Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Lincoln's Murder Weapon For Western Wednesday...!

Don't ask me why, but I always figured the gun that killed Lincoln was bigger than this. Shows what I know (or don't know )>

I find it interesting that this weapon is still around, considering it's history. Now days someone would have stolen it, I think. Sad, but true.

The murder weapon

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty ImagesMandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

For a gun that had such a monumental impact on American history, the weapon fired by John Wilkes Booth is surprisingly diminutive. Fashioned from brass, the derringer pistol weighs barely 8 ounces. The gun, which discharged a single .44-caliber lead ball, was easily concealed by Booth but accurate only at close range. Since he had only a single shot as ammunition, Booth had only one chance to kill the president. The pistol is on standing display in Washington, D.C., at Ford’s Theatre, but through May 29, 2015, it is part of the theater’s special exhibition, “Silent Witnesses: Artifacts of the Lincoln Assassination,” which also includes items on loan from the Smithsonian Institution, including the custom-made Brooks Brothers overcoat and iconic stovepipe hat that Lincoln wore the night of the murder. Also part of the exhibition are the contents of Lincoln’s pockets the night of the assassination, which included a linen handkerchief, two pairs of glasses, a pocketknife and a $5 Confederate note that he likely received days earlier when touring the fallen Confederate capital of Richmond.

Nice looking pistol, even though it's a murder weapon with a scary history. Sure surprised me, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Chinese Female Pirate For Tuesday...!

Most of the time when we think of pirates, we think of men. That wasn't always the case, though.

One of the most successful female pirates of her day was the pirate known as "Cheng I Sao." Now this was one blood thirsty lady, let me tell you. Still, she was very good at what she did. In fact, she lived to be a ripe old age for the times.

Cheng I Sao

Drawing of Cheng I Sao (R) in battle. (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

One of history’s most influential raiders began her career in a Chinese brothel. Cheng I Sao, or the “wife of Cheng,” was a Cantonese former prostitute who married a powerful corsair named Cheng I in 1801. The husband and wife team soon raised one of China’s most formidable pirate armies. Their outfit boasted hundreds of ships and some 50,000 men, and it preyed on the fishing vessels, supply junks and the coastal villages of Southern China with impunity.

Upon her husband’s death in 1807, Mrs. Cheng elbowed her way into power and partnered with a trusted lieutenant and lover named Chang Pao. Over the next few years, she plundered her way across Southeast Asia and assembled a fleet that rivaled many countries’ navies. She also penned a rigorous code of conduct for her pirates. Rape of female prisoners was punishable by beheading, and deserters had their ears lopped off. Mrs. Cheng’s bloody reign made her public enemy number one of the Chinese government, and in 1810, the British and Portuguese navies were enlisted to bring her to justice. Rather than duking it out at sea, she shrewdly agreed to surrender her fleet and lay down her cutlass in exchange for the right to keep her ill-gotten riches. Mrs. Cheng retired as one of history’s most successful pirates, and went on to run a gambling house until her death in 1844 at the age of 69.

Say what you want, but I wouldn't want this lady on my list of enemies. And I thought my ex was bad!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Pretty pleasant actually!

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Missing Nuclear Material Mystery...!

One of scariest things to know is the large numbers of illegal incidents involving nuclear materials. I'm talking about right here in the United States, folks.

If this article from Listverse is correct, the numbers are way too high for my comfort. Heck, any number is too high for me! I don't like the fact that so much of this stuff is unaccounted for. I get the same feeling when I hear about a shipment of deadly viruses disappearing during shipment.

Where Is All The Missing Nuclear Material?

From 1993 to 2013, there were 2,477 confirmed reports of either criminal or unauthorized incidents involving nuclear material. Of those, 424 were unauthorized possession and related criminal activities, 664 involved theft or loss, and 16 involved unauthorized possession of highly enriched uranium or plutonium. Some of those 16 incidents were attempts to sell or traffic uranium or plutonium across international borders.

But these were just the confirmed events reported by states participating in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Incident and Trafficking Database system. The frightening question is: Where is all the missing nuclear material for which we can’t account?

While the worst case scenario is a terrorist organization creating a portable nuclear device, many are also worried about “dirty bombs,” which are designed to deliberately spread a massive amount of radiation. Although experts believe that the radiation from such a device would cause only a small increase in the risk of cancer, the fear and economic repercussions would be far greater. Even if someone could obtain radioactive material, some experts believe that the risk of a dirty bomb is low because the resources required to create and transport such a bomb would be enormous.

Aside from lost material being used to create a bomb, there’s concern that people might inadvertently find radioactive material and mishandle it. In Thailand in 2000, someone discovered a locked box in a scrap pile, cut it open to see if the contents were valuable, and found a piece of radioactive material inside. In just a short time, the people who handled that cobalt received fatal doses of radiation.

Mexico has had four thefts of radioactive material since 2013. In at least one incident, the thieves inadvertently took a capsule of iridium-192 while stealing a van they thought was full of other goods. In addition to lost or stolen nuclear material, countries with high levels of poverty that have atomic programs run the secondary risk of accidental exposure, whether from bumbling thieves or innocent civilians.

It sounds to me as though someone needs better training on howe to protect and account for every bit of nuclear material we have. If more care isn't taken, sooner or later someone will pay a very high price, I'm thinking!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

How About some Bugs Bunny And Etc...?

New Sunday, same ol' 'toons. Seems as though we are stuck in a rut!

And maybe just one more!

I know...I know. Pretty lame, huh? Oh well, at least they were free, right?

Coffee out on the patio again today!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

U.K.s Historical Deadly Smog...!

We have some areas here in the states with some severe air pollution, but nothing as bad as this.

I can only imagine how horrible this must have been for people who had to suffer through this. Saddest part? It could still happen again...all around us!

The Great Smog of 1952

Credit: Keystone/Getty ImagesKeystone/Getty Images

Not all natural disasters are entirely natural. In December 1952, manmade air pollution in London formed into a mass of sooty smog that lingered for four days, wreaking havoc on air quality. The deadly miasma was the result of a high-pressure system that created unnaturally stagnant conditions. Rather than dispersing into the atmosphere as usual, billowing clouds of coal smoke and pollution from factories gathered over the city and refused to budge. The smog reduced visibility in some places to almost zero. Livestock dropped dead of asphyxiation in their pastures, and scores of Londoners came down with bronchitis, pneumonia and other respiratory problems. Many children and elderly people died, their lungs ravaged by inflammation.

