that a naval architect issued a note of warning that Eastland had structural problems that put it in danger of listing and recommended remedial measures to prevent an accident. Eastland lacked a keel and had only poorly designed ballast tanks in its hold to keep it from overturning. The modifications, which also increased the boat’s speed, made it even less balanced. Eastland behaved like a bicycle, unstable when in the dock but steady when underway.

Two close calls in 1904 and 1906 earned Eastland a reputation as a “hoodoo boat.” Now, only one factor was needed to trigger a horrific disaster—additional weight. In a tragic irony, a maritime safety law would provide the straw that broke the camel’s back.

In the aftermath of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, a “lifeboats for all” campaign was launched by international maritime officials. In March 1915, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the LaFollette Seaman’s Act requiring ships to provide lifeboats to 75 percent of their passengers. Lawmakers never considered warnings that Great Lakes vessels were not built to hold the extra weight.

Eastland complied with the law and was equipped with a full complement of 11 lifeboats (it was designed to carry only six) and 37 life rafts of 500 kilograms (1,100 lb) each, and enough life jackets to ensure the safety of all passengers and crew. The stage was set.

On the fateful day of July 24, 1915, employees of the Western Electric Company and their families were headed out on the lake for an annual picnic. In a festive mood, 2,573 passengers and crew jammed the Eastland at its dock on the Chicago River. Bands played as friends and acquaintances greeted each other. No one seemed alarmed when the ship began to list to port. Some reports recalled that a crowd gathered on one side of the boat to pose for a photograph. At 7:28 AM, Eastland listed 45 degrees. An engineer desperately attempted to stabilize the vessel by opening one of the ballast tanks. Too late. Eastland rolled over as it was moored just 6 meters (20 ft) from the wharf, in water only 6 meters deep, trapping hundreds of men, women, and children underneath the bowels of the ship. So sudden was the movement there was no time to launch the lifesaving equipment.

Some lucky passengers simply walked across the hull of the overturned vessel to reach dry land, not even getting their feet wet. But for many more, the day became a nightmare of screams and struggle against a drowning death. Onlookers on the riverfront jumped into the water to help or threw whatever they could for flotation into the mass of drowning humanity.

Rescuers were able to pull 40 people out alive. But for 844 others, nothing could be done but recover the bodies and take them to the Second Regiment Armory for identification. Twenty-two entire families had perished. Most of the dead were under the age of 25. Though more passengers died on the Eastland than on the Titanic (excluding crew), it remains an obscure event in the public’s mind. “There wasn’t anyone rich or famous onboard,” explains Ted Wacholz, president of the Eastland Disaster Historical Society. “It was all hardworking, salt-of-the-earth immigrant families.”

I had never heard about this particular disaster until I found the article on KnowledgeNuts. Very, very sad!

Once more we are having coffee out on the patio. Upper 70s again today!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Remember Ned Buntline...?

Not many writers of western stories had as much financial success as ol' Ned. He made a lot of money giving the public what they wanted, even if he had to make it up!

Buntline never denied that money was his main goal in writing, and he didn't even like his own stories that much. Just chasing the almighty dollar, but at least he was honest about it.

Mar 20, 1823:
Ned Buntline born

Ned Buntline, the "dime millionaire" and discoverer of Buffalo Bill, is born in Stamford, New York.

Perhaps more than any single writer, Ned Buntline was responsible for creating a highly romanticized and somewhat misleading image of the American West as the setting for great adventure and excitement. Born Edward Zane Carroll Judson, in 1845 he founded a sensationalistic magazine, called Ned Buntline's Own, in Nashville, Tennessee-Ned Buntline became the best known of several pseudonyms he used during his career.

Buntline's goal in life was straightforward: he wanted to make as much money as possible writing stories that the public would pay to read. He filled the pages of Ned Buntline's Own with all manner of outrageous stories, having a particular affinity for nautical adventures. An incorrigible womanizer (he married seven times), in 1846 he killed a jealous husband who suspected him of seducing his wife. Although Buntline had acted in self-defense, townspeople sympathetic to the dead man hanged Buntline from an awning post in the public square. Luckily, Buntline's friends cut the rope before he strangled and he was spirited out of town.

Buntline relocated to New York, where he resumed publishing his magazine. Though he had once dreamed of becoming a serious writer, he was desperate to make a living so he began to write more for a mass audience. Buntline's popular adventures were wildly successful, and he churned out dozens of melodramatic "shocking" stories over the course of only a few years. By the time he was in his late 20s, Buntline had earned the title "King of the Dime Novels" and was making an excellent living.

After traveling to San Francisco in 1869, Buntline realized he could easily adapt his stock adventure plots to a setting in the American West. At about the same time he met a handsome young scout and buffalo hunter named William Frederick Cody. Buntline claimed to have given Cody the nickname "Buffalo Bill," though Cody said he earned the name years before as a hunter for the railroads.

Buntline's decision to write a dime novel starring Buffalo Bill Cody made the relatively unknown scout into a national media star. Buntline's book The Scout of the Plains grossly exaggerated Cody's western adventures, but the public loved the thrilling tale. Always the promoter, Buntline turned the novel into a play that he staged in Chicago. In 1872, Buntline convinced Cody to travel to the city and play himself in the production. Cody was a poor actor, but his participation brought in people and money.

Cody broke with Buntline after a year, but the national fame he gained because of Buntline's work eventually allowed "Buffalo Bill" to create his famous Wild West show. Buntline churned out other western dime novels, and he eventually became the nation's top literary money earner, surpassing the income of writers like Walt Whitman and Mark Twain. Buntline prized his wealth, but he remained scornful of his own work. "I found that to make a living I must write 'trash' for the masses, for he who endeavors to write for the critical few, and do his genius justice, will go hungry if he has no other means of support."

Buntline died at his home in Stamford, New York, in 1886. He was 63 years old and had written more than 400 novels and countless other short stories and articles.

It was writers like Buntline that created many of the western legends that today. They could take a fairly average man and make him bigger than life for all to enjoy.

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. Another beautiful day headed this way!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Thanks For Nothing, Uncle Sam...!

We all have been told about prohibition and just what it was supposed to do. What a massive failure it turned out to be!

What made that particular time even worse was some of the actions taken by the government at the time. Certainly not a thing you would expect.

The US Government Poisoned Alcohol During Prohibition
By Debra Kelly on Saturday, January 24, 2015

In an attempt to stem the tide of illegal alcohol that was being manufactured, sold, and consumed during the middle of the 1920s, the United States’ federal government ordered some pretty drastic steps to be taken. Manufacturers of the various types of industrial alcohol that were often used to distill into drinks were ordered to add deadly chemicals—including mercury, zinc, and gasoline—to their alcohol in the hopes that a good poisoning would discourage people from drinking. It didn’t, and it’s estimated that the move killed up to 10,000 people and made countless others extremely ill.

Prohibition was one of the greatest failed experiments in United States history. Attempts at cleaning up the streets and making life better, cleaner, and safer in every house in America by removing the temptations of alcohol was met with nothing less than outright rebellion. Bootleggers were making a fortune in distilling and selling alcohol, speakeasies were the places to be, and organized crime was making sure that the people were getting what they wanted.

