Thursday, March 31, 2016

All About The Toilet...!

No, I don't mean that my blog has gone down thew toilet, but that I have some interesting facts about said toilet for your consideration.

15 Fascinating Facts About Toilets


Toilets – we all use them but seldom like to talk about them. The flushing toilet was invented by Sir John Harrington in 1596 for Queen Elizabeth I. He was originally barred from the Royal Court for spreading smutty stories, but after his invention, he was allowed back. Having whet your appetite for fascinating toilet facts, let us look at 15 more.

1. The film “Psycho” was the first movie to show a toilet flushing – the scene caused an inpouring of complaints about indecency
2. Pomegranates studded with cloves were used as the first attempt at making toilet air-freshner
3. Hermann Goering refused to use regulation toilet paper – instead he bought soft white handkerchiefs in bulk and used them
4. Over $100,000 US dollars was spent on a study to determine whether most people put their toilet paper on the holder with the flap in front or behind; the answer: three out of four people have the flap in the front
5. King George II of Great Britain died falling off a toilet on the 25th of October 1760
6. The average person spends three whole years of their life sitting on the toilet
7. The first toilet cubicle in a row is the least used (and consequently cleanest)
8. An estimated 2.6 billion people worldwide do not have access to proper toilet facilities, particularly in rural areas of China and India.
 9. The Roman army didn’t have toilet paper so they used a water soaked sponge on the end of a stick instead!
10. The toilet is flushed more times during the super bowl halftime than at any time during the year. 11. 90% of pharmaceuticals taken by people are excreted through urination. Therefore our sewer systems contain heavy doses of drugs. A recent study by the EPA has found fish containing trace amounts of estrogen, cholesterol-lowering drugs, pain relievers, antibiotics, caffeine and even anti-depressants.
12. Lack of suitable toilets and sanitation kills approximately 1.8 million people a year, many of them children. 
13. The toilet handle in a public restroom can have up to 40,000 germs per square inch.
14. While he didn’t invent the toilet, Thomas Crapper perfected the siphon flush system we use today. He was born in the village of Thorne – which is an anagram of throne.
15. In a 1992 survey, British public toilets were voted the worst in the world. Following quickly behind were Thailand, Greece, and France.

I do hope you found this list interesting. If nothing else, it will give you some new reading material for the next trip to the...well, you know! I got this list from the staff over at the Listverse group.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Temps back up to the 80s again.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Cumberland Road For Western Wednesday...!

Sometimes in old days, the gap between Congress giving a project the green light and the actual funding could take a while. Not that much has changed, I reckon.

The Cumberland Road got off to a slow start, but proved to be invaluable in the long run.

Congress authorizes survey of Cumberland Road

Congress authorizes surveying to begin for the construction of the Cumberland Road, which sped the way for thousands of Americans heading west.

Four years earlier, Congress had recognized the importance of building a network of national roads to facilitate western immigration. The 1803 act that admitted Ohio into the Union included a provision setting aside money from the sale of public lands to use in “laying out, opening, and making roads.” By 1806, enough funds had accumulated to begin surveying a proposed national road from Cumberland, Maryland, through the Appalachian Mountains to Wheeling, Virginia, on the Ohio River.

The task of surveying the route for the new national road went to the Army’s Corps of Engineers, setting an important precedent for the military’s involvement in building transportation routes that would be used for non-military purposes. The Corps of Engineers also built the road once construction began in 1811. Progress was slow, and the Corps did not complete the 130-mile road until 1818. Its value, though, became apparent well before it was completed. Stagecoaches, heavy freight wagons, and droves of stock animals soon crowded the route in numbers far surpassing those expected. The Corps even had to maintain and repair older sections of the road before the entire route was completed.

The Cumberland Road proved such a success that Congress agreed to continue extending it westward. By 1850, this National Road, as it came to be called, reached all the way to Indianapolis. By that time, mid-western excitement over the National Road was fading in favor of a fever for canal building. The Cumberland-National Road, however, set the precedent for further government involvement in road building. The resulting network of roads greatly facilitated American expansion into western territory, and parts of the route blazed for the Cumberland Road are still followed to this day by interstate and state highways.

Seems to me that the Corps of Engineers still has a lot of projects in the works that are not finished. I'll bet you probably have some around the area where you live.

Coffee inside this morning. Kinda stormy on the patio.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Another Reminder Of Unit 731...!

I've posted about this terrible place once before. I think it's time to revisit it.

Forgotten Horrors: The Human Experiments of Unit 731
By Morris M. on Tuesday, July 23, 2013

During the occupation of China, the Japanese army set up the secretive Unit 731. Behind closed doors doctors infected civilians with plague, subjected them to extreme temperature changes, and had them dissected alive.

When the bombs landed in China’s Quzhou province, locals didn’t know what to make of them. Instead of exploding, they merely cracked open – spilling rice, wheat and microscopic fleas across villages. It wasn’t for another week that their purpose became apparent, when an outbreak of Bubonic Plague began to decimate the countryside.

Such plague bombs are only one of the atrocities linked with Unit 731: the Japanese answer to Mengele’s Auschwitz. In a vast complex on the edge of the Chinese mainland, surgeons took turns at dissecting civilians alive, removing organs one by one until the patient died. Some were hung up and vivisected without anesthetic. Others were tied to the ground in freezing weather to see how quickly they would succumb to frostbite. Yet others were gassed or herded into decompression chambers, where researchers timed how long it took their eyeballs to explode. And then there were the germs.

Cholera, typhoid, dysentery and anthrax were spread over Chinese cities. As many as 200,000 people died in outbreaks that lasted until 1948. Russian, Filipino and Allied prisoners were infected then pickled in formaldehyde. Yet, for all this brutality, no-one was ever punished. US forces exchanged immunity for data and helped cover-up the evidence. There has been no apology, no compensation, no recognition. Unit 731 remains a darkly open secret—one its victims still suffer with 70 years later.

War is hell on Earth...I understand that. What I will never understand is the depths of darkness that Mankind can reach in finding ways to torture or kill his own kind.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. In the mid 80s once again.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Space Related Monday Mystery Solved...?

We know so little about space, it's almost embarrassing. No matter how much we know or learn, it isn't enough.

Sometimes an answer is figured out to one of our many questions, but we can't prove or disprove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Ceres Mystery Lights

Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

As NASA’s Dawn spacecraft approached the dwarf planet Ceres, it captured some very mysterious images. One of these, taken 47,000 kilometers (29,000 mi) away from the planet, showed abnormally bright spots inside an 80-kilometer-wide (50 mi) crater. Many immediately took these images and ran with them, thinking that they were signs of an alien civilization.

For a few months, even NASA wasn’t exactly sure what these mysterious bright spots were. Theories ranged from aliens to ice, but in late 2015, a study was published in Nature that debunked all those theories. It claimed that the spots were nothing more than salt. The study stated, “These unusual areas are consistent with hydrated magnesium sulfates mixed with dark background material, although other compositions are possible.” Unfortunately, this explanation is not as exciting as aliens, but there are plenty of other space mysteries to keep us baffled for a long time.

I'm a little disappointed that it had to be a simple explanation. I wanted something a bit more exotic, I reckon. Oh well, it is what it is...!

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Here Are The Sunday 'Toons...!

I know it seems like it's way too msoon to be Sunday again, but here it is!

It's getting harder to remember which ones we've already seen recently, so pardon me if I repeat myself...OK?