Some 4,000 people were killed before the wind finally picked up and blew away the smog, and thousands more may have perished in the weeks and months that followed. Spurred on by the disaster, the British government later instituted the Clean Air Act of 1956, which gave citizens subsidies to convert to cleaner fuels and banned the emission of black coal smoke in certain areas

Someday man is going to have to face the fact that Nature will start fighting back...with a vengeance! I'm thinking we really should start paying attention, ya know?

Coffee out on the really dry patio this morning.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Let's Talk About The Plague...!

Did you know that the government once experimented with using fleas as a disease spreading w2eapon? I kid you not!

Unknown to most of us, the government took part in many trials to see if they could spread biological weapons effectively. Drawing from an article I found on Listverse, there was certainly more than one test with different results. Guess who the test subjects were? That's right, boys and girls! The average everyday citizens of the U.S.! Now that's pretty darn scary to me!

Operation Big Itch

Dugway Proving Ground (DPG) in Utah was established as a military installation with the reallocation of public lands in 1942. By the 1950s, there was a definite need for a remote testing facility, a role that DPG would fill nicely. It became the location of the Biological Warfare Assessment Laboratories in 1954. With that title came the necessity of figuring out whether or not insects were viable for use as delivery systems for various types of nasty diseases. Specifically, they wanted to know if they could deliver the plague via fleas.

Operation Big Itch dropped countless fleas on the Utah desert. Cages of guinea pigs were set up on the ground to gauge how successful the drop was, as there were concerns about whether or not the fleas would survive and how much they would spread if they made it to the ground. The fleas were sealed in containers that were designed to rupture with the firing of a CO2 cartridge at an altitude of 300–600 meters (1,000–2,000 ft).

The experiment was something of a success. The guinea pigs became infested with the fleas, but it was also decided that it was necessary to drop the fleas close to the target to make sure that the bugs made it to their hosts. Not all of the drops went off flawlessly. In one attempt, one of the cartridges fired while it was still in the plane, and the crew was swarmed by fleas.

Overall, the test was enough of a success that there were plans in the works to build a massive flea-breeding facility that would raise 50 million fleas a week. Producing enough plague virus for all of those fleas wasn’t as easy, however. When researchers failed in their attempts to figure out how to do so, the plan fell by the wayside.

Nice to know where at least some of your hard earned tax dollars are and were being spent, isn't it? Before you start thinking that the Hermit is turning into a conspiracy nut, let me suggest that you at least Google the name "Operation Big Itch" and you might be surprised at some of the things you turn up! I'm serious!

Coffee out on the patio today. Don't worry...I'll bring the flea spray!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Facts About The Victory Gardens...!

I know we have all heard about the Victory Gardens grown during WW1 and WW2, but how effective were they really?

Actually the gardens were more successful than you might think. Here are some small tidbits about them you might not know.

Victory Gardens

During both World War I and II, many countries strictly rationed foods such as meat, sugar, butter and canned goods. To supplement their diets, citizens were encouraged to plant so-called “Victory Gardens” and grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables. The United States’ campaign began at the start of World War I, when timber tycoon Charles Lathrop Pack organized the National War Garden Commission with the goal of reducing strain on the food supply and shipping more produce to war-ravaged Europe. The “Grow Your Own” movement later became even more popular during World War II. Spurred on by propaganda posters urging them to “Grow Vitamins at Your Kitchen Door,” Americans planted 20 million gardens and cultivated nearly half the nation’s vegetables in their backyards. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt even promoted the cause by planting a Victory Garden at the White House.

Been a long time since we, as a country, got behind something like the Victory Gardens, hasn't it? We sure could use a good common cause again, don't you think?

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Long Branch Saloon On Western Wednesday...!

It's always nice to find out that something you believed to be imaginary actually existed. Something like the Long Branch Saloon.

I've never been, but I can only imagine what the imagination could conjur up when going through the museum in this day and age. Might just be worth the trip someday, ya reckon?

The Long Branch Saloon of “Gunsmoke” fame really did exist in Dodge City—and still does. Sort of.

Anyone who watched the television show “Gunsmoke” growing up is well acquainted with Miss Kitty’s Long Branch Saloon of Dodge City, Kansas. What viewers may not have realized is that the Long Branch really did exist. No one knows exactly what year it was established, but the original saloon burned down in the great Front Street fire of 1885. The saloon was later resurrected and now serves as a tourist attraction featuring a reproduction bar with live entertainment. According to the Boot Hill Museum, the original Long Branch Saloon served milk, tea, lemonade, sarsaparilla, alcohol and beer. Marshal Matt Dillon and Festus sporting milk mustaches? Now there’s a storyline.

Somehow I just can't get the image of Matt Dillon with a milk mustache out of my head. I need to go back and watch a few more episodes on the western channel, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio today!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A Tuesday Mystery For Ya...!

Everyone seems to like a good old fashioned mystery, especially one that is unsolved. Today I have a good one for you and it's not even Monday Mystery time!

The Disappearance Of David Lovely

In the summer of 1985, Jackie Aubut was planning to make a cross-country move from California to Massachusetts. She would be accompanied by her 19-year-old son, David Lovely, and his 18-year-old sister, Allison. The family loaded all of their belongings into a moving truck, but David wanted to make the entire journey on his motorcycle. While his mother and sister traveled in the truck, David followed closely behind them.

Things went smoothly until they stopped in Evanston, Wyoming, on August 5. David told his family that he needed to get some repairs done on his motorcycle but agreed to meet them at a nearby rest area. When Jackie and Allison arrived at the rest area later that day, David was not there. Even after they spent the entire night at the location, David never showed up.

The family soon learned that David’s aunt received a phone call from him. According to David, his motorcycle had broken down, so he pushed it to a truck stop in Fort Bridger and encountered a rough-looking man on a Harley Davidson. Even though David was initially afraid of him, the man actually wound up fixing the motorcycle, so David planned to rejoin his family. This would be the last anyone ever heard from him.