Lawmakers had their hands full cracking down on those that broke the rules during Prohibition, and federal officials were realizing that their methods absolutely weren’t working. On the opposite side of the fence from the men and women that were heading off down back alleys and through secret doors to partake at their local speakeasy every night were the members of the Temperance movement, and their views on the matter of alcohol were pretty drastic.

According to one suggestion made by the movement, the government should oversee the poisoning of alcoholic beverages sold illegally. It might mean countless deaths, they said, but it was better than the way things were going.

And that’s what the government decided to do.

On Christmas Eve 1926, more than 60 people were admitted to New York City’s Bellevue Hospital alone, suffering from some pretty intense hallucinations. Over the next few days, 23 people were dead—and that was just in the city.

Alcohol poisoning wasn’t anything particularly new, especially since those people that wanted alcohol were making whatever they could out of whatever they could get. Law enforcement and federal officials knew that bootlegging empires were being built on buying industrial alcohol and re-distilling it into something that was at least marginally palatable. By the middle of the 1920s, Prohibition was in full swing, there were 30,000 speakeasies operating in New York City alone, and there were about 60 million gallons of industrial-grade alcohol that had been turning up missing—run through distillers and ending up on the rocks.

On orders from the federal government, manufacturers began adding all kinds of chemicals to their industrial alcohol products. From kerosene and gasoline to chloroform, zinc, mercury, and methyl alcohol, the industrial alcohols manufactured were now anywhere up to 10 percent deadly poisons.

It’s not known how many people died from the addition of these absolutely deadly, poisonous chemicals, but some put estimates in the range of 10,000. In 1926 in New York City alone, there were around 400 deaths attributed to the government’s poisoning, with another 1,200 people taken gravely ill. There were deaths across the country, reported in Washington, D.C., New Jersey, and Toledo. In some places, it was originally thought that there was some sort of serial killer prowling the speakeasies and poisoning the drinks . . . but he was never caught.

Alcohol distilled from whatever people could get their hands on—from poison ivy to wood chips to sawdust—was deadly enough, but the deaths skyrocketed with assistance from the government. Prohibition ended in 1933, but the government’s practice of poisoning alcohol had ended before that.

Ya know, sometimes what we think of as the "good guys" turns upside down. Seems to me that sometimes the line between the good guys and the bad gets crossed over in a big way! Who would have ever believed, right?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Sorry you folks up north are getting more cold and nasty weather!

Monday, January 26, 2015

John Doe Mystery For Monday...!

Probably one thing worse than finding a dead body for the police is finding out they can't identify them.

It's sad enough to have someone found dead, but to not be able to notify the family id even more sad. When you bring in any mysterious findings of the case, then you have a double tragedy on your hands. That was the case with this next story from Listverse.

The Georgia-Pacific West Inc. John Doe

When the remains of unidentified men or women are discovered and their identity cannot be determined, they take the name John or Jane Doe. However, one of the most bizarre places an unidentified John Doe has ever been discovered was the Georgia-Pacific West Inc. paper mill in Bellingham County, Washington. On September 20, 1987, a worker noticed a temperature spike inside the chimney of one of the paper mill’s boilers. The worker went to check inside the chimney and was shocked to see skeletal remains lying on top of the pipes near the bottom. A forensic investigation determined that the victim may have been a Native American male between the ages of 20 and 40.

The chimney was rarely checked, so the remains could have been in there for several days. During that the time, the boiler was often running and temperatures ranged from 115 to 185 degrees Celsius (240 to 370 °F). Since the victim’s bones were broken, they either had fallen or were thrown down the chimney. What made the discovery unusual was that it seemed like an insanely difficult place to dispose of a dead body. In order to toss the remains into the chimney, a person would have to climb up several flights of stairs to the roof of the building. There was nothing to indicate the victim had been an employee at the paper mill since no one who worked there was reported missing during that time. The only clue to his identity was the burnt remnants of what appeared to be a baggage claim for Continental Airlines. Unfortunately, because of the extreme heat inside the chimney, all traces of DNA were destroyed, so this John Doe may never be identified.

Ya know, if something ever happens to me, I hope that I can be identified so my family could at least know what happened to me. Knowing something bad happened is bad enough, but not knowing anything when they disappear would be worse, I think.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. I have to go to V.A. later, but we have time for a cup and a visit!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday So You Know What's Coming...!

Once again it's time for some silly cartoons. We all need a sprinkling of silly in our day, right? I know I do!

OK...I reckon that's enough for this morning. Don't want to spoil you this early!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. That OK with you?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Mystery Of Agatha Christie...!

Every great writer has a style all their own and sometimes some strange little habits to go along with that style.

Agatha Christie was certainly one of the better known mystery writers and, by some standards, some of her habits might seem a little different. I love to read, and a good mystery is right up there with my favorite topics, so it's always fun to find out something different about the stars of their profession.

Agatha Christie

Photo credit: Steve Hopson

She wrote 66 detective novels and 14 collections of short stories, but Agatha Christie didn’t write at a desk. As a matter of fact, she never even had an office—she wrote Murder on the Orient Express, for example, in the hotel room pictured above. She did use a typewriter, though; for Christie, typing itself was part of the writing process.

This writing process of Christie’s was often disjointed. She wrote wherever the mood struck, sometimes at a kitchen table or in her bedroom. Christie sometimes started writing long before she even had a plot for her stories, and she generally started with the details of the murder scene itself before moving on.

Nearly all the writers I've read about have certain routines, almost rituals, that they follow. I can understand that. It's part of the creative process that helps them create. Anything that helps the creative process is a good thing in my book!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. The weather is just too strange to trust, ya know?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Missing Grave For Freaky Friday...!

Now a story about a grave yard would be freaky enough, but a missing grave? Especially a mass grave, at that?

Yep, I'd say this story from the folks at Listverse qualifies as freaky! How in the world do you lose a massive grave with multiple bodies? The answer sure beats me!

The Missing Mass Grave

Photo credit: Tyrone Area Historical Society

On May 30, 1893, a horrific train smashup occurred near the town of Tyrone, Pennsylvania. The Walter L. Main circus train had a brake failure coming downhill. The final undoing of the circus company proved to be a turn in the tracks, which the runaway train hit with such force that all except the last couple of its 17 cars shot off the tracks. Big cats, elephants, horses, reptiles, a gorilla, and human performers plummeted down a deadly 9-meter (30 ft) drop—some to their deaths. When everything became quiet, it was a pileup of mangled steel and corpses almost back to the level of the tracks it had fallen from. The elephants were injured but alive and were used to help clear up the debris.

From there on, the story gets hazy. It’s known that five people had died, but researchers aren’t so sure what other animals might’ve succumbed apart from the 50 horses and two circus cows said to have been killed. While the performing folk were stranded in Tyrone, they buried the animals in a mass grave on the land of a farmer named Hiram Friday. But now nobody can find it, not even archaeologists with ground-penetrating radar. For years after the accident, sightings of exotic creatures continued in the area, and an actual tiger was shot when it tried to satiate its hunger on a local cow. Nearby townsfolk reported kangaroos and parrots crossing their paths.

The grave itself, however, remains missing.

We better have our coffee in the kitchen this morning. High is supposed to be only 45 today.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Recognize This Founding Father...?

How would you like to bet that no one ever expected ths man's signature to be worth much?