And maybe one more for good measure.

One of the real classics from many years ago.

Coffee out on the patio today!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Lewis And Clark Weren't The First...!

When we think of the expedition of Lewis and Clark, we think of them being the first to complete the trip across the new American territories. It turns out that this isn't the case at all.

Alexander MacKenzie’s Transcontinental Trek

Photo credit: John Harvey

Alexander MacKenzie is remembered as a great explorer in Canada and his native Scotland, but he doesn’t get the global recognition that he deserves. He is not on the same level as some of his contemporaries, such as Lewis and Clark.

In 1804, after the Louisiana Purchase, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark set out on an expedition to explore the new American territories, claim the Pacific Northwest for the US, and reach the Pacific Ocean.

They completed their transcontinental trek in 1806, ensuring their place in the history books. But Alexander MacKenzie had done the same thing more than a decade before them. In 1793, MacKenzie became the first European to cross North America. He could have done it even sooner if his first trip had been successful.

He originally set out for the Pacific Ocean in 1789 by following the largest river in Canada. MacKenzie hoped that it flowed into the Pacific, but the river actually went north into the Arctic Ocean. Even though the trip was a failure, that river is now named MacKenzie in his honor.

His second trip went much better. In 1792, MacKenzie set out from Fort Chipewyan in Alberta and followed the Peace River into the Rockies. After crossing the Great Divide, he followed the Bella Coola River and reached the Pacific Coast. There, he painted a simple message on a rock face that said: “Alex MacKenzie from Canada by land 22d July 1793.”

It's always strange to find out that history doesn't always match what we were taught. Kinda makes you want to question some of what we learn today! Thanks to the folks at Listverse for this article.

Coffee out on the patio today!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Let's Talk About Passports...!

Most of us think that the passport is a fairly new thing, but that's not correct.

Passports have been around since the time of the Monguls That's a very long time!

The Passport Is Surprisingly Ancient
By Debra Kelly on Sunday, March 20, 2016

The first mention of anything like modern-day passports comes from a Bible verse in Nehemiah. The Mongols issued one of the earliest passports in the form of an iron medallion presented to foreigners who were in Mongol territory and under the protection of the Khan. It wasn’t until nearly World War I that the more familiar format (which included details like height and eye color) was implemented. British government officials fought that idea for decades, claiming it was “degrading.”

You’re finally heading off on that vacation that you’ve been waiting for all year, but before you can even get your first taste of a foreign land, you’re going to be stuck in airport hell. There are lines and lines, plus the tedious passport examination. It might seem like this is just another modern form of red tape and bureaucracy, but the idea is surprisingly ancient.

The Bible mentions something similar in Nehemiah 2:7-9.
I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters.

Centuries later, passports would be issued by a regime more known for its pillaging and looting than for its diplomacy: the Mongols. Under Genghis Khan, intricately engraved metal plaques called paizi were handed out for a couple of different reasons. Some paizi were carried by government officials as proof of their position and title, while others were given to people coming and going through the empire. They were usually reserved for people who traveled on state business and foreigners who were in Mongol territory under the protection of the Khan.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has one of the dozen or so Mongolian passports we’ve found, and theirs was issued to a Tibetan monk named ‘Phagspa. The monk, who was an adviser to Kublai Khan, would have carried the 18-centimeter (7 in) by 11-centimeter (4.5 in) iron medallion as proof of his identity and protection from those that might think him easy prey.

Inscribed on the face of the medallion are the words, “By the strength of Eternal Heaven, an edict of the Emperor. He who has no respect shall be guilty.”

The oldest British passport was only signed a few hundred years later by Charles I. That was in 1641, and it was only good for three years until Oliver Cromwell made his lunatic grab for power. Not only were all earlier passports null and void, but no one was getting a new one unless they swore they wouldn’t be lifting a finger against Cromwell’s new government. (In fairness, the “no sail list” remained in effect until Charles II started circumventing the rules for reasons that were more social than diplomatic.)

British passports also went through a weird, 80-year period where they were written in French. The original English documents were changed in 1772 as French was considered a more diplomatic language, and British passports were issued in French until 1858, meaning those who set out to fight against Napoleon had French-language passports.

Those early passports also had no rules on what kind of picture you put on them. Some people posed with their whole families or with their pets, or wore some of the trendiest clothes they could. When it was first suggested that physical details like height and eye color should be added, the British Foreign Secretary called the idea “degrading and offensive.” That was in 1835, and it wouldn’t be until World War I that we’d see the now-familiar format.

I don't own a passport. I have no reason to go anywhere one is needed. Call me strange, but that's just me!

Coffee out on the patio today!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Something To Think About...!

Baby Sis sent me this thought I wanted to share with you. It's timely to say the least!

To realize
The value of a sister/brother
Ask someone
Who doesn't have one

To realize
The value of ten years:
 Ask a newly Divorced couple.

To realize
The value of four years:
Ask a graduate.

To realize
The value of one year:
Ask a student who Has failed a final exam.

To realize
The value of nine months:
Ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn.

To realize
The value of one month:
Ask a mother
Who has given birth to
A premature baby.

To realize
The value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize
The value of one minute:
Ask a person
Who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize
The value of one second:
Ask a person
Who has survived an accident..

Time waits for no one.
Treasure every moment you have.
You will treasure it even more when
You can share it with someone special.

To realize the value of a friend or family member:

Coffee out on the patio today!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Louis L'Amour for Western Wednesday

One of the best writers of western books is going to be the focus of our post today.

Many consider him as the best writer of western books in the industry. He had a very distinctive style, and that was one reason for his popularity.

Louis L’Amour born

Louis L’Amour, the prolific author of scores of bestselling western novels, is born in Jamestown, North Dakota.

An indifferent student, L’Amour dropped out of high school at age 15. Over the next two decades, he traveled around the world working in an amazing variety of jobs. At various times, he tried his hand at being a cowboy, seaman, longshoreman, prizefighter, miner, and fruit picker. During World War II, L’Amour served time in Europe as an officer in the tanks corps.

After returning from the war, L’Amour began writing short stories and novels. His spare, flinty style caught the eyes of several editors, and L’Amour began to make a living as a writer. His big break came when a novel he wrote at the age of 46 became the basis for the popular John Wayne movie Hondo. Although L’Amour had not set out to become a writer of Westerns, he began producing more of what readers and editors clearly wanted. He wrote several other screenplay/novels, including the epic 1962 movie, How the West Was Won. By the mid-1970s, he had written 62 books, most of them Westerns.

L’Amour’s best-loved novels feature three pioneering families: the Sacketts, the Chantrys, and the Talons. L’Amour produced convincing and moving historical novels that spanned centuries and celebrated the strength and spirit of the American West. Most of his books also feature rough-hewn but intelligent men. “When you open a rough, hard country,” L’Amour once said, “you don’t open it with a lot of pantywaists.” In the tradition of classic Westerns like Owen Wister’s The Virginian, women primarily serve as love interests in need of protection.

Using extensive historical research to ensure authenticity, L’Amour avoided many of the simplistic cliches and racist stereotypes of earlier Westerns. Although he occasionally cast Indians as villains, he also offered sympathetic portraits that reflected an understanding and sympathy for different cultures and history.