Nine days later, David’s motorcycle was found on an isolated dirt road. The keys were in the ignition, the tank was half full, and the motorcycle appeared to be in good condition. David’s knapsack and books were also found on the ground beside it. Other than the phone call to his aunt, there have been no confirmed sightings of David Lovely after he separated from his family, and he remains missing 30 years later.

Now how's that for a good missing person mystery? Makes you wonder just what did happen to the young man, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Flypaper Case For Monday Mystery...!

Reasonable doubt can be a very good thing in some cases, often meaning the difference between life and death.

Public opinion is also a good thing to have on your side if you are being tried for murder. Often it can swing the scales of justice enough to make the courts take a good look at the punishment handed out.

The Case Of The Stickily Suspicious Flypaper

Florence Maybrick was an American Southern belle who’d married an Englishman named James Maybrick more than twice her age. A hypochondriac, James made a habit of imbibing small amounts of poison as tonics.

When he died in Liverpool in spring 1889, no one could tell for sure whether the arsenic found in his system had been administered by him or by someone else. After all, doctors were also in the habit of prescribing poisons to their patients.

Florence had been seen soaking arsenical flypapers in water and was having an affair, so she came under suspicion. She had a good excuse, though, claiming to be making a cosmetic wash for her face. Although she was sentenced to hang, the public’s objection to the unfairness of that verdict caused her to be consigned to prison for 15 years instead. Whether she really was guilty is anybody’s guess, though there seems to have been lots of room for reasonable doubt.

I took this murder story from the site Listverse. They have several more mystery stories , if you like that sort of thing.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Care for some watermelon?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

And Now For Something Different...!

We always seem to have the same ol' thing here on Sunday, so I wanted to do something a bit different! Enjoy!

Told ya it was different, right?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Peach pie anyone?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Telegraph Trolls...!

Isn't it amazing that nearly anything new is considered evil by so many folks?

Even the telegraph was fair game for the trolls of the time, including some politicians. I can only imagine what a tough time folks would have had in staying up with important news before the telegraph.

The Telegraph

Photo via Wikimedia

In general, all the bad things that people say now about Twitter and online news were the same things that people said about the telegraph 150 years ago. This invention did not have a lot of fans when it was first conceived. In fact, there were two major groups that fervently opposed it: politicians and the media.

Newspapers often bad-mouthed the telegraph, perhaps out of fear of being made irrelevant. (They later did the same thing with radio.) They argued that the speed at which the telegraph could provide news was simply unnecessary. When just 10 days would bring the news from Europe to America and vice versa, what need could there be to deliver it in 10 minutes? Traditional media branded the telegraph as untrustworthy and superficial.

The US government was also wary of the device. When Samuel Morse offered to sell his telegraph system to the government for $100,000, they said no. While some politicians saw the telegraph as a mischievous device that could be used for evil, others were more practical, opining that the cost of installing and operating a telegraph between two cities far outweighed any potential revenue.

I guess that all technical advances are considered by some to be too costly and impractical to pursue. I'm glad that enough wanted to improve things and the telegraph was finally a big part of our history.

Coffee out on the hot patio this morning.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Ever Hear Of Fogbank...?

Once in a great while, I find out about something I've never heard of before. Fogbank is one of those. Definitely qualifies for Freaky Friday!

Not only is this strange stuff rare, but it is very expensive to make. This article from Listverse will tell you more than I could, that's a fact!

What Is Fogbank?

When the US Navy set out to refurbish their W76 warheads, a significant part of their nuclear arsenal, they ran into a serious problem. Once they opened up the warheads, they discovered a classified material code-named “Fogbank” that needed to be replaced. Except that no one knew how to make it.

Fogbank was made in the 1970s and ’80s, and there were very few records detailing its creation. Anyone involved with it had already left the agency. This led to a $23 million attempt to create a replacement material, which ultimately failed. Another $69 million was spent to rediscover Fogbank’s manufacturing process, which was successful.

Although Fogbank is critical enough for the Navy to invest $92 million of taxpayer money to recreate it, no one except those involved in the project knows exactly what it is. A former manager in its development went on record as saying that its composition, use in the weapon, and method of creation are all classified. Experts suspect that it’s a kind of aerogel that functions as an “interstage” in the warhead, surrounding the fission and fusion parts of the bomb and transferring energy between them. Whatever it is, it’s a reminder that even the most critical pieces of technology can fall victim to the “fog” of time.

Call me crazy, but I suggest the folks making this stuff take some detailed notes on the recipe this time around. Don't want to hear someone say "I haven't the foggiest" when asked how to make some more, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Summer is back to stay, I reckon.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Dancing Plague Of 1518...!

Over the years, many strange and often terrible plagues have visited man. This is the story about one of the strangest and, as of yet, unexplained.

What was the dancing plague of 1518?
SEPTEMBER 14, 2015 By Evan Andrews

In July 1518, residents of the city of Strasbourg (then part of the Holy Roman Empire) were struck by a sudden and seemingly uncontrollable urge to dance. The hysteria kicked off when a woman known as Frau Troffea stepped into the street and began to silently twist, twirl and shake. She kept up her solo dance-a-thon for nearly a week, and before long, some three-dozen other Strasbourgeois had joined in. By August, the dancing epidemic had claimed as many as 400 victims. With no other explanation for the phenomenon, local physicians blamed it on “hot blood” and suggested the afflicted simply gyrate the fever away. A stage was constructed and professional dancers were brought in. The town even hired a band to provide backing music, but it wasn’t long before the marathon started to take its toll. Many dancers collapsed from sheer exhaustion. Some even died from strokes and heart attacks. The strange episode didn’t end until September, when the dancers were whisked away to a mountaintop shrine to pray for absolution.

The Strasbourg dancing plague might sound like the stuff of legend, but it’s well documented in 16th century historical records. It’s also not the only known incident of its kind. Similar manias took place in Switzerland, Germany and Holland, though few were as large—or deadly—as the one triggered in 1518.

What could have led people to dance themselves to death? According to historian John Waller, the explanation most likely concerns St. Vitus, a Catholic saint who pious 16th century Europeans believed had the power to curse people with a dancing plague. When combined with the horrors of disease and famine, both of which were tearing through Strasbourg in 1518, the St. Vitus superstition may have triggered a stress-induced hysteria that took hold of much of the city. Other theories have suggested the dancers were members of a religious cult, or even that they accidentally ingested ergot, a toxic mold that grows on damp rye and produces spasms and hallucinations.