While many names that are on the Declaration of Independence are familiar to us today, I'd be willing to bet many of us have never even heard of this man. I know I hadn't until I found this article over at KnowledgeNuts.

The Most Expensive Autograph You’ve Never Heard Of
By Nolan Moore on Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Chances are pretty good you’ve never heard of Button Gwinnett. While he signed the Declaration of Independence, he never achieved the legendary status of men like Benjamin Franklin. However, despite his obscure spot in history, Button Gwinnett’s autograph is worth more than any other signature with the possible exception of William Shakespeare.

All right, it’s pop quiz time. How many of America’s Founding Fathers can you name? Everybody knows the big dogs like Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, and who can forget guys like John Adams, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton? But have you ever heard of Button Gwinnett? If you check out the Declaration of Independence, you’ll see his impressive scrawl all the way to the left. Admittedly, he’s one of the more obscure Founders, but even so, Gwinnett’s signature is more expensive than any autograph by George Washington or Benjamin Franklin.

Gwinnett was born in Gloucestershire in 1735, making him one of only two signatories of the Declaration born in England. In 1765, he sailed to Georgia where he started an import/export business. After that little venture fell apart, he leased St. Catherines Island, tried his hand at farming, and struggled with debt throughout his life. Eventually, he represented Georgia at the Second Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence, and got himself killed in a duel in 1777.

So why is his signature second in value only to Shakespeare’s? Because it’s so incredibly rare. By the 1800s, the Gwinnett family line had totally disappeared, and there was no one around to care for Gwinnett’s possessions. Button also had the misfortune to live in Savannah, Georgia, a city that was ransacked in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Plus, Button died at 42, cutting his letter-writing career kind of short. Add all those factors together, and it’s a perfect recipe for missing historical documents.

In total, there are only 51 Button Gwinnett signatures known to man, most of which are IOUs. Forty-one of these autographs are in libraries and museums, and that’s a problem for autograph collectors, especially people interested in gathering the signatures of all 56 signatories of the Declaration of Independence. Since there are only 10 autographs in the world you could possibly buy, the demand is incredibly high. The most recent Button Gwinnett signature was sold in New York for a staggering $722,500.

To put things into perspective, let’s look at a few other famous autographs. A Dallas newspaper signed by John F. Kennedy on the day of his assassination was valued at $39,000. A photo signed by all four Beatles was priced at $43,758. A contract signed by Jimi Hendrix is worth $200,000, and a baseball signed by the legendary Babe Ruth was valued at $388,375.

Granted, a George Washington autograph once sold for $9.8 million, but that’s because it was attached to a leather-bound book containing Washington’s personal copy of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, complete with annotations. The average Washington autograph, on the other hand, is chicken feed next to a Button Gwinnett IOU. While his accomplishments were dwarfed by many of his contemporaries, the name of Button Gwinnett has become more special, more unique, and more valuable than any other Founding Father, simply because he didn’t write as many letters.

Don't you just love the surprises we get when we study history? Who would have ever guessed a signature of a man most of us have never heard of would be so expensive? Certainly not I!

Coffee out on the patio again today. Temps back in the 70s once more!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Henry Plummer's Gold For Western Wednesday...!

Plummer was a man that used his political office for his own personal gain. Sounds like many of the politicians of today!

Looking at the estimated figures, I'd say that Henry did OK, until he got his neck stretched. Reckon that was the price of living his lifestyle.

Henry Plummer’s Gold

There was no such thing as a background check in 1863. If they’d had such a thing, the town of Bannack, Montana probably wouldn’t have elected Henry Plummer as their sheriff. The gunslinger had already been charged with murder, and it was that jail sentence that he was on the run from when he showed up in Bannack. Not wasting any time, he deputized a few of his outlaw associates. His only other deputy, an honest man he’d inherited, had an unfortunate accident involving a hail of bullets only a month later.

Right before he settled down in Bannack, he married a woman named Electa Bryan. His marriage didn’t keep him from working both sides of the law, though, and he used his position as sheriff to confiscate gold from local miners. Once he had as much gold as a mule could carry, he’d head out to a secret location and stash it for later. There’s only a vague idea where he stashed his ill-gotten gains. The treasure’s rumored to be in the neighborhood of $200,000 in gold near Birdtail Rock. His wife admitted that he’d stashed another part of his fortune somewhere along a creek that ran into the Sun River. There was a $50,000 haul from a stagecoach robbery that was purportedly buried somewhere along Cottonwood Creek, and $300,000 in gold near Cascade.

None of it was ever recovered. Plummer was only sheriff for about a year before he became the target of town vigilantes who also ensured the outlaw deputies met their end—at the end of ropes. Plummer himself was hanged on January 10, 1864. The knowledge of the location of the treasure died with him.

I can't help but wonder if they continued to keep an eye on his wife after he was hung. It's possible she knew much more than she let on, ya think?

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. Turned out the high yesterday was 75.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Remembering The Sears Catalogs...!

Some of us are old enough to remember the ol' Sears catalogs, for sure.

Not only did it refine the way many folks did their shopping, especially in rural areas, but it became almost a form of entertainment around the house (and the outhouses) for lots of families! Sears probably did more for the retail business than any other person before and it was due to, in large part, his famous catalogs!

Sears, Roebuck & Co.: An idea whose time had come

Richard W. SearsThe roots of one of America’s largest retailers dates to 1886, when Minnesota railroad station agent Richard Sears received a shipment of watches that a local jeweler refused to sign for. Sensing an opportunity, Sears established a side business selling the watches to other agents, eventually quitting his railroad job to focus on his new enterprise. The following year, an ad Sears had placed in a Chicago newspaper brought watchmaker Alvah Roebuck into the business, which quickly expanded into a general mail-order catalog that catered to America’s rural residents tired of the higher prices typically charged at their local stores.The retailer became famous for its catalogs, which could be hundreds of pages long and featured a broad array of items, including clothing, tools, musical instruments, headstones and even ready-to-assemble houses. In 1925, with increasing numbers of Americans moving to cities, Sears opened its first retail store, in Chicago.

This was probably the first ever "wish book" for many folks. I can remember nearly every relative I knew had an old Sears catalog around. I spent many afternoons looking at all the pictures and doing a lot of day dreaming, ya know?

Coffee on the patio this morning. How does 72 sound for a temp today?

Monday, January 19, 2015

"What Is It" For Monday Mystery...!

I don't think we have talked about this one before, But I may be wrong.

One thing that makes this piece so interesting is that there don't seem to be any early written record of what they are, or what they were used for. Now that's interesting, don't you think?

Roman Dodecahedrons
Roman Empire

Photo credit: Woudloper

Throughout the regions that were once within the sphere of influence of the Roman Empire, from Wales to the Mediterranean, about 100 small, strangely shaped objects have been found and are, to this day, completely unexplained. Called “dodecahedrons” after their shape, each one is a hollow stone or bronze object, 4–12 centimeters (1.5–5 in) in diameter, with 12 flat pentagonal faces and holes of varying sizes on each face. Small knobs protrude from each corner. While the Romans were usually meticulous about keeping written records about everything they did, nobody has ever found a definitive account of these objects. The closest we have is Plutarch, who reportedly thought they were some kind of zodiacal instruments.