Although he had written 108 books by the time he died in 1988, L’Amour considered himself a serious author and blamed the lack of critical respect on the fact that his books were Westerns. Still, having sold more than 225 million copies of his novels, L’Amour was one of the most popular and influential western authors of the 20th century. In recognition of his vivid depictions of America’s past, Congress awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal in 1983.

This gentleman had quite the career. No wonder he was so well thought of in his profession.
Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Scary Self Cloning...!

Of all the strange things that some animals can do, this has to be the strangest !

For some reason, it bothers me a lot that these guys can clone themselves. Bad enough to have one around, but to find out that it has created six or eight more without help. It wouldn't take long until the dragons outnumbered regular folks. I think we may be in trouble, ya hear?

. Komodo Dragons

In 2006, something astonishing happened: A monitor lizard (aka a Komodo dragon) gave birth to four pups at London Zoo. Even more extraordinary is that another dragon was expecting to give birth to eight additional babies that year.

Both mothers were held in captivity, and both mothers reproduced asexually. Until this point, Komodo dragons had never been known to reproduce without male participation.

After conducting tests on the young males, it was confirmed that the babies were not an exact genetic match with the mother. Instead, the mother’s DNA was doubled to create the young and showed no presence of male DNA.

Herpetologist Richard Gibson speculated that the lizards developed the ability to survive in isolated situations.
Imagine you’re a Komodo dragon and you’re living in an archipelago of tiny islands, and a female gets caught in a storm and swept out to sea, ending up on an island with no other dragons. After two or three years of waiting with no one to breed with, she spontaneously reproduces parthenogenetically.

Gibson added that the ability would eventually cause genetic problems similar to extreme inbreeding, explaining why dragons always treat virgin births as a last resort.

Thank goodness the human animal hasn't learned this trick as of yet. Can you imagine the confusion? Thanks to Listverse for this information!

Coffee out on the slightly chilly patio this morning.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Monday Mystery-Devil's Tramping Ground !

How about another story of a place where nothing will grow?

Test have been done on the soil, possible reasons expounded on, and the reason for the barren spot still lingers to this day!

The Devil’s Tramping Ground

The Devil might go down to Georgia, but according to some centuries-old folklore, he comes out in North Carolina. Down a country road in Chatham County is a barren, 12-meter (40 ft) circle that’s been given the nickname “The Devil’s Tramping Ground.”

Every night at midnight, it’s said that the Devil comes out and stomps around there in a circle, planning the night’s activities before heading off to do his work. People have tried to grow plants there, but they die. Supposedly, any objects left within the circle during the day will be thrown out overnight.

Other ideas to explain the circle are mostly of the extraterrestrial and paranormal variety. Locals have often used the place as a meeting spot for parties, but some testify that they’ve failed spectacularly in their attempts to spend the night there. They cite a rather creepy feeling as the reason.

Scientists have tried to figure out why nothing will grow in this weird spot, but they’re stumped. Soil scientist Rich Hayes first thought that the copper or salt content of the soil was the reason. Although none of his tests were conclusive, they did reveal that there was something odd about the circle.

The barren soil within the circle had a higher pH level and higher concentrations of zinc, sodium, and copper than the ground outside the circle. The readings weren’t high enough to prevent things from growing, though.

Campfires built at this party spot might explain some of Hayes’s readings, but they don’t account for stories about the circle that go back hundreds of years. Strangely, compasses can also be thrown off by a few degrees when you’re walking through the circle. No one can explain that, either. So far, it’s added up to a big mystery for science.

Stories like this make me realize that there are too many things that are not for us to know. Thanks to Listverse for bringing these stories to us!

Coffee out on the patio this morning...chilly but dry!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Roadrunner 'Toons With A Twist...!

I'm gonna celebrate Sunday with a 'toon showing something a little different, OK?

See what I mean? I hope this was informative for you!

Coffee out on the patio today!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Repeat Of An Older Post...!

The reason I'm re-posting this story is because it is worth repeating and because I have more numbers than the first time.

When Monopoly Helped Allied POWs Escape In World War II
By Jana Louise Smit on Thursday, March 17, 2016

Boredom proved to be quite a problem in World War II prisoner-of-war camps, and the Germans allowed charity groups to pass on board games to the Allied prisoners in an attempt to keep them placid. A fake charity (actually M19), distributed innocent-looking Monopoly games to prisoners. Inside the board itself, the tiny hotels, and other pieces, prisoners found German money, maps printed on silk, and escape kits. These kits helped thousands of men to escape.

In 2007, the British government decided to declassify a great war story. When it came to rescuing their estimated 135,000 war prisoners from the Germans, the British poured some tea and conceived an ingeniously unorthodox plan.

British secret service knocked on the door of Norman Watson, who had two things they wanted. He owned the country’s only Monopoly game factory and he owned the only company in Britain that had mastered the art of printing on silk. Together, the popular board game and silk became part of the hugely successful escape kit smuggled to Allied POWs.

A secret service agent named E.D. Alston informed Watson that the plan was to hide useful items inside Monopoly boxes. The most important of these pieces was a map made of silk. Silk charts topped their paper cousins by being silent. Imagine trying to open a smuggled map but the paper’s rustling alerts the guards. Or, once on the run, it might dissolve or smudge from rain or sweat.

It’s the sort of thing that could get a man killed or lost. Silk maps were also able to be folded into really tiny shapes, which made them perfect for the Monopoly scheme. For Germany alone, the secretive factory produced an assortment of maps, one for each of the areas surrounding the six German POW camps.

Games were rigged with other essentials a prisoner would need to escape. Tools such as a compass, money, and other survival items—all in miniature—were tucked away inside the tokens, hotels, and even inside the board. Production happened in a sealed-off part of the factory where workers were sworn to absolute secrecy. Fearing reprisals from the Germans if the factory’s part in the war became known, nobody yapped. (It probably helped that they were under threat of going to prison should anyone share the story outside the factory.)

To the German eye, the games delivered to their prisoner camps truly seemed normal. But British POWs knew what to look for.

While still free men, they had been taught that in case of capture they had to be on the lookout for parcels from charity groups visiting their camps. These would be fake humanitarian groups since the secret service did not want to compromise the Red Cross. Called the “special edition,” prisoners looked for Monopoly boards with a red spot on the Free Parking block.

Since the POWs were kept in different countries, not all Monopoly games were printed in the same way. Distributors learned to read the fine print—a single period placed at different addresses.

If the board’s Mayfair property had a dot, the game was meant for Norway, Germany, or Sweden. A period after Marylebone Station meant Italy. It was crucial to get the right boxes to the right countries because of the money inside. Having currency from a different country could trip up an escaped soldier’s chances of freedom.

Inspection of games that passed on to the prisoners couldn’t have been that thorough since real money was simply placed underneath the game’s fake money. It was a risky move, but currency was worth crucial to someone on the run who needed it for food, shelter, and bribes.

Hundreds of thousands of silk maps showing the way to friendly territory were distributed by the fake charities. Thirty-five thousand Allied prisoners broke out of camps and found their way home before the end of the war. While it can’t be precisely calculated, historians feel that at least 10,000 of them used the Monopoly kit.

This version of the story is from Knowledgenuts and I thank them. History is always worth repeating, don't you think?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning...just in case!

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Start Of It All...!

The very first portable computer didn't look very portable at all. In fact, it didn't look like the present day portable computers in any way at all!

There have been so many changes between then and now that it's scary! Makes you wonder just where we are heading. I'm guessing that implants are not too far in our future.