This is just one of the many strange things you can find over at sites like Great site for gaining a bit of history you probably won't find in the history books!

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Up For A (Rough) Road Trip...?

To have the first mail service from the East to the West was a big deal in the early days of the wild west.

The earliest coaches could carry 9 passengers as well as the mail. Neither was cheap, the trip ticket or the mail service. Having faster communication was dependent on how much you were willing to pay, I reckon.

The first transcontinental mail service to San Francisco begins

On this day in 1858, the new Overland Mail Company sends out its first two stages, inaugurating government mail service between the eastern and western regions of the nation.

With California booming, thanks to the 1849 Gold Rush, Americans east and west had been clamoring for faster and surer transcontinental mail service for years. Finally, in March 1857, the U.S. Congress passed an act authorizing an overland mail delivery service and a $600,000 yearly subsidy for whatever company could succeed in reliably transporting the mail twice a week from St. Louis to San Francisco in less than 25 days. The postmaster general awarded the first government contract and subsidy to the Overland Mail Company. Under the guidance of a board of directors that included John Butterfield and William Fargo, the Overland Mail Company spent $1 million improving its winding 2,800-mile route and building way stations at 10-15 mile intervals. Teams of thundering horses soon raced across the wide open spaces of the West, pulling custom-built Concord coaches with seats for nine passengers and a rear boot for the mail.

For passengers, the overland route was anything but a pleasure trip. Packed into the narrow confines of the coaches, they alternately baked or froze as they bumped across the countryside, and dust was an inescapable companion. Since the coaches traveled night and day, travelers were reluctant to stop and sleep at one of the “home stations” along the route because they risked being stranded if later stages were full. Many opted to try and make it through the three-week trip by sleeping on the stage, but the constant bumping and noise made real sleep almost impossible. Travelers also found that toilets and baths were few and far between, the food was poor and pricey, and the stage drivers were often drunk, rude, profane, or all three. Robberies and Indian attacks were a genuine threat, though they occurred far less commonly than popularly believed. The company posted guards at stations in dangerous areas, and armed men occasionally rode with the coach driver to protect passengers.

Though other faster mail delivery services soon came to compete with the Overland Mail Company-most famously the Pony Express-the nation’s first regular trans-western mail service continued to operate as a part of the larger Wells, Fargo and Company operation until May 10, 1869, the day the first transcontinental railroad was completed. On that day the U.S. government cancelled its last overland mail contract.

In this age of coast to coast air travel, we forget the days of a three or four week stage coach trip for a destination now reached in a matter of hours. Some things have changed for the better, I reckon. Thanks to for this bit of travel trivia.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Weatherman lied about the rain!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

General Grant's Big Comeback...!

Most of what we know about some giant names of American history are centered on their accomplishments and successes, but seldom do we focus on the downsides of their lives.

We all have dark episodes in our lives and we forget that famous men have their share of tough times as well. After all, they are still men, right? No one is perfect and some of the more famous people in history had some major obstacles to overcome That's what made them great, what gave them their strength and backbone. Most became the heroes we know from history simply because they refused to give in or give up!

Ulysses S. Grant Becomes General

Photo via Wikimedia

Ulysses S. Grant was always a spectacular horseman. When he was young, his skill with horses was well-known, and he was the top horseman in his class at West Point. After he graduated, he naturally seemed the most likely candidate to enter the cavalry unit, but he was assigned instead to the infantry. During the Mexican War, Grant was cited for his bravery in battle and quickly rose through the ranks, marrying his wife, Julia, and starting a family. His life seemed secure, until he was assigned to the Northwest Territory, and he was forced to leave his family behind.

Grant was very unhappy serving in Oregon and California, so he began to drink heavily to cope with the loneliness. He started to encounter financial problems, which further fueled his self-loathing. Feeling too depressed to go on with his career, Grant resigned from the Army in 1854. Grant and his wife tried (with little success) to run a farm that her father had given them. Grant was given one slave but decided to free him instead. He worked hard, but his refusal to use slave labor caused further failure. He tried to find work and resorted to pawning his watch to buy presents for his family on Christmas.

When the Civil War broke out in 1860, Grant got a job training volunteers. Though he was seen by many as a drunk, he was eventually reabsorbed into the Army because they needed trained officers. Grant became a brigadier general. His military genius stood out above all others, and by 1864, he was appointed by Lincoln as general of the Union Army.

In 1865, General Lee of the Confederacy surrendered at Appomattox, ending the war. In 1866, Grant was made general of the armies, a rank attained only by George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Grant was popular with the public, and in 1868, he was elected president of the United States.

One thing that this article from Listverse shows us is that even famous, well known men often have the same kind of rough roads to travel as the rest of us. Sort of makes us all feel just a little closer, don't you think?

Better have coffee in the kitchen this morning. Rain is expected on the patio.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Grave Riddle For Monday Mystery...!

Sometimes the tombstones in graveyards are a source of mystery and wonder. Often the mysteries cannot be solved

This article from Listverse tells of one such tombstone. To this day, the riddle of the stone has not been truly solved, although there are many guess as to what it means. Maybe someone will figure it out for sure one daqy.

Betty Stiven

Photo credit: Angelo Bissessarsingh

In the town of Plymouth on the Caribbean island of Tobago is a tombstone belonging to a woman named Betty Stiven. The inscription reads:
“Within these walls are deposited the bodies of Mrs. Betty Stiven and her child. She was the beloved wife of Alex B Stiven to the end of his days will deplore her Death, which happened upon the 25th day of Nov. 1783 in the 23rd year of her age. What was remarkable of her, she was a mother without knowing it, and a wife without letting her husband know it except by her kind indulgences to him.”

For centuries, the meaning of those words has been a mystery. While it’s very possible to become a father without realizing it, mothers go through a process that’s rather difficult to miss. Being someone’s wife without their knowing about it also has its challenges. As the sign next to it says, the inscription “baffles interpretation.”

One theory is that Betty was a slave and Alex Stiven was her owner. He impregnated her when she was 12, and then she got ill and was confined to her bed. During one of her bouts of unconsciousness, she gave birth to four children, one stillborn. Alex Stiven gave them to other slave women to raise, ordering them not to tell Betty. The wife situation is explained by how sex constituted a union at that time, without the requirement of a marriage ceremony.