Some people think they were instruments of war. Others believe they had religious or astronomical significance, since many have been found in temples. A popular hypothesis is that they were used to measure the optimal sowing time for winter grain. Still others believe they were candlestick holders or children’s toys, and one man even thinks they were an aid for knitting gloves. Whatever they were, the dodecahedrons were a fairly common object throughout the Roman Empire. Until we find some written record or discover one within a context that establishes its use, these bizarre puzzle-boxes will remain a mystery.

Don't you just love these older mysteries that haven't been solved yet? There is probably a very simple explanation of what they are and what their use was, but if that's the case...where are the records?

Coffee out on the patio again today. Temps are on the rise and the sun is supposed to shine again!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

New 'Toons For Silly Sunday...!

I thought we would try something a little different today, OK? 'Toons from a different perspective.

Told ya they were a bit different!

Neat ending o that one, right?

Kinda touching, isn't it?

And on that one we'll end the 'toons for today. Everyone can go out and play now! Oh wait! It might be too cold! How about...?

Coffee out on the patio again today! Actually saw some sunshine yesterday!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Know What A "Thomasson" Is...?

I guess that nearly everything I can think of has some kinda name attached to it. Heck, they have "official " names for things you'd never believe, not just nick-names.

What I didn't know was that they even had an official name for some useless things! Some even get regular service and maintenance, even though they serve no purpose. How strange is that?

The Unfortunate Legacy Of Gary Thomasson
By Nolan Moore on Friday, January 16, 2015

Gary Thomasson was an American baseball player who lost his mojo when he moved to Japan. But despite his less-than-stellar career, his name still lives on today. Thanks to Japanese artist Akasegawa Genpei, Thomasson has became an eponym for a truly bizarre type of architecture: objects that are completely useless but still carefully maintained.

If you’ve ever lived in a major city, you’ve probably seen your fair share of architectural oddities. Perhaps you’ve spotted a handrail where there aren’t any stairs or a door that opens into a brick wall. Maybe you’ve noticed vents with nothing to ventilate or a section of fence you can easily walk around. Pictured above, you can see a skyway that no longer connects to anything, yet wasn’t demolished with its connected building, for some reason.

These are the remnants of expanding cities, but what’s confounding is many of these ridiculous doors and pointless pipes are still carefully maintained. While they serve no purpose, they’re repainted when they grow rusty or repaired when they fall apart. They also have their own name. They’re called Thomassons.

So who nicknamed these silly structures and why? Well, the culprit is a Japanese artist named Akasegawa Genpei. One day in 1972, he was on his lunch break in Tokyo when something caught his eye. It was a staircase that went up and down, like all staircases do, only there was no door at the top. They were stairs to nowhere, but what really amazed Akasegawa was the railing.

It was obvious that at one time or another, the railing had come apart, but what blew Akasegawa’s mind was someone had fixed the darn thing. Now the railing was good as new, even though there was no reason why anyone would ever use those stairs. Mystified, Akasegawa searched the city for more worthless wonders. Whenever he found an out-of-place pole or a gate in the middle of nowhere, he’d snap a photo. He considered these doors and stairs “artistic byproducts” of the city, and soon he was publishing the pictures in a photography magazine, complete with little articles on the nature of their existence.

He also created a name for these vestigial structures. He called them “Thomassons,” after baseball player Gary Thomasson who played for teams like the Dodgers and the Yankees. While Thomasson was a fine player in the States, things changed dramatically when he signed on with the Yomiuri Giants, a team based in Tokyo. Once Thomasson arrived in the Land of the Rising Sun, he couldn’t hit a ball to save his life. People called him “the giant human fan” because all he was doing with that bat was stirring up air.

After Thomasson set the all-time Japanese strikeout record in 1981, the coaches benched the poor guy. And that’s how Thomasson served out the rest of his contract, sitting in the dugout and making money for doing nothing. According to Akasegawa, who’s a huge baseball fan, Thomasson “had a fully formed body, and yet served no purpose to the world,” but just like those fences and banisters he’d found around Tokyo, the man was still being “maintained.”

So in order to be a Thomasson, an object must be cared for even though it’s completely pointless. The concept caught on, and soon people were submitting their own Thomassons to Akasegawa for approval. In 1985, the artist published his findings in a book called HyperArt Thomasson which was translated into English in 2009. The book inspired a new group of Thomasson hunters, particularly in San Francisco, and Akasegawa’s publishers even started a website where people could submit their artistic discoveries.

Unfortunately, Gary Thomasson’s family isn’t exactly pleased with the way the ballplayer is being portrayed. After all, who wants to be remembered for being useless? Of course, as radio host Roman Mars points out, how many other ballplayers from the ‘70s and ‘80s can you remember? Thanks to Akasegawa, Gary Thomasson’s name will live on wherever people find doorknobs attached to brick walls or roads that lead smack-dab into dead ends.

I wonder if I will end up in that name category since I can be pretty worthless at times? I reckon if I'm worthless enough, I can get my very own "official" name!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Looks like it will be warm enough.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Underground For Freaky Friday...!

Im sure hat most of you have heard some of the stories of underground cities and the people that used to live there. If you haven't, then this might help you learn about one such place.

This isn't about the hollow Earth theory or anything like that, but about a real place that is pretty amazing in it's size and it's construction!


Stepping away from fiction for a moment is the curious case of the underground city known as Derinkuyu. Located 76 meters (250 ft) below the Earth’s surface, its earthwork walls and buildings descend deep into the ground and span 18 floors. While many modern edifices and structures can dig deep into the recesses of the Earth, having an ancient variation on this idea traverse such subterranean depths is truly an astounding feat of ingenuity and versatility.

Of course, all of this raises the question of “Why?” Unfortunately, little is known about Derinkuyu and its enigmatic ancient inhabitants. While the origin of this city may never be known, the fact that it still stands and can accommodate up to 20,000 people shows just how impressive these ancient Turkish builders truly were.

As is often the case with an article like this, we come away with more questions than answers. That is what makes it so interesting, ya see?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Anyone got donuts?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Late Post This Morning...!

I have no excuse for being late. To tell the truth, I didn't check and see if my post had gone through or not like I always do,and that's because I had failed to post one at all! Old age will do that, I guess!

Anyway, better late than never, I reckon! Here is a little bit of information that might surprise you!

Elmer Fudd/Robert Ripley

Photo credit: Warner Brothers, Heritage-Americana

Elmer Fudd, the slow-witted foil for Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, did not get his start as a comic book character but as regular in Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoons. Beginning in 1941, however, Dell began publishing Warner’s cartoon characters, including Elmer, in comics.

When Warner Brothers purchased the Vitagraph Company along with the Brooklyn Vitaphone Studios in 1925, they began to produce “talkies,” the first of which was 1927′s Jazz Singer, the first full-length movie with synchronized dialogue. Over the next three years, Warner Brothers produced hundreds of experimental short films called “Vitaphone Varieties,” featuring vaudeville acts, comedians, and singers. In 1930, Warner Brothers offered Robert Ripley, creator of “Ripley’s Believe it or Not,” a contract to produce 10-minute shorts.

Ripley was already a popular icon. His newspaper cartoon strips were syndicated around the world, and his first best seller had been published in 1929, followed by a radio program in 1930. But his Vitaphone shorts became a sensation, and Warner Brothers agreed to more, beginning a long, lucrative relationship between them.