Portable Computers

Photo via Wikimedia

The Osborne 1 was the world’s first portable computer and the predecessor of today’s laptops. Invented by Adam Osborne of Osborne Computers in April 1981, this computer had a fully detachable keyboard, two disk drives, and a 13-centimeter (5 in) monitor. It weighed 11 kilograms (24 lb), ran on 64 kilobytes of memory, lacked a built-in battery, and sold for $1,795. Yet it was a huge success, and Osborne sold more than 125,000 units in less than one year.

Osborne Computers soon ran into problems after they announced a new computer called the Vixen too early. Many people canceled their orders for the Osborne 1, preferring to wait for the newer, improved product. Unfortunately for Osborne, that product wouldn’t be available for at least another year. Due to lagging sales for the Osborne 1, Osborne Computers suffered financial problems that forced it out of business.

The sudden, unexpected fall of Osborne Computers gave a name to the hugely unfavorable consequence of announcing a new or improved product long before it will be available: the Osborne effect. Such early announcements often led to a rapid drop in sales of current products, loss of customers’ trust, indefinitely postponed orders, and in extreme cases, the total downfall of the company.

Other companies that experienced the Osborne effect include famous game console manufacturer Sega and North Star Computers. In 1978, North Star almost went bankrupt after it announced a new floppy disk controller with twice the storage space but no increase in price from its older version.

This article (which is from Listverse) makes me sorta understand all the secrecy behind the introduction of new products from people like Apple and Google...almost!

Better have our coffee inside this morning. Bad weather moving in later.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Purgatory...!

Since St. Patrick's day is upon us again, I figured it was time to view another perspective of one of his namesakes. Let's go to St Patrick's Purgatory.

St. Patrick’s Purgatory
Lough Derg, Ireland

St. Patrick’s Purgatory, a monastery on Station Island (aka Lough Derg), sits on a portal to Hell in the middle of a small lake in Ireland.

According to the story, Jesus showed St. Patrick a cave on the island in which he could see visions of the punishments administered in the dark underworld of Hell. Jesus told St. Patrick that this would allow him to offer proof of a Christian afterlife to any of his wavering followers.

The monastery was built in the 15th century, although there is no definitive proof that St. Patrick actually set foot on the island. It is more likely that his name became associated with it after the fact.

The public is generally not allowed on the holy island, which prevents those with an interest in Devil worship from trying to find the supposed gateway. Once a year, however, there is a pilgrimage for devout Christian worshipers, who embark on a three-day sojourn of contemplation in bare feet. The Lough Derg website claims that the pilgrimage is “the toughest in all of Europe, perhaps even in the whole Christian world.”

I just have a feeling that if I were to visit this place, I would need a bit more than some Green Beer to help me recover! Not real high on the list of places I want to visit, ya know?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. I hear that the rain is coming back!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pony Express Introduced...!

The date was April 3, 1860 and what was probably one of the greatest experiments of it's time was about to begin.

Very few things have captured the imagination like the Pony Express. It didn't last long, but it's history was a rich one. Just the thing to talk about on Western Wednesday!

Pony Express debuts

On this day in 1860, the first Pony Express mail, traveling by horse and rider relay teams, simultaneously leaves St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. Ten days later, on April 13, the westbound rider and mail packet completed the approximately 1,800-mile journey and arrived in Sacramento, beating the eastbound packet’s arrival in St. Joseph by two days and setting a new standard for speedy mail delivery. Although ultimately short-lived and unprofitable, the Pony Express captivated America’s imagination and helped win federal aid for a more economical overland postal system. It also contributed to the economy of the towns on its route and served the mail-service needs of the American West in the days before the telegraph or an efficient transcontinental railroad.

The Pony Express debuted at a time before radios and telephones, when California, which achieved statehood in 1850, was still largely cut off from the eastern part of the country. Letters sent from New York to the West Coast traveled by ship, which typically took at least a month, or by stagecoach on the recently established Butterfield Express overland route, which could take from three weeks to many months to arrive. Compared to the snail’s pace of the existing delivery methods, the Pony Express’ average delivery time of 10 days seemed like lightning speed.

The Pony Express Company, the brainchild of William H. Russell, William Bradford Waddell and Alexander Majors, owners of a freight business, was set up over 150 relay stations along a pioneer trail across the present-day states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California. Riders, who were paid approximately $25 per week and carried loads estimated at up to 20 pounds of mail, were changed every 75 to 100 miles, with horses switched out every 10 to 15 miles. Among the riders was the legendary frontiersman and showman William “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846-1917), who reportedly signed on with the Pony Express at age 14. The company’s riders set their fastest time with Lincoln’s inaugural address, which was delivered in just less than eight days.

The initial cost of Pony Express delivery was $5 for every half-ounce of mail. The company began as a private enterprise and its owners hoped to gain a profitable delivery contract from the U.S. government, but that never happened. With the advent of the first transcontinental telegraph line in October 1861, the Pony Express ceased operations. However, the legend of the lone Pony Express rider galloping across the Old West frontier to deliver the mail lives on today.

The riders faced many dangers along the way, I'm sure. The one thing they didn't have to worry about was being bored.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Rain is due to return later this week!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Toilet On Television...!

It may seem a bit strange, but in the early days of television things were complicated.

The rules back then were a lot different than today.So many things we take for granted were just not allowed. Things like married couples sharing a bed, cursing and using profanity, and even the showing of something as simple as the toilet!

The Beaver

It is believed that the first toilet shown on television was featured in a 1957 episode of the sitcom “Leave It To Beaver”. In the episode, Beaver and his big brother Wally order a pet alligator named “Captain Jack” from a comic book ad. Hoping to hide their pet from their parents, the boys stashed Jack in the toilet tank. It is interesting to note that network censors so feared a public backlash that they only showed the tank, not the complete toilet

I wonder if we were really so sensitive that we were actually offended by the showing of a toilet on the tube. Considering the trash being shown today, I somehow doubt it!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Got up to 88 here yesterday.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Religious Magical Butter For Monday Mysteries...!

Who would ever think that something as common as butter had a religious past?

I had no idea that butter was used as far back as it was and most of those uses were religious in nature. Strange but true, at least according to the folks over at Knowledgenuts!

The Surprisingly Religious History Of Butter
By Debra Kelly on Friday, March 11, 2016

For something that’s mostly overlooked until you make toast, butter has a rather ancient history. Much of it is the stuff of sacred religious rites and beliefs. In ancient Tibet, the bodies of lamas were boiled in butter before being embalmed, and butter lamps and sculptures celebrated the victories of the Buddha and were thought to help focus the mind during meditation. It was a part of Hindu sacrificial rituals, mentioned numerous times in the Bible, made from milk collected by mythical Icelandic milk thieves, and used by the Bretons as a currency and a medicine.

You’ve probably got some in your refrigerator, and chances are good that you don’t think too much about it until you make some toast or a baked potato. And even if you know that it’s pretty ancient—it’s been around since we started domesticating animals—the almost-worldwide sanctity of butter is pretty amazing.

As long as 2,500 years ago, butter sculptures called tormas formed a crucial part of the celebrations of Shakyamuni Buddha’s victories. Even today, the annual butter festival in early March is the largest of the celebratory days of the Monlam Festival, which pays tribute to all of the miracles of Buddha.