We could consider another possibility. The engravers might not have meant the statements literally. If an older female figure made a difference in your life, you could say she was like a mother without her realizing how much she meant to you. The wife part is a little harder to figure out, admittedly. Either way, people continue to speculate, and Betty Stiven’s tombstone has become a popular tourist attraction, whoever she was.

Don't yu love a good mystery riddle to start the week?

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Different 'Toons For Sunday...!

Today we are going to do something just a little different. Cartoons that you may have forgotten about.

I think we forget just how many characters used to live out there in cartoon land. Boy, there were a few in the old days!

Last one for today!

Well, did you remember any of these? It's been a while for some of them.

Coffee out on the patio this morning...pretty nice!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Saturday Baboon Mystery...!

Baboons and monkeys are fun to watch, for the most part. Once in a while though, they exibit some pretty strange behavior that no one can explain. This is certainly one such case.

Collective Baboon Apathy

In 2013, a typically rambunctious colony of baboons at the Emmen Zoo in the Netherlands was struck by a bizarre case of mass hysteria. All their regular antics—playing, fighting, greeting their treat-bearing keepers—stopped, and they simply sat.

The odd event started with a massive burst of chaos. Then nothing. One group sat high up in a tree and refused to do anything, and the apathy spread throughout the whole colony. This wasn’t the the first time that it’s happened. In 1994, 1997, and 2007, similar occurrences of mass apathy happened in the same group of baboons. During the previous episode, they all sat motionless in their enclosure, looking off in the same direction. They didn’t eat and they didn’t socialize. They just sat. Nothing similar has happened in any other zoos, and it hasn’t been linked to a unique quality or characteristic in the dominant member of the group—the dominant member has changed between the episodes.

Slowly, the baboons came out of their trance-like state. Younger baboons started acting up again, older baboons resumed their parenting duties, and gradually, they all got hungry and started looking for food again. There’s been a wide range of theories about just what was going on with the baboons. It could be minor, undetected earthquakes, or a random fright that might have been as simple as someone wearing a scary T-shirt. These theories have been thrown around, but none have been proven as explanations for the baboons of the Emmen Zoo to sink into their occasional funk.

So, what do you think? Did they suddenly go on strike for more treats...maybe some type of protest for the Baboon Union? Maybe they just wanted to take a break and zone out for a bit. Strange if you ask me.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. It's supposed to be in the low 70s and that's a good thing!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Dracula's Dungeon For Freaky Friday...!

Sometimes we forget that figures like Dracula were inspired by real people. Scary, right?

One of the most recognizable of all the horror creatures of the past is Dracula. Ol' Dracula was inspired by Vlad the Impaler, who was a pretty blood thirsty character. A find in Turkey could be important to Vlad's history. Here's the story from Knowledgenuts.

Archaeologists Might Have Found Dracula’s Dungeon In Turkey
By Heather Ramsey on Wednesday, September 9, 2015

While restorations were being made at Tokat Castle in Turkey, two dungeons were discovered where Vlad the Impaler, the real-life inspiration for the fictional Dracula, may have been imprisoned as a young prince by the Ottomans in the 15th century. Some historians believe these early experiences shaped Vlad’s later sadistic behavior of impaling his victims. After his release, Vlad fought the Ottomans for most of the rest of his life, although he later died in one of those battles.

While restorations were being made at Tokat Castle in Turkey, two dungeons were discovered where Vlad the Impaler, the real-life inspiration for Bram Stoker’s fictional Dracula, may have been imprisoned as a young prince by the Ottoman Turks in the early 15th century. “The castle is completely surrounded by secret tunnels. It is very mysterious,” archaeologist Ibrahim Cetin told Hurriyet Daily News. “It is hard to estimate in which room Dracula was kept, but he was around here.”

The Seljuk Turks conquered the town of Tokat in the late 1100s. Later, in 1392, it became part of the Ottoman empire. Tokat Castle was situated above the city in the sharply rising hills. Wallachian Prince Vlad III was born in the late 1420s or early 1430s in a mountainous region that is now part of Romania. In 1442, Vlad III and his younger brother were captured by the Ottomans when their father, Vlad II, brought them to a political meeting. The boys were held at Tokat Castle to ensure the loyalty of their father in an ongoing war.

The Ottomans tutored Vlad and his brother and treated them well for that time in history. After his father and brother were viciously murdered, Vlad III was released. But Vlad III held a grudge about those years and it’s believed that’s the reason he spent his life fighting the Ottomans after his release. Some historians believe these early experiences shaped Vlad’s later sadistic behavior of impaling his victims with poles, which is how he got his nickname, “Vlad the Impaler.”

His association with the name, Dracula, came about a different way. When his father, Vlad II, was admitted to the Order of the Dragon, Vald II was given the surname, Dracul (which means “dragon”). That made Vlad III the son of Dracul, or Dracula.

The Order of the Dragon was obsessed with overthrowing the Ottoman Empire. Located between the Muslim Ottoman Empire and Christian Europe, Wallachia (where both Vlads ruled at different times) often became the site of brutal battles between the two forces. Vlad III also devoted his adult life to the overthrow of the Turks.

Vlad III may have killed as many as 80,000 people, even displaying 20,000 of them outside the city of Targoviste to send a message to the Ottomans not to invade. He won that time. However, Vlad III was eventually killed in a battle with the Ottomans in 1476 when he and a small group of soldiers were ambushed.

Sometimes the inspirations are more scary than the characters they help to create, ya know?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. The rain is due here shortly.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A "Hair Raising Tale" For Thursday...!

I've posted on here before about some folks that were scalped, but here is another one.

The most interesting thing about these stories is that the people that were scalped survived. That was not very common. This man's story is unique enough to talk about, I think!

William Thompson's Scalp

On August 6, 1867, British immigrant William Thompson was working with a small group of men repairing telegraph lines in Cheyenne country. The lines had been cut by a group hoping to lure some of the settlers into an ambush. It wasn’t long until everyone was dead but Thompson. Later, he would tell how he was ridden down, shot in the arm, and clubbed with the butt of a rifle. As he lay there, he was stabbed in the neck and unable to respond as his attacker cut into his scalp and ripped it from his head.