The video and radio programs revealed Ripley’s speech impediment. His teeth protruded so significantly that he couldn’t completely shut his mouth. Despite speech lessons, his b’s came out as v’s, and he lisped his s’s. Perhaps because of his impediment, Ripley came off as shy, only making him more endearing.

It was for that reason that when Warner Brothers Looney Tunes introduced a character based on Ripley, they gave him a stuttering speech impediment. The character had a large, egg-shaped head that mimicked Ripley’s famous noggin. He was even named Egghead. In the 1939 Tex Avery cartoon Believe It or Else, several sequences appear reminiscent of Ripley’s Vitaphone shorts, with a buck-toothed, Egghead skeptical of every claim. He even wore spats and a loud suit, Ripley’s signature look. Later, Egghead would be renamed Elmer Fudd.

Ya know, getting old ain't for the timid and that's the truth! Seems like I sometimes get so much on my plate that my mind sorta shuts down Ever happen to you? I'll try and do better!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. They say it's supposed to be sunny, but I don't see any sign of the Sun!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

James Boys On Western Wednesday...!

I know we have talked about the James boys before, but here's a glance from another perspective.

The Pinkertons took a real beating over some of their mis-advntures in trying to catch the James boys. This is just one example.

Jan 26, 1875:
Pinkertons maim Frank and Jesse James' mother

Mistakenly believing Frank and Jesse James are hiding out at their family home, a gang of men--likely led by Pinkerton detectives--mount a raid that leaves the outlaws' mother permanently maimed and their nine-year-old half-brother dead.

The Chicago-based Pinkerton Detective Agency had been pursuing the James brothers and their gang since 1874, when several big railroad companies first hired the Pinkertons to stop the outlaws. Responsible for a string of bank and train robberies, the James brothers were already famous for their daring style, and some even viewed the men as modern-day Robin Hoods. The Pinkertons, though, had no such romantic illusions about the outlaws. One of their best operatives working on the case, John W. Witcher, had been found dead from a bullet wound to the stomach, with his head, shoulder, and face eaten away by wild hogs. The Pinkertons were convinced Jesse James and another gang member had murdered Witcher, and they were determined to stop the outlaws.

In late 1874, the Pinkertons learned that Jesse and Frank James periodically returned to their old family farm in Clay County, Missouri, to visit with their mother and other family. On the night of January 26, 1875, a gang of men surrounded the James farm in the mistaken belief that the James brothers were inside. In an attempt to flush the outlaws out of the house, the gang threw several flares through the windows. Unexpectedly, one of the flares exploded instantly, killing Frank and Jesse's young half-brother and blowing away their mother's arm. Though the identity of the gang members has never been determined with absolute certainty, contemporary admirers of the James Brothers and modern-day historians agree that the Pinkertons were probably responsible. Regardless, the incident gave credence to the popular view that the men were innocent victims of the powerful railroads that had hired the Pinkertons to wipe them out.

After the attack on the James farm, the Pinkertons appear to have backed off from their more aggressive tactics. One of his own gang members, not a Pinkerton operative, killed Jesse James for a bounty in 1882. Frank James surrendered shortly thereafter, but no jury would convict him, and he remained a free and law-abiding citizen until his death in 1915. The grave of Jesse, who was buried in the front yard of his mother's farm, became a popular tourist attraction. For many years, tourists could pay Mrs. James 25ÝF to visit the grave and listen to her tearful and melodramatic account of how venal Pinkertons and evil railroad barons had so unjustly persecuted her good and utterly innocent sons.

The Pinkertons just couldn't win sometimes. It's hard to outshine a legend, I reckon!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Almost 50, so that ain't too bad!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Really Bad Steak...!

The one thing that most military men agree on is that the food can be very, very good...or very, very bad!

I enjoyed the food I had in the Air Force for the most part, especially breakfast. I never recall getting any steak, though. maybe because I wasn't an officer. By today's standards, this meat shipment was not so good. When more folks are killed by the food than the fighting, I'd say you have a real problem, wouldn't you?

When Meat Was More Deadly Than Combat
By Dustin Koski on Friday, January 2, 2015

In 1898, a shipment of hundreds of tons of beef arrived for American troops in Cuba fighting the Spanish-American War. The meat was so badly tainted that many officers attested to the fact it was deadly, with some sources putting the number of soldiers that died at 2,500, while only 385 were killed in action. Within a decade, new laws regulating the meat industry were passed.

During the late 1890s, the United States of America was undergoing a period of extreme imperialism, and one of its opponents became the Spanish Empire. One of the most famous results of the clash was the “liberation” of Cuba during the Spanish-American War. It featured larger-than-life figures and events such as future US president Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders and the 10th Colored infantry charging Kettle and San Juan Hill. But mostly, like all wars at the time, it involved sitting around being bored and trying to stop any of the threats to their health that living in army conditions usually brought on.

A very severe threat for the soldiers came in the form of 337 tons of refrigerated beef and 198,508 tons of canned meat. Many officers testified that the meat was so unfit to eat that it was giving the soldiers dysentery and other illnesses. By at least one account, the beef contributed to the deaths of as many as 2,500 soldiers. If true, that would have made the beef more than six times deadlier than the battles the Americans fought in Cuba.

Newspapers like William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal began spreading the word that the meat served had been “ancient” or “embalmed.” The claim that it was embalmed was in reference to supposedly harmful preservatives included in the meat such as borax, sulfites, and benzoic acids. This was apparently untrue and possibly only made up by anti-preservative activists (preservatives were an extremely controversial topic at the time). An analysis of the beef found that only 6 percent of it had any preservatives at all, let alone the poisonous amounts it had been suspected of. None of them were the preservatives that were suspected of being dangerous. But no matter: America’s meat-packing industry was suspected of having knowingly provided the nation’s servicemen with unhealthy rations.

The matter of who was at fault became quite muddied as the investigation went on. Part of the blame was given to the Cuban climate, which supposedly had caused the canned meat to spoil faster than anticipated. Another culprit put forward was the idea that the Army’s rations had been improperly balanced in favor of meat, and that what had really been making all those soldiers ill was malnourishment. In short it seemed as if the Army was doing what it could to take the blame for this catastrophe.

Whatever the guilt of the meatpacking industry, it had just made an enemy that was about to become quite powerful and an active crusader. Roosevelt came away from his military experience with a deep distrust of the meat industry even though there’s no record that any of the meat ever made him ill personally. By 1906, and after reading Upton Sinclair’s classic novel The Jungle, he began passing troublesome legislation regulating the meat industry. So perhaps those soldiers that died from their bad food ended up preserving the health and well-being of more people than the liberation of Cuba ever did.

It seems that we owe the men in the service even more than we thought. I can only hope that today's meals don't make any troops ill, and that safeguards are taken to assure that the troops get nothing but the best and healthiest available. They deserve that an so much more!

Coffee in the kitchen again. I sure am ready for Spring!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Wartime Art For Monday Mystery...!

This is the kind of mystery we would all like to find the answer to. At least I would.

Not many good and pretty things come out of war, but occasionally something does. This story from Listverse is one such instance.

Who Was the Artist JM?