Thousands and thousands of butter lamps are lit, signifying the wisdom and the light of the Buddha. The lamps, made from clarified yak butter, line the streets and are believed to help focus one’s mind during meditation. The butter lamps are also a central feature of other holidays, and donating butter to the monasteries that craft the lamps and sculptures is believed to be some good karma.

In pre-China Tibet, the bodies of deceased lamas were simmered in boiling butter before they were embalmed.
Butter shows up a handful of times in the Bible, including Judges 2:25: “He asked water, and she gave him milk, she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.” And in Isaiah 7:15: “Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.”

Another type of butter, called ghee, was essential in Hindu sacrifices of the Vedic period. The offering of ghee, a sort of clarified butter, along with various grains and vegetables, was thought to satisfy the hunger of the gods and ensure order was maintained on Earth. The ritual of Jatakarman, performed at the birth of a boy, involved presenting the baby with a mixture of ghee, honey, and gold.

Head up to Iceland, and you’ll find an unsettling ritual used to summon a creature called a tilberi. The tilberi was created from a human rib dug up from a graveyard and brought to life when the communion wine was spit on it three Sundays in a row.

Once it had been nursed by its summoner and grown to adulthood, it would head out into neighboring fields to steal milk from the livestock and bring it back home, spitting it into the churn. Butter made from the milk collected by the tilberi would crumble, unless a magic sign—the smjorhnutur, or butterknot—was sketched onto it. Prayers from the seventh century include appeals made to the god Gobhin, asking him to protect the butter that families made.

More than 430 samples of “bog butter” have been excavated from the peat bogs of Ireland and Scotland, dating back to as early as 400 BC. The butter was buried several feet deep and in huge quantities. It was likely done for a few different reasons.

The ability of peat bogs to preserve what’s buried in them is well-documented, and at the time, butter was a valuable commodity. It was used to pay rent and taxes, and it waterproofed fabric. It was also a good binder for building materials and could be burned as a candle.

Some writings suggest the butter was buried to change its flavor, but we also know that butter was thought to cure illness. Placing butter next to a suffering person would supposedly absorb the disease. (The butter would be buried if the person died.)

Not everyone was always in favor of butter, though. Travelers from the region of Catalan in particular looked upon butter with strong suspicions. They tended to carry olive oil with them when they went through regions where they would only be able to get butter because they were convinced that butter caused leprosy.

Who would have ever thought a simple thing like butter could cause so many discussions? Strange topic, you have to admit.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. It's a beautiful day!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Once Again It's Sunday 'Toons...!

No need to wonder what the post is's Sunday and that means 'toons!

And one more to end the morning.

Just let me know if you tget tired of Sunday 'toons, and I'll start doing something else...OK?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Temps getting close to 80, ya know?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Those Crazy Wild Lights...!

I have never seen the Northern Lights, but I can imagine how amazing they are!

For thousands of years the lights have inspired us, causng many legends and myths to grow around them. Even today, they remain a source of mystery and wonder for many of us. Besides all that, they are beautiful!

What Makes The Different Colors Of The Northern (And Southern) Lights?
By Debra Kelly on Thursday, March 10, 2016

While we’re not sure why auroras have so many different shapes, we do know what causes the different colors. When the Sun’s particles interact with oxygen, the greenish-yellow lights occur. Nitrogen causes the red, blue, and purple lights, and height has something to do with it, too. The lowest lights are the blue ones, while red lights are the highest. And there’s a fascinating variety of myths associated with the lights, from the idea that they’re the spirits of the unborn to harbingers of tragedy or good fishing.

The aurora light show is one of the most brilliant natural phenomena we know, and it’s been fascinating mankind for thousands of years. It’s believed that the first depiction of the auroras came in the form of a Cro-Magnon cave painting that’s more than 30,000 years old, and the first written mention of the lights comes from China in 2600 BC. It was written, “Fu-Pao, the mother of the Yellow Empire Shuan-Yuan, saw strong lightning moving around the star Su, which belongs to the constellation of Bei-Dou, and the light illuminated the whole area.”

It wasn’t until 1619 that the northern light show was named “aurora borealis,” a term that came from Galileo. At the time, it was thought that the lights came from the morning sun reflecting off the Earth’s atmosphere, so he named them after the goddess of the morning and the Greek north wind.

In 1749, we started keeping track of the solar cycle. We’ve learned that when there are sunspots and solar storms, the auroras are at their brightest. There have been just 22 solar cycles since we started counting back then.

Today, we know that they’re not caused by the morning light, but we’ve kept the name. It’s only the northern lights that are called the aurora borealis; the southern version is the aurora australis.

Both are caused by the same thing—charged particles given off by the Sun, which is why they’re stronger and brighter during peak times for solar storms.

When those charged particles hit the molecules in our own atmosphere, they interact to produce photons and, in turn, lights we can see. It’s sort of what happens inside the tubes of a neon sign, and as in a neon sign, different molecules cause the different colors.

The most common color we see is a sort of greenish-yellow, which is caused by the charged particles of the Sun interacting with oxygen. These green lights are also in the middle range as far as height goes, and usually happen somewhere around 240 kilometers (150 mi) above the planet’s surface.

When the Sun’s particles interact with nitrogen, the lights are either red, blue, or purple. The color depends on the height, with the red lights produced at heights above 240 kilometers, blue lights below 95 kilometers (60 mi), and purple lights at the distance in between the two.

There are also the colors we can’t see, and it was only when we got a good look at the lights through special satellite-based cameras that we could prove there was ultraviolet light there.

One thing we’re still not sure about is what causes the different shapes of the auroras. They can appear in clouds, waves, spirals, and straight lines along the horizons, and all the different shapes and patterns can occur on the same night.

There are even more myths and folklore tales than there are shapes and colors to the northern lights. In Greenland, it’s said that anyone who whistles under a sky filled with the lights will attract the lights, which will come down and chop off the offender’s head. Other cultures believe they’re the spirits of the ancestors, that they’re guiding hunters toward their prey, or that they’re the spirits of unborn children.

Some cultures believe they’re more evil than good and that they herald a coming battle or tragedy. They’re “fire foxes” in Finland, fairies in Scotland, and signs of good fishing in Scandinavia. For the Inuit, they were the souls of animals, dancing in the night sky.

I had no idea that so many different thoughts were out there about what the lights represented. I must say that I am impressed!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. It appears the rain has stopped!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Ever Hear Of The Tornado Fungus...?

When I read this article, I knew that it would make a good post for Freaky Friday.

This is a terrible way to suffer from a natural disaster...not once, which is bad enough, but twice! Lots of pain involved, both physical and mental.

The Attack Of The Tornado Fungus
By Nolan Moore on Monday, February 1, 2016

Apophysomyces trapeziformis is a fungus that’s usually harmless where humans are concerned. But throw a massive tornado into the mix, and things get really nasty, really fast. In May 2011, a tornado “injected” several Missourians with the normally benign fungus, leaving them with some truly horrific results.

On May 22, 2011, a massive tornado barreled through Joplin, Missouri. An EF-5, this monster was nearly a mile wide and spinning at approximately 320 kilometers per hour (200 mph). After it touched down, the twister ravaged the Missouri landscape for 35 kilometers (22 mi), killing over 150 people and destroying thousands of buildings along the way.

According to a 2014 list released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it was the seventh deadliest tornado in US history.

But in addition to all that devastation, this tornado left behind another unwelcome surprise straight out of an apocalyptic sci-fi novel or a standalone episode of The X-Files. When the tornado ripped through Joplin, it left behind a grotesque life-form that quickly started colonizing inside human hosts.