Still conscious and motionless, Thompson watched as his attacker remounted and dropped the scalp. Once the group of Cheyenne left, Thompson got up, retrieved his scalp, and searched for help. Somehow, he found it. The first journalist to whom he told his story was Henry Morton Stanley, who recounted seeing the scalp in a pail of water. Stanley said it looked a bit like a drowned rat.

Thompson had kept the scalp in hopes that it could be reattached, but the surgery was beyond the capability of doctors at that time. They did try to reset the scalp, but they failed. As a grisly token, Thompson gave the scalp to one of the doctors who had attempted the operation. It was then passed on to the Omaha Public Library and finally to the Union Pacific Railroad Museum of Omaha.

Another journalist, Moses Sydenham, recorded Thompson’s testimony of what it felt like to be scalped for the Daily Sun: “The sensation was about the same as if someone had passed a red-hot iron over my head. After the air touched the wound, the pain was almost unendurable . . . I had to bite my tongue to keep from putting my hand on the wound. I wanted to see how much of the top of my head was left.”

I have to thank the site Listverse for posting this story. That's where I stole it from.

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mormon Mass Murder For Western Wednesday...!

We never think of any religious group committing mass murder, at least I hope we don't. That changed forever in 1857.

This is a tale of brutality at it's worse and was probably the first of it's sort to ever be recorded. Hard to believe it was in part sanctioned by a church group.

Mormons and Paiutes murder 120 emigrants at Mountain Meadows

On this day(9/11) in 1857, Mormon guerillas, stoked by religious zeal and a deep resentment of decades of public abuse and federal interference, murder 120 emigrants at Mountain Meadows, Utah.

Although historical accounts differ, the conflict with the wagon train of emigrants from Missouri and Arkansas apparently began when the Mormons refused to sell the train any supplies. Some of the emigrants then began to commit minor depredations against Mormon fields, abuse the local Paiute Indians, and taunt the Mormons with reminders of how the Missourians had attacked and chased them out of that state during the 1830s. Angered by the emigrants’ abuse and fired by a zealous passion against the growing tide of invading gentiles, a group of Mormons guerillas from around Cedar City decided to take revenge. Cooperating with a group of Paiute Indians who had already attacked the train on their own initiative, the Mormon guerillas initially pretended to be protectors. The guerillas persuaded the emigrants that they had convinced the Paitues to let them go if they would surrender their arms and allow the Mormons to escort the wagon train through the territory. But as the train again moved forward under the Mormon escort, a guerilla leader gave a pre-arranged signal. The Mormons opened fire on the unarmed male emigrants, while the Paiutes reportedly murdered the women. Later accounts suggested that some Mormons had only fired in the air while others killed as few of the emigrants as they could. But when the shooting stopped in Mountain Meadows, 120 men and women were dead. Only 18 small children were spared.

As a direct result of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the U.S. government demanded a new settlement from Brigham Young. In 1858, the Mormons agreed to accept a continued presence of federal troops and a Gentile governor for Utah Territory. No further significant Mormon-Gentile violence occurred, and the Latter Day Saints were thereafter largely left to govern themselves. But the era of complete Mormon domination of Utah ended as a result of the tragedy that day in Mountain Meadows.

Now, this little bit of history is certainly not shared to cast any bad light on the Mormons, but to show that any group of fanatics, religious or not, will often commit unbelievable crimes. In fact, today's news show many such crimes being committed around the world. Thank the Lord that not many are done here in our country any more.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. I had cookies, but I caved in and ate them all! Sorry!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Some Hedy Lamarr History...!

Very smart and very beautiful! That's probably the best way to describe Hedy Lamarr.

We've talked about Hey before, but back then we only covered her inventive side. This time we are going to look at the time before she made it to Hollywood and stardom. She had a very interesting history, believe me!

Hedy Lamarr’s Great Escape
By Nolan Moore on Monday, September 7, 2015

Before she was a Hollywood superstar, Hedy Lamarr found herself trapped in a “prison of gold.” As a teenager, the young actress married Fritz Mandl, a weapons manufacturer who kept her locked up in his mansion. Eventually, Lamarr grew so desperate that she concocted a crazy escape plan involving drugs, a disguise, and Louis B. Mayer.

Once upon a time, Hedy Lamarr was billed as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” but this Hollywood legend was more than just a pretty face. In recent years, it’s become well known that the star of films like Algiers and Samson and Delilah played a key role in the creation of technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

So how did Hedy change the future? Well, during World War II, Lamarr wanted to help the American war effort by creating a radio-guided torpedo, a missile that could be controlled via wireless communication. There was one little problem. Hedy had to find a way to keep the enemy from jamming the torpedo’s signal. But with the help of an avant-garde composer named George Antheuil, Lamarr developed a frequency-hopping device that would keep the Nazis at bay. Basically, there’s a transmitter and a receiver, and they’re designed to randomly and simultaneously jump from one radio frequency to another, leaving the Nazis terribly confused.

Of course, the military ignored Hedy’s idea for years, but eventually her frequency-hopping patent was rediscovered and became the basis for, well, the 21st century as we know it. While Lamarr didn’t earn a single cent for her invention (the patent expired before it was finally put to use in the ‘60s), she was awarded with an Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award a few years before she died.

But how did Hedy Lamarr come to learn so much about torpedoes and wireless communications? Well, it had a lot to do with her first husband, which brings us to the time when Hedy Lamarr went from being an imprisoned housewife to a world-class escape artist.

In 1933, the Austrian actress gained international notoriety for starring in Ecstasy, a movie that was pretty erotic for the day, complete with nudity and a rather racy sex scene. Shortly after filming, Hedy married an arms dealer named Fritz Mandl, and while their marriage might have seemed fine at first, Hedy quickly learned her husband was a major control freak. Insanely jealous, he ordered her to quit acting and then began hunting for every copy of Ecstasy in existence, hoping to wipe the film off the face of the Earth.

Even worse, Mandl turned his wife into a prisoner. Hedy wasn’t allowed to leave Mandl’s mansion unless she was accompanied by a servant. He listened to all of her telephone calls, carefully controlled her meager allowance, and kept her jewelry under lock and key. Hedy was trapped in her own home, but eventually, she began planning her escape. Whenever possible, she’d steal a ring here or a necklace there, and then she’d ask a friend to sell the jewelry and keep the money ready for when Hedy made her big break.