In a time before photojournalism was widespread, soldiers’ artwork was one of the only true depictions of life on the front line. Recently, professors at the University of Victoria in Canada found an incredible book of World War I sketches—and they have no idea who created them.

Aside from his amazing talent, little is known about the mysterious artist. The work is on the stationery of the Royal Regiment of Artillery and signed with the initials “J.M.” The artist was probably based in France and/or Belgium between 1917 and 1918. Some of the art is inscribed to his daughter, Adele. He survived the war, as one of the pieces is dated 1920.

There are two books of sketches, done in pen and ink as well as in watercolor. They’re a breathtakingly beautiful look at not only war, but into the mind of a soul trapped in the middle of it. Devils and skeletons dance around a king wearing a crown, terrified horses flee from dropping bombs and die from gas poured into the trenches. He illustrates towns destroyed by conflict—the eerie, peaceful images of graves, exhausted nurses, and smoking rubble.

The university is still hopeful that they’re going to find the mysterious, talented artist who created this very, very personal look into the horrors of war.

One can only hope that the artist lived long enough to produce many more pictures, maybe some with other inspirations than the bleak and dreary backdrop of war.

Coffee in the kitchen again this morning. Cold and rainy out on the patio.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wet Sunday "Toons...!

Being in the grip of cold Winter weather, I figured some old fashioned "toons could help to warm things up just a tad.

Seems like I heard somewhere that grinning can warm ya up. Let's hope that's the case!

Well, I reckon that's enough for today. Looks like a good day for curling up and reading a book, ya know?

Coffee in the kitchen, cause it's trying to rain again!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Col. Sanders Was A Tough Ol' Bird...!

Often we find out that a person's back story is really more interesting than we could imagine.

Looking back at Harland Sanders before he became known as the "Colonel", we found out that he was plenty tough when he needed to be. His early start in the food industry was inerestig, to say the least. Here is a bit of his history I found over at Knowledgnuts!

Colonel Sanders Started With A Gas Station And A Shoot-Out
By Nolan Moore on Thursday, January 8, 2015

With his famous facial hair and trademark white suit, Colonel Sanders is one of the most recognizable people on the planet. But before the Colonel came up with his world-famous recipe of 11 herbs and spices, the man was running a gas station in Corbin, Kentucky. However, the Colonel almost never opened a single restaurant thanks to a trigger-happy business rival who wanted to send Sanders to the local cemetery.

In the pantheon of fast food mascots, Colonel Sanders is right up there with Ronald McDonald and The Burger King. However, unlike most of his peers, Sanders was a real guy. Born in 1896, Harland Sanders led an interesting life, working as everything from a small-time lawyer to a ferryboat operator. Eventually, he wound up in Corbin, Kentucky running a Shell gas station on a nasty stretch of highway known as “Hell’s Half-Acre.”

The region was full of bootleggers, and there were plenty of gunfights to keep things lively. Wanting to protect his family and business, Sanders kept a gun beneath his cash register and a shotgun near his bed. But really, Sanders didn’t need to worry about desperadoes. Instead, he had to keep an eye on his rival down the street, a man named Matt Stewart. Stewart ran his own gas station, and as the two were competing for customers, they didn’t exactly get along.

Things got particularly tense after Sanders decided to advertise his business by painting a sign on a nearby railroad wall. This didn’t sit well with Stewart who promptly painted over Sanders’ sign. Furious, the Colonel threatened to shoot off Stewart’s head and then went back to repaint his billboard. Unfortunately, Matt Stewart was a stubborn fellow, and one day in the late 1920s, he grabbed a brush and started slapping paint on Sanders’ sign.

When Sanders learned what Stewart was doing, he was in the middle of a meeting with two Shell officials named Robert Gibson and H.D. Shelburne. Needless to say, the three men were not happy. Determined to put a stop to Stewart’s shenanigans, the trio loaded their guns, hopped into a car, and drove off to confront their petrol-pumping adversary. Only when Stewart saw them coming, he pulled out his pistol and pumped three bullets into Robert Gibson’s heart.

That’s when the Colonel sprang into action. He grabbed Gibson’s gun and started shooting back. At first, it seemed Stewart had the advantage because he was hiding behind the railroad wall, but the man was outnumbered two to one. One moment, he was winning the gunfight, and the next, he found himself surrounded. Shelburne put a bullet into Stewart’s hip, and Sanders blasted the man in the shoulder.

Bleeding and in pain, Stewart shouted, “Don’t shoot, Sanders! You’ve killed me!” Only Stewart didn’t die. Instead, the gun-toting gasman was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Sanders and Shelburne, on the other hand, were found not guilty, and Sanders went back to his Shell station where he started serving steak, ham, biscuits, and—you guessed it—fried chicken to hungry customers. Soon, he was running a full-fledged restaurant across the street, and his food was so popular that Governor Ruby Laffoon gave Sanders the honorary title of Kentucky Colonel.

Eventually, Sanders sold his restaurant so he could develop his fast food franchise, and the rest is history. Today you can find KFC restaurants in over 80 countries and territories. As for Matt Stewart, well, after two years behind bars, he was shot to death by a deputy sheriff. No one knows for sure, but rumors has it the deputy was a paid gunman, hired to assassinate Stewart by Robert Gibson’s family.

Isn't it funny that so much of a famous persons interesting background never comes to the surface until years later? After all, it's our past that so often shapes who we turn out to be, right?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Still a little chilly and damp out on the patio.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Smelling With Your Body For Freaky Friday...!

I just found out that our skin can smell odors, not just our noses. Freaky, right? get's even better!

It seems that certain smells can actually help our body heal. That's right! According to this article I found over at Knowledgenuts, certain smells are almost like medicine. That's pretty cool when you think about it!

You Don’t Just Smell Through Your Nose
By Debra Kelly on Wednesday, January 7, 2015

We tend to think that we smell with our nose, but we’ve recently found that nearly every single organ in our bodies is capable of smell. More precisely, our organs have been found to contain olfactory receptors that are keyed to react in certain ways to certain scents. When receptors in the skin are exposed to the smell of sandalwood, healing and regeneration increases. When prostate cells smell rose scents, the formation of cancer cells stops. The potential is pretty staggering, considering the same receptors even exist in our kidneys, our muscles, and a lot of other places.

We’ve heard the stories about having taste buds in our stomachs, but it turns out that as far as our senses go, that’s not even the weirdest thing we’re capable of doing.

For as long as we’ve been aware of things happening around us, we’ve realized that we’re capable of smelling things, for better or for worse. But the mechanics of just how our bodies and our brains register smells has been largely a mystery until the last few decades.

And in those decades, we’ve been finding that we have olfactory receptors pretty much everywhere. Almost every organ in our bodies, from the kidneys to the liver to the colon, has the same olfactory receptors that are found in our noses.

It seems pretty bizarre (what is there to smell in there, anyway?) but researchers have also found that our internal olfactory senses do some pretty amazing things.

Much of the work is being done by researchers at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, and one of their most recent discoveries is that olfactory receptors in the prostate are incredibly sensitive to a particular scent called beta-ionone. You know it as what gives a few popular flowers, like roses, their distinctive smell, and apparently, it’s also what stops the development of cancer cells in the prostate. They also found that smell receptors in sperm were uniquely coded to respond to the smell of an egg.