Scientists theorize that when the tornado landed outside Joplin, it picked up several strains of a fungus called Apophysomyces trapeziformis. (Or perhaps, it sucked up these strains as it traveled through the town, spitting them back out at high speeds.)

This particular type of fungus is what’s called a zygomycete, which are usually pretty harmless to humans. They usually feed on plants, although some variations go after insects.

Most of the time, this fungus likes to hang out in the dirt or rotten wood. But when the 2011 twister came along, A. trapeziformis was forcibly evicted from its nice, dark home.

Basically, the tornado “injected” 13 people with this fungus, and then things got really nasty. The organism would enter through a wound and make its way into a victim’s blood vessels in order to get hold of red and white blood cells.

Just to help you get the picture, scientists say that A. trapeziformis grows incredibly quickly. If you put just one spore in a petri dish, the fungal filaments will start spilling over the sides of the dish in a matter of hours.

Now, imagine that happening inside your body. As you might expect, the fungus caused deadly clots inside blood vessels, which in turn caused the infected wound to grow black and die.

Even worse, many of these wounds actually started sprouting fuzzy white mold.

This kind of infection is known as necrotizing cutaneous mucormycosis, and scientists did their best to combat the fungus with antibiotics and sharp blades. Doctors were forced to slice away the furry, dead flesh, and many of the patients had to undergo several surgeries because the fungus is pretty effective at burrowing into human flesh.

One patient was so infected that doctors had to take out part of his chest and replace the infected bone with a metal rib cage.

According to Scientific American, this isn’t the first time a disaster has resulted in such an infection. A. trapeziformis showed up after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, as well as a 1985 Colombian volcanic eruption.

As for the Joplin victims, researchers determined many of them lived in the most devastated areas, and none of them had access to a safe zone such as a storm shelter. Tragically, the death rate for this infection is incredibly fatal, sometimes up to 50 percent, and 5 of the 13 Missourians succumbed to the fungus. It’s a truly horrible twist of fate when you escape one of the most powerful forces of nature only to be brought down by a spore.

It's sad to think that Mother Nature came up with a whole new way to kick ass this time. I'm afraid that with all the flooding and high water in certain parts of the country, a very similar attack is on the way. High water brings mosquitoes and other biting bugs and the danger of disease is always there!

Coffee in the kitchen today. No biting bugs in here, I hope!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Get "Pickled", Not Anxious...!

It's hard to believe, but sometimes the answers to our most pressing health issues are right under our noses.

Many of us know that some foods can affect our moods. After all, they are called comfort foods for a reason, right? However, often they can affect our mental state as well.

How Eating Pickles Might Help Battle Anxiety
By Debra Kelly on Sunday, February 7, 2016

If you suffer from social anxiety, new research suggests that there might be a safer alternative to any medication that can be prescribed, and it’s found in your fridge. Fermented foods like pickles, yogurt, and sauerkraut contain probiotics that seem to act in much the same way as some prescription medications do, altering the brain’s neurotransmitters. Studies found that students who frequently ate fermented foods were less likely to suffer from social anxiety, even when their high scores on the neurotic scale suggested they should be more prone to it.

Social anxiety is one of the largest and most far-reaching psychological conditions in the world, and it’s estimated that around 7 percent of the population suffers from it at any given time, and as much as 14 percent of people have it at one time or another.

It’s characterized by an irrational anxiety triggered by certain types of social situations. Those situations vary from person to person and can include things like speaking in front of a group, using a public bathroom, or eating in front of others.

It all stems from a fear that you’re being evaluated by others, that impressions are being formed and that you’re standing out from the crowd as somehow different or wrong.

For some people, it can be so bad that it’s crippling. There’s a whole host of suggestions for people who suffer from one of its various forms, from consulting with a therapist to gradually exposing yourself to situations that make you anxious, a little bit at a time, and building up a tolerance to the things that you might find terrifying.

Research shows that there’s another way to help fight anxiety, and if you like pickles, you’re in luck.

According to researchers from the College of William & Mary and the University of Maryland School of Social Work, people who regularly ate fermented foods seemed to be better equipped to deal with social situations and were less likely to suffer from social anxiety. That included foods like pickles, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and fermented soy milk.

As weird as it sounds, it’s building on something we’re already familiar with.

They looked at the relationship between the probiotics that 700 students were regularly exposed to and compared that to their levels of anxiety. Previous studies already suggested there was a correlation between diet, probiotics, gut bacteria, and a reduction of anxiety and depression in animals, and the studies seemed to indicate that foods were increasing the GABA in the subjects’ system. GABA is the neurotransmitter that anti-anxiety medication focuses on, and the work has shown that some probiotics have the same effects as prescription medications.

The data came from surveys handed out to a cross-section of students, and it also showed that the students who were most likely to benefit from the presence of the good bacteria of fermented foods in their diet were also those who scored high on the “neurotic” scale, making them more prone to social anxiety than their peers.

At a glance, it might seem a bit far-fetched that scarfing down some pickles before a big presentation might help you feel more comfortable.

However, plenty of studies out there support the apparent influence our gut bacteria have on what’s going on in our heads and bodies.

The National Institutes of Health have some pretty staggering numbers when it comes to the bacterial cells in our bodies: They outnumber our human cells by about 10 to 1. We’re made up of millions of bacterial genes, too, so adding the right kind into our systems when we need it the most seems like a logical thing to do, in that context.

I found this article over at Knowledgenuts, where else? Just didn't want you to think I was making it up, ya know?

Coffee in the kitchen once again this morning. It's still stormy outside.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Verge Of Extinction...!

The american buffalo was a major source of food for some of the native American tribes. Besides food, the fur had many uses and benefits in the culture of the natives. Sadly, they were almost hunted to extinction.

Bison skulls to be used for fertilizer, 1870

By RHP | Posted on: June 23, 2014 | Updated on: June 23, 2014

Bison were hunted for their skins, with the rest of the animal left behind to decay on the ground.

Bison were hunted almost to extinction in the 19th century and were reduced to a few hundred by the mid-1880s. They were hunted for their skins, with the rest of the animal left behind to decay on the ground. Hides were prepared and shipped to the east and Europe (mainly Germany) for processing into leather. Homesteaders collected bones from carcasses left by hunters. Bison bones were used in refining sugar, and in making fertilizer and fine bone china. Bison bones brought from $2.50 to $15.00 a ton.

How many bison skulls might be in the photo? Hard to tell without being able to see the whole pile. Some rough calculations based on skulls volume and the dimensions of the pile calculate 180,000 skulls on that pile.

If you would like to see more photos of the bison skulls and read some more of the article, you can find it right here!

Hard to believe we could kill that many animals mainly just for sport. Sometimes I just don't understand!

Coffee in the kitchen again. The rain is still around !

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Strange Father Of The Real X-Files...!

Sometimes it seems that some folks have an over-active imagination!

Now don't get me wrong. This can be a good thing for creative people, like writers or story tellers. To envision just how imaginative these folks can get can best be explained by this next story.

The Marsh Paper

Charles Hoy Fort spent much of his adult life compiling some of the most bizarre phenomena that he could find records of while taunting the scientific community for their explanations and theories. The Book of the Damned was published in 1919, and in it, he explored phenomena like the marsh paper.