In the meantime, Lamarr kept her mouth shut and her ears open. As Mandl’s trophy wife, she was required to attend dinners where he would entertain wealthy officials from around the world. As a big-time weapons mogul, Hedy’s husband supplied some pretty nasty customers. When Hitler rose to power, Mandl went into business with the Third Reich, and Benito Mussolini often showed up at the mansion for dinner. Of course, while her husband was dining with devils, Hedy paid close attention to all their conversations. It was basically War School 101, and the actress learned all about missiles, radio frequencies, and how to invent the perfect weapon.

On one occasion, Hedy did try to talk with one of her husband’s guests, but with disastrous results. According to film historian Karina Longworth, host of the podcast You Must Remember This, a British officer dropped by the mansion one evening, and when Mandl left the dining room, Hedy begged the Englishman to help her escape. The officer agreed, and later that night, Hedy started packing her bags. However, as she was preparing for the journey, Mandl burst into her bedroom and placed a record on Hedy’s Victrola. Instead of a melodious waltz, Hedy heard her own voice, pleading with the British officer for help. Mandl had bugged the dining room.

The claustrophobia, the surveillance, the constant fear—it was all too much for Hedy, and the next time her husband went on a trip, the actress went into Steve McQueen mode. She drugged one of her maids, stole the woman’s uniform, and silently crept out of the mansion. She quickly made her way to Paris, but when she arrived in the City of Lights, she received a telegram from a concerned servant, warning her that Mandl was on her trail. Instead of hiding out in France, she boarded a ship and sailed to London. Frustrated, Mandl decided it was easier just to divorce his wife than hunt her down, but Hedy’s adventures weren’t over quite yet.

Coincidentally, Hedy showed up in London right as MGM president Louis B. Mayer was finishing up some European business and getting ready to return to the US. Lamarr convinced a talent scout to set up a meeting with the movie mogul, but when Hedy first met the big man, Mayer said there was no way she could make it in America. After all, she’d starred in Ecstasy, and that sexually explicit stuff wasn’t going to fly in the States. However, Hedy was persistent and convinced Mayer that she had been forced into filming those sex scenes. With a sudden change of heart, Mayer offered the actress a six-month contract at $125 per week.

Hedy turned him down.

Lamarr knew she was worth a lot more than $125, so the two parted ways—until Hedy decided she’d made a big mistake. After all, this was her big shot at Hollywood fame, and she couldn’t just pass it up. But she couldn’t schedule another meeting with Mayer, because he was about to sail back home. Even worse, she couldn’t buy a ticket because the cruise liner was all sold out. That’s when her talent scout friend came up with a suggestion. One of his clients, a 14-year-old violinist, was traveling on the same ship. Perhaps Hedy could sneak aboard by posing as the girl’s nanny.

Without a doubt, it was the most important acting gig of Hedy’s career, and amazingly, it worked. When Mayer discovered how Lamarr had gotten aboard, he had to admit it—the girl had guts. He also noticed that Hedy was drawing quite a bit of attention from all the guys onboard. Thoroughly impressed with her courage and her looks, Mayer scrapped the six-month offer, and instead, he gave Hedy a seven-year contract, starting at $550 per week. Sailing across the Atlantic and leaving behind her twisted marriage, Hedy was finally headed for fame, fortune, and (eventually) technological glory.

Like I and beautiful! Thanks to the site Knowledgenuts where I found this story.

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Another Boat For Monday Mystery...!

We will never run out of mystery tales from the sea, as there are just too many of them. Some are not even that far away from port.

Here is a case of one that was actually close to home, as far as distance goes. This is the kind that drives many researchers crazy trying to figure out.

The Witchcraft

In December 1967, Miami hotel owner Dan Burack decided to view the city’s Christmas lights from his luxury cabin cruiser, the Witchcraft. Accompanied by Father Patrick Hogan, he sailed about a mile out to sea. The boat was in good working order when the two men left.

At about 9:00 PM, Burack radioed to request a tow back to the marina, reporting that his boat had struck an unknown object. Despite the incident, Burack didn’t sound worried at all—after all, he’d personally built Witchcraft with a special hull to keep her from sinking. He confirmed his location with the Coast Guard and assured them he would fire a flare when they arrived in the area.

It only took the Coast Guard about 20 minutes to reach Burack’s reported location, but by the time they arrived, the Witchcraft had vanished. Although initially unconcerned, the Coast Guard eventually searched more than 3,100 kilometers (1,200 mi) of ocean. But Dan Burack, Father Patrick Hogan, and the Witchcraft were never found.

Somehow I can't help but wonder if maybe the name had anything to do with this mystery. I'm not sure I would ever name a vessel something like this. No need to invite trouble, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio again today.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

How About Some Bugs Bunny...?

Sunday of course means 'toons. Today it's Bugs.

Bugs is probably as well known around the world as Mickey Mouse, but who really knows? I actually like him better, ya know? Well, to each his own.

See...when you come here for the 'toons, ya get some classy music thrown in for nothing extra!

Everyone loves baseball, right? Maybe a little?

Is it just me or does Elmer seem a little strange? I have a neighbor that may be his twin!

I don't even know what to say about that last one. Better to not say anything, I guess! That should be enough to jump start the morning for ya!

Coffee out on the patio today.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Unfortunate British Pet Purge...!

Wartime makes some folks, especially in government, come up with some pretty scary ideas. We had our share during the WW1 and WW2 years, but one idea pushed by the British was perhaps the cruelest of them all.

Hopefully the folks that came up with it meant well, but it is still a scary thought.

The British pet purge

animals purgeCredit: Fred Morley/Fox Photos/Getty Images

In 1939, the British government circulated a pamphlet about how to care for household pets during wartime. Along with offering advice on first aid and instructing people to evacuate their animals from cities, the memo also suggested that owners consider having their pets “painlessly destroyed.” Fearing possible food shortages and roving packs of starved dogs, thousands complied. In the span of only one week, as many as 750,000 pets were euthanized by their owners or by animal shelters. The London Zoo, meanwhile, had all of its poisonous animals killed to prevent them from escaping in the event of a bomb attack. The pet cull continued after the beginning of the Blitz, but humane societies later stepped in to assist with care and evacuation. One London shelter, the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, took in as many as 145,000 animals over the course of the war.