At about the same time, Emory University researchers were finding that the smell of lily of the valley was directly linked to the regeneration of muscles; increase the amount of the muscle’s exposure to the scents, and regeneration increased dramatically.

Just as bizarre are tests performed at Johns Hopkins that have found that scent receptors in the kidneys of mice are stimulated by smell to help control blood pressure and metabolism.

It’s not only internal organs that have these uniquely developed smell receptors, either. Skin cells also contain them, although it’s at a much lower sensitivity than the receptors in your nose. (There’s also a much smaller variety of them than in many animals.)

Researchers from the German university then decided to test the reaction of the skin’s receptors to different scents; as one, they chose sandalwood. For more than 4,000 years, we have records of sandalwood being used in oils and perfumes, highly valued for not just its scent but for medicinal purposes.

And it turns out that there’s something to it. When the cloned olfactory receptors were exposed to the smell of sandalwood, there was a major, major increase in the cell replication that took place. In addition to healing injuries to the skin, there’s also the possibility that the science could be used in a new school of products to prevent aging and to help in the skin’s healing process after burns or other traumatic injuries.

The science is still rather up in the air, and it’s a pretty long, involved process discovering just what scents trigger what receptors and what they’re designed to do. But the development behind the stimulation of the body’s olfactory receptors opens a whole new set of doors for everything from reducing the effects of aging to combating cancer.

I always knew that certain smells could make me hungry or sleepy or calm, but now I know that I might be doing myself a big favor by investigating a little more on healing smells. Heck, I'll take all the help I can get, ya know?

Coffee in the kitchen once again this morning. Anyone want to smell some bacon cooking?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Heard Of The "Knocker-Up?"

Back in the Victorian days, there were some strange jobs that folks had to perform. Some were good, some were not, but all of them were filling a need.

I thought this particular job was unusual, but I can certainly see how it was needed by many. In fact, it might be a good idea to have something like this when the grid goes down!


Imagine a world without your cell phone. Now imagine a world without alarm clocks. How would people get up in the morning? Thankfully, Britons had knocker-ups or human alarm clocks to help. Working-class folks depended on knocker-ups to run around town at a predetermined time in the morning and wake them up.

Since many working-class folks lived in tall apartment buildings, knocker-ups could not simply pound on the door a few times and move along. Instead, knocker-ups utilized long metal-tipped poles to knock on slabs of slate placed near bedroom windows. Customers would write the time they wished to be woken up on the slate slabs.

Diligent knocker-ups would not leave the window until the customer woke up. This left the embarrassing possibility that a client spent the night at a brothel and the knocker-up banged for hours and hours and then the whole village knew.

Nice factories even hired their own knocker-up to make sure their workers were on time for their soul-crushing Industrial Revolution jobs. Knocker-ups could not fight the rise of technology and, once alarm clocks came, they became completely obsolete.

Now days it would take a brave man to have this job around a Houston neighborhood. Either that, or he would have to be armed!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on the plate there!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Chief Cochise For Western Wednesday...!

I think that nearly everyone familiar with the old West remembers the name of Cochise. Not as well know as some of the other chiefs maybe, but a force non the less.

As this article from Listverse shows, though, not that much is known about his early days. Here's what we know.

Chief Cochise

Chief Cochise is one of the most well-known figures in the conflict between the Native American people and the European settlers who constantly pushed westward. For someone so prominent whose name is so well-known, he’s a figure shrouded in considerable mystery.

Almost nothing is known about his life before the middle of the 19th century when he was already established as the leader of the Chiricahua Apaches in the areas of northern Mexico and southern Arizona. Decades of raids and conflicts between the Apaches and the settlers in the area ultimately led to the creation of a reservation on the southeastern edge of their territory.

Cochise died in 1874, only two years after the establishment of the peace he’d rarely seen. The location of his traditional burial somewhere in the Dragoon Mountains was known only to a handful of his contemporaries who never divulged the coordinates. Several legends have grown up around the burial of the great leader. According to the story, Cochise’s dog and horse were both shot to be buried with him to keep the animals from being a public reminder of him and his death.

Sounds to me as though the Chief wanted to be secretive in both life and death. Maybe that's a good thing. Wasn't healthy to be his horse or dog, however!

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. I'll make a fire in the BBQ pit, OK?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Ship In The Desert...!

Folks report seeing some strange things out in the desert at at times, but here is something you would never expect.

Imagine if you found a Spanish galleon complete with all it's treasure? How would folks look at you when you told them about it? Know what I mean? This story from Listverse tells of just such a thing!

The Lost Ship In The Desert

If there’s any place you don’t expect to find a lost Spanish galleon, it’s probably the Colorado Desert. But in the 1870s, there were rumors galore about the lost ships. According to the Los Angeles Star, a treasure hunter finally found what he was looking for in November 1870. On December 1, a man named Charley Clusker claimed to have found an extraordinarily well-preserved Spanish galleon, but nothing was ever brought back from his expeditions into the desert. The ship was a pirate vessel and the treasure was still on board.

It might sound insanely farfetched, but there’s a small possibility that there actually was truth in the story. The Salton Sink is a massive depression created millions of years ago in the Colorado Desert, a depression that has been known to turn into a lake. Evidence of flooding includes the presence of oyster beds high in the San Felipe Mountains. It’s possible the pirate ship made its way up the Gulf of California and then ran aground. The crew would have ultimately died, leaving the galleon baking in the sun. Whether or not that’s really the case is still up for debate, but the sheer number of reports about a lost desert ship are enough to spark the imagination.

Now part of me really wants to believe that ol' Charlie found such a ship, but then the other part of me just wants some of whatever Charlie was drinking, ya know?

Today is my Baby Sis' birthday, so everyone get ready to sing "Happy Birthday!", OK?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. It's cold, but I'm tired of being inside!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Jean Baptiste For Monday Mystery...!

This is an interesting story right out of history. It's true, it's unsolved, and that makes it a great one for today, right?

Jean Baptiste

In 1862, Brigham Young and his congregation were presented with a problem. After discovering that the gravedigger Jean Baptiste was also a grave robber, the people of Salt Lake City had to decide what to do with a man who was a thief of the worst kind. Hundreds of sets of clothing were found in his home, stripped from the bodies of the people he had helped bury. Young reassured his congregation that those who had been buried naked by Baptiste would be fully clothed during their resurrection.

Baptiste’s trial seems a pretty cut-and-dried case. He was ultimately exiled to a barren island in the middle of Salt Lake, escorted there by a handful of men who had been forced to promise that they wouldn’t kill him on their way there. Even though the lake was extremely low, Baptiste couldn’t swim and he was effectively imprisoned. Or so it was thought.

Three weeks later, the owners of the cattle on the island returned to check on Baptiste and their herd. Baptiste was gone. The only signs that anyone had been there was damage to the island’s only shelter, a small shack, and a young cow that had been slaughtered. Baptiste was never seen again.

A handful of different theories have been put forward as to what really happened to him. Some believe that he died trying to make his escape, a theory that’s supported by the discovery of a human skull nearby at the mouth of the Jordan River, and later the rest of the skeleton that was still wearing its ball and chain. Then again, no one seems to know for sure whether or not Baptiste was wearing a ball and chain when he was left on the island. Others suggest that he made it to shore on a raft made of pieces of his shelter and the skin of the cow he killed. Some think that he hopped on a train and headed to California, while others think he made mining towns his home. Later reports dated to well after his exile claim that his ears were cut off and his face was marked with the words “Branded for robbing the dead,” but the truth in those claims is as much of a mystery as his fate.