According to his research, a group of workmen in the German city of Memel came across a mysterious mass lying on the frozen, snow-covered ground in 1686. Witnesses claimed that the mass, which was described as a flaky, damp, leafy, black substance that smelled vaguely like seaweed when wet, had fallen from the sky. When it was dried, the bad smell disappeared, and it became more fibrous, reminding them of paper.

The explanation of the day was simply that it was some sort of plant matter that had been picked up in the recent snowstorm and dumped on the ground. The Royal Irish Academy claimed that they even knew what it was—a substance (albeit a rare one) that was known to form on the marshlands under certain circumstances.

Fort was offended by the comparison and the attempt, as he put it, to simply claim the unknown substance is a known one rather than figure out what it was—even if the evidence doesn’t seem to line up. The Memel mystery marsh paper was black and leafy, while the Irish marshland substance was green and felt-like. It clearly wasn’t the same stuff, Fort concluded, in spite of some similarities under certain conditions.

Later, Fort said, it was determined that the now-named “meteor-paper” was mostly of plant origin. He likens the findings to the idea that a peanut and a camel are the same thing, which is an obviously wrong conclusion that he says only happens when you’re just looking at the hump. He goes after the other explanation that it was clearly picked up and deposited by the wind or another storm by pointing out that there were no other mysterious appearances of things like fence posts.

There are also records from 1686 of another mysterious substance, this one described as leaf-life and looking like burned paper, being identified as the black scale from meteorites. Fort didn’t say what he believes about the substance, aside from the fact that it was clearly misidentified. He wondered if there had been any otherworldly writing on the sheets to give further clues as to what it was, if only people had bothered to look.

I can't help but wonder what the guy's blog would read like today. With so much information ouit there to choose from, it would be hard to decide on a topic!

Better have our coffee inside today. Supposed to be getting stormy later.

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Medical Miracle For Monday Mystery...!

We often hear horror stories about what goes on in hospitals, so it's a pleasure to do something with a positive side.

It's always sad when someone enters the hospital, but when that person is a child it's even worse. Sometimes the outcome is good...sometimes it isn't. This time it was!

The Miraculous Recovery Of Chucky McGivern

In December 1982, seven-year-old Chucky McGivern was admitted to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and diagnosed with a rare disease called “Reye’s syndrome,” which attacked his brain, liver, and nervous system. Chucky soon went into a coma, and his family was told he only had a 10 percent chance of survival. 

Hoping for a miracle, Chucky’s mother pinned a medal to his bed featuring the likeness of St. John Neumann, a noted religious figure who became the Bishop of Philadelphia during the mid-19th century and was eventually canonized by Pope Paul VI. For whatever reason, the presence of this medal seemed to pave the way for a series of miraculous events.

The medal containing St. John’s likeness had been threaded to a safety pin alongside two other medals. But on numerous occasions when Chucky’s mother returned to the room, she discovered that the medal had been unthreaded and turned face down.

Things got even stranger when a picture of St. John was found taped to the wall. No one from Chucky’s family or the hospital staff admitted to doing these things. An unidentified boy also kept showing up in the ward, entering Chucky’s room, and interacting with his family. Whenever security was called, they couldn’t find this boy. No one ever saw him entering the hospital, either.

Four days after falling into his coma, Chucky suddenly woke up and made a miraculous, unlikely recovery. He described a dream in which he saw this same, mysterious boy standing over him. After Chucky was discharged from the hospital, his family made a trip to the Shrine of St. John Neumann (pictured above) and saw a painting of St. John when he was 12 years old. He looked exactly like the mysterious boy everyone had seen at the hospital

Ya know, if we believed a little more in miracles, just maybe more miraculous things would happen. Just a thought!

Coffee out on the patio again today!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Another Funny Sunday...!

What would Sunday be without the funnies? In the paper or on the tube...funny is funny!

Today we haqve Goofy from the Disney studios. Some of their art work isw really special.

And maybe one more...

Guess that's all for this morning. You have a great day, OK?

Coffee out on the patio today.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

I Have A Silly Question...!

I've been thinking about this one for a very long time now. You may find it silly, but I really want to know what you think.

Should you shower in the morning or in the evening? That's my question!

Here's why I ask. Being retired, I have the freedom to do mostly what I time isn't a factor. If I sleep in a bit in the morning, it's no big deal. However, all I've done is lay in bed and sleep, so why should I shower when I first get up? I mean, how dirty can I get just sleeping? I can see washing my face to wake up some...but a shower first thing in the morning seems a little unnecessary to me.

Now when it comes to the evening, that's a different story. If you have been outside working in the yard or something like that, then you probably need that shower. If you have been just hanging around inside reading a book, binge-watching a television show or something like that, then do you really need a shower? How dirty can you get by reading? Maybe you could even skip a day, ya know?

I figure it's really all about habit. If you grew up taking a shower in the morning, you'll probably stay with that. The same goes for showering in the evening. I figure that there isn't any wrong way to go. Like I said, it may be a silly question but I'd still like your opinion.

Coffee out on the patio this morning, if that's OK with you!

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Great "Sandwich" Riot...!

Riots are one of those things I'll never understand. Nothing but destruction and physical harm seem to come from them.

The human animal needs very little reason to start a riot or to participate in one. Sometimes they start from something very trivial, ending up in a real mess!

The Lincoln Prison Riot Of 2002

Prison is a dangerous place, and prison riots are a sad inevitability when a group of dangerous individuals are locked up with very little to do with their abundance of time. What is surprising is what set off one of the worst prison riots in England in the past 20 years.

On October 23, 2002, the prisoners found out that instead of being served a hot lunch, they would be served sandwiches instead. Upset at the change in the menu, a group of inmates overpowered a guard and stole his keys. With the keys, they opened the cells and released more prisoners, overrunning the prison. It took 550 prison and police officers eight hours to control the riot that was sparked by sandwiches. The riot cost £3 million, 35 people were injured, and one prisoner died from a drug overdose. Six inmates received nine-year sentences for their roles in the riot.

Amazingly, this was not the only time a prison riot stemmed from an incident over a sandwich. A riot that led to 11 inmates and one correctional officer being injured happened in August 2013 at Riker’s Island. One gang member wanted to make a grilled cheese, but needed a hot plate to do so. Another gang had the hot plate and refused to share, and the riot broke out.

I reckon what's trivial for one person can be a big thing for someone else. Still, the whole riot thing seems off the wall to me!

Coffee out on the sunny patio this morning!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Petrifying Well Of Britain...!

Sometimes something comes along with a history of what sounds like a legend, but in fact is true.

The Petrifying Well is one of those. It sounds like a story that has been made up when in fact it has been one of the top tourist spots for many years. For good or bad, the well does just what it says it will do.

The Magic Well That Turned Objects To Stone
By Debra Kelly on Monday, February 29, 2016

In 1630, Sir Charles Slingsby was given the cave and well associated with the birth of Mother Shipton, said to be a witch, soothsayer, and fortune teller. He recognized the well for the gold mine it was. Any object left in the waters would be covered with lime and “petrified” within only a few months. Slingsby began charging people to check out the well and created perhaps the first paid tourist attraction.

People have been paying to go to one of Britain’s oldest tourist attractions for centuries. Nestled in what’s left of the Royal Forest of Knaresborough and along the River Nidd is a well named for its bizarre and mystifying abilities. The Petrifying Well petrifies anything left in its waters in only a matter of months.