While I can understand a few of the reasons behind this thinking, I'm afraid I would not support the wholesale euthanization of animals, especially out of fear.

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Car Cooked Food For Freaky Friday...!

Nearly as far back as the invention of the automobile, folks have been trying to cook with it. Crazy, huh?

Well, believe it or not this notion is still going on (to a certain limited degree)! One invention was even featured in the 1930 Magazine Modern Mechanix, so someone took it as a workable idea! Some craziness just never dies, does it?

Cooking With Car Exhaust

Photo credit: Modern Mechanix

The more adventurous of us may have tried to warm up lunch by placing it atop a hot engine block. A few might even cross over to the crazy side and make a grilled cheese sandwich on the engine manifold. Well, it turns out that’s not exactly a new development—engine-cooked food has been around almost as long as the car.

Way back in June 1930, Modern Mechanix magazine featured a pressure cooker that could be mounted on the rear bumper of a car, with a hose that hooked directly to the exhaust pipe. The idea was for the “hot gases” from the exhaust pipe to heat a pressure cooker, with the inventor claiming that an hour’s drive was “sufficient to thoroughly cook meats and vegetables.” Hopefully the family’s pot roast and potatoes were kept well-sealed away from the disgusting fumes being used to cook them.

Just to prove that a bad idea never dies, a 2015 design competition saw an Iranian team submit a small grill intended to be attached to a car’s exhaust. The Iranian invention was just large enough to grill a single hamburger patty, with the clam-like design hopefully keeping the noxious exhaust away from your meat. If you’ve ever been overcome with the desire for a single, slow-cooked burger wile driving alone, then this is the invention for you.

I guess that craziness in one form or another has been around as long as the car. I reckon it may never truly stop as long as we tend to be a little lazy about some things. Just seems to me that take-out would be a lot less trouble, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

No Post...!

Sorry, but no post today. Have a good one, OK?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

First Western Anglo Women For Western Wednesday...!

As promised before, I found a story about women in the early western days.

Anglo women were not a common sight west of the Rockies, so these two were a big part of our early history.

First Anglo women settle west of the Rockies

On this day in 1836, Narcissa Whitman arrives in Walla Walla, Washington, becoming one of the first Anglo women to settle west of the Rocky Mountains.

Narcissa and Marcus Whitman, along with their close friends Eliza and Henry Spalding, had departed from New York earlier that year on the long overland journey to the far western edge of the continent. The two couples were missionaries, and Narcissa wrote that they were determined to convert the “benighted ones” living in “the thick darkness of heathenism” to Christianity. That summer when they crossed the continental divide at South Pass, Narcissa and Eliza became the first Anglo-American women in history to travel west of the Rocky Mountains. Toward the end of their difficult 1,800-mile overland journey, the two couples split up, with the Spaldings heading for Idaho while Narcissa and her husband traveled to a settlement near present-day Walla Walla, Washington, where they established a mission for the Cayuse Indians. For 11 years the couples’ missionary work went well, and they succeeded in converting many of the Cayuse to Christianity. But in 1847, a devastating measles epidemic swept through the area, killing many of the Cayuse, who had no immunity to the disease, while leaving most of the white people at the mission suspiciously unharmed. Convinced that the missionaries or their god had cursed them with an evil plague, in November of 1847, a band of Cayuse attacked the mission and killed 14 people, including Narcissa and her husband. Narcissa Whitman thus became not only one of the first white women to live in the Far West, but also one of the first white women to die there.

So many native Americans were killed by exposure to diseases that the Anglos unknowingly brought with them. Something like the measles were a disaster for those never exposed before. That's really sad!

Coffee out on the slightly wet patio this morning.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Making Of A Bad Man...!

Ever wonder what causes a man to turn into an outlaw? Maybe even a pirate? What causes a man to turn in this direction?

This is a story of a man that went from a law abiding life to one of being a wanted fugitive. Not only did he turn into a fugitive, but became a very notorious one at that!

Sam Mason survives Indian attack

Samuel Mason, a captain in command of Fort Henry on the Ohio frontier, survives a devastating Indian attack only to become one of the young nation’s first western desperados.

The son of a distinguished Virginia family, Samuel Mason became a militia officer and was assigned to the western frontier post of Fort Henry in present-day West Virginia. In the summer of 1777, with the colonies fighting a war for independence, Mason feared attacks by the Indian allies of the British. On this day in 1777, a band of Native Americans from several eastern tribes did attack the fort.

The Indians initially fired only on several men who were outside the fort rounding up horses. Hearing the shots, Mason gathered 14 men and rode to their rescue. This was exactly what the warriors hoped he would do. They lay in wait and ambushed the party, killing all but Mason. Badly wounded, Mason escaped death by hiding behind a log. A second party that attempted to come to his rescue suffered the same fate as the first. All told, Mason lost 15 men compared to only one fatality among the attackers.

Mason recovered from his wounds and continued to command Fort Henry for several years. Following the end of the war, though, he seems to have fallen on hard times. Repeatedly accused of being a thief, he moved farther west into the lawless frontier of the young American nation. By 1797, he had become a pirate on the Mississippi River, preying on boatmen who moved valuable goods up and down the river. He also reportedly took to robbing travelers along the Natchez Trace (or trail) in Tennessee, often with the assistance of his four sons and several other vicious men.

By the early 1800s, Mason had become one of the most notorious desperados on the American frontier, a precursor to Jesse James, Cole Younger, and later outlaws of the Wild West. In January 1803, Spanish authorities arrested Mason and his four sons and decided to turn them over to the Americans. En route to Natchez, Tennessee, Mason and his sons killed the commander of the boat and escaped.

Determined to apprehend Mason, the Americans upped the reward for his capture, dead or alive. The reward money soon proved too tempting for two members of Mason’s gang. In July 1803 they killed Mason, cut off his head, and brought it into the Mississippi territorial offices to prove that they had earned the reward. The men were soon identified as members of Mason’s gang, however, and they were arrested and hanged.

I guess that some men are always looking for the easier way to riches. Working for them is out of the question, so they turn to the promise of easy pickings as an outlaw. It doesn't always work out, though.

Coffee out on the patio one more time.