I reckon that being banished to an island is better than being hung by the neck. Sounds like a strange punishment, but maybe it wan't back in those days. Who knows?

Coffee inside the house this morning. It's cold outside.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday Cartoons For 2015...!

Time once again for some Sunday funnies. Same ol' thing, different year!

Some of these guys have been around for a long, long time!

I hate to say it, but that ham looks better than mine!

The age old battle for love. I remember what it was like...almost!

OK, that's enough for today. How about we go and have a greatday, OK?

Coffee in the kitchen again. Still chilly outside!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Gunfight With A Camel...?

Ya know, folks can end up getting killed in the strangest ways sometimes. Guess that when it's your time, it's your time!

This has to be one of the strangest cases of accidental shooting I ever heard of. See if you don't agree.

John Horrocks

As a pioneer and explorer of 19th-century Australia, John Horrocks always ran a fair risk of getting killed by a wild animal. Ultimately, that was indeed the hand fate dealt him. However, he wasn’t bitten by a spider, stung by a medusa, eaten by a shark or even kicked by a kangaroo. In fact, he didn’t get killed by any of the thousands of lethal creatures Australia has to offer.

He was shot to death . . . by a camel.

Horrocks was a camel enthusiast and was keen to introduce the animals to Australia, as he felt they would do well there. This mission came to an an abrupt end, as one day his foul-tempered expedition camel managed to shift its weight so that pack it was carrying caught Horrocks’ weapon, causing it to go off. Sadly, Horrocks was loading the gun at the moment, so the shot took off a few of his fingers before moving on to his face.

John Horrocks died of his injuries, but not before giving orders for the camel to be shot as well. This means that the first and only camel/human gunfight in history technically ended in a draw.

This particular story makes it hard to decide whether to laugh or be sad. However,he probably has the destinction of being one of th only men to ever be in a gunfight with a camel, or any other animal. Guess that's something.

Coffee in the kitchen again. I don't trust these weather guys one bit!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Something A Little Different...!

I wish the folks at our town would start something like this. Around here there is enough to keep them busy all the time, I think.

The South African Detective Who Fought Satan
By Nolan Moore on Saturday, December 13, 2014

If there’s a demon in your neighborhood, who ya’ gonna’ call? Kobus Jonker! Between 1991 and 2001, this South African detective led a special police unit dedicated to fighting the forces of evil. As you might expect, things sometimes got a little weird . . . according to Jonker anyway.

From Twin Peaks to True Detective, TV is packed with paranormal plots and supernatural psychos. Even Scully and Mulder battled their fair share of spirits when they weren’t investigating UFOs. But these demon-hunting detectives are far from fictional. Believe it or not, between 1991 and 2001, South Africa had its very own Carl Kolchak. His name was Kobus Jonker, and while other cops were chasing run-of-the-mill crooks, he was doing battle with the devil.

Known as “The Hound of God,” Jonker’s obsession with the occult started in 1981. He was an experienced detective and recent Christian convert when he stumbled across an incredibly surreal suicide. The victim was a woman with three strange tattoos. On the sole of one foot was the word “Jesus,” on the other was “Christ,” and “666” was scrawled across her arm. According to Jonker, she was a witch who’d tattooed her feet so she could walk on Jesus’ name . . . before throwing herself in front of a car as a sacrifice to Satan.

This incident had a big impact on the detective. How could he investigate everyday crimes when the devil was on the prowl? It was one of those life-changing moments, and Jonker dedicated himself to fighting the forces of darkness.

At first, his superiors were less than thrilled. However, they changed their tune in ’91 when Jonker discovered the site of a grisly killing. There was a Bible wrapped in chains, blood all over the place, and a woman’s decapitated head. Suddenly convinced they were at war with the legions of hell, South African officials created the Occult-Related Crimes Unit (ORCU) with Jonker in charge.

The ORCU was made up entirely of Christians, and they operated under the Witchcraft Suppression Act of 1957. Passed in the glory days of apartheid, this bizarre piece of legislation essentially outlawed magic. Anyone with “a knowledge of witchcraft” could wind up in jail. On the flip side, it forbade people from accusing others of practicing the dark arts. It even condemned violence against witches. Basically, it was a law meant to squelch belief in indigenous African practices, and as a result, wasn’t popular with witches or witch-haters.

But it was perfect for Kobus Jonker. For 10 years, the ORCU investigated all sorts of paranormal phenomena, from your typical Regan MacNeil possessions to really nasty Charles Manson murders. They went after baloyi, medicine men who used human body parts in theirmuti (“spells”), and Jonker had a particular axe to grind against Satanists. According to the detective, South African Satanists are far more violent than their more laid-back American and British counterparts.

Whether or not that’s true, Jonker says he’s seen some pretty weird stuff in his day. When a Satanic assassin crept into his office, he allegedly stopped her from pulling the trigger with the power of prayer. While exorcising an 11-year-old girl, he claimed a tortoise crawled out of her belly button. In one of his most dramatic cases, Jonker showed up in a town plagued by a tokoloshe, a mini-demon who threw rocks at police, scared away all the animals, and repeatedly raped a young girl. Going into full-Constantine mode, Jonker prayed over the girl until he saw a mysterious dwarf scamper out of her house.

The rapes stopped, and the animals came back. Supposedly.

But while Jonker’s stories sound zany, he’s surprisingly rational about the whole thing. For example, in 1995, a rapist named Frans du Toit claimed a demon ordered him to attack attractive women. But Jonker didn’t buy his story. According to the detective, demons aren’t choosy when it comes to violence so it didn’t make sense that a spirit would order du Toit to only rape beautiful women. He was also disturbed by du Toit’s lack of guilt as possessed criminals almost always feel regret for their crimes. Similarly, when Morne Haarmse said a demon forced him to don a Slipknot mask, buy a katana, and attack his high school, Jonker wasn’t convinced. Sure, the kid listened to heavy metal, but that didn’t mean the devil was in the details. “I’ve also listened to heavy metal in the past,” he told Vice. “I don’t go and kill people if I listen to metal.” He also believed Haarmse was just too clever and calculating. The kid meticulously plotted the whole assault, and according to Jonker, demons are way too impulsive to make plans.

Eventually, “God’s Detective” was forced to step down as head of the ORCU after he suffered a heart attack in 2001. The unit didn’t last much longer as the government decided a group of cops focusing on particular religious groups probably wasn’t all that constitutional. As for Jonker, these days he works as a pastoral psychologist, helping people with a mixture of psychology and Biblical principles. But when he’s not counseling patients, he’s giving authorities professional advice on occult-related crimes.

While some might think he’s a religious nut, Jonker couldn’t disagree more. According to the detective, witchcraft is a “reality.” “It does exist.” Or in the words of Shakespeare, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Guess there will always be enough bad guys around to keep this fellow and his kind busy. Heck, he could stay in D.C. and have his hands full, I'm thinking.

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. I still have some homemade Snickerdoodles left!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year...!

I hope that everyone has a safe and Happy New Year!

Most of all, be happy...and be back! OK?