First, the science. Modern science has revealed that the high mineral content of the water petrifies teddy bears, clothing, and bicycles alike. It’s a very cool effect even if you know how it happens, and it’s been entertaining people since at least the 16th century.

The first written record we have of the well dates to 1538 and was written by the antiquary of Henry VIII, John Leyland.

At the time of the reign of one of the country’s most notorious monarchs, Leyland wrote that the well was thought to have healing powers. That belief was common at the time, but it was also about then that the well began to take on a more ominous aura.

By the time Leyland was writing, the woman who would become the notorious soothsayer Mother Shipton had already been born on the banks of the River Nidd to a 15-year-old girl who wouldn’t reveal the father of her baby.

Her mother was sent to a nunnery and the baby was given to another family, where she grew into a supposedly misshapen little girl who was often taunted by the locals. She took up an unofficial residence near the cave she had been born in.

Married briefly and taking the name Shipton, Ursula Sontheil supported herself by making potions and remedies. Later, she would add fortune-telling to her repertoire.

Mother Shipton lived to be 73 years old, which was ancient in the 16th century. Those who visited her saw not only her cave and the well, but the things—plants, trees, and even the bodies of animals—being slowly turned to stone in the waters.

It’s no wonder people began to suspect the well’s petrifying abilities came from whatever dark magic Mother Shipton had access to. After her death, the well became the must-see place for the upper classes to visit on an afternoon out.

Similar to the way dripping water in a cave creates stalactites and stalagmites, the waters of the petrifying well preserve items left there by covering them in layers and layers of lime. Unlike most cave waters, though, the process takes months instead of centuries. An article written in 1858 reveals a heartbreaking reason some made a pilgrimage to the well.

While some left birds’ eggs or items of clothing (a Victorian-era top hat and a bonnet are reportedly still there), others went to leave something else to be petrified and preserved. But some of the little toys left there were one of the only toys left behind by a child who died, taken to the well to be preserved by a grieving family.

By 1630, landowner Sir Charles Slingsby had been given the land that included the well. He was the one who started charging curiosity-seekers to visit the well, making him the mastermind of the tourist attraction. Today, there are only a few petrifying wells left, including another at Matlock Bath. Because economic opportunities are never left unappreciated, shop owners have long been selling the lime-covered objects petrified by the well.

Surprisingly there are a few of these wells still around today. You can read more about them right here! Thanks to Knowledgenuts for providing our post for today!

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Sure is nice outside!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The School Massacre Of 1764...!

You might think that school violence is a new thing, but sad to say it's not.

History tells us that school massacres date back as far as 1764. Hard to believe but it's true. The reason this is showing up on Western Wednesday is that the first recorded incident of this type of violence was done by Native Americans.

Mass Shootings In Schools In The 18th And 19th Centuries

Photo credit: Smallbones

Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Umpqua—the list of mass shootings in American schools is long, gruesome, and frighteningly recent. Even the most historically minded would probably trace such random incidents back no further than 1966 when Charles Whitman shot and killed 17 people from a tower at the University of Texas.

While it’s true that modern weapons can make mass shootings deadlier today, they are far from a modern phenomenon. Look through the history books, and you’ll find school massacres in America dating back as far as 1764.

That was the year that four Native Americans from the Delaware tribe entered a classroom in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, and gunned down 10 children along with their teacher. Then they scalped their victims. Historically considered part of the Pontiac Wars, this first incident was different in motivation than modern mass shootings.

But the ones that followed weren’t. In 1891, an elderly man took a shotgun and randomly fired it into a crowd of boys playing outside a school, injuring dozens. Remarkably, it was only one of two random shotgun massacres that year.

It saddens me to think that school killings reach that far back Like today, there really is no rhyme or reason to the mess. Bad...really bad!

Coffee out on the patio this morning, where it's cool and breezy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Rainbow Mountain...!

Many times it's easy to see what causes a myth to spring up around a certain place. Today's story (from the pages of KnowledgeNuts) is just such a story.

The mountain has been the source of many a tall tale for a very long time...still is as a matter of fact!

The Mountain With A Devilish And Ghostly Rainbow Illusion
By Debra Kelly on Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Brocken is the highest peak in Germany’s Harz Mountains, and it’s long been the center of stories of witches, warlocks, and secret meetings with the Devil. That’s partially because of the eerie optical illusion that often happens there: the Brocken Spectre. When the Sun casts the shadow of a climber into the mists below, the image is turned into a surreal giant surrounded by a circular rainbow. Even today, it’s the site of a Faustian rock opera and the annual celebration of Walpurgisnacht.

The Harz Mountains in Germany are steeped in folklore and fairy tales, with many centering on the tallest peak in the range, the Brocken. The mountain has long been said to be the meeting place of witches and devils for centuries because of an unearthly illusion that gets its name from the infamous peak.

The Brocken Spectre is similar to the fata morgana in that it’s a complicated coincidence of refracting light and atmospheric conditions that causes it. While the fata morgana happens over water, the Brocken Spectre happens on land, and it occurs when a person’s shadow is cast on misty air beneath them. When the image reflects through water droplets, it casts the illusion of a giant, specter-like shadow usually surrounded by a circular rainbow.

Sometimes, when conditions are right, you can see the same effect out the window of a plane. That shadow is plane-shaped, but even if you know the science behind its appearance, it’s no less breathtaking.

The name was given to the phenomenon in 1780, and since then it’s been picked up and used by the likes of Charles Dickens and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. However, the phenomenon was seen long before that.

It’s no wonder that the common appearance of the Brocken Spectre on the German mountaintop helped build its eerie reputation that came to a climax as the meeting place between Goethe’s Faust and the Devil. It’s still the site of the rock opera version of the story, and the location of their meeting place is the aptly named Devil’s Pulpit Crag.

It’s also the location of Walpurgisnacht, first officially celebrated in 1896 when it was a male-only gathering to usher in the month of May. Before that, celebrations were unofficial, associated first with pagan rites and a gathering of witches to welcome in the spring and meet up with the Devil.

Later, when the holiday was appropriated by Christianity, it was associated with the patron saint of protection against evil spirits, Saint Walpurga. Canonized on May 1, 870, Walpurga was a British nun who went to Germany and became associated with the legends of the Valkyries.

Rumor had it that she once rode with the Valkyries on the evening of May Day and guarded the old rites, rituals, and beliefs in secret. Walpurgisnacht celebrations are steeped in those old rituals. It was once believed that witches targeted cattle on that night and that any dreams that came that night were visions of the past, present, and future.

A whole host of fairy tales grew up around the mountains, like the old tale that tells the story of a miner who condemned any man too weak to fight off one of the witches that were known to haunt the mountain. His elderly neighbor overheard his comments, and that Walpurgisnacht, he found himself mobbed by old hags. Reporting the neighbor as the witch she’d revealed herself as, they saw her burned at the stake.

There’s another that tells of a man who, suspicious of the nighttime activities of his bride-to-be and her mother, drank a concoction that transported him to the top of the Brocken, where they were dancing with the Devil. The man was turned into a donkey for his actions. He only turned back (and learned his lesson, apparently) when a parish priest poured baptismal water on his back.

The mountain’s notorious specter seemed very real for a recent time, too, as the mountain was on the front lines of the Cold War.

Ya know...this mountain is a little spooky looking. Not that I'm spooked or anything. Just saying!

Coffee out on the patio this morning rains coming in later!